Category Archives: MeetTheIrregulars

Meet the Irregulars: Rob Edwards

Thirteen Questions with ROB EDWARDS

  • What is your writing Kryptonite?

Ah, now that is a complicated question. The glib answer, assuming you mean “What’s the thing that stops the writing process dead for you?” is simply “The Internet”. It’s a wonderful research tool, and I’m delighted to be writing in an age where it’s available, but if I make the mistake of going to the wrong web page at the wrong time and starting to read articles or watching You Tube videos… that’s all chances of writing that day gone.

But there are different types of kryptonite in the comics, and they all have slightly different powers. So Green K is what we’re talking about in this case. Red K can have all sorts of weird and unpredictable effects and—that’s the internet too, isn’t it? And Gold K… hmm. Okay, this wasn’t a complicated question after all. The internet. Just the internet.

  • What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I wouldn’t be writing today if it weren’t for the guys from Inklings Press. Stephen Hunt (writing as Leo McBride), Brent A. Harris and Ricardo Victoria, they critique, beta and improve almost everything I write, though their strongest contribution is probably to kick me when my first instinct is to stick a story in a drawer instead of sending it out. They support every aspect of my writing, and I’m grateful for them.

I have to say, though, that the writing community is a supportive one. I met (in an internet way) Maria Haskins through one of our Inklings books, and she put me on to the Word Count Podcast. And there are writers like E M Swift-Hook, Claire Buss and Erin Grey from the Sci Fi Roundtable Facebook group who have encouraged, beta’ed and supported me at various points of my process.

  • 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?

So far almost everything I’ve written is completely unconnected. There are a few exceptions, the story Treeson (from episode 86 of WCP) is something of a companion piece to The Lords of Negative Space, my story in Tales from the Underground. And I have a short story on my podcast which tells some background for one of the supporting cast in a novel I’m in the process of finding a home for. But those are exceptions.

  • What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

It was Shakespeare. I know, I know, but it was. I was 12 and we were studying Julius Caesar in class and Mark Antony’s speech at Caesar’s funeral blew my 12-year-old mind. He got to say all these nice things about Brutus, and the rest, for Brutus is an honourable man, so are they all, all honourable men… but he was actually telling people the opposite of what his words said? Crazy. It’s not a startling insight that will shock the readers of this interview, I know, but for me, then, it was a revelation.

  • What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

There are a few I could pick, some of them by authors who may well be better known in the States than in the UK. Let me choose… Memory Blank by John E Stith. The amnesia plot may be a bit cliché, but I read it at an age when I hadn’t quite clicked that sci fi didn’t always have to be ray guns and space battles. This was a murder mystery, but in a sci-fi setting! Wild. I was easily impressed as a child, obviously. But I love that book, so there.

  • How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Two. Three if you include my active WIP. I have a sci-fi superhero novel aimed at a YA market that I desperately want to call “So you want to be a space alien superhero?”, but there are several problems with that title (not least being the complex copyright associated with the word “superhero”). That book’s finished and I’m looking for a home for it now. And then I have an Urban Fantasy novel set in London in 1999 about demons on the London Underground. I’ve read 12 chapters of that on my podcast, with the plan to finish it while I was recording the year’s worth of episodes. But I forgot to do the writing bit, so it’s still unfinished. That one’s called “Writ in Blood and Silver”. And I’m currently working on a sci-fi adventure novella called “Improbable Cause”.

  • How do you select the names of your characters?

There’s no art to it really. I’ll steal friends’ names for minor characters from time to time, but main characters are usually a fusion of rolling it around my brain, saying it aloud a few times, googling it to make sure it’s not the name of a famous actor. Very occasionally I’ll look up meanings on baby names websites, but since that involves using the internet, there’s always an associated risk.

  • Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I do read them; I don’t know that I really “deal” with them. One thing I’ve learned from being in so many anthologies… different stories will work for different readers. I’ve had stories in some of the books described as a highlight, and the same story in the same book described as the disappointment. You’ve got to let them go. But at the same time, I’m always really grateful when anyone takes the time to comment, even if they didn’t connect with my story.

  • Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Not really. Since moving to Finland most of my stories have a Finland reference tucked away in them, if I can work it in without breaking the fourth wall. There’s a character in that superhero novel who has a Finnish name that sets up a really obscure joke that nobody will notice without reading the author’s notes or using Google Translate.

  • What was your hardest scene to write?

It’s the kitchen sink drama moments, the more real and grounded the tougher it gets. Emotional moments about bonding with your arch-enemy’s girlfriend after he ascended to a higher plane of consciousness? No worries. A relationship ending only because the couple have drifted apart over time? I stuck a manuscript in a drawer for (literally (and I do mean literallyliterally)) years rather than having to write that scene. I did write it in the end, and I’m happy with how it turned out, so it’s not that I can’t write them, just, yeah.

  • What is your favorite childhood book?

Rebecca’s World by Terry Nation (creator of the Daleks for Doctor Who). It’s been out of print forever, alas, but it’s a wonderful goofy absurdist romp about a girl who looks through her father’s telescope and gets transported to the world she’s looking at.

  • Does your family support your career as a writer?

Let me turn that question on its head, if I may. I’m a storyteller because my dad’s one. He made up endless bedtime stories for me and my sisters when we were kids, he’s put me on to books and comics that he loved and now I do, and I’ve seen him struggle with his own attempts to be a writer over the years. Once I became a regular contributor to Inklings Press, I badgered him several times to submit a story for one of our books. Eventually he did, and I didn’t read it, I wanted to get him accepted into the book not on my say so, but on the other Inklings guys. The first story he submitted didn’t quite fit in the book we were doing, but next time around he submitted a story for Tales from the Underground. The other Inklings liked it and I was thrilled that as a result that book contains stories from both of us. So, from a certain point of view, it would be more accurate to say I’ve supported my family’s career as a writer. Do give his story in Underground a read, it’s called Grandad’s Bunker and it’s a really atmospheric tale.

  • How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Well, “Writ in Blood and Silver” isn’t finished yet, and I started that in 1999. My superhero novel started life and a NaNoWriMo project. Somewhere between 30 days and 20+ years? The superhero novel in reality took a year to write, then I hid from it for a year, then another six months to edit it to the point where I had to stop myself editing it more. It’s ready to go now. Basically, I’m far too slow to make this my full time career, yet. But I’m getting faster!


BIO

Rob Edwards is a British born writer and podcaster, currently living in Finland. His podcast, StorycastRob, features readings from his short stories and chapters from his novel Writ in Blood and Silver. His work can also be found in anthologies from Inklings Press, the Sci-fi Roundtable and in the superhero anthology Somebody, Save Me!

Podcast: www.storycastrob.co.uk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StorycastRob/

Amazon page: https://author.to/StorycastRob

Meet the Irregulars: Eden Baylee

Thirteen Questions with EDEN BAYLEE

  • How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Fortunately, I don’t have many. I’m in the process of finishing my STRANGER trilogy. The first book, Stranger at Sunsetreleased nearly five years ago already! The next book, A Fragile Truceis due out shortly. 

  • Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both. As I often write into the wee hours, I’m sometimes exhausted by the process. Afterward, I can’t fall asleep because I’m so energized by the words I’ve written. It’s a strange dichotomy, like exercise which fatigues the muscles but also gives one energy.

  • What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I like to dive right in to writing, so my research is done as I write. If I were to become an expert on a subject before beginning a book, I might never start! Because I’m a “pantser,” I discover so much in the process of research, and this sometimes moves me in different directions. Firsthand experience is the best way to get the facts straight, so I do this whenever possible—especially when it comes to location for a story. In recent years, trips to Indonesia, Cuba, and parts of the US have enabled me to write stories with more detail and greater accuracy.  Aside from this, the majority of my research is done via the Internet and reading of texts.

