My most recent book, and only book, is called Pray. To quote from my profile on Goodreads;
”Pray is about an embryo growing in a hurricane. It is a tear jerker as well as a look at cults and christian mythology. The embryo is slightly deformed due to the hurricane affecting the atmosphere and eco system. She explains this deformity to herself through fables she overhears. Also, because of the weather, she is awake most of the time, and hears about her immediate environment which she will be expecting to fit into. This is mostly a criminal and Christian society. Her father is a Christian and her mother is cult.
The book also examines the input of the television and internet on the babies character, as this is where the baby in the book obtains most of her information. ( The mother is enthralled by the TV and Shannon, the baby, mostly hears the unsaid through the movement of the TV characters eyes and hands.)
A big part of the book is maps and moles, Egyptology and cult methods. ”
Tell us something about yourself.
I am from the Uk, where the book is set. The main character is based on my father, who was born on the island next door – Eire ( Ireland.) I am half Irish, but don’t speak with an Irish accent, unless I am doing impressions. I have only just self published, even though I have been thinking of writing a book for a while. Something interesting about myself? My skin. It is the basis of my book. I have only mentioned common and shared ailments or natural skin formations in the book, but I have skin that is unusual, even for specialists. I think it is called photo sensitive. I will include one or two photos of the parts of my face that are affected, and you can see it for yourself.
What inspired you to write this book?
An online networking group, called Activagers. There is a group on the website, ( Writer’s muse,) and I joined in a few discussions. While looking at ‘self -publishing censorship’ discussion I was motivated to write a book myself. I researched self-publishing as I wrote, and decided that I would just print my book instead of using a company to self -publish. Most of the censorship is included in the small print, and most companies will not accept a manuscript if they do not like the content. Also, some have a clause that they can change the content to something more mainstream. Some people do not have a problem with this, but I do. I agree that books should have a guide of suitability, but not censorship that is dependent on a ‘group’ decision. It should be government controlled, not small company dependent. I have to add that my book doesn’t contain anything extreme. It mostly has religious and political views that are not popular, ( I made most of them up ), but nothing that would need censorship. It does mention masturbation on the first page, but it is connected with health and hygiene rather than a sexual description. Are Tampax instructions censored? I also have to add that I haven’t actually sent my book to any self- publishing websites, but am theorizing to what is subject to censorship.
How did you choose the title?
The Christians pray, the cults have prey. It is set in a UK hurricane season, and fear of being the latter drive people to do the first.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
The problems I encountered was mainly software burps. I nearly lost the manuscript at 65, 000 words. It stayed on my machine as a rescued document. Luckily I down loaded Open office, and swapped the document between Microsoft Office and Open office. This seemed to work, but the finished product is a bit rushed. As I self-published, this was the main problem I encountered. This isn’t the first manuscript I have had difficulties with – I have lost several at the same stage ( ones I wasn’t going to publish,) and I think it may be a common software problem.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I think I have always been a writer, but wasn’t motivated to publish a novel until I joined Activagers. ( See above.)
Do you have any writing rituals?
No, but I did learn at school two things that have helped me enormously. One was to get my ideas down within a time span, with a word limit. The second was to complete what I started. If I had any advice to would-be authors it would be to practice with old English Language GCSE exam papers. They will give you an essay title, a time limit, and a word count to aim for. It is a great way to train yourself.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
From a map. I don’t want to spend time wondering if I will upset people by using their name in a derogatory way, so I look at maps. If I throw a penny on to a map, and don’t understand the word it lands on, I change the letters around so it is recognizable as a familiar noun name. In this novel I purposely chose Ireland, in memory of my dad, to pick the names from.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
I re learnt how to use my skills, my memory and judgement. I also utilized a lot of free programs that I had forgotten existed, and learning to use them again was more fun than watching the telly. Writing has become a great hobby again too – I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
I am doing it all over again! I looked at the published product and saw mistakes that I didn’t notice when it was in document or PDF format. I am re-editing for a second, improved edition. If I had one wish it would be to have a writing program on my computer that didn’t turn upside down at 65, 000 words.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I enjoy lots of different books, as long as they are well written. I enjoyed Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Anne Rice, Fay Weldon and Ian Banks. I also enjoy old encyclopedias. Please don’t take this as a guide to my style of writing. I could never hope to compete with writers of that stature. I am not being defeatist, I am being realistic. They were brill. Their style of writing was individual and entertaining. Even when the subject matter was tired and old they breathed life into it.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I am 40, 000 words into my second novel, and it is a continuation of the first. Shannon wakes up in a hurricane hospital, new born and frightened. The book continues the themes of the first. I am waiting on reviews of the first book before I continue. I need some feedback on the content – whether it is understandable. I am hoping people will remember that it is the view of a baby, and not an adult, when they read it. I know some of it may not be that clear – I may not have explained ideas very well – but hopefully that is me being over critical of myself. If the general opinion is that it needs to be changed, I will change it. I want to be able to re-read it myself in a couple of years and be able to find it easy going. There are so many things I have written down and have looked back on and gone ‘uh?’ I don’t want the second edition, or the second book to be like that.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
I think I have already given the best advice I have in previous answers. I would add that most writers think their ideas are original until they remember a TV program, a film or book with the same plot. I would write a brief plan of a book – the main ideas – and show it to family and friends, to see whether the idea is exactly the same as something else, before writing it in novel form. I went to a lot of effort to make my book original, as I know I am not as talented as some writers, who can take the same old formula and make it interesting. If you can, that is great, but don’t have false modesty. Stand back from your work and take criticism. Hide it away in your document folder and look it again after a few months. See if it still has appeal, before you spend a lot of time on it.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
My book is not mainstream, and it is written for people who are interested in anthropology and myths. It is for intellectuals and theorists, but caters for the more humane too – It is a sob story that sums up what happens in hurricane hit towns – the worse and the best. It sums up the news of the era it is set in -1960’s, and the influence the map of the world has had on groups of people. I guess it is written for those sort of people who like that sort of thing. Please don’t class it as a christian book. Even though it has a lot of christian theology, it is my christian theology. I made it up. Like wise with the cult. It is my idea of what the churches could of been, and what a cult could believe in, if it was my cult.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
I have two websites – the first one gives website addresses for those that want to self publish – graphic design programs and flip book download sites – all free downloads – . It also gives a synopsis, and photos that inspired me. The website is https://sites.google.com/site/praycouk/ The second website is the first chapter excerpt. It can be found at prayfiction.weebly.com