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.

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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: 

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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.

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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:

AK author pic.jpg

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!

 

10 questions: Tim Atkinson, author of The Glorious Dead

As a means of supporting others who are going through - or have gone through - the process of crowdfunding their book projects via Unbound Publishing (my own humble effort East of England is here), I'm interviewing fellow Unbound authors. Today it's the turn of Tim Atkinson, whose post-WWI novel The Glorious Dead is being published later in 2018. Here's Tim:

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

Tim Atkinson – The Glorious Dead tells the story of what happened AFTER the guns fell silent at 11am on 11th November, 1918. Who cleared the battlefields and buried the dead? And why did so many men who fought – and survived – stay on?

    2.        Why should folk read your book?

It’s the untold story of the First World War. Thousands of troops volunteered to stay in France and Flanders for meagre pay, doing the Empire’s dirty work. Once the British Army finally withdrew (in 1921) many stayed on in a civilian capacity. Some never came home. People need to know why.

    3.        What’s the appeal of your book?

 War is universal and the fascination of the Great War shows no sign of diminishing. But there are still so many stories that need to be told. Perhaps the biggest of all, though, is the story of our own mortality and what facing it – as these men did, first in battle, then combing the battlefields for fallen comrades – does.

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

Before midnight on Sunday (July 1st) you can still pledge on Unbound. After that, it should be the shops (and be available online) in November.

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

My job is to get up, get the kids to school and then get in front of the computer. The walk back (from the children’s school) is great thinking time, and I’m usually ready to start writing as soon as I get through the front door.

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

Modesty prevents me choosing my own, of course! And I have to admit although I’ve taught creative writing classes, mentored authors (and written my own ‘how to’ book about it) I don’t actually read many books about writing. But one I unfailing recommend to students is the very funny How NOT to write a novel by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman.

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

Three? Impossible! Ok, then... but I’m going to have to make rules (for myself) like ‘no classics’. Otherwise, I’d seriously be here all day trying to whittle it down. So... I really really admire Sebastian Barry – not only as a prose stylist but as an insightful and intriguing writer. And The Secret Scripture was a masterpiece. I’ve only recently discovered Helen Dunmore and especially liked ‘Counting the Stars’ (although I could so easily have picked ‘The Lie’). Finally, I’m going to choose ‘The Emperor Waltz’ by Philip Hensher – Dickensian in scope but with the inevitability and tragedy of Dostoyevsky.

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

Some might well come from the list above, but... the Authorised (King James) Bible would have to be there, as would Homer’s Iliad (in the translation by Robert Fagles). Finally... impossible to choose! More Homer? The Odyssey, maybe? Or something from Russia? Perhaps, The Idiot would be appropriate!

    9.        Any words of writing wisdom?

Keep it simple: one, write. You can’t be a writer without writing. (Sounds obvious, but it’s the most common error!) Two, write what needs to be written. Tell your story your way, or tell a story no-one else has told. Three, edit like mad. But only once you’ve finished. And preferably a long time afterwards.

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

It's 1918 and at last the guns of the Great War fall silent. But for Jack Patterson the war still goes on. The enemy now is mud and unexploded shells as well as memories – both of the horrors of war and the dark secret back home that first led him to enlist... a secret Jack hopes isn’t about to be dug up on the Flanders battlefields!

Social media contacts:

Website: https://www.timatkinson.info

Facebook: https://www.Facebook.com/AuthorTimAtkinson

Twitter: @dotterel

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/the-glorious-dead/

Previous publications:

Writing Therapy (2008)

Discover Countries: India (2010)

Discover Countries: The United Kingdom (2010)

Tiny Acorns (ed.) (2010)

Fatherhood: The Essential Guide (2011)

Creative Writing: The Essential Guide (2011)

Homer’s Iliad: A Study Guide (2017)

 

Huge thanks to Tim for his time. Hopefully, The Glorious Dead shrikes a chord and it'll be of interest to you! The novel's available to pre-order via Amazon here - other physical and virtual book retailers are also available!   

10 questions: Mark Ciccone, author of Discarded

As you know, I'm currently crowdfunding my new novel East of England through Unbound Publishing. And I'm not alone! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves (or have completed funding) in a ten questions set format. 