  • How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

Some authors want to make sure their readers are able to follow their narrative at every juncture. I’m not sure how they manage this, but I’m not one of those authors. By committing to myself to write the best story possible, I fulfill my obligation as an author. Beyond that, readers take care of themselves, and I give them a lot of credit to be able to do so.

  • Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

No, I view writing as my profession. It’s work. Meditation and yoga fulfill my spiritual disciplines.

  • Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Yes, and I still do. When I started writing, my mentor told me it would be best to write under a pseudonym for my genre—erotica. My family and friends already knew what I was writing, so I had no reason to hide from them, which is probably why most people use an alternate name. For me, it was primarily to protect my identity from strangers I’d rather not associate with.

After I started writing in the suspense genre, I considered reverting to my real name but decided against it. I’d always written in multiple genres anyway, particularly for the WordCount Podcast. I published these stories on my blog and introduced many readers of my erotica to them. It helped spread the word about my ability to tell a story, regardless of genre. Aside from this, it had also taken me some time to build a following of readers. I had no desire to spend a lot of time re-branding myself, so marketing the name of Eden Baylee as “author of multiple genres” works.

  • What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I’ve written many male characters in my stories, even some from a male point of view. Often, we form opinions of the sexes from stereotypes—men are successful, insensitive, and aggressive, while women are caring, inclusive, and shopaholics. I’ve included perceived positive and negative traits for both, but they are all trappings. When we use clichéd beliefs in our writing, they dilute the authenticity of our characters and make them one-dimensional. As such, we should not pigeonhole our characters based on sex, since human traits are fluid.

  • How many hours a day do you write?

I usually write between 3-5 hours daily. I use word count as a barometer for daily production. If I meet my 2000 word count for the day in less time, it gives me a bit of breathing room. Somedays I struggle for hours and produce very little; other days, I can hammer out a full chapter in less than thirty minutes.

  • What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)

I relate strongly to the mid 30s-early 40s. This is primarily because the main character of my trilogy, Kate Hampton is in that age range, so getting into her head is important. When I wrote erotica, the characters were about a decade younger because those stories evoked a particular time in my own life.

  • How do you select the names of your characters?

In a word—painstakingly! Names resonate with me in different ways, so I have to be sure I can inhabit a character for the entirety of a book. If I hate the name, it’s not going to be easy to write about that person. I have my own definition for what constitutes “strong” vs. “weak” names and will assign them accordingly. One quirk of mine is the naming of male characters I don’t like. They always begin with the letter “M”.

It’s a lesson not to piss off an author, as they will somehow write you into their stories!

  • What was your hardest scene to write?

Violence against women is difficult for me, especially when I started by writing erotica— stories about love. When I write suspense in my short stories or novels, I purposely seek to tackle vile, violent, and sometimes grotesque scenarios. It’s a challenge, but one that I enjoy as I’m attracted to that darker side of storytelling.

In Stranger at Sunset, I included a scene of implied rape. It was a tough chapter to write, one that required restraint because I didn’t want to narrate a rape scene. Instead, I ratcheted up the tension with dialogue and mood leading up to the incident.

  • Does your family support your career as a writer?

Yes. I had a career in banking for twenty years before embarking on writing. In many ways, I became a banker to please my parents. When I turned to writing, I was past the age where I needed my family’s support. Still, it’s good to have it.

  • Do you believe in writer’s block?

YES! I answered this question differently several years back when I was a lot more cocky and publishing regularly. I said something like: You’ve never heard of “plumber’s block” so why do writers have “writer’s block?” The inference was that we don’t.

I’ve since learned that you can’t compare plumbing and writing. A plumber installs and fixes pipes, so if you have the proper tools to do so, you’re in business. As a writer of fiction, one of my biggest tools is imagination. The ability to create thought is not the same as wielding a hammer. When you write, you pluck thoughts and ideas from your brain and translate them as words to mean something.

