Saturday, 17 June 2017

Author Interview - James Flynn

What's your name? 

James Flynn



What's the title of your most recent book? 

Conservation 

Describe the book in under 100 words. 

The Earth is dying, and humanity isn’t far behind. Overpopulation, famine, and environmental destruction are ravaging the world. A corporation launches a huge generation ship full of crew members and animal wildlife in search of the next habitable planet, but one lone passenger manages to unleash a plague of violence and madness that could destroy all hope for the revolutionary vessel. When a donator to the famous project researches the ship's disappearance, he discovers an ugly truth that will change his life forever.

Describe the book in under 10 words. 

When earth finally crumbles, can humanity work together?



What is your favourite book and why? 

Possibly American Psycho, because of the lasting impression its had on me and also because of its cult status.

Who is your favourite author and why? 

Thomas Harris, because in my opinion he's created the most chilling, disturbing character in literary fiction—Hannibal Lector.

Name a book that you wish you'd written and why? 

Probably 'The Running Man' by Stephen King. The idea of a mainstream game show that includes hunting down civilians like that is very chilling to me. The idea of a whole society becoming so relaxed and accepting of violence is scary, and I enjoyed the film as well, despite it being a little bit corny.

Describe a typical writing day for you.

If I want to get any serious work done, I have to leave the comfort of my flat. Spending the day in the local library, a coffee shop or a quiet pub somewhere usually suffices, as long as I'm outdoors. I don't tend to listen to music much when working, although I'm beginning to warm to the idea a little. I'm yet to find anything that's not distracting, though.

What's your biggest frustration as a writer? 

Not being able to express things as clearly as I'd like is always a frustration of mine. I often edit sections of writing multiple times until I get it right. Somebody said once that we are all 'stuck inside a prison of words'. I think this is very true.

How do people find out more about you? 

Website, Twitter, Facebook, blog? email? etc. I'm very active on Twitter and my handle is @james__flynn (that's two underscores!)

My book—Conservation by James Flynn—can be found on Amazon, as well as my author page. For general enquiries you can also contact me by email: egorone@msn.com

Friday, 16 June 2017

Author Interview - Ian Skewis

What's your name?

Hello, my name is Ian Skewis.



What's the title of your most recent book?

A Murder Of Crows, published by Unbound on March 27th.

Describe the book in under 100 words.

The most violent thunderstorm in living memory occurs above a sleepy village on the west coast of Scotland. A young couple shelter in the woods, never to be seen again... DCI Jack Russell is brought in to investigate. Nearing retirement, he undertakes one last case, which he believes can be solved as a matter of routine. But what Jack discovers in the forest leads him to the conclusion that he is following in the footsteps of a psychopath who is just getting started. Jack is flung headlong into a race against time to prevent the evolution of a serial killer...

Describe the book in under 10 words. 

Detective battles to prevent the evolution of a killer...



What is your favourite book and why? 

Atonement by Ian McEwan. I love books that comment on the healing process of writing. It's an extraordinary story - this woman who tries to atone for something she did to two entirely innocent young people when she herself was only a child. In the end all she can do is to rewrite their life story - her final act of kindness, her atonement is finally fulfilled - but what a sad story, so poignant. I think Brighton Rock by Graham Greene would be a close second.

Who is your favourite author and why? 

Again, Ian McEwan. The Cement Garden was the first book I read that really hooked me. I won a prize for English at secondary school and I was given a book token as a reward. I only chose The Cement Garden because I recognised that the front cover of that particular edition was by Russell Mills, who I was a fan of (he did many album covers for the likes of David Sylvian etc). The story was secondary, but when I read it I was hooked.

Name a book that you wish you'd written and why?

None really. I'm happy with what I do and enjoy what others do. I'd like to be able to write as well as the likes of McEwan but I just keep trying to improve. I can't really do much more than that to be honest.

Describe a typical writing day for you. 

On a good day I'll shower, have breakfast, and get straight onto some writing. It makes me feel less pressured if I get some words typed first thing in the morning. Then, I'll write throughout the day, in between tidying the place up and the countless other chores I'm always doing. (I suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder so it takes up a lot of my time and headspace!) And when work gets in the way with my 12 -15 hour shifts too? It's no wonder that A Murder Of Crows took so long to complete!

What's your biggest frustration as a writer? 

At the moment it's the amount of time I have to spend doing writing related things, especially the marketing and publicity. It means I have even less time to write! Lack of money is always a problem too because I can't afford to take time off to write either. A vicious circle, but I obviously get a kick out of seeing my name in print so that's the pay off I guess.

How do people find out more about you?

I can be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. There is also A Murder Of Crows Facebook page too. The book itself is available via Amazon, Waterstones, the Book Depository, local independent booksellers and libraries. This is the Amazon link: amzn.to/2nmrfWC

 I thank you!


Thursday, 15 June 2017

Author Interview - Pierre Hollins

Who are you? 

Pierre Hollins



What's the title of your forthcoming book?

The Karma Farmers 

Describe the book in 100 words or fewer:

The Karma Farmers is crime fiction based on a philosophical conundrum. The question is this: If science demonstrated that consciousness could survive death, how far would you go to discover if it was true? In this age of divisive belief systems, Bradley Holmeson a thirty-something bookshop manager, is attempting to cure the existential dilemma with science. Research leads him to a rare quantum paradigm, which he self-publishes in a revolutionary manifesto. He expects to be discovered and celebrated by popular media. He’s not looking for revolution so much as literary notoriety, hoping that commercial success will impress his estranged girlfriend. However, his manifesto begins to attract the wrong attention… This quest for The Holy Grail of Science is a fast paced adventure in which a hipster philosopher becomes embroiled in occult experiment; where he meets the violent, the obsessed and the dangerously misguided, armed only with his defensive sarcasm. And all to win back the woman he loves. 