Today; it's the turn of Mark Ciccone. Here's Mark: 

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

I am Mark Ciccone, and Discarded is the story of Greg and Leah, two genetically engineered soldiers on a journey to discover their origins—and face the enemies that would keep those origins buried.

2. Why should folk read your book?

Super-soldiers and genetic engineering have been staples of science fiction since that genre was first coined, in countless different forms: books, movies, and especially video games. Yet while plenty of these works also include stories of self-discovery, it is my impression that few look past the action and drama the characters go through or create during those tales, and ask what it truly means to be such a figure—and whether they can have a life outside that of hero or destroyer. This book is my attempt to write such a story, letting readers see what scifi/action characters can become when the adventures and battles are done, and all they want is peace…and answers.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

It blends sci-fi with thriller and drama, and travels across much of a war-torn, recovering U.S. in the not-too-distant future.

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

It is currently still funding on Unbound.com, with many different pledge options and rewards!

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

I get up around 9 each day, and usually start writing and/or researching right after lunch, in intervals of an hour or two. On the days when I have classwork or day job hours (I’m a 3rd year History PhD student, and I work as a Library Circ Assistant), I usually try to get in a few paragraphs to a page, minimum, on my current draft before heading off to either, then at least an hour in the evening.

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

Stephen King’s On Writing. It gave me a good introduction to the demands and joys of being a writer (if an aspiring one) and encouraged me to create my own set of writing rules, to keep me focused during research or draft work.

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

How Few Remain by Harry Turtledove is a richly detailed, impressively written Civil War alternate history, and inspired me to write my own such stories (some of which have already been published!). Fatherland by Robert Harris did the same with regards to WWII and helped me greatly in refining my noir and thriller writing techniques. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a sobering yet enthralling read, with eloquent 1st person prose that soon had me trying my hand at such a style.

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

Lion’s Blood by Steven Barnes, Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove, 1984 by George Orwell.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Always have a book and/or something to write with/on close to hand, for when ideas strike. ALWAYS find someone to beta-read, before sending any draft(s) in for self- or regular publishing.           

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

After more than twenty years of fighting, running and hiding, the survivors of a top-secret U.S. military super-soldier program have finally begun to create a home for themselves, hidden from those that created them. Yet despite this new-found peace, many questions still remain: What lives did they all have, before the program—if any? Are they still being hunted, as perceived threats to the government and scientists who molded them into the perfect soldiers? And what future can they create, for themselves…and their possible descendants? Two soldiers, Greg and Leah, set out to find the answers to these questions by any means, trekking across a war-torn, slowly-recovering North America. But there are far more answers waiting in their old world of espionage and black ops than they ever expected. And others are seeking these out as well…and willing to do anything to keep them hidden…

Social media contacts:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WIwriter88

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Mark-A-Ciccone-118412591868473/

Blog/website: https://wordpress.com/posts/markaciccone.wordpress.com

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

Previous publications:

Red Delta: A Novel of Alternate History (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078NRSN9B)

Obsidian & Steel (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GOUPH66)

For State and Country (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CTN98SU)

Dillinger in Charleston (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0167UTNT0)

Divided Worlds: An Alternate Space Race (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BW8DPGK)

Huge thanks to Mark for playing along! Hopefully Discarded will be of interest to you as readers, and you'll help it on its journey to publication. 

10 questions: Julie Warren, author of Glarnies, Green Berets & Goons: The Life and Legacy of Larry Stephens

As you know, I'm currently crowdfunding my new novel East of England through Unbound Publishing. And I'm not alone! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves in a ten questions format. 

Today it's the turn of Julie Warren, who's written a book about a leading light of post-WW2 British comedy, Larry Stephens:

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

I’m Julie Warren and my book is a biography of Larry Stephens, a man whose work influenced everyone from the Beatles to Robin Williams.

2. Why should folk read your book?

Although he’s relatively unknown (at the moment!), Stephens was one of the most influential characters of the 1950s. He died at the age of 35 but managed to pack a lot into his short life. He was a founding member and one of the main scriptwriters for the Goon Show (which made stars of Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe) and wrote for the most popular television show of the 1950s, a programme that developed into the Carry On films. He wrote scripts for all the leading actors and comedians of his day, including for his best friend, Tony Hancock. During the war he served as an officer with No. 5 Commando and trained some of the very first Royal Marines Commandos. He was a talented artist, jazz pianist and songwriter. He excelled at pretty much everything... apart from staying alive!

