Indie Author Of The Month; Mick Williams

Welcome to another Indie Author of The Month post! At the end of every month I will be interviewing and generally drawing attention to a fellow indie author I have come across on the internet. For April, I welcome Mick Williams to the blog. Mick is an author I have had the pleasure of knowing online for a few years now. I’ve read a few of his books and he has also read a few of mine. Mick is a very versatile author who writes in multiple genres. He really does have something for everyone! His books are fast-paced and full of adventure. Read on for more.

1. Tell us about your latest release. What is it about and who is it aimed at?

My latest book is called Hope’s Game, a story about a man named Charlie who has lost everything and is offered the chance to earn £10,000 by taking part in research for a new Artificial Intelligence project. Of course, he has no choice but to take part and goes on a life-changing, sometimes harrowing journey. If I had to categorise it, I’d say it’s a little like the Black Mirror TV show… it seems like it should be sci-fi, but it really isn’t, it has all kinds of things in it. Based on that, it’s aimed at pretty much anyone, although I wouldn’t want younger readers to see it, Charlie goes through some tough times!

Hope's Game by [Mick Williams]

2. Tell us about your publishing journey so far.

I’ve been writing forever, and it wasn’t until I attended a conference in America that I plucked up the courage to go for it! My first book, A Reason to Grieve, was self-published and, if I’m to be honest, was written as a dare since I’m a fan of action and it’s more of a romantic comedy! Something must have worked, though – it’s still my best reviewed book and people still mention the characters to me and demand a sequel! After that, I finally wrote an action/adventure book called A Guy Walks into a Bar. When it was completed, I printed out two copies (old style, at home!) and handed them to two people who had offered me a ton of advice. One of them was the wonderful author, Tony Acree. Little did I know, he also ran a publishing company. We met for lunch, where I expected some nice food, company and advice, and I walked away with a contract! I now have four books published through Hydra Publications.

A Reason to Grieve

3. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

At junior school. I’ve always written. English Language was my favourite subject at school and it followed me home every day. I made my own comics, short story books, magazines – you name it, I tried it. I can’t begin to explain the feeling I had when I opened the box that contained my first ‘proper’ book, and it still gives me chills after a further five!

4. What is your typical writing day like?

Ha! I would LOVE to be able to say that I have a typical writing day. Unless I’m on holiday, no two seem the same. I work a full-time job, so I have to MAKE time to write, otherwise it doesn’t happen. As I write this, we’re (hopefully) in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. Out of all the horrific negatives that come with it, the first positive I considered was that I might be stuck at home with the entire day to write but, no, my company has me working a full week from home! So, I set the alarm for as early as I dare and write before I get ready for work. It can get frustrating, since my brain never shuts off and I usually get my best ideas when I can’t do much but jot them down.

5. What is your writing process? (how do you plot a book, come up with characters, find motivation etc)

The honest answer is that I don’t really have a process! In terms of plot, I think I’ve tried something different for every book I’ve written. I do TRY to put together an outline (Reason to Grieve, Exodus and Hope’s Game were done on an Excel spreadsheet, Whatever it Takes and A Guy Walks into a Bar were a bunch of handwritten notes, and Callie’s Eyes was a pile of research and a ‘wing it’ approach!). I’m currently playing with the corkboard feature in a program called Scrivener for the sequel to Exodus, which is cool since I can swap, shift and change things as I go and see the whole picture, but I’m also ‘winging it’ on another story, AND writing random scenes for the sequel to A Reason to Grieve!!

Exodus: An Old Farts Club Story (The Old Farts Club Book 1) by [Mick Williams]

Characters are everywhere! Some are people I know, or see when I’m out and about. I sometimes ‘cast’ my characters as if they were in a film, then I can play their scenes in my head and have an idea of who they are and how they’d react to different situations. A couple of the characters in Reason to Grieve were based on characters from a show called ‘Coupling’, and the lead character in Whatever it Takes is based on a customer who came into the store I worked in when I lived in Kentucky. He loved to hunt and was a perfect Cory Keller!

Since I normally know my characters before I start writing, a lot of the time their actions are dictated by what that their personalities would actually do. I have an idea of where I need them to go, but I let their actions take them there… it seems much more natural to let them take over than have me try to force them. If they sometimes surprise you when you read them, you should have them in your head when you write them!!