Describe the book in fewer than 10 words:

Love, murder and quantum theory



What is your favourite book?

Come on Mr Colgan, you know that’s an impossible question. There are so many contenders. In truth, I have two lists: current favourites; and all-time favourites, books that I have returned to over the years and re-read. So here’s a small selection from both lists. Current favourites include: ‘I Regret Everything’ – Seth Greenland. ‘I Have America Surrounded’ – John Higgs. ‘War’ – Sebastian Junger. ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ – Ben Fountain. ‘Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight’ – Alexandra Fuller, ‘Princess Naughty and the Voodoo Cadillac’ – Fred Willard. ‘Edisto’ – Padgett Powell.  And from the all-time list: ‘Give Us A Kiss’ – Daniel Woodrell, ‘Vineland’ – Thomas Pynchon, and ‘The Neuromancer Trilogy’ – William Gibson 

Who is your favourite author?

Again, another unfair question; but here’s a short list of authors who never seem to let me down: Elmore Leonard,  Philip K Dick, Charles Bukowski, Daniel Woodrell.

Name a book you wish you'd written:

Three contenders: all wonderful and completely diverse… ‘Really The Blues’ - Mezz Mezzrow, ‘A Room With a View’ - E M Forster, and ‘The Tao of Physics’ - Fritjof Capra

Describe a typical writing day:

There is no typical day. It depends what stage I’m at with a particular project. If I have a completed draft that needs re-writing or editing, then I’m full on, every hour of the day. I seem to crave that level of immersion. I’m currently working on a sequel to The Karma Farmers – at the stage of making notes, reading for research, and I’m actually trying to postpone writing the first draft, because as soon as I commit to it, I know little else will get done until it’s finished.

What are your biggest frustrations as a writer?

Many years ago I attended a course on story structure by the writing guru Robert McKee. Three days of insight and inspiration that still manages to echo and inform. So here’s a neat McKee paradox that answers this question: ‘writing is the most difficult thing you can do, but everything else is more difficult’. Writing is the most difficult thing you’ll do, because you want it to be right – you want the product to be as close to the ideas that inspired it – and so you work night and day to serve that idea. However, everything else is more difficult because everything else is a distraction from writing. And that is currently my biggest frustration: the need to do other things, to buy the time, while attempting to become a great novelist. 

How do people find out more about you? 

Web site: www.pierrehollins.com
Twitter: @pierrehollins
Instagram: @thehollins



Saturday, 20 May 2017

Author Interview - Stephen Leslie

What's your name?

 Stephen Leslie


What's the title of your forthcoming book?

Sparks.

Describe the book in under 100 words:

Sparks is a book of 60 short stories, each inspired or 'sparked' by a photograph I've taken over the past 20 years. None of the photographs have been staged; they're all candid and so the stories are largely fake contexts and scenarios I've invented to explain them. They can be treated as convincing lies or even 'alternative facts'. The stories range in subject matter from a melancholy dog who's been stood up on a blind date, to a trainee chiropodist who actually yearns to be a pirate, to an Indian shopping mall owner who's having trouble with his escalator ...

Describe the book in under 10 words:

A unique blend of street photography and short stories. Here's an example:


'Years ago all this used to be trees and greenery. That's how my grandparents lived, foraging for nuts and berries. It's crazy, I wouldn't know a nut now if one came right up and bit me. My days are filled with collecting rent from the humans who live here. We've got about 40 units on this site and I go to each one in turn and get a little something. Mostly it's sweets or left-overs, sometimes cash but being a squirrel cash doesn't really interest me. Occasionally I'll go in through the window and check that they're keeping things clean and tidy. If they don't then we can throw them out but that means getting the rats in and I try to avoid confrontation. I don't want to be doing this forever. In a few years time I'd like to move abroad, somewhere warmer. Maybe I'll even try living in a tree ...'    

What is your favourite book and why?

Fiction book is probably Where I'm Coming From by Raymond Carver, it was a total revelation to read short stories that were so economical and yet so rich. Photography book is probably Sidewalk by Jeff Mermelstein, he just has the ability to find the most extraordinary images again and again.

Who is your favourite author and why?

At the moment it's probably George Saunders because I honestly don't think anyone else has ever been able to combine viable science or speculative fiction so well with humour and pathos. He's like a modern day Kurt Vonnegut but even better. He's got a new book coming out this month and I'm very excited.

Name a book that you wish you'd written and why? 

Under The Skin by Michel Faber, no other novel has stuck in my head so firmly. It's brilliantly strange and original. There was a film made of it a few years ago and although they did a really good job it just couldn't match the alien complexity of the novel.

Describe a typical writing day for you:

I'm a script writer by profession so I write or at least do research for writing every day. I'm lucky enough to have a room all to myself which is kept deliberately messy to both force me to search for stuff and also to discourage anyone else from coming in and finding anything. I have a 6 year old son who I often have to collect from school so I try and get most of my work done before he's chucked out at 3:15. I drink lots of cups of tea, have regular battles with the cats who both want to monopolise my lap and will occasionally listen to some furious electronic music to try and jolt me out of a rut. If I get really stuck, I'll pop out and walk around the block to take a photograph or ponder a new story, I have a twenty year archive of images so there's always a few new ones bubbling away. If I'm on a deadline then I'll also write in the evening after eating, when the boy's had his stories and gone to sleep. My wife's a writer too, so quite often we'll both be typing late in to the night while the cats march about the house honking for attention.

