Question #1: What made you want to become an author?
I’ve written stories, ever since I learnt to write, but like many authors I came to novel writing by a circuitous route. I was a freelance writer for many years, writing articles for newspapers and magazines, having no ambitions to be an author. But one day, out of the blue, I had an idea for a novel and began to write it, which ultimately became my romantic comedy novel Perfect Sex.
‘Never again,’ I groaned after finishing it. But it was too late, I’d already become addicted. There is nothing to equal the feeling of satisfaction and achievement of finishing a novel and sending it out into the world – something that I have created purely out of my imagination which then takes on a life of its own. And when people read it and tell me they enjoyed it – that’s the ultimate high.
I enjoy everything about it – the process of coming up with an idea, developing the story, fleshing out the characters, then getting stuck into the writing. I often find the first draft difficult and enjoy much more the process of re-writing, moulding and polishing. I am about to invest in Dragon Naturally Speaking and am going to try dictating my next book in the hope it will make the process easier and quicker.
Question #2: What genre of books do you write?
I have written 6 books so far in a variety of genres. The reason for this is that it has taken me a while to find my author voice. The first few books I wrote had a large comedy element, but when a reviewer brought to my attention that my books also have a dark, macabre undercurrent, I realised, in one of those light bulb moments, that what I really enjoy writing is noir – and it’s what I love reading as well.
So novel number 5 is a noir suspense/romance called An Affair With Danger and my work in progress, A Time For Penance, to be published in May 2017, is crime-noir. This is the genre I intend to keep writing in, though within these novels there will still be the occasional spark of black humour, because I can’t help myself.
Question #3: How long have you been writing books?
I started writing Perfect Sex in 2002, so 15 years at the time of writing this. I can’t believe it’s been that long – I have learnt so much since that time, and my writing has improved out of sight, and will continue to improve with each book.
After writing Perfect Sex I shipped it around but got no takers for publication (this was before e-books). So it became my trunk manuscript and I went on to write more novels. After about 9 years, I hauled it out and did some drastic surgery on it. It ended up being a much better book as my writing had improved a lot over the years and the weaknesses were very clear. After I re-wrote it, it then became my second published book, after How Not To Commit Murder.
Question #4: Are you self-published or traditionally published? And tell us why you chose either.
I am an indie author (I prefer that term to self-published). After I’d finished my comedy crime novel How Not To Commit Murder in 2012, I sent it to a number of traditional publishers, but was unable to get a publishing contract, so then had to decide whether to continue down that path or self-publish. I decided I had nothing to lose by self-publishing, (and being in my fifties, I didn’t want to wait years to begin my author career), so I published it on Amazon in 2013, and it was the best thing I ever did. The reviews I got from readers saying how much they enjoyed the book vindicated my decision, so I have self-published every book since then.
Being an indie author is hard work, as the marketing alone is a full time job and you have to fit it in with your writing, but I love that I am in control of my work and my success is purely up to me.
Question #5: What’s the best tip you can give to a new author?
Read, write, study. I think reading well-written books in all sorts of genres has been the single thing that has contributed most to improving my writing. Learning is an ongoing process, and I am also a voracious reader of books on various aspects of the writing craft. There is always something to be learned from every book. Attending workshops, either online or face to face, is also a great way to improve your skills and make connections with other authors.
But then you actually have to write as well.
Question #6: What’s your writing routine like?
Since I retired from my job about 18 months ago, I have had the luxury of being a full time writer, and I love it. But you have to treat it like a job, otherwise you get nothing done. I make sure I am at my desk by 9am at the latest, start writing and knock off between 3.30 and 4pm. I try to make sure I get up from my desk every hour and walk around. My writing is number one priority and I fit everything else around it – I try to make appointments in the afternoon where at all possible so that I can still get something done in the morning before my routine is interrupted.
Then at night after dinner, I do a couple more hours, which is usually admin, social media and other marketing. I write on Saturdays as well, then Sundays is my day off – my digital detox day. No computers, no writing. My partner and I get out into nature, either in the bush or on the beach, and recharge our batteries. I would go stir crazy if I didn’t do this.
Question #7: What do you hope readers take away after reading one of your books?
I hope they take away a sense of enjoyment from having read a book that entertained them, and perhaps made them think. Ideally I’d like to think I’ve evoked some sort of emotion in the reader, as that’s the aim of writing it in the first place.
Bonus Question: Why should a reader want to read your book?
It’s a short read at 46 000 words, so you can read it in a day, but it packs a powerful emotional punch, with a suspenseful story and engaging and believable characters. It’s had some excellent reviews, with the reviewers endorsing my comments – it has an average of 4.6 stars.
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