An Interview With Joel Seath: Author and Creator of Beauty…

Joel Seath is an author who writes to find the beautiful things in the world and to explore the characters that make life wonderful and sad. I met Joel on my travels and immediately cottoned onto his love for all things literary. We set up and interview and he answered my questions with ease. I found myself sitting back to listen to what he had to say rather than thinking of another question. Easy interviews are rare– but this was one of the easiest.

Joel

Q) So Joel, why did you become an author?

A) It’s a compulsion, a drive, I suppose. When you write you just need to keep on writing.

Q) What does a compulsive drive to write feel like?

A) It often feels like blocking out, locking in, sinking in. You know? Some days it’s a rush. Some days you read and re-read and it’s like you’re looking at something that shines (or might shine) and you want to keep that, show that, have that, always.

Q) Do you ever find it hard to stop yourself from writing? Is it like a daze or a dream you can’t break from?

A) Physically writing (or typing), yes, I suppose. I mean, it can be extremely immersive, as many writers will know. However, that immersion also plays itself out in the day-to-day, pen not in hand, computer not on. Words (or the possibility of them) are everywhere.

Q) Words are your thing as a writer? So what is your favourite word?

A) What an excellent question! A barman asked me what my favourite book was recently (your question reminds me of that): how to pick one? You can tell by the long pause that this has given me cause to think. I can tell you what my most recently learned word is (and, by extension, a current favourite): tenebrous.

Q) Tenebrous? So what does tenebrous mean?

A) It’s to do with the obscure, the dark, as I understand it. This isn’t a reflection of my writing; rather, the word has a sort of rhythmic quality to me.

Q) Well, you have to learn something new everyday! So, lets reflect on your writing. What do you like to write about? Tell me about your writing.

A) In all its forms, long and short, my writing is intended as a means of finding the small gems of this world. There are hidden things in between what we just see on the surface– there are textures and layers to relationships, subtleties, moments. I’m looking for the moments that also linger. There are ‘objects’ of beauty, even in the laments, in many places.

Q) It’s interesting that you write about “beauty,” as everyone’s definition of beauty is so different. What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever written about? What is “beautiful” to you?

A) Well, beauty is subjective, of course, but I’m sometimes taken aback by how things turn out. It’s unexpected. There are moments that happen which I read time and again because they still have some power over me. In one of my stories, a child’s brief interaction with the narrator takes me in every time; in another piece, it was something I wrote in a female voice because I needed to do this more, I was there with her, as her, in Venice because the words were in that flow state; poetry is a vanity, but there are lines of colour and there are lines that sink me sometimes. Questions such as these are like choosing between children!

Q) If you could write anywhere in the world– where would it be? What landscape would really incite your creativity?

A) On a beach, in the mountains, in a forest, all of these. Specifically, though I’ve done my fair share of overseas travelling, I’d come back to the west of Cornwall. Standing on the cliffs overlooking some of the little unknown coves down there, the sea and the wind in your hair and on your face, that huge sky (it really is huge, like they say in their tourism promotions), makes words just come in for me. The artists there laud it for the light; I just can’t get enough of the energy.

Q) I understand that you’re published so others can enjoy your creative energy. Which of your works are currently available?

A) I’ve got a collection out at the moment (Disintegration and Other Stories). I loosely label this as literary fiction (though that term can be interpreted in many ways). DaOS is out in ebook and print. This collection came together in an odd way: I didn’t realise that there’d been a thread running through some of my writings for a number of years. It was like seeing invisible ink slowly become visible. I’m working on a collection of micro fiction, which will be a first volume (Four Kinds of Wreckage) to be added to. Micro fiction is much misunderstood. Away from fiction, I’m also published in the field of what’s known as ‘playwork’ (a particular way of working with children). I’ve had writings taken on by the national/international playwork publication for the sector, as well as credits with the organisation concerned with psycholudic playwork practice. (Now though, I fear I’m stepping into the jargon of my other calling – though writing is also a big part of this, too).

disintegration

Q) So tell me Joel– why did you want to be interviewed by me?

A) You do a good job of finding writers, Nick. When I became aware of your work I came over to your blog, and yes, I like what I see here. What you’re doing is exactly what writers need– a way of getting their words out there.

Q) Thank you, Joel. One of my stock questions is to ask– if you could be any writer from any time who would it be?

A) As far as writers are concerned, I have a range (as we all do probably): Milan Kundera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jeannette Winterson, Iain Banks, Ian McEwan, Italo Calvino, Jack Kerouac, Neil Gaiman, Adrian Henri. There are others. I wouldn’t want just one small list to define me, though we start somewhere with questions such as these.

Q) Characters are important to you. What makes a good character for you?

A) The unusual wrapped up in the usual. Subtlety people often might not see. The strangely put. Love in odd places, ways; perceptions of this. Someone who aches in some way.

Q) It has often been said that “repeated readability makes a book.” Would you as an author agree with that?

A) Yes, I think I would. Who was it who said that journalism is read once, whilst literature more than this? Something like that. Anyway, it’s the sentiment here that counts. There are books on my shelf that I come back to time and again; there are passages on some pages that just astound me. Kerouac wrote about ‘fields the colour of love and Spanish mysteries’ in On the Road. I come back to that time and again.

Q) You strike me as an intellectual– someone striving for the beautiful things in life. Would you agree with that?

A) I don’t know about intellectual! I certainly am on the search for the beauty of the world though. That’s in words, in moments, in art, in love and lament, in the play of children, in the play of us, in nature.

Q) What would you personally deem as “ugly”?

A) There’s nothing so ugly as not wanting to see, perhaps. Ugliness is also wrapped up in the politics of power, greed, deceit.

Q) Power, greed, deceit are words usually entwined with politics. How do you feel about the political scene in America right now? Are you an Obama follower?

A) For me these words are part of Politics (as in that which a politician is involved in); however, these words are also within the politics of everyone, their relations. Lennon had an angle here! As for Obama, I don’t really get too immersed in Politics anywhere, if I can help it, because politicians bring the media to their door in many ways. That said, when politicians willfully ignore children and their play, this gets me going! Back to Obama, he strikes me as intelligent enough, though of course I’m not in the US and not directly subjected to American policy.

Q) Well, I think we’ll end there Joel. Thank you for a great interview!

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The World of Publishing According to Dana: Nick Wale Interviews Graphic Artist Dana Black

Dana Black came to me through a friend of mine called Bob Satterfield. Now, I know Bob because we both have this dream. Bob is a dreamer who makes his dreams come true. So am I. So when Bob mentioned this talented graphic artist from NY– I was interested. When Bob said that Dana would make a good interview– I was hooked. So, thanks to Bob Satterfield we now have an interview with Dana Black to read! I think you will all enjoy this one..

Dana Black

Q) Dana, let me start by asking you one simple question: Who are you?

A) I’m a left-handed New York-born Virgo artist with aspirations to write and create new comics and new art that inspires others to tell stories.That’s what I want most out of my art– to inspire others to write and draw, to tell the stories itching in their minds. I’m a guy with tons of stories just leaping out of my skull so it’s all I can do to filter them, boil them down to their simplest terms and then find a format to tell them all.

