Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Interview with Andrew Ives

Originally from London, Andrew Ives now lives in South West France with goats and chickens for intellectual company.
Having wandered Europe as an IT contractor, he was drawn to the Kindle as a more flexible means of writing the kind of books he wanted to see written, with hyperlinks and soundtracks included, along with the notion of marketing his own work via social media. Andrew has written three full novels - Psinapse (1989), Sirene (2011) and Parallax (2012).


When and why did you decide to become a writer?
Back in the late eighties when I first obtained a 'powerful' word processor for the Amiga. I had just finished school, there was a long summer holiday ahead of me and using such an application seemed like overkill for writing anything other than a 'proper' book. As I didn't have a printer at the time and there was no internet to speak of, whatever I wrote would reside solely on the 40Mb HD inside the computer anyway. I had an idea in mind for a book which was too involved for any school essay so I thought I'd type that out and see where it took me. That book was Psinapse which I published on the Kindle last year.

Which genre do you write in and which genre do you prefer to read?
I didn't really have a genre in mind, other than a vague 'technology gone wrong' basis to what is essentially a character-driven adventure story. I didn't know it at the time of writing Psinapse, but there is a certain Jules Verne crossed with Michael Crichton flavour to my chosen 'genre' if you can call it that. I've written three books, all of which are more or less of that ilk, all set in the near future. My readers seem to find it equally difficult to pigeonhole my fiction, but my books do still tend to get lumped into the "sci-fi" category just because they're a little futuristic.
I prefer to read the classics. Obviously, I've read plenty of Verne and H.G. Wells but I dabble in most of the renowned Victorian writers. My ambition is to write at least half as well as they did. I can't see how anyone can set out as a serious writer without a decent knowledge of the classics.

Where do you sell most books, USA or UK, Amazon or Barnes and Noble?
Amazon only. My US:UK split is about 50:50, but I sell a sizable minority on too.

During your childhood who was your biggest influence?
I would like to say it was one of my teachers, but in all honesty, it never was. The only thing my English teachers taught me was that I didn't like Jabberwocky, The Hobbit, Twelfth Night or James & The Giant Peach very much.
My biggest influence was definitely my mum who read to me from a very young age. I always wanted to be able to read as fluently as she did, so I took to books in a big way, outside of school, from very early on. I was also one of those few kids of the 70s that was taught to read using ITA which I think had a peculiar bearing on how I viewed writing.
Are you fortunate enough to write full-time?
Almost. I do work outside of writing occasionally, but for most of the year I'm able to write with few interruptions.
My 'day job' is also linguistic proof-reading so is not entirely dissimilar.

If Hollywood came knocking who would you want to play your main character?
That's a tough one. I envisage my books being adapted into a Euro collaboration type of film rather than anything Hollywood. When I wrote Psinapse, I imagined it as a CGI film, something like a cross between Renaissance, Final Fantasy and Sin City whereas the prequel Sirene and sequel and Parallax are very much 'live action' film material.
I base all my characters on either someone famous, someone I've met or an amalgam of both. As the main protagonist, Karen is half-English, half-French, going from 23yrs old in Sirene to 39yrs old in Parallax. Ironically, I think Carice van Houten would make the best actress for the part, with perhaps Naomi Watts or Evan Rachel Wood ideal for the Hollywood version at different ages. For Kuss, I would choose J├╝rgen Prochnow or Christoph Waltz, Laura Barriales would be perfect for Aylhin, Anna Mazzotti for Maddelena, Eddie Izzard for Sedgwick, with Luc Besson to direct.
Ok, next question before I get too carried away...
Name 6 people, dead or alive, you’d love to have as guests seated around your dinner-table.
Jackie Stewart, Sergio Pininfarina, Nikola Tesla (he can bring a few pigeons too), Nicole Kidman, Alfred Hitchcock, Cyril Takayama.

With so much and such a variety of things to talk about, it would need to be a slow dinner, with a long box of After Eights at the end.

What one piece of advice have you found the most important in your writing career?
Apart from "don't give up" and "write what you know", I can't really say anything has stuck in my mind as especially useful.
I try never to use a thesaurus, any electronic spelling or grammar checkers, and to have a crack at a difficult crossword almost daily.
I personally find that reading about three or four times the amount I write - ideally quality publications of a totally different topic - helps keep my standard of writing fairly consistent. Re-reading and editing of my own work in a non-sequential fashion is crucial. I find if I start proofreading from chapter 1 onwards or from the beginning of a chapter, I end up with great beginnings and less-brilliant endings. I try to just dip in somewhere and start proofreading from there on, and that seems to successfully weedle out the weaker paragraphs more thoroughly.

What are your plans for the coming year?

To see my books in print as a single-volume trilogy, ideally with a glowing review from a national newspaper to quote on the cover with five embossed gold stars. I would also like to become an astronaut and win X Factor ;-)

And finally, if you were stranded on a desert island which 3 books would you choose to have with you?
Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale - It's much better than the film and the most addictive book I've ever read.
Marshall's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Animals - A massive tome which I wish was even thicker.
The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne - A great read that would surely come in useful too!