I remember an author friend saying ‘vomit your first draft onto the page and then sift through the chunks’… I struggle to do that. I normally write a chapter, then go over it and nit-pick it to death. It slows me down but, by the time I’m ready for the next chapter, I’m fully immersed in that world and those characters. It also helps with continuity. Once I’ve completed the first draft (in my fashion), I’ll go through it again and flesh it out with description and emotion. Then, I’ll go again and check it for grammar, punctuation and the dreaded typo. Typos ALWAYS slip through, so then I’ll send it to trusted readers who’ll send back their thoughts. I’ll go through it yet again and either make necessary changes, or decide that what I’d written originally is still the best way to say what I want to say. After that, it’s about as good as it can get at the time, and it’s time to let go and send your story into the world.

6. What has been the most positive thing about your publishing journey so far?

Two things. Mainly, the people. I’ve met some amazing people on this journey. Writers are, for the most part, incredibly supportive of one another. More so, I think, than in most other professions. I have a ridiculous amount of writer friends who are always there for support, encouragement and, as importantly, honest criticism. I’d be lost without them. I’ve also gained some really cool readers who stay in touch to see what I’m up to and, again, offer support and encouragement.

Then, there’s the writing itself. Some days it’s easy, others it seems impossible, but it’s always there. Being able to sit and tell stories is something we’ve done since time began – I get to do it whenever I can. The feeling of opening a new completed book, of seeing a review on Amazon, of writing a particularly satisfying scene… they’re all incredible feelings and something that never gets old. To be able to transport someone from this world into another, even if only for a short time, is fantastic. We read books so that we can check out different worlds without moving. What a gift to be able to supply that world!

7. What has been the most negative thing about your publishing journey so far?

That’s easy – marketing! I love to write but each time I release a book, with the exception of my loyal readers, few people see it and it vanishes into the ether with the tens of thousands of other books that were released at the same time. I love the writing process, but really struggle with advertising and pushing things about me and the fact that I have a new book out (just so you know – I HAVE A NEW BOOK OUT… the link is here somewhere!). I’ve signed up for so many courses and programs, and have so many books on the subject but, when I release a new book, I’m so eager to get stuck in to the next one that I neglect to let folks know about it.

8. What can we expect from you next?

Scarily, three things!! I’m working on a sequel to the award winning Exodus, an adventure/thriller series about a group of army veterans called The Old Farts Club – think of an ‘up-to-date A-Team’! I also started to write a first-person story about a guy who works in retail and gets tired of the abuse the public throws at him – so he embraces his dark side to deal with it. That one came to me after binge watching ‘You’ on Netflix! And, after so many requests, I dipped back into the world of my first book, A Reason to Grieve, to carry on the story of Tom, Emma and their friends; a complete contrast since it’s a romantic comedy. I have enough words between the three of them for a complete book, but my publisher has suggested that I concentrate on one at a time, so Sarge and the rest of The Old Farts are currently engaged on an adventure and have flown from Kentucky to deepest Scotland to save a friend’s life

9. Who is your favourite character and why?
That’s a tough question!

Doris, from A Reason to Grieve, is the only character that I’ve shed tears over, so that must mean something. I truly love her spirit and her blunt way of giving advice to the younger characters. If i can be like Doris when I’m approaching seventy (but without the blue rinse!), I’ll be a happy man.

I do also love Paul Howard from A Guy Walks Into a Bar – he’s just an average man who finds himself in an extraordinary adventure. He’s resourceful and witty…and he gets to hang out with the other cool characters.

Then there’s blind Callie from Callie’s Eyes, and Hope from Hope’s Game…did I mention this was a tough question?

Callie's Eyes: How do you convince someone you can see the future, when you can't see at all?



