What inspired you to write your first book?
My first published book, Leporello on the Lam, was inspired by a visit to the cinema to see a live broadcast of Don Giovanni from The Metropolitan Opera. It was a couple of days before NaNoWriMo was due to begin and I’d signed up for it but hadn’t an idea. Suddenly, inspiration struck: what would happen to Don Giovanni’s servant after his master was dragged off to Hell? And that was it; I was off!
Do you have a specific writing style?
I think my sense of humour characterises everything I write. I try to change the authorial voice, dependant on the context of the novel, but the humour always comes through.
How did you come up with the title?
It can be difficult to come up with a title that no one has used before. I think, in most cases, I’ve succeeded.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I never know what the novels are ‘about’ until I get to the end of the first draft. Themes become apparent and I will either make these clearer during the edit or let them simmer along as subtext, as the case may be.
How much of the book is realistic?
“Realistic” is the wrong word. If you mean “true-to-life” then I’d say none, or very little. I write fantasies but as long as the characters and the action work within the context of each book, that’s fine by me.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Only slightly. For instance, I have worked in a library, and so Paul in Poor Jacky worked in a library – he also became a bestselling author (wishful thinking!). I don’t seek to base characters directly on people I know. Characters have to serve a purpose within the plot. I am more influenced by someone’s turn of phrase, or idiosyncrasies. These may crop up when I meet a character for the first time, but I don’t set out to include something I’ve observed in someone.
What books have most influenced your life most?
In terms of writing the works of Stephen King and Terry Pratchett have influenced me: King’s insights into psychology and Pratchett’s wisdom. I love the way wit drips off the pages of a PG Wodehouse novel, but I also admire the invention and adventure of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
What book are you reading now?
I Shall Wear Midnight – Terry Pratchett
What are your current projects?
I am currently editing a sci-fi western called Vultures’ Moon. I set myself the challenge and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. It may even turn into a series.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes: Write. Write every day. If you’re not writing, read!