Interview – Harry Whitewolf

Back in September I reviewed Harry Whitewolf’s novel The Road to Purification, Hustlers Hassles and Hash. Author, poet and traveller, Whitewolf’s writing is a fusion of observation, fact and speculation. I asked Harry about his work, travelling, the number 11 and gn****.

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Interview – Leo X Robertson

This interview should have been posted here back in May (possibly 2015!), but thanks to a lethal brew of inertia and pre-occupation with a new job and duff car salesmen – excuses, excuses, they’re all just feeble excuses – indie author Leo Robertson has been forced to wait for his place in the pantheon of The Opening Sentence interviewees.

However, this is a big ‘un. Well worth the wait. So sit down with whatever it is you sit down with to drink and hear Leo’s take on self-publishing, world literature and selling out.

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Kindlecrites

There was a time when I was a Kindlecrite (Kindle Hypocrite). Criticising Amazon’s e-book reading system whilst selling my books on the platform. In the end, moral pressure became too much and I pulled my books off Amazon. If I relied on the income I’d be a dead man by now.

Tail between the legs I whimpered back to Amazon and started all over again. For all its trillions, Apple don’t hold a candle in terms of ebook sales, Barnes & Noble pathetic minnows, and Smashwords, bless ’em. They try. But over the past year I’ve noticed a curious phenomenon in the world of indie-publishing bloggers.

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Interview with Mary Papastavrou

A few weeks ago I read How to Sew Pieces of Cloud Together by Greek writer Mary Papastavrou. The depth of ideas and quality of writing buried the accusation that self-publishing and indie authors don’t compare to those in the mainstream. I published my review on this blog back in November, but I always intended to interview the author to find out more about the writing process and how the novel was conceived.

And here it is. Give yourself time to read this interview properly and take away some of the thoughts and ideas contained within it.

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How to Sew Pieces of Cloud Together – Mary Papastavrou

‘Oh and she forgot to mention that she suffers anxiety attacks every time she steps on a certain type of wooden parquet.’

It takes confidence to write a line like that at the end of a chapter about suffering and suicide. But Mary Papastavrou’s debut novel How to Sew Pieces of Cloud Together is fearless in both style and content. Continue reading

Guest Author Rebecca Grandsen

A few weeks ago I read a novel so extraordinary it still resonates. anemogram by Rebecca Grandsen is a road trip, a fairy story, human drama and contemporary urban myth in one unusual package.

Its effect on me meant that I had to invite Rebecca to answer a few questions and offer some insight into the creative process, imagery and concepts that lie behind anemogram. Here is the interview.

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Extract From The One Rule of Magic

I promised to give y’all a sneak Halloween preview and I think this little episode sums up the dark and light and frivolity of The One Rule of Magic. The novel is out now, a Halloween release, and expect to see a couple of reviews in the future from a couple of stout yeomen who agreed to put aside some time for it. (If you want to review it after reading this, let me know; there’s a free voucher code for Smashwords to the swift footed amongst you.)

In this section, Frieda Schoenhofer, believed by her parents to be dead, is in Prague where she has met Tomas Druba, a ventriloquist who adds the voices to puppets created by his wife Natasha. With time to kill, Frieda finds herself in the puppet theatre and decides to use her magic for a bit of nocturnal entertainment…

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Guest Author Nicholas Rossis

Many of you who blog on WordPress will be familiar with Nicholas Rossis’ blog. It’s a deep mine of information on all aspects of writing and publishing. But what about Nicholas’s novels? In this comprehensive interview we find out Nicholas’s writing process, inspiration, and the state of affairs in Greece concerning the publishing industry. It’s a fascinating read and my thanks to Nicholas for taking up the challenge. . . .


 

Many thanks for the interview! It’s great to be here 🙂

Being Greek you come from a culture of storytelling. Of all the mythologies in the world, why do you think Greek Mythology still has so much presence in modern culture?

That’s a great question. I guess it has to do with how much the Latins were influenced by Greeks. When they conquered, well, pretty much everything, they spread their love of anything Greek throughout Europe. Alexander had already spread the culture eastwards all the way to India, so…

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Guest Author KS Ferguson

In my recent invite to authors KS Ferguson was swift to respond and provided an insight into her writing methods, novels and views on publishing. There’s a lot to chew on, so I won’t take any more of your time. Dive headlong into a world of creative ideas and characters who are very much outside the box…


 

You write sci-fi with fantasy elements. Where does the inspiration for ideas come from?