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

It will set our comedy history records straight and will highlight No. 5 Commando’s role in WWII. Books have been published about most of the Commando Units but never about No. 5, a Unit which fought in an often-overlooked theatre of war. My book will also include a recently-rediscovered script for a Tony Hancock series which is believed to be the first in British broadcasting to have been described as a “situation comedy”.

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

The book is with the crowdfunding publisher, Unbound. If you pledge, not only will you get a copy of the book but you’ll be able to grab yourself some unique rewards too!

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

I’m a morning person so that’s when I prefer to write but everyday life tends to make that impossible! I like to shut myself away in silence when I’m writing.

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

The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook is such a wonderful resource. It’s been produced every year since 1906 and contains a wealth of useful information. As well as comprehensive lists of publishers, agents, newspapers, magazines etc., it is jampacked with articles and guides from the top writers in every field you could possibly imagine.

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

Rather than pick three books, I’d like to pick three writers if I may. The first of these is Sue Townsend. Adrian Mole and I grew up together and his rejection letters from the BBC helped me to feel much better about the rejection letters I received from publishers and agents! I attended a writing course on a Greek island tutored by Sue Townsend and ended up living there so Sue influenced my life in more ways than one. The second is Bill Bryson. I love his travel books but his other works, such as At Home, are great examples of how entertaining history books can be too. Finally, Enid Blyton. As a child, I so wanted to be one of the Famous Five or to climb the Faraway Tree (I’d still like to do that now actually!) and discovered that the best way to do this was to write myself into my own stories.

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

Three books I can read over and over again and enjoy every single time are Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson; The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Rivals by Jilly Cooper.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Nothing very original, I’m afraid! Read lots, write lots and if you want to write for publication, develop a thick skin and never give up.

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

You need to read this in the voice of Don Lafontaine!

In a world ravaged by war, a hero rose up and helped us to laugh again. He was the first person Peter Sellers attempted to make contact with beyond the grave; the Best Man at Tony Hancock’s first wedding and he supplied one-liners for Ealing Comedy, The Ladykillers. During the Second World War he served with the Commandos in the jungles of Burma. Finally, his story can be told. Larry Stephens: coming soon to a cinema near you!

Social media contacts:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VathenaUK (me) and https://twitter.com/lsggbg (Larry)

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

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

Previous publications: Contributing author to Essex Belongs To Us: Writing about the Real Essex

Thanks very much to Julie for answering my questions. I've pledged to support this book being a life-ling Goons fan, and hopefully, you'll consider pledging to this project too!

10 questions: Dave Philpott, author of Dear Mr Pop Star

While I'm currently crowdfunding my new novel East of England through Unbound Publishing, I'm by no means alone in doing this! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves in a ten questions format.

Today it;s the turn of Dave Philpott, here to chat about - among other things - his new book Dear Mr Pop Star.  

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

My name is Dave Philpott - it’s a nom de plume, and our book (written alongside my long-suffering pa) is a book of deliberately deranged letters to iconic rock and pop stars regarding their lyrics, with genuine in-on-the-joke replies from the artists themselves.

2. Why should folk read your book?

Simply because it’s a totally unique concept and one that no one has manage to pull off before. We have managed to get a line through to nearly 100 musicians and songwriters and they have entirely allowed themselves to get ‘in on’ the joke. Poking fun at us for our naivety and in some cases poking fun at themselves. The replies are clever, insightful and very, very funny. As are, although we do say so ourselves, the letter we write to them.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

We are focusing on artists and songs that are already there in the collective unconsciousness, as they are piped into our lives through our car stereos, in the background at work or even when we’re out doing our shopping. But we are asking questions that ensure that the listener will never hear those songs in the same way again. Also, as the majority of replies were secured around the back door of the industry, via roadies, cousins of bass players and social media rather than official channels, there is a real human element to how it was written.

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

It’s available on pre-order now via Unbound, with these people receiving a better quality version than will be shops and about 6 weeks before the official launch date of September 20th.  

