Welcome to the eighty-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with crime-writing duo (and other genres) Jack Everett and David Coles. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello gentlemen. Please can you give us a bit of background information about yourselves.
David: I wanted to be a writer since I was 14 but school, exams, growing up, & family delayed things till I was in my late twenties. Things took off when Jack & I got to know one another and started writing together.
Morgen: Are there genres that you generally write?
Jack: We cross genres and I have never had a difficulty with this. I have always read differing genres so why shouldn’t I write them?
Morgen: Absolutely. It’s what I do and it’s so important to write what you enjoy.
David: It started off exclusively with sf with a little fantasy then I got interested in history which is rather like fantasy with the back story written by someone else. I’ve followed Jack into thrillers and crime but first love is still F&SF.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date, and can you remember where you saw your first books on the shelves?
Jack/David: The first book we saw on a bookshop shelf was – incredibly – at Borders who had reluctantly and off-handedly agreed to a signing session. Three books were left to be put on sale after the signing and I saw one months later by accident. We’ve had some six or seven books published by various publishers – some of those and some new ones lately by Acclaimed Books: They include f&sf, thrillers, historical, medieval mysteries and crime.
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Jack: I’m the one that burns the midnight oil plugging our books. And that seems to be the most of it for none of our publishers have gone out of their way to promote anyone’s books. David designs covers and websites and anything to do with computers.
Morgen: Sadly few publishers have the resources but we’re so lucky to have the internet, plus we get the author / reader experience. 🙂 Have either of you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
Jack/David: There have been one or two short stories over the years. They help by letting you know that what you write is appreciated and can even be described as excellent.
Morgen: Recognition by someone in the industry is always good for the CV. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Jack: We don’t currently have an agent. The only time we did so, the results were disappointing.
Morgen: More authors these days are going it alone and many are happy (happier?). Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Jack/David: We both read eBooks and produce them. There’s a shortish learning curve in creating Kindle books and we believe we produce a quality product with good cover images and text layout. If any other writers out there are interested in Kindle(ising) their books – check out http://www.everettcoles.blogspot.com and get the FREE how-to guide.
Morgen: Ooh, great! Be right back… only kidding (I’ll take a look later). What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Jack: My first success came after meeting David, when our first novel was accepted and the only feeling that came close was when I was at the birth of my son.
Morgen: Two births effectively. 🙂
Morgen: 🙂 Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Jack/David: Yes! One of us jumps up and down and breathes fire, the other shrugs and says ‘damn.’ Or words to that effect.
Morgen: I wonder if I can tell which is which? 🙂 What are you working on at the moment / next?
Jack/David: Finalizing a crime thriller set in the UK, Austria and Italy about a self-styled Count who sells information to the Mafia and looks after thousands of people who live on his vast Italian estate. A sort of twist on Robin Hood because he – The Count – takes money from the bad guys who in return steal from anyone, good or bad.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Jack/David: Not now, though at one time we tried to. Now far more time is spent promoting; getting our names out there and well known. Probably an all-time record would be about 4000 words in a day – but they still need editing and might boil down by 30% or so.
Morgen: What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it?
Jack: I never have suffered from it. I have gone to bed worried where I was going next but invariably have woken up with the answer, sometimes only an hour after going to bed and have had to sit up and write things down.
Morgen: I heard PD James (I think it was her) once say that if she’s stuck she goes to bed mid-sentence and it’s easier to continue the next morning, like wiping the slate clean I guess.
David: Writer’s block? Erm, what can I say?
Morgen: I’ll take that as a yes but you get over it? 🙂 Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Jack/David: We have done both but feel that running with a story is far less constrictive and far more enjoyable.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
David: Not really if the characters aren’t developed enough to start with we add things later. Names may come from real life though, with permission. As in The Tourist the hero and the head villain were names of friends of Jack’s.
Morgen: Is the villain still a friend? 🙂 I have promoted one of my friends in a story (from a Manager to Director). Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
Jack/David: Well being partners we have to show everything first to each other but after that Jack shows most of his books to his wife except Sci/Fi which he shows to his cousin, a fellow afficionado. David has reader friends who help.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Jack/David: We edit and re-edit a number of times until we are both pretty satisfied. The work is read by each of us in turn, three, four, five times, sometimes more.
Morgen: I’m a 3-4 times editor, unless I’m still not happy with something in which case it gets put away again. What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Jack/David: Jack says he pretty well contains the idea of the story in his head, so can sit down and start again at anytime. David says, he’s a show-off! Jack says he had never thought of it like that but can see how David might think that. He will chop his legs off later for being cheeky.
Morgen: Hopefully only on paper. 🙂 Speaking of which, do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Jack: I write everything longhand.
David: I prefers to type.
Morgen: Sounds like a winning combination. 🙂 What sort of music do you listen to when you write?
Jack: I don’t, it distracts me. I prefers to listen to music to chill out later.
David: I’ve tried it but never hear it.