What's your biggest frustration as a writer?

Lack of time and the state of the British film industry but now is not the time to start ranting about all that.

How do people find out more about you? 

My book: https://unbound.com/books/sparkswww.stephenleslie.co.uk
My Flickr stream: https://www.flickr.com/photos/deepstoat/


Saturday, 6 May 2017

Author Interview - Tim Atkinson

What's your name? 

Tim Atkinson. I think. Although I’ve been known by others (some of which are unrepeatable…)


What's the title of your most recent/forthcoming book? 

The Glorious Dead. Although for most of its existence it was ‘Known unto God’ (after the phrase from Ecclesiastes chosen by Rudyard Kipling for the graves of unknown soldiers). Names can be difficult.

Describe the book in under 100 words.

What happened when the Great War ended and the guns stopped firing? Who cleared the battlefields and buried the dead? And why did so many men who served and survived stay on amid the ruins of the war they’d fought? The answers are darker and more complex than you think.

Describe the book in under 10 words.

A World War One tale with a twist.



What is your favourite book and why?

I'm tempted to say ‘the one I’m reading’ (which is, since you ask - Do No Harm by Henry Marsh). But if it’s defined by the author I re-read most then, probably, Regeneration by Pat Barker (see below, and then below that!).

Who is your favourite author and why?

Pat Barker. Why? Her unflinching eye for even the most distressing detail, plus a depth of psychological understanding that is hard to beat (in my opinion).

Name a book that you wish you'd written and why?

The Regeneration Trilogy. (Can I claim all three of them? Oh, go on!) The breadth of scope combined with sometimes forensic detail makes for compelling reading.

Describe a typical writing day for you.

I’m afraid there are no typical days. Some start with insomnia at three a.m. and begin with notes on my phone before making it downstairs to the computer. Others hardly start at all until the kids are safely bathed and put to bed.

What's your biggest frustration as a writer? 

Would it be immodest to say agents/publishers? I’ve had so much positive feedback (which may, of course, be flannel) without ever quite getting that glorious nod of acceptance and admittance into the hallowed halls of regular writer-dom. Until Unbound came along, that is.

How do people find out more about you? 

I’m a social media tart and can be found all over the place. Start with my blog - www.bringingupcharlie.co.uk - and maybe Twitter (@dotterel) and before long I’ll have drawn you in to Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTimAtkinson/ Instagram, Tumblr and probably Soundcloud as well!




Friday, 28 April 2017

Author Interview - Niall Slater

What's your name? 

Niall Slater.



What's the title of your most recent/forthcoming book? 

The Second Death of Daedalus Mole.

Describe the book in under 100 words.

In a galaxy on the verge of economic collapse, a greasy man in a spaceship takes on an unwanted passenger to make some easy booze money. He soon realises that his passenger comes with a lot more attention than he’s comfortable with, and becomes entangled in a star-hopping scramble for purpose when all he really wants is to sit down with a nice pint. He soon realises, however, that she isn’t the only one running from something. The book is about loss, guilt and the flawed ways in which we see those closest to us – for better or worse.

Describe the book in under 10 words 

 Sad man in space sabotages own life and those of others.

What is your favourite book and why?

If I had to choose – and apparently I do, you bastard – it would have to be Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. It’s a bizarre story set in a bizarre world: far in the future, after a devastating nuclear war, when half the world has mounted their cities on titanic caterpillar tracks to chase down and eat smaller, weaker cities and static settlements, which are seen as backwards and barbaric. It’s called Municipal Darwinism. A young London historian sees something he shouldn’t have and is thrown out onto the bare earth, and ends up having to chase down his hometown along with the assassin who got him into this mess in the first place. Also, they’re being chased cross-country by an ancient killing machine. If this sounds completely insane, that’s because (A) it is and (B) I’m not Philip Reeve, who has an enviable gift for sketching unlikely situations from a perspective that helps you slide into his universe without a hitch. A world of cities eating each other might sound like a stretch, but the story is really about a young man trying to find his way home, only to learn that home isn’t quite what he thought it was. Who can’t relate to that? The idea of everything you’ve ever known just getting up and moving, leaving you behind wondering where you really belong? He just made it a bit more... literal. I’m also a sucker for stories about robots that make me cry, so that helped.



Who is your favourite author and why?

It’s got to be Terry Pratchett. No contest. I’ve never experienced such a sudden and terrifying shift in perspective as when I read Small Gods. It was like – writing can be like this? Really? You can just… do that and get away with it? Then I read The Truth, which might as well be re-published every year and only get more relevant, get more cutting as the days go by. Reaper Man, though, was the one that really floored me. Pratchett, in my mind, might as well have walked right into the Vatican during the Pope’s lunch break and sat down in his chair. It seems obvious that a writer can write whatever they want, really, but I never intuitively got it until I read a story about Death quitting to go and work on a farm. To read a book about that, and for that book to be brilliantly-written, funny, warm, cold, touching, brutal and sinister all at once was like I went out for a curry and came back to find the wallpaper peeled off the inside of my head, then to think oh, there was wallpaper in here? Terry Pratchett was a genius and we are all of us deeply privileged that he managed to write so much. I can’t think of a better recommendation to give anyone, for any reason, than to read Discworld.

Name a book that you wish you'd written and why?

