I was on such a high after attending The Darker Side of Fiction book signing event last Saturday, but I crashed on Monday and Tuesday afternoon (I had an appointment I couldn’t get out of on Tuesday morning). Two days of people-ing takes its toll on me:). The event was organized by Hourglass Events ladies Jo Curtis PA and Rachel Brightey PA, and these two ladies did a fabulous job! The venue, The Bull Hotel in Peterborough, was awesome, the organization run as smooth as a well-oiled engine, and the people I met were fantastic!
My husband and I flew to Birmingham on Friday evening (leaving our teenaged kids at home for the first time. They didn’t set the house on fire!). We could have driven, but it would have been an eight-hour drive. As my husband still has to work (I’m afraid someone has to), we just didn’t have the time for this, so I didn’t expect to earn our expenses back. The reason for going was to show my face and get my name out there. I did have a pre-order form and had four orders of all the books of the trilogy beforehand which was great. As we were flying, we had a limit to what we could bring, but we managed to bring another five sets, some short story bundles, and some extra copies of Book 1.
On Friday evening, we arrived in Birmingham, picked up our rented car, and drove to Peterborough. We arrived at the Bull Hotel at 11pm and went straight to bed. I wanted to be ready for the long day. Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep the night before, and I didn’t sleep well that night either. Whether it was caused by the high temperature in the room, the hum of the air-conditioning, or the hard mattress (yes, I’m a bit of a princess in that respect), or plain excitement, I will never know.
The Big Day
The next morning we got up at 8am. The signing started at 10am, and this would give us enough time to have breakfast downstairs, get dressed up for the occasion, and set up the table. I was so glad I brought my husband as an assistant with me as he was such a great help. I couldn’t have managed without him! Before the doors opened, I went around the other authors’ stalls, to see what they had and what they priced everything. As this was basically my first signing with more than one book and with accessories, I had no idea about this. I had brought several price tags and put the ones down that I thought were a fair price.
They had sold ‘only’ seventy tickets (apparently they’re used to more), but there was a continuous stream of buyers walking past the tables. Some bought a whole set of the trilogy, some bought the short story bundle, some immediately walked past as soon as they saw my books were about vampires. It was fun to chat with the people who stopped at my table. My husband, bless him, was a better salesperson than I’ll ever be and often could win people over to buy something. All in all, I sold over thirty-five books which was great! Here are some piccies with visitors and myself.
In the afternoon, there was a raffle with proceedings going the Samaritans, and many fantastic prizes were picked up.
The doors to the signing closed at five and we quickly packed up. I put our names down for the evening ball, but we had a few hours to spare. We headed into the city center of Peterborough beforehand but unfortunately were a few minutes too late to enter the Museum of the Moon exhibition. Instead, we walked around the cathedral and learned about its architecture through the multiple information boards. When we got back to the hotel, I managed to fit in a quick nap before we headed downstairs for pre-dinner drinks. There were a magician and a photographer.
Sunday in Birmingham
The next morning we drove back to Birmingham to visit the Newman Brothers coffin museum. They actually didn’t make coffins there, but the furniture, i.e. the handles and metal plates that they put on the coffins, as well as the shrouds the dead are put in. We had a fun guide and it was interesting. After a quick bite, we managed to meet with a fellow author, Iain Pattison/Jay Raven, who is from Birmingham. Unfortunately, time was short and so was our meeting. We could have talked for hours. Birmingham is a beautiful city and I hope to be back there one day. Here are some photos from this beautiful place.
Our trip back home was less relaxed as the way to Peterborough. Our plane was delayed for an hour and once back in Aberdeen, it appeared that both the headlights of my car had given the ghost. The ride home hence was a bit of an adrenaline ride, tagging behind people who did have lights, but we made it home safe. All in all, what a ride! What a fantastic weekend!
We were still watching Orphan Black when my husband came home one day and mentioned ‘Killing Eve.’ He had heard it was a good show. It’s on BBC’s iTV and this means lots of breaks while we wait for the show to load. We usually have about five breaks of 20 seconds in a row and then we have ten minutes of a clear run. But we continued watching it. It really is a good show!
There are two main, female characters in this British drama series. American actress Sandra Oh plays the role of Eve Polastri. I know her from Grey’s Anatomy, and you probably do too. The other woman, Villanelle/Oksana Astankova, is played by English actress Jodie Comer. She’s more a TV-actress than a big screen one. The expressions on her face and intensity in her eyes are fabulous!
