Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am actually an editor, not an author, although I write a little. Much of my working life was spent as an editor in an academic institution, where I assisted in publishing several books in the humanities field.
My first effort in actually publishing a book by myself came after I launched a website called The Writer’s Drawer, www.thewritersdrawer.net. My original intention was to attract, literally, drawer writers, those who are shy about displaying their work and/or have faced numerous publisher rejections. Since I offer free editing support for submissions, the scope has expanded to include non-native English speakers from many countries, who appreciate my editing help.
I therefore cannot say I have “written” any books, but the anthology A Certain Kind of Freedom: Stories and Poems from The Writer’s Drawer is very much “my” book.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
A Certain Kind of Freedom: Stories and Poems from The Writer’s Drawer (November 2013) is the only book I have published myself (i.e., out of a work context). It was inspired by some of the submissions to The Writer’s Drawer, which I thought deserved wider exposure. I therefore set to work, compiling and editing the anthology, which was not a simple task. I decided to divide the book into three sections, short fiction, stories from life, and poetry. The overriding theme, of course, is their origin in the website. The stories reflect not only literary merit but the multicultural nature of the website. There is a story, essay or poem there to suit all tastes and all moods!
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Nothing particularly unusual, other than I have to feel warm and cozy, even if it’s the middle of summer, and have a glass of water beside me!
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I am a sucker for historical fiction, particularly novels set in Asia. I am therefore a great fan of Amitav Ghosh (Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke) and good period romance (think Jane Austen).
What are you working on now?
I am continually thinking of ways to improve The Writers Drawer and looking for new writers to submit some of their creative work. I am also thinking ahead to publishing a new anthology at the end of 2014, so that we will have, in effect, The Writer’s Drawer Book Series. However, as I paid for publishing the first anthology myself, I would like to find a sponsor or donors for the next one.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I am new to self-publishing so I’m very much in the trial and error stage. Obviously, I have used the mailing list of The Writer’s Drawer, as well as the website itself. I also use various social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc. Reviews and guest interviews are also on my lift. However, I am also trying to avoid further expenses.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
If you want it, just do it
What are you reading now?
I am reading a quaint contemporary English novel called The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce. It is about an elderly man who decides, on the spur of the moment, to walk from the south of England to the north in the hope that a former lady colleague of his, who is extremely ill, will remain alive until he arrives. The book is all about his journey, the people he meets, and his contemplations about his life and his failures.
What’s next for you as a writer?
The next Writer’s Drawer anthology.
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?
Probably Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, one of the few books I could read numerous times; I would also like to read the sequel to Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy, and the third book in Ghosh’s Ibis Trilogy, if they are ever published.