November 2011

For the second of our November 2011 e-book author interviews we are cock-a-hoop to welcome Lily Byrne, author of the hot-blooded Saxon-England tale, ‘Ragnar the Murderer’  published on 6 July 2011 by Night Publishing.

Lily Byrne

Lily Byrne

Hello, Lily. Welcome to the e-bookmuncher e-book author interview hot-seat. Delighted to have you here…. and here’s your starter for 10….

Tell me a bit about yourself and the things that make you tick.

I am a very solitary person who needs lots of time alone to think and write. I don’t socialise really, except on the internet or with other mums. I love writing (obviously) and wrote for many years before being published. My main interest is writing about relationships, I am fascinated by how people tick and why some people get on brilliantly while others don’t understand each other. I am passionate about organic food and eating healthily from local sources.

What do you like to do when you are not writing or working to promote your books?

Er…. I like watching motor sports and films. I take time off writing by… writing fanfiction!

What is your favourite genre for reading?

I’m not much of a reader, I do much more writing. I generally read non-fiction: popular psychology and ‘how to’ books, but sometimes I read romances, either M/F or M/M, I don’t mind. It has to be romance though, not just sex.

Which two authors have influenced you most as a writer?

I have to say one is Jilly Cooper, I always imagined I’d write books in the romantic genre, but I was no good at writing her type of books. We all have our own style and I’m just not posh enough to write horsey, upper class romances like she does. I suppose the other author is Dickens. I like the way he wrote convincingly as a woman in Bleak House, that is an amazing achievement. I like the way he could write hard-hitting social commentary such as Hard Times or more flowery waffling stories like Martin Chuzzlewit.

Describe the moment you decided to pen your first book?

Do you mean as a twelve-year-old or recently? Haha. But seriously, when I decided to write ‘Descending’, it was a dark, cold midwinter. I had been working for years with disadvantaged teenagers and was totally drained and worn out. I’d heard and read so much about teachers having relationships with students that I wondered what would actually happen if an affair occurred. So as I was feeling low, cold and hopeless, I wrote a bleak and cold story about such a relationship.

Tell me a little about the research processes involved in your writing?

Generally I use the internet as I live in a small village with no library and rarely have use of a car. My research for my Viking romance/ crime novel ‘Ragnar the Murderer’ made use of lots of good websites, I made a list of them in the back of my novel. The best was ‘the Viking Answer Lady’ site, by Gunnora Hallakarva. I became completely absorbed by 10th century life and finding out what they did.

What was the trickiest bit of writing your latest book?

The fight scenes. Descriptions of fighting bore me silly, so I tried to avoid writing them. The trouble is, it’s hard to write a Viking story without fight scenes, so I keep asking male friends to help me write them. I only liked the fight scene at the end of Ragnar where it began raining so the two fighting Vikings ended up mud wrestling, what a shame!

Tell me a little about your writing disciplines – most productive time of day, background music, daily word targets, tea or coffee, lucky pants… that sort of thing.

I really don’t have disciplines. I have a child of 5 and I am a stay at home mum: its only now I can actually get into a writing routine as she now goes to school, so basically 9.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. So its ‘write then or not at all’. Before now I had little time as I was running around after her as a toddler so I had to write whenever my husband had time off and could look after her. I get very frustrated when I have lots of ideas building up but I pour them out onto a Dictaphone, a notebook, anywhere until I can start writing again when the house is empty and quiet. I know all my fellow parent/writers struggle with this too.

Tell me about your experience in getting your e-book to market and how you go about promoting your work.

I’m not much of a marketer. My books are on my blog, I promote on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads mainly, just by doing the odd post really. My publishing group, Night Publishing, is full of supportive writers, we all market each other’s books. For example, when a certain bookshop turned its nose up at my books, my Night Publishing friends rallied round and put details of my books on their pages to publicise them. There is also a brilliant Facebook page called Novel Publicity which encourages authors to like each other’s pages.