Actually, I write mystery thrillers, some with sci-fi elements, some with fantasy elements, and some that have both. No matter how hard I try not to include them, there are invariably dead bodies dropping left and right and puzzles to be solved. I see mysteries in everything. If there’s a poorly written news piece on Yahoo (no shortage of those!), I’m immediately imagining what the rest of the story might be.

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Coming Soon. (No, honestly, it is…)

Alien-Noise-cover-issue-1You may remember I said something about a newsletter, collecting emails and all that dodgy sounding nonsense. Well, who wants a poxy newsletter, all black and white with Arial font and wingdings and clip art, when you can have a f*** off full colour magazine.

Yes, magazine. Content for the first issue is pretty much sorted, but there might be a few last minute tweeks – as is the nature of high end coffee table magazine publishing, you understand.

People will still have to subscribe to it, but it’s free, it mixes the real world with my my own bent perception of it, and should be worth every penny you’re not being asked to pay for it.

When it’s published it’ll be available as a PDF to download or an online Issuu magazine with that colossal turning page special effect! (Which means you’ll need an online coffee table to put it on when your friends come round for drinks.)

Details on how to sign up will come later, but for now, there it is. The Alien Noise ‘newsletter.’ Subject to alterations. I had to bully myself to get it done.

 

Yet Another Author Invite

I’ve done this twice before and on both occasions been overwhelmed by the lack of response. All authors need help, a word in the internet’s ear and I don’t like taking without giving. In the past I have laid down a few rules, the intention being to give authors who write ‘outside the box’ a chance to get their work noticed. There obviously aren’t many authors writing outside the box, and I’m still not prepared to allow romances on a blog predominantly themed towards heavy rock, vampirism, black magic and weirdness!

But in spite of previous attempts I’m going to have another go…

Authors, would you like to have a feature here at The Opening Sentence?

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The Many Species of Author Advice

Inspired by a recent article on Matthew Wright’s blog (‘Why All Who Write Should Think of Themselves as Writers. Period’) I started to think again about advice in the literary world. Advice in the literary world is one of the reasons why I’m metaphorically as bald as an egg; tearing out my hair has become an affliction that shows no sign of getting any better.

As a form of therapy I’ve decided to categorise all the various advisors you’ll come across on the internet, so next time you see a blog post entitled ‘#5 sure fire ways of #increasing your #Kindle #sales’ you’ll be able to get out this handy guide and spot which species of Charlatanus literi purpurea it is.

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Nothing

The keen eyed among you may have noticed a certain erratic quality to this blog. It ebbs and flows like a confused tide, sometimes engulfing the land with a quick succession of articles; sometimes it goes all Southport and retreats to the sea, leaving people wondering if they’ll ever see anything again.

I’m writing this in the Calf’s Head, a pub in the Lancashire village of Worston. I’m waiting for a cappucino to cool down and I’m absolutely filthy. I’ve been jetwashing the flagstones of a stately home all day and there’s a lot of damp blowback from a diesel powered jetwash.

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Hubble Bubble Double Trouble

You wait ages for a grown-up novel about black magic and two appear at once. Because of logistical issues too complicated to discuss here both Who Among Us… and The One Rule of Magic have been published simultaneously.

Who Among Us… is available now, The One Rule of Magic available for pre-order up to it’s release on Halloween.

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Blurb request – The One Rule of Magic

In a few weeks time I’ll be self-publishing another entry in the TotenUniverse. The One Rule of Magic is the first book in what I call the Reflections strand of novels following the new life of Bamberg witch Frieda Schoenhofer.

Frieda was first encountered in Who Among Us… (still doing the rounds with literary agents) and I thought she deserved her own series. And thanks to Au4 in Canada for the inspiration to get started on this novel.

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Plate Spinning

Men cannot multitask. Or so we’re told, but I have a simple method that allows me to multitask: I do one thing at a time. I call this serial multitasking, as opposed to parallel multitasking, which is what women do. (Allegedly.)

