D.C.J. WARDLE is the author of humorous novels ‘Trading Vincent Crow’ and ‘Vincent Crow: Export’. In January 2013 he was author of the month onhttp://www.lovewriting.co.uk. Holding post-graduate qualifications in development management as well as community water supply engineering, over the past fifteen years, he has worked in developing countries in Africa and Asia, managing emergency and development programmes.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I started taking creative writing seriously 15 years ago whilst living in a small village in Cameroon. It was my first overseas posting and I was a lone volunteer managing the construction of a water supply project. The village was remote. There was no TV, telephone, or electricity. We did, however, boast a village chief who was the most powerful of all the witches in the region, and the villagers lived in fear of his dark magic. There were ceremonial rituals involving the village elders and a number of unfortunate goats, dancing around the drums in the firelight, and various adventures to different parts of the country. Consequently, for the first time in my life, I had a lot to write about, and began to really enjoy sending letters home about my adventures. I then decided to write a short story about the pop band that I had played in at college. I wrote it on scraps of paper, and found myself cutting out paragraphs from different pages and sticking them at the sides of others with duct-tape. The resulting collage of scribbling needed instructions to negotiate. After discovering the pleasures of this creative process I went on to write longer stories about my adventures in Cameroon and the subsequent places I’ve worked.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? (see below)
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? My big challenge at the moment is finding the time to write. I currently have a very hectic day job and so if I’m lucky I might find one morning at the weekend to sit down and work on a book. However, right now I see this as a positive thing as it means I am not under pressure each day to sit down, stare at my laptop and overcome writers block. Often ideas will come to me during the course of the week, and at the weekend I may find time to get down a few paragraphs that I’m most eager not to forget or I think will make a strong contribution. Often this produces fairly concise, self-contained but multi-faceted elements to the story which I feel help to make it more of a page-turner. Unfortunately, this approach does mean it takes me a long time to finish writing a book.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? With the Vincent Crow books I had a broad sense of where I was going when I started to write. However, often the individual chapters evolve as their own vignette as there is a particular scene that I believe to be funny and want it to work both within the overall plot but also as it’s own mini-episode or event.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? The Vincent Crow books have been produced through Matador Publishing. They review your work and if they consider it to be an acceptable standard they will help you to publish it. The idea is that the author takes the financial risk to pay for a professional publishing service which includes editing, cover design, and distribution.
I think the traditional view of publishing is changing. Options like that of Matador Publishing help those of us who are not moving in the right circles but have confidence in our work to have the same opportunities.
From this experience, I am happy to go straight for the supported self-publishing option, rather than wasting time sending chapter samples to traditional publishers. I think that the real challenge for success as a writer is in the marketing, and as e-books, on-line book-sites, and the range of internet resources for learning about new books become increasingly popular, I think that there are many opportunities for self-published authors to promote themselves.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author?
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. One of the parts of Vincent Crow: Export I enjoyed writing was the dialogue for Vince’s nan. Below is a short excerpt from the first chapter as Vince, his girlfriend and his nan fly to their new exotic destination:
To Vince’s right, Natalie was already half asleep, her neck bent at an uncomfortably awkward angle and dribbling slightly on to the glossy duty-free magazine. Her saliva was staking a claim on a bottle of perfume that she was planning to put on her credit card once the air stewardesses started selling. To Vince’s left was his nan, staring through her thick-lensed glasses with extreme intensity and agitation at the no-smoking sign that continued to blaze above her.
“Must be something wrong with it, Vince. Wiring probably. Last thing you need on something as technom-logically technical as an aeroplane is dodgy wiring. Mrs. Barry had some electrician in last year re-doing her wiring ‘cos the man from the council said it was pre-war and it had to be pulled out. A month later her pissin’ TV overheated, and she had to call him out again.”
“I’m just getting up to go to the loo, Nan. They’ll probably bring food soon.”
“On a Sunday it was, and he wouldn’t come round to have a look ‘˜til the next day. She had to go all round the pissin’ house unplugging everything, and then just sat there in the pissin’ dark all night.”
“I’ll be back in a minute, Nan.”
Vince climbed carefully over the snoring Natalie, gently mopping her chin with his complementary wet-wipe after he did so.
It was going to be another twelve hours until their transit stop. Vince had heard from one of the bar-proppers in the Carrot and Jam Kettle that if you travel from London to Asia by plane then you actually loose five or six hours on account of the earth still spinning while you were up there. If that meant less time learning about Mrs. Barry sitting in the pitch black to avoid TV-induced electrocution then shortening his life by six hours was a reasonable price to pay.
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I currently have a very busy job working as a coordinator for development programme. So really, writing is what I do in my spare time. However, this helps me to have a lot of enthusiasm for writing when I do get the chance to be creative.
9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) For me the key to marketing is to ‘get help’. It is a very competitive market and we are not all skilled at everything. There are marketing professionals who have the right skills for promoting books and I think that to reach a wider audience then it’s necessary to work with people whose know how to achieve that.
10.How would you describe your writing style? For me personally, I’ve tried to develop a style where a strong pace to the story is maintained so the reader gets caught up in the story and is always wondering what’s about to happen next. I think this suits the Vincent Crow stories and the way I want to tell them. Readers should feel the enthusiasm from the author as their narrative unfolds, and are pulled along by their energy.