A while back when I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them, I was elated with the responses I received. (And if you would like to participate, please feel free to contact me.) I asked thirty-five questions and gave the interviewee the freedom to answer only what they wanted. My friend and fellow-blogger, Gary Cann, had some very interesting responses which I’m sure you will find as fascinating as I did. When you’re done reading the interview, please hop on over to his blog and make sure you follow him for more entertaining tales. And now, heeeeere’s Gary…
1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:
My name is Gary Cann, and I write under the same name, simply to avoid confusing myself. I live in Herefordshire in the UK, just a short drive from Hay-on-Wye, known as ‘the town of books.’ The peace and quiet in the area is perfect for writing.
2. Please provide the link to your blog (and website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.):
My blog is – www.Beckybooks2014.wordpress.com
Twitter – @Beckybooks2014 https://twitter.com/Beckybooks2014
3. How many books have you written?
So far I’ve written two full-length novels and I’m working on a third.
4. Has any of your work been published yet? If so, please share the link(s) to purchase it:
The two novels are published both as e-books and paperbacks and are available through my Amazon author page:
5. If you have been published, did you self-publish or use traditional publishing? Why? If you have not been published yet, what are your plans for the future?
I self-published both of my books through Kindle and Createspace, and it’s the route I’ll use for future books as well. The difficulty with traditional publishing routes is that they are understandably concerned with costs and profits and in the economic climate in which we live, taking a gamble on something new isn’t really an option. Taking the self-publishing route allows me to put my books into the market-place where potential readers can make up their own minds whether or not the stories are interesting. The economic gamble and risk are drastically reduced.
6. How old were you when you started writing? When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I think I must have been about seven years old when I started writing. It was a Doctor Who story, complete with pictures of Daleks and burning buildings. I very quickly learned that illustrations were not my forte.
7. What would you say motivates you to keep writing?
I enjoy words and I love the development of stories and characters. From one idea or thought, where will the story go and how will the characters develop and handle the situations that arise? I think you can tell from that comment that planning out a story is not high on my agenda.
8. Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?
Favorite authors? An eclectic bunch, really. Terry Pratchett, PG Wodehouse, EV Thompson and Thomas Hardy to name a few. It was a real boost when one of the reviewers of my first novel (‘Smallbrook’) said it was written in a style that Thomas Hardy would have been proud of. I’m currently reading ‘The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All’ by Allan Gurganus, a fascinating read.
9. What is your preferred reading method? (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.) Why?
I mostly read paperbacks and hardbacks, because as so many people say, there is nothing better than the feel of a book, but I do use the Kindle apps on my phone and on my laptop.
10. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?
Both of my published novels are in third party past tense, while one of my ’works-in-progress’ is an attempt to write in first person past tense.
11. Do you “always read” or do you take breaks between reading books?
Yes I’m always reading. I can’t imagine not having a book handy.
12. How many books would you say you read in a year? How many at any one time?
At least thirty, possibly more. Usually I have up to six books that I’m dipping in and out of, all of different styles just to make it a bit easier.
ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK:
13. What is the title of your current work in progress or the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?
The one I’m spending most of my time on at the moment has a working title of ‘The Snare Of Death.’
14. What is your novel’s genre? Would you say there is a sub-genre? What makes yours different than other books in the same genre?
‘The Snare Of Death’ is a contemporary murder mystery, set in Herefordshire. My first novel was a historical novel set in rural England during the First World War, and the second was a suspense novel about identity. I’ve blogged about genres. They’re important if you’re targeting a specific audience, but I would like any potential readers to think ‘oh, that story looks good, I’ll give it a try’ rather than ‘that’s sci-fi, or historical or whatever, I’m not interested.’
15. What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?
It was inspired simply by seeing an old-fashioned luggage trunk at an auction room; you know, the sort people used in the nineteen thirties when going on a long sea voyage. It occurred to me that a body could be hidden in one of those, and the bones of a story came to me.
16. What is your target audience’s age, gender, etc.?
I haven’t the faintest idea, which sounds an awful thing to admit, but I’d like to think that anyone of any age or gender could read my work. I think by targeting an audience as a writer, you’re in some way limiting your options.
17. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your story?
It’s set in Herefordshire, where I now live. The body of a local businessman is found in a trunk in an auction room and a police investigation swings into motion. At first it looks like a money-motivated killing, but is it?
ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE:
18. How often do you write?
I try to write every day, no matter how few words that might be. There’s always an odd moment to be used if an idea needs writing down.
19. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?
It depends on how the ideas are flowing or how much real life is intruding. I feel satisfied if I can manage somewhere in the region of 1,000 words, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t get there.
20. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?
I like to write in a notebook with a pencil (and a cup of coffee at hand) so I do my own first edit as I type. Then I pass the typed work on to my partner who then happily points out any mistakes I might have made and checks that everything hangs together properly.
21. What is your method of writing? (i.e., Do you write the entire manuscript, then go back and make changes? Do you plan chapters as you go along or write the story then go back and add chapters? Do you re-read as you go along or after you are done with the first draft?)
I tend to write scenes connected to my idea and the plot line that is developing, and then spend time connecting and re-writing until the pieces become a whole. It’s certainly a case of constant re-reading and re-writing. As far as planning goes, I do work using a chapter plan because of the way I write in scenes, moving the chapters around as necessary.
22. Do you have a muse? If so, please elaborate. If not, what inspires you?
The desire to tell a story is what inspires me, and as I said earlier, I like to see what happens myself!
23. How long does it take you to write a full manuscript?
The first one took a long time, but as soon as it was in print, I thought, yes, I can do this and became more confident, so usually six to seven months now.
24. Do you give yourself a word limit for each day or a time limit to finish your novel? If so, please elaborate.
I tried for a long time to stick to word limits because other writers seemed to make such a big thing of it, but it just isn’t for me. I’ve usually got two or three projects on the go, so if I dry up on one story, I can switch to another and carry on writing. I certainly don’t set myself time limits or deadlines. I think it can lead to work being rushed and that will transmit itself to the reader.
25. How do you come up with your character names and geographic location / business names?
I was asked this question a few days ago, and I’d like to say I pluck them from thin air, but that sounds flippant. Anyway, nothing in life happens like that. It’s like a glorious pick’n’mix from names of people I’ve met or read about in newspapers and magazines. A forename here, a surname there, that sort of thing. Locations are usually places or a conglomeration of places I’m comfortable with, but having said that, one of my works in progress is set in the Venezuelan jungle.
26. How long (or how detailed) are the notes you take before you start writing?
I tend to do my research as I go along, checking details, facts and procedures. It’s important to have your facts right and your locations if you’re using real places. If a reader notices a mistake and loses their faith in the facts you include, then how can you carry them along with the story?
27. Do you have any “must haves” to help you write? (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)
A drip feed of coffee and if there happens to be cake available, then all the better.
28. Do you only write during a certain time of day or in a certain location? If so, do you make yourself stop after a certain time?
I’ll write whenever the opportunity arises. Basically, I can pick it up or put it down depending on circumstances.
29. Is your real life ever neglected because of your writing? If so, how do you feel about that?
No. Real life keeps your feet on the ground as well as being a rich source of ideas.
30. What is the quirkiest thing you do or have ever done when writing?
Does it sound boring to say nothing?
ABOUT YOUR WORK:
31. If you have written more than one novel, which is your favorite and why?
That’s like asking a parent to choose between their children. Because they’re so different, they both have things I like. The best answer is that my favourite is the one I’m currently writing and it’s the one that requires nurturing.
32. If you could be one of your own characters for a day, who would it be and why?
I have a real soft spot for the Reverend Simpkins in my first novel, ‘Smallbrook.’ He enjoys being surrounded by books!
33. If one of your books became a movie, who would you choose for the “perfect cast” of main characters?
I think my characters are very English, so I think I would be inclined to go for stars of British TV for ‘Greenhill.’ I’d choose Philip Glennister for the main character Malcolm Gregson, Kevin Whatley for my detective, Derek Townshend, and Emelia Fox to play her namesake Sonia Fox.
34. What is the oddest thing you have ever researched for one of your books?
The finer details of rigor mortis.
35. What is the most difficult thing you have ever researched for one your books and why?
So far, I’ve not found any of my research difficult, so maybe I’ve been lucky. Researching cheese-making and cider-making techniques in the early 1900s was interesting.
Thank you, Gary, for allowing me to interview you. I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you and your work as much as I have.