Add to this, mental and physical health, which are both necessary to stay focused.

If any of these tools are not functioning for whatever reason, it can become impossible to write. I’ve had writer’s block for some time now. It’s crippled me in some ways, but it’s also humbled me. I realized that beating myself up over it only made matters worse. I now know it’s not for lack of dedication and desire that I can’t write, and I’ve been trying different things to get back on track. I’m happy to say it’s moving me in the right direction.


Bio

Eden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to write and is now a full-time author of multiple genres.

She has written three collections of erotic novellas and flash fiction ~ SPRING INTO SUMMER, FALL INTO WINTER, and HOT FLASH.

In 2014, she launched the first novel of her STRANGER TRILOGY with Dr. Kate Hampton–a psychological mystery/suspense called “Stranger at Sunset.” In addition to working on her next novel, Eden created the LAINEY LEE SERIES about a feisty divorcée who finds adventure and romance in Hawaii.

An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop surrounded by books. She is an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often! 

Meet the Irregulars: Deanna Rice

Thirteen Questions with DEANNA RICE

  • Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I find that it usually energizes me, especially when the words come easily and quickly; when my characters take over and start making their own decisions and I try to keep up with narrating it all. Occasionally, usually toward the end of NaNoWriMo, when I’ve fallen behind on my writing goals and I’m struggling to catch up while also meeting all of my work, home and social responsibilities, I will write late into the evening. Those late, stressful nights are the only times when writing exhausts me.

  • What is your writing Kryptonite?

I like stories and Netflix has so many to choose from…

  • Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Absolutely! Romance novels sell like hot cakes, as they say, and I’ve considered writing a couple to at least get my name out into the publishing world. The only problem with this plan is that I’m not sure I want anyone I know to read dirty the dirty bits and start looking at me differently. Just imagine if my mom read it!!

  • 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?

The book I’ve nearly completed is currently a stand-on-its-own work, however there is the potential for subsequent novels in the same universe. The second novel, which I started last NaNo, was just going to be its own work but it’s now definitely going to be part of a series. I’m already planning plots for the next installments.

  • If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Keep going. Maybe you don’t think your stories are that great but keep writing and you’ll continue to grow. There are people out there who are waiting for your words.

  • What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Two years ago I went to my first writing convention/conference, Readercon. A friend and fellow writer invited me to join her and I’m so glad I said yes. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many people who were working toward the same goals. By the time I was getting into the car to head back to Maine, I had several new novel ideas swirling around in my head and I couldn’t wait to get back home so I could start writing!

  • What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

There’s this awesome picture of a very young me (maybe 4?), sitting on the floor in our house. I’m beaming up at the camera while I pose beside the crayons I had arranged on the floor to spell out my name. One of the n’s is backwards but my parents were so thrilled and proud of me. I think the memory of their joy stayed with me through the years and influenced my love of words, books and writing.

  • How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Ooh, that’s a good question. I have one that is very near completion, I just need to finish my second round of editing, then get it out to a couple of beta readers for some initial feedback. I have another that’s roughly ¾ written but will need plenty of editing. I have a third which was several chapters in…then I somehow managed to lose two chapters… I was so distraught I just walked away from it. I hope to return to it at some point but the pain is still too fresh. If we count the stories I wrote as a kid, I’m probably at…..5 or 6 unfinished works?

  • How do you select the names of your characters?

I write a lot of fantasy so I’ll often think about the time period in which I’m setting my story. Most recently I started a novel set in Victorian London, so I did a bit of research into what names were popular in that region in the 1800’s. I browse through names until I find a few that I like, then gradually narrow them down until I settle on one. Sometimes this process takes a bit longer than others, haha!

  • Does your family support your career as a writer?

They do, absolutely! My mother also writes so she’s always encouraged me to be creative and work on my stories. My dad doesn’t really get the writing thing but he knows how much I want to make it happen and is supportive of my efforts. My husband is probably my biggest cheerleader and supporter. He will periodically ask me what progress I’ve made in writing/or editing and give me a good, swift (metaphorically speaking) kick in the pants when I need it!