Hmm… maybe Station Eleven? It’s by Emily St. John Mandel and it (again) is a post-apocalyptic novel that follows a troupe of actors, musicians and general handy-people who go from town to town putting on Shakespeare plays in the aftermath of a plague that killed most of the world’s population. It’s a bit like The Road in how it paints such a quietly disturbing view of the end of the world, and it manages to be a very sincere vindication of capital-A the Arts without coming across as preachy or pretentious, which I’ve tried to do before and failed. As a writer I came away from it feeling very validated indeed. I’d like write something at least once that makes people feel better, more sure of their place in the world. It’s not the most important thing a book can do (and it’s not, by any means, the only or most important thing that Station Eleven does), but it is nice. Then again, if I’d written Good Omens then I would be both Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, which is probably a better deal.

Describe a typical writing day for you.

 Okay, set the scene: it’s 5.35pm. I’ve just left work, it’s already dark out because it’s late winter. I plug in the headphones I found in a bush four months earlier and stick on the first playlist my numb fingers can locate on my out-of-date phone, which creaks audibly as it fires up one of Amanda Palmer’s more depressing albums. Resigned, I half-jog to the Overground station. On the way I enter a very artsy, literary-feeling kind of fugue state, neurons firing lazily as I sketch out brilliant ideas and beautiful plot threads in my brain, which is taking full advantage of that late-afternoon second wind. I arrive at the station, squeeze my way onto a train between two implausibly sweaty men and slowly let the will to live drain from my body on the short half-hour ride from West Brompton to an undisclosed location further north. By the time I climb the stairs and collapse into the chair by my desk, trousers flung aside, I have not only forgotten the strokes of genius from earlier, but also forgotten why I’ve ever bothered writing or doing anything at all. I source some cheap Shiraz/own-brand gin/lager found under the sofa (to loosen the creative muscles) and decide to play a couple of quick rounds of Rocket League. Four hours later my loved ones gently remind me that I was going to do some writing tonight, and I haughtily pour another drink and bash out a few sentences, cursing myself for every life decision I’ve ever made that contributed to me being here, writing, when I would clearly be much more suited to a career as a hedge fund manager, or a stuntman, or a rodeo clown. Come 11pm, unproductive and unsatisfied, I slink to bed so I can be up in the morning to hit the day job again. In my dreams I whip myself with thistles for not being a better writer. Thankfully I get a lot more done on the non-typical writing days. 

What's your biggest frustration as a writer? 

Having to treat your own emotional state as a kind of finite resource to draw on. Writers aren’t special, obviously – everyone feels drained in the evenings, everyone needs time to relax and recover for the next day, but trying to wrestle your evenings back and sit in that chair to not just write something, but to write something good, is the opposite of relaxing. Everyone needs free time, but people who have these weird solitary creative projects give theirs up like they’ve always got homework to be doing. That said, I’ve accidentally woken up early a few times and tried writing before the sun comes up. I find that works much better, though that puts you at a worrying sleep deficit... I’m sure proper, grown-up writers have figured out the whole work-life balance thing, but I haven’t quite nailed it yet and that’s probably the most frustrating thing. So, er, my biggest frustration is my own flaws? Like most people, I guess.

How do people find out more about you?

They can follow me on Twitter for incisive social commentary and lies, like that one. I’ve also got a website of sorts at niallwhodoesbooks.wordpress.com, and people can check out me book what I gone and done at unbound.com/books/the-second-death-of-daedalus-mole/



Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Author Interview - Ewan Lawrie

What's your name? 

Ewan Lawrie, McGregor was named after me… No, he was, I’m older than him, ergo...


What's the title of your most recent book? 

Gibbous House was published on 12th Jan 2017 by Unbound.

Describe the book in under 100 words. 

Gibbous House is a Victorian Gothic novel, with a will, a bizarre inheritance including a still stranger property and household, all of which is inherited by a most villainous and charming protagonist. Moffat is neither who he seems or indeed what he believes himself to be. He finds himself caught up in experiments and conspiracy at the birth of the scientific age. He encounters a cast of grotesque and venal characters against the background of Mid-19th Century London and Northumberland, before an exciting and thought provoking ending.

Describe the book in under 10 words. 

Murderous imposter receives a dangerous inheritance in 19th Century Northumberland


What is your favourite book and why? 

My favourite book is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. It is a combination of the fantastical and what passed for the everyday in the Soviet Union of the 1930’s. The devil is one of the main characters, as is a giant cat called Begemot (Russian for Behemoth). The story deals with samizdat, which was self-publishing but not as we know it, since the reward was often the Gulag, if you got caught, and also with the crucifixion of Christ. What’s not to like? Blasphemous, bitterly funny and boisterous by turns, I confess I’ve read it many more times than once.

Who is your favourite author and why? 

Dickens. Yes, I know, anti-semitism (par for the contemporary course, and you could find much worse offenders) , sentimentality (okay, don’t read The Old Curiosity Shop) and those long sentences. Yes, well, he was good at those long sentences and they are pellucid in their clarity. We should all be so long-winded. Most of all however, it’s the characters: Magwitch, Sydney Carlton, David Copperfield… Even dear old Scrooge.

Name a book that you wish you'd written and why? 

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.  Magic, comic books, escaping from the Nazis and making it in America. Maybe I’m sentimental too. The best 8 part HBO series never made.

 Describe a typical writing day for you. 

I’d love to make this up and say that I lock myself in a shed with a notebook and a Remington typewriter, but the truth is I tippety-tap on the PC/Laptop at various times of the day, when the mood comes on me and I’m not teaching. I do listen to music, most of Gibbous House was written to the entire works of Frank Zappa. I do take a notebook when I’m out and about, often scribbling things in local bars and caf├ęs or on the terraces outside them.