What’s in the pipeline?

Ragnar, the Movie! I’m working on turning it into a screenplay as my publisher wants us all to do that to our books to see if any will get picked up by film companies. I also have a sequel and a spin-off to Ragnar the Murderer waiting to be worked on. They have been ‘in the drawer’ for two months so I can return to them with fresh eyes.

E-bookmuncher thinks that giving e-books away for free sends the wrong message to consumers. What are your views?

Before I was an author I would have said I definitely don’t agree with giving books away for free. But now I’ve been published I seem to have relented. My publisher has a theory that if you put an e-book free on Smashwords, for example, the rate of download will show if its going to be popular. I’ve yet to try that, but I will. Obviously it would be great to be rich and sell every book for vast amounts but it’s not my main goal in writing, I just write cos I have to. I’m not really money orientated, I need to hire a promoter to do the marketing for me.

If you could be a character from any book in history, who would it be and why?

Jo March from Little Women. She is similar to me: not a girly, fluffy type of girl, she is an imaginative writer who never goes the way people expect.

Plug your latest book in ten words or less.

Viking Romeo and Juliet with more sex.

As E-bookmuncher wishes to encourage authors to help each other, which standout author and book would you recommend that I approach that fits the criteria on the E-bookmuncher.com blog site.

‘Empty Chairs’ by Stacy Danson. A true and horrific story of a young girl escaping from unimaginable abuse and finding the power of friendship.

I have this on my iPad waiting to read it. It comes highly recommended. Thank you for the suggestion.

Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed, Lily. It’s been a delight. Very best of luck with ‘Ragnar the Murderer’ and we look forward to reading the sequel and wait with bated breath for the movie…  I wonder who you would choose for the lead role?…. think the diary is looking good *nudge-nudge, wink-wink*

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For the first of our November 2011 e-book author interviews we are thrilled to welcome the highly talented Kristen Stone, author of the refreshingly imaginative ‘Edge of Extinction’  published on 27 July 2011 by Night Publishing.

Kristen Stone

Kristen Stone

Delighted to welcome you to e-bookmuncher, Kristen and  thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. Let’s get the show on the road….

Tell me a bit about yourself and the things that make you tick.

I have never thought of myself as anything special, just a wife and a mum doing an ordinary office job, part time usually as I’m not very good at getting up for early starts.  I am still happily married to a wonderful man who believes it is his job to look after the family.  I have never had any ambition to do anything other than write, but up until now I have struggled to find anyone who appreciates what I write.  Thanks to the power of the internet and electronic technology that is gradually changing; that and the faith of Tim Roux at Night Publishing who has taken me and many other aspiring writers under his banner.

What do you like to do when you are not writing or working to promote your books?

At the risk of sounding like somebody’s grannie, I like knitting and doing cross-stitch, I enjoy classical music and try to play the piano – try being the operative word here – I like doing big jigsaws which I then stick together and hang in the hall of my bungalow.  The only exercise I do is walking our Staffie at least twice a day and walking up to the pub with my husband at the weekends.  Sometimes I go swimming but that gets boring after 12 lengths so I wouldn’t say I’m that keen. Oh, and I am somebody’s grannie, I have 3 grand children aged from 2 years to 15 years – don’t ask how that happened, I don’t think anyone knows! The age gap, I’m talking about.

What is your favourite genre for reading?

A few years ago I would have said mystery and adventure.  I loved all the books women are not supposed to like, John Le Carre, Wilbur Smith, Robert Ludlum, James Herbert.  Never read a romance and can’t stand Pride and Prejudice.   Now I read anything and almost everything from new authors, but I’m a bit of a slow reader so my Kindle backlog is building up quite rapidly.

Which two authors have influenced you most as a writer?

Would you believe Enid Blyton?  I can’t remember reading many books before I discovered The Famous Five and Secret Seven and then there was no stopping me.  And once I began to read avidly I thought ‘I could do this.’  I don’t think I have been influenced by anyone, in that I don’t try to emulate the style of any other writer.  I just want to tell the stories that create themselves in my mind.