  • How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Well, the book I’ve nearly finished has taken me several years. I stopped and started many times, including starting over a couple of times, even changing the time setting. Once I found the right time period and setting, it took roughly a year to get the story out and start editing. The story for my second novel is nearly out, aside from some editing and a few scenes I want to add in during that process. The shorter time period means I’m getting better at this thing, right?! XD

  • Do you believe in writer’s block?

I think I believe in it, yeah. There have been times when I’ve just felt stuck in a scene; where nothing seems to be going the way I want it to and I just can’t find the words I want. In the past I would just step away from the novel for a while. Unfortunately, this would lead to me not doing any writing for an extended period of time. Nowadays, I tend to just write through the blocked scene. Even if the words are awful when I write them, even if it’s a painstaking task to get them out, eventually I will find my way out of the scene and move on to something that gets my creative juices flowing! I’ll fix that bad section during editing!

  • What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I’m friends with Melissa Burkhart and you, Richard! I’ve also met a few others through NaNo who, though I don’t know their names, are an important part of my daily social media routine. All of these people (including you, Richard), are such a huge inspiration for me. Everyday I see updates about what they’re all doing, how much progress they’ve made and how excited they are about their work. They make me want to work harder and do great things! Good luck to all of you! You’re amazing! <3


Bio

Deanna lives in central Maine with her husband, Matt. She just completed her Master’s Degree in English this past December, and has been working on her writing since then! She’s nearly completed editing of her first novel, has completed roughly half of a second and has a second short story in progress. When not writing, she can be found knitting, reading or watching the latest Marvel movie or Game of Thrones episode.

Websites:

https://www.facebook.com/deannariceauthor/

deannanjrice.wordpress.com

Twitter: @t3hdoublehelix

Instagram: deannanjrice

Meet the Irregulars: Cameron Garriepy

Thirteen Questions with CAMERON GARRIEPY

  • Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

 I do write under a pseudonym sometimes.

  • What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Two of my dearest friends, Mandy Dawson and Angela Amman, are my publishing partners. They read everything first, and I value their insights and critique like no one else’s. They know my voice, they know my world, and they’re not afraid to tell me when I’ve gotten it wrong. Every single book they’ve lent me their advice on has come out better for following it.

  • What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Two programs: Scrivener and Vellum.

  • How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

So, so many. I can name three robust partial to finished drafts, and there are at least three more fleshed out ideas, plus a handful of blurbs and summaries…

  • What does literary success look like to you?

Bringing in more than I need to pay out for my daily life, plus maybe enough for a sweet vacation once in a while.

  • If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

I’d have stayed an English major and gone on to an MFA early, solely for the connections. Would it make me a better writer? I don’t know, but greased wheels roll more smoothly.

  • What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

To borrow from Stephen King: butt in the chair. I’ve got a whole life that I love and a job that I need to be at so we don’t lose our house—or have to turn the lights and heat off, so writing sometimes takes more of a backseat than I’d like.

  • Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

There are a lot of Easter eggs in my books—to other books I’ve written, as well as to my writer-friend’s worlds, so if you’ve read all of our stuff, you might catch them. If not, no harm, no foul.

  • Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I do read them, and aside from the initial pinch of disappointment when someone doesn’t like my work, I generally enjoy that I’m actually provoking a response from someone. Plus, algorithmically speaking, any review is a good review. Sort of…

  • What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Because romance novels for so long focused on “alpha heroes,” paragons of some (sometimes many or all) stereotypically manly virtue, that kind of man is always lurking about in my psyche. In truth, I try to write actual humans, with flaws and insecurities—my swoon-worthy heroes included. Allowing them to fail, to misinterpret or act foolish can be a challenge when I’m feeling inclined to put them on a pedestal.

