Category Archives: Author Interviews

Author Interview: Anne Goodwin

AG at jesmond

Anne Goodwin at her launch, Jesmond 2015

It is a year since author, Anne Goodwin, published her debut novel, Sugar and Snails. An intriguing novel which explores the sense of being different and feeling not quite right in one’s skin. I am delighted to welcome her as today’s interviewee and to catch her during her anniversary tour.

Anne Goodwin loves fiction for the freedom to contradict herself. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was published in July 2015 by Inspired Quill and longlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, about a man who keeps a woman captive in his cellar, is scheduled for May 2017. Anne is also a book blogger, author of over 60 published short stories and was recently awarded First Prize in the Writers’ Bureau short story competition.

What are you currently working on?
I’m working on the edits of Underneath and trying to get to grips with the second draft of what I hope to be my third novel, Closure, about lives wasted through psychiatric incarceration.

What has inspired your most recent novel?
Sugar and Snails emerged from a strange interaction between my response to a newspaper report about a distinguished academic who died of anorexia without anyone in her immediate circle being aware of her difficulties; questions about gender fluidity and my attempts to reconcile myself to my own traumatic adolescence. Underneath stems from my academic and personal interest in attachment, and particularly the terror of being totally dependent on someone who is unreliable. Closure builds on my interest in family secrets and on my first job as a qualified clinical psychologist as part of a team tasked with resettling long term psychiatric patients to the community.

How much do you think fiction intertwines with real life?
I live so much in the fictional world, I’m not sure I can separate them! It’s something I continually puzzle about, but I think a lot of my fiction starts with my own experience of the world as I see it. Yet, both for my own privacy and because, as a reader, I prefer a gap between author and narrator, I don’t want that link to show. If your writing has deep emotional resonance, which is something I aim for, it’s highly likely to connect with themes that interest, energise and disturb you in “real life”. But I’d like that to occur on the level of metaphor, rather than in the nuts and bolts of the writing.

Any tips to aspiring writers?
After a blog post questioning the creative writing industry, I’m loath to advise others on how to write. However, Sugar and Snails has taught me a few things about writing about diversity and on crafting the awkward character which I’m happy to pass on (via the links).

Another thing I’ve learnt, and am still learning, is that when there’s a choice – be it regarding character, plot or use of language – go for the simpler option. The best piece of advice I got regarding my novel, Sugar and Snails, was to cut two of the three point of view voices. As a book blogger, I read too many debuts that would have been better had the author had been less ambitious. It’s very hard as a novice writer, as we are trying to distinguish ourselves and impress, but I’m increasingly discovering that less is more in this business.

How would you describe your writing process?
I like to play with the ideas in my head for as long as I can, be that hours, days or months, before committing anything to page or screen. The benefits of playing with the ideas seem to outweigh the risks of losing a good idea. I start to write when my thoughts are overwhelming and I have sufficient space to channel them, uninterrupted, onto the screen. I’m not a planner, and I like to take my time. However, last winter, partly inspired by National Novel Writing Month, I surprised myself by producing a fast first draft. It hasn’t altered my overall approach, but it was a bit of a revelation that I could keep going at an average of a thousand words a day.

In terms of the mechanics, I’m proud that my mother taught me to type the quick brown fox runs over the lazy dog way, using all fingers and thumbs of both hands. But too many dissertations left me with repetitive strain injury, so now I type by voice. The manufacturers claim their voice recognition software is faster than typing but, until they produce a version perfectly attuned to my Cumbrian vowels, I have to disagree.

What helps you to write/what gets in the way?
I have the usual love-hate relationship with social media, especially Twitter, through which I’ve gained the support of lots of lovely fellow-writers, as well as a few book sales, but it does eat time. Bad weather that keeps me indoors is helpful – although I can go a bit stir crazy if I don’t get out for a walk.

What kind of research do you do & how do you go about it?
I’m a lazy researcher, and tend to write about topics I already know something about, just checking facts and details on the internet. Also, my husband is the kind of person who knows all those obscure facts that come up in pub quizzes, so I often ask him. I’ve also recently taken to asking Twitter for answers to factual questions; you get a great sense of the supportive community when someone comes back with exactly what you need to know.

AGfull cover (2)Please say something about your publishing journey.
I’m published by a small press, Inspired Quill, which has worked well for me. I have a post on Writers and Artists website advising others considering that route to learn about self-publishing; not to be afraid to ask questions of the publisher; negotiate a contract; and be realistic about the limitations of what the publisher can do.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve done to promote your work?
An interview for Bay TV Liverpool, which has recently been broadcast: It was the first time I’d ever been filmed for TV, yet only ten days later I was involved in some filming for an event in the Peak District where I volunteer.

How can readers find you and learn more about your writing?

My next event is at The Bakewell Bookshop, Derbyshire, on 6 August 2016.

Catch up on my website: annethology blog Annecdotal or on Twitter @Annecdotist.


In honour of its first birthday, Sugar and Snails is available in Kindle format at only £0.99 / $0.99 until 31 July 2016.

Amazon UK

Author Interview: Kate M Colby – comes with free gift attached.

Kate C photo Oct15In honour of American Independence Day, I am thrilled to welcome writer Kate M. Colby to my blog. I have made some of my journey to being an ‘indie’ publisher alongside Kate and I have found her knowledgeable and inspiring, as well as a skilled writer. Her advice and encouragement has always been spot on. It’s great then, that, as an added bonus, her 100 Fantasy Writing Prompts (Fiction Ideas Vol. 4) is FREE today, download it here:

Kate M. Colby is an author of science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction. Her first series, Desertera, consists of steampunk fantasy novels with themes of socio-economic disparity, self-empowerment, romance, and revenge. Kate’s writing contains everything she loves about fiction imaginative new worlds (the more apocalyptic the better), plots that get your heart racing, and themes that make you think. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Creative Writing, and Sociology from Baker University, which she uses to marry her love of the written word with her passion for the human experience.

When she is not writing or working, Kate enjoys playing video games, antiquing, and wine tasting. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children.

What are you currently working on?
Currently, I am working on two projects. The first is the sequel to my debut novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter, to be published in early September. The second project on my docket is a series of nonfiction booklets, written for aspiring writers. Each booklet contains 100 creative writing prompts and each one focuses on a different genre of fiction. There will be 10 in total, to make a collection of 1,000 genre fiction writing prompts. Thus far, I have seven of the 10 volumes complete.

What has inspired your most recent novel/writing?
My first novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter, focuses on the theme of revenge. In it, my protagonist showed she would do anything for “justice,” and never questioned the righteousness of her path. In the sequel, I’ll be diving deeper into the nuances of justice. When my new protagonist takes on the role of avenger, she seeks true justice, not merely her own definition of the term, and she constantly questions the righteousness of her actions. I think readers will enjoy the contrast in how these two women approach similar problems.

