My book in three books ... I'm interviewed by Mark Bowsher

I’ve been interviewed by the excellent Mark Bowsher of Rabbit Island Productions about East of England. Specifically, about three books which have been - in some way - an influence on the novel.

Here’s the interview.

Mark’s own recently-published novel The Boy Who Stole Time is out now from all good, reasonable, and slightly shabby retailers. You can find out more about his book here.

There’s still time to find more out more about (and to pre-order) East of England here.

10 questions: Stephanie Bretherton, author of Bone Lines

It’s been a few weeks since the last 10 questions; time for another! Today, my guest writer is Stephanie Bretherton, whose novel Bone Lines is published by Unbound on 19th September. That’s more than enough from me, so here’s Stephanie:


1.          Who are you and what’s your book about?

Great question. The whole process of being published for the first time demands that you ask those two questions until you are no longer sure which way is up! In short, I am a word peddler who feeds her body through copy-writing but has fed her soul by pouring years of love, sweat, tears and lost weekends into a genre-bender of a novel that asks that very same question: ‘who are you?’ 

But in this case the net is cast a little wider to explore what lies at the heart of being human.

SB headshot.jpg


2.          Why should folk read your book?

Because they will never have read anything quite like it! While my tongue-in-cheek ‘elevator pitch’ goes something like “Sole survivor of Clan of the Cave Bear hits The Road with Professor Alice Roberts” it’s always been hard for me to sell the book along the lines of “if you loved (insert bestseller here) then you will love Bone Lines.” It’s a distinctive book that will probably divide opinion, but which, thankfully, every reader so far has seemed to really enjoy. 

3.          What’s the appeal of your book?  

It explores some of the bigger questions but also day to day dilemmas of love and survival... and, so I am told, keeps you rooting for its pair of unique; and courageous heroines, whose stories are told in a dual narrative set many millennia apart.

4.          Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy? 

It is available from 19th September paperback or e-book on most major retailer sites (Amazon UK and Waterstones as examples), and a wide range of indie and high street bookshops.

BoneLinesFrontCoverAug18-HighRes.jpg


5.          Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I still run my PR and communications business full time, so there’s no typical day for writing fiction, except the weekends. I was so fired up for the first draft of Bone Lines, however, that for the first six months I was up at the laptop every morning from 6 to 8:30! Then researching at lunchtimes and evenings. The various rewrites and edits (and the skeletons of the two sequels) were written mostly during weekend  afternoons - at no small cost to my back or my personal life. But like most authors I’m passionate about what I do and have little choice but to do it. 


6.          Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

 Oddly enough, I found something called Fiction: The Art and the Craft on a neighbour’s wall among other cast offs recently, but haven’t opened it. I tend to write organically then edit later, but the whole process of editing Bone Lines with professionals (even before I submitted to Unbound) has taught me so much. Otherwise I tend to find useful essays on writing or the creative process online. For example, Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings is a fantastic site. 


7.          Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

I know everyone must say this, but only 3? That’s brutal. But in terms of early inspiration for unforgettable characters and atmosphere, Perfume, for ‘social’ influence then To Kill a Mockingbird, and for sheer mind-blowing literary mastery, The Road


8.          Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without: 

Not sure I couldn’t live without any of these, but because I can have only 3 then range and variety would be a good thing:

Poem for the Day, an anthology edited by Nicholas Albery for Random House – yup, 365 of them from classic to contemporary

The Complete Works of Shakespeare (might go as mad as Lear on my blasted island, but there’s nothing about human experience that the Bard hasn’t covered.)

And the book I’m re-reading now and so would hate not to finish, The Chymical Wedding by Lindsay Clarke, which would also offer some great inspiration on being ‘one’ with my island.


9.          Any words of writing wisdom?

Write the first line. Just write it. Then a paragraph, then a page. Delete if nothing works, but something probably will. You have to keep the cogs oiled and machinery moving. Look for ideas and inspiration everywhere, documentaries, news items, overhead conversations. Don’t bend your style or passion to suit a genre or a trend – write what you want to write, and from the heart. But (and this is one I need to keep learning) don’t fall so much in love with your characters that you find yourself protecting them from the plot! 


10.          Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

Oh, yes please, let’s! But I have already covered that above? Though maybe in the movie version, the cave woman would ‘meet’ the scientist on some kind of hallucinatory trip? There’s so much you can do with the medium of film that you can’t with prose, so I’d like to see all the audio-visual potential explored. And the soundtrack! How much fun would that be? Anyway, Cate Blanchett would be ideal for Dr Eloise Kluft, and the young prehistoric shaman character would be a great ‘breakout’ role for an up-and-coming actress of colour.

Web/Social media

Website:  http://stephaniebretherton.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrethertonWords1/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrethertonWords

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brethertonwords2/?hl=en

Huge thanks to Stephanie for her time! I’ve got a copy pre-ordered, so I’m looking forward to reading Bone Lines

10 questions: Lulu Allison. author of Twice the Speed of Dark

Today's Unbound-published writer is Lulu Allison, who's here to tell us all about her novel Twice the Speed of Dark. Straight over to Lulu:

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I’m Lulu Allison and my book, Twice the Speed of Dark, is about a mother coming to terms with the death of her own daughter at the hands of a violent boyfriend. Furious that people pay so little attention to such domestic murders, she expands this observation of indifference and begins writing portraits of the ignored dead, strangers who die in terror attacks in far-away lands. It is an experiment in caring about the deaths of strangers, an experiment in empathy and love.

Lulu Allison.jpg

2. Why should folk read your book? 

If folk are interested in books driven by the internal, by people’s psyche, by their struggle and survival, if they are interested to think about how a strong young woman comes to fall into a relationship that robs her of her ability to protect herself from harm, they should read my book

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

I am particularly happy with the portrayal of death, from where the daughter reclaims her story and shares it with the reader. It is a cosmos with which I have taken liberties, made the darkness a material, made speed and arc its structure. I hope people will enjoy the language and the exploration that both central women are forced to make in order to move forward from the bleak place they find themselves.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?  

http://www.kemptownbookshop.co.uk

http://city-books.co.uk

amazon.co.uk/Twice-Speed-Dark-Lulu-Allison-ebook/dp/B077919TGJ/ 

Lulu Allison cover.jpg

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it: 

I start early, sometimes in bed. Then coffee and some kind of action - mad tidying up or I put on a 70s funk and soul playlist and have a dance. Then I write a bit more. Some days I only write a few hundred words, others a couple of thousand. I don’t have much of a pattern to it. I write in our living room so am at the mercy of the rest of the household, so I tend to be opportunistic and try to maintain rigorous flexibility - if you know what I mean! No point in letting patterns creep in. 

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it? 

I haven’t read any books about writing. I didn’t know I wanted to write until I started so didn’t do much prep. Turns out I learnt quite a lot about writing from having been an artist - try, fail, be rejected, experiment, explore, don’t be precious, edit like hell, value the work and do the work,  - it’s all there in an art practice too.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer: 

The Emperor’s Babe - Bernadine Evaristo

Paradise Lost - Milton

In Our Mad and Furious City - Guy Gunaratne

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without: 

King Lear - William Shakespeare

Life and Fate - Vassily Grossman

Night Train: The Sonny Liston Story - Nick Tosches

9. Any words of writing wisdom? 

See above: try, fail, be rejected, experiment, explore, don’t be precious, edit like hell, value the work and do the work. 

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch: 

In a perplexing cosmos, a purgatorial darkness black as pitch, a young woman reels in her story from the burning arcs of space to tell herself back together, to heal the undoing of the coercive violence that killed her.

Meanwhile, safe but imprisoned under the softening sky of earth, her mother learns finally to carry her grief by writing portraits of strangers who die in distant wars. 

Piece by piece, after the eviscerations of violent death have flung them apart, mother and daughter finally pull themselves back towards each other.

Social media links:

Twitter: @luluallison77

Website: LuluAllison.net 

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/twice-the-speed-of-dark/ 

 

As ever, huge thanks to Lulu for submitting to the rigours of the questionnaire. Twice the Speed of Dark is out now, so pick yourself up a copy!

10 questions: Stephen Leslie, author of Sparks

A quirky one today from the upcoming Unbound list of crowdfunded books (my own offering is here, by the way)! Here's Stephen Leslie to explain more ...

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Stephen Leslie and my book SPARKS is a collection of short stories inspired by photographs I’ve taken over the past twenty years.

Stephen Leslie.jpg

2. Why should folk read your book?

Because there is genuinely nothing else like it out there. I’m a well-known street photographer but I’m also a screenwriter, so this is a unique book in which I make up fake contexts for my photographs. It’s funny, aesthetically pleasing and mischievous. 

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

We are constantly bombarded with images but rarely have the time to stop and consider them in any great depth. What SPARKS tries to do is get the viewer to slow down for a moment and imagine where these 80 photographs might lead. In this way you can look at a photograph of a man standing on the Holloway Road dressed as a pirate and then read about how he’s dreaming of a way to escape from his career as a chiropodist, or find out what happened to the man with the a giant python I photographed being arrested in a children’s playground....   

