Tag Archives: giveaway

May Interview – Rebecca Gransden 

For May’s interview I caught up with Rebecca Gransden, author of the fantasmagorically delightful Anemogram. Rebecca has also kindly offered a paperback giveaway of Anemogram to one lucky reader of this interview. All you have to do is retweet this interview on your twitter account to be in with a chance to win. You can read my review of Anemogram here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/anemogram-review/


What was your background and how did you get into writing? 

I’m from the south coast of England and have what I guess would be classified as a traditional working class background. I received a few encouraging words at school and they confirmed my unsteady assertion that I could write a bit if I put my mind to it. I’ve concentrated mostly on short stories over the years, until I attempted to write my first longer piece in 2014. That resulted in my first, and only release so far, Anemogram. 
You sound a lot like me there! Except I’m yet to finish my novel never mind have it published! What are your ambitions for your writing? 
To always push myself forwards, to strive to improve in the areas I think I need to, and to challenge myself. If I don’t feel I’ve moved forward in some way or another I see no point in releasing anything, especially with regard to novels. My predominant impulse is to not shortchange myself or do a disservice to anyone who might pick up my writing. For this reason I will always take risks. To me, feeling comfortable is a sign that I need to move on, whatever the outcome.

Which writers inspire you? 

I have writers I admire, probably too many to mention here, but I’ll say Paul Auster, Chekov for his short stories, JG Ballard, and Lydia Millet is great stylistically. I’m mostly inspired by fellow indie authors whose work connects with me, such as Leo X. Robertson, Harry Whitewolf and Rupert Dreyfus. It’s important to me to have the immediacy of those currently creating as an energising force. And their stuff is great.

Anemogram has a very unusual premise and theme, where did the idea come from? 

I wish I knew! I had about two weeks to come up with some basic ideas in order to take part in National Novel Writing Month. I knew that I wanted a female protagonist, and to cover some specific themes, and then embarked on a pretty intense month. Anemogram is the result.
It sounds like you work well under pressure in that case! Are you working on anything new at the moment? 
I’m taking a break from writing as intensely this year, but I do plan to fit in a novella at some point. I have a short story collection that I’m in the process of finalising in order to release. Last year I completed the first draft of a science fiction themed novel, and I will return to that to edit, although I have no idea if and when I’ll release it.
You have quite a lot going on then! What do you use to do your writing? Pen+paper, computer, typewriter etc. 
All my writing is now carried out on a laptop, just for convenience. My first few short stories were handwritten and it was valuable to transfer them to the laptop making adjustments and improvements as I went. I am interested in attempting something handwritten again as there is a difference in the process that could be creatively beneficial.

It can’t be denied that handwriting makes your arm hurt a lot more than typing though 🙂 Would you ever consider writing in a different genre or is there a genre you wish you could write? 

I’ll try anything in any mixture or permutation. I want to incorporate different areas, to make things interesting and keep pushing myself. Always willing to fall flat on my face if it’s fun! I’ve found it difficult to categorise Anemogram. I worry about genre placement after writing, if at all. I have a whole bunch of horror stories that may be released at some point.

How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes? 

I like to set aside specific periods of time to immerse myself in what I’m writing. It doesn’t suit me to have multiple projects active at once, as all my energy needs to point one way. I have a generalised minimum daily word count when I’m in a writing phase, though life does get in the way of that sometimes of course, but if that happens I’m mindful to play catchup the next day in order to stay on a self-imposed schedule. When I’m not actively writing I’m either editing, reading, researching, beta-reading, promoting or doing something to ensure I stay engaged.

What sort of publishing route did you choose and why? 

