Merry Christmas Eve and welcome to the five hundred and ninety-first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with short story author Andrew Peters. 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, Andrew. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Andrew: I currently live in a little village in Spain with my 2 cats. My arty needs were taken care of by singing and guitar playing, until June 26th 2012 when a story appeared in my head & I typed it out. Two months later I had 40 of them. Not sure I count as a writer… more of a bad typist!
Morgen: A writer writes, and you’re selling your stories so you’re not only a writer but an author. 🙂 You predominantly write short stories (yay!), did you pick them or did they pick you?
Andrew: They picked me, every story that appeared in my head ended up taking 1500- 4000 words to tell.
Morgen: Is there a genre that you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Andrew: I have 20 detective stories which are humorous parody type things, featuring Otis King, the Blues Detective. The rest vary, but are mostly humorous, often with a vague crime or satire feel.
Morgen: I say I write dark and light but it’s generally crime and humour. Is there a particular market you aim for when writing stories for publication?
Andrew: People who find me funny, I suppose.
Morgen: We’re friends on Facebook and you certainly chirp in there. 🙂 Are there any publications you can recommend for short stories (submissions and reading)?
Andrew: I have never tried any. I think my stuff is a little too quirky for most of the crime sites and I’d rather publish it myself rather than ask other people’s permission. I was able to publish 20 to Amazon after a month… if I’d sent them to crowded sites, I’d probably still be waiting for number one to appear. I had no wish to spend years collecting rejection slips, though I know some authors claim this is a character building part of the writing process. I just arranged a cover for each collection and they were published to Amazon as soon as they were finished. I doubt any publisher would be interested as I’m rather difficult to classify.
Morgen: I’ve self-published more than not so I know how you feel, although I am going to start to submit again, I’m older and wiser now. 🙂 Why do think short stories are so hard done by (with most readers going for novels)?
Andrew: There seems to be much more kudos attached to being a novelist, struggling with ideas, characters, plot development. And, when it comes to selling books, it’s easier to sell 300 pages than 6.
Morgen: It would appear so. I was going to say that it’s a shame but I’m a novelist now too, so I’m happy with either. 🙂 Do you write flash fiction? Can you remember the word count of shortest story you’ve ever written?
Andrew: 1500 words is the shortest.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Morgen: 🙂 I don’t, and my mother’s not very happy about that, although I have had articles published under my real name which pleased her. I know she’s proud really. Are your stories available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks (novels or short stories?) or is it paper all the way?
Andrew: Yes, they are. I pretty much only read ebooks now… cheaper and saves on storage. And there’s an awful lot of good ebooks out there… some real dross too, mind you…. but don’t get me started on a rant!
Morgen: There are both, and some I know is poor quality because the writer didn’t get a second opinion (they’ve said so on LinkedIn – although not admitting to it being dross but saying they’ve just finished, are going to edit it and put it online). Needless to say no-one agreed with them. Do you have a favourite of your stories or characters? If any of your stories were made into films (Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain originated as a short story), who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Andrew: Otis King the Blues Detective is my favourite character… I think I’d have to play him myself. I am available to all offers from Hollywood.
Morgen: 🙂 Is there an authors that you would compare your writing to?
Andrew: Not really, though The Blues detective style owes something to Damon Runyon.
Morgen: I’ve not read him but you had me at ‘detective’. Did you choose your titles / covers? How important do you think they are?
Andrew: I have total artistic control, though my covers are done to my ideas by Joe Lumley, who gets a great feel. Lots of people comment on the covers, I love Joe’s stuff. They definitely have their own style.
Morgen: They’re great covers. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Andrew: “A Case For The Blues Detective” and “Monophonics”… two new collections… nearly done.
Morgen: Ooh, how exciting. Do you manage to write every day, or ever suffer from writer’s block?
Andrew: Most days, but it depends whether the voices in my head are talking to me. I don’t get writers block, there’s either an idea to be typed out or there isn’t.
Morgen: There usually is with me. I’m very lucky that I have more ideas than I have time for… luckier would be to have time but I’m dropping these interviews to weekend-mornings-only from July (where I’m currently booked up to) and having more author spotlights instead (weekday-mornings instead of the existing Sat / Wed evenings) so I should have more time to dedicate to my writing. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Andrew: Definitely run with the idea, though the story is usually 95% complete in my head before I hit the keys.
Morgen: You mentioned Otis King earlier. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Andrew: I don’t have that many characters, they don’t generally need to be all that believable, as they are often caricatures. Names come from combinations of people I’ve met, or are just ones that I feel suit the people. Apologies to Wendys, Arthurs and Normans everywhere.