Next to these two, we have Fiona Shaw as Carolyn Martens (also known for her role as Aunt Petunia Dursley in the Harry Potter movies), head of the Russia Section at MI6, David Haig as Bill Pargrave, Eve’s MI5 associate who comes with her to MI6, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Elena Felton, Eve’s assistant and who also comes with her to MI6, Darren Boyd as Frank Haleton, Eve’s supervisor at MI5, Owen McDonnell as Niko Polastri, Eve’s Polish husband, a teacher, Sean Delaney as Kenny Stowton, a genius computer expert who has been recruited by MI6, and Kim Bodnia as Konstantin Vasiliev, Villanelle’s handler. These people all play their roles marvellously.
Eve works for MI5 and is fired when a woman under her protection is assasinated. Eve has a haunch that there is a killer on the loose in Europe and that it is a woman. Carolyn Martens is impressed with her insight and hires her to find this killer. Eve recruits Bill and Elena from MI5 to work with her for MI6.
In the mean time, Villanelle gets one assignment after the other from her handler, Vasiliev, to kill seemingly random people in Europe. Vasiliev mentions Villanelle that Eve has been tasked to find her. During her next assignment, Villanelle mentions that her (undercover) name is Eve Polastri.
What I like about Killing Eve
The show has everything that I like (as does Orphan Black): it has humor, horror, drama, and really tense moments. I’m so glad that it is finally accepted to cross genres in one show!
As I mentioned earlier, Jody Comer’s expressions are hilarious at certain points. The relations that Eve has with her colleagues and her husband are also funny most of the time, dramatic at certain points, always believable. And the show doesn’t stop surprising.
It’s notable that people are attracted to psychopaths on TV. Dexter was a big hit, Hannibal too, and now Killing Eve. Although Hannibal wasn’t as funny, the way these people see the world is eye-opening, and hilarious.
Another thing I liked about the show is the setting. Because Villanelle has to murder all these people on different locations, you get to travel around Europe a bit with her.
What I didn’t like about Killing Eve
So far, nothing yet. Maybe I’m a bit upset that some of the characters gets killed too early, after getting to really like them. A bit of a GoT-effect. Sad, shocking, but oh so entertaining!
If you’ve had it with Orphan Black (and you can receive BBC iTV), this will be your next binge watch. I do hope your BBC iTV reception is better than mine, though. It is not for the young viewer, I’d say, as there are a lot of adult themes, innuendos, horror, and gore.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get an author interview for you today. Writers are busy people! But I did find you this interesting article that I think you may enjoy. Very coincidentally, it incorporates the same name as my book title 😀 . It’s called ‘8 ways to be a better human by Living Like A Vampire.’ Check it out here.
Sherrie Brown writes time travel romances. I love any sort of travel, but if I could, I’d be traveling to all sorts of times 😀 . And, of course, I love a good romance story as well. Let’s find out how Sherrie got to write her stories.
“Sherrie Brown, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I could never answer that question until now. Life for me has never been boring; it has always been an adventure. While serving in the Air Force, I married one of my best friends. I stayed at home to raise our two sons, who married two wonderful women, and one grandson. I have several incredible friends, and I love to travel. My husband and I are now living in Texas.
How has your environment & upbringing colored your writing?
My 6th grade teacher told me (a young girl about 12 years old) that “I would never amount to anything without a dictionary tied around my neck.” Because I had a difficult time spelling and reading out loud. After that happened, I refused to read or write anything that was not required for me to pass my classes in school. I started reading again for enjoyment at the age of 37 when I was introduced to historical romances and then I couldn’t find enough books to read.
If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be/if you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Not to listen to anyone who tells you that you aren’t smart enough. I would have listened, participated and studied more in English class.
Who is the most famous author you have ever met?
I would have to say, Sky Corgan the author of Bully and several other books. We live in the same area and frequently enjoy having lunch together. It is never a competition for us, we write in different genres and she has a huge heart. She is also a wonderful writer, no matter what genre she writes in.
How long have you been writing?
In 2017, a good friend of mine dared me to write a book. Unable to refuse the dare, but still unconfident in my ability, I wrote my first book, The Dreams: Will Set You Free by Sherrie Brown. It is a Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF) based on Pride and Prejudice. To my surprise it sold and during that series I wrote in my first, time traveler into the 2nd book. This created my love of writing, because I could decide what I wanted in the story and how I wanted the characters to act. Once I started, I didn’t want to stop so I wrote 3 books in The Dreams: Series and 3 in The Eternal Knot Series in one year. Book 4 has taken longer because I was sick for a few months.