My nonfiction project is inspired by my desire to give something back to the writing community. As I move forward in my career as an independent author, I hope to leave a trail of virtual breadcrumbs behind, so that others who share my goals have a resource to follow. Right now, what I can give back is inspiration and motivation, in the form of creative writing prompts. Down the road, I hope to provide more information about the publishing process, marketing, and creating and running a successful business.

How much do you think fiction intertwines with real life?
I think how much fiction intertwines with real life depends on the imagination and empathetic The Cogsmith's Daughter - Ebook Smallability of the reader. For example, The Cogsmith’s Daughter takes place in a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland. Some readers will look at that and think, “Wow, this has nothing to do with reality. It’s so crazy!” Whereas others will look beyond the surface level and see that the themes explored and the experiences of the characters are parallel to those we in “reality” undergo every day. For me, personally, I see fiction as completely intertwined with real life. Fiction is a reflection of reality, a way of revealing truths, even ugly ones, in an artistic form that makes them easier to swallow and accept.

Could you give five tips on how to tackle either characterisation or plotting or dialogue or descriptive passages?
I’ll give you one for each!
Characterization: Make a point of giving your character a flaw. Perfect characters are boring and unrealistic. One of my protagonist’s flaws is that she can get tunnel vision when striving for a goal and miss things that others see as obvious.

Plotting: Start with your three big points: beginning, middle, and end. Where is your character starting? What is the end goal? And what is one thing that must happen for her to reach her goal? Once you have those figured out, fill in the gaps.

Dialogue: Learn to convey each of your character’s unique voices. Some ways to do this are: varying sentence length (some people are more long-winded than others), varying vocabulary levels, and using curse words judiciously.

Descriptive passages: Study poetry. Seriously. I give my poetry classes full credit for my descriptive fiction writing. It’ll teach you how to incorporate sound into your writing and how to make your thoughts flow into each other organically. My readers will probably notice that I do a lot of flowing where others would inject an “and.”

My best tip: End your chapters on a high note. This can be a cliffhanger, witty line of dialogue, or dramatic realization. Either way, it will keep your readers turning the page. Many of my readers have said that they couldn’t put my book down. That isn’t a coincidence – it’s a design.

How would you describe your writing process?
I’m not sure that I really have a “writing process,” but I can tell you how a writing session typically goes. Basically, all I do is schedule a time for myself to write each day. Most days, I have to adjust the time because life gets in the way. Leading up to a writing session, I mentally plan out what needs to happen in the scene. Then, when I sit down at the computer, I write until I reach my goal, whether it be a set word count or the end of a chapter. I try my hardest to just let the words flow and not self-edit. If I think of something I should change later, I make a note in the sidebar and keep going. I also like to write in silence to minimize distractions.

What helps you to write/what gets in the way?
There are two things that help me write. First, I feel obligation very strongly. If I set a deadline for myself, I can usually guilt myself into meeting it. Second, my husband is really supportive, and he’s also great at being my drill sergeant when I need it.

What gets in the way of writing? Is everything an answer? Procrastination, exhaustion at the end of a 12 hour work day, our Netflix account. One thing I’m learning is that the world is REALLY good at sabotaging your writing, and you’ve got to fiercely protect your writing time.

What kind of research do you do & how do you go about it?
Honestly, I really dislike doing research. It’s one of the many reasons why I write science fiction and fantasy – if I make up my own world, I don’t have to research it! However, there are a few things that I have to research, mostly related to the steampunk gadgets in my world and the steamship. For these, I read articles on the internet and browse through books at the library until I find what I need. Personally, I’m much more interested in “aesthetic” research to help my descriptive powers, and this I do almost entirely on Pinterest.

Why did you choose the ‘indie’ route? What are your five tips for would-be indie authors? What are the pros & cons to indie publishing?
Oh, boy. These are big questions. I’ve written on all of these at length, so anyone who is interested in more information can check out my website. I’ll try to keep it brief here. I chose to be independently published for several reasons. One, I believe readers are the only valid gatekeepers and determiners of a book’s worth. Two, I believe the royalties paid by publishing companies are unfairly low. Three, I want full creative control of my work.

The pros of indie publishing line up with my reasons for doing it. The cons are: you have to invest your own money upfront, you have to market yourself in the ocean of Amazon and the internet, and you will still face stigma from the larger publishing industry and others you encounter on your journey.

My tips for indie authors:
At first, think of publishing as a hobby. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t take your writing seriously. I mean, you’re going to be sinking a decent amount of money into a passion project that may never pay you back. And that’s what a hobby is. You buy a fishing pole or a room full of scrapbooking equipment, and it only pays you back with enjoyment and pride. That’s what the beginning of your career will be like.

Do everything right the first time. Shell out the money for professional editing and cover design. Make connections, formulate a marketing plan. First impressions are everything, and some readers (and other authors) will write you off from the beginning if you look like an amateur or someone seeking a quick buck.

That being said, don’t be afraid to upgrade later. Sometimes, you’ve got to cut corners just to get your book out. If that’s the case, don’t be scared to go back and rewrite, hire an editor, or change the cover. The biggest benefit of indie publishing is that you are never locked into anything. You can always grow and adapt as time goes on. You are free to be better without restrictions.

Make connections. Do this by blogging, participating in forums, or joining online communities. Get a solid group of indie author friends around you and help each other. Everyone says the indie community is so much more helpful and supportive than the traditional publishing world, and it’s true. But it won’t stay true unless we all hold to that spirit.

Be proud. If you decide to indie publish, don’t feed into the stigma. When someone asks you who your publisher is (and they will, even if they cannot name a single publisher themselves), be confident. Say, “I started my own company and am handling the book production process myself.” It’s a huge accomplishment and you should feel happy to share about it. If you’re ashamed to admit you’re indie published, you’ve chosen the wrong publishing path.

When did you start calling yourself a writer? An author?
For the longest time, I called myself an aspiring writer. For a while, this was accurate, as I did more whining about writing than actual writing. I didn’t begin calling myself a writer until I started my blog and fully dedicated myself to writing my first novel. I didn’t use the term author until I had completed (not published, just finished) my first novel. And even today, a little nagging voice in the back of my mind says I’m a fraud – even though I know I’m not.

This is what irritates me about writers (myself included): so many of us are afraid to call ourselves writers! Listen up, people: language is free. You can call yourself whatever you want. If you feel a passion to write, if you express yourself best through language, if you maintain a blog or a journal or scribble poetry on grocery receipts, you are a writer. No one’s going to write “PHONY!” all over your corner of the internet. Embrace the label and get on with your creative life!