10. Where do you get your ideas from?

Everywhere! News and magazine articles, people watching, overhearing things people say (not eavesdropping, mind, overhearing; apparently, there’s a difference!) and, in the case of Callie’s Eyes, a dream. Most of the story, including Callie’s name, happened in a dream and it was one of those fortunate times when I woke with it still at the front of my mind. I jotted it all down on a Post-It note and picked it up in the morning. Hope’s Game is based on a screenplay from a very good and talented friend of mine, Craig Ostrouchow. Whatever It Takes came out of a conversation with a hunter in Kentucky. A Reason to Grieve came from an old workmate who’d browse the obituaries every morning before work to see if he found anyone from his old school in there. A Guy Walks Into a Bar came from people watching – in a hotel bar, and Exodus came from a holiday in Jamaica when we visited Bob Marley’s compound and got to drive through the Jamaican townships and countryside.
So, like I said…everywhere!

Whatever It Takes

11. Tell us three fun facts about you

Haha – what was I saying about pushing ‘me’?? Erm… okay –

1. I LOVE music. Alongside reading, writing and family, music is everything. Genesis are my favourite band, and Jude Cole is my favourite artist. If it wasn’t for Jude Cole, I would not have met my wife (if you’d like the full story, join my FB page ‘mick williams author’ and message me and I’ll tell you, it’s a long story!). Truth be known, there isn’t much music I don’t like, I go from punk and pop to rock and reggae and everything in between! MP3s and streaming mean that music is everywhere now. The only thing I miss is the album format. Now that we can stream everything, music seems to be piecemeal where, before, a good album was constructed to flow and have peaks and troughs. Just like books.

2. I have two very cool cats name Thud and Crash. Thud adopted me when we lived in Kentucky. My American brother and my adopted second wife have a house that overlooks a golf course. One cold winter, after a Mexican meal and one or two (or five or ten) drinks, we were hanging around in the kitchen when my wife heard a noise outside. I went out to check it out and was eventually ‘ankle-bumped’ by a dirty, freezing-cold kitten. The end of his tail was broken, and his ears were riddled with mites. At the time, I wasn’t really a ‘cat person’, but our option was to either take him home or put him back into the cold. When we found that he’d been dumped, we had no choice but to adopt him, and now he’s my writing companion (he’s actually on my author pic on A Guy Walks into a Bar!). I call him the OC (Original Cat) since we also adopted another furry fella from the animal shelter to keep Thud company. This ginger tabby is the most lovable animal I’ve ever met and has a habit of nuzzling against you and then falling over to let you fuss him. We had to call him Crash. I should really put their pictures on my FB page and website!!

3. I’m not an army brat, but I’ve lived (I think) in thirteen different places, on either side of the Atlantic, and I’m getting ready to move again once restrictions are lifted! I think this time, once we find somewhere, that’s it! I’m ready to sit still now!!

12. What is the best advice you could give to aspiring writers?

Write what makes you happy. I read a lot about ‘writing to market’, but a) markets seem to shift constantly and b) that seems too much like work! I love to write, and I write what’s in my head, not what I think people might like to read. I’ve been fortunate to find people that like to read what’s in my head which, I suppose, makes them as crazy as me! It won’t ever fund my retirement, but it’ll make my retirement a lot more fun.

Read. A lot. Reading is writer homework. See how the books you enjoy actually work. Why did that scene make you smile? Why is your heart pumping a little faster after finishing that chapter? Good writers don’t hide how they make their magic, it’s right there on the page. Love or loathe him, but no one creates worlds better than Stephen King. How? Description and character. By the end of a SK book, you’ve lived in that town and you know those folks. They’re as real as you and I… that’s why it bothers you so much when he does nasty things to them! Learn from the best.

And, remember that rules are made for bending. While there are definite do’s and don’ts, no one will write your story the way you will. I remember reading somewhere that sentences should vary in length (which I agree with 100%), but that they shouldn’t be overly long. I’ve just finished the latest number one bestseller by Lee Child. There’s a sentence in there that runs at over ONE HUNDRED words (his previous best was 81 – I counted!). This breaks every rule under the sun, but it worked. And Reacher still had time to get the job done

And, finally – just enjoy it. If no one else reads a word of what you’ve written – you have. And I’ll bet it felt great.