I’m a supporter of self-publishing as my instincts are that as far as possible writers, and anyone who produces a creative commodity, should retain ownership of their work. This puts pressure on those who do self-publish to ensure that what we release is high quality, especially with regard to formatting and presentation. I love the spirit of independent publishing, on whatever scale, and most of the interesting reading I come across originates from that world.
Without a big publishing house behind you though, how do you market your books? What have been your marketing successes and failures? 
As I have only one release so far my experience of promotion is quite limited. For me, it is important that any promotion I do is an extension of how I make my way through the world, and gives an accurate impression of what I and my writing stands for. I’m aware of what I won’t do—such as pay for reviews—and prefer to look for fun ways for my writing to find those who may be interested in reading it.
If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why? 
A book that I returned to endlessly as a kid called Encyclopaedia of Legendary Creatures by Tom McGowan. This was full of definitions of supernatural and mythological beings from around the world and each creature was depicted in an accompanying illustration by Victor Ambrus. His drawings are very distinctive and chilling. I think it would’ve been a fascinating project to put together, and exciting for the author to collaborate with such an amazing illustrator.
I might have to check that out as I love myths, legends, etc. What are your views on good and bad reviews? How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews? 
Reviews are great to have as they do help give a general impression of what a book is about. There’s no denying that it is helpful for a potential reader to have reviews available in order to gain further information about a book before they decide if it is for them or not. My strategy has been one of seeking out readers and reviewers who may get something out of reading my book. I’ve tried to be quite focused and I’ve had a mostly positive experience, whether my book has been enjoyed or not. My concern is not so much to do with a positive or negative reaction, but if my book has been fairly represented or not. I think discerning readers who are familiar with review sites and with review culture look for indications of whether the book will appeal to them, and can filter out much of the noise. Reviews mean less as they are distrusted more but they are still important at this stage, and there’s no doubt positive reviews have an effect.
Thank you so much for taking part in the interview Rebecca and for agreeing kindly to do a giveaway as well! 
If you’d like to see more from Rebecca you can check out her website, Amazon account and social media pages here: 

Website: https://rebeccagransden.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rlgransden

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rebecca-Gransden-1046981001979898/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14235808.Rebecca_Gransden
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rebecca-Gransden/e/B014I5D5OU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Author Interview – Helen Callaghan 

This month I had the privilege of interviewing the lovely Helen Callaghan, author of bestselling psychological crime thriller Dear Amy. You can read my review of Dear Amy here:http://ow.ly/NeVl30aMdEI

Not only has Helen been kind enough to share her experiences as an author, she is also giving away a signed copy of Dear Amy to one lucky reader of this interview. All you need to do is retweet this post to be in with a chance to win. 

1) What was your background and how did you get into writing? 

I’ve always written, is the short answer. I started doing it in a sustained way from my early teens onwards – by the time I left secondary school, the plan was that I was going to be a writer, and I’ve pretty much kept to it. The first draft of “Dear Amy” was completed nearly thirty years ago. For most of my life I was a bookseller, specialising in fiction, which is a fantastic job for a booklover, albeit not very well paid. But while I loved it, as time passed I started to get a little restless. I thought I’d like to get a degree, and so I studied for my A-levels at night school and ended up graduating in Archaeology (which has proven very useful, as the third book is going to be about archaeologists). 

After I graduated, I got into technical writing – producing software documentation, which is every bit as interesting as it sounds. For years I would write that during the day and during my commute and evenings I would write the novels. It was all very hard work, but great in a way, because I joined writing groups and made great friends who shared my passion for fiction. 

2) What are your ambitions for your writing? 

I’d like to keep writing the psychological thrillers which I really enjoy. The process of creating them is very cathartic, because it’s about exploring what scares me – I find crime infinitely more frightening than the supernatural, for instance. At the moment I’m concentrating on the psychological thrillers because “Dear Amy” has been so well-received and my energy is there at the moment.

But that said, for years I wrote more speculative fiction. At some point I do have projects there I would love to revisit…
3) Which writers inspire you? 

Oh, there’s so many! I love the Brontes, Jane Austen, and every weird and obscure Gothic novel ever. When I was a teenager I was a huge fan of Angela Carter and my favourite guilty pleasure was Anne Rice. The writer that most inspired me was probably Iain Banks – I admired him hugely. He always took bold narrative risks in his books and at signings and events he was always the writer I most aspired to emulate. 