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

Such is the nature of the project there really isn’t a typical day; the letters are so painstakingly crafted and take so long to do that we only produce one if we’ve had the green light from the artist that they wish to get involved. Not to be ruthless, but if an artist is semi-committal and says something along the lines of ‘I might do it but I’m not sure’ we don’t invest any more time in it, but tell them out of courtesy. So we can go days or even weeks without writing and then receive five definite yes’ all at once via email.  Then we can find ourselves writing flat out for a month.

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

I’ll be perfectly honest here and admit that I haven’t read any books on the art of writing at all. What we do is very particular to us, we have our way of doing things and, given the nature of the project, we can’t find parallels elsewhere. I suppose you can say that we’re kind of making our rules as we go along.

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

The Timewaster Letters by Robert Popper, Delete This At Your Peril (In fact all the Bob Servant books) by Neil Forsyth and any number of Viz annuals. We’re delighted that Viz are fans of our work. We often get compared to Henry Root, but honestly, this is quite a lazy comparison; we find it to be crudely written and frankly unfunny.  Also we love Diary of A Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith, because we can draw parallels between us and Charles Pooter’s rather mundane but extraordinary life. (We’re aware that we’ve made four choices here - sorry!)

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

The Outsider by Albert Camus, Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

If you’re really not feeling like writing when you wake up in the morning then don’t. If you try it will seem forced. The ideas will come when they’re good and ready, half-formed or forced isn’t good enough.

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

I don’t think it can be done, but if it did happen it would have an absolutely amazing stellar cast and there would be cameo after cameo. Everyone would be playing themselves, although you’d never see us; we prefer to retain a little mystery - that way you can build up your own image of what these demented, obsessive writers look like for yourselves.

Social media contacts:

Twitter @DerekPhilpott

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

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/dear-mr-pop-star/ 

Previous publications: Dear Mr. Kershaw - the cult classic that started it all http://amzn.eu/8A7l5ib and also http://www.planegroovy.com/philpott.html 

Thanks to Dave for playing along. Hopefully the book's of interest and you'll get a copy!

10 questions: Ivy Ngeow, author of Heart of Glass

As you are hopefully aware, I'm currently crowdfunding my new Lincolnshire-set thriller East of England through Unbound Publishing. And I'm not alone! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves in a ten questions format. 

Today's guest is Ivy Ngeow, the author of Heart of Glass:

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

I am award-winning author Ivy Ngeow and my book Heart of Glass is a dark pacy tale about obsession, greed and music in 1980s Chicago and Macau.

2.      Why should folk read your book?

My book addresses the themes of the Reagan era which are greed and success. The protagonist is an American girl of Chinese origin. She is a young, uneducated, pretty, and naive musical genius who happens to be an immigrant to the USA. She is blinded by her desire for fame, success, love, everything. She is an antihero and this is a story of an underdog and underachiever with hopes, dreams and fantasies usually squashed by mainstream society and realities of life as an immigrant.

3.      What’s the appeal of your book?

Firstly, my book’s settings in the thrilling cities of Chicago and Macau in the 1980s, glittery towers of success held together by the economics at the time. Secondly, the hedonistic aspect of a lifestyle only driven by and for music and disco and thirdly, the characters who are all emigres eking out their living and their versions of success.

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

You can get pre-order a copy on Amazon for a discounted price now and it will be launched on 30 June 2018. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Glass-Ivy-Ngeow/dp/1911586645/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1529315722&sr=1-1&keywords=HEart+of+Glass+Ivy+Ngeow

5.      A typical writing day

I write in the morning for 40 minutes until no more words drip out. If more come, I do another 40 minutes. I am a slow writer. I cannot bang out 20,000 words in 20 hours.

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

I pick Creative Writing – A Practical Guide by Julia Casterton. (MacMillan, 1986). This is quite an old book but still very relevant. From time to time I have to refer to it. This book is written like a manual and for those who already suspect they cannot live without writing. It is so slim and yet it goes through all the tenets of writing – why we need to do it, what is a short story, what is an adjective or abstract noun. Everything is covered in its 96 pages. It has no beating about the bush fantasy or quotes to inspire you. There is nothing inspiring. You’re supposed to be inspired already because you fancy yourself as a writer. This is just about writing. The reason why it is so thin is because you should not really be reading it, you should be writing.