Describe the moment you decided to pen your first book?

I don’t think I’ve ever had a special moment when I’ve thought ‘I must write this’.  The very first book I wrote was by hand in a collection of exercise books bought at Woollies and stuck together.  I was about 15.  The story in Edge of Extinction evolved from an idea about having a tail (it was in a song) and this character appeared.  He had to have a name so I called him Kianda Mala which I decided meant Monkey Man.  He had to have people to live with so he became part of the Chachinka tribe.  Then he had to have a reason for contacting the outside world otherwise no one would hear of his story so… you’ll have to read the book to find out any more.

Tell me a little about the research processes involved in your writing?

Well, to start with I went on a trip down the Amazon river.  Ever so hot there. No I’m joking, the only places I’ve ever been outside the UK are Spain and Tenerife.  I must confess I do not do a great deal of research for any of my books.  They are fiction.  I don’t try to say they are anything else.  I did look at a few books about the Amazon, but I chose an undiscovered tribe because that way I could make them do whatever I wanted them to do.  Hopefully, I have made the story believable – people have said it is.  And that is the work of a writer.  Jules Verne didn’t actually go to the centre of the earth or the moon.  I do use the internet to find out about things, found a place for the main character of my next book to live by searching estate agents, and google earth can give you a feel for places you haven’t been, and I try to check any real facts I am using.  I wouldn’t put a tiger in the Amazon for instance, although I do mention alligators which may actually be called something else although when I was trying to find out what they were called I couldn’t find anything.

What was the trickiest bit of writing your latest book?

Not getting carried away.  The first time I wrote this story I created a whole life for Kianda and what is now the main part of it was almost a coda to finish it off.  And then there was the task of making up the names, trying to make sure they were relatively different but had a form to them.  Mind you, naming characters  in any book is one of the things I find quite hard – and keeping track of them.  In one book I realised I had used the same first name for two different people and had to quickly think of something else.  These were only minor characters with a couple of mentions each and I think I got it right in the end.  One day I might write a book where everyone is called John, after all I know loads of Johns in real life!    

Tell me a little about your writing disciplines – most productive time of day, background music, daily word targets, tea or coffee, lucky pants… that sort of thing.

I am probably one of the most undisciplined people you are likely to come across.  Well maybe not, but I have few regimes or habits.  I write in silence, although I can read with music in the background.  I don’t set targets.  I often plan things out when I go to bed and then write it up whenever.  I will often think of a scene for several days before committing it to the computer.  I always type directly onto my laptop, never write it first, can’t read my own writing and why do everything twice, I end up going through it a dozen times before it is finished.  I mainly write in the evening into the night because this is the time when I don’t have to stop for anything, walk the dog, make some food, clean, tidy, shop etc. (not that I clean, tidy or shop more than I have to!).  It’s not unusual to receive an email from me timed at ten minutes past midnight.  If I had someone to bring them I would have constant cups of tea by my side, but as I haven’t I probably drink less tea when I’m writing then at any other time during the day because I don’t want to stop and make it.  Tried having a coffee machine handy once, but it gave me migraine!

Tell me about your experience in getting your e-book to market and how you go about promoting your work.

E-books are so new and wonderful!  This time last year I was just coming to terms with reading them and didn’t have the faintest idea how to get them ‘out there’.  Then I discovered Smashwords and KDP but best all I was introduced to Night Publishing who have been wonderful.  Ok, so it is possible to publish a book yourself but the world wide web is a very lonely place if you haven’t got any contacts and before I was taken on board at Night I had no contacts.  It is easy posting an e-book, the hard part is getting noticed amongst the millions of others that are there, and I mean millions.  At one time I looked at my ranking and it was something like 3,540,967 (that’s just a number I’ve made up to get all the commas in the right place but the ‘3’ is correct).  With the contacts and support of Night my ranking has gone up to a more respectable 250,000ish.  Obviously I would like it to be somewhere in the top 100 but realistically I doubt that will ever happen.  So I’ve started a blog, made a facebook page, joined Twitter, although I’m not impressed with that.  As you can probably tell from my answers to your questions I tend to run on a bit so 140 characters does my head in.  I’ve also joined several groups on Facebook that promote books and generally bore the pants off my friends!   

