Saturday, October 26, 2019

Second Andrew R. Williams interview

On September 6th, Wings author Andrew Williams had an interview posted with AllAuthor. You can read it here.
Where have you spent most of your childhood? Which is your fondest childhood memory?

As a child, I was a latent pyromaniac. Not surprising really; my father regularly dragged me out of bed and told me to get dressed. When I asked why, he’d say “Come on quick. There’s a big fire in town; flames going up two hundred feet. We need to get there before the fire brigade put it out.”

My early childhood was spent in
Droylsden, a town in Greater Manchester, England. Being afflicted with latent pyromania, bonfire night – (Guy Fawkes Night , 5 November) was the event of the year.  Bonfire night was made even more exciting because my parent’s house had a corner plot (bigger than the average as Yogi would say) and it had been chosen to host the annual event.

For those not familiar with British traditions,
Guy Fawkes was a member of a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. The attempt failed but celebrating the event still continues. Secretly, most English people wish it had succeeded; opinion polls held in England suggest politicians are held in very low esteem. They are even lower than journalists.

In my childhood, the run up to bonfire night was as important as the event itself. During the two weeks leading up the big event, lorry loads of old wooden railway sleepers would arrive and be carried into the back garden by very willing adults.

“Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen (Smugglers) go by!” – Rudyard Kipling

Where the sleepers came from nobody knows and if they do, they’re not telling. The night itself was great. Fireworks by the score, treacle Toffee, potatoes cooked in the fire and Lancashire Hot Pot appeared by the bowl full.

What were some of your hobbies as a child? Do you still enjoy the same things or have your tastes evolved since then?

When I wasn’t being a latent pyromaniac, I was mad about prehistoric monsters. Maybe that’s why my novels are also populated by some very nasty creatures too. One hobby still remains. I like reading. At first W E Johns and then I progressed to writers like Dennis Wheatley, H G Wells, John Wyndham, Stephen King, George Orwell, Vladimir Peniakoff, Constantine FitzGibbon and  Charles Portis (and many more)  which probably accounts for my interest in action, the unexpected, the occult and things that go bump in the night.

Now I also like writing.

Ah! I nearly forgot, I’m still a latent pyromaniac and let off Fireworks on November 5th and New Year. Well that’s a hobby isn’t it?

How would you describe your experience as a Chartered Surveyor?

Some people do a job because it feeds them and they look forward to retirement. I have been lucky. My vocation is more than just making money. I had a customer put an entry on my website saying “I’m glad I employed Andrew Williams. He gave me an honest opinion.” Comments like that are worth their weight in gold.

Was writing your first book a struggle? What kept you motivated?

My first book was “Domestic Building Surveys,” Published by Spon. I wrote it because when I was learning the trade; I couldn’t find books that really helped me. I decided to base the book around several surveys I’d carried out. It wasn’t difficult; it was a labour of love. Judging by
royalties, people still like it.

Have you ever Googled yourself? What did you find?

Andy Williams (my namesake in case you haven’t noticed) was a very popular singer and even though he’s deceased, his recordings are still very popular. Googling Andrew R Williams does provide a better personal result. Thankfully, I find a lot of references to my surveying practice and my books.

Why are your novels set in the Fantasy genre? In which genre do you enjoy writing the most?

Sci-fi, Fantasy. You say tomato and I say tomato. I think of it as future history. Most things that sci-fi writers invent eventually become reality. Take George Orwell’s 1984. It was a future history. Aren’t we there; facial recognition cameras on every corner in major British towns and cities.

Arcadia's Children is an exciting fast paced science fiction thriller. What was the biggest challenge while portraying an exciting and adventurous story of an alien invasion "Arcadia’s Children?"

Writing Arcadia’s Children was one of the best experiences of my life but it didn’t just happen. I have written ten versions of Arcadia’s Children. Nine went in the bin because I wasn’t happy with them. Then suddenly, all my efforts came together and my alien world became a fictional reality.