Q) How do you control all that creativity? How do you stop ideas from bouncing around all day? Surely, it’s enough to drive you insane?

A) Well, I’m well past the point of insane *laughs* so I do my best to scribble them down on any paper I can find, whether it’s visual ideas, dialogue or plot points. It gets to be a lot of work, but I have a pretty good memory that works well with the flood. The ideas seem to come in spurts of creativity, so when one page is filled with ideas it goes into that specific pile and let me tell you, there’s about a dozen or so piles being compiled for all of the things I want to do.

I’m not the most organized cat on the block but all the notes seem to make it into the piles they’re supposed to. If I write or draw two different projects on the same sheet, I’ll cut it out and make sure it goes where it’s meant to go- or better yet, I’ll find a way to make sure that idea gets utilized in something else entirely.

Q) Do you work in a day job or do you just live off your creativity?

A) Right now I’ve given up the day job thing so that I can have the freedom to write and draw to my little heart’s content. It’s a huge risk– just to up and leave the comfort and security of your bread-and-butter job– but it was doing this that gave me a new focus for creating. Having no safety net is a peculiar way of making sure you get to do what you want to.

Q) How are you finding life without a net so far?

A) While I sometimes think it was a mistake to let go so soon, I’m quite happy being able to create my own hours, work on the projects I want to and draw for pleasure for the most part.

The food isn’t piled on my plate and other sacrifices are made, but who needs a social life when you can invent new friends on paper who are probably a lot more interesting? I get to now say I’m living my dream. In the day job, I could never say that, let alone think it.

It’s a freedom and a struggle but it’s so worth it to me.

Q) Do you feel that following your heart is important? Creativity is more important than the commercial nature of the modern world?

A) I sure do. There’s no doubt about it for me, especially loving art and stories the way I do and having always wanted to make a life for myself doing both. I’m forty now and since I was five I was sure I wanted to make a career at telling stories and doing artwork. It would be nice if I could pull off a solid paycheck like my last job, sure, but it was deadening work and non-creative and took up so much of my time and energy that drawing after work was a struggle.

It’s been my dream to draw and write for a living and now, slowly but surely, I get to do just that and I have nothing in my way or holding me back, most especially I don’t have anyone stifling my creativity or telling me “Don’t draw here,” or  “You can’t do that now.”

Q) Do you have dependents or do you live alone?

A) I’m a single dude with no kids, no pets, no one depending on me for anything. I’ve tried to tell relationship partners in the past that this is my great love; that I’m married to art, but they couldn’t understand it. Now I don’t have to worry about explaining why I do what I do or having either the relationship or the art get in the way of the other.

I don’t have to worry about waking up at 3am to draw or write and bothering anyone or having them feel neglected. While I miss companionship, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make because the sole purpose is to make ME happy.

Q) Tell me about your writing process. How do you like to write?

A) Writing for me starts with a rough idea in my head and I start by scribbling a grocery list of all the things that would make a story interesting to me. I’ll start with Stunts, actually–visual ideas of what type of action sequences would be compelling– then I glue this onto a 3 Act Structure and start breaking it down into an outline from start to finish, creating the Spine of the story. From there I start writing dialogue, something I feel really comfortable with. Then I tighten the outline, get very specific, add things, toss out others until I have an outline that really works. Meanwhile, on the margins of all pages, there’s visual ideas, character designs, vehicles, props, sigils, etc…that all directly relate to what I’ve just written. I had a friend recently tell me it was like deciphering code but it really all fits together well once I have the major plot points hammered out.

It’s drawing and writing simultaneously, basically. I write stories with pictures.

Q) What would you deem as your strongest quality?

A) Beyond being a pretty capable artist, I have a contagious love for Comics Storytelling and I want everyone to recognize them for the art form they are. It’s my passion and I often get all teary eyed when talking about how much I love this graphic world.

Dana!

Q) How did you get your first break in the world of graphics?

A) Right now I’m working on a one shot called REDEYE which is my love letter to comics and in it are all of the things that floor me about comics and stories. From the danger and romance, to the humor and the horror. Comics have it all and I plan on showing them off as much as I possibly can.

I’d been drawing since I was five and won local awards and such for years but it was going to Comic Conventions where I met my idols that things started to happen. At a New York Convention in 1994 I met a Comics Artist or two who decided to take me under their wing and give me a shot at drawing professionally. The relationships fizzled but I never lost my love or interest in it. I dabbled in Music for years until a close writer friend offered me the opportunity to do covers for his novels. Once people started seeing what I could do and once I started building confidence in my work, more work followed.

I did covers, pinups, trading cards, art direction and even script supervising and now I’m doing my best to utilize all of these into projects that I’ve created myself or am doing with other writers.

Q) So what’s the plan? To create graphic novels and sell them to publishers?

A) Yeah, that’s the plan basically. Create stuff that comes from my brain and see who’ll publish what I’ve done or work with writers who have a set deal. I have no interest in working in mainstream comics, so books like Batman, X-Men etc… are not books you’re likely to see me work on. There is only one character in mainstream comics that I have any real love for and a writer friend and I are going to work out my plot for that and see if it gets a green light. If it doesn’t, even with the writer’s reputation, we have a back up plan to make it our own property and do it independently.

Q) Are you looking for investors?

A) No, not at this point. With REDEYE, we’re considering releasing it digitally to cut down on the risk factor but we have a few companies who I’m sure would find this property quite nice.

I think once people see the work finished, companies will hopefully line up to publish it.

Q) I would guess you have connections within the industry?

A) Yeah, there’s a bundle of gentlemen who like my work enough to take a chance on some of my ideas. After the first few projects are published, I see myself working on larger projects with more commitment and I think I have a few connections willing to come along for the ride.

Q) So you went into the wilderness knowing you would be published?

A) Yes, I had the confidence and the art to back it up plus that utter desperation of “Well, there’s no more Day Job”.

Q) You sounds like a natural risk taker, then.

A) I have to contain the laughter and my friends and family reading this would all agree that Yes, I’m a Natural Born Risk Taker. Or a Natural Born Idiot, either one. Take your pick. *laughs*

Q) How do you feel about a life without risks?

A) Well, I’ve worked the day jobs, I’ve done the stuff expected of me and it’s really no fun– there’s no passion and I’m a person that has to LOVE it to do it. I find taking no risks boring and dull and I’m anything but. I have friends who sit at their desks, watch the clock, collect a paycheck, go home and kiss their dogs. That is not the life for me.

But I do like dogs. Very much.

Q)  What are your thoughts on self-publishing?

A) Self-publishing is something I have mixed feelings about. One, it means that I can tell the stories I want to tell unconstrained by editorial or publishers wants. Two, it means I don’t have the goods to make it and get my stories published.

Even more personal projects can find a publisher, but inferior art and story cannot and should not.

Q) Do you believe, as many do, that self-publishing has flooded the market?

Yes, there’s a boom of self-publishers. Any Joe Shmoe with a little bit of money can release a project and it crowds the racks with inferior product.

