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 Amazon.de 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 Jürgen 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!