  • What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

My research tends to be career-related, or geographical, since I write mainly contemporary romance set close to where I live. I almost never research before starting a book, since I’m rarely 100% certain what I’ll need until I’m in it. When I’m researching, it’s eleventy-zillion tabs open in my browser and weird conversations with my friends and family, then reading, and finally picking a stranger’s brain if I need to.

  •  What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

If you know Daphne DuMaurier, it’s likely because of Rebecca or Jamaica Inn, or maybe The Birds or My Cousin Rachel. My favorite of hers, my comfort read, my literary lovey is Frenchman’s Creek. I think it gets dismissed as “a romance” because there’s a noblewoman and a pirate and a love story, but it’s got so much going on under the surface about a woman’s self-discovery, about the nature of happiness and purpose and desire…

“And are you happy?”

“I am content.”

“What is the difference?”

“Between happiness and contentment? Ah, there you have me. It is not easy to put into words. Contentment is a state of mind and body when the two work in harmony and there is no friction. The mind is at peace, and the body also. The two are sufficient to themselves. Happiness is more elusive—coming perhaps once in a life-time—and approaching ecstasy.”

  • What is the first book that made you cry?

Where the Red Fern Grows. I sobbed through the ending. It was awful. I don’t necessarily believe in angels, but dogs are the closest thing I can think of.


BIO:

Cameron D. Garriepy attended a small Vermont college in a town very like her fictional Thornton. She’s missed it since the day she packed up her Subaru and drove off into the real world. Some might say she created the fictional village as wish fulfillment, and they would be correct.

She is the author of the Thornton Vermont series, and the founder of Bannerwing Books, a co-op of independent authors. Prior to Bannerwing, Cameron was an editor at Write on Edge, where she edited three volumes of the online writing group’s literary anthology, Precipice. Cameron appeared in the inaugural cast of Listen to Your Mother – Boston, and irregularly contributes flash fiction to the Word Count Podcast.

Since her time at Middlebury College, Cameron has worked as a nanny, a pastry cook, and an event ticket resale specialist. In her spare time, she cooks, gardens, knits, reads avidly, and researches hobby farming–chickens and goats are just waiting for her ship to come in. She writes from the greater Boston area, where she lives with her husband, son, and a geriatric pug.

http://camerondgarriepy.com

facebook.com/camerondgarriepy

twitter.com/camerongarriepy

amazon.com/author/camerondgarriepy

 

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Meet the Irregulars: W. B. J. Williams

Thirteen Questions with W. B. J. WILLIAMS

  • What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

I have walked to the locations identified in the Maltese Falcon in San Francisco, eaten in Joe’s restaurant the same meal as Sam Spade, and taken photographs of the surviving buildings.

  • What is the first book that made you cry?

The first book I read which brought me to tears was the Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson.

  • What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Aspiring writers tend to get trapped into formulaic plot structures such as the “monomyth”, instead of writing a story built from the tension between what the character wants and the obstacles to achieving this.

  • What is your writing Kryptonite?

The one thing that destroys my ability to write is exhaustion.  I have a very demanding day job, whose funds I need to pay for the needs of my family.  Some days I come home from this job too tired to do anything but stare into empty space instead of writing.

  • What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

As I’ve many friends who are writers, I’ll mention Leo, Tracey, Helen, Alan, and Rich, all of whom have read stories of mine and offered constructive criticism.

  • As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I can’t imagine a mascot, as I’m not a sports team, nor do I play one on TV.  Avatar?  Well, you could say that my most recent story was inspired by Cthulhu, nor not, as you will. Just don’t say it out loud seven times on the night of a new moon while walking naked in Western Massachusetts WHERE NO ONE CAN GO.  IT IS MYTHICAL.

  • How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have four unpublished and one half-finished book.  I am actively seeking publication for two of those unpublished books.

  • What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Not all books I’ve written have required research.  When they have, I don’t wait on starting to write the book while I do my research, but plan to incorporate the research into a later draft.

  • Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

I view writing as a spiritual practice, and all my writing is regarding the spiritual theme of reconciliation.

