I have been trying to organise my files on my PC this morning and came across this draft interview that I submitted to an ebook site ages ago which never got published. So I thought - why not stick it on your blog Mrs T and let your readers tell you what you did wrong!
Let me know what you think, folks. I have my own ideas where I went wrong but you can sock it to me any way you want. Answers in the comments please or you can mail me at email@example.com
When did you first discover a love of writing? Is there a particular book that made you want to become a writer?
I first discovered I loved writing stories when I was at school and realised I could write stuff in them that I wouldn't be able to say aloud without being rebuked by teachers. You can get away with a lot when you write fiction; I'm currently planning a novel about a woman murdering her husband. Don't tell my husband.
No, there’s no particular book that made me want to become a writer. I do, however, suffer from the “I could do better than that syndrome.” Enid Blyton has a lot to answer for.
What is your favourite book?
My favourite book is the children’s story “The Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business” by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch. Its brilliant toilet-humour comedy for children and adults and educational as well – especially for kids who live in built-up areas and are unfamiliar with the sight of what nature can attach to your boot. When my kids were small it was my first choice to read to them at night; mainly because I'm a ham actress at heart and like to indulge myself in all sorts of silly voices and sound effects. The Little Mole was also my “babysitting book” so I inflicted it on all my friend’s kids too. There’s a lot of kids out there who are probably permanently scarred from my readings. The Little Mole does, however, prove my point above that you can say stuff in fiction that you wouldn't dare say aloud. Imagine Holzwarth at school:
“Stand-up, Holzwarth, and talk for three minutes on your favourite subject.”
“Yes, Frau Snitzel, I first discovered faeces were interesting when I trod on….”
“Sit down, Holzwarth.”
I suspect the scenario would be pretty much the same for all writers:
“Stand up, Cornwell, and tell us about what you did last night.”
“Well, Miss, last night I saw a blowfly on a decaying mouse. It had a gross black body…”
“Make sure your father comes to parents’ evening, Cornwell.”
“How about you, Clancy?”
“I tested out some fireworks, Miss. The dark red one had a very interesting trajectory. In fact when it veered off at an angle of ninety degrees…”
“Go to the corner and put a paper bag on your head, Clancy.”
See what I mean? If most writers said aloud what they're thinking they'd all be banged up.
What was your favourite book as a child?
My favourite book as a child was Five on a Hike Together by Enid Blyton. As I said, she has a lot to answer for.
Where do you get your story ideas from?
Some of them are from my life which, on a day-to day basis, I usually manage to screw up even if it’s only in a small way. But mainly I just sit down and the stuff flows out of my fingers. Principally, I like to write fun, entertaining stuff which also has a social conscience. I don't plan my stories so whatever is on my mind or in the news tends to work its way into it.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever received as a writer?
It’s my own advice I’m afraid. It goes like this: “Remember when your English teacher raised her eyebrows and ridiculed your story and typos in front of the whole class? Well forget it – you’ve got an editor and a proof reader now. Let them take the flak.”
Where do you usually write?
Anywhere but my desk which is an abomination upon mankind. It a huge beast of a desk that once belonged to my grandfather so I can fill it (untidily) with stuff that for most writers would constitute the contents of an entire room. The sad fact is I am probably the untidiest person ever to have lived and can extend my mess far and wide across every surface. I suspect that if I die before my husband he will put on my gravestone “Thank God she’s dead. Now I can see the kitchen worktops.”
Do you believe in Writer’s Block?
I believe other writers suffer from Writers' Block. I'm just lazy.
If there was one writer (alive or deceased) that you would love to meet, who would it be?
Seth McFarlane. Family Guy consistently makes me laugh and I don't mean just giggles. I could barely breath I laughed so hard the first time I saw the bank vault episode where Brian eats the contents of Stewie’s nappy. It was probably the most simultaneously revolting and yet funny sketch I've ever seen.
What's your favourite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?
Oh I say! Are you trying to get me to admit to reading erotica? Well I am not going to. I'm an upstanding pillar of the community and couldn't possible reveal my fondness for whips and chains in public.
What made you decide to self-publish?
Lots of things. The whole face of publishing is changing and the door is wide open for authors like me whose writing doesn’t fit comfortably into those genres we hear so much about. Also, when people tell me I can't do something or try to enforce their ideas on me I have an innate desire to prove them wrong. Luckily, no one’s dared me to abseil down the White House stark naked whilst singing “My Way.”
Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you'd like to share? What rules of craft or promotion do you live by?
I’m not good at giving writer’s tips. In fact I abhor them. I like learning from my mistakes; it’s more fun and doesn't require the reading of boring academic books that tell you to look out your window and write a passage about the first object you lay eyes on which is usually hideously dull – like a small potted plant or a Toyota Prius. So I say, if you're stuck, join the Alliance of Independent Authors or hop onto one of the big sites like The Creative Penn for some professional advice. Other than that, I think I've found my way around most problems by closing my laptop and opening a bottle of red and tackling it the next day. Sex is good for down-time too. Hmm…that’s probably not the advice you're looking for, is it?
How much money have you made from self-publishing?
A big fat zero. I’m in the red. Take pity on me and buy my books. If I cover my costs I can publish another. If I promise to put whips and chains in it will that help?