Music or silence?
Definitely Music! I put in my earbuds and crank up the music. The type of scene dictates the music I listen to. I listen to rock during most of my writing, especially during a fight scene and I listen to music that is from that specific time or location if I can find it, to help set the mood.
What genre do you consider your book(s)? Have you considered writing in another genre?
The Eternal Knot Series by S. Brown is Time Travel Romance – they are not written as one specific genre. They have the element of science-fiction with time travel, but they include a small amount of romance because they are searching for their soulmate. The romantic scenes are kept to a minimum and the storyline focuses on the relationship development. I love writing in this genre, but I started writing with a three-book series in Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF), titled The Dreams: by Sherrie Brown.
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 wrote The Eternal Knot series, so it can be read in any order or only certain ones and still be able to enjoy. This series has a main event connecting them together and is included in each book. Each book tells about the events and journey related to one of nine women, who are in possession of a special necklace.
Are you working on another book?
Yes, I am working on book 4 – MacKenzie: Time Travel. This one is set in 1717 with Irish Pirates. MacKenzie (Mac) is a security guard who begins to question her career and what is fair related to the law when she interrupts a robbery at her job. When everything she thought about her father growing up is revealed to be a lie; she questions who she is. Traveling to Ireland, Mac finds herself on a 1717 Pirate ship, and must decide if those who break the law are always bad. Will she ever break the law or risk her life, for someone she loves?
When you develop characters, do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?
I have a basic outline on each character. However, it is easier if I create my book cover before I write. Then I can write descriptions about my lead character that corresponds with the picture. As for their personalities, they develop as I write. Anytime I plan for something they hijack the story and it goes in a whole different direction, so I follow the lead they give me.
What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
My toughest criticism came with my first book. I released it without allowing anyone to edit or proof read it. I had a large amount of errors and should never have been published, but I was too afraid to tell anyone other than the person who dared me to write it. I had a reader tell me that her Labrador Retriever (dog) could write better than I could. I cried and wasn’t going to write anything ever again. However, my friend Sky Corgan, convinced me to get the book edited and release it again. She told me that most authors have a bad review sometime in their career and I need to learn from it, so I can be a better writer.
Wow! It’s amazing to hear that your teacher had such negative influence on your reading and the fact that you proved him so wrong! It’s great to hear real-life stories like these. And I hear you about planning your stories. My characters have a habit of not following instructions either 😀 .
All Sherrie Brown’s books in The Eternal Knot series are available as eBook and in paperback. Don’t forget it’s under the name S. Brown, not Sherrie Brown (as her non-time-travel romances are under that name).
We had watched this movie before, but it’s such a funny, little gem that we watched it again. This movie is on Amazon, not Netflix this time.
There are actually a few characters that play a major role in this movie, but the two it is all about are Garda Ciarán O’Shea, played by Richard Coyle, and Garda Lisa Nolan, played by Ruth Bradley. Garda means something as constable. Ruth does an excellent job of playing drunk.
The other persons that all play their part in this hilarious movie are: Russell Tovey (from Being Human) as Dr Smith, Lalor Roddy as Paddy, David Pearse as Brian Maher (the bar tender), Bronagh Gallagher as Una Maher (the bartender’s wife), Pascal Scott as Dr Jim Gleeson, Ned Dennehy as Declan Cooney, Clelia Murphy as Irene Murphy, Louis Dempsey as Tadhg Murphy, Stuart Graham as Skipper, and Micheál Ó Gruagáin as Father Potts.
The movie starts with something like a comet falling out of the sky into the ocean and skippers going missing. Then people on the remote Irish island start to go missing. All this happens when uptight Garda Lisa Nolan joins the force to replace Garda Ciarán O’Shea’s boss while he’s away. O’Shea’s an alcoholic and Nolan’s a teetotaler. The two need to form an alliance to figure out this mystery.
What I liked about Grabbers
This is a low-budget movie with an incredible cast and excellent CGI! Next to this, it has very humorous situations that never feel tacky.
What I didn’t like about Grabbers
Let me think…. Nope, can’t think of something.
