50. Anything you’d like to say to your readers?
Firstly, THANK YOU! I’d like to say that for a variety of reasons.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. Thank you for listening to what I have to say. Thank you for purchasing my book. It means more than words can express.
Secondly, to those readers who’ve been attractes to the book because of its themes of identity and acceptance, I’d like to say this:
You are just fine the way you are. You don’t need to change. Others need to cast aside their blinkers and accept your true self.
It’ll be tough, but persevere. Just like Emmy, Charo, Zecha and Mantos, you have to keep going, even when it serms hopeless.
Keep going. You owe it to yourself.
49. What value do you see in reading/writing/storytelling?
I think the triad of those things is one of the most important aspects of preserving and furthering our humanity.
Storytelling is an ancient thing, but more than that, the practice of recording and disseminating stories is a vital way that we can understand our shared human experience.
It’s amazing how we can explore complex issues through the medium of storytelling. Writing allows us to understand ourselves better, and reading allows us to understand the experiences of others.
That’s why I think the story of ‘Rise of the Darkwitch’ is a story that needs to be told. I think it’s invaluable for young LGBTQA+, and indeed anyone experiencing difficulty with their identity, to work through the issues through the medium of fiction. It allows the reader to feel their way through something that might be personal in a non-invasive way.
Stories are golden. We need them.
48. What have you put most of your effort into regarding writing?
I think one of the things I’ve tried the hardest at is to make my writing more precise.
I’ve spent an awful lot of time learning how to edit my work at word and sentence level for brevity. I’ve tried to trim my descriptions, to reduce the amount of exposition I include, and to make my meanings more precise.
Another thing I’ve worked hard on is reducing barriers between the reader and the text. As far as possible, I’ve tried to remove phrases like “she felt” and “she saw.” Instead, I just describe what’s happening, not just convey it “through” a character’s eyes.
47. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot?
What a question! I’ve had to think hard about this one, but the answer is: a dog.
Not hugely exciting, I know. But let me explain.
Dogs are loyal creatures. They don’t hold grudges. They always forgive and try again. Sometimes, you have to work very hard with them to get where you need to be. And sometimes, with dogs, there’s a lot of shit. And that’s exactly what I think of when I think of my writing.
I’m loyal to my writing. I spend inordinate amounts of time thinking about it, plotting more, and tweaking it.
I forgive my writing, because often, it drives me insane, but I always go back to it. Sometimes, it takes a lot of hard graft to get it right.
Frequently, there is a lot of shit. There are shitty sentences, crappy paragraphs, derivative bullshit.
But it’s not always that bad. There are great times, just like the great times I have with my dog.
So yes. I’d choose a dog. Perfect for me!
46. What motivated you to become an indie author?
The day I decided to go out on my own as an indie (independent, for those wondering – sadly nothing to do with Indiana Jones) was the day I realised I wasn’t going to be successful.
Strange, huh? It certainly sounds it! However, that realisation truly was the moment I decided to go out on my own.
Trying to get a publishing contract is almost impossibly. I’m a very small fish in an extremely large pond. A pond that seems unendingly deep and exceptionally scary. Not only that, but I’m a very small fish waving an LGBT flag, which doesn’t exactly improve my attractiveness in the pond.
Extended metaphors aside, I’m a small-time writer writing for a niche market. It doesn’t make sense for me to try and get a big publishing contract.
What does make sense is to go independent – and make my market.
I’ll probably never be successful in monetary terms. But hopefully I’ll be successful in another sense: I’ll have made my own success.
44. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
I think one of the things that really changed how I thought about fiction was Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut.
When I first read the novel, I didn’t know what to make of it. I was confused, not sure what the hell was going on. But the more I read, the more I researched, the more I got it.
It made me realise that not all fiction needs to be straightforward. It taught me that it’s okay to do something different – not what Vonnegut did, but doing something that is outside the box.
It definitely made me think differently about fiction.
43. Have you ever felt disheartened in your writing career?
I chose this question today because I found out this morning that Rise of the Darkwitch didn’t get chosen by Kindle Scout. So it’s pretty relevant.
I used to tie myself up in knots over rejections. I took them really personally. It was like I was being rejected, not just a manuscript.
Thankfully, I don’t feel like that any longer. Maybe it’s because I’m older. Maybe it’s because I’ve succeeded in a lot of things other than writing. Now, I don’t feel like a rejection in my writing is a personal rejection. It’s just one of those things. Rather, the way I frame it in my head now is that my product wasn’t right at the moment. But it will be right for someone, some day.
So, while Rise of the Darkwitch might not have been what Kindle was looking for, I’m confident that when I self-publish, someone, somewhere, will enjoy the book. And that’s all that matters.
42. Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
It sounds bizarre, but yes! It happens more often than I’d like to admit.
I really love reading. It’s one of my most favourite ways to pass an afternoon, especially when it’s wet and miserable outside. Curled up in an armchair with a good book and a hot cup of coffee? That’s my idea of heaven.
Unfortunately, I can’t seem to turn off my editing brain when I’m reading any longer. I’m constantly thinking, ‘I’d do that this way’ or ‘I’d make this sentence simpler.’ It’s good for me in terms of practising editing. The downside is that I find reading less enjoyable than I used to.
41. How have you evolved creatively?
Since I started the process of learning how to write, my creativity has evolved a lot.
I think I’ve learned to trust myself a little more, and trust in my ability to be creative. I used to be very paranoid about lacking creativity. Now, though, I feel like I’m able to come up with ideas and not immediately trash them.
One other way I’ve evolved creatively is my newfound passion for writing poetry. I never considered myself to be a poet, but after an Arvon writing course, I found that I had a poet’s voice somewhere deep down. I’ve definitely evolved that way.
39. What book are you reading now?
I’m currently reading The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. I have to say, I’m really enjoying it!
It’s right up my street: a chunky fantasy adventure set in an interesting world, with strong characters.