Where can people find you & your books?

Website –

Amazon (all countries) –

Barnes and Noble –

Kobo –

iBooks –

Smashwords –

Goodreads –

Facebook –
Twitter –
Goodreads –
Instagram –
Pinterest –
Linkedin –
Google+ –
YouTube –

Author Interview: Margret Geraghty

Five Minute booksFor me The Novelist’s Guide by Margret Geraghty remains one of the best guides for those embarking on any kind of story writing, but particularly novel writing. How excited was I, then, when I discovered Geraghty on Twitter and that she agreed to be interviewed for my blog! Read and enjoy… especially her writing tips.

Margret Geraghty had her first piece of fiction published in a newspaper when she was 16. It was a blatant piece of plagiarism involving a scene from a film she’d seen at her local cinema. However, that early success encouraged her and she later had many stories and articles published in magazines. On the strength of those, and her work as a tutor, the editor of Writers News/Writing Mag asked her to write a monthly column. That led to her first commission for a full-length book, The Novelist’s Guide. This was followed by two other books, The Five-Minute Writer and More Five-Minute Writing, both of them inspired by her passion for analysing fiction and her time spent studying for a degree in psychology. Margret also has a master’s degree in Film Studies from the University of Southampton.

What are you currently working on?
My garden and house decorating.

What has inspired your most recent novel/writing?
First, people – their quirks, their fears and attitudes to life. In my writing classes, my students’ thirst for fresh ideas led me to develop exercises to help them achieve their writing goals. Second, fiction itself. I’m fascinated by the psychological questions it raises. For example, why do we read fiction? Why do we find the same or similar patterns in fiction as in the days of Aristotle? Both psychology and fiction are dedicated to exploring the human mind and I like to look for links between the two.

How much do you think fiction intertwines with real life?
I think the two interact. One of my favourite cognitive psychologists, Keith Oatley, describes fiction as the mind’s ‘flight simulator’ and I’d agree with that.

Five writing tips?
You can find lots of tips in my books, but I’ll give you one for each:
Characterisation – Remember that people are your source material. Learn to watch and listen.
Plotting – A plot is not just a sequence of events. Rather, it is a sequence of cause and effect, like a row of dominoes.
Dialogue – Watch films. In real life, talk is free. In films, it costs money. Scriptwriters have to make sure that every word pays its way. We can learn from that.
Descriptive passages – Remember that description is not story. Weave description into your narrative and make it specific. Follow Chekhov: ‘Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.’

How would you describe your writing process?
It depends. When I was writing a lot of academic stuff, I’d have a plan. But cold starts can work well for any imaginative work. I discovered this by chance when I had deadlines for articles. I’d have an idea and just start writing. Invariably, the first paragraph was rubbish but it worked to stimulate thought. That’s the premise behind my Five-Minute books.

What helps you to write/what gets in the way?
I like peace and quiet. Music or background conversation distracts me.

What kind of research do you do & how do you go about it?
When writing anything to do with psychology, research is essential and I love doing it. If I read something interesting, I’ll always try and go back to primary sources. Academia taught me to do that and it’s good practice. When it comes to fiction, I once wrote to a motoring mag asking if a particular sports car had a roof that closed automatically when it rained (that was before the Internet and click-of-the-button information.) They didn’t reply so I winged it. The story sold and no one complained.

How can readers find you and learn more about your writing?
I’m quite reclusive but I am on Twitter @margretgeraghty. Both my Five-Minute books are still in print and readily available from Waterstones, Foyles and Amazon.


Author interviews – Jaq Hazell

Jaq HazellI am thrilled to host Jaq Hazell on my blog today. Her novel, I came to Find a Girl, is a disturbing and gripping psychologically-minded story which I can highly recommend. Jaq writes crime fiction and contemporary short stories, as well as children’s fiction and YA. She has been shortlisted for the Jane Austen Short Story Award and the Virginia Prize for Fiction, and she has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London. Born near Portsmouth, on the south coast of England, her first full-time job was at Buckingham Palace. She has also worked as a humorous greetings cards designer and a journalist. She lives in London. 

What are you currently working on?
I’m at the thinking stage of a new project. I know what it’s about and that it’s a romantic thriller set in London and Mumbai, but I’m yet to work out where it starts.

What has inspired your most recent novel?
I Came to Find a Girl is a psychological thriller that was inspired by a desire to look at the dark side of what it’s like to be a young, single woman in an urban environment – the other side of Sex & the City/Bridget Jones’s Diary, if you like – and the reality that there is a downside to sexual freedom and that we have to look out for ourselves.

How much do you think fiction intertwines with real life?
There is always an element of real life in everything I write. Sometimes it will be a small observation, something I’ve noticed while out walking or something I’ve overheard, while at other times it may be more fundamental. Three out of twenty-one stories in my collection London Tsunami are autobiographical. As far as I Came to Find a Girl is concerned, I have used the rundown house I lived in whilst I was a student in Nottingham, my experience of club culture and combined that with a ‘what if scenario’ that had fictionalised everything.

Five Tips on Plotting

  • Remember that your protagonist must want something.
  • Treat your first-draft as if you are laying out all the crucial elements necessary to build your story. At this point, do not expect them to be in the right dramatic order.
  • There’s a good chance that your beginning will not claim its rightful place until you have completed your first-draft.
  • If you are stuck and you don’t know what happens next, take time out to think. Perhaps you haven’t made enough decisions about your characters and their circumstances. The answer is always within you, the writer.
  • Expect to undertake numerous rewrites. Leave the script alone for as long as you can so that when you read it afresh it is as if someone else wrote it. At this stage any holes in the plot should become apparent. Don’t worry, you can make it work.

How would you describe your writing process?
Routine is key, and during the crucial first-draft stage I work six days out of seven as a two-day weekend break is too long – you lose the momentum and it takes too long to regain the flow. I walk my dog, write (with a brief break for lunch) until my kids return, and then I take the dog out again. It sounds dull, but a quiet life is good for writing and productivity. 

What helps you to write/what gets in the way?
When it comes to writing, the best thing you can do is sit at your desk (or wherever) on a regular basis and write for a few hours a day. Life gets in the way for everyone: ignore your other half, the kids, the housework, social media (for a few hours a day anyway), and the words will come. 

What kind of research do you do and how do you go about it?
I research as I go along but not in an in-depth way. I find it’s best to get the story down and check the facts later. Too much research is a dangerous thing as there is a temptation to put in more information than necessary and that can slow the narrative. Research for me is mainly via the internet and I also like to visit all the locations I write about. 