4) How much research went into writing Dear Amy? Where did the idea come from? 

It was really strange, as other things I’ve written have come together in bits and pieces, but the idea for Dear Amy appeared wholesale – I knew the heroine’s name, her dilemma, and its resolution. I wrote the first draft in a white heat, in just over two months. 

This, of course, was pre-internet and the research was practically non-existent. When I wrote the new draft, the need to do the research was part of what made it take so long. Some of that research was quite harrowing, such as the oversight that girls in care get compared to other girls, but some of it was very enjoyable. I got to do a lot of fun stuff, like visit houses that I would base the Grove upon. 


5) Are you working on anything new at the moment? 

I am! Well, two new things. Book Two went off to my editor a week ago, and I’ve started work on Book Three. Book Two is hopefully going to appear later this year – it’s the story of Sophia, who comes home from London to find that her mother appears to have committed suicide. As she tries to process this, she learns that her mother had been in a cult in her youth, and had recently been trying to publish a book on her experiences; a book that other ex-members of the cult would prefer not to exist. It doesn’t have a name yet, but the working title is “Morningstar”. 

Book Three is about an archaeologist, Fiona, who is invited up to join her friend Madison on her dig in the Orkney Islands (and also to emotionally support her as she’s split up after a tempestuous relationship with her long-distance boyfriend). But once she arrives, she discovers that not only has Madison vanished, but she appears to have been on online dating sites using Fiona’s picture and details… and beyond that, I don’t think I’ll say too much more!


6) What do you use to do your writing? Pen+paper, computer, typewriter etc. 

Mostly I work on my computer, but sometimes, if something is giving me trouble, I’ll take a notebook and a pen out with me and tackle it on the page. I like the freedom that paper and pen gives me to get things wrong, and the way that it shows my working – I can cross things out, move them round, and see the process in a way that you can’t do with the computer. It also gives me permission to get things wrong, which is so important. 

8) How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes? 

I do set myself a daily target – a thousand words. One of the most peculiar things that I learned about myself when I started writing full time is that the fact that I have so much more time does not, in any way, shape, or form, translate into more writing. 
However, when it is on fire, I can burn through it – and then you raise your head and it’s two, three in the morning, and it’s all passed by in the blink of an eye. That is the best feeling in the world – when you are so immersed in it you can’t feel the time pass.


9) What sort of publishing route did you choose and why? 

I didn’t really choose – or rather, circumstances had chosen for me. In 2009, I wrote a novel called Mephistophela – it was an SF thriller. 

2009 was what they called “interesting times” in the publishing world. Back then, indie publishing was still very much a developing field but had exploded outwards, as Amazon had opened the floodgates. Accordingly, a lot of the early stuff was of very variable quality – people were still feeling their way in terms of the importance of copy-editing, professional covers, etc. Nobody was quite sure what the marketing channels would be, what would work, how the good stuff would distinguish itself in the face of the sheer quantity of self-published books that were now appearing.

Traditional publishing was also panicking, I remember – people weren’t sure if print publishing (and print publishers) would go the way of the dinosaur. It was nearly impossible to sell anything to a traditional publisher at the time.


Mephistophela
didn’t sell ultimately, but it generated a lot of interest from agents, and Judith Murray at Greene and Heaton, who took me on, stuck with me while it and then my next novel also didn’t take. When you’re represented by an agent, you’re nearly always looking at a traditional publishing deal – and that’s what I was submitted for. The second novel was a big, complicated epic based in multiple parallel universes, and the feedback was that it was quite a difficult project for a debut. They weren’t sure about it, but they liked me, apparently. 

