About the Author
James went outside; the cool air a refreshing experience beneath his skirt. Ignoring the wolf whistles of some guys dressed as zombies, he headed over to Hunter, who stood, scrolling through his phone.
“Y’know, when you moved in, I thought you were being an arse to me ‘cos you were some sort of snob, an’ I wasn’t good enough to share the same air as you.” James called out, “Now I realise you’re just a dick to everyone, it’s a miracle you’ve got any friends.”
Hunter’s head shot up from his phone screen, and he glared at James. “I don’t remember asking your opinion. And I’m not going to take the advice of a guy in a sunflower dress.”
“Oh, sunflowers… I was tryin’ to work out what-” James broke off, looking back at Hunter. “Never mind that, are you gonna come in and make an effort to be human?”
Hunter snorted at his question, and glanced at his phone again. “It’s nearly midnight, I’ve got somewhere to go. And James, if you value your sanity, you’ll mind your own bloody business.”
Hunter tucked his phone into his pocket and glanced away down the dimly-lit city street. “Can you tell Johnny that… ah, just tell him I went home. Not that he’ll ask.”
“Sure.” James said, as Hunter disappeared in the opposite direction of their dorms.
James stood, not sure what to do. Loud music and student voices were coming out of the pub, as everyone continued to enjoy the Hallowe’en party; but outside, the cool air was quickly sobering him up.
Party with all the relatively-normal students; or find out what Hunter was hiding? In the end, it was an easy choice.
James pulled his phone out of the surprisingly handy little floral handbag. With a few taps, he logged into his tracking app, quickly bringing up Hunter’s location.
With a final glance back towards normality, James jogged down the dark street, his yellow dress billowing behind him.
James kept jogging, away from the busy hub of the city, and away from the streets of architectural beauty. He found himself in a small bundle of warehouses, all dark and silent, apart from one. James tucked his phone back in the girly handbag, and moved towards the source of light.
The main door was ajar and, checking there was no one nearby, James slipped inside.
The warehouse was a neatly-ordered affair, with pallets and boxes stacked high in straight rows. James could hear voices ahead, he kicked off his noisy flip-flops and padded barefoot towards them. What he saw didn’t make sense. Someone wearing a cloak and hood stood at the head of a makeshift table, and numerous candles highlighted a young woman lying on the table. Another cloaked figure moved in front of James, blocking his view.
Somewhere, the distant church bells chimed midnight, and the two cloaked figures started to chant.
Interview with author
When did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve always been creating stories, and jotted them down for fun when I was young.
I didn’t take writing seriously until I was nineteen. I’d gone through a bit of a reading slump, struggling to find any books that interested me. At that time, most of the bookshelves were filled with “Celebrities”, and the same authors with the same stories. I realised that if I wanted to read a book that I really enjoyed, I’d have to write it first.
I spent seven years trying to go the traditional route, because I thought that was the only option for me to become a professional author, but had no luck. One of my best friends suggested trying the indie route, and I have never looked back!
The past five years have been amazing, full of challenges and rewards that I never knew existed. With at least another eight stories waiting to be brought to life, I hope this is just the start of my career!
Do you try to set a number of words per day?
No, never. I have a very full schedule, with a full-time job, horses to train, and everything else I try to fit in. There aren’t enough hours in the week, and I find if I try to set a schedule of writing X words at a certain time every day/week, it adds pressure that I have to produce something, anything. Mostly this leads to writers’ block.
Instead, I might be in the mood to write 2000+ words in one session, or I might contribute a few sentences over a few days.
What struggles have you overcome as a writer?
When I first got into publishing, I didn’t have a clue. With plenty of (embarrassing) hindsight, I can confidently say that now.
All I thought I needed was a decent story, which a publisher would buy, wave a magic wand, and become a book.
When I decided to go indie, I didn’t have the money to hire a professional to take care of the non-writing side of production. Plus, I didn’t know where to start, and who to trust with such a task. So, I went solo.
It was a very steep learning curve, having to take on jobs that I didn’t even know existed. I sort-of knew about editing and proofreading, but I hadn’t even thought about formatting.
I guessed I would need to hire a cover designer, but when I went to form my books, the systems felt awash with jargon, with pixels, resolution, margin restrictions etc.
Up until that point, I’d always thought myself as very up-to-date and technology wise!
Luckily, I quickly found myself an awesome group of writers, through the #IndieBooksBeSeen movement. They were always on hand to answer any of my questions, and suggest new things. Eventually, with their help, I stopped feeling like I was drowning, and embraced every aspect of being an author.
Now, if a publisher offered me a contract, I would probably turn it down. I love the amount of control I have over all the little elements that make my books what they are. And things are always changing and evolving in the publishing world. I’m excited to tackle the next challenge!
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
I would love to meet either JK Rowling, or CS Lewis.
CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia were some of the first books that truly inspired me. After reading them, I knew that Fantasy was my genre, and nothing would compare.
JK Rowling is a legend, obviously. Her books transcend the genre, and age bracket they were intended for. People that don’t like Fantasy love them. People that don’t like children (like me), love them. They connect with so many readers on such a level that it is inspiring.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Get a good support group. And no, that doesn’t (necessarily) mean Writers Anonymous.
It’s important to find positively-minded people that you work well with.
You need an editor you can trust (I’ve had a consistently professional result from my author Lesley Neale).
And you need good beta readers. It can take time to build a group of beta readers, finding people that will give you honest feedback, and are confident enough to give you constructive criticism. This is the time for breaking down what doesn’t work, and fixing it before your final release.
It can be tempting to surround yourself with people that approve of all your plot and character choices. These readers are wonderfully important once the final book is ready for release, and I would encourage them in any way possible; but I would keep them separate from the editing process.