You write in various genres- are there some that you prefer over others or do you always go where the story takes you?
My first few stories were dictated by my characters, but I started writing in various genres as a challenge a few years ago. I wanted to experiment and discover what I enjoyed writing. I would pick a genre each week, research it and then write a 500 word flash fiction from a prompt on wattpad. (Now published in two collections – Lunch is Too Short for Long Stories Vol 1 and 2) I surprised myself by enjoying writing the darker side of human nature, an assassin and a torturing serial killer were particularly fun, although fantasy is my favourite and my novels have yet to travel the darker roads.
Any other authors who particularly inspire you or perhaps even convinced you to become an author?
I have always been an avid reader and still consume vast amounts of words every week so it’s hard to pick out a few, but for you I will. Enid Blyton’s Folk of the Faraway Tree captured my imagination as a child (now you know I am over fifty!) and began my love of world building and imagined adventure. Tolkien, of course, and Anne McCaffery instilled a love of dragons and magical imagined beings, I loved reading Dickens and Thomas Hardy for their characters and descriptions, and Kurt Vonnegot for his truths wrapped in absurdity. More recently I have been inspired by Brandon Sanderson, whose little-known story – The Emperor’s Soul – stunned me with its magical concept. I loved the circumstances which led to the magic idea and realised that I too often looked at the ordinary and thought ‘what if.’
Do you listen to music while writing, or prefer silence? If you do listen to music while writing, what genres do you prefer?
I like listening to epic fantasy instrumental music when first drafting and often find an album that suits the ambience of the story and so listen to the same music over and over, although when deep into writing I don’t hear it.
I can’t write to music with lyrics, I’m too easily distracted and rarely have music playing when rewriting or editing, unless I need to drown out the real world that decides to be particularly fnoisy when I need quiet.
I see that you’re also an enthusiastic cyclist / explorer – whilst this interview isn’t about that as such, how important do you feel outside interests are in terms of helping you focus on writing (and other things)? Do they ever generate ideas or inspiration for you?
When I was writing a flash fiction every week the ideas for the stories were always concocted on a cycle ride. If I have a problem with a character, plot point or scene I just keep it loose in my head while doing something else, like gardening, cycling, drawing or cooking and often the problem untangles.
I am inspired often when in nature and I think it’s important to have an interest that includes being physically active as much of an author’s time is spent sitting down.
Do you have any talents other than writing, which you’d like to tell us about?
I’m a creative, so when not creating stories I may be painting, drawing, building, sewing, making…I am also creating a edible forest garden which I love.
Is there one single book in your life that stands out, or provided some kind of turning point, major change, or affected you so deeply in some way that it changed the course of your life?
Whoa, that’s a question. I guess there has not been one but several books that have nudged me through my life onto the path I’m on now.
Although there is the bestselling novel I haven’t written yet.
Which social networks or marketing avenues have you found work best for you as an author and why do you think that is? If you could give one marketing tip to other authors, what would it be?
Social networking and marketing are not happy words for me. I’m not good at either, but I am trying.
For me, because I’ve been using it for many years, Facebook has been the most successful for advertising. I have an author page that baffles me but have spread the word about my books through this site. I am also in many author groups and they are mostly very supportive. But it’s hard to find reader groups where you can advertise your own books without annoying people.
It’s lots of work though. When advertising ‘Colours of Rain’ I asked people on messenger if they would share my post. They did and I gained a few sales and reviews, but it took hours and I can’t keep asking.
I twitter but my tune is a little stuttered and repetitive. I just cannot drum up the enthusiasm to spend more time on the site.
One marketing tip- publish wide.
I’ve just started on this path and if you go through a distributor such as smashwords or draft2digital it’s easy to sell your ebook at various retailers. I’m hoping to do the same for paperbacks when I can get my head around the process.
Another marketing tip (because maths was never my forte) – create a website and start a blog, this will increase your chances of building an email list of readers for future books you will write. Unless, like me, you are multi genre and multi age specific and then your next book may not apply to your previous readers. Sigh!
Finally, what new projects do you have in the pipeline / on the horizon? Which are the most important works-in-progress right now?
I have a woman’s fiction ‘Intimate Lines’ about a young woman overcoming her past to embrace her true self through drawing. This will be published in November 2020.
I am editing a three book MG Fantasy adventure series (which includes dragons) to be published in 2021.
After this I have choices of first drafts to rewrite, which I will be presenting to my email list to see what people want next.
For updates on these and future books please visit my website, pop over to my fb page or tweet me.
And if you are into cycling please visit velotouring.fun where you can join me on day tours, week tours and -when we can cross borders- monthly and beyond European cycle tours.