What’s in the pipeline?

Night Publishing have taken on another book of mine entitled ‘The Penhaligan File’.  This is all about a journalist trying to track down what went wrong with a particular drug.  The big problem is the drug was made by the company run by his father.  That’s all I will say for now. Coming out soon but I’m not sure when.

E-bookmuncher thinks that giving e-books away for free sends the wrong message to consumers. What are your views?

I don’t think free books are a good idea.  I wouldn’t want mine to be free.  I think readers should pay for the chance to read a book even if it is only a token 99c. It has, after all, taken the author time and effort to write it and they deserve a little return on their effort.  I don’t think anyone is ever going to make a fortune from publishing their books as e-books but it is a chance to get seen and read.  I can understand why publishers don’t want to take on untried authors, they are in publishing to make money after all, it is a business just like making cars.  But if you can get books for free why pay for them?  And then you are in the situation where no one, not even Amazon, is making any money. (Payment from Amazon is another sore point.  They hold on to your money for what seems like forever, and if you don’t sell enough they never pay you.  I would love to know how much money they hold from people who have bought just a few copies of some books.  If everything in the low rankings has only sold less than the minimum amount Amazon will pay out, how much has Amazon taken from customers and not passed on to the authors?)

If you could be a character from any book in history, who would it be and why?

I don’t think I’ve found that person yet, or read that book.  I am happy with who and where I am, why would I want to be anyone else? 

Plug your latest book in ten words or less.

Environmental disaster thwarted by man with a tail.

As E-bookmuncher wishes to encourage authors to help each other, which standout author and book would you recommend that I approach that fits the criteria on the E-bookmuncher.com blog site.

Brendan Gisby author of The Bookies Runner.  Brendan also runs a site called McStorytellers for Scottish writers and he is the writer who pointed me towards Night Publishing for which I shall be forever grateful.

Great choice, Kristen. We love that e-book too!

Many thanks for agreeing to be interviewed, Kristen, it’s been a pleasure. Very best of luck with ‘Edge of Extinction’ and indeed for your new book, ‘The Penhaligan File’. We look forward to reading it in due course.

Kristen can be contacted at http://www.kristen-stone-the-writer.com , or through her blogsite http://kristen-the-writer.blogspot.com .

  1. What an interesting interview! Thank you, David and Kristen. The Edge of Extinction impressed me greatly when I first read part of it on Authonomy, and the impression has grown ever since. A brilliant and very original book!
    (FB’d and tweeted.)

  2. This is a comment on Lily Byrne’s Ragner the Murderer.

    What an excellent description of the book, Lily! ‘Viking Romeo and Juliet with more sex!’ When I wrote my review of the book, before I’d read this interview, I mentioned Romeo and Juliet at one point. This is a very readable, engrossing book, a real page turner. Definitely adults only, mind you! And quite Jilly Cooperish, in fact, in that the sex is very much secondary to the characters, setting, and action.

    A very interesting interview. I suppose all writers have a lot in common, but I found myself constantly saying, ‘Yes – that’s like me,’ – except, of course, for the reading, which I do in every spare minute, and in some which aren’t really spare!

  3. Excellent interviews both Lily and Kristen. It’s lovely to read about peoples backgrounds and how writing effects them.
    So nice to see you around and about David. It seems eons ago when I interviewed you for Struggling Authors. I hope you’re well.
    Tee

  1. Pingback: Latest e-book review and author interview….. Saxon style « ebookmuncher

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