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

The hardback book will be in the shops / available online from August 23rd but it can be pre-ordered now (for a discount price) on Amazon. 

Stephen Leslie cover.jpg

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

It depends what I’m working on. I write film and TV scripts for a living so my day is either about researching those projects, writing the actual scripts or shouting / weeping down the phone to my agent. In the time left I’m out taking photographs and, currently, trying to organise the exhibition to accompany the book launch.  

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

I’m going to cheat and pick a book by an American street photographer. Sidewalk was the first book by Jeff Mermelstein. It’s truly amazing but it doesn’t contain a single word, there’s no introduction and none of the photographs are titled. However, his photographs are stuffed with potential, he captures utterly surreal moments that take place in Manhattan and from repeatedly devouring this book I’ve learned so much about the power of suggestion and the way that narrative can be implied by a look or a tiny detail. His work has been a massive influence on both my writing and my photography and indeed what my book, SPARKS does is to try and extend out from a photograph and fill in the blanks. 

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Kevin Barry’s short story collections, There Are Little Kingdoms and Dark Lies The Island are both fantastic. Denis Johnson’s Jesus Son is magical and the collected stories of Raymond Carver is pure gold.  

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

10th of December by George Saunders.

All of the Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St Aubyn.

And a huge compendium of street photography featuring all my favourite photographers!

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Good ideas are sticky and magnetic, they won’t go away and they fire off in all sorts of unexpected directions. Plan but don’t be afraid to change as you go along. Follow your gut. And most of all, it’s as much about re-reading and re-writing as it is about writing.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

It’s impossible to make as a film. And, given my day job, it’s the last thing I’d ever want to do. I wrote this as an escape from the bloody film industry.

Social media contacts:

Website: www.stephenleslie.co.uk

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/sparks/

 

Huge thanks to Stephen for his time and his answers! As he says, Sparks is available from all good bookstores, real and virtual, from 23rd August, so you've really got no excuse to avoid getting yourself a copy!

10 questions: Miles M Hudson, author of 2089

Hi everyone

Today's guest author is Miles Hudson, who's kindly submitted himself for the 10 Qs treatment. Here's Miles to talk about his forthcoming futuristic thriller 2089, which is being published by Unbound, with a street date of 20th September 2018.

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I'm Miles M Hudson.

2089 is an action adventure, with socio-philosophical themes about surveillance in society, the over-reliance on technology, and how human communities should be structured, in order to make for a happy life?

Set in 2089, in the ultimate surveillance society. They’ve developed a system for remotely tapping into your optic and auditory nerves. Everything that you see and hear is detected and published publicly online; nothing you see or hear can be secret.

The action of the story has one of the surveillance policemen blow up the old GCHQ building in Cheltenham, to destroy the surveillance computers and release everyone from what he sees as an Orwellian nightmare. He goes on the run across post-apocalyptic, climate-changed Gloucestershire, until a ragtag posse eventually catches him and brings him back to trial, where the people, who’ve never known privacy, don’t understand his ideas at all.

Miles Hudson author pic.jpg

2. Why should folk read your book?

The page-turning action adventure will also stimulate them to think about a whole range of philosophical questions.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

It’s scarily topical - current world events could easily slip into the cataclysm that leads to my imagined 2089.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

Published by Unbound on 20th September. So, all good bookshops or ebookshops. 

2089.jpg

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I read the papers with a cup of tea in bed, and make it to my desk by about 930am. Work till about 2 pm, lunch, and then wander into Durham for a coffee and Private Eye. Either go swimming, or play hockey in the evening.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Stephen King’s On Writing. His analogy of writing as palaeontology really resonates with me. The dinosaur skeleton is already there, and complete, and our work just brushes away the dirt to reveal that complete story. I regularly feel like I’m just channelling the characters, who go off and do things on their own and I just record it, rather than invent it.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Great Expectations.

The OED.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

I rarely read books a second time. There aren’t any I ‘couldn’t live without’. There are so many books in the world and not enough lifetime to read them all, I feel like reading a book again is wasting that time when I could be discovering a new one. Ok, so that’s the opposite of living on a desert island, but, um, it is the reason why I can’t pick these.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Everything is valid.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

The movie will have constant tension as the hero is constantly looking over his shoulder to evade the surveillance and the posse.

The cinematography will blow the viewer away: climate-changed and post-apocalyptic Gloucestershire, with repeating allusions to the strength of nature that Man could not destroy - the phases of the Moon and the surge of the River Severn’s tides. Whilst the book is along the lines of 1984 meets Station Eleven, the movie has a real chance to hit the qualities of both Blade Runner films.

Social media contacts:

FB: Miles Hudson author

Twitter: @milesmhudson

https://www.mileshudson.com

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/2089/

Previous publications:

The Cricketer’s Corpse

About 20 physics textbooks. Most recently Edexcel A Level Physics Books 1 and 2 

 

Massive thanks to Miles for playing along. As he said, 2089 is out in September. so hopefully there's something here to intrigue you about the book!

  

10 questions: PJ (Philip) Whiteley, author of The Rooms We Never Enter

Hi all

Today's Unbound Publishing author discussing their new/upcoming book in a ten question style is PJ (Philip) Whiteley. So, let's get straight to it! 

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

PJ (Philip) Whiteley. The Rooms We Never Enter is a contemporary drama, a romance with some comedy, so maybe a rom-com, discuss. It’s set mostly in Leeds, and features the on-off relationship between a successful entrepreneur and a single mum on minimum wage.

 PJ (Philip) Whiteley. Photo credit: Ben Bowles

PJ (Philip) Whiteley. Photo credit: Ben Bowles

2. Why should folk read your book?

I’ve been told it’s sweet, funny with some depth. It questions the extent to which gender roles have changed substantially in modern Britain, though it isn’t an issues-led book; the relationship is always centre stage. Both characters have been unlucky in love and yearn for someone who will care for them.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

I think that there is humour in the exchanges, and drama in the clash of cultures. There are twists that I think will be unexpected, and some changes of fortunes for the two main characters. I hope the reader will be rooting for them. I think the insecurities of an apparently successful man may surprise some readers.

4Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?  

When I reach target in the crowdfunding campaign! I’m past half way, so I hope that this will be by the end of 2018.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I’m a full-time writer, so my typical day is writing from around 8.30 in the morning til 5 in the afternoon, and sometimes a little in the evening, though I often take a long lunch break. I do paid-for commissions in non-fiction – business writing – and I spend as much time on fiction as I can.           

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

George Orwell’s Collected Essays contains timeless advice, including the famous one about the English language. He taught me most of what I needed to know to become a professional writer.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

As mentioned, Collected Essays & Journalism by George Orwell. I was also inspired by Pratt of the Argus by David Nobbs and Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby, as styles I could emulate; I acknowledge I’m never going to approach the genius of my three favourite books (see below), with all due respect to David and Nick.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

This is an easy question, because for years I have referred to the ‘holy trinity’ – three books of unsurpassable beauty and genius that they belong in a separate category: 100 Years of Solitude and Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and The Plague by Albert Camus. Why does no one attempt books like these anymore?

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Draw upon your personal experiences, and tap into your emotions. Craft is not enough. There is too much non-fiction in many modern novels.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

This is Bridget Jones meets Fever Pitch; two complex and likeable characters yearn for each other in a funny and subtle romcom after meeting near a football stadium. But can their love conquer the social divide? (John Simm and Angela Griffin are both from Leeds, and would be perfect for the roles. So casting is easy)

Social media contacts:

Twitter: @Felipewh

Facebook: PJ Whiteley author page https://www.facebook.com/PJWhiteleyauthor/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/rooms-we-never-enter/

Previous publications:

Close of Play, Urbane Publications, 2015.

Marching on Together, Urbane Publications, 2017, with a cover commendation by Louis de Bernières

Massive thanks to PJ for playing along! As he says, The Rooms We Never Enter is currently crowdfunding via Unbound, so please check out the book on Unbound's website and consider pledging to make this book a reality. 

 

10 questions: Emma Pusill, co-author of The Lido Guide

Straight to it today, so without any fanfare, here's Emma Pusill to tell us about her book The Lido Guide, coming soon from Unbound Publishing: 

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I’m Emma Pusill, and together with Janet Wilkinson, I’m writing The Lido Guide. It’s just as well you asked what it’s about, because the title is a bit oblique. Maybe we need to work on that.

Anyway, in a nutshell, it’s a user guide to all the publicly accessible open-air pools in the UK and Channel Islands.

Emma Pusill

2. Why should folk read your book?

Because I’ll be massively offended if they don’t.