So in late 2013, Judith asked me what else I had on my plate. I’d mentioned that years ago I’d completed a psychological thriller and she suggested dusting that off, giving it a light edit, and then running it past publishers that had liked the previous work, but hadn’t bitten. It was a job that would take perhaps eight weeks, at most.
Of course, the minute I opened the old files, I realised it would take a lot longer than that – the more you write, the more you develop, and I was gazing into a snapshot of how I wrote thirty years ago! In the end it took thirteen months to prepare the new draft, but when I did, there was an auction and it sold in ten days. 

I couldn’t believe it. Still can’t, in many ways. I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. 


10) How do you market your books? What have been your marketing successes and failures? 

I’m lucky in that Michael Joseph handle the marketing and PR side of things, and they are astonishingly creative people. They have amazing ideas – for instance, when the proofs for Dear Amy came out, they mocked up copies of letters from the book and tied them to the proofs with twine. They got me media appearances and blog opportunities and took me around to meet booksellers, which is easily the nicest way to spend a day when you’re a writer, as it involves being in bookstores. 

For my own part, I have a website with a blog, and a Twitter and Facebook page. Easily the biggest marketing hit for me is Twitter, as I can interact with people who liked the book, retweet reviews and event news, etc. It’s quite time-consuming to do properly, and it means I can’t use Twitter as the same timewasting opportunity that I used to, but it does reward the time I spend on it. 

On the other hand, I’ve not updated the blog in a while, and nobody’s crying out for it. I think that running a blog is its own specialist and very demanding thing, and readers are more likely to frequent review blogs or aggregate blogs than author blogs (I’m exactly the same myself). I keep wanting to relaunch it, as I do enjoy writing the articles for it, but the last nine months have just been mental and it’s not really justifying how timeconsuming maintaining it would be. Perhaps when Morningstar comes out I’ll relaunch it. 


11) If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why? 

Ooh, that’s a tough one! I could guarantee I would give you different answers from one day to the next! Tonight though, I feel like it’s ‘The Secret History” by Donna Tartt. There is something very cold, clever and cruel in it – it is a perfect meditation on crime and punishment.


12) What are your views on good and bad reviews? How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews? 

I was thinking about this recently, funnily enough. I worked out that my own book purchasing justifications break down as roughly: 

40% drifting through the bookstore/browsing a publisher’s email newsletters and thinking “Oh, that sounds like a cool thing to read”

40% personal recommendations

20% reviews. 

As a writer, however, my relationship with my reviews is naturally a bit more complicated. I remember reading my first bad review and it was as though a complete stranger had come up to me and slapped me. But of course, nobody writes a book that everybody loves – anything with any texture is going to rub at least one person up the wrong way. 

Like everyone else, I’ve read books that I don’t reckon are much cop, and yet they become massive international bestsellers regardless. But in all of those instances (and there aren’t that many of them), the book hasn’t succeeded because it is a good book, but rather because it is offering some unfiltered, unadulterated experience that readers can’t get elsewhere. It’s worth being attentive to what that offering is, and why it is so popular. There’s always a tension between what we enjoy reading and what is good for us, or rather, what we publicly admit to, and studying the gap between those things is often instructive. 

You can buy Helen’s debut novel Dear Amy on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B019DD8CPE/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

You can also find Helen on the following social media pages: 

Website: http://www.helencallaghan.co.uk

Twitter: @hecallaghan

Facebook (author page not personal): [https://www.facebook.com/hecallaghanauthor/]

Blog: http://www.helencallaghan.co.uk 

Goodreads: [https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6277538.Helen\_Callaghan]

Amazon author page: [https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B001KE8XFY]

Thank you so much Helen for taking part in my monthly author interview and sharing your experience as a bestselling author! 

Author Interview – Luke Gracias 

This month I caught up with Luke Gracias author of the incredible The Devil’s Prayer; an intense novel half thriller, half religious horror story. The subject matter so deep and controversial that Luke was actually advised to go down the route of self publishing. 

I first came across The Devil’s Prayer through Netgalley and I must admit I was a little unsure whether I’d like it. But I’m so glad I requested it in the end, it turned out to be a real page turner and incredibly interesting to boot. 

