Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Hi, I am an author of 7 novels at time of writing with many more on the way writing across the horror / paranormal / action adventure genres in various degrees, exploring my love of mythology and the human spirit under pressure. Writing part-time, I live in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland with its sometimes brutal weather patterns and have used the surrounding moorland and lochs as settings for a number of my novels.
Currently I write about a fictional UK government department, SETAA (The Supernatural and Elder Threat Assessment Agency) using my mainstays of Professor Austerley and Mr Kirkgordon but have also expanded into separate series as I have loved some of the characters met on the way. It’s full of action and weirdness but without the gore associated with many series that delve into the strange.
I am also working on A Choose Your Adventure series for Teens as well as a Hebridean noir.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
“Ship of Doom” is an Austerley & Kirkgordon adventure and the fourth novel in the series. In previous novels the pair have initially globetrotted (Crescendo!) before finding evil at an English seaside resort (The Darkness at Dillingham). Their third adventure took them into another world (Dagon’s Revenge) and so for the fourth novel I wanted a setting away from all I had written before and so I placed them on a cruise ship, trapped with only ocean for company and a cornucopia of zombies, vampires and a little Haitian voodoo.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I swear my writing is fuelled by coffee! As a rule I will get up early (about 6am) to get an hour to an hour and a half’s worth of writing before the family get up. I have a wife and four kids so there’s quite a demand on time. Beyond this I work as a Coastguard and have other writing work to do, so I grab a chance to write when I can. However the early morning stint usually gives me a 2,000 word count for the day allowing me to write a first draft for a novel in about a month.
Although I edit on a PC, I write my stories on a tablet with a small keyboard that doubles as a protective cover. This allows me to write wherever I want and I will often write in coffee shops, or on picnic benches if the weather allows. I did write about three chapters in the back of the car once when the rain came down and I was stuck without a coffee shop, it being a Sunday on the isle of Lewis where commerce generally closes for the Sabbath.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Without a shadow of a doubt, my biggest influence is Terry Pratchett. I loved his humorous style, the vitality of his characters and his exploration of the human spirit. That being said I didn’t always agree with his observations but his prose was a joy to read.
As a child I was always reading mythology from wherever I could and these tales are what excited me to things beyond the everyday normal. The crazy monsters and gods make for thrilling reading. Couple this with a later love of HP Lovecraft, the master of horror and the sucker punch, and you can begin to see where I get my writing dark side from. Add on a love of the “Indiana Jones” style adventure and you’re beginning to understand my works.
What are you working on now?
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Ultimately word of mouth is the best way to promote but when you start off with minimal presence it is useful to give your first book in a series away for free, usually using a mailing contact that then lets you stay in contact with your new reader. This necessitates writing in series however, which may not suit everyone.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Make sure you write every day. Even if it’s only a short burst but preferably at least an hour. This will develop your writing muscle until you can literally sit down and say time to write and it almost happens without thinking.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
I think it was Terry Pratchett who said to read every genre except your own. This stops you becoming a cliché of your genre and opens you up to taking your stories along different lines and to tell them from strange points of view. I think it shone through in Pratchett’s ability to write detective, adventure and coming of age stories in one overall world.
What are you reading now?
I am reading “A History of Scotland” by Neil Oliver following the advice quoted above. I find history books tell real life tales to emulate and develop but they also help you understand how different sides view different events and ultimately help you understand people. There is nothing so strange as what we do to each other on this planet.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’m currently trying to develop a Choose your own adventure series for teenagers as well as continuing my current fantasy / horror adventure series. However in a brief interlude I am finishing off a Hebridean noir to develop my range of writing and see if a commendation in a crime short story contest can extend to a full novel.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
For sheer entertainment, I would bring Terry Pratchett’s Feet of Clay, his masterpiece about Vimes of the City Watch and his struggles with differing fractions during a murder case. Pratchett always made me laugh while bringing out some keen observations.
This is a strange one but I loved William Hague’s biography of William Wilberforce and his dedication to fighting the Slave trade and attempting to restore manners to England. It’s a true joy to read as he details the political shenanigans of the time and the difficulties of exposing the damage done to black slaves.
I would also take along H P Lovecraft’s collection found in Necronomicon. Lovecraft inspires a lot of my writing and I find his ideas and style of delivery astounding. My favourites are At the Mountains of Madness, The Shadow Over Innsmouth and Pickford’s Model.