But can that Joe Shmoe produce a good book with interesting stories and top notch art? Usually not, which is why they self-publish.

Let’s face it, the industry is mired in inferior product, and it’s not just the self-publishers but they seem most responsible for it. Sometimes having that freedom to self-publish does not guarantee a worthwhile book.

It’s the obligation of an artist and writer to do their best work.

Q) So the statement “Everyone has a book inside of them,” should perhaps be “Everyone has a book inside of them– but the majority should stay inside of them.” Would you agree with that?

A) No, I can’t agree with that as much as I want to. I’d be happy not seeing many books I’ve seen . I would say draw and write the BEST book you can, then write it and draw it again and if it’s not the BEST book you can put out- stop and find something else to do. I want to see quality products, the best books, the best stories, the best art– art and stories that pump me up and not leave me cold– and that’s my goal. I want people to be blown away, not because they’re supposed to be, but because they are.

People are not being their own worst critics and that’s why we have so much trash on the stands. “Hey, Bob, here’s a good idea.” No, it has to be GREAT.

Q) What made you say yes to an interview with me?

A) Well, we have a mutual friend Bob Satterfield who approached me about it and with his recommendation and your quality of interviews. I said “Why Not?” It sounded like fun and it has been. I wanted to continue taking a risk to get a little bit of me out there and to express my love for the graphic medium and didn’t know if I’d get the chance again any time soon. Also, I felt it important for an artist to be heard.

Q) Well, Dana thank you for stopping by. It’s been a pleasure interviewing you!

A) Nick, you’re very welcome and I have to thank you for the opportunity and it’s been a real joy to have spoken to you at length.

DanaLook out for the wonderful work of Dana Black! It may soon be at your local comic store!

SMD Proofing & Editing Services – Nick Wale Introduces Siobhan Day

SMD Proofing & Editing Services – Ms Siobhan Day

So how did you become a proofreader?

I studied a degree in English, originally with a view to teaching. I’ve always found proofreading quite exciting and I get a real satisfaction from spotting those spelling, grammar and punctuation errors that others sometimes miss. Having spent years working for others as a proofreader, I decided it was time to go it alone and set up my own proofreading service.

What services do you offer?

What can I say, if it needs proofreading we’ll do it! We offer a wide range of services such as;

  • Academic Proofreading
  • Corporate Editing and Proofreading
  • Blog Writing
  • Proofreading and Editing for Authors
  • English as second language Proofreading and Editing
  • Application and CV writing and proofreading
  • Media and Journalism Proofreading and Editing
  • Marketing Material Editing and Proofreading
  • Copywriting
  • Website content writing and or proofreading
  • Translation from or in to English, French, Italian and Polish

What can writers expect from you?

SMD Services has a passion for making what you write right! We offer a quality service but we also offer great prices. We like to look at each quote individually, rather than just offering a blanket price, giving us the opportunity to offer the best service to our clients. We take the time to understand exactly what it is the client wants, whether it’s just a simple proofread for grammar, punctuation and spelling or full copywriting. We aim to ensure your work is clear and correct whilst still preserving your voice and vision.

How many books have you proofread?

SMD Services has many clients who use our services, from authors to corporate business’s looking for not only proofreading but also brochure and website content. We have a proven track record in proofreading and translation with a growing client base.

What kind of books do you enjoy personally?  

My genre of books is mixes really. I love anything that makes me escape for a few hours whilst reading. Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale stands out as one of my favourites, but I also love the classics, an occasional romance and you can never beat a good thriller that has you on the edge of your seat. I love those books that leave you wanting more!

How much are your services?  

As I said before, we do not have a standard blanket rate. We have such a varied client base that we prefer to take each quote individually so that we can offer our clients not only the best quality but the most competitively priced service. We also offer a price matching service, we will beat any like for like quote that you may have and we also have special offers once a month for our clients.

How can people get in touch with you?  

People can visit us at www.smdproofing.co.uk and request a quote or they can email us direct on info@smdproofing.co.uk. We can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Stuart Yates is Back! Nick Wale Heralds the Return of Stuart Yates

This will be my third interview with Stuart Yates–a writer’s writer and a man who seems to have endless ideas for books. I was impressed with our last interview. Stuart is a writer and he writes almost every day. It matters not if he has sales, and over our conversations I have realised how wonderful it must be to just write for the joy of writing. When you see a guy like Stuart who has sometimes sold only one or two copies of a book, you wonder why he keeps doing it? He has his fans and he has a deep love for his work. He might be writing for a select audience, but those people sit up and love his work. That is the best part of anything– knowing that your work is appreciated by someone. I present to you my third outing with Stuart Yates.

Stuart Yates

Q) Tell me, have you enjoyed our interviews so far?

A) Yes, very much so.

Q) How many interviews have you done over your writing career?

A) About writing? Quite a few, but yours have been my favourites.

Q) You had an accident on your bike recently, right? Tell me what happened!

A) Ah…well…it was raining, very hard, and it hadn’t rained for a while, so the road was very slippery. I just lost control. Simple as that.

Q) How long till you recover?

A) Well…not sure. Perhaps a week. I’ve torn the ligaments in my arm, busted up both knees. Very painful, but I’m okay. Nothing is broken! My arm is in a sling, so it is hard to do very much at all, really.

Q) Have you managed to fit some writing time in?

A) Well, funnily enough, I had a sudden spurt of inspiration! So, yes, I’ve managed it, but very slowly with one finger of my right hand. My left one is incapacitated. I’m working on a new thriller, which is coming along very nicely. Once I start thinking of scenarios, it is difficult to stop.

Q) You’re a creative powerhouse!

A) A creative powerhouse? Well…when an idea takes hold, it does tend to take over.

Q) Tell me more about your latest thriller.

A) This one is set in the near future, when the world is massively over-populated. The sea-levels are rising and the politicians decide to take somewhat drastic action.

Q) What do they do?

A) They create a smoke screen– they get a real duffer of a policeman to investigate a murder, so that the world will focus in on that. Meanwhile, they put together an elaborate plan to end everybody’s problems. It’s a simple fact that in a generation the population of the planet will be 10 billion people and we cannot sustain those numbers! That’s the thread of the story. It’s not nice, and it has no happy ending– but it is good fun!

Q) How has the world changed since you started writing?

A) In so many ways! I used to type on an old Olivetti portable, using masses of correction fluid and carbon paper. I longed to be like Dashiel Hammett, writing well into the night! Then, of course, you send it away with return postage and wait for half a lifetime for it to be returned. Not like today, of course! Everything is so much faster! [The writing process is] still tinged with frustration and disappointment though. That much hasn’t changed! The rejection slips still mount up, only this time they are in the form of e-mails.

Q) How often do you get rejected?

A) A lot! I have written what I think is a wonderful story, and it has gone to maybe thirty agents, all of whom have rejected it. A publisher liked it, read it all, but decided not to go ahead because my hero was too weak. Poor man. So now my latest manuscript is with Harper Collins and some agents in the States. We will see.

Q) Have you been rejected by Harper Collins before?

