1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. What made you want to become an author?
There are so many reasons why I ended up here, all weaving together to make the destination inevitable. The very short version is that I was always obsessed with stories. I read every magazine and book I could get hold of from a very early age (I was reading from the TV guide at age 4). I couldn’t get enough of video rentals – all the covers looked incredible. Then I began to record my own voice as I read out all the characters in comic books. Soon I was copying the stories I loved the best: further Star Wars adventures in the form of drawn space battles, writing extra chapters for my favourite fantasy books. Stephen King happened. Then I got hold of a typewriter in my late teens, and I loved the clacky sound it made. After that, I simply wrote for the love of finding out what my crazy characters would get up to next.
2) What was the inspiration behind Macadamian Pliers, both the book and the character?
It was on a journey home from work, many years ago. The bus passed by a brand new set of apartments, and on the opposite side of the road was a very old building, a real dilapidated hunk of junk. It was obvious which one would be haunted. New buildings are never haunted, unless they’ve been built on top of an old burial ground of some kind. So I wondered, was there any other way to make such a place haunted? The next thought came quickly: was there a way that an estate agent (realtor) could sell a family one of these lovely homes, then render it haunted so that they could chase that family out and sell the house again? The kind of character that would do such a thing would have to be a particularly nasty piece of work… and also a little bit crazy.
I started writing it that night.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers get from this story?
No matter how small you think your voice is, you must always speak out against the darkness.
4) If you could have a conversation with any of your characters, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Probably Misha from my new release A Graveyard Visible. She’s pretty damn peculiar, so it would be a very interesting conversation. She has a pet mystic 8-ball for a start. It gives her advice. Bad advice.
There’s one other character I’d be interested in talking to, but only over the phone: Macadamian Pliers. I’d love to hear his voice, but I definitely wouldn’t want to be in the same room as him. He just can’t be trusted.
5) What social media site has been the most helpful in reaching and conversing with your readership?
This is a difficult one, as I’ve got a bit of a rough relationship with social media (bad news for me, considering how all-encompassing such sites are now). Twitter’s been pretty good for picking up leads on review opportunities, and people are very quick to reciprocate any kindness – but tweets go by in a flash, and if you don’t keep up constant engagement, it’s all for nothing. Facebook is good for giving out more information, as well as finding decent groups, but my reach there is limited and advertising does very, very little. Also, I feel Facebook has no interest in supporting its users if they have any significant issues as a result of the site and its other users, and therefore resent being on it at all. I kind-of feel like that about all social media, really – I think they’ve encouraged a deep-rooted seam of unpleasantness to bubble up from the masses, and people can be so vile.
I actually find that being on other people’s book blogs and websites is most useful. If anyone is visiting those sites, they have done so for a reason. Far fewer people, maybe, but at least it’s your target audience.
6) What matters more to you when writing: developing plot or creating characters?
Characters must always come first. No doubt. Anyone who says different is wrong. All story must be driven by the characters actions (or inaction). If plot comes first, then you’re forcing your characters to do things that they definitely wouldn’t do, and readers will pick up on that in a heartbeat.
7) What advice would you give to up and coming authors?
Do it for the love. Really, that’s the most important part of the whole process. If you’re enjoying what you’re writing, then there’s a chance that someone else will enjoy reading it. If it feels like a slog, something’s wrong. I’ve dumped a couple of novels partway through the writing process because they felt so off.
8) What’s next for you in the world of writing? Any new or upcoming books on the horizon?
I’m currently gearing up for the release of A Graveyard Visible on 27th April 2018, so there’s a lot of promotion work and pulling together some reviews (which are proving to be very divisive so far – that’s either incredibly worrying or a great marketing tool). It’s being published by Lodestone Books, and the cover and the layout of the paperback look absolutely fantastic, so pleased with the result. On the writing side of things, I’m playing about with a possible tone change for an AGV sequel, as well as being deep into the writing of a story about the political activism of a pig. Yeah, it’s something a little bit different.