Today we speak to John Smith.
Q) Tell us something about yourself.
My career was in publishing, but I burnt myself out working for one of those big corporate giants that wring young and ambitious people out like wet rags and then hang them out to dry. So I decided to follow my own star on a distant horizon. Of course, success takes a long time, and meanwhile there is a wolf howling outside the door, so I have had to take any number of humdrum jobs to keep him away while trying to find enough time to write. I first encountered success by managing to get my twist in the tale short stories published in the women’s weekly magazines. I also tried my hand at young adult books and got good reviews. Now I have 11 e-books published on Amazon. A publishing house in Russia has already published a translation of my wacky stories in paperback and has signed me up to do two more volumes of similar stories, all as paperbacks. So I am developing a good fan base there.
Q) Tell us about your latest book. Why do you think the readers will like it?
My latest book is another volume of twist in the tale short stories—and I have enough material for even another, follow up volume. What’s more, my Russian fans seem keen to have even more from me after that! This is really good news, and I’m very flattered. These kind of twist in the tale of stories is what appears to be my speciality, as I seem to be very good at it, even though it’s taken me years to discover this. I remain fond of my novel writing skills, however, and would like to write more stories for young adults as these, too, have been praised highly by reviewers. I know that there is a huge market out there for the kind of books that I write, as they are very commercial. The problem is to succeed in tapping into this market online. I just get so bored trying to market my e-books online when I could be writing. So this is my biggest problem. Amazon is a fantastic organisation—they have done so much for me and I have nothing but praise for them.
Q) How did you come up with the title of the book?
The title of the ebooks in the series is Wacky Stories With Twist Endings, Volumes 1,2,3 etc, and its sister series, Scary Stories With Twist Endings. I guess the title says it all. The stories are short, just over 1000 words each, punchy and attention grabbing, with women as the central characters. How about that, then! A guy writing for women! Wacky, yes. Twist/surprise endings, yes. To make you laugh. Wonder. Learn about life and relationships— it’s all there.#
Q) What kind of research did you do for your book?
The only research I did was to read mountains of books—not women’s books necessarily, but everything. I studied the way people write. The tricks and devices they use to grab attention and, most importantly, to hold it. Whether you are writing short stories or a full length novel, it is exactly the same……you have to catch the reader in the first page and never let go. And I observed people, eavesdropped on conversations, listened to the way they talked and the things they talked about. Their fears. Their anxieties, their hopes and ambitions. The way they spoke, the phrases they used, which sometimes did not come out grammatically, but in so doing somehow seemed to have more of an “oomph!” factor. Of course you cannot and must not write ungrammatically. Ever. There is no excuse for it, even in the name of authenticity. But you can get away with speaking ungrammatically out loud, sometimes. And very occasionally something that isn’t grammatical from a purist’s point of view works better in its ungrammatical form when you write it down. But you must be careful! Let me give you an example of what I mean. It was said by a woman funeral director about her job: “I feel I’m the same as a wedding planner, only I don’t have as much time and it isn’t a joyous occasion.” Isn’t it a terrific line? Now how could anyone possibly improve on that!
Q) Which of the Characters in your book are your favourites and why?
My favourite characters are women. Of all ages. I find women much more interesting than men, even though I am not gay. I just love women. I can’t get enough of them. And having mentioned the word ‘gay’, I have to say that I find gay people far more interesting to talk to than straight people. I don’t know why, maybe because they are usually extremely intelligent and are more in touch with their feelings.
Q) How did you formulate this character? Is it based on someone you know?
My characters come from reading and watching films and soaps. These are people whom we all know but never get to know well enough. What really makes them tick. My job is to try to show their innermost struggles as they fight their way through life, trying to get the better of men in a still largely chauvinistic, male dominated world. Men can behave very badly. So can women. But somehow I have more sympathy for women. I’m still trying to understand why.
Q) Every Author has a distinct writing style. How would you describe your style and how do you think you came to form it?
I touched upon this question in question 3. For short stories of the kind that I write you have to be in tune with the market even more than normally so. My sentences are short but I have to cram a whole lot of meaning and impact into them. There are loads of other things a reader could be doing in this marvellous technological age, and I have to somehow grab people’s attention and make them spend time with me. And I aim to hold onto their attention for as long as I can. That is all that matters!
Q) How long have you been working on this book and what inspired you to write it?
The actual writing of a book does not take long at all. It’s the ideas that take long to develop. The scenarios. The characters. The twists and turns of the narrative. Sometimes I can race through three or four pages of writing. Sometimes I will spend a whole day just getting half a page right. Never, ever rush it. If it isn’t coming, go and do something else. Take a break. Refresh your mind. Entertain yourself. And then, when you are rested, come back to your writing again. I find this works for me. A single volume of short stories can take a whole year to write. Likewise a full length young adult novel in my Sandy Brown/Matt Black series ( yes, you’ve guessed it, Sandy Brown is the central girl character and Matt Black is the central guy character in the series). As for inspiration, who knows where this comes from? I certainly don’t. You either want to do something with all your heart or you don’t. And when the urge suddenly descends on you, nothing else matters. The whole world with all its distractions simply fades away and you are left in your own world, with your own characters, and they are all you care about, and you’re not done until you have written yourself to a standstill. Only then do you drop your pen from your cramped fingers, your breathing calms down, your heartbeat becomes normal, and you’re fit again to start interacting with the outside world!