Aside from sparing my feelings, however, this book will appeal to:

·         Swimmers

·         Dippers

·         Bobbers

·         Non-swimmers who like to hang out in nice places

·         Tea drinkers

·         Cake fans

·         Architecture fans

·         People who need a pitstop during long journies but would rather chew their own left leg off than use service stations

·         Day trippers

·         Sun worshippers

·         Rain gods

·         People who like warm water

·         People who like cold water

·         Picnic lovers

·         Folk interested in community enterprise / volunteering

·         Photography fans

·         Relatives of any of the above who have run out of ideas for what to get said relative for birthday / Christmas gifts

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

Anybody who falls into any of the above categories will find the book invaluable because it will help them to find around 120 outdoor pools, where all of the above passions (and many more besides) can be indulged. It’ll give all the information needed to find and contact the pools, a description of what it’s like to swim there and advance warning of any quirks. You really don’t want to be finding out about coin-operated showers when you’ve already lathered up the shampoo and are frantically trying to make the water work. Yes. That’s bitter personal experience.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy? 

The book is due out in Spring 2019. It’s fully funded, so if you preorder via https://unbound.com/books/lidoguide/ you won’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home – it’ll land right on the doormat. How cool is that? After launch, it’ll be available online and offline, and you can expect it to be stocked in some quirky places, including pools. Some of those pools won’t even be outdoor pools, which we hope will help bridge the indoor/outdoor divide. And if we can manage to resolve that thorny bit of tribalism bringing together both sides of the Brexit debate should be a doddle.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

My half of The Lido Guide was written, almost entirely, on a sun lounger in Tenerife. You have no idea how much I wish I could say that was typical.

Other writing is squashed in around single-parenting, two fairly demanding jobs and trying (mostly in vain of late) to do some actual swimming.

Because of that I often find I am writing in unusual places. To date these have included:

·         Swimming pool spectator galleries

·         Public libraries hundreds of miles from home

·         Cafes – tip: bacon fat and laptop keyboards will never be best friends

·         Pubs – tip: self-discipline required in even larger than usual quantities

·         Supermarket carparks

·         Atop tiny single beds in cheap B&Bs

·         A-road laybys

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

It’s the only book I’ve read that could even remotely be said to be ‘about writing’. Which makes why I have chosen it plain.

But isn’t it just about running, I hear you ask? Well, yes. Mostly. But it also sheds light on Murakami’s approach to writing, what he sees as good qualities for a novelist and writing’s place in his life alongside running.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Jenny Landreth’s Swimming London is everything a good guidebook should be. It captures all the dry, practical knowledge and coats it in personal experience.

Bella Bathurst’s The Lighthouse Stevensons was the first book I read that showed me how factual material could worked into a captivating story akin to a novel.

Dava Sobel’s Galileo’s Daughter deftly draws together what is known from historical evidence, and what can only be extrapolated from that evidence in a work that bridges the gap between fact and fiction. I write some fiction, although not as much as I’d like to, and I invariably find that what I write is part fact, part fiction. I don’t usually set out that way, but that’s what seems to want to come out of my fingers. The piece I had published in Watermarks, an anthology edited by Tanya Shadrick, is a perfect example of that. A story built on a foundation of fact, but nevertheless not factual.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

An etymological dictionary

Essential Sources In The Scientific Study Of Consciousness – Baars, Banks, Newman

Feminism and the Third Republic – Paul Smith

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Beyond extolling the virtues of sun-loungers and a warm climate I’d advocate peace, quiet and time. And drafting. And re-drafting. And cups of tea.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

Two middle-aged women cover thousands of miles, driven by an inexplicable (to their loved ones) need to seek out outdoor pools. Along their way they experience adversity – pools that close because of a drop of rain, pools that are closed when the sign on the door very definitely says open (as does their website), picnics eaten in car parks thanks to said closed pools, traffic jams, flight diversions, testosterone fuelled triathletes having punch ups in the deep end, cafes that have run out of cake. But, ultimately, the adversity gives way to triumph; they swim in the rain, they swim in the sun, they talk to the thousands of humble volunteers who keep pools afloat, they learn about themselves, each other, and the richness of communities where not everything has to be about money.

Social media contacts: @lidoguide on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/lidoguide/

10 questions: Virginia Moffatt, author of Echo Hall

Hi all!

Time for another questionnaire-style interview with an author with a book from Unbound Publishing (my own East of England is in edits with them as we speak, and will be out in due course). Today, it's the turn of Virginia Moffatt, who's here to tell us all about her new novel Echo Hall

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Virginia Moffatt. I am a writer from Oxford. After decades of working in social care, I’ve had a few different jobs. I currently work as a Procurement and Contracts Manager in a multi-academy. I’m married with three teenagers who are all in full-time education.

Echo Hall is my first novel. It is about the echoes of history and asks the question, is conflict inevitable or can we find another way?

Virginia Moffatt.jpg

2. Why should folk read your book?

Firstly, I have tried to write a rattling good story and create characters you will care about, and want to follow through to the end. Second, because I think it has something interesting and useful to say both about the nature of war and peace, and the role of women in society. I would hope that it is the kind of book that will linger long after the final page has been read.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

It’s got a lot of different elements – gothic, family saga, politics, history – so I think that is appealing to a wide range of readers.  It is also fiercely feminist, with three strong heroines: Ruth in the 1990’s, Elsie in the 1940’s and Rachel whose story runs between 1911 and 1924.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?  

Please, please, please buy it from your local bookshop, or if you can’t do that order it via Hive, as they will give a donation to your favourite High Street shop. It is also available via the usual online platforms if you prefer them.

Echo Hall.jpg

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I don’t really have one, because writing is crammed in the spaces I have between work and family life. I tend to do it in fits and starts, so when I’m in a writing phase, I’ll be up at 6 and write till 7 before getting ready for work, making sandwiches and chivvying teenagers out of the house. When approaching a deadline, I’ll probably be continuing in the evening after tea, between 7 and 9, and for as much of the weekend as I can get away with. From time to time, I go away on writing retreats which are very productive as I can please myself and will write from the moment I wake till the moment I go to bed. 

I tend to finish a draft and leave it to cook for a bit. So if I’m not working on a nonfiction project or blogging, or posting guest articles, I use that time to market my work (currently Echo Hall and an essay collection I’ve edited; Reclaiming the Common Good: How Christians Can Help Rebuild This Broken World.  I am looking forward to a day when I can work part-time and have at least one day a week devoted to writing, but that’ll have to wait till the day I get a major book deal!

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott.  I had to read a lot of books about writing when I studied for a Diploma in Creative Writing and I found most of them dull and prescriptive. A friend sent me Bird by Bird. I immediately loved the accessible style and the fact that Lamott recognises there are many ways to write - you have to work out what methodology suits you.  I also love the encouragement in the title, drawn from real life experience when the author’s brother was overwhelmed with the enormity of a school project on birds. Their Dad fixed it by telling him to approach it Bird by Bird which is great advice for any project but particularly helpful for procrastinating writers.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Only three? Gosh.

I love Gothic novels, but I think it is Wuthering Heights, that’s had the most impact on Echo Hall. When I was writing, I went back and had a look at how Nelly Dean tells Lockwood the story of Heathcliff and Cathy, to help me write Rachel’s story. For a while, I had Rachel’s son telling this to Elsie when they were trapped in a cottage overnight, but in the end, I changed it to a letter format. However, I hope something of the spookiness of Wuthering Heights remains and there are one or two nods to it in the book.

The structure of the novel is also inspired a bit by David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, which is a series of interlocking parts. Each story is told till the halfway point, and then another story begins which has a connection to the previous. The sixth story is told in the centre of the book, and then we get the second half of the fifth, fourth etc till we are back at the beginning. I actually can’t remember if I’d worked my structure out before reading Mitchell’s book, but I certainly recognised the connection by the time I’d finished my first draft. I kept checking Cloud Atlas after that to see how the author constructed it and found that very helpful.

Finally, I reread George Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying to get a sense of 1930’s life. Elsie, the second of my three heroines is living in the 1940’s but there are some flashbacks to her life before the war, and Orwell was a definite influence on those segments. He gets name-checked too.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without

The Lord of the Rings. First read it aged 13 and roughly every 18 months/2 years ever since. I love it for its heroism both big and small, huge scope and sense of landscape, journey and adventure.

Cloud Atlas, because it is an astonishing journey through time and space, full of intriguing characters, interesting ideas, heartbreaking situations. Mitchell also uses language and imagery to great effect. It is stunning and I find something new every time I pick it up.

A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving. It’s a brilliant novel about life, death, fate and God with the most heartbreaking last line ever.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Write the story only you can write. Develop a thick skin to deal with the critics. Work hard, experiment, learn from critique. Keep going, and believe in yourself, your time will come.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

Three generations of women experience love, loss and conflict during times of war. Is such conflict inevitable or can we find another way?

Social media contacts:

@aroomofmyown1 (twitter) Virginia Moffatt  & Echo Hall (Facebook)

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/echo-hall/

Previous publications:

Rapture and what comes after:  Flash Fiction Collection. Gumbo Press (2014).

Non fiction.