A) Yes!!! Years and years ago, when you could submit directly to them. Nowadays, they won’t look at you without an agent, but late last year they threw open their doors to ‘open submissions’. They received 4500 of them!!! Mine hasn’t been rejected YET…

Q) What is so important about a signing with Harper Collins?

A) Because they are HUGE!!! They assign an editor to you, do the marketing, publicity, arrange interviews (wink wink) and press-releases. They are a major international publishing house and are fully equipped to take you forward in your career. When the opportunity came to submit, I simply had to. I had made some changes after the feedback from the publisher who had rejected me, so I feel it’s a better product. It is the first part of a trilogy. I’ve already written the second, and the third is planned.

Q) What would you deem a hit?

A) A hit? For me? Anything over ten copies sold makes me happy. I just got my royalty cheque for Burnt Offerings. I made a whopping five pounds!

Q) You’ve had a book that didn’t sell even one copy?

A) Yes!!! Of course. Death’s Dark Design has sold NIL and my trilogy of animal tales set on Alderney have sold NIL. Now I find that Interlopers From Hell, which I expected to do better, hasn’t sold a single copy. Do I care? Not really. You write for the love of it. Not for the royalty checks or the fame. I don’t worry! I am a published author and that’s what counts.

Q) How do you cope with such a lack of success?

A) How do I cope? What a question. I have a wonderful capacity to simply shut out bad vibes, bad news, setbacks, etc., unless, of course, they are personal. I simply just get on with the next one. What more can you do? They have been edited professionally, they are well produced, the covers are good… AND, the stories are good, too. So, I simply carry on.

Q) Do you ever get fan mail?

A) What is fan mail? I have had some lovely comments from people, yes. Some people have done reviews on my books, people I don’t know, and that is tremendous. I have seen people make comments about my blogs. Nobody then goes and buys a book. Well, not enough to make any kind of difference. I keep telling myself ‘this is the one’ after I have finished a book. So far, it isn’t!!! Still, what does it matter? I’ve thought about opening up a little Bed and Breakfast in northern France or working in a museum, telling visitors about the exhibits– anything to keep me going artistically. I could put some of my books on the counter.

I remember once I was at a fair here in Spain. I had a little stall with my books on and I was giving away bookmarks–really cool they were– however, they didn’t have my face on them, which is always a good selling point. I handed one to some guy and he looked at it and said, ‘No, I’m not interested.’ I smiled, ‘But you do read, don’t you, sir? You could use that, it’s absolutely free.’ ‘No’, he said, and gave it me back. I was so downhearted. I haven’t been there since– I’ve even tried to give my books away at work! Nobody wants them. Maybe three or four of the forty-odd staff have read my books, and they have all liked them. Two of them wrote stonking (that means “good” for the American readers) reviews on Amazon.

One girl loved the book I gave to her, and she wanted to read more, so she has. Another good friend has helped me with editing. She’s a brilliant teacher, and literacy is her strong point. But another I had to virtually beg to read it. It was FREE for crying out loud. She just looked at me and shook her head.

Q) Tell me Stuart, do you know that your work is good?

A) Yes, I know my work is good, even though I rarely admit to that. I’m naturally very modest. I hate putting myself forward, that is why I find all this marketing and promotion business so difficult!

People find that extraordinary when they find out about my background in acting. But, like I try to tell them, that was not ME up there on that stage. That was a character. Being ME is extremely difficult.

Q) Tell me about your acting career.

A) Well, I sort of stumbled into it really. I was unemployed – AGAIN – and went on a government sponsored scheme as a youth-worker in a local rep theatre. Wow, the people I met there. So talented! Outstanding musicians and actors. I had a great time. We used to go around local special schools and put on plays for the kids. It was brilliant. I used to help out in the theatre in the evenings and got into acting properly that way. I went down to London for an audition and I got in !!!

I’ve always wanted to be an actor, perhaps for longer than I’ve wanted to be a writer. I started up my own theatre group with some friends. We won lots of competitions. I was voted best actor twice in one of the most prestigious acting competitions on Merseyside. Then I went to university, and did Drama as part of my degree. All of that taught me a lot about good dialogue pacing, tension, all of that. It was a great time in my life and I still keep in touch with some of my old friends.

Q) So your acting indirectly shaped your writing?

A) Definitely! I was always very intuitive as an actor, and I am as a writer. I just go with it, I don’t think about it too much. Sometimes, thinking gets in the way. I’m like that as a teacher, too. I can’t be doing with following plans, even though in my writing I do have a very loose plan but, it is a plan that develops as the story unfolds.

Q) How would you describe your writing?

A) Pacey, spicey, with lots of twists

Q) Do you enjoy writing sex scenes?

A) Wow!!! Dear me…er…well…Mm, what do I say to that? Yes, in short! As long as they have place in the story, why not?

Q) Has writing sex scenes made you a better lover?

A) Er…mm…they’ve certainly made me more thoughtful. The research is great !!! I don’t want you to get the wrong idea! Hey, James Bond wouldn’t be who is is without all that spice!!! I don’t write erotica…just a little sprinkling of good, wholesome fun ! And besides, writing about vicious gangsters who blow people’s legs off hasn’t made me a better killer! I deal with story-making which is fiction and fantasy. None of it is real. Although I have met some pretty gruesome characters and they populate the pages of my books quite a lot!

Q) So what was the last great book you read?

A) The last ‘great’ book I read…I re-read Of Mice and Men just before Christmas, and it blew me away as usual. That is what I would class a ‘great’ book! The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas left me feeling dazed by its brilliance. I read that a few months ago and No Country for Old Men. Now there was a book and a half. Wow. I was in awe of that. I’ve read lots of others, but none that I would term ‘great’. At the moment, I’m reading about William II as part of the research for a historical novel I’ll be getting down to in the summer

Q) What’s this new historical novel called?

A) My book has a working title of ‘Arrow From the Mist’ or something like that, but that might change.

Q) What’s the historical book about?

A) William II was killed in a hunting ‘accident’ in the New Forest in 1100. He had become separated from the main group. He was found dead, with an arrow sticking out of him. The arrow belonged to a knight called Walter Tyrel who promptly disappeared. Henry, William’s brother, quickly seized the throne…and here’s the interesting bit! He never ordered any investigation into his brother’s death; Tyrel was allowed to leave the country, and his family were awarded top jobs in the government so, was it an accident, or was he murdered on the orders of his brother? It’s a real mystery, that will never be solved. BUT, my story puts a nice little twist on it because it wasn’t Tyrel OR Henry…it was somebody else…or maybe two people… or three… who knows!!! You’ll have to read it and see! I just can’t wait to start it!

With our interview over, I left Stuart to his work. He loves his work and it shows through with every ounce of his being. I think you will discover him one day. Perhaps today? You will go and pick up a Stuart G. Yates novel and read until you are satisfied. Stuart will be satisfied, too– he will have gained another new reader. Adios till we meet again!

Stu YatesSee my other inerviews with Mr Yates here and here!