What's your biggest frustration as a writer? 

Marketing and the lack of money I have to do it.

How do people find out more about you? 

I have a twitter account @EwanL and I am on Facebook where my alter-ego Please Allow Me also has a page with a humorous take on marketing Gibbous House for me. I do have a blog which is updated about once a week if I’m lucky.

E-mails I save for contact with book reviewers in print media. I’m thinking of wondering round Fuengirola with a sandwich board.


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Author Interview - Damon L Wakes



What's your name? 

Damon L. Wakes

What's the title of your most recent/forthcoming book? 

Ten Little Astronauts.

Describe the book in under 100 words. 

Ten astronauts are awoken from suspended animation – chosen from a crew of thousands to repair their steadily freezing ship – only to discover that one of their number has been killed, and that the murderer is now amongst them. They are trapped with no lights, no gravity, and no life support. In order to survive and restore the ship to working condition, they must work out who is responsible, because if the impostor doesn’t kill them, the cold will.

 Describe the book in under 10 words

And Then There Were None set in interstellar space.

What is your favourite book and why? 

Rumo and his Miraculous Adventures by Walter Moers. The book is the size of two or three house bricks and its storyline follows all the conventions of the classical epic. However, it takes place in the most alien fantasy setting I’ve ever come across. There are no orcs or elves: every single character is utterly bizarre and completely original. The protagonist, for example, is an intelligent bipedal horned dog wielding a sword that has multiple personalities. Despite the abundance of unusual creatures with outrageous abilities, though, nothing ever feels like it’s pulled out of thin air when the plot demands it. Any detail that proves significant is always set up well in advance, and the overall story feels totally airtight.

Who is your favourite author and why?

It’s a tough choice, but probably Douglas Adams. I really enjoyed The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as well as the snippets of his work collected in The Salmon of Doubt, and he had the rare ability to tackle serious topics in an absolutely hilarious way. I also admire his text adventures: an early example of what great writing can add to games.

Name a book that you wish you'd written and why? 

It would be easy to say The Count of Monte Cristo because it’s extremely long and complicated and writing that would immediately make people think I’m super smart. Honestly, though, I don’t especially wish I’d written any book that currently exists. If the deal is that I get to go back in time and stick my name on the front of a great work of literature that otherwise stays word-for-word the same, I’d rather use my time machine to buy a bunch of winning lottery tickets. It seems marginally more honest and marginally less likely to tear apart the space-time continuum. If the deal is that I get to rewrite that book myself, then I can just go ahead and do it without the time machine. Ten Little Astronauts was largely an exercise in producing a more tense, faster-paced version of And Then There Were None. Fewer dinners, more axe murders. The books I really wish I’d written are the ones I haven’t yet.

Describe a typical writing day for you.

A typical writing day almost always starts with me sitting down at my desk and putting off something else I really should be doing. It usually finishes with me carrying on way longer than I intended. Occasionally I’ll open up a document last thing at night because I haven’t written anything for ages and feel as though I should at least get just a paragraph down. Often that leads to hours more work. Sometimes the hours of work are just a paragraph. I also take part in a lot of events—Flash Fiction Month, Flash Fiction Day, NaNoWriMo, Global Game Jams—that give me an excuse to dedicate some time to writing and offer a set deadline for getting it done. I like to listen to music while I work but it could be pretty much anything: at the moment it’s Gregorian chant covers of well known songs. I hesitate to describe coffee as an “aid” because it makes it sound like I’m liable to be disqualified from writing for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, but that’s probably the main one. My secret is drugs.

What's your biggest frustration as a writer? 

Digital Rights Management (DRM). It’s a kind of copy-protection applied to ebooks (among other things) ostensibly to prevent people making pirate copies. There are two problems with this. The first is that anybody with the most basic level of computer literacy can defeat DRM and make copies regardless. This doesn’t involve scrolling torrents of green ones and zeroes: it involves the ability to search for instructions on Google and follow those instructions. The second problem is that although DRM does nothing to hinder pirates, it can cause quite a headache for readers who actually paid for these books and don’t understand why they can’t simply copy them from one device to another for totally legitimate personal use.

How do people find out more about you? 

Website: www.damonwakes.wordpress.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DamonWakes 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authordamonwakes

And if you’d like to read the opening of Ten Little Astronauts, you can do so here: https://unbound.com/books/ten-little-astronauts



Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Author Interview - Tabatha Stirling

What's your full name? 

Are you sure? Okay … Charlotte Alexandra Tabatha Hallewell Stirling. But you can call me ‘Tabster’ *bats eyelashes*



What's the title of your most recent/forthcoming book?

Blood On The Banana Leaf - which I regret now because I’m fairly sure I should stick ‘A Girl’ in there somewhere.

Describe the book in under 100 words.

Here are the stories of Lucilla, a maid from the Philippines, Ma'am Leslie, from England, Shammi, a young village girl from Myanmar and Madame Eunice, a Singaporean-Chinese employer as they strive to exist in a country that harbours darkness below its pristine exterior. As the narrative weaves its candid and often brutal way through the lives of each woman, it also examines the effects of loss, madness, abuse and hope during a woman's life and in society as a whole.

Describe your book in under 10 words.

Welcome to the black heart of Singapore.

What is your favourite book and why?

