Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I feel I have been gifted with an amazing life. I was a police officer with Thames Valley Police for twenty five years, serving eight years with a tactical firearms unit. I served with the CID, was promoted to Inspector, and worked as a hostage negotiator. My final two years were seconded to Oxfordshire County Council Youth Service to run Prince’s Trust Volunteer programs. Those last two years sparked a change of career, and I retrained as an International Mountain Leader, and went on to lead groups across the globe, some youth development programs and expeditions on conservation.
In 2011, I won the Bronze in the Wanderlust Magazine World Guide Awards, and appeared on Radio 4 with John McCathy, which was an extremely proud moment.
My work led to some writing for outdoor magazines, but Stonechild is my first novel.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The book is called Stonechild, and involves the statues of London coming to life with a message on conservation and how to save the planet … or is that really their message? The idea popped into my head — or maybe communicated by a statue — during a corporate training day in London. My clients were struggling with a clue involving the Royal Tank Regiment Memorial statue, and I had an image of the statues coming to life to help my clients solve the clue. At the time, I was also doing a lot of conservation work in Borneo, an enchanting island that is sadly being deforested. As the idea for the story grew, I saw a way of getting my views across on what we should be doing with this wonderful planet, and to encourage people to question other things such as racism and equality.
The book was written in 2011 and picked up by two literary agents, one of whom, Suzy Jenvey, asked me to do some additional work, but then, later rejected it. The book had taken two years to research and write and I needed to get back to earning money, so it sat on my computer doing nothing.
Then along case the corona virus confinement followed by a motorbike accident where I fractured my leg, and that gave me the time to do a complete rewrite. I was also being fuelled by world events that seemed to be mirroring events in my book, it has been uncanny.
I still take enormous pleasure from my story and even now, there are scenes that make me smile. I feel it is a book with a purpose, and I am hoping that I can get its messages out there.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Not unusual, I am sure there are many writers who write during the night or the very early hours. I do have moments where something pops into my head, and I have to get onto the computer to write it down, and sometimes, one thing runs into another. I haven’t experienced writer’s block, I write when it is there and otherwise I go and do something else.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Being a meticulous person, I have a need for stories to be accurate, and I start to lose faith when scenes are described in a way that are unlikely or impossible. So, some books that have influenced me are books that I haven’t enjoyed or even haven’t finished. These books have helped me to do it differently, and with the encouragement that if their book is out there, then mine can be too.
What are you working on now?
The sequel to Stonechild.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I don’t know yet, and like everyone else, I suspect, it’s a bit hit and miss. I’ve tapped into the usual Facebook, Twitter etc, and sent off letters to book bloggers and countless other sites offering to promote the book. It is very much early days, I am hoping the reviews on Amazon will grow in number.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
If you are not getting excited by your own writing, and I find that sometimes I just can’t type quick enough, then something may be amiss. Perhaps, take a moment to see where you are going with it and revaluate the plot, characters and dialogue. And, as I said earlier, it has to be accurate or feasible — he says, having written about statues coming to life — but even with that, I gave a feasible explanation as to how it could happen.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
I am a big believer in synchronicity, right place – right time, meeting people for a reason etc., Not a destiny, we have many paths, but by being open and receptive, we can make good choices.
What are you reading now?
I am currently reading, A Dangerous Fiction by Barbara Rogan, which is excellent, and written in the first person, something I would like to try. Barbara is a writer, editor and former literary agent, and she helped me some years ago in editing and critiquing Stonechild.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Stonechild ends in a conversation between the Prime Minster and the President of the United States at four in the morning that suggests a sequel that may be played out in America. I am currently researching the history of America and have a plot beginning to come together for the second book.
I have a writer friend here in France that has urged me many times to draw on my life experiences, primarily those of being a policeman and a mountain guide, and an idea is coming together for a character and his adventures across the continents.
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?
I am certain that we all find words fascinating and intriguing, so, a good dictionary. I write fiction but I love reading fact, my second book would be an encyclopaedia. My work as a guide has involved teaching survival skills, and I feel confident there, but if it was known that I was going to be abandoned, then a book on the local flora and fauna, especially what I could eat. Finally, as all of those are practical books, and perhaps a little dour, a long story such as Lord of the Rings for a bit of escapism.
Author Websites and Profiles
Kevin Albin Amazon Profile