What’s your greatest strength as a writer?
I think my greatest strength is trusting my instincts and allowing my characters to write themselves into an intriguing story. I never plot out my books from beginning to end, I just can’t write that way. To me the characters and story have a life of their own that they reveal to me as I write – and so to touch a reader I need the characters to think, live, breathe and expand the way life does – never predictable, never scripted but growing and developing organically. I guess it takes a bit of insanity to write this way, but it’s my way and for me it works.
What’s your greatest character strength?
I would have to say, perseverance. It’s a trait that was definitely strengthened through life’s circumstances. The army taught me a level of perseverance that probably saved my life, once I was medically discharged. No-one thought I would live through my medical ordeal, but my determination proved them wrong. I’ve tackled difficult jobs and situations throughout my life and don’t give up easily and I think that’s what helps me as an author as well.
I knocked on doors for over two years before my first book CONTACT was accepted by a publisher and then became a bestseller. If a chapter in my book is not to my liking I will write and rewrite till I get the “aha” moment when I know I’ve cracked the code and it’s flowing again. I hate problems or puzzles I can’t solve – so I keep teasing away at them till I figure them out. It’s that curiosity plus tenacity that I think makes me want to continually be a better writer, better “whatever” and most likely helps me keep going when others might give up.
Are there any books you really don’t enjoy?
I think every book and genre of book has developed, in some measure, as a response to a wide variety of readers’ needs. And even if I do not enjoy a particular book, as an author I can still learn something from it. But nevertheless there are certain types of books I generally don’t read.
Romance novels, because I find most of them over sentimental, soppy and a bit formula. Books with gratuitous violence, which is strange to say, as my thrillers involve violent acts and death – but vivid descriptions of violent or sordid acts that are written just to shock are not what I enjoy reading and not what I would call good literature. “How-to-become-spiritual-and-a-better-person” books, because again, I don’t think that’s a “follow-these-steps” process or formula. My personal belief is that deep inside we all know what we need to do to become better people and we have the capacity – we’re just too lazy, it doesn’t always suit us, we try to avoid putting in the effort or personal change required.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favourite authors? Why?
I love good literature and books that stretch my horizons. I grew up on the classics but if I had to choose one author to highlight, it would be JP Donleavy. His books like “The Gingerman”, “A Singular Man”, “The Onion Eaters” and others opened my eyes to the fact that creative writing is a living organism. When you write creatively you have the ability to invent in many ways, both grammatically and with vocabulary, which if it works, creates a vivid colourful and satisfying result. Donleavy turns convention on its head, leaves out verbs, uses words in a visceral or visual rather than “correct” way and it’s an amazingly freeing experience to read him.
If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
I think they’d see something that resembles a really large, intricate, interconnected spider web. Because I write in a “stream of consciousness” style, my stories evolve organically. This means that I continually have all of the characters, events and sub-layers in my mind all the time. This creative soup is “processed” 24/7 into intricate patterns that find their way onto the page each day. The web is woven in my head first, so that’s what readers would see – it’s a bit like chaos theory – there actually is order in what appears to be total chaos.
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Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG-13