Morgen: I don’t think I’ve written any Wendys but I’m sure I have had Arthurs and definitely Normans. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Andrew: I generally only edit for mistakes… mostly commas or repetition of the same word in consecutive lines. The voices in my head dictate the story very well, but I’m a lousy tyyyypisstt.
Morgen: <laughs> Do you have to do much research?
Andrew: Virtually none. I just twist reality to suit the story. I am told Memphis does not have docks, a Welsh Embassy or a Venusian quarter, which I find quite surprising.
Morgen: And there was I thinking that every town had a Welsh embassy. Just as well I’m English (from Buckinghamshire originally). What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Andrew: First person, it’s more immediate. Never quite sure how you can describe someone’s thoughts in the third person. I have read stories in the second person, I’m not sure it works outside a limited conversational approach… but I’m prepared to be proved wrong.
Morgen: I’ve written a lot of it, mainly for my Tuesday Tales page and at least once a week for 5PM Fiction. I also have a second-person eShort ‘The Dark Side‘ (available free on Smashwords) and it’s my favourite pov to write but only for short pieces; I don’t think I’d consider a novel in that pov (although never say never). It’s said everyone has a novel inside them, do you write novels (and/or poetry or non-fiction)?
Andrew: I write songs, but not stand alone poetry. I see no signs of having a novel in me. I think I would end up writing it as a parody.
Morgen: No bad thing. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Andrew: Yes. “The Little Book Of Scorn: A Guide For The Middle-Aged Misanthropist”
Morgen: I’d say that’s a bestseller. 🙂 I can guess the answer to this; do you have an agent?
Andrew: No I don’t. I am achieving my own kind of success by amusing people with my stories. At the moment the publishing industry doesn’t bother me and I don’t bother them.
Morgen: 🙂 What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Andrew: I like writing the stories and getting positive responses to them. I’m not a fan of marketing.
Morgen: I’m the same, although marketing is a necessary ‘evil’. I’d love to spend my whole days just writing but I do enjoy this blog too so it’s finding that balance. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, whom would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Andrew: Elvis, BB King and Raquel Welch. Chilli.
Morgen: Nice. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Andrew: ”If you have to explain it to people, you’re wasting your time!”
Morgen: If you ‘show’ it well enough (in your writing) you won’t have to ‘tell’. 🙂 Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Andrew: I did offer to write reviews, but I got sent awful stuff… all of which had lots of exclusively 5 star reviews on Amazon…. (hmmmm!)… and I didn’t want to upset people, so I gave up!
Morgen: That’s a shame, I could have added you to my https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/reviews page. What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? 🙂
Andrew: Cycle, play guitar, play with the cats, walk round the lake. Nobody ever invites me to parties… maybe I need to learn some tricks.
Morgen: 😦 And there was I thinking that life in Spain was one long party. Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Andrew: Not really, I don’t seem to write like normal people.
Morgen: I like to think I don’t. 🙂 Normal is… well, too normal. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Andrew: Not really, don’t have time. Facebook of course… I do have a twitter account, but I acquired 1200 followers on the first day, most of whom seemed weird…. or Justin Bieber fans… or both. I don’t really understand Twitter.
Morgen: I find it very useful but keep my page on ‘connect’ so I see when I’m being involved in conversations. Leaving it on the home page eats time; I can take the dog out and come page to hundreds of tweets about what people had for their tea. Oh to have the time to be so trivial (not that I would anyway). What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Andrew: These are exciting times for anyone who wants to be a writer… you can just do it and get your work out there.
Morgen: You can, we can, I love it. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Andrew: My Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6454072.Andrew_Peters), and my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/andynpeters).
Morgen: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Andrew: Why do you devote so much of your time to a blog? Must be a lot of hard work.
Morgen: It is. It’s a full-time job (I gave up my job in March) and then some, but I do enjoy it. Why I do it is easy, because I live and breathe writing and really I’m in the same boat as every other writer (so want to help them), I just want my writing to be read. Thank you, Andrew.
I then invited Andrew to include a synopsis of one of his books…
Meet Otis King,… or that’s the name on his office door. Maybe his original name sounded a little more Welsh, but didn’t sit too well on a Blues guitarist in the city of Memphis. By day, Otis works as The Blues Detective. Pretty much every Blues related case in Memphis drifts his way sooner or later. Enjoy Otis’ adventures in bite-sized chunks with your coffee, or better yet, a beer with a bourbon chaser. Otis is a fun guy, who does his best to avoid trouble and attract blondes. Some days he succeeds more than others. Join him as he deals with Hijacked Harmonicas, Missing Musicians, Wayward Wives and Precious Packages.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
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