Like they quoted in the trailer: “Funny, gory, and with some feckin’ good CGI!” It is not a movie for the little ones as some scenes may be too gory/scary and/or inappropriate (and I’m mainly talking about the boozing regarding the latter). All in all a very funny movie that shouldn’t be missed if you love a good laugh/sci-fi/fantasy/small town living.
PS: don’t watch the You Tube trailer as it gives away too much! It’s still funny when you know what’s going to happen, but I just hate trailers that show you nearly all of the movie 🙂
Rebecca H. Hale is one cool chick! I asked her for an interview and she said yes immediately… in July. And then her email slipped the net. My bad. Instead of bombarding me with emails asking what’s happening, or getting stroppy and giving me the cold shoulder when I asked her the other day when I could expect her answer, she just went with the flow. I like people like that.
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, R.H. Hale’s interests range from reading and writing, to science and the arts, including theatre. After receiving a BSc (Hons) in Natural History from Kingston University in Surrey, she returned to Edinburgh where she joined a ghost tour company to pay the bills – and became hooked, terrifying innocent tourists on a daily basis in the city’s underground vaults. Not long after being clinically diagnosed with autism, in 2014 Hale began work on her first novel, Church Mouse (Book 1): Memoir of a vampire’s servant. Its sequel, Church Mouse (Book 2): The Change, is completed and due for release in 2019.
Who is the most famous author you have ever met?
That’s a tie between two. When I was eleven years old I attended a festival in the town of Wick in Caithness, Scotland, where I had the pleasure of meeting the late, great Scottish poet Norman MacCaig. He was a delightful old gentleman, very calm and patient. If I’d had any idea at the time how famous he was, I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to read him a poem I’d recently written for class at school. I did read it to him however, and he seemed very impressed by it.
Far more recently, last year I met Dacre Stoker, the great grand-nephew of Bram Stoker, at the Edinburgh Horror Festival. Fortunately, I’m close friends with the event organisers, so I took him and his assistant on a short tour around The Banshee Labyrinth, the reputedly haunted pub where he was giving a talk about his latest book and his research. He is fantastic company, a joy to speak with and very generously asked me about my debut novel, so I felt honoured to have had the chance to discuss it with him.
What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?
It may sound cliché, but in truth my biggest surprise has been that people are liking the book! Every writer understands how scary it is releasing a debut; it’s like having one of those dreams where you find yourself haplessly walking around in public in your birthday suit.
Is being a writer a gift or a curse?
I think it depends on who you’re asking. For many including me, writing is also a way of exorcising demons, a silent scream if you like. I think it can be both, since it’s lovely to be told you have a gift and makes it all worthwhile if your work touches people and takes them on the journey you intended. But it comes with a price: you may’ve had to live through (or be living through) hell to create the worlds, scenes, characters and descriptions you did. The greatest reward is getting good reviews, so combined it can be negative feedback loop.
Pen or typewriter or computer?
Often pen since you can never know where you’ll be when ideas strike. Computer later, though ideas churn out on both. I haven’t used a typewriter since I was child just before computers kicked in everywhere and frankly I don’t intend on revisiting them; the stress of corrections and Tippex would give me a heart attack.
Do you write alone or in public?
Definitely alone for me. To many distractions in public. I even have to pause grumpily if I hear my poor housemate crossing the hallway to visit the bathroom!
What is your favorite place to write?
My room at home, sitting in bed, propped up by the pillows. Though in an ideal world I’d love a secluded Victorian study with a massive bay window and fireplace, me curled up in a gigantic leather armchair with cushions, hemmed in by a small portable table for my laptop and another table by the armrest for my coffee and ashtray. Maybe a grandfather clock ticking away in the corner…
Is your ‘being an author’ a goal achieved or an accident?
I never expected this to happen. I’d always had ideas for stories, screenplays, written dozens of poems and started many things throughout my lifetime, but I never originally set out to be an author. I thought I was going to be a scientist or maybe an actress. One day I just had some scenes in my head so solid they were baying for release and I had to get them down on paper. The rest grew from there.
Do you try to be original in your storytelling or to deliver to readers what they want?
