Friday, September 13, 2013

Guest Post: Serial Killer Writer JOE CONLAN

Joe Conlan was introduced to me by my friends from @pubshelf. He is an up and coming writer that took the serial killer scene by storm with his debut novel entitled, Nameless.

Nameless has merely gone on to be the #1 Best Selling Novel in the UK on for several months including a four month stint at the top of the Thriller Genre.

Joe has been nice enough to stop by and do a guest post. Oh, by the way, if you haven't bought his book you need to. You can get it by clicking the book cover above.

From Joe Conlan (@conlan_joe):

Have you ever made the statement to anyone who would listen, “I’ve always wanted to… ? I’m pretty sure most of us have on many occasions about a variety of experiences. Sometimes, we even make it happen. Since I was a young adult, I completed that sentence with “write a book.” It might have never happened for me if a simple question from my ex-father-in-law hadn’t given me the kick in the butt I needed. My family was gathered for the celebration of my daughter’s 20th birthday. I had already retired from my day job, the practice of law and had lots of free time on my hands. During conversation, I announced to the room that I had always wanted to write a novel. My ex-father-in-law, in his inimitable way, then inquired, “Well what the hell is keeping you from doing it?” Realizing he had an excellent point, I asked everyone or anyone for suggestions as to what I should write about. My ex-wife recommended murder on a cruise ship. That day I wrote the very first words of Nameless. I honestly believe that if that conversation had not occurred on that day, I would have never discovered what I was truly meant to do in this life.

Just because my mind was set on getting the task accomplished didn’t mean that I had the talent or ability to write a story from beginning to end that people would want to read. I had absolutely no experience or education on the subject of writing fiction. I didn’t know whether I should come up with some form of outline of a plot and list of characters. For that matter, I had no idea how to structure a story. So, rather than think too much, I took the easy way out as I am so often prone to do. I decided to sit at my laptop, start writing and see what happened. Fortunately, my fingers were tapping keys and producing words on the screen.

So, now that I was actually creating a story, I was still faced with the issue-will people want to read it. The solution was fairly simple though far from fool-proof. I chose several family members and close friends who were avid readers, to read the story as I wrote it. I’m sure you’ve figured out for yourself the flaws in such a theory. Could I really trust them to be totally honest? I asked them to be. In fact, I insisted on it. I let them know in no uncertain terms that I didn’t want to waste my time writing trash. Now that all is said and done and even back then, I was pretty sure they were being truthful once I started to get feedback. You can usually tell when the people closest to you are being deceptive. Another pretty good clue was that everyone had the same reaction. I couldn’t write the chapters fast enough for them. Due to their insistence and the motivation that their amazing comments provided, I finished the first draft of Nameless in just over 2 and a half months. It was quite a strange experience. Once I started typing, I never stopped until the final page was written. Of course, I ate and slept. I know this is going to sound crazy. What I mean to say is that it almost seemed as the story wrote itself.

Here I was thinking that I was the next Stephen King. I was able to write an entire novel in such a short period of time that all my friends and family loved. I would be knocking out 8 books a year and watching my stories unfold on the silver screen. Then came the editing process. That’s when the real work started and more importantly, I was brought back down to earth. I hired a reputed editor in New York to read my manuscript. My purpose was two-fold. First, this was a way that I would really find out whether I had written a worthy novel. I also wanted to hear her suggestions about how I could improve the story. At the time, I was half-expecting she would take the six weeks she indicated she needed to analyze the manuscript and come back to me to tell me it was absolutely perfect. After all, I was the next Stephen King. As you can imagine, that wasn’t the case; far from it. Four years later, Nameless was ready for publication.

I can’t say that the entire time was spent on work, work, work. I resubmitted the transcript to the editor several times. Each time, she would take at least six weeks, sometimes significantly longer, to get back to me. Then there was a period of almost a year that I put Nameless down and didn’t touch it. That’s another story for another time, if you’re interested. The point being that my inner Stephen King was not yet quite fully developed. It takes a lot of hard work to get a manuscript into the shape required for publication. In the end, it was all well worth it. In a matter of two and a half months, Nameless became the number 1 bestselling thriller ebook in the Amazon UK kindle store and ultimately reached the number 2 spot for books of all genres. Being a self-published author, I have to say that I’m proud of that accomplishment. There’s no question it takes some luck for a book to go viral on Amazon. But, I think it also has to be a story that people want to read, which was my goal in the first place.

Now, I can’t stop writing. Book 2 of the series, When White Fades to Black is just about complete. I’m hoping to release it by either late fall or the very beginning of 2014. For more information about it and Nameless, please visit            

Friday, September 6, 2013

Trading Vincent Crow by D.C.J. Wardle

Hey all!  A new author interview is up and you should check it out!