But even I am starting to come unstuck. Serial multitasking has one fundamental flaw: it takes ages to get anything done. It also relies on maintaining enthusiasm so that by the time you get around to doing task number B12-il09887 you still want to do it. (I still have the task of compiling a soundtrack onto CD from nine years ago. Just can’t find the enthusiasm to get on with it.)

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I Don’t Know What To Say.

Check out any site by or about literary agents and one thing you’ll be told is to include a bit about yourself in the query letter. This is the paragraph where you astound the agent by telling them about the competitions you’ve won, the articles printed in the New York Times; and how you met your MP husband/wife.

Some of us haven’t achieved any of that, and some of us (about 0.3% of the population) have never done anything. That part of the paper where the biography is supposed to sit is so blank you can see the watermark.

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The Right WordPress Theme

Remember the Good Ship Author Platform? My attempt to journey on a sea of mixed metaphors in a quest to build the perfect author platform for agents to be thoroughly impressed by. And do you remember that ship crashing into the harbour wall before it hit the open sea?

I’m having another Ed Reardon moment and despairing at my inability to fettle this WordPress business. I look at this theme, Twenty-Fourteen, and its lack of clarity; what we landscape architects describe as legibility of space.’ How do you navigate it. More importantly, where are my books?

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Author Interview – Rupert Dreyfus

‘Electoral democracy, for pretty much the entire nation, is nothing more than a spectators’ sport.’

Rupert Dreyfus’s debut novel Spark explores the individual in the face of big business and reacting against a system geared towards a select self-interested few. In this author interview I asked Rupert about writing, self-publishing and a worldview that led to the events outlined in Spark.


Q: Spark is your first self-published novel. How did you find the process?

A: The writing process was liberating. Prior to Spark I’d written a lot of stories but they were completely different in style and message. They were more personal and less satirical. I suppose I tried to take a more literary approach which, looking back, didn’t really suit me. I eventually got bored and tried something in the transgressive/ satirical style. Once I found a voice I was happy with and realised that I no longer have to obey literary conventions, it became an all out war.

However, the process of getting Spark read by people has been about as much fun as counting bum warts at a pig farm.

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#Ten #SureFire Ways To #Promote #YourNovel

Not all these tips are appropriate for every author. You need to pick the ones you think will work for you. Note: the author accepts no responsibility for any injury or embarrassment sustained in the course of following this advice.


 

1 QR codes

pros – They’re mysterious and people love a mystery. ‘Ooh, where does this QR code point me to?’ For effective and permanent exposure tattoo the QR code to your forehead

cons – not everyone has a QR code reader on their gadget, and if the URL changes you’re stuck with an unsightly scar on your head

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Exclusive interview with Toten Herzen’s Susan Bekker

Toten Herzen’s lead guitarist and arguably the most famous Rotterdam resident you’ve never heard of talks of small gobby singers, Jimi Hendrix, dog bites and growing very very old in the business of rock music.

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TheOpeningSentence
Will this interview lead to massive recrimination and legal action?

Susan Bekker
No.

TOS
So it’s going to be one of those interviews, is it? Like Ginger Baker?

SB
I’m still a little bit surprised ANC put me forward to do this interview. I mean, who the hell are you?

susan

TOS
What do you mean? It’s me. I wrote the Toten Herzen novels. You authorised me to write the official fictionalised versions of the band’s comeback.

SB
And we’re supposed to be pleased about that? You’ve portrayed me as a scheming, conniving backstabbing megalomaniac. In the first book you had me driving people mad on a plane, stabbing someone in the eye and eating chicken. I don’t like chicken. I hate chicken.

In the second novel you had the gall to suggest I can’t sing. . . . What was the phrase you wrote: ‘she opened her mouth and woke up all the bats in the trees.’ I can sing. I choose not to. And then I’m supposed to have this obsession with finding someone called Peter Miles who may or may not have been murdered by the band in 1974. What drugs are you on?

TOS
I’m supposed to be interviewing you! It’s all entertainment, isn’t it?

SB
It’s a pack of lies. It’s not like that at all.

TOS
So you and Dee [Dee Vincent, lead singer] really do get on?

