A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer,
It sings because it has a song
- Maya Angelou
So where did it all begin?
I’ve always been into reading and writing; English was one of my favourite lessons in school. My teacher, Mr Garner, was such an inspiration. It began innocently enough with reading horrors and thrillers from the likes of Shaun Hutson, Graham Masterton and James Herbert. But if I’m completely honest with myself and stretch my memory back as far as it will go, it was all thanks to Dungeons & Dragons.
The RPGs or the books?
A bit of both, really. I began playing RPGs when I was barely walking (slight exaggeration), let’s say I was around maybe 9 or 10. My dad was an ex-army man and he and a group of buddies used to play D&D to while away the hours. I had no clue what it was back then, but I did enjoy sitting under the table they played at and pinching legs and ankles. Well, once my dad left the army and we moved permanently from Germany to England, I met my best friend, Vicky. It wasn’t long before we were roped into the world. I loved fantasy – from that moment on I was hooked. I’d say the very first books that made their impression on me were the Dungeon & Dragons books by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, followed swiftly by The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
So, how do you go from Fantasy to Horror and back again?
It was my aunty Carol – shockingly when I hit my teenage years it was less about D&D and more about shopping, adventure and general mischief – I hadn’t touched a book for years. But one year we went to visit my aunty Carol in Scotland and she lent me The Sleepless by Graham Masterton, and that was me hooked all over again. (I still have that book some two decades on, sorry aunty Carol) From there it was a steady slope to Shaun Hutson followed by James Herbert. I was a bit biased and afraid to branch out to other authors because I had my favourites and they had books galore to keep me occupied; I was too scared I wouldn’t like anything else (Stupid, I know). I went back and forth between those three authors whilst re-living my childhood with Weis and Hickman. But it wasn’t until years later, when I met my boyfriend, Simon, that things really came to a head.
So, what happened?
Well, for my birthday he bought me the complete collection of E L James’ illustrious Fifty Shades of Grey and from there it went on to Sylvia Day’s Crossfire collection. Well, what could I say? It was enough to have me reading any dirty, sexy filth I could get my hands on. For my next birthday he went that one step further and bought me a Kindle – it was game over after that.
What do you mean, surely not in a bad way?
Oh no, not at all…well…kind of, for my bank account at least; a world of books at the touch of a button! And not only that, but recommendations based on what I’d read! The rest of the world didn’t really get much of a look in after that, I lost count of the books I’d read or the authors I’d been introduced to – I’ve been trying to keep my list up to date by adding them to my Facebook and Goodreads profiles, but there are just so many.
So, what inspired you to write?
Oh, that’s easy. It was after I read The Protector series by Teresa Gabelman – don’t ask me how I came across those gems (recommendations by my best friend, the Kindle, no doubt). After I had read those (and continue to read the ones she is still publishing) I had a new addiction – supernatural mixed with erotica!. I have lost count of the awesome collections of books I have read based on that genre, and I have loved each and every one, so much so that I wanted a piece – metaphorically speaking. So, I booted up the laptop, opened up Microsoft Word and that’s where it all began. Invoking the Witch (which was as then 'Untitled') soon unfolded into the biggest pile of c**p I could pull from my imagination.
Crap? So, why is it published?
The version of Invoking the Witch that you have read, or have yet to read, was completely re-written after some wise words and detailed emails from one, Mr Sean Hoade – zombie author extraordinaire (you MUST read Deadtown Abbey!!). He put a lot of things into perspective for me when he offered his services as critique/copy editor/professional author/teacher/shoulder to cry on and bitch to/tell my life story to…and many, many other things! I can’t thank him enough for his words of wisdom, professional insight and ever appreciated assistance in helping me achieve my goal. In fact, my goal wasn’t even to have a book published, it was to see if I could actually write something – anything – and be pleased with it; just have the knowledge that I had done it. To have it get this far was something plucked from my wildest dreams and Sean is the one I have to thank for that.
Additionally, I owe a lot of my time and respect to a great bunch of authors I met through Scribophile. It's a wonderful little world for all kinds of authors where they will critique your work for the same favour. I cannot even begin to describe what I learned from that site. And it is well worth the $40 a year subscription fee.
So, you designed the book cover yourself. Why not use a professional service?
Believe me I spent months agonising over the book cover design – I knew what I wanted, but I was financially challenged at the time. I toyed with the idea of creating my own and even had a mess around with Photoshop to see what I could come up with; the answer? Another steaming pile of c**p. So I continued to look through the professionals – I even emailed some of my fave authors to ask who they used – but it all boiled back down to money. I understood being self-published would be a costly affair, but I was going through some trying times in my personal life that had an impact on what I could do or get done for the book. I decided to have another go at Photoshop experiments with images I’d pulled form Google (obviously I cannot show these as I do not have the rights to the images I used) to see what I could come up with before I went ahead and purchased images I could use.
Don’t ask me what happened because I went from amateur, God-awful attempts to something I was actually extremely proud of. My ideas had done a complete turnaround and I can’t even put my finger on how or why it happened – it just did. I submitted these ideas to Sean as well as plastering them all over Facebook to see what friends and family thought and, well, the reception I received was amazing. It was a done deal; I was going to design my own covers – and so I did.
So, what's next?
Well, next is the second instalment of The Faction series. I plan on doing three in this series before I move on to another type of supernatural race – werewolves. I have already pieced together the general plot and will mould it into something readable when book 3 of The Faction series is going through the copy edit. I also plan to write a whole host of short stories because I come up with ideas almost on a daily basis and, if I don’t do something with them my head will literally implode.
I also have my NaNoWriMo Entry, Graceful Damnation in the firing line. It took a bit of a back seat during the promotion stage of Invoking the Witch, but rest assured I will back on board with Grace very soon.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to start writing?
Do it! Whether something comes of it or not it’s a magical experience to have something from your vivid imagination take fold on paper. But it is something that, if you really want it, you have to be willing to work for. It isn’t as quick a process as you might think and it certainly isn’t without its own costs. To some it might be worth it, to others not so much. It takes time, money, patience, hard work and determination but, what rewarding steps in life don’t?