15 May 2016

Unaccustomed as I am – Talking About Our Books

On Thursday I’m being interviewed on a local radio station, West Hull FM. Except it is less an interview and more a chat – for an entire hour, including music. The proposed questions have just come through and, of course, top of the list is Tell listeners about your books.

Oh... gosh.

I have nine titles out as ebooks, four of which are also in paperback, these across five genres ranging from Horror to Historical. This doesn’t include the short fiction or non-fiction articles. How to can that into a soundbite?

In truth it’s impossible, but I have to make a stab at it. If you find yourself struggling in similar circumstances, this is how I’ve tackled it.

1) Consider the audience, not just the interviewer. Most of my audience will be within a tight graphical area, so some of my answers need to chime with their local knowledge to help create a rapport. If any know who I am I’ll be highly surprised, so I have to come across as a human being they’d like to share a coffee with.

2) Consider the time of broadcast. Mine is 11am-noon, so most listeners will have the radio on as background to a more important task. I am under no illusion: people will not be hanging on my every word. It’s up to me to intrigue them to listen.

3) Despite the wide-ranging genres, what links the fiction? Being so close, I couldn’t see the wood for the trees, yet there has to be a common denominator, apart from my single brain (cell). Finally I nailed it: in various guises my fiction deals with relationships. Result – I had my over-arcing soundbite.

4) Choose the titles to mention. No listener is going to stay tuned to hear nine book pitches, even less their blurbs. I chose three, crafting them with care and making each longer than the previous so as to lead the listener deeper:
a) an intriguing and easy-to-digest intro which flags a common knowledge
b) a volte-face to catch attention, with touches of a storyline, of what’s at stake, the thinking behind the writing
c) the immediacy of what I’m currently working on, but encompassing a much more complex set of storylines, and finishing on a smile.

Q: Tell listeners about your books

I have nine titles published as ebooks, four of which are also in paperback, straddling five genres ranging from Horror to Historical. What links them is that in various guises my fiction deals with relationships.

My highest selling novel is a Native American Historical, Beneath The Shining Mountains. It has a romance at its heart, but its theme is about taking responsibility for one’s actions. And as we all know, true love never runs smooth.

My latest is a Horror short – Scent of the Böggel-Mann – about a woman who enjoys buying Lots from auctions and re-selling them on Ebay and car boots. Her life unravels when she bids for a locked chest and what it contains puts her husband at risk. Does she disintegrate into tears or fight for her husband’s life? It’s about how strong we truly are, how ruthless can we be, when faced with circumstances out of our norm.

The work-in-progress is the last book of a trilogy of contemporary fantasies – Torc of Moonlight that begin in Hull, move to York, and this final book has a base in Durham. It’s also my most technically complicated, with three storylines in each book, one of which is fantasy, one straight contemporary, and one historical. Hull is Celtic, York is Roman, and Durham is monastic medieval. So you can imagine the research that goes into these. And my biggest problem is that I write slowly so all this takes forever. 

And there you have it, my sectioned soundbite/s. I can go into more detail about any of the novels, or others, later in the interview. I realise I might cover only the first two paragraphs, but it will be a start. Once this groundwork is laid, other questions I can answer on the hoof. Hopefully.

Update: I've done the deed, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. See if I followed my own instructions HERE (60 mins - but you can fiddle).


  1. One of the things that really impressed me is that as well as writing your own stories, you also support other writers with help and advice on the arts of creative writing. I see that you are approaching coming on the show with great insight too, and passing that advice on to others in the same way. I have only read a couple of your short stories so far, but will certainly read more. Really looking forward to meeting you. I may be asking you for an autographed book!

    1. Hello Greg! [Greg is my interviewer] I think genre writers *do* help one another an awful lot, they always have done. The internet just makes it easier. I recall being taken under the wing of an author at a Scarborough Writers' weekend conference many moons ago. If I'd known at the time she'd had 27 books published I would have run a mile, but her practical advice has always stayed with me. I now try to do the same and look upon it as cascading skills to ease the way.