How was your experience of writing a practical guide showing how to undertake a domestic building survey, "Domestic Building Surveys"?

After writing the first edition of Practical Guide to Alterations & Extensions, writing Domestic Building Surveys was just something I had to do. During my learning years most books I read seemed to provide an insight into home surveys but nothing more. I decided to show by example and included old reports into the book and then say why I had formed my conclusions on the various properties.

How did you come up with the idea for your book, "Spon's Practical Guide to Alterations & Extensions"?

The most recent Guide to Alterations and extensions was really a follow on to Domestic Building Surveys; as I regularily submit applications for small extensions, providing a guide seemed appropriate. The first edition was very short and then I enlarged the topics as Planning and Building Regulations changed.

Who inspired the character of Mick Tarmy in "Arcadia’s Children: The Fyfield Plantation?" How would you describe him in five words?

Mick Tarmy evolved in my mind. Where he came from nobody knows; even I don’t really know. Mick is casehardened; tough on the outside; soft in the middle. That’s why the women love him.

What were some misconceptions you had about the book and publishing industry before you became a published author?

When people said it could be difficult to get your work published I thought they were exaggerating because I was lucky. With my first book, the first edition of Practical Guide to Alterations and Extensions was complete, I found a small publisher involved in the construction industry and he wanted to publish my guide. The small publisher was then gobbled up by Spon. Spon decided they wanted to publish my other technical books.

The novels were a different story. It was over a year before my first novel was accepted and only after I had sent it to at least fifteen publishing houses.

What kind of tactics do you use to ensure a more productive writing session?

I like to start writing around 7am when the telephone or mobile is unlikely to ring, beep or otherwise conspire to into my concentration. Most of my writing is carried out in a box room. Although I have a small office, the box room is my “happy space.” and I try to set aside time each day and write until the ideas stop flowing or the blasted telephone starts ringing.

What more sci-fi themed books are you planning to writer in the near future? What are you currently working on? 
I am currently working on two novels, Arcadia’s Children 3 and a current day novel which has the working title of Jim’s Revenge which is set in the North of England.

What are your top five writing and marketing tips that you would share with the young writers out there?  
I am still trying to master the art of marketing. At the moment I am using the shot-gun approach. Spread it wide and you might just hit something.

I am with AllAuthor and Amazon .

I have an Arcadia’s Children website.

I use Facebook (Personal and an Arcadia’s Children site.)  Twitter @ArcadiasChildre  and @arcadiaschildre  @plans2extend


How were you introduced to AllAuthor and what some pros and cons of the website, according to you?

Joining All Author was a total accident but it has raised my profile. Thanks, Allauthor.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

An Interview with Lynn Shurr

Author's Website
Author on GoodReads
Author on Amazon

I was born a left-handed middle child, bookended by two sisters. That should tell you a lot already. In the small Pennsylvania Dutch area town where I grew up, everything worth going to could be reached by bicycle: school, a nearby stable, the Legion ball park, and the one-room library in the Fire Hall where I’d read most of the books by age twelve. My own literary ambitions began in the fifth grade when I wrote, directed, produced, and starred in a puppet show which went on a tour of all the elementary classes in our old-timey red brick schoolhouse and got me out of several afternoons of class. Immediately, I saw the merits of a literary career. 

Why did you start fiction writing and what genre do you like to write?

I have to say I started writing fiction and poetry in grade school with my first big achievement being a puppet show I wrote, produced, and starred in which went on tour of the lower grades. I got out of a lot class time and was immediately hooked on writing. After that I contributed to school literary magazines, took accelerated English classes, majored in English Lit in college--and then got an M.A. in librarianship because I realized even then that few writers make much money. Thirty years later, I retired from being a library director and finally had time to write just for pleasure. E-publishing was just beginning to grow. I chose to write contemporary romance because I had heard it was easiest to break into since demand was high, but I'd read my share of romance before starting, enjoying the likes of Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz among many others .I got my chance to see my work in print and as e-books with several small e-presses, some now long gone, but all of my books are still in print having been picked up by other publishers.