You can buy Andrew's books from him Amazon book page.  Amazon UK or Amazon USA

Friday, October 12, 2012

Interview with J A Clement.

Today it's a privilege to welcome stunning author J A Clement as my guest.

When and why did you decide to become an Indie writer?
I’ve been writing forever and always knew that I would get a book published. I was a bit baffled at how this was going to happen, though, as statistically speaking my chances of being offered a publishing contract were minuscule. Besides, the publishing industry is shrinking so fast; fifteen years ago traditional publishers released far more books every month than they do now, and the whole submission process is so inefficient and time-wasting ! I decided I’d rather spend my time writing, which turned out to have been a good call.
I first heard of ebooks when the iPad came out. Researching epublishing suggested there was a lot of potential for growth and a much more efficient way of getting my stories to an audience, so when the Kindle arrived, I decided to throw my story to the lions and let the readers decide. I am SO glad I did! I have utterly loved the whole process and a couple of novellas later, I’ve just combined them into my first paperback and between my editors, my fabulous cover-maker, and my slightly OCD need to have it perfect, I’m really proud of it.
That book? I did that.
  1. What genre do you write in and what genre do you prefer to read?
I read pretty voraciously in several different genres – classics, detective, action, fairytale, humour, sci-fi, poetry... I’m thinking of venturing into steampunk too, when I have a moment. My ‘home’ genre is fantasy, especially long, complicated series with a lot of characters so that’s just what “On Dark Shores” is!
  1. Where do you sell most books, USA or UK, Amazon or Barnes and Noble?
My ebooks sell mostly in the UK. In the US my sales are small on Kindle but trickling away on B&N. They just started to move suddenly – I have no idea why. I’ll be really interested to see how the paperback does, but it’s early days yet.
  1. During your childhood who was your biggest influence?
A huge influence generally was the part of Yorkshire where I grew up; it is wild and beautiful, and there’s a corner of it in my soul. As a child, if I didn’t have my nose in a book, I’d be climbing a tree or making a den or trying to dam the stream. We lived in the middle of nowhere and I had the run of a couple of fields and a secretive wooded ghyll with a dark little stream in the bottom, so after school I would just disappear down the fields and potter about amid the great open quiet of the hills. Such freedom; I was very lucky.
In more specific terms: my Mum introduced me to and made me value musicality of many kinds, which I find extremely relevant to the use of language. My family made me realize that being conventional is an interesting concept but not one that we feel bound to take any notice of. And literary influences would include my older sister Cath (another fantasy fan whose library books I used to read bits of when she wasn’t looking) and the fact that I had the run of a huge bookcase, so if it looked interesting I’d read it. No-one told me that LoTR was not normally something that an 8-year-old should expect to be reading, though my Mum did have to explain to me that I might be mistaken in declaring that Gandalf had fallen into an abcess.
  1. Are you fortunate enough to write full-time?
Alas no! I work fulltime and have a four-hour daily commute, so writing happens in my lunch hour and on the train home at the end of the day. When I started, I was writing in the evenings as well but that meant I was spending virtually no time with my partner, which wasn’t going to work long-term. We only have an hour in the evenings, but now rather than firing up the computer, I curl up on the sofa with him instead, and really enjoy it!
  1. If Hollywood came knocking who would you want to play your main character?
That’s actually quite difficult because Hollywood goes for beautiful or handsome and most of my characters are just normal people. However, an important character is Vansel, a smuggler, and I could see him being played by Eric Bana. He’s not quite as I imagine Vansel, but it’s not far off...
  1. Name 6 people, dead or alive, you’d love to have as guests seated around your dinner-table.
The obvious dinner party guest is Stephen Fry, who appears to be endlessly knowledgeable and amusing, but also interested in other people.
JK Rowling should have an utterly fascinating tale to tell about her progress from rejection slips to multi-millionaire. It’s always difficult to tell from someone’s public persona, but she does seem to be working hard to retain her integrity in a variety of ways. And working with the cream of English acting talent on the films must have been incredible.
Sandi Toksvig has such a facility with words and such a sly wit that it’s always a pleasure to listen, especially in combination of Stephen Fry, as they seem to spark off each other.
Leonardo da Vinci, amongst other things, discovered the circulatory system 500 years before medicine did, only his notebooks got lost so he didn’t get the credit. Also his future-casting was spectacular, so it would be fascinating to discuss ideas for some sci-fi.
Maya Angelou, whose poetry I love. Her words really sing from the heart and the personality that shines out between the lines is wise and witty.
Aldus Manutius would LOVE to be in on the whole indie printing argument. He basically invented branding; he was one of the earliest and most successful printers in Venice, then a huge centre of trade between East and West. The printing press had only recently been invented and the idea of printing by machine rather than having monks copy manuscripts by hand caused uproar in the learned world. The literati feared that if just anyone could print a book cheaply (rather than go to the expense of having it hand-copied onto vellum by monks) it would mean the market was flooded with unedited texts of no intrinsic value at all. Deja vu, anyone?
Of course, in such august company I’d pretty much be handing out the plates and sniggering at the jokes, but it would be one hell of an evening!
  1. What one piece of advice have you found the most important in your writing career?
Be Excellent.*
Passable” is worse than no good, and “it’ll do” needs to fall out of your vocabulary. You might be tired, you might be impatient, the deadline might be looming but if you push the “publish” button before your text is the most excellent thing you can produce, you’re cheating your readers and they will know it. You owe them your best effort, nothing less.
*(Thought I had made this up myself but watching Bill & Ted the other day, I discovered the full phrase is “Be excellent, dudes!!” Sigh.)
  1. What are your plans for the coming year?
Short-term: I’m having an impromptu launch party in London at the end of the month! There are a couple of other authors with releases to celebrate, and a bunch of readers, so it should be a good laugh. Anyone’s welcome, so do drop me an email at if you want to come along – the more the merrier! Probably Thurs 25th, probably at the Southbank though this still tbc.
Mid to long-term, I’ll be working on the next part of “On Dark Shores” as well as two shorter stories set in the same world. One of the ‘shorts’ is a novella currently at 33k words and the other is about 10k words but I haven’t really started working on that yet.
I have a short story in “Christmas Lites II”, an anthology due out in December for the charity NCADV, and am looking at re-releasing last year’s story to try and raise awareness of the anthology a bit.
I’m also giving a hand to four other writers working on their first novels or stories, so that they don’t have to make all the rookie errors that I did.
Mostly I’ll be working on “The Mother of the Shantar” though. It’s currently about 90k in length but my readers have asked for something a bit longer this time so I’m aiming for 100-150k, depending on when it gets to a sensible stopping place. Series make endings quite problematic and partial at best, so we’ll see how that goes. Then I just have to get it through multiple corrections with 2 editors, and it’s onto Book 4!!
  1. And finally, if you were stranded on a desert island what 3 books would you choose to have with you?
The Complete Sherlock Holmes, so I could go through, collect together all mentions of “the case of the politician, the trained cormorant and the lighthouse” and other such references with which Conan Doyle teases us by never telling the actual story; and then go back and construct some highly elaborate tale behind each.
The Unfinished Tales by Tolkien, because I’d finally have time to read his backstory and reconstruct his mythology (yes I am a geek).
Errr… A book of paper and a pencil, because with those to hand I would never get bored. I might have to evolve the teeniest writing known to mankind though, so maybe I should work in fountain pen and just wash it off the paper every time I finished the book!!
Author pages have links to all books.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Interview with Stuart Ayris.

