Welcome to the two hundred and ninety-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with dark urban fantasy novelist Adele Cosgrove-Bray. 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, Adele. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Adele: I’ve lived on the Wirral peninsula, in England, for just over a decade, and really like it. We have the best of both worlds here; miles of Blue Flag beaches or ancient woodlands where I enjoy walking with my two terriers. Yet the cities of Chester and Liverpool aren’t too far away, either.
I started out as a poet. My first poem was published when I was seventeen, and a member of Leigh Writers Workshop. After school I had wanted to study art but as this would entail me drawing naked men my mother wouldn’t hear of it. I was pushed into taking a two-year City & Guilds hairdressing course which was supposed to set me up with a career for life – ironic, as my first job after graduating college was as the editor for The Birchwood Guidebook. I went to art school later, by the way. I never worked as a hairdresser, but still draw naked men when the opportunity arises.
Morgen: Given the choice, so would I. 🙂 Hopefully your mother forgave you. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Adele: I write dark fantasy / paranormal romance novels and short stories, mostly. Some of the characters in my novels also feature in short stories. Some, like Jason, came from a short story. I like to play around with spin-off ideas and extra tales, even at this early stage of the series.
I have dabbled in science-fiction but this tends to come out more like science-fantasy. Poetry is an occasional form of expression, also. I’ve worked as a freelance non-fiction writer, most notably with a magazine which began life called Exploring the Supernatural (when it was fun and similar to the Fortean Times) then changed its name to Your Future (and became boring, then folded). I wrote and illustrated the dream analysis column under the pointless pseudonym of Niamh Koo. I’ve also written for Prediction magazine under my own name.
Morgen: I’ve spotted those in the newsagent and yes, ‘Your Future’ does sound boring. If it ain’t broke… as the saying goes. What have you had published to-date?
Adele: The now-defunct poetry quarterly, Moonstone, published a lot of my poetry over the years. The journal of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, Touchstone, has published some of my poetry too, and there are a few anthologies by Poetry Now and Arrival Press which carry my work. It’s a fairly long list, so I’d suggest anyone interested in the full details should visit here: http://adelecosgrovebray.hubpages.com/hub/Adele-Cosgrove-Bray-Bibliography-of-Published-Work. Dark Moon Press’s Dark of the Night: An Anthology of Shadows contains one of my short stories, The Club, which features Jason, a character who appears in my forthcoming novels Rowan and Fabian. Rowan is out for the Kindle and will be available in paperback late March 2012, but you’ll have to wait a while for Fabian as I’m still writing the first draft. Both are sequels to Tamsin, which is already out as an ebook and a paperback. It’s a loose series which can be read in any order, and which follows the lives of a community of artisan-sorcerers based in Liverpool.
Hadley Rille Books have published some of my short stories in their anthologies. There’s a ghost story, Seagull Inn, which appears in Ruins Terra, which introduces readers to the main character from Rowan. There’s an encounter with the fae (who feature elsewhere in my fiction) in Old World Magic, published in Ruins Metropolis; and also a post-apocalyptic fantasy with mythological overtones in Project, published in Barren Worlds.
Also available as ebooks are a short story collection called Dark Tides; a single short story about pirates, witches and selkies set on Hilbre Island, called Spanish Jones; and two collections of mostly-previously-published poetry, Entering the Grove and Threads. All can be found on Amazon.
Morgen: Wow, that’s some list. Oh, to be so productive. 🙂 Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Adele: All writers get rejections. All writers are considered blaa by some people. If most people on planet earth held the same opinion of a writer then maybe they’d have a point. Then again, most people used to believe the earth was flat, or that computers wouldn’t catch on, and look how that turned out.
Morgen: Absolutely. 🙂 Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions?
Adele: Old World Magic was voted into 8th place in the Preditors & Editors 2008 Readers Poll, in the science-fiction and fantasy category.
Morgen: Congratulations. 🙂 How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Adele: Most of the publicity and marketing responsibilities rest on my shoulders. Actually, I enjoy it this way. Taking responsibility for your own career, like many writers are increasingly doing now, brings total freedom from committee-led decisions which the author is virtually powerless to protest about.
Morgen: That’s what I love. Most authors have to do their own marketing but don’t get much of the profits – we have the best of both worlds. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Adele: There are no absolute favourites, though Tamsin’s down-to-earth, independently-minded character came easily. Rowan, who is poetic, scholarly and aloof, was even easier and a huge amount of fun to write. Morgan is enigmatic, powerful and elegant; charm with a core of steel, and while Bethany Rose is just as powerful a magician she is much warmer and conventionally girly.
I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about having a wide age-range of characters in my fiction, and so there are older people in there too, who all have their part to play – and not just the clichéd roles of wisdom-dispenser, overbearing battler or ailing geriatric. And when I say people, I don’t mean just men. Lydia, Lily and Alice are all elderly women with strong roles. Helen Mirren would be perfect to play Lydia, and Judi Dench would be great as Lily or Alice. I’d love to see more strong film roles available for older women. Let’s cast-off the invisibility cloak from mature women! If you’d like to see that in films, then we need to first put it into our writing.
Morgen: I think we have more than in previous generations but yes, despite (apparently) there being more women than men on the planet, the world does still seem to be male top-heavy (sorry, guys!). Did you have any say in the title / covers of your book(s)? How important do you think they are?
Adele: I made all my ebook covers using a Kodak digital camera and an old version of PhotoImpression. I used to work as a photographer and prefer my old SLRs – but don’t get me started on the topic of my darkroom, which currently lives in several stout storage boxes.