Why this genre? What attracts you to them?

When I was a librarian I had a very elderly patron who checked out stacks and stacks of Avalon romances. I asked her why so many. She answered, "Honey, at my age, all you want is a happy ending." Romance always has a happy ending which we need so badly in today's world. Over the course of the story, a couple must overcome each obstacle that falls in their way in order to get to the HEA (Happily Ever After). While my books are full length novels (25 to date) and far more complex than an Avalon romance, I make sure my characters reach their goal in the end which should leave the reader smiling or crying happy tears.

Generally speaking, what is the driving force behind your characters behind your characters? Have any of your characters changed in a dramatic way from what you imagined at the start of the writing process?

Since I always know my beginning, middle, and end before I start to write, I do know how my characters will change during the story. A character who shows no growth, no change, is just a flat cardboard cutout. I've found without at first realizing it that most of my stories are about second chances, a life do-over that will eventually make them happier. In A Place Apart, a wounded warrior with a bad case of PTSD has become a hermit on a deserted island off the coast of Maine because he feels he cannot be with other people. A young socialite who has trashed her reputation also wants solitude on the island. Not nearly so shallow as she first seems, she takes on Jake and all his problems in order for them to exist together. Sparks fly! In Lady Flora's Rescue, the first of an historical series, a young widow is determined to marry her choice of a spouse the second time around, even if she must follow him into the Ohio Wilderness of the eighteenth century to get the man she desires. My characters often have help from friends and family. Sometimes, I have to be careful that these secondary characters don't take over. They must wait for their own stories.

What do you find the most difficult in finishing a story and approximately how long does it take for you to write a story?

For a contemporary novel, I usually need three or four months to complete one. An historical novel due to all the research involved may take six to nine months to complete, and I will still be looking up period details as I write. My greatest difficulty is saying goodbye to characters I have come love. Even when I've written the last page, they continue to have lives in my imagination. I know how many children they will have and what careers they will pursue, etc. In Blessings and Curses, a spin off from A Taste of Bayou Water, I was able to develop the entire life of a secondary character from first meeting to very married with children. I rarely get a chance to do that. I've been told the romance ends with marriage--but it shouldn't.

Are there other types of writing you do such as non-fiction, or short fiction?

I've written a number of short stories that I call my Twilight Zone tales. Only one is a romance, and only one has ever been published in an anthology that is now out of print. Someday, I'd like to do a collection of them, but just don't have the time at the moment.

Has your writing affected you in any way and what would you recommend to someone wanting to start writing fiction?

Writing for publication takes discipline, dedication, and perseverance. I had to learn the last especially. Rejections easily crushed me, but I kept on until I was good enough to be published. I write every day for about four hours. If I can do 1,000 words a day, great. In three months, I will have a 90,000 novel. Even now, I keep learning how to do better with each book. Anyone starting out will have to apply all three to their lives. You write when you don't feel well or are down or would rather be somewhere else to get the job done. Though I have found creating a story sometimes takes a person away from their problems for a while. I think many would-be authors have no idea how grueling the publishing process is. Writing the book is the easy part. In the end, most will find out they earn very little for their efforts. A writer must write because they love to do it. Otherwise, they will soon quit. But if a person has a story to tell, it needs to come out. Good luck to all who travel this rocky road.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

An Interview with A.J. Maguire

Author website

A.J. Maguire is a consumer of stories. She thoroughly believes that stories are the bedrock of humanity, and that the answer to every question in life can be found in the tales that we tell. She also believes that spiders are the spawn of Satan and that her cat might just be the reincarnation of Dionysus. She enjoys books with strong characters who challenge her as a person and manage to whisk her off with adventure at the same time. This means that she reads nearly any genre and any author but her favorites include Diana Gabaldon, James Rollins, Ken Follett, Jennifer Crusie, and Brandon Sanderson. Maguire is passionate about her craft and constantly working to improve. She'll probably keep telling stories long into her old age (which is still several decades off) and believes that being an author is the single greatest, most wonderful gift she has been given -- apart from her son. She looks forward to every story and hopes to release many more novels in the years to come.

