I have found as an author there is only one thing you need to be good at beyond writing, and that's knowing how to market yourself. Because as an author you are the product as much as the books or words you write. But that is not an easy thing. When it comes to marketing a product I can wax lyrical, but when I am the product its a totally different story. So I have spent this month learning some tricks of the trade. But the more I study, the more I seem to find to do. It turns out that marketing myself is a complex business, with a lot of things to consider. So I was keen to chat with other authors this month and find out how they manage their art form and what they do to be successful.
This month's authors:
Clifford has both an engineering degree, and artistic talent. I was interested to find out about his process:
Being a mechanical engineer I imagine you deal a lot in small detail, do you find that this transfers to your art or do you use art as a means of freeing yourself?
That's right I do, and it is difficult to turn off; so yes, I would say I like to put detail into both my art and my writing. Achieving the right balance is the key to writing. The right level of detail puts a picture in the reader's head, too much detail bogs a reader down and can detract from a good story. I have chapters that are written as action, and some written as a narrative. The detail must be focused on the topic.
What do you wish you had known about writing before you started?
I wish I could remember the English I learned in school. I find myself bashing the reader with comma spliced sentences, at least in the first draft. When I get to editing, I always try hard to find these and break them down into real sentences. Sometimes this is a good way to cut wordiness and increase readability. Sometimes words must be added.Beyond this, I wish I had known how much of myself and my time it was going to take to get out a working series of books, which follow on and are interwoven seamlessly. This is why I wrote all three together. Of course, this only took more time. That said, I would've still written them because the story was in there trying to get out. The original seed came from a recurring dream/nightmare which woke me up a few times. In the end, the books do not feature the dream, (yet). I tried and it wasn't right. I like the final version better.
Which character (either yours or from another author) is your favourite and why?
That's a tough one because my career hasn't really left me much free time. Since I began working for myself I have even less time to write, and precious little to read. I do have a reading list I am trying to get to eventually but until I get books 2 and 3 finished, I won't have the downtime.Within the characters of my books, it is hard to have a favourite. As a father of three children I have never singled one out as being better, that would be wrong. I think writing is similar in that whilst I like my characters and put traces of people I know and myself into them; they are devises to tell the story. If the story requires some bad event to happen, you have to be able to give them up. Obviously, you don't do this lightly. In my book Joan has a rough time after the "death" of Zero, I really put her through the wringer. I haven't made given incredible detail but for anyone who has experienced similar all the indicators would be there of what she is feeling. Another character who gets some harsh treatment is Quinn the assassin, sent to dispatch Zero. His mother is a hard taskmaster, to begin with, but his eventual punishment is arguably worse than death.I enjoy writing the clone characters, because they were technically all spawned identically from the same template, and yet being specialist in different fields has molded each of them into very distinct personalities. Some are stoic and disciplinarian, some are more human than a human and some have mischief written through them.I think you can push the reader towards a cliff edge, and then straight over, as long as there is some wit as a mattress at the bottom. Sometimes I like them to go splat too.
How do you balance your life with your writing?
That's easy. If I'm not working or watching anime or doing my weekly big shop, then I am usually writing, editing or drawing. My kids are mostly grown up and still at college, but we all live together and make a strong tight unit. They know they can talk to me if they need and I will drop what I'm doing. I can only devote so much time to writing because of my girlfriend Joanne, who basically works around me to let me do as I please. I write sat beside her, and we converse the whole time. Sometimes I run plot scenarios past her and there is a lot of our relationship in Zero and Joan's, (Without all the tragedy which occurs in the book). My balance must be pretty good, I just had a week on vacation, and planned to finish the book 2 cover and edit book 3. I didn't do any of these things …
Clifford has an author page on facebook, and Group Zero on facebook also where he showcases his artwork. You can find him on : https://www.facebook.com/clifford.barker.3517
I hope you can take a moment to support him, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
From antiques to drama, there is little that Jane can not tackle. So I asked her how she tackles being an author and this is what she told me:
You have a varied history across a range of the arts, what part of writing particularly appeals and how do your other artistic skills assist with your writing?
It’s the character creation and dialogue that appeals to me the most. My two years at drama school has helped with this – creating a backstory for your character as part of working with your given script, and also the improvisation classes where the story unfolds organically through dialogue. Also, my architectural training has helped me create imaginary settings.
What is the most challenging part of writing a story or book for you?
In writing a trilogy in which I have three main protagonists, the main problem has been creating stories for each of them which run alongside as separate entities but also have to interlink at some stage. There’s also the added problem of knowing whose ‘head’ I’m going to feel most comfortable in on any day. For instance, if I’m engrossed in the antihero’s story, I have to go with that. Consequently, I rarely write the chapters in the right order, and then I have a job jiggling them around!
How do you get inspiration for your characters?
That’s a difficult one to answer. My characters just come to me from somewhere – presumably my subconscious. When analysed, I find most of my characters have aspects of myself in them, intermixed with wisps of physical or personality traits drawn from people I have met, or heard about. But none of my characters are based on real people.
If you could meet any author from any time, who would you like to meet and why?
I would love to meet the late Arnold Bennett. When I first read his novel Clayhanger, my situation at the time resonated with that of his main protagonist. Edwin Clayhanger was an unwilling employee in his father’s printing business, while longing to become an architect. Whereas I was an unwilling employee in my father’s architectural practice, while longing to become an actress! How pleased I was when I later discovered that Edwin was Arnold Bennett’s alter ego. Instead of remaining in the Potteries working for his father’s firm of solicitors, Bennett followed his dream and moved to London to become a journalist and author. I’m sure we would have plenty to discuss on this subject. And according to Margaret Drabble in her biography of him, Bennett was a very likeable man, as are all of his characters, so I'm sure he would make a good companion.
Jane loves to chat via her twitter account @janebean103 and her website www.janebean.co.uk
I hope you can take a moment to support her by checking out one of her pages, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
I wish to thank you for taking the time to read and engage with me! Happy reading everyone! VK Tritschler