Of course covers are important. They’re the first thing any browsing person sees. And if the author’s name is unknown to the person viewing the cover, then the picture is all they have to go on, even before they bother – if they bother – to read the blurb. And ebook listings tend to display covers at the size of a modest postage stamp, so the design has to be simple, readable and to-the-point.
Morgen: It does. There was one I saw only today that looked very elaborate – beautiful but the text was so flowery I couldn’t read what it said. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Adele: I’ve several projects on the go, which is typical. The formatting for Rowan is half-done, and then I need to make the cover and a promo video for that. There’s a second short story collection – no title yet – which will become an ebook; and The Karens, which is about cloning from DNA, which will become a short-short ebook. I need some glass test tubes for the cover image.
The first draft of Fabian is currently about half written, and once that’s done I’ll set it aside while I tweak Bethany Rose, which is in its third draft. I also aim to write one short story each month, partly as my contribution to Riverside Writers monthly projects, and partly because at the start of 2012 I set myself the task of creating at least one short story, one poem and one new item for Spooky Cute Designs each month. Discover Spooky Cute Designs here: http://www.zazzle.co.uk/AdeleCB
Morgen: It doesn’t sound like you’ll ever be bored. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Adele: A combination of both, really. Certainly I don’t use detailed chapter plans; to plot like that would stifle creativity. With novels, I have a definite starting point, some sort of conflict and a way to resolve that at the end, but there’s plenty of room for spontaneity. With short stories, I often just start writing and see what happens, then delete great chunks of text to find the story buried beneath.
Morgen: I do. I just get an idea and let it take off. Most writers I’ve interviewed and said the same thing. That’s the great thing about fiction, you never know what’s going to come out. We’ve mentioned characters, do you have a method for creating yours, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Adele: The role a character fulfils within the plot helps form their personality. I like to flesh out characters with practical details like jobs, mundane activities and grumbles, so that they sound like normal people who you’d actually meet in real life. Characters shouldn’t be too perfect. You can get a free copy of the character charts I use here: http://adelecosgrovebray.hubpages.com/hub/Character-Charts-a-Writers-Aid.
Morgen: Ooh great, I’ll take a look. Do you have to do much research?
Adele: My fiction is mostly set in Aigburth, a suburb of Liverpool, and west Wirral, areas where I know well, having lived there. I’ve been interested in folklore and mythology since childhood. The philosophy and metaphysics which thread through my work come from a life-long interest also. So while I don’t do much specific research for each book, I draw on a whole heap of prior study – not all of it academic. I was with a spiritual teacher for many years, as is described in Entering the Grove, before joining the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids in 1999. But a person doesn’t have any interest in metaphysics to enjoy the novels; they can be enjoyed purely as dark fantasy stories.
Morgen: Which is a really popular genre. Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc., do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Adele: SILENCE! And solitary. Interrupt at your peril. Remember the scene in The Shining, when Jack Nicholson’s character is in a fury because his loving wife interrupts his writing with trivial stuff, like food? I’m not that bad. Well, not quite.
Morgen: 🙂 Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Adele: I’m a member of Riverside Writers; I sort-of chair the meetings and organise public reading events for this group. Sort-of chair? Well, we’re a very informal group, and the task doesn’t need much effort beyond me saying, “Ok, who’s next to read aloud?”
There’s also Parallel Dimensions, which is the annual F/H/SF event which I organise, which introduces new and emerging authors. Previous guests have included Jon Mayhew (Mortlock), published poet Adrienne Odasso and Colin P Davies (Tall Tales on the Iron Horse, etc).
Morgen: “Sort-of chair”, I like it. 🙂 Where can we find out about you and your work?
Adele: Right here: http://adelecosgrove-bray.blogspot.com
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Adele: Cryonics! I have a fully-funded contract with the Cryonics Institute, so that this body of mine will be preserved in liquid nitrogen until such time as it can be fully restored to life and health. You can read about my reasons for my choice here: http://adelecosgrovebray.hubpages.com/hub/Why-I-Chose-Cryo-Preservation
Morgen: One of my favourite films (and the first I saw Sandra Bullock in) is Demolition Man (I must dig it out and watch it again :)) which features cryonics (or cryogenics as they refer to it) – it would be interesting to know how accurate the film is. Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Adele: How do you find time to do all these interviews and author spotlights? And if you fancy writing a guest blog post about your writing on my blog, you’d be most welcome!
Morgen: Absolutely, I’d love to, thank you. Just let me know what and when. As for having time, not enough sleep, a scant social life and good organizational skills… oh, and a Word table schedule that would make me cry if I ever lost it (although the schedules on each relevant blog page are a good back-up :)). Thanks again, Adele.
Adele Cosgrove-Bray is the author of Tamsin, the first in a series of dark urban fantasy novels about the lives of a community of artisan-sorcerers set in Liverpool. The sequel, Rowan, is available as an eBook with paperback format due late March 2012.
Adele’s short stories are featured in several paperback anthologies. She also paints, draws and takes lots of photos, which she attributes to time ill-spent at art school.
Adele has been a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids since 1999. She has been the elected Chair for Riverside Writers since 2003. Adele became a member of the Cryonics Institute in 2008.
She shares life in England’s Wirral peninsula with one husband, two dogs, one cat, various chickens, an assortment of hedgehogs and bats, and a large black toad which lives under the patio step.
Update September 2012: Bethany Rose is available now, as an ebook and paperback. This is the third novel in the artisan-sorcerer series – and there’s a collection of five short artisan-sorcerer stories due out mid-October.
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