Why did you choose indie publishing? Top tips and pros and cons.
I Came to Find a Girl has been independently published. Murder sells, and there are murders in this novel, but the crime that is at its core is date rape. It is not described and there is no graphic or gratuitous detail, but this is a subject that publishers are wary of, while I think it is important to address difficult issues in fiction. 

Five Tips for Indie Authors

  • Make sure that your final edit is the best it can be. You will be judged against traditionally published books with no allowances made.
  • Hire an editor. You cannot edit yourself, you will miss errors however careful you are.
  • Get a professional book cover designed. Again, you are competing with all publishers.
  • Plan your promotional strategy. Contact book bloggers at least three months in advance so that they can include your novel in their busy schedules.
  • Don’t tell anyone you are self-published.

Pros and cons to indie publishing
Indie publishing is a challenge and it’s exciting. You have full control over your work and how it I came to find a girlis presented. However, you have to do everything yourself, there are costs involved, and it’s time consuming, leaving you with less time to write new novels.

The question you wished I’d asked you?
Do you think Amazon should give equal opportunities to indie authors, allowing them to choose numerous categories for their novels as traditional publishers are able to do?

How can readers find out more about your and your work?

I Came to Find a Girl on Amazon:

London Tsunami & Other Stories on Amazon:

JaqHazell on Facebook & @jaqhazell on Twitter

Author interview: Louise Mangos

Louise MThis week, I am very happy to welcome writer Louise Mangos to my blog. Louise initially studied business communications in the UK, and later studied journalism at CU in Boulder Colorado in her mid-twenties. She took creative writing as an elective during that time, and eventually dropped journalism to continue satisfying her literary passion. Following a series of creative writing retreats and novel-writing workshops during the years since she’s had a family, the idea to pen a novel was born. STRANGERS ON A BRIDGE is Louise’s first novel, a psychological thriller, which was a finalist in the Exeter Novel Prize, and made the shortlist of the Flash 500 Opening Chapter Competition in 2015. She is currently editing her second novel, also a psychological thriller, entitled PALETTE OF LIES. Both novels are based in Switzerland. Her short story SUMMER OF ’76 was read out on BBC Three Counties Radio last autumn and went on to win second prize in the Erewash Writers Group Short Story Competition. She has twice won the weekly Ad Hoc Fiction competition, and her flash fiction has been published on various flash web platforms.

What are you currently working on?
Having amassed a burden of journals and letters sent home from my overseas travels many years ago, I’ve been encouraged by friends and family to write a memoir, recounting one of my more riveting adventures: A solo three-month mountain bike trip along the backbone of the Continental Divide in the US. After completing that journey over twenty years ago, I was invited to return to Switzerland to participate in one of the most challenging mountain competitions in the alpine world: The Patrouille des Glaciers. The memoir addresses the challenges faced as part of a close-knit team of three in the aforementioned race, on the back of the solo bike adventure the previous year.

I’m also plotting a third novel, a psychological thriller about a man who stalks a backpacking traveller around the world.

What has inspired your most recent writing?
I recently read Cheryl Strayed’s memoir “Wild” for a book group discussion. It’s a book I wouldn’t ordinarily have picked up, but Cheryl’s journey along the Pacific Coast Trail re-awakened memories of my own adventures in the Rocky Mountains. I was amazed how much interest has been generated by Cheryl’s book, making me realise there’s a greater audience for this kind of narrative non-fiction than I had initially thought.

And as for my fiction, the psychological thriller is a genre I love to read, so it’s easy for me to write. I have recently been dwelling on my wayward twenties, and am drawing my narrative from my sport and travel adventures.

How much do you think fiction intertwines with real life?
The answer to the last question pretty much answers this. Many published authors tell their budding protégés they should write about unfamiliar subjects, that they should address the challenge of researching and creating literature from a bed of zero knowledge to earn the ultimate accolade of their critiques. For a novelist starting out, I cannot imagine having written any of my narrative without drawing on some of my life experiences, down to characterisation, dialogues between friends and family, or simply basing the story where I live (which I must say is incredibly inspirational.) As someone who has yet to enjoy the advantages of being a published author, writing about what one knows is also the safest way to keep research costs to a minimum.

Could you give five tips on how to tackle a writing technique of your choice?
Dialogue. I’ve been told that my dialogue is one of the stronger points of my narrative. I recommend the following tips:
1. Always, always read your narrative out loud. When you get to the dialogue, try and adopt the voices and mannerisms of your characters. It will make the dialogue ‘real.’
2. If only two people are having a conversation, use as few dialogue tags as possible (he said, she said.) If there are multiple characters speaking, or you need to draw the reader’s attention back to who is speaking after several exchanges, one of the characters could address the other by name from time to time. ‘But Tommy, you promised you would fill the dishwasher.’ If you must use dialogue tags, keep words such as exclaimed, shouted, and screeched to a minimum, and avoid using adverbs with those tags (he pondered drily, she whispered hoarsely.
3. Avoid exclamations or greetings. Show reactions such as shock/sadness/surprise conservatively between sections of dialogue, without interrupting the flow.
4. Avoid dumping information in a long chunk of dialogue. It’s tempting to do this if you need to convey backstory at a certain moment, but this method should be kept to a minimum, ideally one piece of information at a time, if at all.
5. Try to keep conflict in every dialogue. If a conversation takes place where everyone agrees, then the conversation probably didn’t need to happen in the first place.

How would you describe your writing process?
In general I’m a ‘plotter’ rather than a ‘pantser.’ I think anyone who writes (and reads) crime fiction knows how important plot is in this genre. I find it very hard to leave a ragged sentence alone until the edit. I might only write a short section of a narrative before I’m compelled to go back and edit that last section at least once before moving on. I would love to have the discipline of a ‘pantser,’ to leave that section alone until I have written at least a chapter or even a whole book, and then go back and restructure the words I have dashed out. I find the editing process extremely satisfying, watching a sentence that started as a seed inside my head become something that I can re-read in wonder a few weeks later and say ‘Crikey, did I really write that? It sounds really rather good.’

What helps you to write/what gets in the way?
Sleep, domestic chores and social media all get in the way of my writing. I need complete silence, and often wake at 4 am so I can have the blissful calm of a dark house in which to write. Even the white noise of the fridge in the kitchen sometimes causes my concentration to slip. And the Internet… it’s a double-edged sword. I should simply turn off the Wi-fi for huge sections of the day, but I love having my Thesaurus open on my split screen, and researching the minutiae is so much easier with the aid of search engines. The call for friendly banter with my Facebook and Twitter friends, however, dominates when I’m lacking a moment of inspiration.