Life without Jargon: How to help people with learning disabilities understand what you are saying (1996).

Reclaiming the Common Good: How Christians can help rebuild this broken world Darton, Longman and Todd.(2017).

‘Nothing More and Nothing Less.’ A Lent course inspired by the film ‘I, Daniel Blake’. Darton, Longman and Todd. (2017).

Huge thanks to Victoria for her time and thought. Can't beat an Owen Meany fan! Echo Hall is out now, so please rush out and grab an armful of copies!

 

East of England - update 17th July

Hi all!

Here's where we are with East of England. Those of you fine folk who have already pledged to the support the book should have received an email spelling out some of this, so apologies for any duplication. As noted in that email, Unbound break down their route to publication into ten stages:

  1. Funding target reached
  2. The final draft of the manuscript is delivered.
  3. The editor edits. And edits.
  4. Cover and artwork design begins.
  5. The copy editor reviews the manuscript for consistency.
  6. Typesetter formats manuscript for printing
  7. First proofs come back and are sent to the proofreader
  8. Final edits are made
  9. Artwork finalised
  10. Final proofs go to press

Where are we? We're at stage 3 of that process. I delivered the manuscript of the novel at the weekend (after two full drafts and what felt at the time like a thorough tidy-up), and it's now in the wildly-capable hands of its editor. Those who pledged to have their (or a loved one's) name featured in the novel have had the appropriate name included... 

There'll now be a period of to-and-fro between the editor and me, first on the overall structure of the book, and then on the writing at the level of paragraph, sentence and word. Basically, the editor acts as a critical friend / constructive critic to help ensure that East of England a) makes sense b) is great c) doesn't have any errors / mistakes / unwarranted weirdness in it.

This part of the process will take a few weeks, not least as it's summer and we'd all rather be outside making sandcastles and flicking towels at each other than being hunched over a laptop, grumbling at a manuscript.  

There'll be update emails from Unbound throughout the process to publication, and I'll do the same, hopefully explaining stuff along the way. 

In the meantime, writing on other stuff continues apace. I'd tell you more, but I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise. 

The pledges / pre-orders will remain open to let other fine folk get on board to receive the acclaim and glory that being a crowd-funder and an arts patron brings. So, if you either want to get copies for others, or simply like having multiple copies o the same book on your shelves, you can make those pre-orders here

Also, if you're so minded I thoroughly recommend pre-ordering (also from Unbound) my brother Maxim's book Field Notes

Thanks!

Eamonn

10 questions: John-Michael O'Sullivan, author of The Replacement Girl

Today's featured Unbound author (and therefore stablemate of my upcoming noir thriller East of England) is John-Michael O'Sullivan, who's here to talk about his book The Replacement Girl. No messing, it's straight over to John-Michael for the 10 questions treatment:  

1. Who are you, and what’s your book about?

I’m an architect and journalist, born in Ireland but now based in London. I write about photography, fashion and design for the likes of Esquire and The Observer. And for the past five years, I’ve been working on a book about Barbara Mullen, one of the top models of the Forties and Fifties.

JMOS author pic.jpg

2. Why should folk read your book? 

We tend to take fashion at face value. And that’s particularly true when it comes to models: there are very few books about them, and those that do exist are largely collections of beautiful pictures, of beautiful people, in beautiful clothes. So this is a whole history that’s never been explored. It’s the story of how a profession that barely existed at the start of the 20th century became one of the most exciting, sought-after careers in the world — and the story of the women who became its first stars, a generation of pioneers whose attitudes and aesthetics still shape our notions of beauty today.) 

Most of all, it’s the story of a remarkable character; a girl from working-class Harlem who was catapulted into international society, and who’s always displayed a remarkable knack for being in interesting places at interesting times — from Mad Men-era Manhattan to Paris during couture's golden age, and from Forties Hollywood to life amongst the Sixties jet-set.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

Quite simply, Barbara! Her story offers a perspective on the world of midcentury fashion that no-one ever thought to explore, from the point of view of a group of women whose opinions were never sought. Also, there will be some beautiful pictures of beautiful people in beautiful clothes.

 Barbara Mullen

Barbara Mullen

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

We’re currently crowdfunding the biography through Unbound, with the aim to publish next year. We’ve just passed the halfway mark — so technically we’re on the home stretch!

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

By day, I work in a design studio. So writing is the thing I do late at night, slumped on the sofa — or early in the morning, tapping notes into my phone on the Tube to work.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Toni Morrison’s Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination — a wonderful exploration of how society shapes language, and of how that affects us both as writers and as readers.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer: 

Hermione Lee’s spectacular biography of Virginia Woolf; Norman MacLean’s Young Men and Fire: and Francis Spufford’s I May Be Some Time, which traces Britain’s obsession with polar exploration across the centuries.

8. Pick three desert island books.

The ones I go back to again and again are Graham Swift’s Waterland, Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence — and, ever since I was eight, Alison Uttley’s A Traveller in Time.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Always read your text out loud. If it survives that test, it’s safe for the real world . . .

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch: 

Love. Hate. Glamour. Betrayal. Success. Tragedy. Frocks.

Social media contacts: 

Twitter: twitter.com/1972projects

Instagram: instagram.com/1972projects

Unbound URL: unbound.com/books/the-replacement-girl

Huge thanks to John-Michael for his time and input. It's well worth having a look at the project's Unbound page, not least for the great array of pledge levels and extras but also for some more incredible photos of Barbara Mullen. Hopefully, you'll be inspired to support the project and make this book a reality! 

10 questions: Anna Lickley, author of Senseless

Today's Unbound author is Anna Lickley, whose novel Senseless is nearing publication. So, without any further waffle from me, here's Anna:

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I’m Anna, I grew up in West Yorkshire and am back living up here after about 10 years in Bristol. I had a business teaching British Sign Language and Disability Equality before retiring on health grounds about 8 years ago (I have Neurofibromatosis type 2 and am deaf-blind now).

The great thing about retiring at 38 is that I have plenty of time to write and my first full-length novel, Senseless, follows the lives of Beth and Sam as they grapple through the rollercoaster of life as we all do.

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2. Why should folk read your book?

Senseless has characters who readers will grow to love. It is full of surprises, trauma, humour and resilience and everyone will identify with different parts of it. My proofreader asked Unbound to tell me that she ‘absolutely loved it’ and that it made her cry (hopefully laugh too!). All readers so far have been taken by surprise towards the end of the book.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

My editor said that it’s gripping and compelling, it’s very realistic and many people will recognise themselves in it sometimes (not literally). It’s a page-turning kind of book I hope!

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy? 

Senseless is through edits and just awaiting cover design and final tweaks before it can go to Publishingland. Hopefully, all will be ready by the end of summer, which is very exciting. It will be on Kindle and in many good bookshops or available to order from one. You can pre-order from Unbound via my project page (link below)

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

When I was writing Senseless, I tried to write every day, even if I didn’t feel like it at all, I wrote a minimum of 500 words if I could. Other days, I would sit at my computer for hours and only stop writing when my bladder was bursting.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Yikes, I haven’t read any! I HAVE read hundreds of fiction books though and I know when I read one that appeals to me. I did Google several sites to ask dumb, basic questions like ‘how long should a novel be?’ (80k seems about average, Senseless is 56k, hey ho). Mostly I write better when it’s just spontaneous.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Tough question, I’ve loved many books but I don’t feel they make me want to pick up a pen and write (or turn on my PC and type). Perversely, it has sometimes been not so good books that have pushed me to write. Books I want to answer to.

If I were to pick three compelling books I have loved and admired that are very much ‘my kind of books’, I’d say Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and Room by Emma Donoghue.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

Definitely Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, I have read it about a dozen times (studied it at uni) and always enjoy it. It is a perfect novel on so many levels.

Middlemarch, by George Eliot as it is plenty long enough and I’m happy to read it many times.

A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara. The book that should have won the Mann Booker. Superb.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Just write your thing and see what happens.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

OK, so I had to Google ‘high concept’! I get you:

"Prepare to laugh, cry, cringe and be shocked as you travel with Beth and Sam on their messy, unpredictable and addictive journey through life and love."

Social media contacts:

Twitter: @annal_writes

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/senseless/

Previous publications:

Catch It Anytime You Can available via:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Catch-Anytime-You-Anna-Lickley/dp/099272970X

 

Massive thanks to Anna for answering these questions! Senseless is out later in the summer of 2018. It'll be available for pre-ordering from all the usual physical and virtual book shops, as well as direct from Unbound here

10 questions: Eli Allison, author of Sour Fruit

As a fan of East coast of England dystopias (my own upcoming novel East of England has a tinge of this in its focus on run-down Lincolnshire market towns and rusting funfair apparatus), I'm really looking forward to Eli Allison's Hull-set Sour Fruit. So, it's straight over to Eli to tell us more: 

eli allison author pic..jpg

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Eli Allison and my book is Sour Fruit, a dark dystopian. Set in a fictional part of Hull sometime in the future, in a rotting scrap yard of misery called Kingston. Onion has been kidnapped and wakes up earmarked for a skin-trader called The Toymaker. Surrounded by a creeping rot she has just three days to escape before the sold sticker becomes a brand.

