Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl . I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of months.
So far I’ve
interrogated interviewed Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh , Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr and Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci. and Wendy Steele: http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me today: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing the rest of the authors and I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance. There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of http://showboat.tv/ who, as usual, will be filming the event.
Today I’m with Graham Watkins, a delightful chap to talk to. I had to chuckle at his answer to “What one thing did you wish you’d known before you started writing?” Look out for it!
How and when did you first become published?
My first book was a business help book called ‘Exit Strategy’ based on my experiences of selling a family business to a PLC.
I still get letters and emails from business owners saying how useful they found it.
Did you have any surprises or hiccups along the way during the book writing and/or publishing process?
My mistake and a very good lesson for me was to deal with the wrong publisher, one who made no effort to promote my book. Although, since then, I have published another six books through traditional publishers I now prefer to go the indie route and publish my own work. Unless it’s a blockbuster, the returns for the author are better as an indie and I keep control of my work.
What was the hardest part of writing for you?
The hardest part of writing for me is returning to a manuscript to edit and refine it into a more polished product. I know it’s a mistake but I always want to rush to the finish line and see the book in print. They say, ‘Never go into business with an inventor because an inventor will never admit his device is ready to show the world.’ I’m the opposite. I like the inventing bit, that is to say creating the story, but after that I lose interest.
What one thing did you wish you’d known before you started writing?
That’s an easy question to answer. How to write properly. I didn’t. My grammar and spelling were awful. Not only that but my style was stilted and to make matter worse I was conceited enough to think I was good. I wasn’t and it’s been a long road to improve. Truth is. . . I’m still learning and have a considerable way to go. The lesson, I suppose, is that it doesn’t matter as long as you are willing to learn as you go and stick at it.
Do you outline and plan your stories before you write them or did these stories develop on their own.
Yes I do. In fact, in my view it’s essential. Take for example my historical novel ‘The Iron Masters.’
Set over a turbulent fifty year period during the Napoleonic Wars, the plot has to be historically correct. You can’t do that in your head. I started with a two page synopsis followed by main character profiles. From there I fleshed out the story using an excel spreadsheet split into yearly columns. Beneath each year I added the characters ages to keep track of how old they were and below the ages each column detailed key points in the story together with the dates of real events together with links to external resources. It was a reference work that grew like Topsy as the story was written and I could not have kept control or remembered where I was without it.
What’s your favourite book? Why?
There are two that stand out. by one of my favourite, David Howard. His treatment of the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo are superb. Having said that, my tastes are eclectic. I belong to a book club that meets once a month and find myself introduced to a wide range of authors. I am continuously surprised and entertained by unexpected gems.
What’s your favourite book you’ve written? Why?
I suppose my favourite is ‘A White Man’s War’ because of the story; the plight of the native Africans during the siege of Mafeking.
The idea came to me during a tour of Boer and Zulu War battlefields. My muse for the plot was a picture of a terrified black youth, stood in front of white army officers who had just sentenced him to death for stealing a goat. Hardly surprising when his family was starving to death because of the seige. At the same time the boy scouts movement was being invented. The hero, for the British of course, was Colonel Baden-Powell, commanding officer of Mafeking but my novel is written from the African perspective. It isn’t always nice but I’m rather proud of it.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently writing ‘The Sicilian Defence’. It’s a story of two centuries. Part in the 19th Century during which a Sicilian noble family loses and regains its fortune through deceit and murder and the second part in the present day when an American heiress marries into the same family unaware she is in mortal danger. The idea came to me during a holiday to Sicily when we visited a royal palazzo in Palermo.
One Final question. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write about what you enjoy would be my personal advice to any aspiring writer. If you do, writing is never a chore.
Links to find Graham:
The Iron Masters; Amazon.co.uk: http://getbook.at/iron_masters
A White Man’s WarAmazon.co.uk: http://viewbook.at/AWMW
Exit Strategy: Amazon.co.uk: http://viewbook.at/ExitStrategy