Interview with Andrew Marsh
I am pleased to be joined on the blog today by author and fellow Swanwicker, Andrew Marsh. Thank you for joining me today, Andrew. I appreciate your time.
1 Please tell my readers a little about yourself?
I am 56 and have retired from a career as a geologist and now write novels in a couple of genres. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and that has brought great clarity to my life and has been the springboard for starting my own business as a speaker and coach focused on raising awareness of Asperger’s and employment.
2 What inspired you to become a writer/author?
When I was a geologist people would tell amazingly funny stories about that had happened on site and I started to keep a notebook and would write these down. I started to be more observant of people and how they behave in different circumstances and eventually I had the idea for a dramatic opening scene for a book and started to plan and eventually write my first novel.
3 What is the best thing about being a writer/author?
The freedom to express myself through my characters and story and let them lead me where it is fun to go. I get such a thrill from writing first drafts.
4 What is your writing routine like?
I treat my writing like a job, so I get up and put in a full shift working on the book. I aim to reach 1500 words a day and frequently achieve mush more than that. I take my writing seriously and get in the zone where it flows freely.
5 How much time is spent on research?
It depends on the genre. For my young adult fantasy, only a little at the start about giants and giant lore, but most of the rest being fantasy is just my imagination and world building.
For contemporary young adult that I am also writing, there is quite a lot of research about specific things and that has taken some time to gather together, but it will make the story authentic to those that know those subjects.
6 How much of the book is planned out before you start writing it?
I normally start by writing a notes and ideas file where I free write the basic idea for the story, main character, significant events and so on, perhaps even some dialogue for a key passage. When this file is about 6 to 8 pages long I feel ready to get into the story and start writing and them it flows freely.
7 What do you think is most important when writing a book? Characters, plot, setting, etc
This is a tough question. But ultimately I think a good book is driven by the characters and how they behave and what they do.
8 What is your latest book about?
Jack Janson and the Storm Caller is a young adult fantasy that adults are also engaging with. It tells of Jack, who is nearly 14, unloved at home and bullied at school and gets the chance to go and stay with his gran for the summer holiday in Cornwall, which he jumps at.
There, she treats him like and adult and they bond over the simple things in life like her herb garden, growing her own food and baking. One day she takes him to a cave at the bottom of the garden and introduces him to a giant, Winfred Storm Caller.
He immediately gets on with Winfred and soon discovers giant magic and from there, his adventures begin.
The book explores the relationships between Jack, his gran and Winfred and also the relationship Jack has with his neighbour, Sarah-Jane, whom he adores and they begin to become an item.
9 What inspired it?
I wanted to write something different and having read a lot of fantasy, I thought that would be an interesting place to go given that the young adult genre is on the rise. So, taking inspiration from fantasy, I came up with the Jack Janson story.
10 Why did you pick the genre or genres that you write in?
I started writing adventure and crime thrillers, but once I got the idea for Jack Janson I became engrossed in the idea and developed it further.
11 How did you go about getting a publishing deal? Or how did you become self-published?
I tried for several years to be a traditional publishing deal or an agent without any success, so I decided to self publish again this time with assistance from Indie Authors World in Glasgow who did all of the preparation for me.
12 Any new books or plans for the future?
Jack Janson and the Storm Caller is the beginning of a series that will be eight books and will take Jack and Sarah-Jane to the land of the giants many times to save them from calamity as their own relationship grows.
Book 2, Jack Janson and the Pirates of Nathir has been fully prepared and will be published soon while book 3, Jack Janson and the Treasure of V’Laddek is with beta readers.
13 What authors have been an influence on your writing?
My earlier works were influenced by James Herbert and Stephen King and my fantasy work reflects people like David Eddings, Tad Williams and of course JRR Tolkien. I love to get into a story with different layers and epic journeys and those three certainly do that.
14 What writing advice would you have given yourself when you started?
I think one of my early pitfalls was not to get good beta readers before publishing. I now realise how significant that part of the process is and would have told myself to let others read it for their honest feedback.
15 What writing advice would you give to an aspiring writer or a new author to the block?
Be observant of people and watch what they do and how they interact, it will help describe scenes and dialogue but the biggest advice would be to keep on writing and seek out good courses and tutors to help you refine your work. If you can, go to a residential school.
16 What has been your favourite book so far this year?
I’m reading a lot of non fiction at the moment and my favourite would be As I See It by Temple Grandin who is an amazing lady with autism helping others on the spectrum be successful.
17 What is your all-time favourite book and why?
That would have to be Stephen King’s It. The way he weaves the two time lines together seamlessly is a masterpiece of storytelling.
18 What genre do you read most often?
In fiction I am reading more young adult at the moment and in non fiction both history such as the Great Moghuls and Genghis Khan and also a variety of personal development books.
19 What are you currently reading?
I have just finished the 100 Year Life, an exploration of how people will be living to 100 and what challenges they will face along the way. A fascinating, sobering and thought provoking book.
20 Anything else you would like to add?
I think any aspiring writer should consider who they should go to for inspiration and help. The Writer’s Summer School, Swanwick has been an amazing place to make new friends and learn from excellent tutors and my writing has benefited from going there immensely.