Don Keith– Putting His Own Spin on the World of Publishing

What can I say about Don Keith that hasn’t already been said a million times? Best-selling author, blogger, radio disc jockey, happy guy who just loves his work. I had been looking forward to this one for a long time. I met him through my travels and I knew he would make a great interview for “Novel Ideas.” Sometimes you just have an itch that tells you who would come across well. Don made me itch like crazy (in a good way!) When we first met, he spent time advising me about interviews and approaching authors. In a world full of huge egos, it was refreshing to meet a genuine great guy such as Mr Keith. I present the man who writes best-sellers to you now in my own golden spotlight.

don keith

Q) Hi, Don! Let me start by asking you to tell me how you got into writing?

A) I’ve wanted to tell stories on paper since I was a kid and published my own short stories for people in my neighborhood. All six of them! But I was working with a company that produced software for broadcasters and ad agencies and that put me on the road with a laptop computer. In hotel rooms at night, I could either watch TV, hang out in the bar downstairs, or finally start that novel that was rattling around in my head. I chose the novel. I used some chicanery to get in touch with a literary agent who promptly turned down the novel, but he said I could write and to submit anything else I produced to him. I did–another novel–which he promptly rejected, but urged me to keep trying. The third novel was sold in two days to St. Martins’ Press and I have kept writing since, 26 published works later!

Q) What happened to those first two novels? Did you get them published in the end?

A) The first still languishes on a floppy disk somewhere and, honestly, it is pretty bad. The second one became my second published novel, Wizard of the Wind, after I took what I learned from the editing process of the first one, The Forever Season, and did a major re-write. Lesson learned. Be honest when you go back and look at what you have written. Get input from trusted sources. If you see what you did is not very good, move on. But if there is still something there with which you can work, mold it and shape it and see if you can make it better.

wizard of wind

Q) So your experience would suggest that being turned down is remedied by trying again. Would you agree with that?

A) I admit it is never easy when someone tells you that your baby is ugly, but you must be honest with yourself first. On the other hand, wonderful manuscripts are rejected every day by agents and publishers for reasons not often understood by the writer. If you are confident your work is valued, has a potential readership, and can make money for a publishing house, keep pitching. And work on the next book while you do. An author may have the next Harry Potter franchise or To Kill a Mockingbird, but if an agent does not have a relationship with an editor/publisher who is looking for that kind of material, he or she will be reluctant to represent the work. An agent who sends material to an editor blindly or without knowing if that editor is interested in seeing such material will not be an agent long!

Q) So what happened when you finally got published? It is oft said that a book can turn you into a millionaire overnight. Did you earn a fortune overnight?

A) Everlasting fame and wealth! Not hardly. First, if a writer is writing to get rich, he or she is in for a real disappointment. If one is able to make a living writing books, wonderful, but the odds are stacked against it. Write to tell a story, introduce readers to interesting characters, and affect them emotionally. Then, if you are fortunate enough to make money at it, wonderful! As you can imagine, I get many questions like this from would-be authors, so I have a section on my web site at http://www.donkeith.com that deals with this very subject. Just click on the “On Writing” tab. I’ve also expanded that section and published it as an ebook called “Writing to be Published…and Read.”

Q) I’ve read “Writing to be Published” and enjoyed it immensely. You come across as a really friendly guy. Do you try to help all young writers who come to you for help?

A) As much as I can. I had some very kind and patient authors give me hope and advice early on and I like to pay it forward. I do get a little perturbed with those who want the book to write itself, or who want to take an idea or some characters, dash out some words, and try to sell it and let an editor “fix” it. Writing is work. Stories have to be told. Life has to be breathed into characters. If a person is lazy or is looking for shortcuts, sorry. There are none, unless you are famous or write pornography, or both.

Q) I totally agree that you have to put back what you take and learn the trade. It’s a trade that takes time to master or at least partially master. Can you tell me what Wizard of the Wind is about?

A) That book has just been republished, by the way, after being out of print for a while. It tells the story of a young man who is fascinated by the magic of radio broadcasting and the new music he hears on the radio in the 1950s. He accidentally becomes a disk jockey and rides the growth of radio’s second “golden age” to the top, eventually building his own broadcasting empire, but through greed, he loses sight of the magic of the medium that first captured his imagination and almost loses it all, along with those he loves the most. It is a metaphor for what has happened in radio broadcasting here in the US in the past thirty years, told by someone who has been there. I worked in radio for twenty-two years, then in marketing and advertising for the next twenty-five.

Q) You were a disc jockey? Coming from the South you must have spun a whole load of Elvis discs in your time.

A) Yes, and Otis Redding, Hank Williams, Allman Brothers, Beatles, Stones…lots and lots of discs. I have actually co-written a series of novellas with Elvis’s first cousin, Edie Hand. And had the pleasure of doing country-music radio from a station on Music Row in Nashville. I had guests on my show from Barbara Mandrell to Ronnie Milsap, Marty Robbins to the Oak Ridge Boys. But I’m name-dropping! I was just as thrilled to do a book with Captain William Anderson, who took the submarine USS Nautilus to the North Pole in 1958. And another couple of novels with a former sub skipper who helped develop SEAL operational tactics…and one of those will soon be a major motion picture. The director is the same fellow who directed Denzel Washington in his Academy Award-winning role in “Training Day.” See, I can drop some names!

Q) Did you ever spend time any of those country singers?

A) I met and interviewed most of them. I had dinner with Reba McEntire and she sang me a verse and a chorus of a song she had recorded that day. It became her first number one song. Ronnie Milsap brought over a tape of a song he had just cut and asked if I would play it on the radio so they could see how it sounded over the air. I did. It was “Record of the Year” that year. Barbara Mandrell called me at 6:30 the morning after she was named “Entertainer of the Year” and we did an interview while she put on her makeup.

Q) What was it like working with Marty Robbins?

A) Marty showed up that evening with a bottle of wine, cheese and crackers, and we enjoyed while doing the interview. Afterwards, he asked if I minded dropping him off at his bus. They were leaving for a tour. It was on that tour that he suffered the heart attack that eventually took him from us. “El Paso” is one of the great story-songs of all time and would have made a great novel or western movie.

Q) I agree about Marty Robins. “Gunfighter Songs and Trail Ballads” was always one of my favourite records. How about Jerry Lee Lewis? Did he ever turn up on your travels?

A) No, but I put him in Wizard of the Wind in a key scene. I wanted to represent the anarchy of rock and roll and how it was so powerful in reaching to the very soul of young people during that time. He was the perfect symbol.

Q) Jerry is certainly something else. How about Johnny Cash? Did you ever meet him?

A) Yes. His brother-in-law worked for me at the radio station. So did Hank Williams’s step-daughter and Hank Williams Jr.’s step-sister. In fact, when I first moved to Nashville, I lived for a while in Hank Williams’s home. The radio station’s owner had bought the mansion, complete with a wrought-iron fence around the pool that featured the musical notes to “Your Cheatin’ Heart” to the bullet holes Hank had put in the living room ceiling while inebriated. But there I go, dropping names again.

Q) I’m a huge Hank Williams fan. When I was nine or ten, my math tutor had every Hank recording. The LPs, EP’s– everything! I love everything he recorded. What’s your favourite Hank song?

