The questions and answers you will find on this page are really just the tip of the iceberg so to say. All in all I'm asked a variety of questions about my writing and of course The Burden of Truth. On this page I have grouped together the most popular questions I am asked.
However, If you click on the button on the right this will take you to my Wordpress blog. Here I try to answer more questions that seem to be more individual.
Have a look and don't forget if you have a question please contact me through the contact link above and I will try my very best to answer if for you.
As a writer I'm often asked various questions about my life and my work. So have a look below at some of the general questions I am asked and the answers I usually, (But not always) give.
By the way, quite often I am asked various questions through my contacts page. Most of these are answered through my blog. Have a look and if you want to ask me something, then by all means, go ahead!
So let's start with some of the most common questions!
Why do you write?
I know this might sound corny but I write simply because I love it. I love the satisfaction it gives when you have spent hours working on a piece of writing and it's all finished. It's a wonderful feeling, even if getting there was filled with a great deal of frustration and heartache. This isn't just when you type the two last words at the end of your novel. It could be a certain scene, or a description of someone, or simply something you have been struggling with for a few days. When you feel you have got something just right and you are finally happy with what have, it's a great feeling.
Where do you get your Ideas and inspiration from when nothing is going right?
Most writers have days when we are all quite happy sitting in front of our computers and typing away and everything is going well. Then, there are other days when nothing seems to be working, frustration sets in and then nothing happens. When this happens sometimes the feeling of, I can't be bothered, sets in. On days like this we all need just that little bit of inspiration to get us back on track.
So, where do I get this inspiration from you ask?
Well, other writers really. Quite often I look at other writer's websites and look to what they have achieved in the past and what they are up to now. One thing I have noticed about successful writers is that they all have a great deal of passion for their work. When I read what they writing about now and their hopes for the future they always seems convey their message with a great deal of enthusiasm. Often when I do this I feed from their enthusiasm and it gives me kick up the backside I need. Now I'm certainly not saying that I am not passionate about my work; I am, ninety-nine percent of the time. it's just that other one percent when frustration sets in and I do get that little fed up; like everyone else I guess. There are of course many other methods I use. However, this is the one that's working for me at the moment."
Now when I sit down and think, God, I need a new idea, or I need something better that what I have; sometimes I'm just lucky and an idea or thought just pops out of my head.
However, this isn't always the case and writer's block comes about and the need of inspiration arrises. So I'll tell you what I do when this happens!
Years ago I went to a writers seminar in London and the subject of writers block came up.
After various discussions, one general trend of thinking to overcome this was simply to write anything. Doesn't matter what, just anything that comes into your head. Doesn't have to be good, doesn't have to be well written, doesn't even matter about the spelling. Just write! However, we still must have some sort of subject. So the subject we were all given to scribble about was;
When I was young I used to....... Then just write. Just think of that sentence and write down whatever comes into your head. It's amazing how this works for me. I just write a few sentences and soon enough the brain unclogs itself then off I go again.
Try this yourself and see what happens.
What advice would you give to other writers just starting out?
The competition that today's debut writers have is intense. There are without a doubt many, many writers out there trying their hardest to get their work published, and a great deal of them very good. The problem is, unfortunately it is not very often a publisher will take on an unknown writer, or an agent for that matter. No matter how good your work is there is so much risk involved. I for one should know this. However saying that, some publishers do.(Normally through an agent.) So the advice I would give to anybody is to keep at it. You never know, you just might be picked up at some point because some people are, even though the odds are stacked heavily against you.
Now to reduce the odds a bit in your favour there are a few things you must do to make this happen. The first thing is; When you first pitch to an agent make sure your cover letter and synopsis are up to scratch. There is a great deal of information on the net on how to do this so I won't go into it here but do ave a good look around. Now the next bit of advice I would like to give you is the same advice that was given to me. "Make your work as good as it possibly can be, because believe me, your competitors already have."
We all have to think that there is some tremendous talent out there, who no matter how hard they try they just can't get published the traditional way. The thing is you have to be just as good as them, if not better. Your work has to be perfect; simple as that!
What advice would you give to debut writers that can't find an agent to represent them?
My advice is simple on this one! Self publish. Self publishing has become more and more popular for various reasons over the last few years.
Of course the traditional way of publishing a book has many advantages, the main one being, more book sales. Other advantages may include the professional help you get from the publishing team behind the book. For example, editorial advice, book cover design, marketing etc. All of this is of course great for the author.
However, as some of you may be aware I have taken the decision to self publish. Like many writers I have indeed tried to go down the traditional route and like most of the others I have felt the frustration of it all. I have also talked to many other writers over the past few years about their own experiences of self publishing and all in all they all seem to be very happy with the results.