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

I pick Lolita by Nabokov, The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter and Wild Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.

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

I have to pick things I love rather than need or want, because on a desert island you could die any minute anyway.

All that Man is by David Szalay

Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan

Therese Raquin by Emile Zola

Yes, they are all European. I do prefer misery lit, where everybody’s mad, bad, sad or all three).

9.      Any words of writing wisdom?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Do all six. No shortcuts.

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

Watch the book trailer here: https://youtu.be/nRDowKLhuW0

Everything is in the 58 seconds. It is the thrilling evil four Ds: dark, disturbing, drugs, dance music. It’s a heist gone wrong, it’s Chinatown, it’s immigrants, greed and guilt. It’s the 1980s.

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Social media links:

Website/blog: writengeow.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Glass-Ivy-Ngeow/dp/1911586645/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1529315722&sr=1-1&keywords=HEart+of+Glass+Ivy+Ngeow

YouTube: https://youtu.be/nRDowKLhuW0

Twitter: @ivyngeow

Instagram: @ivyngeow

Tags and keywords: #HeartofGlass #1980s #Chicago #Macau #Chinatown #heist #thriller #disco #music #culture #diversity

Email: ivy_ngeow at yahoo dot com

Thanks very much to Ivy for joining in. Hopefully you're intrigued by Heart of Glass and you'll pick up a copy soon!

In the meantime, check out my own East of England, which shares some similarities with Heart of Glass.  

10 questions: Patrick Kincaid, author of The Continuity Girl

As you know, I'm currently crowdfunding my new novel East of England through Unbound Publishing. And I'm not alone! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves in a ten questions format. 

Today's subject is Patrick Kincaid, whose novel The Continuity Girl has just  been published. 

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

My name is Patrick Kincaid and I am the author of The Continuity Girl, a comic love story set on the banks of Loch Ness in 1969 and 2014.

2. Why should folk read your book?

Jonathan Coe calls it a ‘wistfully entertaining romantic comedy’. I was wary of ‘romantic comedy’ while I was writing it – but I like ‘wistfully entertaining’. I think people find that the love story at the centre of the book resonates. Also, if you’re curious about the state of Hollywood in the late sixties, or the search for evidence of the Loch Ness Monster, there’s some detail here you might find intriguing.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

It’s one of those stories in which people from very different worlds collide. It’s also about outsiders – people who don’t quite fit in anywhere. I think at some level we all feel like one of those. Here, it’s a source of comedy.

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

Amazon and other online retailers and bookshops throughout the country. Soon to be available in German, published by Heyne.

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

I still work as a teacher, a job that only gets more demanding. So it’s sensible to begin a novel in the summer holidays, to try and get a head start. When term begins, I write a very little every weekday – between 6.30am and 7.00am – and for longer at the weekends. Conrad managed 800 words a day - Will Self calls a unit of 800 words a Conrad. I tend to write in Graham Greenes – 500 words a day.  

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

Never read one!

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

The End of the Affair, Lucky Jim, Restoration.

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

They’d have to be big. Joyce’s Ulysses would be one. I’ve got a few translations of Dante’s Divine Comedy, so maybe I’d take the original and a teach yourself medieval Italian book.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

It’s really old, but you do have to be prepared to kill your darlings. This gets easier the more things you write – it’s tough when you’ve just that one book you’ve been working on for ages.

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

What happens when a chic Hollywood career woman meets a naive British monster hunter, against a Scottish Highlands backdrop and with a 1969 jukebox score.

Social media contacts:

Twitter - @patrickkincaid Facebook – facebook.com/patrickkincaidauthor

Website: www.patrickkincaidauthor.com

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/the-continuity-girl/ 

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BIg thanks to Patrick for joining in. Hopefully you'll find his novel - available in all good and virtual bookshops alike - of interest!

Mne own crowdfunding book - a noir-ish crime thriller set in the flatlands of the east of Lincolnshire - is here: East of England. 

 

10 questions: Eamonn Griffin, author of East of England

It only occurred some time after knocking up this questionnaire format for fellow Unbound authors to maybe apply it to myself. Trust me, this website isn't a brains type of operation. Anyway, for good or ill, here's the skinny on me and my forthcoming noir-ish thriller East of England.