 2. Why should folk read your book?

Because if I don’t sell some books soon, I’m going to have to sell my other kidney, I sold the last one to fund my kid’s Unicorn habit, but the pot's running low.

Kidneys grow back right?

3. What’s the appeal of your book? 

It’s not for the faint-hearted, it has spanking swears, riddled with dark themes and has a main character, Onion, that has all the subtlety of a hand-grenade and the charm of diarrhoea. She is my spirit animal.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy? 

Mid-July is my baby's birthday, but books can sometimes be overdue, suborn little things. You can pre-order now from Unbound.

sour fruit cover..jpg

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I hit the cheese and crackers hard, coffee harder, and by the end of hour six have stripped off to my underwear in some sort of feral madness, think Martin Sheen in that hotel room, in Apocalypse Now.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Novel in a Year: A Novelist's Guide to Being a Novelist by Louise Doughty.

It’s a sweet-tempered guide-dog that eases you around the world of writing. The title is also hilarious. I purchased the book back in 2012; my debut novel comes out this year.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Fight Club, the sucker-punch prose of Chuck Palahniuk made me realise I'd didn't need a doctorate in linguistics to write novels. Just a drive to understand storytelling as an art form and a wheelbarrow of imagination.

The Thousand and One Nights also called The Arabian Nights.

I loved the wrapping of stories in other stories. The young wife who tells tales to avoid being killed is herself a story being told.  It's a crazy head melt which I've replicated with Sour Fruit. Onion is telling her story to the interviewer but also telling the stories of the city that someone once told her.

The Handmaiden's Tale, the first speculative fiction novel I ever read and since that's the genre I write you can guess how it affected me. 

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: the Trilogy of Four, as a brilliant read, but also as a heavy-duty weapon to pulverise nature with; I don't 'do' outside.

hitch 2.jpg

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, an intelligent and visceral book, that makes me wish I could write better.

The last book I'd take on a desert island?  How To Make Wines at Home: Using Wild and Cultivated Fruit, Flowers and Vegetables. (I don't need your judgment I just need wine.)

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Eli Allison quote .jpg

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

Think Mad Max but instead of the Australian outback it's set in a damp Hull and with an angry 15-year girl, instead of an angry Mel Gibson.

Social media contacts:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eliallison84/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EliAllison3

If you have room, my blog is an OK read: https://www.eli-allison.com/blog-1

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/sour-fruit/

 

Huge thanks to Eli for answering my daft run of questions (and for the artwork!). Hopefully, like me you'll find Sour Fruit intriguing and you'll want to read it!

10 questions: Erica Buist, author of This Party's Dead

Hi all, today in the ongoing series of questionnaire-style interviews (I must have snatched the idea from distant memories of Shoot! and Look-In! magazines from my childhood, when football players and TV personalities/pop stars respectively would get quizzed in a similar manner about their likes and interests) is Erica Buist, whose book This Party's Dead is currently being crowdfunded via Unbound Publishing. 

Here's Erica to explain more:

EB Profile pic.png

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I’m Erica Buist and I’m a freelance journalist, mostly for the Guardian. My book, This Party’s Dead, is about the world’s death festivals. It starts with the sudden and unexpected death of my father-in-law (which I wrote about in the Guardian), after which I decided to travel to seven countries to see how various cultures deal more joyfully with death.

2. Why should folk read your book?

It tackles something we will all go through (though I hope your experience with a losing a loved one is less graphic than mine). It’s full of fascinating people, rituals and facts – and editors who have read extracts have informed me they literally both laughed and cried.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

It should appeal to those fascinated by how death affects us in our day-to-day lives, and also travel buffs. I’m visiting death festivals in Mexico, Nepal, Sicily, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, and Madagascar. There’s also a quick stop off in San Francisco and New Orleans. Come with me!

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?  

The book is available on Unbound (as I’m writing it, because that’s how fast the modern world moves). It’ll be a little while yet as my final death festival is next September, but subscribers get updates as I go. You can grab a hardback or digital version, and there are even a few cooler options – would you like a bag of traditional Sicilian ‘bones of the dead’ biscotti with your book? Personalised video updates from the death festivals? A Spanish lesson from the author? A couple of people have even pledged for the option to have me call them at a random moment in the next year and rap Alphabet Aerobics.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I would LOVE to be the sort of writer with a typical writing day. It’s tricky because I juggle book-writing with pay-the-bills writing, and you never know which will demand more of your time week to week. I write in my basement office (cosy in winter but pains me when it’s sunny outside), where I have two armchairs, a bunch of floating bookshelves with blankets, a desk and a £40 Nespresso machine. My dog sits on the armchair, sleeping or watching me work, until it’s time to go for a walk. If inspiration strikes when I’m away from my desk, I type it all into my phone. I have nearly had several treadmill accidents this way.

EB pic 2.jpg

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

It’s not strictly about writing, but I like Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey because it dispels those myths that “good writers always write in the morning” or “successful writers write every day” and what have you. Artists over the centuries have had vastly different routines and it’s really fine to pick one that works for you instead of trying to emulate what worked for Sartre (I could never handle that much amphetamine anyway).

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

The first book that made me laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and it was then that I started understanding the world pretty much entirely through comedy. I also loved the way Jonathan Tropper explored bereavement in How to Be a Widower, moving and heartbreaking and frequently hilarious. And I only got round to reading The Glass Castle this year; it’s a memoir I love for the incredible level of detail she recalls, and the essential ones that made us feel like we know her infuriating parents.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

Three is SO STINGY. Surely there’s space on this damn island for more than three?! Ugh, fine; I’ll go with The Secret Garden for nostalgia, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin because it’s great and really long (I assume I’ll have a lot of time to kill on this island?) and a book of short stories, so I can feel like I have more books. Maybe One More Thing by BJ Novak.

9.    Any words of writing wisdom?

Writing nonfiction takes a lot of research, so write the parts you know first, the story on which to paint the rest. Then as you research, start to expand and colour it all in.

Don’t forget character, even though it’s nonfiction. The reader needs to know the characters just as much as they do in fiction. I would go so far as to say write nonfiction as if it’s fiction, with all the colour that entails – just make sure it’s true. The book Nine Lives: Life and Death in New Orleans by Dan Baum does this wonderfully.

Interview as many people as you can, and always ask, “Who else should I speak to?”

As I write, I snack on 100% cacao chocolate. Don’t do that. It’s disgusting.

10.  Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

Woman is surprisingly devastated at the death of her father-in-law, goes on a quest to see death in a more positive, joyful light. Look, it pains me to say it, but I know the snappy, time-is-money film pitch would be, “Eat, Pray, Love, but funny, atheist, and with dead people”.

Social media contacts:

@ericabuist (Twitter and Instagram)

@thedeathtivals (Twitter specifically about my book)

Website: http://www.thisisnotajourney.com/

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/deathtivals/  

 

Huge thanks to Erica for answering my questions. I've supported This Party's Dead and hopefully you will too, so that the book becomes a reality sooner rather than later! 

10 questions: Toby Howden, author of Paper Tigers: Martial Arts & Misadventure in Japan

Today's interviewee in the ongoing series of questionnaire-style friendly interrogations of fellow Unbound Publishing authors (my noir thriller East of England is on its way from Unbound - details, including how to pre-order special advance copies are here) is Toby Howden. Here's Toby to tell us all a bit more about his book:

TH pic.jpg

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Toby Howden and my book is Paper Tigers: Martial Arts & Misadventure in Japan, a memoir about an ill-judged attempt to become the real Karate Kid whilst working in a traditional Japanese paper factory during the nineties.

2. Why should folk read your book?

Because it’s a hilarious and heart-warming tale of friendship, following your dreams and how, when things don’t go quite as planned, there’s a better story to be told. It highlights many of the funny and painful faux pas you can end up committing in foreign cultures, plus, it’s all embarrassingly true.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

I think travelling to the “mystical Orient” to train with martial arts masters is something many people have dreamed of doing, but few have ever considered the reality of such an endeavour. There’s an enduring curiosity about traditional Japanese culture, but most Westerners experience it through the polite camera lens of a tourist, or as a well-paid, segregated English teacher. I’ve yet to come across anyone else who has worked there doing manual labour whilst attempting to become a ninja - with good reason.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

It’s out now in paperback and digital in the usual places – Amazon, Foyles, Waterstones etc.   

TH book.jpg

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

My beautiful girlfriend usually wakes me with a martini as the sun rises over our private island hideaway. The sounds of the warm sea lapping on the sandy white beach drifts in through the billowing linen curtains. I fight off Ursula’s advances donning a tight black polo-neck over my muscular, tanned body and begin the first task of the day, pondering the tricky second novel.

