Ha! I’m his sister, so I get to interview him first.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background? What were you like at school? I’m from Manchester, England but currently I reside in a Cheshire town called Great Sankey, in Warrington. I was very energetic as a child so I channelled such energy into sports, story writing, and creating pictures. In my teens, I wrote songs and sang them!
Were you good at English? Yes, my talent outshone all my peers in this area, and beyond. My writing was very neat, stories different to everyone else’s, lovely illustrations created in boxes around the words. I absolutely loved it.
Is this your first book / Where did you get the idea? Yes it is. It was my sister who gave me the idea! My sister – The British Berliner who lives in Berlin, Germany, handed me a cut-off from an English newspaper (the Guardian), about a children’s novel writing competition. Up until this point, I had never written a children’s novel before, and I only had three (3) months left to submit it! The challenge wasn’t necessarily writing it, but conceiving an idea of what to write! One day while driving to work, I noticed a rundown shed, I pictured a few characters, looked at my kids, thought to myself ‘now there’s an idea’ …. and The Bee Hive novel was born!
What is your book about? It’s a story of how two best friends, aiming to win their school’s scientist of the year award, stumble on a treasure map that they find in a make shift lab, which just happens to be an old Bee Hive. They reluctantly team up with one of the friend’s sister in an attempt to unravel the mystery of the map, and claim the treasure. Add the fact that two hoodlums appear from nowhere, demand back the map, prepare to do everything it takes to retrieve it, and you have a real adventure full of twists and turns!
How much research did you do? When writing a children’s book, it’s important to understand how children act in situations, how they speak, what makes them laugh, how children nowadays relate to their parents, and vice versa. With three young children of my own, and having been a Nursery, Primary and Secondary School Teacher myself, I’ve done all the research possible!
When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer? I’ve always had the passion to write. Since Junior-Primary School, clear evidence of my writing talent starting to ooze out! I guess it was while at University studying English, where I was the first undergraduate ever to win the coveted Kollaj Short Story Competition, and eventually graduating as the Best Creative Writer. It was then that I realised, “hey I could make something here.”
Why did you decide to write a book? I’ve spent years writing short stories, plays, novels, and poems, but never concentrated on entering them into writing competitions. I wrote a poem titled ‘March’ and it was published on the UK poetry online platform, due to the excellent feedback received. I then realised, if I’m good enough for the feedback, I must definitely be good enough to write a book and get it published!
How long did it take you to write your book? Just under three (3) months!
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? I’m a husband and a Dad. Quality time with my family means the world to me, so I write mainly on my day off (Mondays), weekday mornings when the kids are in school, before I go to work, and late at night 23.00 – 01.30, when the whole family is fast asleep.
Do you write full-time or part-time? I write mainly in my spare time.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I write when I can carve out the time, but I have a principle not to put my passion for writing ahead of my family. They come first.
Do you write every day? Most days, mainly late at night.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate, longhand, or traditional pen and paper? I write on the PC that I bought in 2002 and it is still faithful to me, and very indestructible! I also write, and scatter about the house scraps of paper to scrawl ideas, before they vanish from my brain!
When did you write your first piece of literature, and how old were you? I must have written stories in drips and drabs over my early years, but Manley Park Junior School was probably where I really got into the art of writing. So I was about seven (7) years old!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I like to be with my wife and kids, spending time with them. Being around my family gives me no better feeling.
What does your family think of your writing? My wife and kids are extremely proud of me. They know I love writing so much, and this experience means as much to me, as it does to them. They have all been promoting the novel to friends at school, and colleagues at University.
What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating and writing your book? Two things: God loves a grafter and boy, did I graft for this novel! Secondly, be determined to go for it, no matter what it is you want to achieve, because if you don’t, you might think in years to come…”if only….”
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? I wanted to be a footballer.
Many fellow bloggers and writers would kill to get a hardback book published. How did you do it? I approached four (4) publishers with the manuscript of my book. They read the first three (3) chapters, liked it, and requested the whole book! All four (4) publishers thought it a viable venture and wanted to publish the novel, so I chose the publisher I felt, wanted me most!
Some people are a bit put off by the hard work and loneliness of being a new writer, so where’s a good place to start if you want to learn how to be a published author, or a good creative writer? Follow writers’ blogs, let them take you on a journey from despair, to one of joy and redemption. A case of hard work, determination, the will to succeed, the “Yes, I can” attitude, and patience, is all that is required.
What is the hardest thing about writing? Conceiving ideas.
What is the easiest thing about writing? Turning the writing into a finished piece of work.
How long on average did it take you to write this book? Less than ninety (90) days!
For your own reading, do you prefer E-books or traditional paper/hardback books? Paper/hardback.
You work as a Sales Manager – How is writing a book different from writing an analytical report? At work, I have to follow certain policies and procedures. There are no rules connected to writing…just write.
What do you enjoy most about writing? The fact that I can create a literary world without any boundaries.
Who are your current favourite authors? Francesca Simon (Horrid Henry).
Which writers inspire you? Toni Morrison, Richard Wright , Ben Okri.
You live in a suburb in the countryside of Cheshire. What do the locals think of having a proper writer in their midst? They are very excited, and are very supportive of me. Not everyone can write like I do, it’s not often Great Sankey in Warrington has a mention, so they’re all very proud.
Have you been interviewed by local press/radio for your book launch? I will be talking LIVE! on my first radio interview on Monday, May 16th, 2016 @96.5 Bolton FM and on Wednesday 18th May, 2016 at 10:00 with Chris Hajdar @96.5 Bolton FM once again!
Here’s a podcast recording of Wednesday’s radio interview. Check it out!
What other activities are being done to promote your book? I have been visiting schools in my local area where I will do a workshop with the kids on “how to create a story.” I already have five (5) bookings! I have also arranged to appear in three (3) different “Fun Days” across Warrington where the public can meet me, purchase my book, and get it signed. My publishers will be launching their own marketing strategy which will include book signings, newspaper and magazine interviews, etc.
Have you been invited to be a speaker or talk about your book? Yes.
Where can we see or meet you and get a signed book? I will appear at Birchwood Carnival on Sunday, 4th June from 12:00 to 16:00, Orford Park Festival on Sunday, 12th June from 12:00 -16:00 and on Great Sankey Fun Day on Saturday, 2nd July from 12:00 to 16:00 on my birthday! Several other locations are also highlighted on my website – The Bee Hive.
Do you have any tips for people who would like to try writing a book? Never give up trying, and stick to your own style of writing, because everyone has a unique way of penmanship. Be encouraged by every success story, as the beginning of any journey gets better as you go on.
As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & Facebook!
If you’re not in Berlin in May, you can’t be breathing!
Watch this space!
Have you ever wondered if you had the talent, or enough patience, to put all your ideas onto paper and pen? Have you ever thought about writing a book?
See you in Berlin.
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I'm a British girl from Manchester living in Berlin with my German husband and my half British – half German son.
My blog is a lifestyle expat travel blog and puts a focus on my promotion of culture, history, travels around the world, Europe, Brexit, the Royal Family, British-German life and being British in Berlin - I am The British Berliner!