What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
All sorts of different things; mainly, the fact that it's another day (and trust me, I'm thankful for every one of them). However, my partner is a good reason. Work is another. And writing is yet another. Life is really full for me, and there are not enough hours in the day to do even a small percentage of what I want to do!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Working, reading, playing xbox, building lego, talking or thinking. I have an extrovert/introvert 50/50 split, so half the time I'm being really loud, talking non-stop, and generally into everything and everyone; or I'm being really quiet, thoughtful, and generally shy.
What is the central idea behind your Age of Secession series?
There is not just one central idea, but several. I'm very interested in how human society will interact in the future, and how technology will have an impact on this. So, I have the conflict between humanist and borgite nations, of all varieties of shades, but I also have political boundaries based on the structure of society at the time. It is very heavily influenced by some of the things we see today, and in particular the Arab Spring and the tumultuous changes we have seen in the last 15 to 30 years in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe. I'm interested in how we will think in the future, how corporations will rise and then fall, leaving behind a more autocratic society (just a thought you know, I'm not saying its right!). There's an awful lot in the background, with it being a real universe to me at least, and it changes and gets added to all the time. It's a very rich tapestry the books are weaving.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes! It was a short story in school, after my grandad gave me a typewriter (this was in the days before computers became common), and it was about a cinema that caught fire. That was largely the entire plot actually, but I enjoyed it so much, I've never looked back since. I was about six or seven at the time I think.
What is your writing process?
Writing process is such an open and wide term, but to answer the question as well as I think I can, generally the writing process begins with just sitting there and thinking in general terms about ideas. Its not writing at all, its seeing "scenes" in my head. Then it progresses to putting it into some kind of order, and THEN putting finger to keyboard and writing it all down. I divide it very clearly into the plotting, the background, and the characters, fleshing all of them out. I have a beginning, middle and end for the plot, and threads for the storyline or storylines, with main and minor storylines I want to write. At this point the planning ends, and the writing begins. I let my imagination go, and what comes out is usually all the better for that bit of preparation to begin with. Then, when the first draft is complete, I check it over myself first, tweaking and changing parts, then get other people to read it. Finally I might make changes based on the feedback, and then its ready. The whole thing can take anything from two to eight months on average, depending on what else is happening in my life at the time.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Actually - no! We are surrounded by stories all the time, whether its news, magazines, short stories or full novels. So I'm afraid I don't - suspect it was probably something like Mr Men or of similar ilk.
How do you approach cover design?
I have an idea of what I'm looking for, then I go and find something similar. The central picture or idea is the important bit. Writing and words around it is of secondary importance. As long as the cover picks up on the central theme or idea of the book, I'm happy.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I actually have to admit, I don't read many ebooks. I do read some things online, but I tend to prefer printed books. Its satisfying to hold something when you're reading it. Perhaps a shocking admission for someone who publishes online, but I have to point out my books are available in print too, for that very reason. Each to their own.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Ooooh, that's a really tough question to ask! But, amongst them would be the George RR Martin books, because I love the political intrigue. Frederick Forsyth is good for the political and thriller aspects. I like Steven Erikson, for the world and the background and the characters. I love Terry Pratchett and the Discworld, for the ideas and themes behind them, as well as for the writing. There are others - and to be pedantic, I know the question was "what are your five favourite books" and instead I've given four authors, but between them they've written more than five books, so you've got more than you asked for there!
What do you read for pleasure?
All sorts, but anything science fiction or fantasy grabs my attention. I like some political thrillers too. I'm currently reading three books, one by Andrew Marr, a factual history book about wars through the ages, and a Locke Lamora book.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I don't read much on e-readers, but typically my computer rather than an e-reading device if I have to be honest, or my mobile phone.
Describe your desk
My desk is my computer balanced on my thighs. And I'm sorry, but nothing in this world will get me to describe my thighs to you .......
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the UK, in the second largest city - the great and wonderful Manchester - in a leafy suburb south of the centre of the city. It was a very happy childhood. So naturally, what I write is insane and bordering on psychopathic.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I wanted to see my books in print, and thought that after a life-time (so far) of writing, they were of a decent enough standard to show and share with other people. I am an extroverted introvert, or an introverted extrovert (I've never been quite sure which), so it was an extreme leap of faith and led to terrible stomach-churning nerve-chewingly panic-based cold sweats to say the least.