Morgen: I go with classical – some (usually very gentle) noise but no words. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Jack: I prefer third person although in The Tourist I enjoyed writing the hero’s part in first person.
David: Usually third person because it provides a wider view to the reader but first person is very satisfying for the writer. Second person is difficult and confusing to both reader and writer and often appears clumsy and eccentric.
Morgen: It is, it does but I love writing second pov… in small doses. 🙂 Do you use prologues / epilogues? What do you think of the use of them?
Jack/David: Most of our works have them. You can show passage of time by writing a prologue and dating it for example 10 years ago, then start the main work in Chapter One.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Jack/David: Yes. Anyone that says they haven’t are not very good writers because the author’s best and harshest critic should be him / her self. Those pieces have their uses of course, if you haven’t used them to stop that draughty window or prop up that wonky leg, you can dig them out later to get new ideas.
Morgen: 🙂 What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Jack: Losing oneself in the writing with no awareness of passing time, only a feeling later of a job well done. Oddly enough, David’s day job was computer programming and there’s a similar sensation when you’re “in the flow” – lost in the job. The less favourite side is unintentional neglect of our families.
Morgen: Fortunately I only have a dog to neglect. 🙂 (which I don’t of course… he’s staring up at me now waiting for me to pick him up… he’s such a lap dog… just as well he’s a Jack Russell cross and not a Great Dane!). If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Jack: The deep and lasting friendship that has developed between David – my co-author – and I.
David: Bless him, isn’t that great? I have to agree.
Morgen: But far enough apart (25 miles – I read your bio below :)) not to get under each other’s feet. 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Jack/David: Seek criticism but don’t let it affect your desire to write. If you let it get to you instead of accepting it as a learning experience maybe you shouldn’t be a writer? Stick to it.
Morgen: Absolutely. A writer has to have passion and determination. What do you like to read?
Jack: Maybe the question would be better who and not what: I enjoy Jack Vance, William Diehl, John Sandford, Michael Connelly, Ken Follett & James Clavell to name but a few and these are across several genres.
David: Jack Vance is one of the shared pleasures that brought us together. But for me, there’s Roger Zelazny, Neil Gaiman and Jon Courtenay Grimwood.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Morgen: I know Writers Online but Media Bistro is a new one on me… thanks for that. In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Jack: The UK and yes we don’t have the amount or choice of events, festivals and get togethers that the Americans have; or the same opportunities when it comes to book signings. So I guess you could say it was a hindrance.
Morgen: But there perhaps easier to get to? Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Jack: We use the publishers forum on AB.c books which is by invitation only. Until the recent demise of Virtual Tales, David was a regular member of that publisher’s forum too. We are both members of Facebook and Twitter but think the jury is still out on the question of utility.
Morgen: I use and enjoy both and am building an audience pre eBook launch so I’ll let you know. 🙂 Where can we find out about you and your work?
http://Acclaimedbooks.com, Amazon (search for “Acclaimed Books: Everett Coles”) and all good online stores.
Morgen: As the saying goes. 🙂 What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Jack/David: Only time will tell, it is extremely competitive and growing more so. eBooks have empowered the independent writer and publisher but here especially, you need that magic ingredient ‘luck’ aka perspiration, persistence or sheer bloody-mindedness.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Jack: Our last book ‘1/1:Jihad-Britain’ was just reviewed by Natasha Harding in The Sun newspaper, given 4* and classed as a chilling read. Our next book a Trans-Atlantic crime thriller entitled ‘The Tourist’ is due out next month and will be available from all the aforementioned sites. Though if ordered from our own websites will be posted free of charge in the UK. We also have http://www.criminalties.blogspot.com which has an ongoing crime story with free weekly episodes so please check it out.
Morgen: Yes, please do. Thank you both, this has really been interesting. 🙂 I then invited Jack and David to include an extract of their writing:
Now he squatted, brought himself down as close to Fane’s height as he could and smiled. He held his arms out again.
She drew back a little and put a finger to his face. ‘What are you crying for Daddy?’
This was a new experience for Meredon. Raw, uncontrolled emotion, shortness of breath, loss of control; it was not an altogether unpleasant experience. ‘We don’t, um, we don’t always cry because we’re unhappy you know.’ He managed at last and wiped a hand across his cheeks. ‘Sometimes we cry because we’re just too happy.’
Fane put her arms round his neck and held on tight. It was difficult to breathe.
He didn’t care.
Morgen: Ah, I like that. 🙂
David and Jack both live in Yorkshire but 25+ miles apart, and have been writing together for too many years to remember but still meet weekly. David lives on the outskirts of a big city whereas Jack’s home is more rural. They still enjoy each others presence though – if the truth be known – they probably laugh more at the antics of their grandchildren. Their tastes in music differ, David prefers more instrumental works especially acoustic guitars whereas Jack likes good balladeers. David likes walking and exploring foreign climes. Jack also enjoys travelling but on four wheels in preference to Shanks’ pony. They both enjoy a good meal and glass of wine and still like to curl up with a real book despite having eBook readers.
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