A) Hank was one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. Listen to the lyrics of “I’m so Lonesome I Could Die.” Can’t believe I swam in his pool and visited the studio where he recorded many of his songs.

Q) Don, what’s your latest release called?

A) There are actually THREE new ones. Final Bearing is the submarine thriller co-written with Commander George Wallace, and the book that will be a major motion picture, hopefully in early 2014. The second is Undersea Warrior, the true story of one of the most innovative and controversial submarine commanders of WWII, Dudley “Mush” Morton, which is approaching bestseller status and is now a featured selection of The History Book Club and The Military Book Club. Third is The Spin, a novel I wrote a while back and have now published myself. It is so unique and, unlike most other books these days that have not gotten much interest from the major houses, I’ve offered it myself on all bookselling sites. It tells the story of a man at such a low point in his life that he decides to make one last, desperate gamble–putting everything he has left on one spin of the roulette wheel at a Las Vegas casino. When word gets out about what he is going to do, thousands of others join his quest, and that foolish risk becomes so much more to so many. It’s funny, tragic, moving and, I hope, inspirational. As I did with my novels, sometimes we have to step outside our comfort zones, take some risks, and listen to our hearts instead of our heads.

Q) I really want to read The Spin. It sounds like a great read. How are people reacting to it?

A) Wonderful reader reviews so far. I’m just beginning to promote it, and that is what is so difficult for so many authors. That’s why someone like you is a godsend because you can make others aware of books that may not come from the major publishers. I’ve been fortunate enough to be published by the biggest–St. Martins’, Tor/Forge, Penguin, Thomas Nelson–and want to continue to do so, but there are other options now, too, with Kindle Direct Publishing, CreateSpace, PubIt, and others. The publishing world is evolving at the speed of light!

the spin

Q) Well, I am happy to plug your books, Don! That’s my job! Where can people get The Spin?

A) You can visit my web site: http://www.donkeith.com, or simply search for me on Amazon.com and visit my author page there. I write books on subjects that I enjoy reading about. I can only hope there are enough people out there with similar interests to enable me to continue doing so. I have myriad stories to tell and a million characters I’d like to introduce you to.

Q) Anytime you’d like another interview I’m happy to do so!

A) You let me talk and expose my ego. What else could an interviewee ask?

Follow Don’s work through his author’s page on Facebook.

How did Don strike me? He struck me as a man who enjoys communicating, whether on the pages of his books or over a flaky internet connection, his warmth shines through. I will be interviewing him again. I’m sure of that. I just hope we have more time next time we meet. Adios, Don! It was a fun way to spend an hour!

Boyd Lemon Makes Sweet Lemonade– An Interview With Nick Wale

The truth is a state of mind. Boyd Lemon has been interviewed many times before and I could have just asked the same stale old questions about his life. I knew I had to do something different and I had to ask questions that would give you an insight into the man. So, who is Boyd Lemon? Well, there are several Boyd Lemons. The first is the nationally recognised lawyer who lived the excessive lifestyle of the seventies to its fullest. The second is the writer, the man who sits in a coffee shop, tapping away at a new manuscript, deep in thought. The third is a family man who adores his children and grandchildren. The fourth Boyd is one who paints and paints until his heart is content. The fifth is the world traveller who has been to lands far flung around the world. Boyd is as multi-faceted as any human being can be. I tried to ask the questions that would give me the answers to the questions his biography asked me.

 

As a writer, Boyd has written a biography called “Digging Deep” that tells a revealing tale about the failure of his three marriages. Additionally, he has written travel memoirs and short stories. He is currently working on a fiction book. The interview happened as follows:

Boyd L

Q) Hi, Boyd, I’m pleased to meet you. So why did you become an author? With such an illustrious career as a lawyer behind you, what drove you to become a writer?

A) I never felt fulfilled as a lawyer, despite forty years of practicing law–sad but true–so I knew I had to retire as soon as I was financially able. I really wanted to do something fulfilling, but I didn’t know what that could be. Then, when I was sixty-five, a publisher asked me to write a law book on the subject of malpractice by attorneys. I wrote that book, and it was published in 2006. I enjoyed the writing and publication process, but I knew I wanted to write something outside of legal topics. A writer friend of mine suggested I try writing short fiction. I told her that I didn’t think I had any creative ability, and she said, “Baloney, everyone has creative ability; it is just a matter of developing it.” So I took a stab at it and wrote a short story, and then another one and another one, and so on. Eventually, I was hooked on writing. I knew what I had to do in retirement.

Q) So you write to fulfil yourself and to live your dream. Do sales matter to you? Do you worry about the next royalty check?

A) I invested my savings and cut back on my lifestyle so that I had enough income, along with Social Security, to live the modest way that I wanted. I learned that I didn’t need a big house, a fancy car, etc. So I am in the envious position of not needing to earn a living from writing. I love that I can write whatever I want without regard to whether it will bring in a paycheck. The only reason I care at all about sales is that I do want people to read what I write and hopefully benefit from it in some way, so I have to sell books.
boyd

Q) Of all your books, the one that stood out to me loudest was “Digging Deep.” I thought it took great courage to analyse yourself in that way. What was the writing experience like? You must have learnt so much about yourself.

A) Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages is still the book that has meant the most to me. To try to understand my role in the destruction of my three marriages was excruciatingly painful emotionally. I learned a lot of things about myself that I did not particularly like. However, in the end it was tremendously healing. I had no idea how damaging it was to hold all that in under the surface. The process of writing the book brought me a peace that I had not known, and, I believe, has helped people understand themselves and their spouses or ex-spouses or partners better. I am not the only one that had the faults and human frailties that I uncovered about myself.

Q) How have readers taken to that book?

A) I have had a lot of varied reactions. Many people have told me that it helped them understand things about their own relationships that they were not aware of. Some people chastised me for disclosing private information about my ex-wives, especially acquaintances who knew one or more of my ex-wives. I received a lot of compliments for having the courage to open up and expose myself and my human weaknesses and issues. Virtually all people praised the quality and depth of my writing, except for one guy who, when I had a special promotion of the e-book for a limited time for 99 cents, wrote on Barnes and Noble that it wasn’t worth 99 cents. Oh well. Fortunately, he was in the small minority.

Q) You can’t please everyone in this world. So changing the tempo, tell me about your book “Eat, Walk, Write: An American Senior’s Year of Adventure in Paris and Tuscany.” You sound like a guy who loves culture and travel.

Eat-Walk-Write

A) Travel is my second passion, something I have known for many years, but was not able to pursue (except for business trips) until I retired. By 2010 I had been to Paris twice for short periods, and I loved the art, history and architecture there, as well as the café culture. People actually talk to each other in Paris–endlessly, it seems. So I decided to move to Paris, originally, I thought for two years. I ended up staying a year, and I lived in a working class neighborhood away from the tourist areas, although I visited the tourists areas. There were challenges, to say the least– the primary one being the language. I did not speak a word of French when I got there, and I found it a very difficult language for a seventy year-old to learn. Dealing with the French bureaucracy as a resident alien was also difficult, was finding an apartment, opening a bank account, etc. But all of that was superseded by the magic and glory that is Paris. it was the experience of a lifetime. I kept a journal daily, and when I got home to California, I decided to turn it into a book. I miss Paris.