SB
Of course we do. We all know she talks a lot. We know she nearly cost us $120 million slandering Rose Pursey. We know she’s volatile and upset George Michael by saying he looks like Keith Floyd. . . .

TOS
You mean Keith Allen?

SB
Whatever. She can be hard work, but she’s not Keith Moon. She is stable. Not the demonic headcase you created in the books.

Hullaballoo-cover-3d

According to Susan Bekker Dee Vincent is not a ‘demonic headcase.’

TOS
I thought it would be dramatic to have that tension between guitarist and lead vocalist.

SB
You say it’s common, but it only really happened between Ian Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore. One swallow doesn’t make a flock, or whatever they make.

TOS
Whatever you say. But there’s also the antagonism between George Lynch and Don Dokken.

SB
Yeah. Go on. Name one more.

TOS
Okay, point taken.

SB
The point I’m making is that you misrepresented the band, painting us as a bunch of monsters.

TOS
You are a bunch of monsters. You’ve made no secret of the fact about what you all are. No one believes all that hogwash about catching rabies from a dog bite in 1974.

SB
No, and they won’t now after all the witchcraft and vampire shit you threw us into. It’s all show business, it’s theatre. Every band has a hook. They have to stand out somehow. But you made us look like the Adams Family. You even said so in the first novel, when that marketing team said something like ‘we should get rid of the Munsters look.’ Elaine laughed out loud when she read that.

TOS
I didn’t think Elaine [Elaine Daley, bass player] ever laughed.

SB
Not in your world, not in the books you wrote.

TOS
So what you’re telling me is that you are a straightforward normal guitarist from Rotterdam, Dee Vincent is a level headed lead singer from Lincoln, and Elaine Daley is a barrel of laughs?

SB
I’m leaving.

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Toten Herzen 2013

TOS
All right. I apologise. I laid it on a bit thick, but I was asked to write books that would sell and it’s not easy when no one wants to read about vampires.

SB
They won’t want to read anything after all this. Why didn’t you make us werewolves or something that’s not out of fashion?

TOS
You’re not werewolves! The whole Toten Herzen myth in the 1970s was about you lot being vampires. Are you denying your own history? Do you want me to do a Stalin and airbrush all that away?

SB
No, I’m saying you should have written something a bit closer to the truth. Our comeback was a difficult choice to make. Rob Wallet had a convincing argument why we should do it.

TOS
It was Rob Wallet’s idea to write the books.

SB
You shouldn’t listen to him.

TOS
He’s the band’s publicist!

SB
Only until we find a better one. For now he’s the best we’ve got. And that’s another thing. You make it sound like we hate him. In the scene in the first novel when he’s talking to the A&R guy from Berlin and mentions a wayward golf swing . . . That never happened.

album-deadheartslive

Cover of the 1976 album Deadhearts Live

TOS
It’s called fiction.

SB
And Dee didn’t turn on him. I didn’t impale myself on the end of a Flying V or deliberately deafen a record producer. Sony turned down the band because they knew we insisted on releasing our albums on vinyl only.

TOS
And a bloody daft idea that would be.

SB
So you’re an expert on music marketing now, are you? You should stick to blogging. How many followers have you got?

TOS
Tens of thousands.

SB
Liar.

TOS
It’s fiction. It’s what I do. You are in denial.

SB
I am trying to promote my band and you have done a lot of damage to the Toten Herzen brand. For example, during the comeback concerts last year no one burned down a restaurant at the Allianz Halle. Lie number one. Lie number two: no one got stuck on a flag pole in Hungary. Lie number three: a papier mache horse was not thrown off the roof of the East Midlands Arena. The entire opening chapter of the second novel was a string of lies. And Tom Scavinio has not quit as our manager. He’s very angry about that. And what you said about his wife, well, words fail me.

TOS
It’s a novel.

SB
That’s no excuse. The third one isn’t going to be like the first two. We’ll have a veto over what goes into it.

TOS
Okay.

SB
Okay.

live-daley-poster

No one was injured by a flagpole in Hungary during the comeback tour.

TOS
It’ll be a very boring novel. Rock band goes on tour to promote new album, blah blah blah.

SB
It’ll be better than rock band chased by corrupt network of European covens. I looked up the name Malandanti. They weren’t even witches. They were evil spirits.