You can read my full review here: http://www.lifehasafunnyway.com/the-devils-prayer-by-luke-gracias-review/ 


Luke kindly agreed to take part in not only an interview with me but also to give my lovely followers the chance to win not one, not two but three fantastic prizes! There are 2 kindle copies and 1 signed paperback copy of The Devil’s Prayer up for grabs. All you need to do is retweet the pinned tweet containing the link to this interview on my twitter account @lifehasafunnywy to be in with a chance to win. 

What was your background and how did you get into writing? 

I am an environmental specialist with an avid interest in film making. In early 2014, I decided to write a low budget film script. The film finance fell through, so I decided to convert the script into a book “The Devil’s Prayer”. 

What are your ambitions for your writing? 

I need to write the sequel to The Devil’s Prayer. 

Which writers inspire you? 

Oscar Wilde. David Seltzer, Daniel Yergin, Dan Brown. 

I can definitely see the influence of Dan Brown in The Devil’s Prayer. It’s like a darker, more cryptic Da Vinci Code! 

How much research went into writing The Devil’s Prayer? I imagine quite a lot! 

I am an avid photographer and whilst writing the film script, I visited some of the amazing locations in The Devil’s Prayer. I learnt a lot of the amazing history first hand from the wonderful friends I made in Spain, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria during the film recce. I did a lot of research on the internet to get the timelines, prophecies and events to fit together to sub layer what is a preposterous story with unexplained historical coincidences. 



What are you working on at the moment? 

The sequel to The Devil’s Prayer… and my full time job.

I bet that’s difficult finding the time to write as well as working full time. I’ve personally been working on my novel for 3 years so it’s impressive you’ve managed to publish one and start working on the sequel! What do you use to do your writing? Pen+paper, computer, typewriter etc. 
My computer. 

Would you ever consider writing in a different genre or is there a genre you wish you could write? 

Yes, I have a romantic comedy script that was the first screenplay I wrote, which I think would make an amazing book. However, I think my focus for now has to remain on writing the sequel. 

How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes? 

I have yet to classify myself as a professional author. I have a job I am passionate about which takes up a lot of my time. My approach has been similar to one you would take when building a house. You have to put the foundation and the structure in from start to finish and be happy with that, and then weave in the detail. Once you have the plot and the structure in place, the rest is really up to your hard work and craftsmanship to get a quality book out. 

What sort of publishing route did you choose and why? 
The Devil’s Prayer was self-published. The company that managed the publishing for me ‘Australian Ebooks’ was amazing. The initial feedback I got when I pitched the manuscript was that the story would be too controversial for a traditional publisher to take on, especially the graphic content of the rape and the violence that followed. Further, some of the themes such as doing a deal with the Devil may not sit well with many readers. I was told it was better suited to the ebook market and hence I decided to do it myself. 


How do you market your books? What have been your marketing successes and failures? 

If writing a book is hard, marketing it is a whole lot harder. I am a first time writer and self-published, so I have two strikes against me before most people would consider picking it up. I tried Facebook Boost post but I think the results are dubious. The trailer video I shot for the book had 80K views on Vimeo, but accounted for minimal sales if any. 


 

I started a blog for the first time and I got a twitter account. The blog has had more interest from people interested in travel and my photography of the insane locations in The Devil’s Prayer. Thus far it has generated very little interest in the book itself. Twitter has been fantastic. I have tried Goodreads Giveaways and Goodreads advertising; they get a lot of people to your book page and I would definitely recommend the Giveaways. 

 

The biggest success for me which is yet to translate into sales is Netgalley. I have received over 150 reviews to date on the book from there. My hope is that sufficient reviewers and bloggers will recommend it and this will eventually get the book noticed. 

 

As a Netgalley reader myself I can certainly agree with the power it has in getting your books and your name out there. If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why? 

