Book blurb:On his eleventh birthday Thomas Farrell is informed that the deceased father he never knew has provided for his education at Darkledun Manor, a school for gifted children. Thomas, however, feels he's just an ordinary boy, but Darkledun Manor proves to be anything but an ordinary school…
As an introduction, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?I'm forty-something (never thought I'd be saying that!), from England and have a love of writing fiction. I'm also interested in reading, mythology, history, genealogy and political philosophy. I try to make a living with Internet marketing and selling articles, but I really just want to write stories...I've been tinkering around with fiction writing since my childhood.
What is your book about?Lots of weird stuff from some recess of my imagination. It's essentially about a shy eleven-year-old boy, Thomas Farrell, and his journey to understand who his mysterious father was, as well as overcome his fears. In the course of the novel Thomas learns more about the strange Glass his father left to him, a Glass that allows him to travel through the stones to the world of Avallach...
When and why did you begin writing?When I was very young, I liked to imagine worlds and draw maps of fantasy worlds. I think it all started from there. It thrills me to invite someone into my imagination.
What genre do you prefer to write in?Mainly I prefer epic fantasy, but it's very hard to write without being very cliched - hence my efforts on the Serpent in the Glass (a middle-grade novel). I like to write stories that have wide appeal. Something a ten-year-old and sixty-year-old would both enjoy. I like some kind of fantasy element, something that takes it out of the ordinary world, even if it set in the modern world.
What is your biggest writing achievement to date?Finishing "The Serpent in the Glass"! I've written quite a bit over the years, but getting a manuscript finished has taken some time! I've written, edited, and largely proofed it all myself (though I've had an editor, RJ Locksley, help me with cutting down my first chapter for the second edition), not to mention all the pre-publishing preparation.
What inspired you to write this book?Back in 1997. I seem to remember I'd read something in the Anglo-saxon Chronicle about the Wild Hunt; then I became fascinated by the stones around Avebury and the legend of Silbury Hill. Those don't appear in the novel by name, but they were behind the initial inspiration for it.
Who is your favourite author, and what is it about their work that strikes a chord with you?J.R.R. Tolkien. There is a lot of depth to his writing - the language, the world, the ties to our own world. I like the epic and mythic nature of his work, and I feel I would have agreed with Tolkien on a lot of things, had I ever met him. I also like Rowling for her warm, charming imagination and humour. It is this latter "feel" that influenced my novel.
What book are you reading now, and would you recommend it?I'm not reading any fiction right now, as I'm catching up on non-fiction ;) However, I recently finished "Azincourt" by Bernard Cornwell. It was OK, I find a bit frustrated with historical fiction because it never seems to be written the way I'd like it. It's something I mean to address one day ;)
What are your current projects?Currently I am working on a young-adult novel and on another book that straddles between YA and middle-grade. This latter is written in the first person - something I usually do not read, and never write. I wanted to try it out ;)
Where and when do you do most of your writing?In front of the PC. I don't have a laptop and my handwriting is atrocious. I prefer to write at night, but there's less distractions during the day. I try to be quite intense, as I find I work best that way.
What would you say was the hardest part of writing your book?Getting the plot right! After that, probably the constant revision.
Who designed your book cover – and was the cover something you deemed important?Alex Hausch designed my cover. I'm very happy with it. I think a cover does sell a book - or, at least, grab the eye of a potential buyer.
Did you try to go down the route of traditional publishing first – or did you feel that self-publishing was right for you from the beginning?I got a few rejection slips, left it in a draw for a few years, started another project, and then decided to at least put the old manuscript to work by self-publishing it. I would like to be published via the traditional route, but I know published authors don't necessarily do any better than self-published ones.
On the whole, how have you found self-publishing?Confusing at first, but well worth it when you have the product in your hand. And it's a nice feeling when your friend's child comes up to you and tells you the book's really good. Or when you look on Amazon and see all the reviews are (as of this interview!) all five stars ;)
Where can we buy the book?You can get it on Amazon Kindle, or the paperback via lulu.com. As of the date of this interview, Amazon is still listing the old first edition paperback. I'd recommend buying the second edition (and it's cheaper on lulu.com!)
Do you have a website or blog where we can keep tabs on you?www.writers-and-publishers.com - there's also a facebook page for "The Serpent in the Glass".
Do you have any advice for other writers?Yes, stop planning, reading books on grammar, on punctuation, or studying how-to-write books, and actually write!
And, finally, do you have anything else that you’d like to say to everyone?Yes, thank you for the interview. :)