Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
It’s funny, I didn’t actually set out to write in LGBT, It chose me. The first book I wrote, Stiletto, it was sort of clear from the start where it was going to go but that said it’s not all about LBGT. It’s about love and that’s what drives the theme. “Jenna” was totally different, again I had no genre in mind and, once I got into it, it was going to be straight. I was actually getting bored with the story line to a degree, it was becoming too linear, then I had an idea that changed the whole story, it also added two new chapters. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
How much love there is in the indie book community. Not just readers that give me feedback or the authors I meet and speak with almost daily But the sense of community there is out there. Last year after the Orlando shootings in Florida I was asked almost immediately to write a short story for an anthology (Over The Rainbow) to support the families of the victims. A lot of good authors donated their time and brain cells without a second thought. That’s the love right there that blows me away.
What is the first book that made you cry?
Surprisingly I’m not much of a reader, when I do read its usually Biographies but there’s a certain point in “Jenna” (I can’t tell you where) that brings a tear to my eye almost every time I read it. It’s weird because that particular book doesn’t set out to make anyone cry, a couple have in another part of the story but I think I’m too close to the characters and for me when I hit that part it’s happy tears.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
From experience, there’s three common pitfalls.
Bad covers. Seriously, everyone DOES judge a book by its cover. Get a good cover that tells you instantly what a book is about and if you can make it sexy and eye catching you’ve already won half the battle.
Blurb. Make your blurb good and to the point, don’t mistake it for a synopsis, totally different animal. No one wants to read for 15 minutes just to find out what your book is about. They will get bored and move on if you haven’t caught them with the first sentence of your blurb.
Thinking the book will sell it’s self. I think most of the authors I’ve spoken to thought “Hey I’ve written this awesome book and I have lots of friends and family, they will all read it and tell everyone they know and they will tell everyone and in 6 months everyone will know my name!” So wrong, Its hard to convince any one they should read your book. End of story. You need to be out there daily and the best way I’ve found is not by saying hey, buy my book, but just talking to readers, about anything and everything except your book, if you’re a honest genuine person they will decide when its time to look into your brain.
What has your experience been like as a indie author? Bruises, highlights, lessons.
I’ve been pretty lucky. Most of my reviews have been awesome, its hard not to take it to heart when you get one that’s not so great. You need to remember what your fan base actually thinks of you and your writing. There are days you just wonder why you bother and other days your on top of the world, unfortunately there will always be trolls on the other side of the keyboard but you need to ignore them. My filter isn’t very good and sometimes they get through. But I have a lot of fangirls that soon shut them down for me if I’m not around. But that being said you also need to be aware that not everyone likes your particular writing style or genre, and that’s fine, it would be a boring world if we all thought the same.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
Straight up, I have a big ego. I’m not afraid to say it. But I’d like to say it’s more about confidence in yourself than being an arse hole. But I can get away with it because I’m a guy. Unfortunately for female authors it just comes across as “She’s a bitch” Admittedly though my ego has grown with me as a writer.
It’s hard not to get a fat head though when readers tell you
they love what I’ve done for them. With the ego also come humility though, and you need to have and show both sides
at the right time.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Time. I work an average of 60 hours a week in the real world and I have a family. It’s not just time to write either, It’s being able to get your head in the right place to write when you get time to do it. If they don’t marry up just right you end up deleting everything because it won’t be good enough. I cant write just because I have time to do it.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Nearly every writer I know writes under a “”Pen Name”. In this digital world where we exist you have to I think. The old days are gone when the only way a reader can connect with you is by posting a hand written letter to publishing company. I feel you need to protect and separate your real world from your virtual world. I have had a few fanatical fans that you really don’t want to have too much information about your personal life. Sure readers want to know about you and what you do, what make you tick so to speak, and that’s fine and understandable. But it never ceases to amaze me how many writers are prepared to put every little tid bit about them selves out there for the world to see.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything,
what would it be?