This is a beastly question. I refuse to be boxed in so I’m naming two: Of Human Bondage’by Somerset Maugham and Absolutely Anything by Simone de Beauvoir. Of Human Bondage was the first ‘adult’ fiction I read. I remember it so well; my parents had given me an account at the local bookshop and I went mad and ordered over fifty books. I hated boarding school and felt incredibly lonely until I discovered Maugham and his visceral characterisations that made me feel at home. I realised that these toxic behavioural patterns were part of other families and I had found my adolescent tribe. De Beauvoir is one of the greatest writers of the last two centuries. She knocked the spots off Satre when it came down to understanding the berserker dance of the white blood cells and the intimate fire-pin waltz danced by a synaptic transmission. In other words, she understood the relationship between the body and the mind and how, when in cahoots, could build empires, yet when fighting, could bring one so low you could feel the weight of a thousand centuries above you. Her understanding & courage when speaking about her own insecurities, her searing honesty that she was in a shitty relationship with a shitty man who received accolades in his lifetime that she deserved so much more. And frankly, entering into an open relationship because you want to be seen as cool and unbothered by something as bourgeois as infidelity when really you want to go at them both with a chainsaw, pliers and some boiling tar. Oh! And her glorious language.

Name a book you wish you'd written and why?

(From 2016) The Bees by Laline Paul. It is an astonishing work – a fictional account of the workings of a hive beset by misogyny, murder, death, horror & some particularly nasty wasps. She makes the environment completely credible, her language is vital, unafraid & mesmerising and I now have to go and read it again.

Describe a typical writing day.

It goes like this: I have a toddler.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< tiny bit of writing. It’s like having an angry drunk perpetually causing mayhem.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< wee bit of designing She is beautiful & likes cuddles.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< half-hearted attempt at editing It is like having an angry drunk perpetually causing mayhem.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< frantic poem writing She is beautiful & likes cuddles.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< sings, ‘Come into the garden, Maud, for the black bat night has ….’
Pass out.
Wake & repeat.

What's you biggest frustration as a writer?

I started taking myself seriously as a writer much too late to write all the books I want to.

You can go here www.unbound.com/books/blood-on-the-banana-leaf and pledge for my book. Not only are there some spankingly good rewards, you are also the recipient of eternal Tabby love.

Www.volequeen.com for my shorts & playsuits.

Tabathadesign.tumblr.com for my design portfolio.

 I’m very Twitter friendly at @volequeen. Come and make out!


Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Author Interview - Paul Holbrook

What is your name?

Paul Holbrook. I am a writer from North Yorkshire.



What's the title of your most recent/forthcoming book?

Domini Mortum, which is being crowdfunded by those lovely people at Unbound at the moment. 

Describe the book in under 100 words: 

Domini Mortum is a murderous tale set in London and York towards the end of the nineteenth century. It concerns an artist and journalist for the Illustrated Police News, the most sensationalist tabloid of the day, and his investigations into a series of murders of servant girls in the Paddington area. His journey brings him into contact with a haunted village, an asylum, a secret society, a brothel, a vicious crime lord oh and maybe the odd ghost. It's everything you want really from a Hammer Films style Victorian murder mystery, all wrapped up in a beautifully written novel.

Describe the book in under 10 words: 

Bad people do bad things in Victorian times. Cue thrills.



What is your favourite book and why? 

I think it would have to be Legend by David Gemmell. It's a heroic fantasy novel which was first bought for me by my Dad when I was about fourteen. I’ve read it a lot of times, probably too many to be cool, but, because of the time that I have invested in it over the years, it holds a great many personal memories for me as I can remember reading it at lots of different and important times in my life. As a novel. I still love it, the storytelling can be a bit clunky and the character development a little flawed but overall to me it’s a precious thing.

Who is your favourite author and why? 

Tough one that, because I go through phases and obsessions with writers, be it Stephen King, David Gemmell, Clive Barker or JRR Tolkein. My current favourite though is Neil Gaiman. I used to read the Sandman comics when I was a lot younger and when he moved into novel writing, initially I was very worried. I don’t love all his work, there are a few misses amongst the hits for me, but I love The Graveyard Book and I was totally entranced by ‘The ocean at the end of the lane’, which is just a beautiful piece of work.

Name a book you wish you'd written and why: 

Probably Swan Song by Robert R MacCammon. It's a lovely book made up of well written characters, short punchy chapters and overall an epic story. It's a post nuclear apocalypse tale, which I know has been done by a lot of writers before. For me though it’s the best of the breed I couldn’t recommend it highly enough and I just wish I could one day create something so expansive, engrossing and well written.

Describe a typical writing day for you:

When I have a day that I can put aside for writing I like to be up and at it early. I find that often the best stuff I write is first thing in the morning. There have been days when I have got straight out of bed and got on the computer and suddenly find that four hours have gone. I also like to have a good dog walk before I write anything of any substance. I live on the edge of the North York Moors, it’s a stunningly beautiful and inspiring place and often a dog walk in the fresh air, sometimes with stirring music playing in my earphones is enough to get the ideas flowing. In terms of musical styles, for Domini Mortum and its predecessor Memento Mori, I solely listened to Finlandia by Jean Sibelius. The music is based on the Finnish folk tales which feature heavily in the novels. I don’t tend to use any aids apart form my own addled mind. When I’m novel writing my brain is a box full of hummingbirds, ideas, narratives, dialogue and twisty turny bits flying in from all angles. The result is always highly pleasing though.

What's your biggest frustration as a writer? 

Time. If I could freeze time for about two hours a day I would be knocking out novels left, right and centre. I have so many fully formed ideas in my head that I thin I would need about three lifetimes just to get it all out there. I often work seven days a week also as I do two jobs, one in a school supporting children with learning needs and a second providing days out and respite for young people with disabilities and long term medical conditions. Sometimes I will only get one full day off a month, and when I do get a day off its nice to actually spend it with my wife and kids rather than shackling myself to a laptop. And so I snatch and steal time where I can, twenty minutes here an hour there. I get there in the end but its often a slow process.

