Tuesday, 3 June 2014

#WLM Author Alan Parks talks to Sarah Jane about moving to Spain, alpaca's and writing.

Welcome to my new blog feature, which puts some of the We Love Memoirs authors into the hot seat.
My first brave volunteer is Alan Parks, author of Seriously Mum, What's an alpaca? and Seriously Mum, Where's that donkey?
Hello Alan and thank you for being in the hot seat today.
Can you tell me a little about your books? 
My books came about when we were sitting with friends, telling stories, as you do. One of them said to me “You should write a book!” So I thought, “yeah why not?” I didn’t really know anything about publishing at the time, but I wrote out 50 pages and sent to some friends and family and asked for opinions. They all said carry on, so that is what I did. 
How did you come up with the titles? The first book was originally titled Bloody Hell, What’s an Alpaca? But that didn’t go down very well in the US, so I had to change it slightly and after lots of discussions we came up with Seriously Mum. When I first started writing it, I wanted to call it ‘Into the Frying Pan’ as the area where we live is referred to as The Frying Pan of Spain, so I thought it was a clever and witty title, but people might not have ‘got it’. 
Why did you choose Spain for your alpaca venture? I wanted to go and live in Florida! To be honest though, Spain was a sensible option. Loads of cheap flights, and easy to get back and forth for both visitors, and if we had any emergencies. Whenever anybody decides to move to Spain, the weather plays a big factor, and it does for us too. Sometimes we forget that most of the time it is raining in the UK. 
That's very true Alan!!
What are the best and the worst aspects of keeping alpacas? Well, they are lovely and a wonderful addition to our life! But of course, with animals, all of a sudden you are tied to the place. We haven’t been able to go away together (Lorna and I) for the last five years. Lorna visits the UK three times a year for grandchildren’s birthdays, and I am visiting the UK for the first time in over five years in just over a week. I am a little bit nervous that I won’t fit in anymore! And I am not looking forward to the possibility of rain in June. Unheard of! 
When did you start writing and was it triggered by a specific event in your life? I had never written a word until I started the book. The summer here is so hot it is hard to do anything more than just sit, so that was when I did it. So, not a particular event that triggered it, although I must say it has been quite therapeutic for coming to terms with lots of the things that have happened to us. 
Now that Lorna has launched herself into the writing world is there any friendly competition between the two of you in relation to the number of sales, etc.?
Not usually! But sales for both my books have been slow in May and Lorna’s have picked up, so she has been watching intently too.
What is your favourite time of day for writing and why?
I tend to write in the afternoons. I have lots to do around the farm, feeding and looking after animals, and working on the house, so once all the work is done, I try and fit in a couple of hours an afternoon. I try and do about 1000 words a session. 
What made you decide to become an ‘indie’ [self published] author?
I didn’t really have much choice! I did submit the first 50 pages of ‘Alpaca to Summersdale, but they turned it down. Then I found Victoria Twead at Ant Press, who helped me get my book out there. 
What are 3 of your favourite lines/quotes from either of your books?
I have only one favourite line. “She was gardening naked, pruning her rosebush….”  
What do you miss, if anything, about living in UK?
Well I had better say obviously I miss the relatives, but also I miss playing football with my friends and also I miss being able to pop along to the chippy after a long day! 

What languages can you speak and/or write?
English, just about! My Spanish is terrible, I use the old phrase “I get by.” In a face to face conversation, I can make myself understood and hopefully understand enough of what is being said to me. It is terrible really after six years.
What is your favourite book and why?
It is difficult for me to choose a favourite. I don’t tend to keep going back and re-reading books. I really enjoy crime thrillers, Michael Connelly and Peter James are good. I also like an author called Matthew Reilly, he writes high octane thrillers/sci-fi books. 
What is your biggest source of inspiration in life? 
I lost my Dad at a very young age, only 48. He was ill for a very long time, went through two liver transplants and eventually died from throat cancer. He would always say that we should ‘Live for today!’ and I have tried to do that for most of my adult life. I don’t believe in sitting around waiting for things to happen, and if you have a dream, life is too short not to try and grab that dream with both hands. 
Do you have a current writing project that you would like to share with us?
I have made a start on book number three! I have also started a memoir/fiction book about Sunday Football, which probably won’t appeal to my current readers, but might appeal to a different set of readers. 
Now Alan this it your chance to promote your current 99c sale so please give us the details:
Thanks Sarah, both Seriously Mum, What’s an Alpaca? And Seriously Mum, Where’s that Donkey? Are available to download from 1st June until the 8th June from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Itunes and Smashwords. 

This is basically the sentiment behind my book!

Change your life, do something exciting and brave. Buy my book, only 99c or 77p this week! Spread the word! 

Well that's about it, thank you Alan for your time. I wish you every success with you current promotion and your work in progress. I hope you will visit us again.
Sarah Jane

If you would like to contact or follow Alan Parks here are the links:
Twitter handle: @AlpacaBook
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/whatsanalpaca
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6574370.Alan_Parks
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/alanparks/