What kind of research do you do & how do you go about it?
As I mentioned earlier, if you write about what you know, most of your research is inside your head. But there are certain things a writer should make sure they get right in their narrative, and not everything on the Internet can be quoted verbatim. For a crime novelist, the most important research is probably police protocol and procedures in the country or region in which the story is based. I’m amazed at how open people are when I tell them I am researching for a book. A police chief, lawyer, or accountant who might ordinarily charge a small fortune for an hour of his/her time, is often more than happy to offer information for no more than the price of a coffee in the local café. For my second novel I visited the women’s prison where the story is based, and when I required follow-up clarification on some of the information I was given, the head warden was more than happy to answer questions. Of course, they all need to be assured Louise Mthat they will receive a signed copy of your book once it is published!

Can you talk about your chosen publishing route?
I’ve given myself until the end of the year to secure interest in from a traditional publishing house. However, the time frame is interminable. Once a book is finished and the manuscript has been assessed, most self-published authors can have their novel out in the market in as little as a couple of months. A first-time author choosing the traditional publishing route can expect to wait a couple of years before his or her book is seen on the shelves of the local bookstore. Patience is a must.

The question you wished I’d asked you: What compels me to write?
I’ve always had to write – childhood stories, poems, teenage diaries, journals of my adventures as a young adult, and latterly, novel-length fiction. It’s an underlying compulsion, almost an instinct. When I started writing longer works of fiction, I was hesitant, unsure whether people would like what I write. For the most part, I have received only useful critique for my first works, and have been able to adapt and learn from the feedback. Now I’m more confident, especially after the affirmation of being on a couple of shortlists. Once I immerse myself in a project, I sometimes forsake all other functions such as sleep and food, in order to get the words out. It helps that I’m a fast typist, but sometimes not fast enough for the ideas spilling out of my head.

How can readers find you and learn more about your writing?
I have an author website:

and a public Facebook profile:

or you can chat with me on Twitter: @LouiseMangos

Author Interview: Kate Rhodes

kate head2 copy 651219Today I am very happy to welcome the successful crime writer, Kate Rhodes, to my blog. Kate Rhodes began her writing life by keeping an ’embarrassing’ (so she tells me!) teenage diary, which she hopes will never have to reread. She produced two prize winning collections of poetry before writing the first crime novel in her Alice Quentin series, CROSSBONES YARD, in 2012, after working for years as an English teacher. The series has won critical acclaim from readers and reviewers, with Woman and Home describing the central character, Alice Quentin as ‘a terrific new heroine on the block.’ The Daily Mail has praised the series for its ‘cast of really believable and entertaining characters… both the plot and the writing keep one thoroughly engaged throughout.

So Kate, what are you currently working on?
I’ve just completed the fifth novel in my Alice Quentin series, BLOOD SYMMETRY. Now I’m working on a crime novel set in a remote island location. It feels like a big departure, after writing five books set in London. Suddenly I’m describing seascapes and tiny village communities instead of the chaos of city life. It feels like I’ve taken a holiday, packed my bags and headed for the coast!

What has inspired your most recent novel/writing?
The Thames inspired RIVER OF SOULS, the fourth book in my series. I grew up on its banks, in Greenwich, and I’ve always been fascinated by the way it divides the city in two. It’s always seemed like a river with a split personality. It has carried the city’s freight for hundreds of years, but it’s also a deadly force. Twice in recorded history it has burst its banks and washed the entire city away. It’s also the last resting place for countless suicide and murder victims. I wanted my novel to conjure up the river’s fascinating and scary history.

How much do you think fiction intertwines with real life?
A lot! To some extent my central character is a small, blonde version of me, only twenty years younger. Although we have different jobs, she’s a forensic psychologist while I was a teacher, our world view is essentially the same. This connection came about accidentally, not by design. When I began my first book, it was easiest to make my narrator as much like me as possible, but after five books, it still seems to work.

Five tips on writing descriptive passages
Descriptive passages cause a lot of writers to wring their hands in woe, because they’re easy to get wrong. My first tip is to spend time in the location you’re writing about. Walk the streets and absorb the atmosphere. Secondly it’s a good plan to take photos, to trigger your memories of the atmosphere when you get home. My third tip is to try to involve all the senses in your scene description. What aromas can you smell when you stand on a street corner? What sounds can you hear? Is the air warm or cool against your skin? If you use all five senses, the reader will feel like they are walking the terrain with your characters. My fourth tip is, don’t be afraid the cheat! Use the internet to research buildings, parks and landmarks in the neighbourhood, to make them feel a hundred percent real. And finally remember that less is more. Try to sketch in the atmosphere of the scene you’re creating, but leave enough room for readers to imagine it for themselves.

How would you describe your writing process?
It’s pretty organised, mainly because I need to write one book a year. There’s not much time for slacking, which is a pity, because I’m great at being procrastination! I get up quite early each morning but tend not to begin writing until ten or eleven. I normally start by editing the chapter or section I wrote the previous day, then write new material from midday onwards. If I’m in the groove I’ll keep going until six, with few breaks.

What helps you to write/what gets in the way?
Oddly enough the place I’m happiest writing is on a long train journey. Being in limbo helps my imagination, or maybe it’s the landscape spinning past the window, no one calling on the phone. The worst distractions tend to be email, texts and phone calls. If I quit writing to answer messages my ideas disintegrate, so I tend to leave emails until the evening, or blitz them in the morning, before I start to write.

What kind of research do you do & how do you go about it?
I do a lot of research, because I love gathering facts to support my stories. I’ve got several great contacts in the Metropolitan Police, and the Thames River police have also taken me out on their patrol boats several times. Interviewing experts has helped a great deal with each of my stories. I tend to carry out research during the writing of my books, instead of doing loads at the start, otherwise I’d get so immersed in details I’d forget to tell my story.

Could you say something of your publishing journey and your experience?
I followed the conventional route into publishing by writing to lots of agents, eventually being taken on by Teresa Chris, after plenty of rejections. Teresa has been a brilliant agent since she took me on in 2012, getting me a three book deal with Mulholland and also arranging some international publication. I’ve been lucky to work with just one editor, Ruth Tross, who commissioned my first book. Ruth has edited my last five books, and these days the process seems to work like a well-oiled machine. Some writers have antagonistic relationships with their River2editors, but I’ve been lucky with Ruth. She gives great advice, and is also a nice, funny person to have coffee with. I’d tell any writer to look for an editor you like on a personal and professional level. Like a marriage, the relationship may last for a very long time.