Thank you so much to Mick for doing this interview! If you would like to find out more about Mick and his books (and I highly recommend that you do) you can follow him here;

Get in touch: Website – http://www.mickwilliamsauthor.com

Facebook – mick williams author

Twitter – mickwilliamsauthor

Email – mickwilliamsauthor@gmail.com

Author Interview: Q.L Pearce

Q. L Pearce is the author of over 120 books for middle grade and young adult readers, and I was lucky enough to receive a copy of her latest short story collection, Spinechillers to review. I enjoyed this book immensely and can’t wait to delve into more books by Q.L. Q.L also kindly agreed to be interview for my blog, and here she talks about her writing and publishing journey, what attracts her to scary stories, where her ideas come from and more! Enjoy!

spinechillerscover

1) What attracts you to the spooky and the paranormal? What makes it your favourite genre?

As a reader I am drawn to plot-driven books. That doesn’t mean that the characters aren’t important, but the central story is what I love. I have found that paranormal tales often have a strong plot at the core. As a writer, middle grade to YA horror, sci-fi and mystery are my favorites. I enjoy the world building and the suspension of disbelief required in a ghost story. Things that go bump in the night are part of my British heritage and I enjoy researching creepy tales and urban legends.

2) Who are your favourite authors and why?

Ray Bradbury, George Orwell and Roald Dahl are among my favorite classic masters. I love Bradbury’s writing style and, of course, he was amazing when it came to short stories. The clarity and intelligence of Orwell’s work, and his focus on social injustice places him at the top of my list. Animal Farm is an all time favorite book for me. Roald Dahl’s books for children worked on so many levels and he wrote some of my favorite children’s books, like The Witches and The Twits. His work could be sweet and sentimental, whimsical or darkly humorous. Sometimes all in the same book.

Neil Gaiman, Holly Black and Ransom Riggs are some of my favorites modern authors. They are all so great at world building and creating unique characters. Coraline and The Graveyard Book are a couple of books that I wish I had written.

3) Can you tell us where you get your ideas from?

Ideas come from everywhere…magazines, newspapers, travel. An offbeat article about Scottish castles or crop circles might catch my eye. I might see a strangely shaped tree while on a hike and wonder what lurks at its roots. I enjoy prowling through antique stores for curious objects or photographs that might spark an idea, or hiking around in new environments to use as settings. My dear friend, author Tamara Thorne, and I sometimes take road trips. We visit haunted hotels, abandoned buildings and ghost towns, all for inspiration.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing since I could first scribble a story on paper. I won my first school writing contest in third grade and my first city sponsored contest at age eleven. I actually got into a little trouble when I was a kid for telling scary stories that frightened my friends.

 

5) Can you tell us a bit about your writing and publishing journey so far?

When I was in my twenties I decides to start sending short stories to magazines. Once I began seriously submitting I gathered an extensive collection of rejections. Over the course of ten years or so the rejections went from definite “no” to “no, but keep submitting.” My first contract with a major publisher was for an activity book about dinosaurs. It was with Price Stern Sloan. My first contract for fiction also came from Price Stern Sloan when they published Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs. It did very well and I wrote quite a few books in the series.

To date I have written more than 120 books for young readers including educational, nonfiction, biography, and fiction for all age ranges. Spinechillers is my latest. It is a collection of short stories that includes classic ghosts, a monster or two, urban legends and one tale that is an homage to The Twilight Zone. The stories are perfect for reading aloud at a sleep-over, or under the covers with a flashlight. The book is in the tradition of Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs. Spinechillers is for a new generation of tweens to teens.

6) What would you say have been the highs and the lows? What are you excited about?

I like all of the elements of the writing process. I enjoy the research, “meeting” my characters for the first time and getting to know them, sketching out the first draft, and shifting the elements like pieces of a puzzle.

Some of the best memories in my career are meeting young fans of my books. Red Bird Sings is a title that stands out for me. It is an adaptation of the autobiographical works of Zitkala Sa, an important Native American writer and activist. My co-author and illustrator, Gina Capaldi and I worked hard to honor her story. I’m very proud of the book and it received many awards including the Carter G. Woodson gold medal for picture books.

The down side of writing is rejection. I’ve had manuscripts turned down, books in work cancelled, and negative reviews. I try to find the lesson in each rejection that can make my work stronger. I’ve developed a thick skin over the years.