Some people may disagree with me here, but to be honest I don’t understand this concept of ‘giving an audience what they want’. How are audiences supposed to discover anything new otherwise? If art of any sort teaches, shocks, surprises or inspires, it makes an imprint or mark, and to me that should be the whole idea. In fact, ‘what they want’ may have been exactly that to begin with – something original they weren’t expecting; before it got re-used again and again. I know that realistically there’s hardly any such thing as new ideas, and no matter how hard any writer works, it’s impossible to please everyone, but long as you’re driven by the desire to create, that’s what counts. Putting original ideas out there always carries a risk, and in many art forms, the powers that be like to “play it safe” by sticking with whatever made them money last time, but to me there’s something dishonest – maybe even mercenary – about ‘giving readers what they want’. Not all audiences know what they want until they’ve seen it. Besides, if I tried writing from only that perspective, I’d never get anything done. My head and heart do the dictating, otherwise what’s the point? That said, it really isn’t for me to tell anyone how to write, and if some readers prefer authors that give them what they want, fair enough, it’s their personal choice.
Can you give us an interesting fun fact about your book?
In Church Mouse (Book 1), there’s a scene involving an old Victorian surgeon’s medical case, bound in leather, containing the top half of a human skull. That was inspired by a completely true story. When I worked at the ghost tour company in Edinburgh, one of the vaults was run by a group of Wiccans, led by George Cameron. One day he entered the office, showed me the medical bag with the top part of the skull inside and I was fascinated. My other colleague present at the time was not quite so enthralled and turned green on the spot, so I tortured him by chasing him around the office wearing the skull on top of my head like cap. Out of respect though I did apologise to the human remains in advance. I don’t know if this is true, but Cameron told us that apparently the skull came from a cadaver stolen from Greyfriars Cemetery in the early-1800s, possibly by an ambitious medical student, as cadavers at that time were in relatively short supply. The crude chisel marks of the surgeon’s blade were clearly visible around the bone. The above details are mentioned in the novel.
What motivated you to become an indie/published author? How did you break into publishing?
I decided being an indie author was the only way, chiefly because of word count. No literary agent is going to take a chance on the printing costs for a newbie if it’s over 100k words. My editor also works for Help For Writers: not a traditional publishing house, but they convert authors’ work into e-format, publish and distribute for a fee; the author keeps all the royalties.
Thank you so much for sharing all this with us, Rebecca. I feel very privileged that I actually have that perfect writing spot that you talk about. The windows are still a bit draughty, so I don’t sit in front of them, but yeah, all the other bits are there. If you’re ever in Aberdeenshire, do look me up!
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:
I met Craig Wainwright on Twitter (where I meet most of the authors I interview). He was talking about a big reveal and ramped the suspension up enough to peak my interest. I was dying to find out what he was talking about! His first book, The Lost Titan, launched yesterday, and Craig’s going to reveal his big secret in this interview, so quickly continue reading…
I’m normally a reserved, middle of the road, kind of guy, whose always been geeky about Sci-Fi. When I got married, I warned Diane, my long suffering wife, that there would be three people in our relationship: me, her and the Doctor (big Doctor Who fan you see). Nowadays, the Doctor and Diane often pop out and leave me busily tapping away on the keyboard, only to return before I miss them – it’s a time travelling thing, I’ve been told…
Who is the most famous author you have ever met?
Terrance Dicks, by a long way. To date he is still the longest serving Doctor Who script editor there’s been (1969 – 1974), wrote some cracking stories for the TV series and then topped that by writing the lion’s share of the Doctor Who range of Target books. What a guy.
Of course, being a cheeky Doctor Who fan when I was younger, I thought it would be fun to invite him round to my house when meeting him at a signing. To my amazement he agreed. At the time I was a member of the local Doctor Who group and so I quickly organised a sponsored “Stay Awake” event for the visit. Terrance got the proceedings going, with an auction and stayed for a couple of hours afterwards to chat with us.
Then I asked the typical fan question: ‘What advice would you give to someone who wants to write a book?’ His answer was the obvious one, but it stuck in my mind because he’s such a lovely bloke. ‘Just write it,’ he said. Succinct, concise and to the point. The answer hit home.
We raised £600 for Cancer Research that day, and am proud of the fact.
What made you want to become a writer?
An urge to tell stories about characters which have lived with me since I was 10. I’ve needed to do this for a number of years and have had various failed attempts since 1989 to get the job done. The thought of dying before I’d managed to let everyone know about these wonderful characters and the situations they find themselves in, mortified me. Morbid I know, but it’s true, and since I’m not getting any younger, I knew I had to do it sooner rather than later to have any chance of getting book 5 written.
That moment when a character says something and you think that they have suddenly just come alive during that moment. It’s a magical time. Then, as the book takes its course, these people go on their journey. You see them grow and, by the end of the book, after all the twists and turns in the plot, they come out different people – as anyone would. With my style of writing, with the plot driving things forward and not the characters, this development does add an extra dynamic which can enhance the story.