How can readers find you and learn more about your writing?
Take a look at, or follow me on twitter @K_RhodesWriter. I always suggest that people start with the first book in the series CROSSBONES YARD ( but you can dive in anywhere, because all the books work as stand alones. Kate Rhodes author page on Amazon:

Author interview with Alison Morton

Alison MortonA double dose of delights this Monday as I welcome author Alison Morton in my series ‘Author Interviews’. Alison Morton writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with strong heroines. She grabbed a first degree in French, German and Economics in the mid-70s and went ‘back to school’ for an MA in history thirty years later. A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she has clambered over sites throughout Europe including the alma mater, Rome. But the mosaic pavements in Ampurias (Spain) started her wondering what a modern society based on Roman values would be like if run by strong women…

All four Roma Nova thrillers – INCEPTIO, PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO and AURELIA – have been honoured with the B.R.A.G. Medallion, an award for independent fiction that rejects 90% of its applicants. The first two were finalists in Writing Magazine’s 2014 Self-Published Book of the Year Award and the last two selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices and longlisted for the HNS Annual Indie Award in 2015 and 2016 respectively. AURELIA has now been shortlisted. Alison’s third book, SUCCESSIO, was featured as Editor’s Choice in The Bookseller’s inaugural Indie Preview, December 2014.

What are you currently working on?
I’ve just sent INSURRECTIO, the fifth Roma Nova thriller, to the copy editor; it will be published in April this year. It’s the fifth in the Roma Nova series and the second of three in the AURELIA cycle which starts in the 1960s.

What has inspired your most recent novel?
The Roma Nova novels combine my fascination with Ancient Rome – a civilisation that lasted 1229 years in the West – with my own military service, feminism and a love of thriller novels and films.

But underneath the adventure thrillers, I write to explore serious themes: female empowerment and self-realisation (INCEPTIO), betrayal (PERFIDITAS), and reconciling abuse in the past with obligations in the present (SUCCESSIO). AURELIA is a crime thriller, but whose central character has to over come her fear and loathing of her childhood nemesis while torn between duty to the state and to her child.

How much do you think fiction intertwines with real life?
Hm, that depends on your own life and the fiction you write. I’m sure most writers bring in elements from their own lives. Writing a novel is an emotional experience and we tend to reach inside for what has affected us and how we dealt with it, or didn’t. And sometimes, life events and people we meet have such bizarre aspects that the only place for them is in a book!

Could you give five tips for aspiring writers?

Five dialogue tips

  • Work out the objective of the conversation – it must take the plot forward in some way, build or reveal something about the character, or introduce suspense or it’s not earning its keep.
  • Work through the scene in your head. Make the characters have the conversation several times before you write/type it out. Don’t expect even that rehearsed dialogue to be completely right. You may well come back and change it when you have written more of the story and go through the editing process.
  • Do not use dialogue to give the reader an unnecessary lump of information. ‘Well, as you know, Angela, if you speed on a motorway you will be fined and may even lose your licence.’ is boring. If you have Angela defying her mother and flouncing off, keys in hand, saying, ‘I don’t care. You can’t stop me. I’ll even pay the fine. Goodbye, Mother.’ it’s much more dramatic and tells us a good deal about the relationship between mother and daughter.
  • Use ‘she said’ rather than she exclaimed/retorted/expostulated/protested, etc. The plainer this speech tag, the more invisible it is. Sometimes you do have to gasp, shriek or murmur, but use these sparingly and they will make more impact If your dialogue line ends in a question, you don’t need to use ‘she asked’ because the question mark shows that she asked! Sometimes you can do away with a speech tag altogether by using an action, e.g. ‘Come and help me with the jigsaw?’ She pointed to another table.
  • Learn how to punctuate dialogue correctly and do it as you go. The copy editor will pick it up, but it’s good craft discipline to get it right first time.

How would you describe your writing process?
I’m not sure I can call it a process! The first set of characters had been maturing in my head for years so I had them nearly fully formed when I started to write the stories. Although I have a general outline of each plot, the detail tends to evolve as I go along. The characters’ quirks and interactions dictate how the story emerges to fit the overall outline. Sometimes, the characters take over the show! But I have a little talk to them and we agree on a compromise and I nudge them back into the story.

I’ve developed a tracking grid which keeps the timeline straight and where I can jot down the main actions in each chapter – a kind of index to the book. After the first rough draft, I leave the file in a folder and ignore it for at least six weeks and work on something else.

When I open it again, I carry out the first edit with my red pen. Then the manuscript goes to my critique partner who is eagle-eyed, caring and scrupulously honest; she’s been a sounding board as well as critic all along. After taking her comments on board, it’s off to the structural editor who looks for plot holes, character failings, extraneous or awkward scenes and inconsistent dialogue but more than anything cohesiveness and whether the story grips. Without page-turning quality, the book won’t deliver a good read and that’s the writer’s duty.

After final revisions, the super-polished manuscript goes to the copy-editor. After all this, then it’s off to the publishing house to turn it into a book… Oh, maybe it is a process after all.

What helps you to write/what gets in the way?
The number one distraction is the Internet – Facebook, Twitter, etc. The problem is that the Internet is also a rapid source of information and resources as well as an excellent promotion platform. It’s a perfect place to chat about writing and history. (Sigh)

What kind of research do you do & how do you go about it?
The biggest trap is thinking that you know when something was invented or who married whom, when the rake was introduced or fingerprinting first used in a crime. I double, sometimes triple, check everything! Reading, travel and study have given me a wide general history knowledge, especially Roman, which helps me place events in context, but elements like germs, weather and geography can sometimes trip us up. And I recommend investigating what the plant life in your setting is doing during the season you are writing your story. I combine Internet and book research with asking experts. Although Wikipedia is despised, searching through the references at the end of an entry on your research topic can give you some excellent sources.

Why did you choose the indie publishing route? What are your five tips for would-be indie authors?
I chose this route because I had faith in my stories. Alternative history pushes beyond the boundaries of traditional genres, so although my writing was praised, many agents were wary of the market potential, which is fair enough.

After many classes, courses and professional assessment I realised my work was of publishable standard so I looked for a route that combined high production values, but left me with complete control. And, luckily, the readers think so too. And I have recently signed with the prestigious Blake Friedmann Literary Agency who will represent me for foreign and subsidiary rights – the best of both worlds!

My five tips for indies:

  • Be prepared to work hard, not only in writing but in promoting your books.
  • Connect with other authors in your genre, however they are published, and join writers’ associations, groups, circles.
  • Persist, but remain pleasant, dignified and tactful.
  • Ensure you have a terrific, professionally designed cover and your manuscript is edited by a qualified editor to within an inch of its life.
  • Research every single way to indie publish from DIY to fully assisted; different routes suit different people.

How can readers find you and learn more about your writing?

My novels and background articles are on the Roma Nova site:

For writing topics, musings and guests:

Facebook author page:

Twitter: @alison-morton



And here’s what Alison’s latest book, AURELIA, is about:
Late 1960s Roma Nova, the last Roman colony that has survived into the 20th century. Aurelia Mitela AURELIA_cover_image600x385is alone – her partner gone, her child sickly and her mother dead. Forced in her mid-twenties to give up her beloved career as a Praetorian officer, she is struggling to manage an extended family tribe, businesses and senatorial political life. 