David Seltzer’s Omen. I have read one horror book and watched one horror film in my entire life and that’s ‘The Omen’.

Well I certainly think that The Devil’s Prayer could give The Omen a run for its money in some places! What are your views on good and bad reviews? 

 It’s a bit like watching your child perform on the big stage. There will be some reviewers who love the book for what it is, yet you know there will be some who just don’t like the play or the sets or the director or your child. 

 How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews? 

I think reviews are critical to the success of a book, both good and bad. As a debut author who has self-published, the quality and credibility of the reviews you get and word of mouth is all you have. 

 Getting good reviews always helps and getting reviews from sources like Netgalley, which are considered a benchmark for getting honest reviews, also helps a lot with the credibility of the reviews. People today are time-poor and we read to be entertained, educated and empowered. I would prefer it if someone steered clear of the book because it dealt with subject matter they would not enjoy and that’s what bad reviews can do very well. It’s the balance of life, you cannot have people loving the book without others hating it. 

Thanks so much for taking the time out of what sounds like a hugely busy schedule to do this interview with me, Luke. I’d also like to thank you on behalf of all my followers and your own future readers for your giveaway prizes! I’m sure the winners will love The Devil’s Prayer as much as I did. 

All of the photos here can be credited to Luke himself who took them while touring the different locations featured in The Devil’s Prayer. 

I wish I could have included more here but there’s only so much room. Instead, if you’d like to see more of the fantastic photographs Luke took, you can visit his website http://www.devilsprayer.com.au 

You can also keep in touch with Luke and his updates on social media: 

Twitter: @devils_prayer 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/devilsprayer/

Goodreads: Luke Gracias 


Author Interview &a Giveaway – Chris Brookes 

I first met Chris at my book club around 3-4 years ago when he had just published his first book Entanglement of Fate. I went on to become his BETA reader for his next two books in the Elliott’s Register Mysteries Entanglement of Revenge and Entanglement of Deceit. 

Chris has very kindly offered my readers the opportunity to win a signed copy of the first book in the series Entanglement of Fate. All you have to do is follow me: @lifehasafunnywy and Chris @chrisbrookes2 and retweet the pinned tweet on my twitter page containing this interview. A winner will then be randomly selected on the 19th December. 

Read on for reviews of all three of Chris’ books along with a fantastic interview with the man himself. 

 

 

Entanglement of Fate is Chris’ first book inspired by the true story of Walter Stanford. Set in Sheffield in the 1900s the novel opens with an exciting police chase across the rooftops. The opening chapter is deliciously descriptive truly bringing the readers senses to life. The intial few chapters were quite hard to get into but they soon speeded up as the plot took many unexpected twists and turns. Pretty soon I couldn’t put it down! Wonderfully written and imaginative this is a story of dark crime and horror mingled in with drugs, prostitution and secrets. The subplot was very imaginative as well involving trips f far off countries, a struggle, out of body experiences and dabbles in the spirit world. In the end despite the many different layers of the story it was all brought together perfectly and despite its complex nature it was very easy to follow. I recommend this book to anyone who loves Historical Fiction, crime fiction or supernatural genres.

 

 

Funnily enough, this book actually has my face on the front! This was the first book I read as a BETA reader for Chris and I guess for my own reasons its my favourite of the trilogy. In EoR we return to Sheffield this time to 1916 and a pit disaster. Following a harrowing night, the next morning a seemingly ‘mad’ woman is found on a colliery spoil heap. Elliott and Tom feature once more as they explore the world and the power of the very rich and uncover a years old mystery and a world of hidden secrets and revenge. Just like in EoF there are many twists and turns to the plot and what you think you know is usually the opposite. But just like in the first book everything comes together in the end and leaves you reeling.