Q) When did you start writing and when did you realize you wanted to become an Author?
I started writing many years ago and quickly discovered that nothing seemed to give me more of a buzz. Listen, you can research as much as you like, read as much as you can, write as much as you are able, go on as many writing courses as you can afford, but at the end of the day (which day? Yesterday? A week ago? Who cares!) you are either born with it or you aren’t. It’s something coiled up inside you that wants to spring up and break out. Either it’s there, waiting for you to pay attention to it. To nurture it. To let it loose to do its damnedest. Or it isn’t. Simple as that. Sooner or later you have to let the beast loose to do as it will, or it will drive you insane!
Q) Who are some of the Authors you like and how do you think their work inspired you?
O’Henry. Saki (H. H. Munro). Jeffrey Archer. Roald Dahl (big time!). Somerset Maugham (mega big time!). And young adult writers Anne Fine and Michael Morpurgo. Fantastic. Tremendous creative power. They write from their hearts. Reading them awakened my imagination and showed me how to give it expression. Their writing seems effortless, but this hides the tremendously difficult hard work that has gone into it. And this you can only see if you connect with them. So keep reading, read loads and loads, and sooner or later you will find a writer with whom you connect. Learn from them. Develop your own style and voice. Never, repeat never, try to copy them. Do your own thing that springs naturally from your own heart. Just use them as guides.
Q) What do you think is the most difficult part about writing and publishing a novel?
Trying to get in touch with the market online, as mine are ebooks. And that, for me, is the most difficult part. Trying to get my ebooks noticed, finding the reviewers who are connected to the kind of stuff that I write. Anything non-creative tends to bore me completely to tears. That is why I could never become an accountant—even though they can be very witty and clever people. It’s hard to explain. You’re either one type of person or the other, and there’s nothing wrong with either.
Q) What is some advice you would like to give to people trying to write and get their stories published?
Somerset Maugham once said that there are three meals that are the best in the world and they all come from England. What are they? Why, breakfast, breakfast and…er… breakfast. It’s the same with writing, what else can I say! Read more. Read even more. And even more than that. Anything. All the time. If you’re on the pot, reach out for a tube of toothpaste or a pack of paracetamol and read what it says on them. The small print. The style, what that kind of language has been used, the care that has gone into the phrasing. And listen to people talking. Sometimes you will get bored listening, and then someone will say something in a certain way, use a phrase of their own which is entirely original as it comes from deep inside them, and you go, “wow!”. And you can’t write it down fast enough to use in one of your stories. And listen, if, in the wee hours of the morning as you lie in bed with the cold, grey dawn pushing past the curtains, if you really believe, deep down in your soul, that you have it in you, don’t let anything come in your way. Keep trying. Ignore the fools whom you encounter along the way. Listen to them, but then forget them. Trust yourself. Believe in yourself. Sooner or later you will find people who are tuned into your wavelength, and there will be many, many of them out there. Never fear!
Q) Tell us something about what you are working on or about some of your future projects.
I have just published, for FREE, an e-book called “Strange Times; Wacky Anecdotes”. It is a collection of tales from my life which I posted on my blog during 2013. This is my latest project. It is available for download, I repeat, completely free of charge, at this link. I hope you enjoy it: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/353282
Although my e-book’s are available on Amazon at dirt cheap prices in an effort to at least get them read when competing with all the other e-books out there, you might still be unsure. While this surpasses my understanding it is, nevertheless, reality. So if you are one of the doubters, why don’t you download, for FREE, my short story LEARNER DRIVER at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/120632
I have also been working on something entirely different whenever I have had the time. A completely different kettle of fish, as it were. A philosophy book written in simple language, about life and death and how to handle them. Enough said. It’s my ‘closet’ project which fulfils another, more secret part of myself. I’ll get around to publishing it in ebook form one day. It’s just a sideline. My real love and inspiration rests in what I am already into, which is what I’ve been describing above.
Q) From amongst all the novels ever published if you had to write any one, which one would it be and why?
Difficult one. I struggle. The Magus by John Fowles. I read it many years ago but it took my imagination into realms which I never knew existed. Not everyone’s cup of tea. Needs effort to keep going with it at times, but it is so rewarding if you stay with it and simply let it open up your mind. Let go, flow with it, immerse yourself in it.
Q) If you had to convince someone to read your book in 5 lines what would they be?
1. Do you really want to know what makes people tick?
2. Do you want to be surprised, to wonder, all along how the story is going to end?
3. Do you want to get quickly into a story, right down to the heart of it, and find yourself standing in the same room as the characters with a minimum of fuss and effort?
4. Are you pressed for time and do you get bored easily, and looking for a quick fix, something which will make you laugh and cry in the middle of a tiring day? (Long sentence, yeah?).
5. Are you prepared to be pleasantly surprised by just how much a guy is capable of understanding women, and who seems to genuinely love the way their minds work?
Finally, I would like to thank BOOKWORM READS for allowing me this chance to talk about my writing. I really appreciate it. The questions were good, as was evidenced by my right hand simply flying over the pages as I answered them!
and, in the USA from
Website : http://jmwsmith.webeden.co.uk/
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