But her country needs her unique skills. Somebody is smuggling silver – Roma Nova’s lifeblood – on an industrial scale. Sent to Berlin to investigate, she encounters the mysterious and attractive Miklós, a suspected smuggler, and Caius Tellus, a Roma Novan she has despised and feared since childhood. 

Aurelia suspects that the silver smuggling hides a deeper conspiracy and follows a lead into the Berlin criminal underworld. Barely escaping a trap set by a gang boss intent on terminating her, she realises that her old enemy is at the heart of all her troubles. She pursues him back home to Roma Nova desperate now he has struck at her most vulnerable point – her young daughter.

You can watch the book trailer here:

More information on AURELIA, including buying links:


Author Interview: Jane Davis

I am thrilled to welcome writer Jane Davis to my blog, author of The Unknown Woman, a book I read recently and can recommend.

Jane Davis is the author of six novels. Her debut, Half-truths and White Lies, won the Daily Mail JD compressedfirst Novel Award and was described by Joanne Harris as ‘A story of secrets, lies, grief and, ultimately, redemption, charmingly handled by this very promising new writer.’ The Bookseller featured her in their ‘One to Watch’ section. Five further novels have earned her a loyal fan base and wide-spread praise. Regularly compared to more seasoned authors such as Kate Atkinson and Maggie O’Farrell, Compulsion Reads describe Jane as ‘a phenomenal writer whose ability to create well-rounded characters that are easy to relate to feels effortless.’ Her favourite description of fiction is ‘made-up truth’. Jane lives in Carshalton, Surrey, with her Formula 1 obsessed, beer-brewing partner, surrounded by growing piles of paperbacks, CDs and general chaos. When she is not writing, you may spot Jane disappearing up the side of a mountain with a camera in hand.

Q: Please say something about your writing journey to the present day.
My first novel (hidden away under lock and key) earned me the services of an agent and the praise, ‘Jane, you are a writer’, but not a publishing contract. My second novel had been sitting in my overworked agent’s ‘in’ tray for several months when I attended the Winchester Writers’ Conference in June 2008. It was there that I learned about the Daily Mail First Novel Award. With the closing date for entries only two days away, I had nothing to lose. My incentive for entering wasn’t the thought of winning. It was the promise that all entries would be read.

I left my job of twenty-three years the following September, jaded from having had to make so many colleagues redundant. Every time I turned on the television there was talk of financial doom and gloom. Then came the call from Transworld announcing that I had won. It was surreal. Because I was on my own, there was no one to ask, ‘Hey, did that just happen?’ I phoned back just to be sure. The following weeks were heady. The Bookseller included me in their ‘One to Watch’ section. Joanna Harris, an author I admire enormously, described me as a ‘promising new writer.’ I was going to be The Next Big Thing.

Except that I wasn’t.

In a year when fiction sales plummeted, Half-truths and White Lies, sold reasonably well. Then, in 2009, came my reality check. Transworld exercised their right to ‘first refusal’ of my follow-up novel. The reason? It wasn’t ‘women’s fiction’. I hadn’t appreciated (and no one had thought to explain) the implications of being published under their Black Swan imprint. I had been pigeon-holed – and my new work didn’t fit. Parting company with my agent, I sought new representation. Rejection letters flattered. My writing was not for them, but with my credentials, I would be snapped up. For a while, I believed them.

Over the next four years, I produced two further novels. Had I been under contract, I would have been chasing deadlines. Instead, with the luxury of time, I added layers to plots, depth to characters and a real sense of time and place. As Hugh Howey said at the London Book Fair, authors should enjoy their anonymity. By 2012, I was touting three novels around the market. Believe me, this is not a position you want to be in. I began to feel like the lady character in Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys who attends the same writing conference year after year with a slightly different edit of the same novel. A novel which continues to be rejected, albeit for slightly different reasons.

In November 2012, I decided I owed it to myself to investigate something I had been resisting. I attended the Writers’ & Artists’ Self-publishing in a Digital Age conference. It was a revelation! There, established authors who had been dropped by their publishers were rubbing shoulders with first-time writers who had released their e-book priced at 99p and had sold 100,000 copies within a year. It was a publishing revolution. So was I in or was I out?

Deciding I was in, I released I Stopped Time and These Fragile Things on Christmas Day.  The decision how to present the work – the designs of covers and the interiors – were all mine. As were the mistakes. (Neil Gaiman refers to Gaiman’s Law. If there’s one typo, it will be on the page your new book falls open to the first time that you pick it up.) Learning by my mistakes, I ironed them out. The following summer, I released paperbacks. The second time around, I was aware that I needed more help. I had a very limited budget but found that I was able to barter for services, using a copy editor in return for a testimonial. I also expanded on my volunteer army of beta readers and proofreaders. I didn’t need to have to chase volunteers. They came to me. In November that same year, I released A Funeral for an Owl. For my next novel, An Unchoreographed Life, I used more external services. Readers who discover me tend to devour everything I have written, so I really owe it to them to get it right.

Q: Please say something about the inspiration for The Unknown Woman.
An Unknown Woman is very personal to me. In 2013, I took the decision to cut back on paid work, which meant selling the car and ridding myself of a lot of material baggage. The book is in part an exploration of how our material possessions inform our identities. It begins with a JD Red compressedcouple standing in the road outside their house watching it burn to the ground. The house is very recognisably my house. As I used to work in insurance claims, I thought I knew a lot about loss. Then in February 2014, life reflected art/fiction when my sister lost her house and everything in it to the winter floods. I didn’t have to look too far from home for my research.

In the book, I ask the question, ‘If we are who we own, who are we when we have nothing?’ Parker J. Palmer described identity as ‘an ever-evolving core within which our genetics, culture, loved ones, those we cared for, people who have harmed us and people we have harmed, the deeds done (good and ill) to self and others, experiences lived, and choices made come together to form who we are at this moment.’ So, in a way, it is quite a reflective novel in which Anita has to revisit her past before she can move forwards. But when she goes home in search of comfort, she not only encounters one of those people who has caused her harm in the past, but stumbles upon the secret that her mother has kept hidden.

There were several sources of inspiration, but one of them was my elderly neighbour who told me his story and said, ‘I’d like you to write about it’. His wife had very much wanted a child, but when their daughter was born, his wife was unable to bond with her. This wasn’t post natal depression, which is relatively common, but an active dislike which worsened over the years. They never acknowledged it, never spoke about it, but it was always there: the unspoken truth. My neighbour spent his married life trying to compensate, being both mother and father to their daughter. When I put pen to paper, I thought that I was putting one family under the microscope, but several of my beta readers responded with details of very similar experiences, either relating to their relationships with their children or their mothers. They were glad that it had been written about. We hold the mother/daughter relationship in such high esteem that it seems particularly difficult to accept that it’s not always easy or natural. In fact, in many cases it seems to be the very opposite.