Start writing earlier. I didn’t write my first book till I was 43, I did start other books years ago in my 20s and lost interest. If I could have those 20 years back again I’d be so much further in front now. I can’t say what the quality of the stories would be and that’s a bit scary though.
If you could spend the day with a character from one of your books who would it be and what would you?
This is a no brainer for me. My second Main Character from “Stiletto” Is a short red headed fire cracker named Lottie, I’d love to spend a day with her. Honestly I wouldn’t let her out of my bed but that being said I’d nearly have to expect she is going to murder me when our time is done. She’s a bit unpredictable.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Simple, an editor, and getting the best cover money can buy.
How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
This is too easy to answer, I don’t want or expect anything from my readers anymore, they have already given me more than I could ever ask for and for that I’m grateful. As for taking care of them, I’ve come to realise this whole writing thing will only ever be a hobby for me, I’ll never write the next 50 shades, Twilight or Harry Potter. It’s never going to be about making money so if I meet a new reader that I like and seem genuine my first instinct is to give them one of my books. They need a book, I’ve got a book it’s a no brainer. Give them a damn book. I like to believe in the theory of the guy from “My name is Earl”, ‘Do good things and good things happen’.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I currently have about 4 WIP (Work In Progress) I have ideas for two of them but I’m only working on one, that will be my next release hopefully. Another I recently sent to one of my readers to look at, and I was surprised when she didn’t like the main character. When she pointed out why it was so obvious I’d made a mistake with him. So I’ve got some new ideas for that when I re visit it. My next two books were actually meant to be biographies but that has been pushed back. But that could change again at any time. I really need to get a new book out though instead of going back and fourth.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
No, I wish I did, I’d get them out there. A author friend of mine has about 20 books she hasn’t released though. She explained to me they are all missing something though and she can’t put her finger on it. But one at a time she finds that missing something and blows her readers away, she is amazing, She recently helped my with my plot that I was stuck with on my current WIP. I was great to get her fresh set of eyes on it. I was stuck looking one way and she showed me how to look in the opposite direction.
What’s the best way to market your books?
I don’t think there is a magic bullet. I’ve tried Facebook ads, Goodread ads, Twitter ads and Amazon ads, although they wont advertise for me anymore because they say my covers depict violence.. Pffftt… The only way that I’ve found that actually works is me just being online and talking to people and making that personal connection. If people get to know me they want to look inside my head. Unfortunately for me I’m too friendly and
I spend way too much time online and not enough time with
my family and writing. That’s the life of an Indie
author though I guess.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters
from the opposite sex?
I have no problem writing female characters. All my main characters are strong woman. I think that’s what Impresses me about a woman, it’s not her looks or body it’s her personality and strong character I’m attracted to and that just flows when I’m writing about that type of woman I’d like to spend time with I guess. What I’ve recently found out as I pointed out earlier was trying to write a lead Male character. Up till now this has never been a problem but this particular guy I was trying to write for the wrong reason. I was trying to create a character woman would love. He end up being too superficial. That’s my fault and it’s obvious now, woman don’t care what a guy looks like. Sure they want eye candy but there are other things they want in their book boyfriends. This guy will get better now I know my mistake. It’s all part of the process I guess. What has surprised me a couple of times though was there is one particular guy I wrote into Jenna that I didn’t put a lot of effort into, some girls like him and they were never meant to. But he had what they wanted inside. He will be part of the inspiration now for the other guy.
What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
Mid 20s to mid 30s, it’s a good age, your old enough to have some experience but young enough to still feel like you have a purpose. It’s a great age, sort of pre responsibility.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I think most of my characters are in one way or another based on someone I’ve met somewhere. I don’t often name that character after the real person, although at time I have. Other characters, the name is just obvious to me for some reason. Then there are the ones you just have no idea. I always want every character to have awesome name or at least be in line with their personality, they can’t always have a cool name though. I was particularly stuck for a name for one guy in “Jenna”, I had his first name, that was easy because I named him after a real life guy, But His last name had me stumped. I was driving through Sydney late one night and saw a billboard for a funeral home. ‘Cass Brothers Funerals’ and I thought it was just the coolest last name for my guy, Kevin Cass had an identity.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal
with bad or good ones?
All the time. I love when I get a new review, Usually because when you first start out it is so hard to get reviews at all. When I get a good one I’m usually so exited buy it ill screenshot it and share it in my readers group (Shay’s Bitches) and if I can find who wrote it I’ll try to connect with them and thank them personally. Lucky for me I’ve never actually had a bad scathing review, There has been a few 3 stars and the reader has pointed out why the book didn’t appeal to them as much, It hurts, but I try to remind my self everyone likes different things in a book and its up for discussion. So I have to accept it.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a
few people will find?
Yes. ”Stiletto” was being edited at the same time I was writing “Jenna”, there was an opportunity to sneak a cross over in there. The time line of both books happened to match up at one tiny point. In both books my two main characters came in contact with each other. No one has ever noticed it though. I’ve pointed it out to a couple of readers after they had read both books consecutively and they are “ohhh yeah. I didn’t see that”.
What was your hardest scene to write?
Maybe the car chase scene in “Jenna”, although it wasn’t overly difficult but when I write I see everything playing out as in a movie, I found it hard to write what I was seeing and was unsure if it would come across as making sense, so I purposely kept it short, It didn’t actually need to be very long so I was thankful for that. But sex scenes are hard to write, I need to be in the right frame of mind to write them, I want every one to be different to every other one. But not just in that book, I want it to be different to every sex scene in all my other books as well. I remember reading a post on FB maybe a year or so ago where a chick was telling her husband that she was copying and pasting sex scenes for her new book from one of her other books. I don’t read, but I wouldn’t be reading her books with recycled sex scenes and I cant believe her readers don’t notice and abandon her, she spoke as though it was normal. Really?
Do you Google yourself?
I used to, but I soon discovered I’m not very interesting
anyway so I gave up.
What is your favorite childhood book?
Romona The Brave or The Jungle Book.
Does your family support your career as a writer?
Yes, Those that know what I do, One sister loves what I do, the other is a prude but she still thinks I’m awesome and looks after my website for me because she is clever like that. My mum tried to read my first book but gave up, I think she was a bit shocked, and that’s understandable. My father doesn’t know. He wouldn’t understand, but he would be supportive.
If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Pay attention in English class, I can’t spell very good, I don’t use punctuation correctly and according to my editor I don’t have good sentence structure. But that’s fine. I have people now that look after all that for me. What’s important to me is I can tell a good story and all the spelling and punctuation can be fixed by computers and people more clever than me.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
If all the planets line up I can write a book in about 3 to 4 months. But Ill be happy if I can get out one to two books a year. Now my first two are out I have less time to write because I’m out there all the time talking with readers.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Most defiantly. I’ve had it many times. Some people have tricks, but for me I just leave it and let the story develop in my head and come back when I’m ready. I cant force the story out, I’ve tried but it never ends up any good.
Do you remember your childhood?
Was it awesome?
Or maybe it wasn’t so great.
Was there a childhood bully?
But that’s all behind you now right?
You’re tough and moved on.
But what if it was harder than you thought?
This is a story inspired by true life events and real people.
This is what could happen if payback was made an option.
Because payback can be a bitch,
Poppy is that bitch.
What if your life was normal?
What if your life was okay, average and mundane?
Then one day you realise you don’t want normal, okay and average.
Mundane is not okay any more.
Then you are presented with a one off opportunity to have a whole new life.
A polar opposite life to the one you have now.
You just have to take one little step.
There’s only one catch- You have to leave everything behind without the chance to say a single goodbye.
Would you take that opportunity?
Would you take that step?
This is the story of a normal, okay, average and mundane country girl from Queensland Australia.
This is her story.
She takes that step.
This is Jenna!