Today it's my pleasure to welcome Stuart Ayris.

 Tollesbury Time Forever (FRUGALITY - Book 1)

1. When and why did you decide to become an Indie writer?

I guess I became an Indie Writer on 4th January 2012 when I pressed the PUBLISH button in the KDP Select dashboard – releasing Tollesbury Time Forever into the Kindle world. I have since released it as a paperback through Createspace. As to the ‘why?’ – well that will be due to a sudden realisation that I don’t have to conform to what others desire, I don’t need to bow and scrape and yes sir, no ma’am anybody in order to have the opportunity of having people read my books. What sense is it to write a novel about a whole new way of being and then sit on the cold hard floor by your cold front door every morning awaiting rejection letters and crumb of comfort nonsense from people who won’t even read a begging letter if it’s not in the right font?

2. What genre do you write in and what genre do you prefer to read?

Although I am not a fan of classifying books into genres, I understand the need for them. My novels seem to fit into the Literary/Contemporary Fiction genre. I love reading 19th Century fiction – Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Victor Hugo etc and I also adore more radical works such as those written by Jack Kerouac and of course anything by John Steinbeck. In terms of more modern novelists I would have to say John Irving is my favourite.

3. Where do you sell most books, USA or UK, Amazon or Barnes and Noble?

It’s about a 70/30 split in favour of Amazon UK vs Amazon US

4. During your childhood who was your biggest influence?

Attitude wise I guess it was Bob Dylan. In terms of writing I’d say Jack Kerouac and in terms of humour, Monty Python.

5. Are you fortunate enough to write full-time?

Nope. I have been a Psychiatric Nurse for the last fifteen years and I currently manage the Mental Health Service in Maldon, Essex.

6. If Hollywood came knocking who would you want to play your main character?

Me. Or maybe Timothy Spall.

7. Name 6 people, dead or alive, you’d love to have as guests seated around your dinner-table.

William Blake, Charles Baudelaire, Hank Williams, Charles Bukowski, Bob Dylan and Tony Hancock

8. What one piece of advice have you found the most important in your writing career?

If it feels right, then it is right.

9. What are your plans for the coming year?

I am aiming to release the sequel to Tollesbury Time Forever – The Bird That Nobody Sees – as a paperback, finish writing the third in the FRUGALITY Trilogy – I Woke Up This Morning – and to maybe drink a little less.

10. And finally, if you were stranded on a desert island what 3 books would you choose to have with you?

The Complete Works of Charles Dickens, The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac and The Complete Works of William Blake.

Tollesbury Time Forever (FRUGALITY Book 1) -
The Bird That Nobody Sees (FRUGALITY Book 2) -
A Cleansing of Souls -
Bighugs, Love and Beer -