Kev’s Author Interviews Presents:
Wrington, North Somerset, United Kingdom
A Short Bio:
Born in Aldershot in 1958, and brought up in Headington, Oxford, I have been a creative writer since the age of eight, a journal writer since 1972 and wrote my first novel when I was eighteen.
After studying for a degree in English Literature at Aberystwyth University, and then getting a PGCE, I taught English and Literature at a secondary school in Weston-super-Mare for thirty years.
I took early retirement in 2012 and have been a full time writer ever since. A blogger since June 2012, I have, thus far, published FIVE books on CreateSpace – although two of them were actually written many years ago.
I play fiddle in a band, Ghost Weed, have a teenage son – and am just about to start making all my books into AudioBooks.
Links to books and social sites later!
Kev: What is your latest book about?
My latest book, ‘The Lyre of Logres’, is a collection of forty-five short pieces, all of which deal, in one way or another, with the relationship between man and the landscape. Some are lyrical, some more down-to-earth; some are personal, others written through the eyes of an alter ego – but all vibrate to the central metaphor: that of Logres (the Inner landscape of Britain) as a giant lyre, and human actions, emotions, thoughts as the ‘fingers’ which cause that lyre to sing. It is about the way we and the land are intimately connected, and thus everything we do, say or think creates metaphorical song, which can be sorrowful, joyous, angry – and so on.I have read one piece, ‘Llywd Llwynog’ out aloud on a recent video I made for Youtube
Kev: Who or what influenced you to write it?
Ever since I was a child, I have noticed, and adored writing about, the world we live in. Sunsets and sunrises, waves and beaches, Full Moons and forest trails – all are, to me, sources, of vast inspiration and deep emotion.
When I started my studies of the Western Mystery Tradition, twenty years ago, and gained my First Degree Initiation in 2012, this life-long love became a deep sense of connection, both with the land and with all beings inhabiting it.
Truly, we are all connected – and what hurts the land hurts all of us, and vice versa. Maybe one day we will fully realise this and seek to align rather than divide.
Kev: Did you do any specialised research for your story?
Yes, I have done a great deal of wide reading of the subject. This includes ‘The Mabinogion’ ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ and many books on Celtic, Egyptian and Norse Mythology.
I have also done hundreds of meditations, or pathworkings, which have helped to form a vivid picture of my Inner Logres.
Kev: What challenges did you face while writing the story?
Extreme anxiety and pain: I spend far too long hunched over a laptop, and am a very tense person anyway, and the aching in back and torso has made it very hard at times to keep going.
Difficulties in my private life have made the whole process even more stressful – and I have often felt discouraged and tempted to give up.
My previous four books have not, as yet, caught on in the wider community (on line) and this has been difficult to deal with at times.
Kev: Who is the protagonist?
The protagonist is, ultimately, me, I suppose – but many of the stories were ‘dictated’ by strong voices from the Collective Unconscious, past selves, aspects of my psyche (however you wish to interpret it!).
Perhaps the true protagonist, however, is the wounded wasteland that is Logres – crying out, through my words, for the healing action of the Holy Grail.
Kev: What would you say is the protagonist’s greatest weakness or obstacle and why?
In metaphorical terms, and going back to my central image of the lyre, the careless and insensitive attitude of the beings behind the fingers which strike up the notes: the fact that we humans do not treat the Land with due reverence; that we plunder and rip and burn and waste and despoil; that we break the lyre’s strings so that the music is discordant and sad and broken.
The characters’ relationship with the Land is made painful or difficult by human greed and thoughtlessness.
Kev: What would you say is the main antagonist’s greatest strength?
Humanity’s lack of care feeds the antagonist.
I would say an attitude of ‘It is someone else’s problem, not mine,’ or an inability to hear the soft weeping and plangent notes of the land both allow the antagonist of indifference and ‘Us and Them’ ism to rise and triumph.
Kev: Could you provide a short passage from your book to give us a taster?
Here is an extract from ‘Llwyd Llwynog’ (full video version link above):
‘I saw him, just the once, girl, the leader of the Llwyd Llwynog. Padding through purple, gorse-gate to Cader’s Peak, dun smoky line of sea and horizon crimped in early light far below, the fox, look-out in the liminal lands, pointed, the way dogs do.
‘What was there to see? Why, nothing, other than the ruched russet folds of Cader Idris and the great gulp in the earth filled, now, with froths of choppy lake water.’