Sorry, you mean my day…

I wake when it’s still dark, then commute far enough to ensure the complete destruction of the environment. Boring meetings, teaching and admin whilst daydreaming about writing. Home, family, kids, bedtime, wine. Not always in that order. Around ten o'clock I turn the computer on, stare at it wistfully and hit the PlayStation for an hour. At eleven o'clock I’m almost ready to begin. I open my current ‘work in progress’, check Facebook, Twitter, put some tunes on, mess about with Instagram, the news, then back to Facebook again. I‘ll then re-read my latest sonnet, ponder different fonts and maybe open more wine.

Around midnight I ignore the angry texts from my partner telling me to turn it down and come to bed, and suddenly, as if by magic, I’m in the zone and begin to write…

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

I’m guessing everyone’s already read On Writing by Stephen King. Brilliant for so many reasons and reassuring proof that truly great writers are not simply born overnight. Slightly more obscure but well worth checking out is Joel Stickley’s blog ‘How to Write Badly Well’, very funny and informative. 

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Lost in Place by Mark Saltzman, a truly hilarious and superbly written coming of age memoir about trying to get high and master Kung Fu in Connecticut USA during the 1970s.

Fantastic Mr Fox. Having three kids I get the joy and privilege of re-reading stories from my childhood. Re-visiting the Roald Dahl classics is pure inspiration. They’re a masterclass in creativity and the art of making supremely clever writing appear effortless.  

Angry White Pyjamas by Robert Twigger. A year in Japan completing the infamous Tokyo Riot Police Aikido course; made me reflect about my own martial arts experiences and persuaded me that it was something worth writing about.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

I guess something by Ray Mears or Bear Grylls might be sensible on a desert island.

Hanta Yo by Ruth Beebe-Hill is pretty epic and definitely worth a re-read. The story of the Native American Sioux tribe. A heart-breaking book that forces you to reconsider modern definitions of ‘civilisation.’

The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin, a truly masterful writer, she created worlds and characters with such depth, I feel as though her books are old friends.

Can I take some pencils and a pad of paper and write one?

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Writing a book is like reaching the summit of a mountain only to be confronted by the far more challenging mountain range of publishing; think Mordor rather than The Sound of Music.

Most people don’t care that you’ve written a book, many publishers are actually quite annoyed by the fact. Deal with it. Conversely, some people will immediately assume that you’re going to be the next famous millionaire celebrity JK, and a precious few will believe in your writing to the extent that you will be utterly humbled.

Also, ignore twats who tell you it can’t be done.  

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

‘Wax on, wax off, wacked out!’ (Courtesy of Unbound). Or, ‘Man goes to Japan to master martial arts. Will he do it? No.’

Social media contacts:

Website: LLToby@twitter

Tobyhowden@Instagram.com

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/paper-tigers

   

Huge thanks to Toby for answering my questions! As he says, Paper Tigers is available now from all good retailers, so you really don't have a reason to not pick yourself up a copy ...

10 questions: Alys Earl, author of Time's Fool

Today's fellow Unbound-signed author is Alys Earl. No shilly-shallying today, it's straight on with the interview:

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1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I am Alys Earl, and my book – Time’s Fool - is about what happens when the supernatural invades the normal, or, perhaps, when we’re so hungry for something different that we invite those things into our lives.

More specifically, it’s about Steven and Sophia - two young people who experience a coming of age when they befriend a mysterious stranger, and about a monster who still remembers what it was like to be a man. It’s about what happens when those two storylines cross.

2. Why should folk read your book?

Because, as well as being a dark, gripping horror novel, it also captures that moment in early adulthood where the future is entirely uncertain, when you are still carrying all the dreams of childhood, but are suddenly aware the world is a much larger and more uncaring place than you’ve ever realised.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

It’s a love-song to the Gothic – but it is not an uncritical one. Time’s Fool has all the concerns, themes, and atmosphere the Victorian supernatural fiction, but it questions the place of those things in the modern – and postmodern - world. Plus, it’s spooky and a bit sexy, and that’s always fun.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy? 

Currently, it’s fully funded and in editorial development with Unbound – which means you can still pre-order it, and be listed as a supporter, on their website www.unbound.com/books/times-fool. However, it will be available to buy online and in bookshops in the autumn.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I wish I could make this sound exciting and glamorous! Basically, I get the kids to school, tidy up downstairs, make a cup of tea and then shut myself in the box room to tap out words or do admin until it’s time to pick them up again. I tend to sort out all the plot problems on that second walk, and then can’t work on them at least until my partner gets home, or the sprogs are in bed. That’s the ideal conditions – though I’ve been known to write literally anywhere and on anything I’ve got to hand.

Some days I write a lot - others I just stare at the screen for hours on end wondering why I chose to do this to myself, but either way, I still prefer it to the admin.

Back before I was a parent, I used to write in the evenings with a glass of wine or whisky, or pull an all-nighter if I got into the zone. I miss that sometimes.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

This is going to sound terrible, but I don’t read books about writing. I’ve always been of the opinion that for every opinion about it, there is an equal and opposite opinion that has just as much in its favour. Besides that, I am really argumentative and hate being told what to do, so I used to get very frustrated, and it was just better for everyone that I stopped. What I do like, though, is writing which deals with creation thematically – so I’m going to go with Baudolino by Umberto Eco, which is an absolutely wonderful book about the power of lies.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

I don’t think any book has ever had so profound an effect on me as Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber – it’s justly famous, so I probably don’t need to go too deeply in to why, but it simply showed me what could be done language, by story, just by everything. It’s an entirely perfect collection of short stories.

On a similar note, I read Poppy Z Brite’s Lost Souls at exactly the right age, and it was like a punch to the face, to be honest. I don’t think I’ve ever read another book – besides those two – that have actually taken my breath away. I just sat there, staring at the page thinking, “Is fiction allowed to do this?” So, the Carter was possibility, but Brite was permission.

And, finally, going a bit further back, Robin Jarvis’ The Wyrd Museum series – especially the final book, The Fatal Strand was really what set me on this path. I already wanted to be a writer, I have done since forever, but I wanted to do it like that. I wanted to give people the kind of nightmares that gave me – I wanted to make that rich, glowing sense of magic and dread that pervades his work. I still read the series periodically, and it still has that power over me.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

Nooo! My idea of hell is not having many, many books available at all times! But the ones I couldn’t live without?

Little, Big by John Crowley – people don’t seem to know this one so well as they should do, and it’s really hard to do justice with words. Part myth cycle, part generational family saga, part apocalyptic novel, almost part philosophical mediation, it is a book I could go back to endlessly and never tire of. It tells of the interactions between the Faerie Court and the descendants of a visionary architect, in New York State over the course of the twentieth century and if that sounds really bizarre, then you’re partway to understanding how strange and wonderful this book is. Plus, Crowley’s prose is gorgeous, which is always a plus.

A much more recent one is A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. This one goes right to the heart – AI and genofixing in an imperfect galaxy, a novel about rights, identity, family, and home. I don’t think another book has ever moved me so much.

Then, American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Everyone knows about that now so I don’t need to tell you why it’s so brilliant, but it’s still my favourite book.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

I nicked this from Jane Casey, because she said it to me. Stop apologising for your work.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

M R James for the student loans generation – what happens when you leave it to the Arts and Humanities students to face the vampires.

Social media contacts:

@alysdragon on Twitter and AlysEarl1 on Facebook

Unbound URL: unbound.com/books/times-fool/

Previous publications:

Scars on Sound – a collection of illustrated ghost stories with a folk horror theme. Available here

 

Huge thanks to Alys for playing along. Anyone who recommends Eco's Baudolino is alright by me. Hopefully, you find Time's Fool intriguing, and you'll get yourself a copy. The book can be pre-ordered here.   

10 questions: Paul Holbrook, author of Domini Mortum

As noted in other posts in this series, these questionnaire-style interviews have come about as part of being interested in how others going through the same process - crowdfunding a novel - approach their writing. Today's guest is Paul Holbrook, author of Domini Mortum, so without any further ado (barring the now-statutory link to my own book East of England) here's Paul:

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1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I’m Paul Holbrook, I write things that fall out of my very confused mind.

Domini Mortum is a supernatural murder mystery set in Late Victorian London. It tells the story of Samuel Weaver, an illustrator and writer for the Illustrated Police News, who helps the police with their investigations into a series of ‘orrible murders.

2. Why should folk read your book? 

It’s riveting, entertaining and just the right side of creepy. Imagine Ripper Street but with ghosts and evil cults, or Sherlock Holmes versus the devil. It will satisfy the desires of anyone who enjoys a ripping yarn!

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

The book will appeal to all those who love a twisty turny mystery, with generous dollops of grisly murder, lashings of spooky thrills, and more Victorian grime than you can shake a stick at. When I wrote the book, my first aim was to create a novelised version of one of these great Hammer/Amicus/Tigon movies, the type with Peter Cushing fighting the forces of evil, or Oliver Reed growling menacingly as he commits a murder, or even Ian Ogilvy looking dashing in his pre-Saint years. Anyone who is a fan of that great age of British horror movie will see a lot of what they love in the book.     