  • What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

All my characters are sex positive.  Even the unicorn.  Especially the unicorn.

  • What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)

I write about my post-death experience mostly.  That and kadath.  Yes, especially kadath.

  • What was your hardest scene to write?

The hardest scene I ever wrote was the scene where my protagonist tries and fails to torture the person he blames for the torture he suffered in prison.

  • Do you believe in writer’s block?

I do not believe in writer’s block, as I’ve never been blocked when I’m not exhausted.  I believe that stress and other factors can impede creativity, but too many people aren’t self-aware enough to understand what stress does to them.


BIO

W. B. J. Williams holds advanced degrees in anthropology and archeology. He is an avid historian, mystic, poet, and author who manages an information security program at a prominent New England firm. He is noted for his bad puns, and willingness to argue from any perspective. He is endured by his beloved wife and two daughters, and lives in Sharon Massachusetts. When he is not at home or at his computer, he can often be found haunting the various used bookstores of Boston.

Websites: http://www.wbj-williams.net https://www.facebook.com/wbjwilliams http://wbjwilliams.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @wbjwilliams

Meet the Irregulars: Bill Kirton

Thirteen Questions with BILL KIRTON

  • Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I was going to say both, but that would be misleading. The actual writing is exhilarating because I feel I’m out of myself, I inhabit the characters, I feel I’m with them, in whatever place or time they are. It takes a lot of energy and yet afterwards, the fact that I’ve done it, I’ve resolved the issues, created a scene (or more), leads not to exhaustion but to elation.

  • What are common traps for aspiring writers?

The main one is not trusting their own voice. By that, I mean that many think they ought to be writing ‘Literature’. I’m not using that as a derogatory term, but it can lead to artificiality, overblown images and/or expressions, pretentious observations, a completely unnatural use of language. One aspect of that is trying to mimic the style of their own favourite writers. By all means admire quality writing but remember that it takes many forms.

  • Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Not really, although having written in different genres (modern crime, historical crime, romance, satire, fantasy, adventure) I sometimes wonder whether I owe it to my readers to signal that I’m doing something different. And there’s one thing that did make me think I should use a different name. When I wanted to check my books on Amazon, I used my name as a search term, whereupon Amazon asked ‘Did you mean Bell Kittens’?

  • Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

‘Feel’ is the important word, there. We can be as cerebral as we like but, in the end, a story calls for involvement . You can instruct and ‘educate’ a reader but, in the end, you want him/her to be moved, to care about someone or something and if you don’t feel and care yourself, you’re fumbling in the dark.

  • What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I find the process of reading so absorbing that each book I read feels like I’m listening to either a friend or someone I’d like to be a friend. It’s also in the nature of the profession to know lots of other authors and they always have variations on the way I think myself about the whole business. In terms of helping me, I’ve learned lots from simply reading their works but, in the context of the Word Count Podcast, it’s my collaborations with Eden Baylee that have taught me most about writing. Whether I start the story, or have to pick up from Eden’s start, it feels as if the characters are separate from us – in a way, independent. They’ve moved in different, often unexpected directions from when I was last dealing with them, so they become more complex characters then they were when they were just ‘mine’. It’s very complicated but it’s something I’d recommend as an experiment.

  • If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Enjoy your writing but work hard at learning the non-writerly bits of the job, i.e. promotional work, marketing. And don’t expect to earn a living from it. But still do it.

  • What’s the best way you’ve found to market your books?

See the previous answer. My direct answer to this question is ‘I have no idea’. I’ve had excellent reviews, kind comments from readers, and sound advice from successful fellow writers  but I’m hopeless at it.