TOS
They said you didn’t understand the concept of fiction.

SB
Who said?

TOS
The band’s management. Alien Noise Corporation. They also said you were paranoid.

SB
No they didn’t. Did they? Who said that?

TOS
You obviously haven’t read the second novel-

SB
Has anybody read the second novel-

TOS
In the second novel Malandanti is the name of the police investigation into the covens, not the name of the covens. It’s in the chapter where Raven discovers the investigation on Weerdshit.org, the conspiracy theory website.

SB
You think people are going to notice little details like that?

TOS
Probably not in the 21st Century. But you see how easy it is for you, you Susan Bekker, to misunderstand the books and what I’m saying about you?

SB
I don’t have to be a simpleton to know when someone portrays me as an idiot. More of a lieutenant than a general, you said. I should punch your lights out for that.

TOS
Tell me about Jimi Hendrix. You saw him live in Rotterdam in 1967. How did you feel when he died?

SB
I thought it was a waste. He was already a giant, so where he was heading we can only guess. But it was like having a migraine when part of your vision disappears. I used to walk around and there was this big hole in my vision where Jimi used to be.

TOS
You said he was the biggest influence on your life, so I got that bit right.

SB
Yes, the factual bits were correct, and yes I did sing Hey Joe in front of the class at my old school. You see, you can do it when you try.

bekker-pose

Bekker poses with Flying V in 1971. The guitar was probably the only thing she had in common with her idol, Jimi Hendrix.

TOS
But that whole nostalgia reminiscent thing only gets you so far. The scene where you lead Rob Wallet around the places you visited as you were growing up, was okay, but it wasn’t dramatic enough on its own.

SB
You don’t think meeting Micky Redwall was dramatic, Redwall ripping off the other two After Sunset members wasn’t dramatic, playing in front of nine people at the Grimsby Welfare Club in 1972 wasn’t dramatic. It’s those human stories, struggling to make a success, they’re more dramatic than finding a lost vampire village in southern Germany. If you wrote a book about Toten Herzen’s origins that would be more interesting than one where we go round throwing people off mountain tops.

TOS
I thought that was quite a nice touch.

SB
And you say I’m a monster.

TOS
Actually no. In the first novel you open up to Rob Wallet and say exactly the opposite.

SB
When was that?

TOS
In the scene following the press conference when everyone thinks you’re all imposters. You sit next to Rob Wallet and say it’s all Micky Redwall’s fault for creating the band’s monster image.

SB
Yeah. I remember that bit. However, I don’t cry. I never cry.

TOS
I don’t think you cried in that scene.

SB
Good thing too. I never cry. And while we’re on the subject, why do you keep portraying Rob Wallet as having a crush on me? He doesn’t have a crush on me. He doesn’t secretly wish my boyfriend would ‘hurry up and die.’

TOS
That’s the third novel!

SB
Oh, so it is going to be another pile of made up bullshit?

TOS
No. In the third novel you get sick of him, the band kicks him out and he misses you.

SB
He misses me. In the second novel he’s supposed to be having a fling with Elaine. What happened to that story arc?

TOS
Who says anything happens to it. I haven’t written the damn thing yet.

SB
The chapter where she attacks him. I have never seen anyone wet themselves laughing, but I thought Elaine was getting close when she read that chapter. She calls it the Portinscale Event, like the Tunguska Event. As if she would jump Rob Wallet.

TOS
But it leads to Rob Wallet’s release, doesn’t it. The big issue that’s tormented him from childhood. Joining up with Elaine resolves that issue.

SB
Now, credit where it’s due, I did like the way that thread of the novel worked out. And that’s why I get so bothered about the rest of it. If you can write a story thread like Rob Wallet’s journey to find his lost valley why couldn’t you tell the rest of the story in the same way?

micky-redwall

Micky Redwall, Toten Herzen’s first manager, rock entrepeneur, mentor and arch-publicist. Killed by his own guard dogs in 1977. Allegedly.

TOS
Because then it becomes literary fiction and at the moment there’s only one person on Earth who reads literary fiction.

SB
Who?

TOS
Will Self.

SB
Point taken. But even so, you could have made the paranormal hocus pocus secondary to the human issues in the novel.