It seems there are many novelist like me that are going down the self publishing route, simply for the ease of it all. Nowadays it's so easy to self publish on Amazon KDP or something similar like Kobo or Itunes.
Many of you will already know I'm a great fan of these platforms as it enables authors to get their work out to the world without a great deal of hassle. Not only this; in my opinion, for what it's worth; one of the the main attractions of self publishing is the level of control you have. You have 100% control. It is totally in your hands as to what you want to do.
For a start, you and only you make the decision of how your novel should be presented to your readers. This doesn't always happen with mainstream publishing. You can set your book price, decide on the cover design, whatever. You are fully in control.
So again, in answer to your question, what advice would I give an author who can't find an agent? Self publish. So far it has worked for me and let's look at it this way. What have you got to lose? Absolutely nothing but your time!
However, I'm not saying I am going to stick with self publishing. I may well take the mainstream route in the future. What I'm saying is that at this moment in time self publishing is good for me but who knows how the future will turn out. All situations change.
Is there going to be a follow up to The Burden of Truth?
Hopefully yes! I'm working on two more follow up novels. At this moment in time I don't know when they'll be ready to go but keep checking me out for more information. Also there is a stand alone novel that I am working on set in London.
Were you on the Herald of Free Enterprise?
Many folk who have read the opening chapters of The Burden of Truth have asked me this question and the answer is, “No I wasn't." However, the memory of watching the aftermath of this terrible disaster unfold is deep in my head. The reason I have included this in my novel is that something did happen to me many years ago just off the coast, at a place called Seaton Sluice near my hometown in the Northeast of England. I shouldn’t go into details really but the emotions of that day will always have a lasting impression on my thoughts and it is these thoughts that I have written into the opening chapters.
What kind of books do I read?
I read all sorts really. But I must say I do not read as much now as I would like to. This is due to various time restraints against me. Now saying that, I do read sometimes and as my time is short, I hate it when I seem to waste a lot of time on bad novels, So I do tend to look for quality storytelling.
What I look for in a novel is a story that gets on with it from the start. This simply means a story with a good plot, something to keep me interested and something that makes me think a little. I’m not really into books that go over the top describing things and prattle on about needles things. I like books that only describe the basics of what I need to know for the plot to work. I then let my own imagination take over as how places and characters for that matter should feel and look like.
Saying that, I know a great deal of you out there disagree with me on this and that’s fine by me. We as readers are all different!
How do I carry out my research?
My research come from various sources. It has always been good advice for writers to write about what you know. So that's what I try to do. However, this is often not possible as we writers are only human and like everyone else, sometimes our knowledge on some subjects we want to write about may be a bit limited in places.
The internet is obviously a great resource for many things and I do admit to using it a great deal. Now as great as the internet is, it does not cover everything you need to know and quite often the information may be misguided in places. Therefore I do try to meet up and talk to various people to get the information I need. Take the Burden of Truth for example. In this novel there are some referees to the Buddha and Buddhism. Now to get things right I have spoken to many of the Order members of the Colchester Buddhist Centre to gain the information I needed. (Great bunch of people by the way and I owe them a great deal. Love them all.) The same goes for places and settings. To write about places, you really have to know them well. You have to know about the character of the places you are writing about and once again if you don't know the place try and go there for a visit and even speak to some of the people that live and work there. By doing this you will find you will develop a deeper understanding of the character of your settings.
For obvious reasons this may not always be possible and if this is the case I always try and find someone who has been there and has a reasonable knowledge about what goes on there, what it looks like, the feeling of the place, it's energy etc.
Are the characters in the book real?
All my characters are made up. However, as life goes on you meet people and perhaps there may be some characters that are based on some people I have come across over the years. Not so much their physical description but the character or mannerisms of a certain person, may have slipped into some characters along the way. Nevertheless, if this is the case, it has not been on purpous.
Do you plan the plot of your novels first before you write, or do you just write the story as you go along?
When I first started writing or at least started to plan The Burden of Truth, I did in fact start of with a basic plot. However as I tried to think of how to develop this plot into something a bit more in depth shall we say, I started to struggle a bit with a certain aspect to the plot. No matter how hard I tried I just could not find a solution to this problem. This went on for weeks and I was not getting anywhere. So with this problem not budging an inch I decided to start writing the actual story beforeI even knew how a very important part was going to pan out.
This was a big mistake as most of what I had written was not going to play any part in the final story once I worked out how the final plot was going to unfold. I wasted an awful lot of time and energy doing this. A big lesson learned.
So from now on I am going to try to work more on the planing side of things before I start to write. However saying that I will have to watch that the plan of a novel does not get in the way of my creative side of things. So let's just see how things work out!
What's your favourite word?
However, I use it all the time so I've been told.