How do people find out more about you? 

My most important contact point is my Unbound page www.unbound.co.uk/books/domini-mortum There you can find out more about Domini Mortum, read a synopsis, and extract and most importantly pledge your support for my lovely creation.

I am often on Twitter @cpholbrook
 I have a blog at http://doloriantales.blogspot.co.uk/ which I try to add to when time permits.
 I am on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/paul.holbrook1


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Author Interview - David Roche

What's your name? 

David Roche

What's the title of your most recent/forthcoming book?

Just Where You Left It – Family Rhymes for Modern Times 



Describe the book in under 100 words. 

A book of humorous poems written about things that are relevant to families now. I wrote the first one in response to my eldest child’s request for something different to perform at a school poetry competition. It took the p*ss while being full of relevant references and from then on we were on a roll: exams, school meals, bullying, sports days, holidays, wi-fi, embarrassing Dads and nagging, know-all Mums were fair game. If you grew up on poems by the likes of Ogden Nash – ones which are more Pam Ayres than Alexander Pope - then this could be for you.

Describe the book in under 10 words.

Family Rhymes for Modern Times – relevant, amusing poems for all

What is your favourite book and why? 

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. Hilarious, true and made me realize that others were making it up as they go along.

Who is your favourite author and why?

Kazuo Ishiguro – makes it look so simple.

Name a book that you wish you'd written and why?

One Day by David Nichols or Q&A by Vikas Swarup. I would love to land on the clever premise that provides the perfect structure for the story.

Describe a typical writing day for you.

Hopefully a miserable day, preferably raining. No-one else around and ideally in a cabin in the woods. I listen to classical or soundtrack music – anything without lyrics, at least not in any language that I can understand! I am a huge John Barry fan and his non-score albums Beyondness of Things and Eternal Echoes are perfect.

What's your biggest frustration as a writer?

There is never enough time.

How do we find out more about you and your work?

To date I have been concentrating on successfully raising the required financing for Unbound to publish my book, so while I have been using Facebook and Twitter, email has been the most effective method. Now that this phase is complete (though you can still see sample poems and pledge at https://unbound.com/books/just-where-you-left-it) I hope to extend the net through word of mouth, recommendations, advocacy and events as the final book starts to come together with its illustrations etc.

You can find out more about the book here: https://unbound.com/books/just-where-you-left-it and here: https://www.facebook.com/DavidRochebook/.

You can find out more about me (personal stuff) here: @davidlrroche (Twitter) and https://www.facebook.com/david.roche.90, and (work stuff) here: http://davidroche.co.uk/about and here: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/davidroche





Thursday, 9 February 2017

Author Interview - Lou Allison

What's your name? 

Lou or Lulu Allison



What's the title of your forthcoming book? 

Twice the Speed of Dark. 

Describe the book in under 100 words: 

A mother and daughter circle each other, bonded by love, separated by fatal violence. Dismayed by indifference in the news to people who die in distant war and terror, Anna writes portraits of the victims, to try and understand the real impact of their deaths. Her own life is suppressed, restrained by grief. It is only in this vigil, this act of love for strangers, that she allows herself an emotional connection to the world. Her daughter, killed by a violent boyfriend, tells her own story from the perplexing realms of death, reclaiming herself from the evisceration of coercive violence.

Describe the book in under 10 words: 

The traits that unite us and the violence that separates.

What is your favourite book and why? 

Life and Fate by Vassily Grossman, because it perfectly captures the wondrous beauty and the diabolical failure of the human creature.

Who is your favourite author and why? 

Arghhh….lots of books by lots of authors and lots of reasons to love them make this more or less impossible. The distilled answer, by finding an author who rarely disappoints, doesn’t necessarily include those books that have caused real rapture or life-changing reads. But though his books have not driven me wild with reader-zeal like Life and Fate did, or The Emperor’s Babe, (Bernadine Evaristo) I’d never not read an Ian McEwan book.

Name a book that you wish you'd written and why? 

I am an atheist, but I wish I had written the bible because I would’ve made it a lot more sensible. I don’t mean the narratives - some of them really are quite splendidly bonkers (that one about Noah getting drunk, with no trousers on… I kid you not) I’d leave them untouched. But the judgements and demands, the narrowing and exclusions, the misogyny and homophobia. We collectively could’ve done without a whole load of that stuff.

Describe a typical writing day for you - where you do it, when you do it, what aids you use, what music you listen to etc. 

I write in our living room, as I live in a small house with my family. I sigh with gratitude when everyone else trots off to college or work, make a coffee, play a game of patience to absorb the silence, then start. I take breaks to dance to the Melvins when I’m getting stale, or stare at the sky or the corner of the ceiling. Sometimes I am troubled by the feeling that I can’t see the whole thing at once and that can be a barrier. At those times I move to the dining table and write notes and scribbles and arrows and random thoughts on big pieces of paper. If possible I have no music on unless the boys next door are practising their instruments. I tend not to write for long periods of time as work and lack of dedicated space pretty much break up the day. I believe in walking and not thinking too. The parts of my mind that I can’t overhear need a bit of peace and quiet sometimes, without me constantly prodding for an update. I see it this way: the part of my mind where I can talk to myself is only the front office. The back office, or workshop, is where the useful stuff happens, but you can’t hear or see it. Sometimes, the speaking mind can get in the way like an over-zealous office manager. If the work is not appearing, it won’t necessarily appear faster because the office manager keeps checking on progress. The workshop is happy to do overtime, the manager should just read a book or go home and go to bed even. Let them get on with it.