TOS
Like what? If Susan Bekker wrote Toten Herzen Malandanti how would it be different?

SB
I’d keep the Rob Wallet story thread. I’d do more with the story line about Raven’s stifling relationship with her old fashioned parents. I’d play around more with Dmitri Neved’s life collapsing as his wife’s life expands and improves.

TOS
I thought I did all that.

SB
No, you had Raven throwing up when she travelled with Rob Wallet and you portrayed Lena, Neved’s wife as a maniac who murders people using witchcraft. Subtle as a flying mallet.

TOS
You’re not exactly selling the book.

SB
It deserves to be banned. It should be suppressed. You did the world a favour pulling it from Amazon. Who ever bought a book from Smashwords? I don’t know anyone.

TOS
It’s hard being a writer in the modern age. There are so many self-published books.

SB
Well, that’s your problem, not mine. At least not many people will read about me being a dopey-eyed moron with a legend fixation.

TOS
You must have the same problems in the music industry. Toten Herzen coming back after thirty-five years. To what? No more record sales, streaming music where you earn two pence for three million downloads. Will Toten Herzen give their music away with the next iPhone?

SB
We haven’t sunk to that level yet. It’s bad enough being in your sixties in the music industry, let alone a rock band who does things the traditional way. Luckily we don’t need the money.

TOS
You don’t look like you’re in your sixties.

SB
Don’t go there.

TOS
Why not? It’s at the heart of Toten Herzen. Sixty year old rock band who look like they’re still twenty years old.

SB
Doctor Photoshop. As Todd Moonaj said in the first novel, plastic surgery my merry ass. The only doctor these lot have seen is Doctor Photoshop.

TOS
You’re sitting in front of me and you don’t look like your over sixty years old.

SB
I eat all my greens.

TOS
But no chicken.

SB
No chicken.

TOS
Or Chinese, or Italian, or snacks or sandwiches, no grazing, no fast food. . . . I summed it up pretty well in that chapter with Dexter the intern.

SB
Credit where it’s due, as I said. But we would never scare an intern like that.

TOS
You’d just bite him and be done with it.

SB
No.

bekker-02

TOS
How long do Toten Herzen plan to be around?

SB
That’s a very loaded question. A very ominous question. That’s a bit like walking up to someone and saying ‘you don’t know me, but. . . .’

TOS
I’m contracted to write five books.

SB
Oh, God help us.

TOS
The third one is planned and ready. The fourth has a basic premise.

SB
And what delights can we expect in the fourth novel? Dare I ask?

TOS
The discovery of four bodies in the basement of a house. A house that used to be lived in by the owner of Toten Herzen’s record label in the 1980s.

SB
I am definitely leaving.

TOS
Can we continue this interview later?

SB
Why don’t you do what you always do and just make something up.

TOS
That’s below the belt.

SB
You keep telling lies about us it won’t be the area below the belt you should worry about.

TOS
For the record Susan Bekker has just poked me on the jugular vein and left the building. That woman is hard work!

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Contrary to what Susan Bekker says Chris Harrison is the official authorised Toten Herzen biographer, and people do occasionally buy ebooks from Smashwords. ‘Oh, but I’ve only got a Kindle and only ever buy books off Amazon.’ Well, tough shit, in that case you’ll have to make do without!

 TOTEN HERZEN MALANDANTI

2014-3d-malandantiAvailable from these places: (Links open in a new window.)

BARNES AND NOBLE

SMASHWORDS

OYSTER

SCRIBD

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WE ARE TOTEN HERZEN

2014-3d-wathAvailable from these places: (Links open in a new window.)

BARNES AND NOBLE

SMASHWORDS

OYSTER

SCRIBD

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Author advice from YA writer Dolores Beagle

The title of her first novel is repulsive, but then it is a horror story. YA author Dolores Beagle is all set to enter the dog eat dog world of self-publishing with her first novel Tapeworm.

– Do you follow the advice you read on the internet?

There’s really only one bit of advice that matters. Fans. If you don’t have fans how do you expect to sell your books. In fact, there are three bits of advice. Fans, fans and fans. You gotta have fans.

You know, some people actually set out with the intention of writing a boring book. Don’t do it. Make your book as interesting as you can otherwise all those fans, you’re gonna lose them.

