Wednesday, 16 November 2016

#YALit Author Richard Smith takes to the hot seat as he talks to Sarah Jane Butfield #RPBP

Hello everyone and welcome to today's author interview. 
Richard Smith is the author of two outstanding books, Time Trap and his new release The Darzoids' Stone. Richard has kindly agreed to take the hot-seat to answer questions from our Rukia Publishing readers' group about his life, his writing and his books.

Welcome Richard,
Thank you for taking the time to join us today. We would like to start by getting to know a little about you and how you came to be author?

What were you like at school?
I started secondary school determined to do well and I did early on, gaining good grades in school reports, but as time went on, alas to say, I got in with the wrong crowd and didn’t take school seriously. However, I always loved writing stories and would get mostly A’s for them.
Were you good at English?
All I wanted to do in English was write stories, long or short. I was also interested in authors, and enjoyed doing projects on them. One thing I didn’t bother with and I should have, was learning what I call the nuts and bolts of writing; finding out exactly what were nouns, pronouns, adverbs etc. I think it’s important to know these things.  
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I hope one day my books will find a publisher, that has always been my dream.
Which writers inspire you?
When I was young, I was overawed by Charles Dickens and his great works. I admire J K Rowling for her huge imagination and her prolific writing. The Potter books came thick and fast. I also like the writers Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams who co-wrote the Tunnels series, those books came thick and fast but there are two of them.

So, what have you written?
My first book was a labour of love, Time Trap, which took 15 years to complete, and my second which has recently been released is The Darziods’ Stone. My next book will be a sequel to Time Trap: Time Trap II.
Where can we buy or see them?
The books are available on USA and British Amazon, and from my website:
What are you working on at the minute?
Time Trap II
What’s it about?
Jamie and Todd become embroiled in another time jaunt, this time going to 1775 America, with Hector and Catherine, to stop an agent from the first book, joining forces with the American insurgents, with a super weapon, which will alter the world immeasurably.  
What genre are your books?
What draws you to this genre?
I have always been interested in these genres. When I was a small boy, books and TV programmes on the subjects fascinated me.
How much research do you complete to add depth to your books?
I like to be very thorough, for instance, I went to Cornwall and found a cove I wanted to base Tredock Cove on, in The Darziods’ Stone, and it really helped, I could write about the cove with conviction.
Have you written any other books in collaboration with other writers?
No, but I’m working on the plot to Time Trap II with my brother, George.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I started writing stories at primary school, aged around ten, the teacher made me read one of my first stories to the class, saying it was so good the class should hear it. That really gave me the bug to write.
Why do you write?
Good question. It’s like a burning within, a story forms in my head and I just have to write it.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
Part time, when I get the urge.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I have a job which enables me to write. When I’ve completed all my duties and there’s nothing pending, I sit at the computer and write.
Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
I need to have the urge to write, which doesn’t always come freely.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
No, I just let it flow and carry on until I call it a day.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
It used to be longhand in the early days, but now computer, that’s the way to go for me now.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I worked on a plot for The Darziods’ Stone and when I reached half way, I began to write the story. Then, when I reached the point of where I stopped with the plot, the wheels fell off and I hit a solid wall. It was a big mistake for me not to have completed the plot. I actually left the story for a couple of years as I struggled to continue, but a nagging feeling kept telling to finish it. I worked on the plot again and did indeed finish the story, which I’m very happy with.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Writing can be a lonely pastime (but rewarding one) and one thing I found when I was struggling to continue with the plot, was no one could help. I asked several people for ideas but nothing was forth coming. I’m now glad it was all my own doing in coming up with the rest of the plot..
What is the easiest thing about writing it?
Sticking to a plot line.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
My first took 15 years, a long time I know, but there were three plot changes and a lot of that time, I was learning how to write. The Darziods’ Stone took seven years but two of them were inactive.
Do you ever get writer’s Block?
Yes, when I run out of plot!
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
I’ve also came to a stop when writing and hit difficulty getting through a situation. I stop and it sometimes take days to find a solution. It eventually comes, sometimes after a night’s sleep, but when it does, that’s one of the best things about writing, and if you don’t panic and let it come naturally, I find it’s always a very good solution.
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
To me, you can’t beat a hard copy. It’s personal to you, you can write your thoughts in it, and it feels more real when your holding it.
What book/s are you reading at present?
Nothing at the moment as I’m working the plot for my third book (which I will make sure I finish this time), but the last one was a book on the Knights Templar, for research for The Darziods’ Stone.
Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
I write the book to the best of my ability then send it to an editor I’ve used for both books.
Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
Pat Richardson of Perfectly Worded edited my books who I am very pleased with. I found her in the ads at the back of a writing magazine.
Did you format your own book?
I laid out how I wanted the book.
In what formats is your book available?
At the moment, it’s in paper back.
If formatted by someone else, how did you select them and what was your experience?
I discovered FastPrint at the annual writing fare at Earls Court. I met with them, asked loads of questions and went with them. I’ve been happy with their service on both books and will use them again.
Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.
I came up with both covers to my books, which came instantly to me.
Who designed your book cover/s?
My brother George drew the covers, as well as the sketches in each book.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
I think it does, yes.
How are you publishing this book and why? e.g. Indie, traditional or both?
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
Going down the self-publish route, the writer is in total control on how the book looks, but I would still like a recognised publisher to take on my books.
How do you market your books?
I have a website, it’s on Facebook and I try and get as many reviews as possible. Also, I have Rukia Publishing running a very good twitter campaign.
Would you or do you use a PR agency?
I did try the PR path once but it proved too costly.
What do you do to get book reviews?
Look for people who do them on line.
How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
Every review so far has been very favourable.
What are your views on social media for marketing?
Which social network(s) works best for you?
Twitter followed by Facebook.
Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
Freebies always create an added buzz, and is essential for marketing.
How do you relax?
Reading fiction as well as non-fiction (and writing) watching films. Playing snooker, highest break being 42. Watching sport on the TV
What is your favourite motivational phrase?
A well-used one I suppose, but one my mother always said to me: “Never give up.”
What is your favourite book and why?
It’s a series of books; the Tunnels series. Probably for its originality I think.
What is your favourite quote?
Oscar Wilde comes to mind and makes me smile: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
What is your favourite film and why?
The Godfather. Terrific story-line and fantastic acting.
In relation to writing, where can you see yourself in 5 years time?
Still writing hopefully!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t get into the wrong crowd at school, or at least concentrate totally on writing and learn all the techniques as soon as possible. Although I continually wrote stories at and after school, my first self-published book wasn’t until I was 49. I would say I’m 25 years behind, but better late than ever.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Horatio Nelson. A genius with flaws. He was way ahead of his time, treating his crew fairly, which always repaid him back with a loyal, dutiful service. Plus, the small matter of keeping Great Britain safe from invasion for the next 130 after his death. I would like to know what made such a great person tick.  
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Learn as much about writing early on. Get self-help books on writing and join a writing group.
Where can we by your books Richard?
Readers can find the details of my books on my author website by clicking here.
The Darzoids' Stone is available on Amazon and at FastPrint

Thank you Richard for taking part in our readers hot seat interview, we hope you have enjoyed it. We look forward to sharing some of the reviews from The Darzoids' Stone very soon.
Thank you Sarah Jane, and the team at Rukia Publishing, for giving me this opportunity to answer your questions, it has been fun as always.
Find out more about Richard Smith by visiting his Meet the author page at Rukia Publishing
An excerpt from The Darzoids Stone is available on Richard's book showcase page at Rukia Publishing. Check it out then buy the book and be sure to leave a review.
Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment or a question for Richard below.
Sarah Jane