Kev: When you write, do write off-the-cuff or do you use some kind of formula?
Off-the-cuff always: Voices speak, urgently and commandingly, or in broken weepy wisps of sound, in my ears; pictures, bright as butterflies, taunt me by fluttering their wings just out of sight – and I chase them, endlessly, netting as many as I can. The voices relax when I have captured that which they want to communicate.
Personal pieces come naturally because of my forty-three year (so far!) journal-writing habit.
Kev: How do you deal with writers-block?
For me, the block lies in lack of self-confidence and comparing myself to other (more commercially successful) writers. I allow such things to jam ugly logs in the stream of bright images, and, at such times, I weep or hide and cannot write.
Very often, meditation brings me back to my own path.
Kev: Preference for writing: Day or Night?
Probably day – because I can see the wonders of nature as I write; also, because music inspires me, I prefer to work at a time when the sound of my music is not going to disturb others (I dislike headphones).
Kev: What is your process for editing your work?
I edit as I go along usually. Some words and images feel right – and others jar. I tend to listen to my instinct on these matters.
Thirty years correcting English essays has given me a fairly good eye for mistakes – but I do miss some and have already found a professional editor for my next novel!
Kev: How do you come up with your book covers?
CreateSpace has a good range of basic covers available free. I have been very lucky in the sense that two friends – Sue Vincent and Carolyn Eaton – have assisted me with the images.
Having said that, I have little artistic skill or ability and would be the first to admit that my covers are not the best part of the whole process. Next time, I am going to get someone to help me!
Kev: Do you think the book cover is important?
Vital: It is the first thing people see. My covers are a weakness, despite help from friends – and this may have something to do with my slow sales on line so far.
But, now that I can see the errors I made in the first five books, I can improve!
Kev: Which publishing platform do you prefer and why?
Thus far, I have published all my books on CreateSpace as paperback options – and Amazon Kindle as e-books. This works for me because it is free.
In an ideal world, I would have found a niche with a traditional publisher – but this has not happened as yet.
I would prefer to be published traditionally because it would give me greater exposure – and would play to my strengths (writing) rather than my weaknesses. (art work, promotion, marketing…)
Kev: Do you face any daunting obstacles during the publishing process?
Yes! Self-doubt ALWAYS catches me a blow, as does my terrible struggle with technology. Formatting the books has been a nightmare – and, as for page numbering, well, I still wake up screaming/in a cold sweat at the dreadful memory!
The other problem has been Paperback-to-Kindle transfer which has, inevitably, come out looking weird and which I have no idea how to fix!
Even worse, when people have tried to explain (in language suitable for a Reception-age child), I have had no idea what they were talking about.
Kev: What methods do you use to promote your work?
So glad you asked this, Kev, because this part of the deal has caused me more anguish and sleepless nights than all the hours of writing put together: I have tried Free Downloads, reduced price on all Kindle editions, giving books away free, blog posts, social sites, liking other people’s book, buying and reviewing other people’s books, Thunderclaps, YouTube videos…
So far, the promotions which have worked the best have been book sales /signings on the ground, with people I know, in the local area.
I have received a few reviews of my books – but not enough to launch me out of the literary gutter!
Kev: Do you have any advice for new authors?
Don’t give up! It is a hard road, unless Lady Luck bestows her bright gifts upon you, and you are competing with millions of other writers.
Be true to yourself. It will be very tempting, at some point along the road, to write in a formulaic way in order to catch a winning genre. My advice: Don’t. You only live once; your gift is uniquely yours – and copying someone else’s style in order to gain a few more sales is not worth it!
Kev: Which social media platforms do you use the most?
Facebook, the blog and Twitter – oh, and YouTube:
Kev: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Here are links to my books on Amazon:
‘Come Laughing!’ is a book of humorous short stories, all relating, one way or another, to sex!
‘Long-Leggety Beasties’ is a funny novel set in a school – and is, I confess, semi-autobiograhical.
‘Riding at the Gates of Sixty’ retells parts of Virginia Woolf’s life, and her death, from the viewpoint of Virginia herself, Leonard Woolf (her husband) and Vanessa Bell (her sister).
‘My Esoteric Journey, Volume 1’ is a collection of short pieces, all of which relate to aspects of the Western Mystery Tradition.
‘The Lyre of Logres’ – see above.
All pictures and images are on separate attachments!