Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I was born in Surrey, UK in 1952, and grew up in Melbourne, Australia. I have qualifications in economics, management/marketing and writing/editing. I worked as a public servant (federal and state) for 25 years and in the real world for 12.5 years.
I was one of Queensland premier Campbell Newman’s 14,000 victims when he decided to decimate the state’s public service in 2014. Ironically, a few weeks later, I was called back to edit the new government’s 1000 page Commission of Audit report into the state’s finances and economy.
I have written a historical novel, A Weaver’s Web. After unsuccessfully targeting many literary agents, including one who compared my manuscript to John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”, I decided to publish it as an ebook.
I also have a non-fiction book (print only), “Through the Eyes of Thomas Pamphlett: Convict and Castaway”, which I plan to publish as an ebook later in 2014. I am writing a book on the history of daylight saving time and have some notes towards a novel set 80 years into the future.
I am a member of writing sites Helium (since 2008) and Bubblews (since 2013) and have several hundred articles on each site, including a few dozen excerpts from A Weaver’s Web. Links to these excerpts can be found on my own blog or on my Goodreads blog.
Other hobbies include family history and tenpin bowling.
My wife and I live in Brisbane, Australia.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is a 130,000 word historical novel “A Weaver’s Web”. My inspiration for writing it was a postgraduate creative writing course I topped from 30 students in the mid 1990s.
The inspiration also came from my earlier non-fiction book about an Australian convict, “Through the Eyes of Thomas Pamphlett: Convict and Castaway”. Pamphlett was a brickmaker who grew up in early industrial Manchester in the early 19th century, the same time and place as the setting for “A Weaver’s Web”.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Traditionally, writers were always told to write their work longhand because they could allegedly be more creative that way rather than typing it from scratch. Typing it up came after all the scribbling and rough drafting.
I typed practically my whole novel, “A Weaver’s Web”, straight into the word processor. That didn’t mean I just typed away and that was basically the final copy. I went back and forth writing, rewriting and editing many times before I had the final product. But perhaps this way is now more common than years gone by.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Oddly enough, I don’t read a great deal of fiction, although the novel writing textbooks tell you the more you read the better. I mainly read non-fiction, including history, news, politics, economics, science, and general interest stuff.
Even so, I have read some fiction over the years and didn’t have much trouble coming up with 20 books to add to my Goodreads profile, mainly historical fiction. Two that didn’t come up in my list (in Goodreads suggestions as I was typing) and that I was particularly influenced by are “Rich Man Poor Man” by Irwin Shaw and “Nineteen Eighty-Four” by George Orwell. I have read both twice.
What are you working on now?
I’m doing some family history which I find fascinating but I doubt I will publish a book of any sort.
I am going through my print only non-fiction book, “Through the Eyes of Thomas Pamphlett: Convict and Castaway”, with the view to publishing it as an ebook later this year.
I am also writing a book on daylight saving time. It is hard to find an issue that has generated more controversy in various countries around the world than daylight saving time.
I have some notes towards a novel set 80 years into the future.
Another possible project is to convert my novel, “A Weaver’s Web”, into a script and target agents and publishers of film and television scripts. A number of people who have commented on the book, including pre-ebook comments in the book’s Preface, have said it would make a great film or TV series.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I think the best method is for the author and their book to try and become well known or better known. There is probably no single website, but it might be a case of the more you join, the better.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Treat writing as a hobby and any dollars you make from it as a bonus.
Edit and polish your novel until it is the best you can possibly make it.
Target literary agents first. If you exhaust your list of relevant ones, try some publishers. If that doesn’t work, try the ebook path. Just because you have an excellent novel that friends, friends of friends, etc love, don’t think that agents will take it on. I got a local printer to print off a couple of boxes of “A Weaver’s Web” in book form and have some excellent comments from various people (see Preface to ebook version). I’m not game to count the number of agents I sent the manuscript to over a period of years (maybe 150). One agent came very close to taking it and another compared it to John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”, which is in several top 10 lists of novels of the 20th century but still couldn’t take it.
Then, it you publish your excellent book as an ebook, don’t expect the world to be drawn instantly to it. Typically, you might find your sales to be next to nothing. Getting 5 or 10 great reviews won’t cut it either. You have to spread the word about you and your book over as much of the web as possible and become reasonably well known. Get some reviews on Amazon via friends or a site such as KindleBookReview as a base. Start a blog. Get into Goodreads. Join various other sites such as awesomegang.com.
You’ve got to like writing though and to do it for that reason rather than doing it to make a heap of money.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Probably to treat writing as a hobby. Then when you find out that your fantastic novel isn’t going to make a million, then you won’t be as disappointed.
What are you reading now?
I’m not currently reading anything in particular. I mainly read non-fiction, usually in the form of web articles. When I read fiction, it might not always be a whole novel but rather several pages of a number of novels to get an idea of the writing style etc.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’m going to publish my non-fiction book on an Australian convict, Through the Eyes of Thomas Pamphlett: convict and castaway”, as an ebook.
Meanwhile, I’m writing a book on the history of daylight saving time, and have some notes towards a novel set 80 years into the future.
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?
That’s a tricky one. Perhaps I’d take 3 or 4 Charles Dickens’ books that I haven’t read. Or I might take about three encyclopedias: one on history, one on economics and politics, and one on science.