 4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

It is due to come out in the late summer, most likely September, and will then be available in all of the best book shops. There is even still time to get your name included in the book in the list of supporters. Imagine that, your very own name in a book!  

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5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it: 

A typical writing day for me always starts first thing in the morning, I like to treat it the same as a work day and be punctual and ready to go by about 8.30 or 9. I’ve found that this is the only way that I can get a satisfactory amount done in a day is if I throw myself into it early on.  Otherwise, a myriad of distractions seem to appear and before I know it the day is over and very little have been written.

I am very strict; all social media off, mobile phone in another room and forgotten about, and family know that it’s writing time and not to disturb the grouch.

I always set myself a target for the day, be it to complete a chapter, write two or three scenes, or just a word count (usually between 2 and 3 thousand words).

I write because I enjoy it though, although I have a strict structure to my day, the moment it begins to feel like work I am quite happy to just say ‘sod it’ for the day. There’s no point grinding out words that there’s no enthusiasm behind. That only makes bad words.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?  

For me there is only one book: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. It’s not just because it’s Stephen King who I read an awful lot of when I was in my teens and early twenties. This book is like my rulebook on how to write stuff that’s actually worthy of reading. It’s part autobiography, telling about his childhood and how he developed a love of writing, but then the second half is more like an instruction manual for writing great fiction.

I didn’t read it until I’d been writing for a few years, and it was a revelation to me. Part of this was because some of the things he recommended to do I was doing already (which made me feel quite smug) but then there were other parts that suddenly made the process of writing so much easier, especially when it came to the progression from first draft to second draft. I cannot recommend it enough.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer: 

Selected Tales – Edgar Allan Poe

A demonstration of how it is possible to delve into the recesses and dark places of the mind and create a new art form.  Poe is the perfect kind of crazy genius that I aspire to.

The Devil Rides Out – Dennis Wheatley

I discovered this book when I was very young, maybe eleven or twelve. (Bizarrely, I think my Nan had a copy.) I read it, was very confused and was not sure if I liked it that much, and put it back on the shelf and forgot about it. I found myself haunted though by images and scenes from the book though, sometimes in dreams sometimes in the sudden absence-like daydreams which I still suffer from today when suddenly filled with an idea for a story or a scene. I didn’t connect the two until I read the book when I was older, and also saw the fantastic movie adaptation, which remains one of my favourites.

That for me is something to aspire to – weaving images and pictures through words that stick with the reader and become part of their unconscious (some would call it hypnosis, I just call it clever writing)

Conversations with Spirits – EO Higgins

I never really began writing until around nine years ago, I always thought about it but never did anything. And then by chance I saw a tweet from Stephen Fry with a link to a new writing website called Jottify. It was basically a place where writers could upload their stuff for other writers to critique and enjoy, enthuse and encourage. In a fit of madness, I joined and began putting up some of my poetry. Then slowly I moved onto trying to write a short story or two.  I met a lot of great writers on the Jottify site (sadly it is no more) writers who became and still are very dear friends. The daddy of the site though was an EO Higgins, where my little stories were getting one hundred or one hundred and fifty views, his opus, Conversations with Spirits, published chapter by chapter had views in their thousands. I think by the time the Jottify site died it had had sixty-seven thousand views. It was picked up by Unbound and became one of their first published books.

I love everything about the book, the characters, the storyline, just the feel of the thing.  When I finally decided to have a go at a novel Conversations with Spirits was the benchmark I aspired to, and still is in whatever I write.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:  

Legend – David Gemmell

My dad bought me this book when I was fourteen and I immediately became lost in it. I think I may have read it twenty or thirty times now, it is part of me. It’s a fantasy novel about a huge invading army of barbarians and a small outnumbered group of men who defend the entrance to their country, literally until only a handful remain. Kind of like the Alamo but with axes and swords rather than guns. Gemmell wrote it while waiting to find out if he had cancer or not.  Luckily for him, he didn’t and he went on to write lots more books until his early death in 2006. I have all of them although none is more loved by me than his first.

It’s not the best-written book on my overladen shelf, but it is the one most dear to me.  The thought of not being able to pick it up and read it is not one I would like to dwell on.

Weaveworld – Clive Barker

Why this book hasn’t been given more attention since its publication I have no idea. It is a brilliantly told tale of fantasy mixed in with reality. A whole race of people being hunted to extinction are hidden by weaving them into a magical carpet. It sounds a bit bonkers, and it probably is but somehow it works.

I don’t know why it has never been made into a film or television series, although there is always the risk of ruining it by committing it to film. I also have a graphic novel version, which is very well done too.

Swan Song – Robert R McCammon

Another one that I have read countless times over and over. It’s basically an apocalypse story; the world has been destroyed by nuclear missiles and the survivors try to erm… survive.  But is is really well written. Each chapter is short, contains one major addition to the storyline and ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.  It was released at the same time as Stephen King’s The Stand which was unfortunate as King got all the plaudits. To me though, Swan Song is a much better book. Characterisation, plot twists, parallel narratives, it has it all.

9. Any words of writing wisdom? 

Only a couple. Be brave when your’e writing. The words are there, within that turnip of yours, and they will do no good until they come out. Be brave enough to commit them to reality, even if you then discard them as rubbish. The amount of brilliant ideas that I have lost over the years from not being brave enough or giving the time to write them down is tragic.

Be brutal, with your editing.  It can save you a lot of heartache when the time comes to show it to someone else. I have a thick skin, and can take criticism when given in the right way.  Sometimes though I have had advice from those who know better to really be brutal with cutting stuff that’s unwanted or unnecessary. It’s easy to become too involved and attached to your work, sometimes an outside view does really know best. Be willing to make those cuts.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch: 

OK (said in deep rumbly trailer guy voice)

In a world where violent murder happens every day, only one man, Samuel Weaver(Tom Hardy/Tom Holland – any of the Toms) is brave enough to search out the truth.

He must face an unearthly killer with supernatural powers, an evil cult led by a man who seems to be above the law, and the horror of his own brutal and shadowy past.

WATCH, as he meets the mysterious and drunken Edward Higgins (Benedict Cumberbatch/Johnny Depp/Robert Downey Jr)

SIGH, as he falls in love with the beautiful but doomed Alice (Emma Watson, or Emma Stone – any of the Emmas)

SCREAM IN TERROR, as he faces terrible demons, from the depths of hell, and from his own twisted mind.

Domini Mortum – Sometimes the darkest evil is within.

Social media contacts: 

Twitter @cpholbrook

Unbound URL:  www.unbound.co.uk/books/domini-mortum 

Previous publications:  

Memento Mori - a type of prequel to Domini Mortum.  Available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Memento-Mori-Paul-Holbrook/dp/1530722675/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1530440555&sr=8-6&keywords=Memento+mori

Big thanks to Paul for his time. As he says, the book is coming soon, so keep an eye out for it!

East of England: now funded, thanks to you!

A catch-up post from the other day, as I've only now come to realise that I've not actually mentioned on here that East of England has reached its funding total, and is beginning its journey from manuscript to printed/digital book! Huge thanks to those who've supported its crowdfunding journey thus far. The actual crowdfunding page remains open for people to pre-order their preferred version of the book. You can find that link, inevitably, here. Pre-orders in this way will ensure that those who've supported the novel will have their names listed as patrons of the project in the book. So, if you wish to be immortalised in print in this way, get on board sooner rather than later. 

I'll keep folk updated through this blog and via emails both from Unbound's website and via my own mailing list (you can sign up to that here). In the meantime, I've got a quick redraft to do. This'll include adding in the names of those who very kindly selected higher-level pledges that bought their (or a loved one's) name to be added into the book, plus a general tidy-up and a clarification of a few plot points. Then, as they say, the hard work begins. Structural and line editing, typesetting and proofing, working towards agreeing on cover art and so on. The slow churn towards publication day. 

In the meantime, writing continues apace. There's every chance that East of England will be beaten into print by another book of mine, but I'll give details on that closer to the time, For now, though, thanks again! 

10 questions: Sue Clark, author of Note To Boy

Part of the pleasure of having had crowdfunded a book via Unbound Publishing (my noir novel East of England has just - at the time of writing - been funded, and will be in print and digital form all too soon) is the sense of community with other writers who are going through  - or have gone through - a crowdfunding journey themselves. So, it's interesting to explore others' approaches to their writing and their work. Hence this series of short interviews!

Today's Unbound author is Sue Clark, whose comic novel Note To Boy demands your attention. Here's Sue to explain more: 

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1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I’m Sue Clark and I’m a recent escapee from the world of PR and journalism. I’ve also done a bit a TV and radio scriptwriting in my time. My comic fiction Note to Boy tells what happens when the worlds of an elderly former fashion diva and a teenager from a sink estate collide.