Make your dialogue zing. In real life people talk stupid, so don’t let your characters talk like real people. Make it zing, folks.

“Hey, John.”

“Mickey.” John and Mickey high fived.

“You going to the party?”

“Wouldn’t miss it for anything, dude,” said John.

“I’m hoping Cindy’ll be there. She’s cool,” said Mickey.

“You mean she’s hot?”

“Hey, you’re not hitting on my girl are you?” said Mickey raising his fist.

“She’s not your girl, you don’t even know her except for her name.”

Mickey jabbed a paw at John’s chin. He dropped like a sack of jalapenos.

There are other bits of advice too. Get interviewed on the radio is one, but why stop there. Dream big. Get interviewed on national television. They’re always looking for guests. If you don’t ask you don’t get.

– You describe your first novel Tapeworm as a mix-up. What do you mean by that?

Don’t be afraid to mix and mash your genres. My own novel Tapeworm mixes YA with slasher horror and romance. Hey, teens who like gory horror fall in love. They want something to read. You never fell in love when you were sixteen? People told me I was nuts to write a teenage romance horror, but who dares wins. (Which reminds me, never write cliches in your novel. That’s another no no.)

– What’s the writing process for you? How do you go from idea to finished book?

An idea usually comes to me in the form of a ‘what if’ question. I brainstorm. Some of the what ifs get tossed quite early on: like ‘what if that guy’s shoes ate him?’ (Actually I nearly ran with that one. I was going to call it Sneakers, but then I thought, well how does the same pair of shoes eat people with different sized feet?)

The what if question leads to characters, and again some people seem to think they can write about boring characters. Are any of your friends boring? No, of course not. You don’t hang out with boring people, why would you want to read about them.

I spend about a month on a first version or draft. Then go over it and throw in some curveballs and twists and surprises, then rewrite it. For Tapeworm I used a friend of mine to edit the novel. She’s a retired editor, so if you can’t afford to pay for a full time editor search online for retired editors and use one of those. Yes, I’m lucky to know people, but that’s how networking comes in. Put yourself about, folks. Meet the right people. Take an interest in them and they’ll be interested in you.

– Are you nervous about the reviews your first novel might receive?

Reviews are important, but apparently there’s a lot of confusion over what is a good review and what is a bad review. The current trend is that good reviews are bad. No one believes them when they read them. So what you actually need are a ton of bad reviews. One star, two star reviews are what give people confidence because they know these are genuine reviews and not written by your dog, uncle Tom Cobbley and that guy who works in Burger King who keeps giving you the eye.

Good writing is another bit of advice that people often overlook. Look at all these websites telling authors how to write a bestselling book and hardly any of them tell you to write well. I’ve seen other sites say avoid adverbs, semi-colons, question marks, full stops. Some of that works, but remember sometimes you need a full stop Your sentences will usually work better and be easier to read.

See what I did there, I left out the full stop and it looked like all one sentence. Rules are sometimes there to be broken. Be confident. Break the rules now and again.

Oh, and before I forget, on the subject of reviews. There are a ton of websites that help authors get reviews for their work. Find these websites, make a list and then – and here’s the trick – most authors submit their books and walk away, but it’s better if you are part of the team that runs the website. Join that team, folks. You heard it here first!

– What do you read for pleasure and what do you read for inspiration?

I get a bit worked up when I see authors instructed to read read read. Well if you read read read you won’t have time to write write write, will you? You have to write. Read when you’re in the bath or when you can’t write, like when you’re driving. (Obviously don’t read when you’re driving though, unless it’s a road map.) I don’t write when I have time. I make time to write. Sometimes, that means the kids go hungry, but you won’t find any obese kids in my house, so that’s two problems solved.

I read Patricia Cornwell and Dan Brown, occasionally Stephen King, but I’m too busy writing to read.

– Are you ready for all the marketing and promotion? What will your approach be to this perennially sticky problem?

Marketing and promoting your novel is surrounded by confusion. A lot of wailing and holloring comes out of authors’ mouths on this subject, but it isn’t rocket science, folks. Sure you can pay top dollar to some fancy pants ad agency in New York, but all they’re going to do is tell people what your book is about and where to buy it. That’s all there is.