What's your biggest frustration as a writer? 

The boys next door sometimes, though they are perfectly lovely and as entitled to their passions as me… Plus I was a drummer once. Having to work as a cleaner. I deliberately never chose greedy work that would take my time. The demands on me that came from doing art and more recently writing, are big enough to take all my headspace. But it is a bore to have my time fragmented.

How do people find out more about you? 

https://unbound.com/books/twice-the-speed-of-dark
https://luluallison.wordpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/writerLRAllison



Saturday, 4 February 2017

Author Interview - Dave Dawson

What's your name? 

Dave Dawson (pen name Dave Philpott)


What's the title of your most recent/forthcoming book? 

Dear Mr. Pop Star

Describe the book in under 100 words. 

For 10 years, working alongside my dad Derek, I have sent popular and iconic music artists internet letters about the lyrics, deliberately misunderstanding them or pointing out genuine ambiguities. What this is really about is how, when a record is recorded, it is ''theirs'' but when it's out they have NO CONTROL as to how it is interpreted.. We are representing overblown and demented versions of the listening public. The artist then writes back ''in character'', so to speak. We get most of our leads either from artists involved or well connected fans and facebook friends....

Describe the book in under 10 words.

Funny letters to pop stars with genuine witty replies.

What is your favourite book and why? 

The Outsider by Albert Camus. It unfolds in the most deceptively simple manner with exquisite imagery, the most glaring faults of the human condition.

Who is your favourite author and why? 

Ernest Hemingway, His attention to detail and seemingly conversational style combine to form near-perfection.

Name a book that you wish you'd written and why? 

That would mean being privy to all the thought processes of the writer so, nah.

Describe a typical writing day for you - where you do it, when you do it, what aids you use, what music you listen to etc.

We only do a letter if a pop star gives us the green light that they are going to reply so some days there is no writing at all and others, if say three give us a yes, it could be up to 8-10 hours. It's done on the sofa in between household and other leisure activities.



What's your biggest frustration as a writer?

Failing to reach an audience and, related to this, sending our work to mainstream outlets whom we think can give us exposure or help, only to find our messages seemingly ignored and then awful imitations of our idea appearing without credit in their publications a week later!

How do people find out more about you? 

Facebook
Website
derekphilpott@rocketmail.com


Get the book Dear Mr Pop Star here



Thursday, 2 February 2017

Author Interview - Shona Kinsella

Over the next few weeks I'm going to ask a bunch of authors the same set of questions. It'll be interesting to see, as the number builds up, how different writers work. We'll see their inspirations and aspirations. And, quite rightly, they'll get a chance to plug their books too.

We start today with ...



What is your name? 

Shona Kinsella

What’s the title of your most recent/forthcoming book?

Ashael Rising, The Vessel of KalaDene: Book One. 



Describe the book in under 100 words 

Ashael is an apprentice medicine woman in a hunter-gatherer society. Her people are threatened by the return of the Zanthar, invaders from another world who extend their own lives by stealing the life-force from others. When the Zanthar kidnap her friends and demand that Ashael exchanges herself for them, she must discover who and what she really is to save her people and all of KalaDene.

Describe the book in under 10 words 

Woman fights to protect her world from soul-sucking invaders.

What is your favourite book and why? 

I have to cheat with this one – my favourite books are The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I know you said book, but it’s one story so it counts! I’m not sure if I can articulate why. I love the story, the sweeping scale of it and the human smallness of it in one. I love Roland, the flawed hero. I love the fact that it’s an epic fantasy in a western setting and there are so many things that are hinted at but never quite spoken.

Who is your favourite author and why?

Stephen King. His stories are great but what it really comes down to for me is character. He is superb at rendering real, rounded, believable characters. Someday I hope to be able to write character half as well as he does.

Name a book that you wish you’d written and why

Hmm that’s a tough one. There are so many excellent books out there. I’ll go with Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. The man’s world-building is spectacular and his grasp of story is great. This is a 400,000-word novel and I couldn’t out it down. It takes real skill to be able to carry someone along with you that far, I think.

Describe a typical writing day for you - where you do it, when you do it, what aids you use, what music you listen to etc.

Although I don’t go out to a day job, I have three young children that I am the primary carer for. So there’s really no such thing as a typical day for me! I write on a laptop, usually at the dining table or on my lap on the couch. I write in any little gaps in the day when the kids are otherwise occupied and for an hour or two in the evenings after they go to bed. I think about writing all the time, filing things away for later so that when I sit down at the computer I’m ready to go. I work out plot in my head while I’m feeding the baby in the middle of the night. I don’t often listen to music while I’m writing but when I do it’s often instrumental and my favourite for that just now is 2cellos, a duo of Croatian cellists, playing a mix of classical and rock music. They’re wonderful.

What’s your biggest frustration as a writer?

That there aren’t more hours in the day. I have so many ideas and new ones occur to me all the time. It drives me crazy that I don’t have time to work on them all. I’m really envious of people who get to write all day – but then if I had more time I’d probably waste half of it on Twitter!

How do people find out more about you? 

You can catch up with me in all of the following places:
My blog: http://www.shonakinsella.com
Twitter: @shona_kinsella
Instagram: shona.kinsella
Email: shona.kinsella@outlook.com
Patreon: www.patreon.com/shonakinsella
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011729167110

I love hearing from new people so please do get in touch!

Thank you Shona!

__________________________________________________________

Ashael Rising is now available to pre-order from Unbound. Just click here and buy!