2. Why should folk read your book?

It’s funny and, without being heavy-handed about it, reminds us that people who are often written off – the crabby old and the surly young – may have hidden depths, with tales to tell and adventures to be had. And did I mention it’s funny?

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

It touches on real issues like loneliness and bullying but in an entertaining way, and features the crazy 1960s – and who doesn’t love a bit of Swinging London nostalgia?

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

Note to Boy is with the crowdfunding publisher Unbound now and will be available just as soon as the funding target is reached. We just have to encourage a few more lovely people to support it and pledge for a personalised and reasonably priced first edition copy. Hint hint!

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5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

Having given up the nine-to-five a few years ago to concentrate on novel writing, I fight against having a typical day, although I do try to write something every day, no matter how short. And when the mood is on me, or a deadline looms, I’m up at sparrow’s fart to tap away and may still be there at midnight, a glass of something chilled at my elbow. I’ll even pull an all-nighter if needed, although don’t talk to me the following day. I’d like to be a writer of regular habits but it doesn’t seem to happen.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Easy. On Writing by Stephen King. Why? Because (unlike some authors of ‘how to’ books) he is a prolific and highly successful writer himself and his advice is wise and down-to-earth. What it boils down to (if I may be so bold as to summarise) is: stop with the excuses, park your bum on the seat and just bloody write.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Now this, and the next question, is unfair! But I’ll close my eyes and stick a pin in a few. Kate Atkinson, Life After Life: a virtuoso performance that, in a parallel universe, I would have written. PG Wodehouse, Right Ho, Jeeves (or any of his Jeeves books): anyone who can make you laugh out loud through wordplay alone gets my vote. Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: hilarious from the first deadpan lines onwards.

8. Pick three desert island books – works you couldn’t live without:

Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna: a perfect novel in my view. Philip Roth, The Plot Against America: the book we could be living in at the moment. Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: the book I read as a child that first made me want to write.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Firstly, be prepared to work really hard, especially on the re-writing, and re-re-writing, and the re-re-re-writing. You get the picture. And second, what Stephen King (almost) said: stop with the excuses, apply bum to seat and just bloody write.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

Eloise wants her celebrity life back. Bradley, for now, will settle for a safe place to sleep and a warm coat. Thrown together, the incompatible pair join forces to try to avenge a wrong, but will the plan succeed before Eloise’s growing confusion ruins everything, and can Bradley really be trusted?

Social media contacts:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sue.clark.18400

Twitter – @sueclarkauthor

Unbound URL – where first edition copies of Note to Boy can be pre-ordered – https://unbound.com/books/note-to-boy 

Previous publications:

bits of nonsense for various BBC radio and TV sketch shows including Three of a Kind, Alas Smith and Jones, Weekending, and The News Huddlines. Bits of more serious stuff for newspapers and magazines.

10 questions: Maximilian Hawker, author of Breaking The Foals

Part of having gone through the crowdfunding process for me with Unbound Publishing for my upcoming noir thriller East of England is the sense of community that develops with other writers who are doing - or who have done - similar. So, this series of questionnaire-format interviews explores other writers who have works either in process or in print with Unbound. Today it's the turn of Maximilian Hawker, so it's straight over to him: 

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1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Maximilian Hawker and my debut novel, Breaking The Foals, is about a Bronze-Age royal torn between upholding his duties to his despotic father, or defending the people over whom his father rules. Oh, and it’s all set in the city of Wilusa – which was the historical Troy of myth. (Yes, Troy was a real city.)

2. Why should folk read your book?

For £3.99 on Amazon you will get a very different take on the tired let’s-retell-the-Trojan-War trope of modern literature. I love the mythology as much as the next person but have delved beneath it to discover the historical reality behind Homer’s poetry; my research has informed Breaking The Foals and this is the first time I believe any writer has actually tried to portray Troy in all its raw, unfamiliar sincerity.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

If you like family drama, war, natural disaster, tragedy, humour, crazed rulers who consider themselves divine and communities that worship the bones of extinct creatures as gods, then you may very well enjoy my novel.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

All the usual places, good sir: Amazon, Hive, Waterstones and if you are a bookshop you can order it from Gardners.

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5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it.

Frustratingly, the idea of having a day of writing is laughably optimistic for me. I work in frontline children’s social care and have a wife and two children, so getting any time to myself is a treasure. However, my top tip is to get up earlyish on the weekend, let your kids watch a bit of TV and/or play, and then get on that laptop and hammer out a few thousand words before the miniatures have completely woken up. Mornings are definitely my optimum time for writing.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Never read any. My reading time is precious and I prefer to lose myself in fiction and enjoy another writer’s skill – that teaches me plenty enough.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer.

Number One is Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières; I read it at GCSE and it was the revelation that propelled me into writing and into reading a lot more than I had been. It is, in my mind, perfect and de Bernières’ style of blending the comic with the tragic is something I try to emulate. Number Two would be The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, which taught me how an expert delivers exactitude in description and scene development. Finally, Geomancer by Ian Irvine, which consoled me with the fact that a writer can throw themselves into a novel and make a lot of it up as they go along, while delivering something that hangs together well and is a real page-turner.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières (for the reasons outlined above); Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë; and The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Expect nothing and write for enjoyment.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch.

It’s a historical drama called Breaking The Foals and tells the story of the real Troy of myth, gripped in the throes of a political uprising with Hektor, crown prince, torn between whether to defend the oppressed people or remain loyal to his dangerous, irrational father.

Social media contacts:

Twitter

Facebook

Website: www.maximilianhawker.com

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/breaking-the-foals/  

Previous publications:

Poetry and short stories in a number of publications, but I ain’t gonna list ‘em all!

 

And that's it! Huge thanks to Maximilian for his time. I've read Breaking the Foals and it's well worth your time, so if you're in the mood for a mythic retelling, then give this book a whirl! 

10 questions: William J Meyer, author of Valkyrie

As part of the crowdfunding and whatnot for my own novel East of England, I'm showcasing other writers who've got projects with Unbound Publishing. Today it's the turn of William J Meyer. Over to William:

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1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

Hi! My name is William, I am a writer from Wisconsin now living in Los Angeles. I like to write novels, screenplays, plays, and audiofiction. My book VALKYRIE is about a Valkyrie named Hildr recruiting dying warriors for her own secret purpose. The book unites theatre and Norse Mythology to tell an adventure story of both sacrifice and grace.

2. Why should folk read your book? 

I think folks should read my book if they like theatre and myth. Large, explosive stories— but with moments of emotional intimacy. There’s romance and action and environmental concerns and the mystery of life and like much of myth, death and what happens after.

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3. What’s the appeal of your book?

One appeal might be, it weaves between prose and playwriting. Another would be, the notion of nested realities. The reader is an audience member watching a play, but they are also an actor in another, larger play. Also, swords and smooches.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?  

VALKYRIE is crowdfunding now on Unbound. It’s about 20% funding at the moment, so if you’d like to help bring the book to print, please visit its page on Unbound. Pledge rewards include concept art and original manuscript pages.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

Okay, I’ll describe the ideal day, saying the average day contains some bits and pieces of this. It starts with Twitter and breakfast. The Twitter habit is real. Then, a bit of reading to get my brain functioning. Currently, I’m half-way through ANNA KARENINA. Then I’ll do some writing, until about 5pm, and then I’ll take a walk. After dinner, I’ll do some more writing again, until I fall asleep. This sort of schedule is during the writing time I buy for myself with freelance post-production work, an example of which you can see in the VALKYRIE book trailer.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it? 

I choose Madeleine L’Engle’s WALKING ON WATER: REFLECTIONS ON FAITH AND ART. I like it because it challenges me.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer: 

GIANTS IN THE EARTH by O.E. Rölvaag for its multi-generational journey of Norwegian immigrants in the United States.

JANE EYRE by Charlotte Brontë for its language and romance, and the religious ligaments that connects its themes.

A PRINCESS OF MARS by Edgar Rice Burroughs which, for me, was a revelation not to stifle my imagination. We can write anything. 

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

I’ll go with JANE EYRE again,  NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND by Hayao Miyazaki, and Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS. All these have romance, myth, and adventure to one degree or another.

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9. Any words of writing wisdom? 

Encourage empathy.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch: 

It’s colorful and full of music, like Coppola’s DRACULA. It’s melancholic and aggressive, like Kurosawa’s KAGEMUSHA. It’s theatrical and raw as an open nerve, like Tyrone Guthrie’s OEDIPUS REX.

Social media contacts: 
Twitter: @byWilliamJMeyer

Unbound URL: 
https://unbound.com/books/valkyrie/

Previous publications:

STRANGE/LOVE, my short story anthology podcast
www.strangelovepodcast.com

FIRE ON THE MOUND, my podcast novel
www.fireonthemound.com

Thakns to William for playing along! Hopefully, there's something about the book whcich intrigues you,and you'll consider supporting his crowdfunding efforts!