What’s it about? Well, it’s about blah blah blah.

Where to buy it? Amazon.

If you want to be really thorough you can say how much it costs, but so long as it’s under three dollars people aren’t interested. If you give it away free then tell yourself how are you going to make money that way? It’s a no brainer. I see so many authors who want to earn a living from writing and they’re giving their work away. Why? Does Ford give its cars away? Course not.

People buy books like they buy tomatoes: they pick ’em up, give ’em a squeeze, see if the skin’s blemished and have a sniff. Treat your book like a tomato. The squeeze is the cover, make the cover fresh. The blemished skin is the writing; the slightest flaw and that shopper will put the tomato back in the rack. The sniff is the story, the extract that might be the blurb or the sample. If the sample stinks the story stinks. Back it goes in the rack. Your book is a tomato. Make it red and fresh and blemish free. Make people want to eat it.

– You’re not on social media yet. Do you plan to utilise the web?

Social media is a hot topic, everyone uses it, so use it. Doesn’t matter which one, use them all. I personally haven’t started yet, but I’ll be on Facebook to tell my friends and family, on Twitter to tell everyone else. I’m not camera shy so I’ll be on Youtube too. Don’t be shy, don’t be a shrinking violet. You have a big mouth, you wouldn’t be storytelling otherwise, so put your face where your mouth is and look people in the eye. Imagine if someone came up to you in the street and said ‘hey, Dol, what’s your book about and where can I buy it?’ Imagine what your response would be and film that response. Do it! Do it now.

– Give your book a plug. What’s Tapeworm about?

Tapeworm is about an infection that spreads through a college campus one semester. John wants to make out with Cindy, but they’re from different sides of the tracks. When Cindy falls ill with the mysterious Tapeworm she turns into a ghoul. John’s love for Cindy comes under pressure, can he still love the girl who has become a ghoul, will a cure be found? Of course, this is pretty straightforward so John has to fight the ghouls and this is when he meets Patricia, who isn’t a ghoul, but has wanted to make out with John for two years. Will she distract him from saving Cindy? It’s a tale of loyalty, redemption, temptation, strength of character and never giving up in the face of an apparently unbeatable threat. And the book is easy to summarise in one sentence: Zombie Flesh Eaters meets Romeo and Juliet. How simple is that?

The book cover is clever too. The font looks like a tapeworm and you have these college kids, but one is asleep and sort of looks dead. Above them are jungle type leaves where the tapeworm came from originally and then an illustration of a tapeworm is superimposed, but it covers one of the kids, so suggests he might be a carrrier, or the kid who’s asleep might be the carrier, or the kid reading the book. There’s no way of knowing who might be the next victim. The cover is loaded with questions and suggestion.

– Will there be life after Tapeworm?

I’m already working on my second novel, another YA horror romance. (Hey, maybe I should trademark the genre!) The second novel has the working title Bone Marrow. It’s set in the same college as Tapeworm and will follow the lives of the students picking up the pieces following the events in the first novel. It’s important to keep your titles short and snappy, memorable. Think about it, which story title do you remember? The Unbearable Lightness of Being or Tapeworm.

Don’t make it hard for yourself. Life’s too short to make it hard.

Thanks to Dolores Beagle for taking time out from her writing, writing, writing. No doubt, we’ll be hearing more about Tapeworm when it’s released. For now, here’s that horrific book cover. (You know what I mean!)

tapeworm

Author interview – Stevie Turner

Novelist and rocker Stevie Turner talks about the process of writing, life in the East End of London, guitar solos and meeting Mathew Manning.

Stevie Turner’s website

st-housewithoutwindows

1. You’ve written four novels. Can you describe the process you use from idea to publication?

At the moment I am just dredging up memories from yesteryear and condensing them together in chapters for some of my work. As you know, parts of my debut novel The Porn Detective are based on actual events.  I just had to write it all down when I was finally free of being one.  After attending a Pilates class for a year I found I was spending more time observing than bothering to do the exercises properly, because the idea of ‘The Pilates Class’ was forming in my head for my second novel.  A TV news bulletin gave me the idea for the third book ‘A House Without Windows’, and I pulled out the memories from my four years of working in a residential home to write Lily: A Short Story.

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