Hello all, and welcome to Part Two of the Q&A we started last week. Hope you’re finding it interesting and entertaining; if not, I hope it’s not causing too much anger or angst. Let’s not waste time: let’s get straight on with the interrogation!
15. Prized bookish possession:
I’ve a few signed books; a copy of American Gods signed by Mr Gaiman that went round the US with me is probably the pick of them. But I’ll plump for something far geekier: this.
It is a work of art and a labour of love that never fails to thrill me whenever I pick it up.
I am not good at research. I am, in fact, very lazy. For some writers it’s all about knowing where to stop. For me it’s more about a single question typed into Google.
Actually, I’m probably doing myself an injustice. I did read an entire book on the crusades before my last unpublished novel, but that was way back in the mists. Now I very much like to write the story and fill up on detail as I go along.
17. Dream event or retreat:
Hmm. Well, I’m on record as loving Edge-Lit but I’m really a greenhorn when it comes to literary events and conventions of all stripes. Similarly I’ve never been on a writing retreat so it’s hard for me to comment. I think any event where you get a lot of writers together is bound to be stimulating and informative, especially the parts set in the bar. So I’ll stick with that for now, but ask me again in five years.
18. Teaser Tuesday:
I’m guessing the 18th Feb was a Tuesday? How about the pitch I’ve put together for the work I’m trying to get some agent love for?
Insomniac Saira accidentally summons a monster from a parallel universe, a land that has been manipulating ours for decades. Now she must prevent the sadistic Dashwood from linking realities and flooding London with monsters from the Dreamlands. But how can Saira survive when Dashwood can kill in her dreams? #A #CF #IRMC #lgbt
19. Background noise:
Oh hell yes! Silence is too loud for me. I always have music playing; ideally something familiar enough to become background but I’m pretty good at staying on the right side of distraction. Nothing too wordy – I once tried to write to The Streets, and that didn’t work at all.
Muse is a common muse, as is New Model Army. Bowie, Metallica, Richard Thompson, The Decemberists – all have underpinned my writing over the years. I don’t think it’s visible in the finished product; maybe something shines through but for the most part it is just beautiful background.
20. Reader love:
What do I say to this? I love my readers. I love all readers, whether they’ve read my work or not. I’m a reader first and foremost so how can I say anything else?
21. Your team:
I’d like to think all readers everywhere. Specifically, though, it’s my wife, who supports my writing by doing a full-time job. It’s the friend I see when the world gets a little too much for me. And it’s all the great authors I worked with in my old writers’ group, and especially those in the spin-off full-manuscript critique group.
It’s also everyone reading this, and all the people I talk with on Twitter that I call my friends. I don’t see many people in the real world – in many ways I’m fairly isolated – so my electronic buddies mean a lot to me. They’re definitely part of my team.
22. Greatest strength:
Oh gods, I’ve no idea! Stubbornness, perhaps? The willingness to slog on when there seems no end in sight? Or maybe it’s simply that I’m a fairly affable chap that people tend to get on with.
Hell, what am I good at writing-wise? Maybe it’s getting inside a character’s head. Or maybe it’s writing action scenes. I really and honestly don’t know.
23. Biggest distraction:
A toss-up between Twitter and my daughter. Actually, no – it’s definitely Twitter because I don’t even attempt writing whilst the little one’s in the vicinity. Twitter, on the other hand, knows no such bounds.
24. Non-bookish hobby:
I’ve had a lot of hobbies. I used to play Warhammer and to roleplay. I used to play drums. I’ve played a fair few board games in my time.
Now? Well, I play a little cricket – exceptionally badly, though I did once bowl Sebastian Faulks – and I still keep up reading in archaeology and history from my old degree days (MA Landscape History, I’ll have you know). I also play far too much Football Manager (currently managing Gosport Borough).
I’d love to do more in my free time but, sadly, I don’t know people with whom to do things. Maybe in the future I’ll rediscover a friendship group that does things like roleplaying, which I miss so badly.
Writing is the only thing I’m in any way any good at. I have to do it as it’s my last chance to make a difference.
26. A prized non-bookish possession:
You know, I don’t think I have any one possession that would fit here for an easy answer. I like owning things so still have books aplenty and a supply of CDs and DVDs – I’ve not gone digital yet. But they are, at the end of the day, just replaceable things.
I have no pets (yet) so I can’t choose them, and I’ve just finished my bottle of rather nice whisky.
Ooh, I know – my new office chair, a bargain at £15 from the local charity emporium!
27. Bookstore/library love:
Love bookstores and libraries! Waterstones in Norwich was where I joined my first writing group. I worked in Earlham Library for six years and have such fond memories of the place, and of the people. I did a reading there once Night Shift was published.
I also did a reading in Mostly Books, Abingdon, which was my local bookshop when I lived in the town. That’s a lovely little shop. And I did another in Between the Lines, Great Bardfield, a non-profit bookshop in which my mother-in-law is a partner and makes their excellent cakes.
These are the ones that stick out to me, but seriously, any bookshop is a joy and a delight. I can lose myself in them quite happy for hours. It’s the same with libraries. All human life is there and it’s wonderful.
Oh, and I currently work in one, so I guess I should give a shoutout to the Clay Farm Centre in Cambridge. Woo!
Acknowledgements are always the toughest; how to include everyone without rambling on for pages. How can anyone ever truly say how much the team around them means – family, friends, inspirations, editors, copy-editors, proofreaders, beta-readers, cover designers, publicists, admin support…
I’ve already thanked my wife, so my acknowledgements would be to those I don’t know who do the actual work. To the underdogs, the supporting cast, the otherwise forgotten.
And, of course, to my friends on Twitter. You don’t know how much you mean to me.
29. What’s next?
What’s next? After answering this question I’ll be straight on with a structural edit and, if I make good progress with that, it’ll be back to the ol’ WIP for another bash at character-wrangling.
More generally speaking, I’ve got my novel HUMAN RESOURCES coming out in November and I expect to have publicity to do around that. Watch, as they say, this space.
And life continues. I’ll (hopefully) be moving house in the next few months. Maybe I’ll get a new job. The wheel turns.
That’s assuming that some sort of normality is maintained through the coronavirus pandemic.
Still, buy my books! They’ll happily see you through the apocalypse.