The artwork shown here isn't official material for the book, but was done as a favour by my younger brother Maxim - information about his own crowdfunding project Field Notes may be found here

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

Strangely enough, I’m Eamonn Griffin, and my novel East of England is a noir-ish thriller set over five consecutive days in Lincolnshire. Dan Matlock is released from prison after serving a couple of years inside. He’d like to go away and to start a new life somewhere else, but when his elderly father isn’t there to greet him on the outside as promised, he knows that there’s something wrong, so he’s compelled to return to his hometown to find out what’s gone awry.

2. Why should folk read your book?

Because it’s great! Because it’s fast and dark and violent in places, and about family and honour and revenge and inevitability. About immovable objects and irresistible forces, and about the weirdness that lurks under the surface of rural communities.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

Well, East of England is very influenced by US pulp writers of noir crime fiction. I like writers such as Joe R Lansdale, Michael Connelly, and Lawrence Block, each of whom have been something of an influence. So there’s something of the American noir thriller but displaced into eastern England – the book’s set in a slightly-fictionalised version of Lincolnshire – and there’s also something of the kinds of books that people like Ted Lewis, who wrote Jack’s Return Home, the basis of the Michael Caine movie Get Carter (and the two other film versions that are out there) used to write. It’s very much a British take on an American model, and hopefully, there’s some appeal in that for readers.   
 

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

Well, as of the time of writing – late June 2018 – the project is coming to the end of its crowdfunding journey, so there’s still time to back the book and to become a patron of the project. Folk can do that here: unbound.com/books/east-of-england/ - the book should be funded by 4th July 2018, after which there’ll be the chance to pre-order through the same link. It’s up to the publishers quite when the book will hit the shelves and people’s e-readers of choice, but a best guess right now would be very early 2019.   

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

When I’m first-drafting, I aim for 1000 words per writing day. I like to write fairly quickly, as I think the speed of getting ideas and action onto the page communicates to the reader. As I’m a freelance writer full-time, the creative work has to fold around the other paid work that I do. Ideally, I’ll do other work from 8am to 2pm, then work on the current novel from 2pm till 4pm.   

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

I’m going to cheat slightly and opt for two. The first is Writing A Novel by Nigel Watts. This is something of a classic of the writing advice genre, and perhaps the best pound-for-pound how-to book there is. If you can, get an older copy as the book's been reissued several times with additions by others after Watts’ death, and for my money these editions aren't as effective as supports for beginning writers. It’s very much about the mechanics of story, rather than the inspirational kind of writing book, such as Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, so bear that in mind, but it’s a very useful book to have.

The second book is On Writing by Stephen King. It’s part autobiography, and part writing advice non-fiction; the former is absolutely necessary to understand the latter half. I’m recommending this because of the audio-book, narrated by King; the personal connection that this gives is very effective. It’s well worth your time.    

If I had to pick a third (I'm a bit nerdy about this sort of thing) I'd go for Into The Woods by John Yorke, which is a great book about story structure, and which contains pretty much everything you need to know on the subject. Then again, you could pay due respect to the classics and pick up a copy of Poetics by Aristotle, which covers the same territory. And so on. I've read an awful lot of these kinds of books, and while there are loads that say good things, there's no one perfect book out there. You have to synthesise your own from your reading and your writing experiences.  

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

Blimey. It’s times like this that I wish I’d thought in more detail about the questions that I’d set for other people to answer! There’s a hundred or more, I’m sure, but here’s three to be going on with:

Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall is great, but the sequel is better. A storming thriller, a fine slice of whatever “literary fiction” is, and a marvellous dramatization of well-known history. An object lesson in the old saying that it's not the story, but the storyteller...

The Emperor’s Spy by MC (Manda) Scott – the first of Scott’s Rome series is a wonderful historical thriller as well as a sly commentary on contemporary politics and the follies of organised religion and fundamentalism. 

Freezer Burn by Joe R Lansdale – Lansdale is the real deal, a great writer of Texas-set westerns, horror, SF, semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novels, and thrillers, with a fine ear for dialogue and a knack for the absurd. This is one of his weirder creations, the story of a criminal on the run who hides out in a travelling fair because of bee-stings so bad he can pass for a sideshow attraction, and who gets into way more trouble than he could have ever done if he’d just surrendered himself to the law.  