  • What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

It obviously varies from book to book. With my Jack Carston series, there was a lot of work on forensic techniques, policing methods, etc. before the first one but, thereafter, the characters were established and could drive the narrative themselves. Then I turned to the mid 19thcentury and figurehead carving, so that meant I needed historical information (and I also took wood carving classes – and still enjoy carving as a hobby). There was also a bit of self-indulgence there because, to get the feel of being on a fully rigged tall ship, I joined the crew of the Christian Radich as a paying member and sailed across the North Sea from Oslo to Edinburgh. That book was The Figureheadand, in the sequel to it (The Likeness),  there was a travelling theatre company so I used the knowledge of 19thcentury theatre which I’d gained from my academic doctorate research on the plays of Victor Hugo.

  • Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

It never occurs to me to think that that’s what it is but it really is. You move out of the dimension of the present and inhabit the minds and world of fictional figures and places. Images, symbols, meanings, explanations all occur to you in and for the context of this as yet non-existent world, so you disappear into it. In a way, it’s a terrific sort of therapy, an antidote to the world of political stupidity.

  • What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

This will probably sound artificial but, while I recognize that (as a generalization) men and women do think differently and can be stereotyped, I’ve never believed that they don’t fundamentally share very many common beliefs and characteristics. In my latest book (The Likeness), the central female character, Helen, having a fierce individual persona and lots of determination (and being stuck in Victorian Scotland with its rigid, gender-specific conventions) quite often disagreed with me and did things which made my life difficult. (See also next answer.)

  • What was your hardest scene to write?

The Likenesscame about because several readers insisted that I write a sequel to The Figureheadmainly because they wanted to know how the romance between John and Helen developed. The final scene of the book provides the answer and I had to rewrite it six times – mainly because Helen wasn’t totally satisfied with any of the first five compromises I suggested. In the end, luckily, she and I came to an agreement, but only after a prolonged struggle.

  • Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes, because all opinions are useful. I’ve been lucky, nearly all of mine have been kind so far. The only ones that disappoint are those that say more about the reviewer than the book. For one of my crime novels, which involved a nasty murder (as such books tend to), a reviewer ‘questioned the writer’s psyche’ and said it ‘creeped her out’ that I also wrote childrens’ books, while another gave a book one star because Amazon had sent her a different book from the one she’d ordered. But there’s nothing one can do about things like that, and one learns a lot from people’s opinions

  • How long on average does it take you to write a book?

There’s no such thing as ‘average’. Almost all of my modern crime novels took about 10 months for a first draft, then a couple of extra months for editing and proofing. The Likeness, however, took 4 years. (Thanks, Helen.)


BIO

Bill Kirton was born in Plymouth, England, studied French at Exeter University and graduated in 1962. While teaching at Hardye’s School, Dorchester, he started his PhD on the theatre of Victor Hugo and was a lecturer at Aberdeen University from 1968 to 1989.

He’s also been a voice-over artist, TV presenter and has extensive experience of acting and directing. His directing credits include many French language plays as well as works by Shakespeare, Orton, Beckett and Ionesco. He spent a sabbatical year at the University of Rhode Island Theater Department, which commissioned translations of 3 Molière plays from him, one of which he directed himself. The script also won third prize in the British Comparative Literature Association’s Annual Translation competition, 1999.

Bill wrote and performed songs and sketches in revues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, stage plays, two of which were commissioned by Aberdeen Children’s Theatre, and radio plays for the BBC, two of which were also broadcast in Australia.

Since the late 1990s, his writing has concentrated on prose fiction. He has written many short stories and ten novels, three of which have won awards, with another being long-listed for the Rubery International Book Award.

Bill has held posts as a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at universities in Aberdeen, Dundee and St Andrews and, since 2015, has been organiser of a Scotland-wide scheme which places professional writers in schools to help students with the transition to writing at university. He still gives workshops in schools from Orkney to Dundee as part of the scheme and he’s written five books in Pearson Educational’s ‘Brilliant’ series on study, writing and workplace skills. Bill also co-authored ‘Just Write’ for Routledge.

Website (and blog): http://www.billkirton.com

Facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=620980849 https://www.facebook.com/bill.kirton/

Twitter: @carver22

Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Bill-Kirton/e/B001KDNSLY