Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I was born in the middle bit of England longer ago than I’d care to admit. I studied Geography at University of Wales, Aberystwyth, writing my dissertation on the Role of Landscape and Culture in Fantasy Novels. I then moved onto a Master’s degree in Literary Studies and Creative Writing at University of Central England, where I wrote the dissertation that inspired the creation of Fodder, so I hope you’ll feel I put my education to good use. I spend occasional weekends on historic battlefields in my capacity as a rather clumsy late medieval re-enactor. I (mis)spent a part of my youth writing stories based around other people’s literary and media creations. I like to read and watch fantasy, history and science fiction – frankly anything that gets me away from the real world, which is far too much trouble. Occasionally I even get around to writing stuff. In terms of how many full books I’ve written – I’m rather a slow burner as a writer. I’ve completed four novels, three of which are the Plot Bandits trilogy that starts with The Disposable and one of which will probably never see the light of day.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My new novel is called The Disposable and it came from my own experiences as a reader and a writer. As a writer, I’m sure every other writer out there has come across a character who simply refuses to conform to their plans for them; a minor bit-part who scene-steals so violently that they end up a major character, a lead who refuses to act as the plot demands they should because they don’t agree with it or two characters that spark up a knockout chemistry that you’d had no intention of pairing up. Characters have a mind of their own and the idea of seeing those minds at work and having a group of characters stage an overt takeover of a story was very appealing. And as a reader, my problem is that I’m a terrible cynic – well, not that’s not entirely accurate as I’m actually a very good cynic, but you know what I mean – in that while I love the fantasy genre, I’m also very aware of its flaws and clichés. It was when I realised the fun I could have by playing off these fundamentals of fantasy with a group of world-weary characters who viewed them as the facts of life that it all came together.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Are there any usual writing habits? Everyone has their own ways and means of writing, their own ideas and techniques for what suits them. I’m a strong believer that people shouldn’t try and follow other people’s rules of writing – they should find what works for them and go with that.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I’m a big fan of the late, great Terry Pratchett. I found his ability to blend humour with great characters and a proper plot inspiring. I also greatly admired his ability to get across a serious message or issue as an integral part of his work in a way that never patronised or lectured his reader. He simply laid it out and let the reader draw their own conclusions.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently tidying up the latter two books in the Plot Bandits trilogy. I have started writing a new novel but it is in the very early stages and progressing very slowly. In general terms, it’s an exploration of the idea of the perils of meeting your hero.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I’m not the world’s most talented self-promoter so I’m probably not the best person to ask! I’ve done my utmost to wave my arms around in various corners of the internet so far. If I find a really good way or place, I’ll let you know…
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Listen to your characters. If you have to push a character into doing something not in their nature for the purposes of forcing a plot, then it probably isn’t the right thing to do. Characters should stay in character or the readers will not only not believe in them, by extension they won’t believe in the story. And they’ll get cross with you as well.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
There is no such thing as normal. Everyone is what they are and should be allowed to be whatever they want to be. Unless they want to be an axe murderer…
What are you reading now?
I’m currently making my way through Terry Brooks’s Shannara prequel novels. I’ve only just started though so it’s a bit early to offer an opinion!
What’s next for you as a writer?
Hopefully, if The Disposable sells enough copies, the second and third parts of my Plot Bandits trilogy will be coming out at some point in the future. Beyond that, who knows. I’ll see where life takes me.
What is your favorite book of all time?
That’s a tough one. I tend to fall in love with a series more than an individual book, such as Harry Potter, the Shannara and Landover novels of Terry Brooks, the Belgariad and the Mallorean of David Eddings and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. In terms of an individual, standalone book, I think I would have to give that to Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett which is a masterpiece of character and satire.