 

Entanglement of Deceit is the third and most recent of the Elliott’s Register Mysteries and this time juxtaposes between Sheffield and London where the Sharpe’s are now living. It’s been a year since the events in Entanglement of Revenge and the characters are in the throws of the First World War. Once more the characters are plunged into the middle of a mystery but this time espionage is the order of the day. With Chris’ usual cryptic style the book starts with a devestating twist and then goes back in time leaving you with no choice but to race through to the end to find out the truth. It’s a story of obsessive love and dangerous alliances. Engaging and interesting throughout. It’s a killer of a novel.

 

 

I caught up with Chris recently to see how things are now that book 3 is complete. The biggest question on my mind being whether this is the end or will we be seeing Elliott and Tom again?

 

So Chris, before we get to the burning questions. Why don’t you fill us in on your background and how you got into writing?

I started working as a theatre production manager in the 1980s and from there went on to produce many touring shows. Working in that environment brought me into contact with many talented and creative people, some of whom I ultimately got the chance to work with on a regular basis. One such person was director Mark Kenyon, who was also a screen writer and was responsible for feling my interest in writing. He taught me all the basics, and more, of character development, effective description and how to thread plots with anticipation and create cliff hangers. All of Mark’s teaching I still use today in my writing.

 

What are your ambitions for your writing?

Obviously I would be lying if I said I didn’t want my writing to bring me fame and fortune. But my many years in the industry have taught me that only the lucky few ever achieve anything beyond being recognised in their local village fete. As for being rich from writing – how much disappointment do you want? No, seriously my ambitions for writing are merely to continue to publish stories and scripts that I want to write and that people enjoy reading. I consider myself a storyteller more than a writer, if that makes sense. Long ago I learnt that my writing wasn’t about to dance in literary circles. There isn’t language with deep philosophical passages or hidden messages in my prose. When I sit down to write I do so with the aim of entertaining through strong characters engaged in twisting plots with differing layers of complexity, and often with an unexpected conclusion.

 

Which writers inspire you?

I admire many writers for the way they can craft their stories and draw the reader in. From the old school there is obviously Agatha Christie or Dorothy L Sayers, further back still, I love to read the Jacques Futrelle mysteries. I also have an affection for John Buchan’s work. Modern day authors I will happily read, include the likes of Stephen King, James Herbett, John Grisham and James Patterson.

 

How did you come up with the ideas for the Elliott’s Register Mysteries? What was your inspiration?

The idea actually found me – I think! About ten years ago my father-in-law Bill, then a church warden recounted a story to me about a couple who had approached him looking for the gravestone of a local man called Walter Greenway, a character who had supposedly led a most adventurous life during WW1. For reasons that later became obvious Walter’s grave couldn’t be found. However, Bill continued to do some research and, sure enough, he unearthed the tale of a most fascinating person along with sketchy events of his life. I was absolutely hooked and began doing my own research. The more I did the more I became immersed and wanted to tell Walter’s story. The by chance I came across the writings of Robert Holmes, who had written about his time spent as a police court missionary. I was amazed and delighted when I found references dedicated to detailling his actual encounter with Walter.

The mystery of both Walter and Robert Holmes consumed me and I found myself entangling facts with fiction. Suddenly, my idea born – to create a police court missionary character and write entanglement stories based on the experiences of people listed in his registers. And what better place to start than with Walter – this most intriguing man whose experiences stretched from Sheffield to the war zones of Mesopotamia and included many acts of heroism.

 

So the big question! What are you working on at the moment?

All sorts – from theatre scripts and script editing to a fourth story in the Entanglement series, which has a working title of Entanglement of Consequence. I am also wanting to write some more modern stores of suspense which have been swilling around in my head for a while. I have lots on my ‘to do’ writing list, but true to John Lennon’s words, “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”. Thankfully these days I tend to be able to just go with the flow.

 

Which of the three boks is your favourite? Was it harder or easier to write?

Good question! I guess the truth is that each book was my favourite at the time of writing it. They have all brought me very different emotions. Fate was my first novel so obviously holds a special place in my heart, Revenge I certainly enjoyed writing the most, Deceit was definitely the hardest to write and the most difficult to pull together at the end.