Why did you start fiction writing and what genre(s) do you like to write?

Gracious, I’ve been writing for so long I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t part of my life. I’ve been weaving stories since I was little, and in the 6th grade I had an excellent teacher who gave us a fiction writing assignment that made me fall in love with the whole process.

I can’t seem to hammer a genre down, though. I started with fantasy because I felt it gave me more freedom. And then I moved to science fiction/space opera because I will forever be a Star Trek/Star Wars Nerd. And no, I will not ever choose between them. Both hold fond memories for me and I refuse to be forced into a category there.

Recently I’ve been working on an urban fantasy, which I suppose is still fantasy, so maybe that’s my calling after all.

Why this/these genre(s)? What attracts you to them?

Why fantasy?

Because I want desperately to believe in magic. I mean, I love elves and dragons and epic story lines where good and evil clash and the fate of the world is at stake. But underneath all that is just a little girl who wants to believe the trees are alive with memory and sprites are hiding under mushrooms.

Why science fiction?

Because I want to believe humanity can and will populate other planets. I want to believe that we can put aside our political/religious/cultural differences and work together to survive outside of Earth’s atmosphere. And if I can make myself believe it on the page, then maybe others will believe it too.

Generally speaking, what is the driving force behind your characters? Have any of your characters changed in dramatic way from what you imagined at the start during the writing process?

I’m going to concentrate on Seach Barlow, who is a protagonist in the Tapped series. This character was meant to be a major character, but not a main one. Then he sort of stole the heroine’s heart and hijacked the storyline and now it’s anyone’s guess what is going to happen. Personally, I enjoy Seach and don’t mind. He’s a good man who wants to protect the family that he and Jorry have made, and he has a sense of humor.

What do you find the most difficult in finishing a story and approximately how long does it take for you to write a story?

Each story is different. Some of them come to their endings naturally, others… not so much. Usurper’s ending was natural, with Kaden Dyngannon making the deliberate choice to go after the throne. That said, it took me a great deal of time to get there because I discovered I was writing two books instead of one.

The book I’m currently inching my way through was started eight months ago, but I’m on the third draft now so that really isn’t as long as it seems. The fight scenes at the end are what cause hiccups for me. I can only manage 500-600 words per writing session because I have to concentrate on all the movements and chaos and find a way to make it personal to the point of view character.

Are there other types of writing you do such as non-fiction, or short fiction?

I try to write short fiction between novels. It gives my brain a break and allows me to stretch different writing-muscles. That said, I can’t seem to do flash fiction. It boggles me.

Has your writing affected you in any way and what would you recommend to someone wanting to start writing fiction?

I am a bit weird. I am often writing in the effort to understand people. If I observe someone behaving in a manner that makes no sense to me, I will try writing a character that behaves that same way in the effort to understand them.

For example, I heard a story once about a sister who was stripping the rings off her dying mother’s fingers so that no one else could have them. This boggled my mind so badly that I had to write the scene out from her perspective because it couldn’t just have been greed motivating that action.

Before you ask, I do not have a sister. And my mother is quite alive. So, this has no personal relevance to me, but I needed to understand it just the same. That said, I’m sure you can see that my writing always has an affect on me. It helps me make sense of the world we live in.

To those wanting to start writing fiction I would have to say; don’t forget to have fun with it. We give all these rules and we get frustrated by editing time and we get a little green with jealousy when we see the success of other writers, and we bemoan ourselves as the worst authors in the world because the work isn’t meeting the standard we want it to, and in the middle of all that we forget to have fun. Enjoy the journey. Learn from it. Let it affect you the way you want it to affect your readers. And don’t forget your family wants time with you too.