Q) If you could live anywhere in the world, would you choose Paris?

A) That is a tough question. My answer is, no, but I can’t think of any single place that I would want to live indefinitely. That is probably why in the past six years I have lived in California, Boston, Paris and now rural southeast Georgia.

Q) Tell me about Boyd Lemon the man. What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies, interests, etc.

A) Well, we have covered some of it. I love to travel, and not just to far away places. I enjoy St. Augustine, Florida, which is about an hour and a half drive from my home. Next month I’ll spend a few days in Savannah, Georgia, about the same distance in the other direction. I love to explore new places, learn about the history of different areas of the this country and the world. For example, I learned that St. Augustine is the oldest city in the U.S., settled in 1540. I love good food and wine, and I emphasize that it doesn’t have to be expensive food. There are some places around here that serve amazing catfish and hush puppies. I am a fanatic baseball fan and always have been, a long suffering Dodger fan. Last summer my best friend and I took an eleven stadium baseball tour across the country starting in Anaheim, California and ending in Atlanta, Georgia. We saw eleven major league baseball games in sixteen days. I also love and am close to my four children and four grandchildren.

Q) Would be right to describe you as a family man, then?

A) I think so, despite the fact that I didn’t make a success of my marriages. I have always been close to my children, especially as they became teenagers and adults and had the freedom to make their own choices.

Q) So how do you write? What is the writing process for you? Do you write in silence? With music? Long periods of writing? How does Boyd Lemon write?

A) I write some almost every day, although it can vary from a half hour to six hours–generally around three, I would say. I find that I write best and most enjoyably if I vary the places where I write. Sometimes I write at my desk at home, but I also write in cafés, parks when the weather allows, libraries occasionally, planes and trains. I do not need silence, as long as something interesting to me is not going on, like a baseball game on TV. I do not play music while I write, because I like to be listening to music when it is playing, and I can’t write and listen at the same time. But I can write in a crowded, noisy café and just tune out the noise. The main thing is that I need to vary the place. I can’t just stay holed up at home for a long time, day after day. I have been known to get on a train, ride it for a few hours, stop and turn around and ride it back home.

Q) You strike me as a jazz fan, Boyd. Am I right?

A) Ha! Yes, jazz, folk and classical, even a little blue grass when I’m in the mood.

Q) I knew it! I grew up with bluegrass– Bill Monroe should be known better.

A) Oh, yes, absolutely. Around “these parts,” as they say here in Georgia, he is.

Q) The closest the English really get to country music is some of the Elvis stuff and Slim Whitman.

A) Yes, I am not very familiar with English music, except, of course, the pop from the ’60s and ’70’s and the later punk, etc. One of my favorite country singers is an unknown that I just happened to meet. She is from Denmark– Jessica Lynne.

Q) I will check her out! Anyway, I digress– you write fiction, too, am I right? Tell me about your fiction work.

A) So far the only fiction I have written is short, and I have published a book of ten of my short stories, and a small book of five. Several have been published in small literary magazines. My short stories tend to be about relationships, family and otherwise, and the conflicts that occur, as well as the challenges that life brings to us all. After a few short stories, I really wanted to write a novel, but felt that I wasn’t ready yet, so that is when I wrote Digging Deep. But now I am ready, and I just started on a novel two weeks ago. I’m having a lot of fun with it so far. I love writing the first draft; it is so thrilling to just let it flow, let my imagination run wild. The comes the editing process, which as it moves along gets more and more tedious. I hate proofreading, but it has to be done.

games-boyd-lemon-paperback-cover-art

Q) You do the whole process yourself? Most writers use proofreaders and editors. I’m surprised you go through the pain.

A) I use editors and proofreaders, too. I think it is a necessity to have a polished product, but I want it to be the absolute best I can make it before I submit it to somebody else, because I think that gives the work the best chance of being something worthwhile. Why should I submit something less than my best to somebody else?

Q) I agree, that’s a very responsible attitude. I must admit, Boyd, you have won a new fan here. So tell me, who are your favourite authors?

A) Oh, that is really a difficult one. There are so many. I will name a few, but understand I am leaving out many. Hemingway, McMurtry, Marilynne Robinson, Wally Lamb, Tolstoy, John Irving, Stephen King, James Baldwin, Austin, Vivian Gornick, to name a few. And I’m showing my provincialism. Most are Americans. I should have included the Brit, Franzen. He is wonderful.

Q) If you had to pick one of your books for a reader who didn’t know your work, which would it be?

A) Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages, unless a reader just has no interest in the subject matter of marriage and divorce. Then, Eat, Walk, Write. Of course, the Retirement book is directed toward a specific audience, people who are near or in retirement.

Q) Any last words you’d like to say before we wrap up?

A) Well, first thank you for an interesting interview. I really enjoyed it, and you asked more than just the standard questions. And I want to say to readers that my greatest reward as a writer is that the reader is learning something helpful to him or her from my books. That is what I have in mind when I am going through the writing process. Finally, for other writers: I know it is a struggle, and it is highly unlikely that you will become rich and famous, but keep at it; just grab that pen and notebook or computer, and sit down and write every chance that you get. It is a noble undertaking, in my opinion. We, as human beings, are the only species who can write.

Boyd Lemon

So what do I think of Mr Boyd Lemon? Well I think he is a genuine and decent man who has uncovered much truth about himself and exposed it to the world. He loves his new careers and his family and as Mr James Fant said to me the other day, “Love’s alright. Isn’t it?” Yes, I would say it is.

Links to Boyd Lemon:

Check out Boyds Amazon Author Page for more information regarding his work.

For excerpts, reviews, interviews and information about all of Boyds books see the official website here.

Boyd Lemon on Facebook

Boyd Lemon Facebook Fan Page

Follow Boyd onTwitter

Email Boyd directly at: Boyd (@) BoydLemon-Writer.com

What Is A Writer’s Writer? Welcome Back, Stuart Yates!

Stuart Yates has returned for his second interview with me. You can find the first one here. Now, I always find time for the thoughts of Stuart Yates.  I like the way he writes and he deserves the title of “A Writer’s Writer”. What is a writer’s writer? Well, like a singer’s singer– it’s someone who rarely scores a huge hit book– but is a writer who is respected around the world as a guy who is leading the way. Stuart Yates embodies the spirit of a writer’s writer and with many books on general release, he is just waiting for the public at large to notice him.  I present Stuart Yates to you again in a new light.

DonLuis

Q) Welcome back, Stuart! So how’s the new book coming along?

A) Road Kill? The rewrite has been completed and sent off to the publisher. I am now working on another, with WHIPPED UP waiting in the wings for its final redrafting.

Q) How do you get published so easily? You make it seem so simple. I’m sure a lot of readers would love to know the secret.

A) Well…I have been published by five publishers, and this spring one of those publishers went out of business, unfortunately; but I guess I have something they all like. It’s just a pity that none of them are Transworld or Harper Collins but a sixth publisher is publishing a book of mine in the spring.

