I’m very shy in real life. Yes, I know, it’s hard to believe. But social media is easy. That’s not real life. When I have done author signing events and panels, I have been so terrified that I’ve almost thrown up. But at the same time, I love it.
I used to do a lot of painting. I trained in fine art, and I always thought that would be the way of my career. But ever since I found the joy of hand-made jewellery, I spend all my free time making pieces to sell on my online store. I love starting with raw materials and finishing up with something glamorous. And it is such a thrill when a client buys my work.
Direct films. I wish I had pursued a career in the film industry. Be it writing scripts or working in special effects. In my fantasy world, I write the scripts and direct the films…you know, just before I collect the Oscar lol.
I read Dracula when I was eight, and that set my imagination flying. I am also a massive Doctor Who fan (classic series and new), and as a kid I used to write my own Doctor Who stories. Then I saw Alien for the first time and that changed everything. I wanted to write horror and scary stories! As a result, I wrote a sequel to Alien when I was very young….and it was terrible of course, but I loved putting words down on paper. I have never really looked back since then, but work took over and I didn’t take my writing seriously until much later in life. Do I wish I had become published earlier? Yes, hell yes! But my first book, Dead Camp took four years to write and find a publisher. That is just the way things work out, and I remain mighty grateful that I am now working within this amazing world.
As a middle aged gay man myself, I felt the need to express the fears and problems that face the older man. I no longer feel attractive or desired, and so the book explores how Henry faces such a quandary and the lengths he goes to in order to feel young again. Of course, the consequences are horrific. It is my take on Jekyll and Hyde after all! Plus the terrible persecution gay men faced during the Victorian era fueled the story further as it was something that I really wanted to explore.
Gay literature is so full of gorgeous young things, and so I wanted to do something from an older perspective. The structure of the story gave me the chance to tell the tale from a younger point of view as well as from a gay man in his fifties, and that was very satisfying to do.
I walk away and play my PS4 for a bit. I’m a bit of a gamer. Currently I am battling my way through Witcher 3. Then I need to try and complete Mass Effect Andromeda. It’s a great way for me to relax and free my head a bit when a book stumps me. I don’t usually get writers block, but because my plots are so complex, I sometimes write myself into a corner and need to walk away in order to think my way around the problem. But that’s part of the fun, isn’t it!
The moment I was offered a contract by my publisher for my first book. Though I have tried to break into the world of writing for years, everything just remained words on paper. When I found a publishing house and they took me on board, suddenly my words became books. When they said yes to the first Dead Camp book, I was suddenly an author. That was one of the single most thrilling moments of my life, and a lifelong dream come true.
I love the research part of my writing. It’s a thrill to find out information and see how it can spin you into a whole new direction. I read a lot of books on the subjects I’m writing about, and the internet is my best friend. I use history a lot, and I love to use existing events and twist them to my own means. Plus I am a bit of a conspiracy nut, so combing research with my twisted plots and characters is pure joy for me.
The most important part for me is to ground my work in a believable world. So I do an awful lot of research on locations etc because I want to be able to describe them in great detail. I like to try and create a palpable atmosphere when I write and I want to transport my readers to a time and location. If it reads real and feels believable, my unbelievable characters stand a better chance of feeling real within the environments I place them. Detail is everything for me.
As I write this, I have not touched my current work in progress for two weeks. It’s only been a few weeks since I released my last book, and I needed a little break away from it for a while. However, on a normal day, I will make jewellery by day and then start writing in the evening and work from 6 till the early hours of the morning. I usually go to bed around 1.30pm. I will also have days where I will do nothing but writing from the moment I get up in the morning to the moment I go to bed. It depends how well a manuscript is going. I don’t set goals or word counts. But I do push myself, and I do work an awful lot because I cannot sit still for two minutes! Where possible, I will always make sure I take Saturday’s off to spend with my husband. Otherwise I am a bit of a workaholic.
My favorite part is the friends it has brought me. Maggie Lane and Ian Cadena both started out as readers of my work, but quickly became very close friends, and now I think of them as family. I have met some incredible people because of this business, and that is the greatest joy of all.
The hard part of this world is getting your work out there and noticed. I’m sure every author will tell you the same thing. Getting our books in front of readers eyes is the most difficult part of all. It can be heart breaking sometimes. But that is the nature of the game, and as a writer, I need to keep pushing, and keep developing to reach my audience.
The highs and lows. The highs of completing a book and gearing up for publication, and the excitement that brings when your novel goes live. However, there is always this terrible crash afterwards, especially if the book doesn’t shift as quickly as you hope. It borders on depression. When I released my last book, it was very slow to gain any traction, and that sent me off into a deep depression, to the point that I wanted to quiet. However, when you have words in your blood, it is very difficult to stop because the words keep going through your head. The stark difference between the two emotions really shocked me, and I have come to expect the crash that comes when I release a book. That doesn’t make it easier, but at least it is expected lol.