I think as writers we can learn from every review, good or bad as long as you don’t take it personally. You have to use what helps you to grow and leave the rest. I remember when Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs came out it received a “bad” review early on. The reviewer said that it seemed that before writing the collection I had downed a bottle of wine and watched a Twilight Zone marathon. I actually took that as a compliment since I loved Rod Serling. The series went on to sell in the millions.

7) What is the scariest story/book you have ever come across?

I can’t decide between two books. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is so dark and atmospheric. I think it’s one of the best haunted house stories ever written because it leaves so much to the reader. It has all the elements of a ghost story but there is an underlying question about the true nature of the haunting.

One of Stephen King’s early books, Salem’s Lot, terrified me! It’s a vampire novel and I was only able to read it during the day. For a while I also kept a nightlight on because I was so creeped out.

8) What is a normal writing day like for you? Tell us about the process

When I write I usually sit at my dining room table. I have an actual home office with a desk, but my dogs prefer the main room and I like to work with them close by. I begin my day with meditation even before my first cup of coffee. I start my reading and research mid-morning then spend two or three hours writing. My dogs take me out for walks a couple of times a day and I use that time to brainstorm. I usually write for another hour or so at the end of the day.

I hate an empty page so when I’m working on a first draft I just keep going. I write anything as long as words are going on the page. Once I have something to work with I can go back and edit and tweak the manuscript into shape. Sometimes that approach can take your work in surprising directions.

9) What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a few things including the next volume of Spinechillers. I have three fact-based fiction picturebooks in work with coauthor/illustrator Gina Capaldi, a middle grade mystery adventure with coauthor Francesca Rusackas, and a YA horror novel.

10) What advice would you give to other writers who enjoy writing creepy stories?

The advice I give to working writers is finish what you start. I have several manuscripts that are sitting in a file folder because I didn’t push through when I hit a weak spot. Once that happens I start second-guessing and lose momentum.

The advice I would give to those who enjoy writing horror is to let the readers do some of the work. The unknown is deeply emotional. Provide the story, the characters, atmosphere, the dread, but don’t fill in every detail. Leave some room for the reader’s imagination to personalize the fear.

11) What are your plans and dreams for the future?

My husband is a physiologist and a huge sci-fi fan. We have a plan to someday write a book together. I remember one night we went out to dinner and spent the evening coming up with an alien world and determining what sort of species would populate such a planet. We wrote notes on napkins. It was a fabulous evening!

Recently I was thrilled to be join Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross as co-host for YA nights on Thorne and Cross Haunted Nights LIVE, part of the Authors on the Air: Radio Network. I’m looking forward to inviting some terrific authors to be the show!

12) Tell us three interesting things about yourself

Years ago I was an assistant SCUBA instructor. That’s how I met my husband.

I’m not happy about flying but I love to travel. In the past couple of years we’ve visited Florence, Vancouver, Shanghai, Lhasa, and Cambridge, England.

I’m currently completing my meditation teacher training. I would like to work with writers and other creative people who want to be able to find a calm inner space when faced with deadlines, rejections, blank pages and other stressors.

Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed, Q. L! 

You can find out more about Q.L Pearce below!

About Q.L Pearce

Q.L.Pearce is the author of more than 120 books for young readers, from picture books to YA, as well as film tie-in books for the Fox animated film Titan AE and the Universal animated series Land Before Time. Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala Sa (Carolrhoda Books, with co-author and illustrator, Gina Capaldi), received several awards including a Carter G. Woodson Book Award gold medal from NCSS and a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award gold medal. Her fiction includes the popular middle grade series, Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs italisize (Price, Stern, Sloan). Q believes strongly in the value of scary books for young readers. When asked what credentials she has which qualify her as an expert in this area she replies, “I was a child once. That was very scary.”

Link to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/RedBirdSings

Buy Links: Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Spine-Chillers-Hair-Raising-Tales-Book-ebook/dp/B01M7U859N/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477782518&sr=8-1&keywords=ql+pearce+spine+chillers

Author Info:

Author’s contact info: contact@bamliterature.com or http://www.qlpearce.com/contact

Author’s social media links:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Q.-L.-Pearce/e/B001H9RTXO

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=db4aQLSyKMg&feature=youtu.be

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ql.pearce

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/q-l-pearce-7926604