Q: Please say something about your process for writing a novel, e.g. to plan or not; getting feedback; research; editing/proofreading.

  • Research (although I tend to read around my topic during the whole writing process).
  • Get the words down on paper. There are many ways to do this. I rather like George R R Martin’s analysis: ‘I’ve always said there are two kinds of writers. There are architects and gardeners. Architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail, they design the entire house, where the pipes are running and how many rooms there are going to be, how high the roof will be. But the gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up.’ Of the two, I am the gardener, but I am also a layer-er.
  • Edit the hell out of your words. This will take at least as long as writing the first draft. It may well take longer. Sometime the line on which the whole plot pivots will only jump out at me on the 50th read-through. Because I am a layer-er, I often add to the word count before I start whittling it down. I aim for less than 100,000 words, but more than that, I aim to delete every single word that is not absolutely necessary.
  • Structural review.
  • Work through issues one by one, weaving them through the entire novel. Each change will have a knock-on effect.
  • Send out to beta readers.
  • Work through beta reader issues one by one.
  • Copy edit.
  • Proofread. (Do give your proofreader your house style sheet, for goodness sake. Don’t expect him/her to know which version of spellings you want.)
  • Formatting.
  • Blurb.
  • Cover design.
  • Proof copy.
  • Final read of book in all formats.
  • Publish!

Q: Five tips for someone writing a novel, e.g, on characterisation; plotting; descriptive passages.

  • Plenty of people will be willing to charge you large sums of money to tell you how to write your novel. What they will actually tell you is how they wrote their novel, or what they read in another book about how to write a novel. Nothing has ever given me writers’ block, except starting a Creative Writing MA. The only way to learn how to write a novel is by writing a novel. If the book is good enough, it doesn’t really matter how many so-called rules you break along the way. All of my favourite authors are rule breakers. (For more on this, if you don’t mind your language uncensored, or if you find it downright empowering, here is Chuck Wendig on the subject of why other people’s process may not be right for you:
  • That said, do read Stephen King’s On Writing. You can trust him. Apparently he’s quite good.
  • When you get stuck, take your ideas for long walks. (But take a notebook. By the time you get home, every single perfect thought you had will have evaporated.)
  • What are you waiting for?

Q: You’re out and proud about being an indie. What are the pros & cons for you of being an indie?
Provided that you’re realistic about your budget, there are very few drawbacks. I am able to write the books I want to write without fear of censorship. My work isn’t pigeon-holed into the category of ‘women’s fiction’ as it was for Half-truths and White Lies. In fact, I can choose to market myself as a brand if I wish. I can present my novels in the way I want to present them, without having a title change imposed on me, or what I consider to be a misleading, salacious or otherwise inappropriate cover design forced on me. The main drawback is that bookshops, who work on very narrow profit margins, are rarely able to offer terms that make it practical for me to push to get my books stocked more widely. I have managed to halve my production costs by commissioning larger print runs in the hope of tackling this in 2016.

Q: What characteristics/skills are needed to be an indie author?
Look at everything that a writer does. Look at everything that an agent does. Look at everything that a publisher does. Whichever of those skills you don’t have, you will either need to acquire or outsource. It’s as simple as that. There are no shortcuts.

NB: That may sound daunting, but I belong to an organisation called The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). Every time I have a question I don’t know the answer to, I can post in in the FB forum and there is bound to be someone who has dealt with that issue before.

Q: What motivates you?
Reader feedback and reviews. When I can see that someone has discovered one of my books and comes back for more.

Q: The Unknown Woman is better than some traditionally published novels I have read. With that in mind, what is your view of the traditional publishing business?
Firstly, thank you for saying so. With each novel, I feel I owe a greater responsibility to be readers to make it the very best it can be. The view that the grass is greener is no longer true for the majority of mid-listers. Being under contract doesn’t guarantee sales, a higher income or marketing support. In fact, book sales are far lower than most people imagine. Readers tend to only hear about bestsellers, which distort the figures. The Telegraph published an article exploring ‘Why Great Novels Don’t Get Noticed.’ In this case, the novel had been written by Samantha Harvey, whose debut had been longlisted for the Man Booker, shortlisted for both the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Guardian First Book Award, and had won the Betty Trask Award. Her third novel Dear Thief had scores of glowing reviews following its September release, yet, it had only sold 1,000 copies.

Joanne Harris is among the authors who went to the House of Commons in the summer of 2015 to debate the fact that authors’ incomes have decreased by 29% since 2005. (The typical UK author is now said to earn £11,000 compared with a living wage of £16,000.) Although publishers under traditional contracts receive an advance, and have not had to incur productions costs, the percentage that they keep from sales of their books and e-books is normally 25%, while self-published authors typically receive 70%. Unlike paperbacks, e-books don’t have a shelf-life, which means that long-term earnings can be higher for the lucky self-published authors who break through. And money isn’t the only issue. At the present time, reversion clauses in traditional contracts are extremely limited. When publishers stops producing or promoting a book, the author can ask to buy the rights back, but the process is difficult and costly.

The Society of Authors chief executive, Nicola Solomon, has gone on record and said that traditional publisher’s terms are no longer fair or sustainable, and has mounted a campaign for fair contract terms. In the meanwhile, she recommends that each author considers if they would be better off self-publishing. This week (the first of January 2016) has seen a huge amount of press coverage as the campaign gathers pace. This is largely due to the issue of an open letter by the Authors’ Guild (the society representing US authors) to The Association of American Publishers. The Bookseller called it the loudest call yet for publishing contract reform. Authors earnings is both serious and global.

Let me stress that it is in no one’s interest for traditional publishing to fail. The danger is that there is a growing number of authors who think that the traditional publishing model is fast becoming obsolete. Literary agent Andrew Lownie’s latest prediction is that, by the year 2020, only ten percent of books will be traditionally published. And 2020 is not so very far away.

Q. Where can the readeer find out more about you and your writing?An Unknown Woman final reduced (2)
To connect, visit her website Each book has its own page, with a free chapter to download, book club questions and buying options. Sign up for her newsletter at to receive a free download of the novel, I Stopped Time.

Like her on Facebook:

Follow her on Twitter: @janedavisauthor

Check out the themes of her novel on Pinterest:

Author Interviews

Today I am ecstatic to be featured on the blog of Jane Davis:

Please check it out and also Jane’s website.

I will be featuring Jane on this blog next week.