On the flip side, I hate writing the first draft. I find the whole process painful and really hard work. But after that hurt, building on the original draft, the process suddenly becomes enjoyable because it then becomes a time of discovery. This happened with Book 1, were several things happened in the first five chapters and by the tenth I thought, ‘There have to be some consequences here’, and so the court scene was born. One of my beta readers loved that scene, as I do, because the hero shows he’s not just a physically powerful individual, but also a clever one as well. A fact which will become more important as the series progresses.
What genre do you consider your book(s) to be? Have you considered writing in another genre?
That’s an interesting question because this series is multi genre: Book 1, The Last Titan, is Sci-Fi with a strong super hero facet to it, bringing in the fantastical element. Because I plan to the nth degree, I know Book 2, The Last Titan: Titan’s Quest, will leave Sci-Fi behind and become purely Fantasy, with large dollops of horror towards the end. Book 3 leans more towards Horror with Fantasy elements embedded within it. I see this as being a very dark book and only hope I can pull it off as Horror isn’t my genre of choice. Strangely, and having just said that, these books cry out for the darker writing to add to the growing menace. Book 4 will return to straight Fantasy again. That’s just series 1. Series 2 will be different again in structure and feel, but that’s a long way off…
Does your book have a lesson? Moral?
These books are about ten races of people who need one another to survive, for them racial tension never existed until one man brought with him intolerance and hate. With his coming terrible acts of violence followed. When such a scenario enters a society which seems utopian, we would often find a very fertile breeding ground for the evil to grow.
The motto, I suppose. is that we need to spot this type of person when they get into power and deal with them quickly. We don’t want another Hitler and we definitely don’t want another world war.
What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your book?
That’s easy. This was for Book 2, which I’m writing now, and it’s the melting point of Quartz. It starts melting at around 600c, if you’re interested.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
The overall process of research for the book has been mainly passive, since I’m quite well read when it comes to the history and literature of Ancient Greece. I spent a few nights researching the Chernobyl accident and got an understanding of how it happened and how the reactor was designed. It turned out in the end most of that research wasn’t used in the book. I also did quite a bit of research on Mauy Thai, since the hero is a an expert in the martial art. I checked out a few websites and bought a couple of VHS (yes VHS) tapes and sat down and watched them, taking a few notes.
Regarding much lighter research I spent a bit of time finding the right stars which might have Hellas orbiting them. They ended up being in Ursa Major and they’re a true binary system called Gliese 412. These stars are red dwarfs and one is much smaller than the other. However, every now and again this smaller star becomes much brighter than its neighbour, which fits beatifully with one of the background Mythos I’ve already written. I won’t say any more because I plan to bring the Mythos out as anthologies eventually. Maybe even bringing the first one out before The Last Titan 2.
Loads of stuff. The bulk of it centred around a narrator and two children who would ask him questions about the action in the preceding chapters. These guys discussed pertinent points which I felt needed further explanation but couldn’t fitted in the story any other way. This allowed me to bring in several background stories (one of which tied in with the end of the book beautifully). When I later looked at these sections, I had to admit they had become somewhat redundant as I grasped the mechanics of writing a novel and the need to save space added further reasons to chop these sections anyway.
Interestingly, there was also an alternative chapter 8 which introduced the character of Jimmy (a tramp) and it described Omicron (the female villain) conducting horrific experiments on his two friends. This was made redundant when Jimmy informs a character later on what he saw, and rather than taking fifteen pages to get this across it took three paragraphs to explain it instead. The chapter also had a very different version of Jimmy; he was a more crotchety character. I prefer the character he’s evolved into because he’s a much more approachable, comical character – to the betterment of the whole series I think.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I like to leave little markers which might hint at what’s be coming: a little comment here, somebody saying something there. That sort of thing.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I think some writers maybe tend to accept their lot and don’t try to push for the best they deserve. My advice is to be ambitious and adventurous in your plans, be cheeky and ask the questions to get what you want when it comes to publishing and publicity. You don’t get unless you ask in this world, unfortunately.
