Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I live in Scotland with my partner. I love T’ai Chi, baking and crochet, making jewellery, and singing. After spending several years getting all sorts of diplomas and Masters in Counselling and working as a counsellor and supervisor, I developed a lot of stress-related health issues and had to quit. Now I’m working on improving my health, and writing books as it’s fun and I’ve always wanted to be an author. I love books more than anything so to actually write them is incredible! I have only written one book so far, ‘Burn Out of a Fairy Godmother’, which is available on Amazon now, but am writing a sequel and have lots of ideas for other books, both in and out of the series.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My book is called ‘Burn Out of a Fairy Godmother’, and is inspired by my love of fantasy and my own experiences with burn out. I adore creating rich, colourful fantastical worlds for my characters to live in, and contrasting them with this world and its benefits and difficulties; then exploring how the characters survive or thrive in different contexts and environments. While there is some drama, there is a lot of humour too! The main character is a fairy godmother, who grants wishes to help people turn their lives around: she desperately wants to help all her clients, but stretches herself too thin, doesn’t eat, sleep or rest properly, and over time becomes more and more divorced from her self, and I explore the toll that takes and her efforts to make it better. I’ve learned a lot about burn out over the last few years, and there are a lot of factors to developing it, including work exhaustion, physical illnesses, stress, poor self-care, attitudes and beliefs about yourself and how you should interact with others. I actually developed ME-CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), which is a stress-related chronic health condition, so most of my time is spent managing that now. I think a lot of people expect far too much of themselves these days: I see friends and family over-working and feeling guilty about taking any time for themselves; I read about the insane working hours expected of people in business or corporate environments, where working constantly is always seen as good and taking holidays or even sick days is seen as selfish or lazy; it all leads to a dreadful culture of terrible self-care, and people pay the price in terms of health and personal relationships. I am working on recovering my health now, but wanted to use my experience in some creative way, and that led to the writing of this book.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I usually go for a walk before I start writing. If I just sit down at a blank page, it can be a bit intimidating, but if I go for a walk first, I often start thinking of ideas and fragments of dialogue and by the time I get home I can’t wait to get it all down.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
So many! I’ve always loved reading, and read two books a week on average. I love fantasy authors like Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt, Diana Wynne Jones, Jonathan L Howard, and crime with strong female leads like Laurie R King’s Mary Russell series or Kerry Greenwood.
What are you working on now?
Several things! The sequel to ‘Burn out…’, and a series of short stories about the fairy godmother’s early cases; but I have ideas for other books both in and out of the series too, which I jot down as they come up. I started writing a romance recently… we’ll see where it goes.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I’m still trying to find that out! As a new author it takes time to try different things and learn about advertising.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Don’t be afraid! It’s so easy to criticise yourself into paralysis, thinking negatively and being too scared to share your work with the world. It helps to join a writing group, so you can get used to sharing your writing with a smaller number of supportive people first. I think it’s really important to be authentic in your writing also – it doesn’t matter what genre you’re writing, sci-fi and fantasy may be set in unrealistic worlds or scenarios but they still contain people with thoughts and feelings, and if at least some of those thoughts and feelings are based on something you’ve really felt or experienced in some way I think readers will feel that and connect more with the story.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Be congruent, genuine, authentic. It’s the only way to live a life that means something, whatever you’re doing.
What are you reading now?
‘The Wicked King’ by Holly Black.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I have several goals for this year: learn more about advertising and book promotion, publish a paperback version of ‘Burn Out…’ and publish at least one, if not all, of my short stories.
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?
Ooh, such an impossible choice! I think I’d take big books so they’d last as long as possible. I love ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’ by Susanna Clarke; ‘The Amulet of Samarkand’ by Jonathan Stroud as I find his character Bartimaeus’s longevity and humour very comforting; ‘Inda’ by Sherwood Smith is amazing.
Author Websites and Profiles
Cole Todd Amazon Profile