D.C.J. Wardle is here to tell you about himself and his hilarious novel Trading Vincent Crow.

His book can be found by clicking the image above. It is on Amazon but will soon be available at Barnes and Noble as well.

D.C.J Wardle interview.

1) Who are you? What do you do?

I currently work as a Provincial Coordinator for an NGO. I am also a reluctant duck rearer, a devoted cat biscuit monitor, and an amateur Yincin enthusiast.

2) What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine?

These days at the weekend I’ll perch on the end of my cheap armchair, hoping I’ve reattached the chair’s feet sufficiently well this time to get through without further DIY needs. With my laptop on a coffee table I then let numerous cups of tea go cold whilst I try to expunge all the ideas and bits of plot that have been building up in my mind over the course of the week. Often these things have been playing out in my thoughts for a while, but getting the ideas down is the starting point. I then spend a lot of time agonizing over the phrasing so that I feel the humour comes out. For me this is a great way to write as I am not under any pressure from myself to produce copious words on a daily basis, and am able to enjoy the process rather than it becoming a burden.

3) What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers? 

For me personally, I’ve tried to develop a quite concise and self-contained style for my current books, which I think suits the type story and the way I want to tell it. I think that readers should feel the enthusiasm from the author as their narrative unfolds, and are pulled along by their energy.

4) What motivates you to write?

Being creative can be an end unto itself. I get a lot of satisfaction when I return to re-read a chapter after a little while and find that I’m still entertained by the way I told the story. For me, motivation needs to come from enjoyment. For example, I once had an evening job playing piano in a wine-bar. The monotony became a real chore after a while which impacted on my enjoyment of playing. I feel the same with writing. If I get to a point where I’m no longer delighting in what I’m creating it’s probably time to walk away for a while and come back later with some fresh inspiration.

5) Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? 

I find going for a good long walk can help. (I believe this was a method to address the need to ponder that was also regularly employed in the early days by the Mr. Men). I’ve come with a number of ideas for sub-plots whilst wandering along the riverside or stomping through a bit of woodland.

6) Do you have any advice for other writers? 

I recall reading in the blurb to Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the road’ that a critic once commented: "That's not writing, it's typing". Fortunately for us, this didn’t seem to put him off. It shows even the most acclaimed of authors had their critics, and negative feedback from others should not discourage a creative process that you believe in.

7) What is the message in your book? What are your readers’ reactions to it?

Reviews of the book have often highlighted the ‘laugh out loud’ moments, the pace, and the wry British humour. Others have noted the recognizable situations, and that they’ve reflected on their own journey and social mobility. There are some key moments which invite the reader to ruminate a little on certain moralities and their own endeavours to find their place as they head in to the wider world. However, the style is designed to be light and entertaining so it’s not pushing any particular agenda or message.

8) Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? 

I learned a little bit about Mexican revolutionaries. One of the characters is a fan of Emiliano Zapata so I had to read up on him. I also learned a bit more than most about the ground beetles that are indigenous to the British Isles. I needed something unique to a part of Britain that an obscure scientist would be studying, and eventually came across the Snowdon rainbow beetle. All of the horses at pony trekking stables belonging to the scientist’s wife were then named after different types of beetle, so I did end up in hours of ground beetle-related contemplation that might otherwise have passed me by.

9) What are your current / future projects? 

I have just submitted the sequel for Trading Vincent Crow to the publishers, and so anticipate that Vincent Crow: Export will be available early next year. I’m very pleased with the sequel, and really enjoyed writing it. My key characters of Vince and his nan were well established in the first book and so it was delight to throw them into new and exotic situations. This time they are taking on the Asian business world and trying to start up a chain of guesthouses. Inevitably chaos reigns from day one.

10) What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?

Through my travels and work abroad I’ve generally delved into whatever books previous travelers have abandoned to lighten the load of their backpacks, and I’ve enjoyed the chance to experience a range of authors I wouldn’t otherwise have encountered. A long time ago when I worked in rural Cameroon I ended up reading most of the English Literature A-level syllabus as these seemed to be the only books I could find second hand in the local markets. By the end of my contract I was very tempted to go back to the UK and take the exam. It was a good way to broaden my reading as I’m sure if faced with a larger choice of novels I would be less likely to pick out Bronte or Dickens.

Some of my favourite books are from the Jeeves and Wooster series by P.G.Wodehouse. I also enjoyed some of Gerald Durrell’s books as he has a pleasant way of being entertained by peoples’ (and animals’) eccentricities without judging them.
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