 

Who is your favourite characer from the books?

I’m fickle so it keeps changing. Sometimes, when I have a need to go back read passages from my books, I think yes, Elliott’s my favourite, but then another day I fall in love with Mary or Louise all over again and they become my favourites. Other days I want to have the sophistication of Tom or perhaps the daring and charm of Walter. One thing I can tell you you is that writing about the nastier more harrowing characters I find easiest to do. Probably because they are usually fairly one dimensional in their feelings.

 

What genre would you describe your books as belonging too?

I really wish I could give you a definite answer, it would save me a lot of time too when target marketing my audience. My books are being branded as historical mysteries, but they do have more than an element of romance running through them, as well as elements of adventure, suspense and usually a harrowing crime. Once a reviewer said of my books that they had an identity crisis. ‘It’s a mystery, no wait, I am a paranormal book.. no, I am a WWI drama… I’m the English patient… oh I am a mystery.’ Probably a fair assessment.

 

How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes?

Unless its script work, which is done to deadlines I usually write in phases. Sometimes I’m constantly on the keyboard and in the zone, which can result in around 50k words over a month. Other times, I lose interest and get easily distracted by just about everything. Setting myself a word target is akin to ignoring a cheesecake on the table in front of me – it doesn’t happen!

 

Why did you choose the self-publishing route and would you recommend it to other writers?

I’ve done both and they each have their merits. Ultimately though, as an unknown writer my experience of traditional publishers was that very little was actually delivered, so I still had to do most of my own publicity. Sales were also generally disappointing. That said, if one of my books had the commerical appeal of ‘The Girl on the Train’, I dare say it might have been different. In reality, most new authors will not get the opportunity to have a publisher anyway, therefore, they will be forced to go self published. This is no bad thing for the ones who are switched on and can work in co-operatives with other athors. There is a lot to be said for having total control over your books – setting your own pricing, cover design, exclusivity, etc. is quite liberating.

 

How do you market your books/ What have been your marketing successes and failures?

If you’re serious about writing, becoming your sole source of income, you need to learn fast how to market your book in a very competitive space. There are two self-publishing guru’s out there offering courses that I trust. Nick Stepehenson and Mark Dawsnon. The amount of knowlesge and proven techniques to sell your books in their courses and closed facebook groups is invaluable. However, it is not cheap at about $397 per course, but they are certainly worth considering. Marketing is all about learning from your peers what is and isn’t working. Personally, I am always trying multiple marketing techniques, I advocate making your first book free or creating a short story as your reader magnet for people to join your mailing list, then market your list once you’ve established trust and value. I also advertise with targeted facebook ads, do cross newsletter promotions with similar autors, do joint giveaways, to name but a few. The truth is, when it comes to getting your books discovered and selling them, it is a constant learning curve. Be prepared to be inventive.

 

If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why?

I guess I would have liked to have written The Birds by Frank Baker. Although it was Daphne Du Maurier’s 1952 short story that was officially adapted for the screen, it is felt that Baker’s novel more closely resembles Hitchcock’s movie. In particular I like the complexity of a fantasty where creatures are sent to deal with ‘marred’ humanity. Perhaps my biggest wish though would be to have been able to collaborate with the genius of Bernstein, Sondheim, Laurents and Robbins on the musical West Side Story.

 

What are your views on bad reviews?

Get used to them because you’ll always get a few. Of course it’s never nice to hear stinging critique of your ork but everybody has a right to express their views on your work if entered into the public domain. I do have a problem though, with the so called trolls who operate and leave bad reviews for the sheer hell of it. But my advice is to simply report it and then move on. Life is too short!

If you’d like to know more about Chris and his series of books you can reach him on the following social media sites: 

Website: http://www.chrisbrookes.info/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChrisBrookes2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Chris-Brookes-244234299051020/posts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7246479.Chris_Brookes

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chris-Brookes/e/B00EV6FSRE