From the above you can tell that I’m very ambitious, maybe more than my talent deserves, but I’ve known what I want from the start and I’ve pushed to get it. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, then other times it does and I’ve ended up doing business with some wonderful people who wanted me to succeed because they saw my drive and determination. Chris Grant (the voice over artist for the ad) put in an email to me: “So, go get’em Giant Killer.” A comment which sums up what I’m trying to achieve with this first book – break through and get established quickly. I dearly want these characters to be remembered and loved even. If I fail, well, at least I tried. If I succeed, then book 8 would most definitely be on the cards
The only other thing I can say is love your subject matter and let it draw you in. Some writers are mechanical in their execution of prose. Get involved with it. I’ve had a love affair with my characters since I was a kid and they’re so clear in my head now, they’ve become like old friends. If you are detached from the work, it’ll reflect in it and your characters will end up being distant at best and uninteresting at worst. Get into their heads, understand them, and the characters will write themselves.
So… what’s your big reveal?
As mentioned earlier, I have a book trailer/ad. Apart from promoting the book via an interview and review in Starburst (a British Science Fiction Magazine), followed by the ad in SFX (a British Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine) and Starburst for three months and a small ad on Doctor Who Online, it is also going to be… on TV! The book trailer will be shown on Sky1 and Syfy from August the 23rd for two weeks!
Wow! That is so awesome! I bet every writer is incredibly jealous now. I certainly am. You do dream big, and I applaud you for it! I wish you all the best with your launch, Craig, and hope your book sales sky-rocket!
Craig Wainwright’s book is available NOW on Amazon, and you can watch the trailer on his website. You can contact Craig through Twitter.
As there’ll be witches in my next novel, I thought I’d better get to know as much as I could about witches. So, I watched the first season of Salem on Netflix, a supernatural horror series. I learned a lot!
The cast of Salem is very well chosen. Janet Montgomery plays Mary Sibley, the main character/witch whose features are beautiful and her soul ugly (or is it?), and Janet plays a good witch. Mary’s one true love, Captain John Alden, is played by Shane West. He has the rugged look of a man who’s been out there. There’s no nonsense to him, every word counts. Then there’s Tituba, the servant (slave?) of Mary, played by the beautiful Ashley Madekwe. I love, love Seth Gabel’s portrayal of the reverend Cotton Mather (where did they get those names from?). He is so believable and has such sorrowful eyes. If ever they decide to film my series Suckers, I’d be happy for him to play Charlie! (I know, he’s no dwarf, but still).
I also have to mention the other actors in the series who do a wonderful job of entertaining. There’s Tamzin Merchant as Anne Hale (there’s more of her role to come, I’m sure!), Elise Every as Mercy Lewis, Iddo Goldberg as Isaac Walton, Xander Berkely as Magistrate Hale (his white long hair always reminds me of Lucius Malfoy), Michael Mulheren as George Sibley, Azure Parsons as Gloriana Embry, and Stephen Lang (remember him as Colonel Miles Quaritch in Avatar, the one talking about the indigenous having your eyes as jujubes?) as the scary Increase Mather.
The series starts off in the past. The past compared to when the bulk of the series is playing, of course. Mary and John are still young, and when John is sent to go fight in the war, Mary promises to wait for him until he returns next year. Fast forward seven years. John finally makes it back to Salem, only to find Mary has married the one man who sent him away. George Sibley has mysteriously lost his faculties, though, and Mary, now the most wealthy woman around, is running the town in his stead, refusing to give up her position to be with her former lover.
Unaware to most, witches are running Salem. Their goal: to take over and live in peace. But who is friend and who is foe? And is it all mind control or is there real magic going on here? You’ll have to watch the series to find out!
What I liked about Salem
I won’t lie. I like watching old costumes and pretty people and special effects make-up. Sometimes, I think I was born in the wrong time, but then again, maybe not! Back to the series. I liked the darkness of it. How the goodies are the bad guys, the bad guys are the good guys, and that everything is actually very grey overall.
I liked watching Cotton Mather’s frustration. I liked the power struggle going on between the witches and their attempts to keep it all under cover. I liked the way they suggested the lesbian relationship.
I also like the music they used in the series. The intro tune of Marilyn Manson’s Cupid Carries a Gun is very eerie.
What I didn’t like about Salem
Sometimes the acting wasn’t all that spectacular. Sometimes the scenes didn’t make sense. Sometimes the special effects were a bit fake. Yet this didn’t stop me from watching to find out what was coming next.
This is not a series for the faint at heart. It is gruesome, weird, shocking at some points. Yet there is hardly any nudity in it, for a change! I loved seeing something different, and I can’t wait to find out what they come up with in the second series.