Author Interview – Graeme Cumming

Last year, I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them for guest-spots on my blog.  (If you are interested in participating, please contact me.)  I asked everyone thirty-five questions.  Some were basic, and others were multi-part inquiries, and I asked them to answer only what they wanted to or what was applicable. My friend and fellow-blogger, Graeme Cumming, had some very captivating responses which I’m sure will interest you, as well.  After you read his interview, please be sure to hop on over to his blog and follow him for a regular dose of his charm.  And now, I pass the microphone to Graeme …

*.*.*

ABOUT YOU::

1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:

I’m Graeme Cumming and I live in Nottinghamshire (Robin Hood country).  I’ve spent most of my life immersed in fiction – books, TV, movies – and have written stories since I was a child.

2. Please provide the link to your blog (and website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.):

Blog: www.graemecumming.net
Twitter: www.twitter.com/GraemeCumming63

3. How many books have you written?

Over the years, I’ve started several, but only completed three full drafts.  The first was nearly 20 years ago, before a young family became an excuse to stop.  I started the second 8 years ago after realising I hadn’t written anything for ages and was missing out on the pleasure it gave me.  The first draft took over 5 years to complete, but wasn’t right.  Needing a break, I put it aside and started the third.  The first draft of this took eight months to complete – a year later it was ready for publication…  

4. Has any of your work been published yet? If so, please share the link(s) to purchase it:

Ravens Gathering was my third novel.  It’s available here:

www.amazon.co.uk/Ravens-Gathering-Graeme-Cumming-ebook/dp/B00AGIDQA2/
www.amazon.com/Ravens-Gathering-Graeme-Cumming-ebook/dp/B00AGIDQA2/ 

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’ve self-published for several reasons:

  • Having worked for myself for almost 2 decades, control was important.
  • I write thrillers, but they sometimes cross into other genres, so don’t slot into publishers’ categories.
  • After meeting authors from both camps, I know the advantage of a publisher’s marketing machine is a myth. It’s up to the author to do the promotion, so why not do it for yourself?

6. What would you say motivates you to keep writing?

Time.  There are over a dozen novels already mapped out in my head.  If I don’t get on and write them, time will run out – and that’s without exploring the new ideas I regularly get.

7. Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?

I’ve read as long as I can remember and have been influenced by an array of authors, including Trevanian, William Diehl, Wilbur Smith, Desmond Bagley and Graham Masterton.  As time passes, my range has become ever more diverse. 

The last book I read was Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch – another author who crosses genres.

8. What is your preferred reading method? (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.) Why?

I did have an irrational dislike of e-readers.  Touting my manuscript around for some feedback, I realised how forbidding all that paper was.  A techie friend pointed out that converting it to an e-book document would make it easier to pass on and read.  Grudgingly, I acquired a Kindle… and instantly became a fan. 

9. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?

Pace and suspense can build up by shifting from one character’s situation to another’s.  This creates a series of mini-cliffhangers, and leaves the reader wondering how things will converge.  Third person works best for this.  As none of my stories are set in the present, past tense fits nicely. 

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ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK::

10. What is the title of your current work in progress or the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?

Carrion.

11. 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 underlying subject matter would lend itself to fantasy, but I am a thriller writer.  The fact that Carrion is a thriller in a fantasy world might just tick the “different” box. 

12. What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?

It started out as a fantasy story I made up for my children at bedtime.  It’s taken a darker turn since. 

13. What is your target audience’s age, gender, etc.?

My target audience is defined more by their taste than gender.  Age may play a part, but only in the sense that there may be some nostalgia for entertainment from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s – influences range from Hammer Horror to The Saint, via stuff like The Avengers and The Twilight Zone

14. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your story?

An ancient order is mystified when a precious artefact is stolen.  Conscious something evil is at work, and aware of their limitations, the Order turns to an old friend for help.  As a group of youngsters begin their adventure, a dark presence overshadows them, and its source has a shocking story of its own.  (Oh, yes, and there is a dragon and a troll – but not as you’ve experienced them before.) 

*.*.*

ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE::

15. How often do you write?

If I used the last 12 months as an example, the honest answer would be “not at all”.  I’ve spent most of 2014 restructuring my working life to allow me more time to focus on writing.  That’s coming together now so I’m expecting to write most days now. 

16. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?

From past experience, a typical sitting would produce around 1000 words, but I don’t set targets. 

17. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?

A bit of both.  With Ravens Gathering, I completed three or four revisions.  Although well-meaning friends have offered to edit, I know I need a professional product to be taken seriously, so I use a professional editor.  Tony’s feedback has been invaluable, causing me to rewrite sections of Ravens Gathering…  and forcing me to completely overhaul Carrion.  I’d be lying if I said the feedback didn’t sting, but once I’d had my tantrums, I realised both books would be better as a result.

18. 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?)

Although some writers say they like to see where the story takes them, I prefer to know where I’m heading.  I start with a plot outline, then break it down into a chapter plan before I start writing properly.  That methodology helped me reduce first draft time down from 5 years to 8 months.

That doesn’t mean to say I stick rigidly to the initial plot.  As Ravens Gathering progressed, I realised certain events shouldn’t happen because they wouldn’t be in keeping with how a character had developed.

To get myself back in the zone when I sit down to write, I review what I wrote the day before, which might prompt some changes.  Otherwise, I’ll pretty much write the first draft straight through.  

19. How do you come up with your character names and geographic location / business names?

There’s no formula for character names.  If I come across a name that lends itself to a type of character, it tends to be filed away for future use.  Very often, though, it’ll be first name first and then finding a surname that goes with it.  For Martin Gates, a key character in Ravens Gathering, the surname came from David Gates (of Bread fame – though you’d only know that if you were a certain age).  Funnily enough, a business that’s referred to in the book (and will appear in another one) has the name Griffin (James Griffin was David Gates’ songwriting partner). 

The geographical location for many of my books will be fictional.  Ravens Gathering is set in the Sherwood Forest area (I did say I lived in Robin Hood country), but I’m not specific about where.  Several of my other stories will take place in the same area. 

20. Does your real life ever get neglected because of your writing? If so, how do you feel about that?

Far from it.  My writing has been neglected too much by my real life – and I’m changing that now because my life is getting far too short.

*.*.*

ABOUT YOUR WORK::

21. If you could be one of your own characters for a day, who would it be and why?

I’m not sure I’d like to be any of my characters for a day, because most of them have pretty screwed up lives.  That’s probably a reflection of reality for most of us, so why would you want more of the same?

*.*.*

Thank you, Graeme, for allowing me to interview you.  I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you and your work as much as I have.

~Rachel

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5 thoughts on “Author Interview – Graeme Cumming

  1. Reblogged this on graemecummingdotnet and commented:
    You know, since I joined the blogging community (and particularly that sub-section of serious writers) I’ve been amazed at just how supportive everyone is of each other. In a world that is regularly portrayed as dog-eat-dog it’s great to have this experience that reinforces my underlying belief that, at heart, most people want to help each other.

    Rachel Carrera is a terrific example, using her own web presence to encourage and promote other writers. So I feel very privileged to be featured – and on Valentine’s Day of all days (you’re not trying to tell me something, are you, Rachel?).

    I hope you, dear reader, will enjoy this as much as I enjoyed contributing.

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