Q) It must get confusing when you receive those royalty cheques. How do you keep track of them all?

A) Royalty cheques? I never worry about them. I just like to hear my publishers say the books are good, the people who read them say they are good, but I never worry about those royalty cheques. I never promote unless I have to. I have over 450 ‘friends’ on FB.

Q) I get a lot of readers who ask about advances. As a well-proven and tested author do you get advances on your work?

A) No! I wish!!! If I got advances I’d go part-time at work, and make writing my main occupation.

Q) Has a publisher ever promised to take your sales from middling hundreds to crazy thousands with one book?

A) No, none of them do very much at all. The one I have signed with for spring seems the most promising. They advertise books in trade magazines, acquire reviewers, all of that. The publisher for Burnt Offerings is ok, but it is only a part-time thing for him. He is good, gets books out in paperback and E-pubs very fast, and he takes those risks, but not much in the way of marketing. But the others? Nada.

Q) So what are your thoughts on self publishing?

A) When I began writing seriously, all those years ago, even then there was one rule that would-be writers were ´told´ to adhere to–do not pay to get your work published. I suppose that has always been my guide. Then, in 2009 after I was totally ripped off, and I was so depressed, when another publisher said they would publish my book, but that it would cost £199, I said YES.

Some of my fellow authors were outraged. Not at me personally, but that such publishers could do that. Vanity Publishing. And no serious author would touch them with a barge pole.

Well, I learned my lesson. I do not pay anything now. BUT, times have changed. The past year has seen an explosion as far as self-publishing is concerned, and many people have taken advantage. The Kindle platform has opened up the sort of possibilities that could not even have been dreamed of when I began. But, with it has come a deep concern. One, to do with quality. And two, that people are being lured into getting their name into print and are being asked to pay for the privilege.
It is seen as a ´money-making´opportunity, and the old ideals of craft and art, of creativity, are being side-lined by this idea of it being a business, a means to make money. That upsets me.

I don´t write to make money. It would be nice, but my raison d´etre is to create. I will continue to do so. Perhaps that is the real reason why my sales are so low. All this marketting malarky, it doesn´t sit comfortably with me. Publicity is essential, of course, but…the reason I do what I do is because I cannot help it. I am creative. I create. End of.

Q) You live in Spain now, am I right? Why did you leave England?

A) Yes, I live in Spain now and it was for my job. I’m a teacher and wanted a bit of a change. I looked at France first, then a job came up in Spain. I thought I would come here for a year, then go back, but the time simply flew by. I’ve been here five years now.

Q) How many books have you written whilst you’ve been in Spain?

A) Funnily enough, my first published books came out whilst I was here. Although only two of my fourteen published novels are set in Spain, it was quite an inspirational place…was, and is I suppose. Although my latest books are not set in Spain. Road Kill and Whipped Up are set in the UK, and Minus Life, the one I am currently working on, is set in a future UK.

Q) Yet, I sense you think about England a lot from the subject matter of your latest book “Road Kill” which is set on Bodmin Moor.

A) Yes, very much so. England is home. It’s where I grew up, and it will always be more of a home than Spain ever will. I’d still like to live in France, though.

Q) What do you miss about England? Do you romantically reminisce about our homeland? I always find myself doing that when I’m abroad.

A) YES! Dear old Blighty! I have been very fortunate to work in a profession that gives me the opportunity to live and work in different places. I loved them all. Especially Suffolk, I have to say. I made some good friends there. I went back to Merseyside last summer, to see my daughter. Met up with my old friends. I didn’t want to leave!!! It’s true, you never appreciate something until it is gone…

Q) So of all the books you’ve written, which is your favourite?

A) That, Nick, is an interesting question– not hard to answer as such, but because they all mean so much to me. Perhaps Death’s Dark Design if I could pick one of my books as a hit that would be number one, I think. However, I still don’t think I have written my best one! Each book I write is simply another stepping stone to reaching that.

Q) Do you believe you are still growing as an artist?

A) Definitely! With everything I write, I am becoming increasingly more self-critical, analytical. I have always been something of a perfectionist…I was very impatient at first, but I am getting better and I now want to do the best I can…but I still write fast.

Q) Do you think a writer needs to care about punctuation, or is that an editor’s job?

A) Absolutely it is the job of the writer! A writer should be proficient at punctuation and grammar, but that comes with practise. The best way to get punctuation right is to read it back to yourself OUT LOUD. You have to get the pacing right.

Q) Do you teach English?

No! History with a little bit of geography and ICT (Information Computer Technology). I would say history, however, is very closely linked to English. It requires a high degree of writing ability. Don’t forget, there is a STORY in history…listen to Simon Schama and you’ll see how true that is.

Q) I’m a history nut myself. I wanted to study history at university. Didn’t get there though.

A) Ah…I love history. It is my passion, and has been since I was a little boy. My key interest is military history. At school I teach medieval history which I love– also the time periods of the Tudors and Stuarts.

Q) So tell me, how did you get into writing horror?

A) I read Dracula when I was thirteen. I loved every second of it.

Q) What grabbed you about the book?

A) It’s sense of atmosphere, period, its brewing sensuality…but mainly its total originality. What a story! To bring together those disparate myths, legends, and realities into one vision– tremendous.

Q) Tell me about a catalyst that changed your life?

A) I watched Genesis back in 1980 and I realised something– all those dreams I had back in the late ’70s of being an author I hadn’t realised yet. I saw them again in 2007, at fifty years of age, and I still hadn’t done it, so I decided there and then I was going to write and write and write until I was published. I did and I’ve never stopped! I plan to get out at least four if not five books a year.

I’ve got a lot of catching up to do and time does not wait for any man or woman in this world.

Q) True, it doesn’t. I personally think you will get a hit eventually and it will come as a surprise.

A) I hope so! Then I can give up teaching, buy a little farm house in Burgundy, and put out ten a year instead !!!

Q) Getting back to your latest book– how do you feel about it?

A) ROAD KILL? I love it even though I changed the ending at the eleventh hour. Funnily enough, I’ve just released a book called INTERLOPERS FROM HELL. That’s an exclusive for your blog, Nick! I’ve been saving that one just for you!

Interlopers from Hell

Q) Thank you, Stuart! So how would you sum up Road Kill in two sentences?

A) A tale of violence and terror, of one man’s fall into insanity, and another’s loss of himself. Both meet, but only one survives the clutches of the beast.

Q) You personally saw the beast you write about in Road Kill, right?

A) Yes, I did when I was coming home from Bodmin. Across the moor, as black as night it was…. and that tail… it was the tail that did it. I had had a drink free night, before you ask, spending a pleasant evening wargaming with my good friends and so my mind was clear. It was terrifying and the Beast closes my book which is only fitting.

Q) Well, I think we will have to stop there for the time being. I can’t wait until our next interview. Thanks, Stuart– it’s been a pleasure again.

So there you have another interview with a man destined to be read around the world. Road Kill will be available soon. I hope you check it out. I am going to make sure I get a copy. Be sure to visit Stuart’s website, also.

Stuart Yates