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

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco – my favourite book of all time, and one I re-read every couple of years.

Fletch by Gregory McDonald – perhaps the funniest thriller ever written.

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris – forget the movie versions, this is the real thing. Perhaps the most influential thriller of the last 40 years. Absolutely indispensable.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

In a previous life I taught creative writing in a college context, so in some ways I’ve already covered this to my heart’s content. However, there’s three things I will say:

a) Learn how your word-processing software works. Your laptop is your primary tool, so be comfortable with it. Writers’ needs here are few, so learn how to use the tool you’re using. It doesn’t take long, but it’ll save so much time in the long run. It's bewildering how many people who profess to want to write don't consider the tool they use.

b) Recognise your mistakes, and learn from them. Many’s the student who made themselves willfully blind to easily-rectifiable errors, through a combination of arrogance and ignorance. Try not to be that person.

c) Don’t have any expectations. If you’re going to write, do so because you like the activity for its own pleasures. No-one owes you anything.    

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

A man missing. A debt due. Dan Matlock has had two years to plan revenge, but so have the forces being levelled against him. This won’t end well.

Social media contacts:

Twitter: twitter.com/eamonngriffin (@eamonngriffin)

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

Unbound URL: unbound.com/books/east-of-england/

Previous publications:

Juggernaut: A Sequel to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Torc

The Prospect of This City

So, big thanks to me for contributing these answers to my own questionnaire! Hopefully East of England sounds of interest to you, and you'll consider backing the book if you haven't already done so.   

10 questions: Maxim Peter Griffin, author/artist of Field Notes

As you know, I'm currently crowdfunding my new novel East of England through Unbound Publishing. And I'm not alone! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves in a ten questions format. 

Today's 10 questions is a little different, if only that the subject is a brother of mine who's also currently crowdfunding via Unbound. Here's Maxim to explain a little more: 

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

My name is Maxim Peter Griffin. I draw.

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What the book is about is a tricky one – on one level it’s a nice book of drawings of Lincolnshire with some bits of writing about the countryside. On another it’s about the ghost mammoths and Brexit and stellar death and Doggerland.

Half-haikus about flint – big stuff across a landmass – being simultaneously huge and tiny in the face of cosmic indifference and the Jolly Fisherman

Field Notes is sometimes really mournful ( there’s a lot to mourn ), sometimes full of idiot glee –

2. Why should folk read your book?

It doesn’t matter if they do or don’t, really –

Field Notes is beyond the point of failure already, 95% of what is in the book has already occurred, been drawn or walked or what have you – I’ve had my nourishment  … a large part of making these experiences and actions into a book is an administrative procedure… a fun one, mind you

3. What’s the appeal of your book? 

Field Notes is wild. Wilder. Often rather fucking livid. But full of marshes – that’s what people like isn’t it? angry marshes?

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

Soon enough, after the hurly-burly of crowdfunding is done.

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

5 am – dogs out

6 am – back with dogs

Make notes after walk

Drawing between 9 and noon

Later – when house is quiet, make more notes – maybe type them up to see how they look.

[Question 6 - the one about books about writing - went unanswered]

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

Mr Palomar by I. Calvino

Haunted Houses by E. Maple and L. Myring

The Mound People by P.V Glob

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

I’ll have a really sweet atlas please.

maybe Seven Pillars of Wisdom or the old Penguin Book of Welsh Verse

and my copy of Wind in the Willows ( no other editions thanks )

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Read. Look. Listen. Walk. Cook.

Keep dated notes on everything.

Don’t be an Artist, never go on a Journey.

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

Mad Max 2 but on foot near Mablethorpe and the anti-hero is his own Humungus – filmed on VHS

Get Werner Herzog to direct. Or Alex Cox. Werner Cox/Alex Herzog

Soundtracked by quarter speed Lark Ascending played on mellotron

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Social media contacts: @maximpetergriff

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/field-notes/ 

Huge thanks to Max for playing along. Field Notes is great - I've seen some more of the work in progress, and naturally, I've backed the project myself - it comes at you like a mix of Raymond Briggs and AW Wainwright. Who can resist that kind of combination? Surely not you, which is why you feel irresistibly drawn towards pledging ...