Who or what inspired Eastern Nights?
Thailand. I’ve been going there since I was twenty as my father lives there. I also have siblings in the North. It’s a fantastic country and I thought it would make a great backdrop for a novel, so I started writing Eastern Nights last time I was last there. It turned out a little steamier than I anticipated but I guess that might have been the heat J.
Who or what inspired you to start writing?
My wife and I moved back to the UK three years ago after I worked in Hong Kong for a while. I think it was the dreary English weather and the ‘same old’ office environment that made me desperate for an escape. That escape was writing, and once I started, I couldn’t stop. I resigned from my job to write fulltime in 2018.
Who is your favorite character from your books and why?
I think Lily from ‘Lily’s Fire’ (my debut) because she reminds me of myself in some ways. I can identify with her because I didn’t realize I was gay until I was in my late twenties and met someone special either. But I also like Kate from ‘Eastern Nights’, even though we have nothing in common. If I could be one of my characters for a day, I would choose her.
How do you approach writing a new storyline?
I’m a pantser so I usually just sit down with a glass of wine and make sure I’m relaxed, and my mind is open for the first chapter. Once I’ve set the scene, the rest tends to follow naturally. I may re-write later as I don’t plan much, but overall, it’s an organic process. I do pick a location for the backdrop upfront though, and I choose the names for the main characters and picture what they look like.
Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?
Travel. Before I start a new novel, I’ll travel to where the book is set, and I’ll start there. I’m usually so inspired that by the time I get home, I’ll have 50% of a rough first draft. If I travel with my wife, I’ll get up at five and write until midday, so we have time to explore during the day.
I’ll observe people who look intriguing to me and imagine what their lives are like. My side characters are usually inspired by people I know.
Where is your favorite place to write?
The kitchen table. It’s where I spend most of my time if I’m not traveling. We recently bought a new one and it was so difficult to choose something I knew I was going to spend at least eight hours a day behind. In summer, I like writing in the garden too.
What is your writing process?
As mentioned, I’m a pantser so I don’t really have a process. I do have a deadline however, as I now have an amazing ‘team’ and I need to take their availability into consideration. I set myself a wordcount each morning and try to stick to it or top it, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t reach my daily target. Sometimes my wife is the first to read a WIP and sometimes it goes straight to my editor. We’ll do a couple of passes between us and I’ll re-write a little. If I’m stuck, I’ll discuss it with my editor. After that, I’ll send the manuscript to my beta readers and they’ll come back with comments and other things they’ve picked up on. After the last edits, my editor looks over the ‘clean’ manuscript one more time before I forward it to the ARC readers before release.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
I’ve made a lot of mistakes the first time around but that was mainly regarding publishing, so the whole process is much smoother now. I don’t think it’s changed my writing process though, other than the fact that I have deadlines now.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
My wife bought me a MAC. I use it every day, all day and it’s always with me wherever I go. I LOVE my MAC J
What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?
I’ve had a couple of emails from ‘straight’ people who told me they got ‘bi-curious’ and more than a little adventurous after reading my books. I’ve also had some lovely messages from people who struggle with alcoholism and told me they could relate to my characters in ‘Fireflies’, which is a love story about two recovering alcoholics.
What book that you have read has most influenced your life?
I honestly have no idea. I’ve read a lot of books in a lot of different genres but now that I write, I find myself reading less and less because I don’t make enough time for it anymore. David Sedaris is my favorite author and I’m currently reading Clare Lydon’s ‘You’re My Kind’, which I’m really enjoying, and Jessica Brody’s ‘Save The Cat! Writes A Novel’.
Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?
I’m aiming to release three more books before February 2020:
-Western Shores (part 4 in The Compass Series): featuring Maddison, Hannah’s half-sister.
-Living: a novel about finding love through loss, grief and depression.
-Still Untitled (that’s not the title, it’s actually still untitled): a romance with Amsterdam as the backdrop. I can’t say too much about it yet, but the main character is a burlesque dancer! I’ll be going there this month to do some interviews and make a start.
How do you take your coffee?