As you may know, I follow Leonard Tillerman’s website as he reviews a lot of books. He reviewed my book as well, and after some nail-biting days, I was very happy he gave Living Like A Vampire five stars! You can read his review of it here. He doesn’t always give five stars, so you know when he does, the books are good 🙂 . So, one of the books that received five stars from Leonard was A Flicker of Shadows, by Neil Seeley. I contacted Neil and here’s the interview.
M. N. Seeley
M.N. Seeley is a former Illustrator now working as a professional Art Director, Copywriter, Commercial Artist and Marketing Brand Consultant all rolled into one. But, what does this have to do with writing? Everything, if you ask him, because he believes storytelling is at the core of every successful creative endeavour. To him, the creative process never changes; only the medium does. He lives in Meaford, Ontario, Canada, where his children have spent years trying to teach him how to throw a football with a decent spiral. To date, they remain unsuccessful and undeterred.
Do you outline or just write?
I won’t begin writing anything until I have the entire story outlined, detailed and paced. My first novel was outlined using Post-it Notes stuck to a wall. The outline for my second novel is a 30 plus page document. I leave plenty of room for changes and sudden inspirations, though.
What gives you inspiration for your book? How did you come up with the idea for A Flicker Of Shadows? Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas
A Flicker of Shadows began life as a series of children’s illustrations. However, since illustrating is a painful and labourious process for me, I found it more fun to write the accompanying story paragraphs for the paintings. That’s when I decided to forget the illustrations entirely and just focus on the writing. But, I had no interest in writing a children’s novel, or even one for young adults. The concept of transitioning into adulthood was a massive inspiration. It occurred to me that I could tell a different story based on the illustrations; a story that has one foot in the children’s world and one foot in the adult’s world. Where these two worlds rub together is where my novel lives. At least to me, I thought I had a hold of something unique.
What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?
I was surprised by how exhausting, hive-inducing and ulcer-burning self-promotion is. I’d rather perform drug-free DIY dental work on a gorilla.
Give us an interesting fun fact about your book
In A Flicker Of Shadows, I never allowed Morton, the bat, to use contracted words in his journal. I thought this rule would make him appear uptight and repressed.
Is being a writer a gift or a curse?
It’s a curse well managed, I’d say. There have been many, many times when I wished to trade all of my creativity in just so I could play 8-ball better. At the very least, I’d like to be able to make a simple cross bank with some regularity. To date, the Devil has yet to present himself with a contract detailing the trade conditions.
What is your favorite part of the book?
The very last paragraph of A Flicker Of Shadows, particularly the last sentence, makes me happy. I enjoy the tempo of the words as well as what they imply. For the most part, it was effortless to compose. That didn’t happen to me often.
Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I prefer stand alone stories because of their finite structure. When the book is over, it’s over. Done. Myself, the reader, the person who glances at my novel laying crumpled and dirty in the bottom of a garbage bin, can all move on with their lives. Having said that, I do plan on reusing one character from A Flicker Of Shadows. A variation of him will show up in every future novel I write. Readers of A Flicker Of Shadows will likely be surprised to know which character I’m referencing.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Sure. I love symbolism and other hidden gems. They’re mostly there for my amusement. I like to amuse myself. A Flicker Of Shadows has plenty of meat to be picked off the bones, should one feel so inclined.
What writing/publishing wisdom would you bestow upon new writers?
You’re looking in the wrong place if you’re looking for wisdom here. I wrote a novel that I wanted to read. That alone was hard enough without adding other people’s expectations to the mix. This may not be universally true, but I think authors need to pick a lane: either write for themselves or write for an audience. Both options have merit. Both options have big concessions. For me, combining the two is madness and leads to mediocrity.
What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?
One reader of A Flicker Of Shadows thought my book had more in common with cult classics than popular best-selling books. That was very cool to hear. I would gladly take more of that sort of praise. I know my book won’t appeal to everyone. That’s how I prefer it.
Thank you so much for your time and your words of wisdom, Neil. I know you think they aren’t, but I think your comment on picking a lane is a very wise one. I’m still at the crossroads myself but leaning very much to the ‘write for yourself’ direction. I think that gives the most pleasure to the writer and hence the reader. You can’t please them all, so you better please the ones that do like your writing! And I can relate to your thoughts on promoting!
Neil Seeley’s book is available in eBook and paperback form on Amazon. You can follow him on the following social media: