Q and A

Here you can ask me anything… I mean really anything at all, fire away. I may even answer…. Just enter a question in the comments box below…..

To kick things off, here are a few I was asked recently..

Q Where did you get your inspiration for your characters?

A Ha. Road-signs mostly, I was about a third of the way through expanding a short story into a  novel, when on a dark and stormy winter’s night(seriously) driving home on a rain lashed West Highland road I noticed a crude hand painted sign that pointed into a forest in the middle of nowhere, it just said Jones Brothers. Of course it was nothing sinister, just a sign for contractors working in the forest. But by the time I got home Alfred Jones and Son, Bros. was born. Over the course of the next few weeks I realised that I had to drop the project I was working on and commit full time to Alfred. The next Alfred Jones project was also inspired by a sign. I live in Spain just now and I noticed a sign that said Domingo Y Hijo’s, which is now the basis of the next Alfred novel. You can do the translation if you wish. But that’s all the spoilers I’m giving….

Q What has been one of the most surprising things you have learnt in creating your book?

A From a personal point of view was that I have seen it through to the end. From a writer’s point of view, I was surprised how difficult it can be one day and how easy it can be the next day. I follow a lot of writer’s blogs and they all say the same. Writing is difficult. Blank word documents and blank minds are common. From a practical point of view, I learned not to spend too much time on the first draft. I spent far too much time on the first draft of Alfred Jones and Son.

Q What early experience taught you that language has power?

A Good question. I was always a reader, from a young age I couldn’t get enough books, I remember when I moved from kids books, Enid Blyton and the like and I picked up one of my father’s books. It was Wilbur Smith, The Sound of Thunder. I remember thinking at the time that I wouldn’t enjoy it, that the words were too small and numerous and there were no pictures. But, Wow! Ten pages in and I was hooked, big style. I have never stopped reading but I still remember that book and that moment.


    • Hi Ian, thanks for asking… first question. Brilliant, thank you. But no prizes I’m afraid ha ha. As for your question. It’s difficult to say really, I suppose it always there, but I was too busy having a misspent youth which then followed me too far into adulthood. I had written a few short stories, most of which have been lost in the fulness of time and broken- unbacked up- hard drives. Then one day, out of the blue, I decided to write a book…

    • I would love to say nothing, that it’s all easy, but it isn’t at least not for me. I really don’t enjoy the process of sitting down and putting words on paper, it is very much a love, hate relationship and therefore the most difficult bit is actually sitting down and starting to write, especially since I have a master’s degree in procrastination.

    • You have to commit to your project. Simple as that. Write every day, whether you feel like it or not. As for the actual writing, don’t try to be someone else, don’t try to write like your favourite author. Write from the heart and your own style will emerge.

      • I second that advice. Sadly I’m not too good at following my own advice, never mind anyone else’s! But writing every day IS the key – the writing part of your brain is a muscle and to keep it in good nick you have to use it regularly. I should be doing this. But since I, like you, studied Procrastination… 😉

        • Sorry, didn’t notice this comment. I was procrastinating. Thanks for the comment, it is nice to know you don’t suffer alone. It can be an isolating process the whole writing thing…

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