FAQs

These are some of the questions I get asked the most. If your question isn’t amongst them, please feel free to get in touch.

 

Q: If you can’t see, how do you write?

A: I use a standard laptop and Microsoft Word. I touch-type and use a program called a screen reader. The screen reader I use is called Jaws. Jaws literally talks to me. Telling me what I am typing and what’s on the screen.

I don’t use a mouse, instead I use the cursor keys in combination with keyboard shortcuts in order to navigate windows, e-mail and the internet etc.

 

Q: How do you read?

A: I read in lots of ways! I do read Braille and use the RNIB’s Braille library; I also listen to Talking Books, and read e-books on the computer or on the Kindel. The Internet is making far more books available than ever before; still only a tiny percentage of the books published each year ever make it into Braille or Talking Book.

 

Q: Who is your favourite writer?

A: I like T.S. Eliot, Thomas Malory, Wilbur Smith, Pattrick O’Brien, Stephen King and Bernard Cornwall. My favourite book is Alan Paton’s Cry The Beloved Country.

 

Q: When did you start writing?

A: I started telling stories from an early age. I had to take a minibus into London, which is where I went to “special school”. As I was the first one to be picked up, and the last one to be dropped off, I had ample opportunity to regail the driver and escort with my tales!

I first started writing stories a bit later on, mostly sci-fi or fantasy, as well as poems. My first story of any length was a piece of sci-fi called “A Time To Die”, A rather dire, dark adventure set sometime in the future, which I wrote at about the age of twelve.

I wrote for the school magazine and helped edit it, but I was never much good at non-fiction. So, I continued to write fiction, getting my first poem published around ten years ago.

 

Q: Do you have any other books published?

A: Well, I had a book published about six years ago, but since writing Stalking The Shadows, I have rewritten part of my original book and will publish it under a new title and new publisher sometime next year.

 

Q: Have you any other books planned?

A: Yes! The sequel to Stalking The Shadows has already been written. I have also started work on a third novel and have a book of short stories and a collection of poems in the pipeline.

 

Q: How do you get your ideas?

A: My next book, Balor Rising was inspired by a line from a Welsh legend. It lodged in my mind and grew into a novel. Other ideas come from feelings – wanting to communicate them, wanting somebody to share them through words. I am inspired through fragments of images, dreams, vague shadows of ideas. I sometimes just sit and type and a story is born. The trick is knowing if the spec of an idea, thought, feeling, should be coaxed into a poem, short story or novel.

 

Q: Can you give me any advice on writing?

A: Just enjoy it! Express yourself, read a lot, live a lot, experience a lot. Don’t be discouraged by the thoughts of others, just create for the beauty of the creating. If you want to get published, consider the genre, make sure your book has some mass appeal, and stick to what excites you, what you personally would read; stay genuine to yourself, if you don’t really connect with what you are writing, you can be sure the reader won’t.

If you want to submit your work to publishers, be prepared for rejection – don’t worry, it’s just part of the experience. Never give up, and, if you want to keep your creative control, go with a smaller publishing house, this way, you will not have to compromise your artistic integrity quite so much.

 

Q: How long did it take you to write Stalking The Shadows?

A: Around five years. It took a fair amount of research, and some sections were harder to write than others. That said, some sections flowed and basically wrote themselves. There comes a point when the characters almost gain their own personalities, wills and lives. At that point my input is merely to communicate their story, rather than actively make it up.

 

Q: Who is your favourite character from “Stalking The Shadows”?

A: That’s really hard! I have a soft spot for all of them because they have lived with me for so long. I favour relationships over characters. OF course, you must like the character to feel the relationship, but the emotion is all important. We judge characters by the way they interact with others – how they treat their mates and deal with their enemies and their problems.

With this in mind, I rather like Troka. He has a fierce loyalty to his friends, and an equally fierce hatred for his enemies. He’s big, rugged, strong, a good warrior. He is treated badly and bounces back – he is fairly well rounded and manages to preserve a sense of self. He speaks plainly and seems to be a proper bloke.

 

…And these are some of the less frequently asked questions!…

 

Q: What was your favourite book when you were a kid?

A: I used to love the Willard Price adventure books. Totally dated nowadays, but fun! I also loved Tolkien and Garner, and also those wonderful books that let you choose what happens next. I also read a lot of non-fiction as well.

 

Q: What’s your favourite place?

A: I love the sea, especially at a certain time of day. So I would have to say, looking out over Croyd bay as the sun just begins to dip into the sea. There’s a magic, a blaze of colours as the sun kisses the ocean gold, bronze and copper. And for a moment everything is still and perfect.

 

Q: What’s your favourite animal?

A: Well, I have a certain affinity with the bear, mammoth, wolf and stag.

 

Q: Do you think you’ll write a book with a blind protagonist?

A: No. That is to say I won’t consciously plan to write one. If, during the writing, it seems right to have a blind character, if one appears by natural process of development, then fair enough. But I certainly won’t go out to write a blind protagonist.

 

Q: Do you empathise with some of your characters more than others?

A: Not really. That said, Drushuk from “Stalking The Shadows” is interesting, as he doesn’t quite fit in. He has ability and skill that he always keeps secret. I don’t know why, but that resonates with me.

 

Q: Did you write Stalking in chronological order, or did some parts come before others?

A: I wrote Stalking in a very linear way. However, some sections that contained the Gods I wrote in chunks, rather than constantly returning to the “mortal” plain.

 

Q: What’s your favourite poem?

A: Definitely “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot.

 

Q: Do you think your blindness affects your writing?

A: Strangely, when I started to write “Stalking The Shadows” I could see the screen. By the time I finished it, I couldn’t – I had to totally adapt the way I worked. It makes little difference to the process, in fact I think it enhances imagination. But, it does make proof reading and editing much harder and long-winded.

 

Q: what’s your favourite season?

A: Winter. Cold, crisp, expectant. The light has a special quality and there’s nothing like the smell of frost and smoke.

 

Q: What’s your favourite time of day?

A: Night. I try to write in the morning, train in the afternoon, and do bits and pieces at night. I am, as they say, a night owl.

 

Q: What’s your favourite day of the week?

A: In common with most people, it’ll have to be Friday!

 

Q: What is your favourite film?

A: That’s too hard! I love films… The usual, BraveHeart, Last of The Mohicans, Harvey, Eyes Wide Shut, American Beauty, Gladiator, Romance, Shakespeare In Love, On Golden Pond, Moulin Rouge, The Upside Of Anger, Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings, ShadowLands.

 

Q: What’s your favourite TV show?

A: To be honest I don’t watch much telly – except for the odd documentary. I confess to being a big Star Trek fan though!And I have the X-Files on DVD.

 

Q: What music do you listen to?

A: I like lots of different music. From Pop to Classical to Soul, Blues to Big Band and Jazz. I love Nat King Cole, Miles Davis, Terry Collier, Kurt Elling, Counting Crows, Eminem, Snow Patrol, REM, Debussy, Chopin, Listz,Vivaldi, Mozart, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Jay-Z…

 

Q: What’s your favourite sandwich?

A: Hot roast pork.

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