There is a creature in my Alive series that I have always wanted to write about, and writing for him has been a pure joy. I can’t say who it is because that would ruin the surprise. ‘The Man Inside Me’ led directly into my Alive series. As a result, I have been able to write about characters I have loved since I was a child, but there is this one monster…I have had a hell of a time writing for him, and so far I have loved every moment of putting my own spin on his legend.
That my social media presence does not match my books. Well, I’m not a monster or a killer, or a sexy fit 20 something stud. So go figure. I tend to put out a lot of humour on my social media. I like to keep things lite and amusing, as well as my jewellery and book posts. I was told once that my social media does not accurately reflect my author persona, and as such, I am not taken seriously as an author. That hurt. But, there are enough people out there posting pictures of half naked men. As with my books, I am a bit different. I have a very large social media presence, and I do a lot of live broadcasts, and I laugh a lot. But that’s me. Just because I like funny posts, and smile and laugh, doesn’t mean that my work should not be taken seriously. I write with every bit of passion, commitment and integrity that I have in my body.
A fan who became a dear friend had a quote from my final Dead Camp book tattooed on her arm. I was so touched by that, and it really meant a lot to me. It amazed me. The quote was ‘I will love you until the stars fall from the sky’. I cried when I wrote that last line, and I sobbed when my friend sent me a picture of what she had done. I thought that was just so wonderful.
I nearly gave up. I spent three years researching the series, and over a year trying to get a publisher, and every one of them was a no. That was heartbreaking. But then someone said yes, just as I was about to hit the delete button and give up. That first series was my Dead Camp novels, and I am so grateful because they have built up one hell of a following. The series was written as a very dark alternative to Twilight and 50 Shades. It is set during World War 2 after all. As such, it is raw and very shocking, and I knew that it would be a hard sell. But one publisher took a risk on me, and I have never looked back since. It made all the no’s worth it.
The Man Inside Me acts as the Prequel to my Alive series, and is my version of Jekyll and Hyde told from a gay man’s perspective.
Henry Jekyll. He means well, he really does. But he is hankering after his youth. He hates middle age and the way his body is betraying him. He also feels desperately unattractive. That is me in a nutshell. Henry has a lot of love to give and he feels that he will never be able to give it, so when that love comes back to find him, it is all the sweeter for it.
The cover needed to reflect the period of the novel, but the figure also had to have a particular look about him. Beautiful, but haunted. The book is a Gothic Romance with a strong Horror element, but I wanted the cover to be a bit enigmatic. I was so thrilled with the finished result!!
Right now, I am trying to write the fourth ALIVE book, Love Is Alive. It is proving a little challenging. This is the last but one book, and I still have a lot of ground to cover. It is also going to be my version of Phantom of The Opera. So I have songs to write for the book also. There is also a HUGE shocker of a reveal in this book, and I need to get it just right for it to pay off. I also need to get all my characters to a certain point by the end of it so that I may conclude the series in the fifth book. Right now, it feels like a bit of an impossible juggling act and I’m not happy with the opening of the book. When I write, I need to find my way into the story, and right now, that is not quite right. All part of the challenge!
With The Man Inside Me and my Alive series, I drew my inspiration from classic literary and film characters and put a LGBT spin on them. The entire thing has been a huge thrill, but also difficult because I didn’t want them to be a retelling of past stories, but new stories that fit what already exists. If that makes sense. That was particularly important for Being Alive because of who is in it. I love the old Universal monster movies, and they have played a huge role in shaping this series, as well as the books from which they derived.
Elizabeth Kostova. She wrote a vampire novel called The Historian, and that book showed me how you can use history and bend it to the authors needs. I have read that book over and over again, and it seriously is one of the very best books I have ever read, and the most influential on my writing career. The ability to tell a story that spans history, and tell it from various points of view is a real challenge, but the Historian showed me how that was possible. Dark, complex and so very intricate in its plotting and construction, I can only ever hope to emulate the style she used to write that amazing book, but by God I’m loving it!
I’m just about to start Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer. Don’t judge me. I love these books, and the movies. I can’t help it.
Elizabeth Kostova. Bram Stoker. Stephenie Meyer. Charlaine Harris. Dan Brown. They have all had a huge influence on me for different reasons. And I think they are all amazing, and I so wish I could have but a fraction of their talent.
I have two, and both of them are very dear to me. Ian Cadena and Viva Gold. They both write LGBT Romances, and they are both amazing. And they are both incredible friends and I love them with all my heart.
‘Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.’