1. What got you into writing? I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t into writing. When I was younger I was always writing short stories and drawing cartoons. I’ve always loved comedy and the idea of creating it is something I’ve always been drawn to. I remember reading the Adrian Mole diaries when I was in my early teens and loving them. I personally think that if you want to be a writer it’s just in you. I’ve been telling my friends for years that I wanted to be a writer and they were probably bored of hearing me talking about it. I’ve sacrificed a lot to be an author and luckily for me it’s worked out and I finally get to do what I love for a living. Let’s just hope it continues.
2. What is a usual writing day like for you? At the moment I’m technically a stay-at-home dad first and a writer second so I don’t really have a usual writing day. I write when I can for as long as I can. I also have an absolutely incredible wife who helps me grab as much writing time as I can. In a couple of years both of my kids will be at school, so then hopefully I’ll have a usual writing day. I write best in the morning, so ideally I’d like to write between say 9am and 1pm during the week, but as you know, it’s always on my mind. Authors never really stop working.
3. Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Not too much. Sometimes when I’m starting a new book I find it hard to get into the characters’ heads and so writing is quite slow and lots of it gets deleted or edited. I don’t really suffer from writers block though and if I do, I just start working on something else and I usually find it soon comes back to me.
4. Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I never used to be. I think my first few books were very much just start and see what happens. As most writers will tell you though, once you start working with agents and publishers, they sort of demand that you plan a bit more. My agent wants me to show her fully formed ideas, so although the whole book isn’t planned out, it’s at least a well thought out idea. Saying that, when I start writing the actual book things do change and it’s definitely an organic process. I think I’m a sort of hybrid writer now – I plan the story out to get going, but let the creativity evolve the idea once it’s started.
5. What was the publishing process like for you, & any advice to aspiring authors? I was very lucky that I was actually approached by a publishing company. I originally self-published my debut novel This Thirtysomething Life and it got into the Kindle top ten on Amazon. Due to this success, I was approached by an Editorial Assistant at Hodder and Stoughton and after quite a few meetings and lots of waiting (the process takes a long time even when they want you), I was offered a two book deal. I was also quite unique in that I didn’t have an agent and so I was working with the publishers directly. I definitely learnt a lot from the experience and now I have an agent and I work with her and it’s a brilliant relationship. She really understands me and constantly pushes me to do better and to keep improving. In terms of advice for aspiring authors, I would say write a really incredible book and then get it out there. I spent a few years trying to get an agent the old fashioned way, but I think the publishing world is changing. Self-publish on Kindle and get it read. Make sure you get the book proofread properly and preferably edited too before you publish – there’s nothing worse than a book full of errors to put people off. Design a brilliant, eye-catching cover and learn how to market your book. Trust me, even when you get a book deal, you still have to do most of your own marketing. You need a website, a presence on Twitter and Facebook. No matter how good the book is, if no-one knows who you are, no-one is going to read it. Publishers and agents love to work with people who know how to sell books and advertise themselves.
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? I think just holding the first copy of my first published novel in my hands. Although I got published because of my EBook sales, there’s nothing quite like having an actual copy. It was a proud moment and one I’ll never forget.
7. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. Of course. My latest book and my second novel is called HAPPY ENDINGS and it’s the story of Kate, Ed, Emma and Jack, four late-twentysomethings all searching for their own version of a happy ending. I was inspired to write the book because I think that so many people in their twenties are all searching for the same thing – happiness. The thing is we don’t often know what it is we need to be happy and often the things we think we need or strive for, isn’t what we need at all. The book is about that search and I hope it’s funny, sad, sweet, heartwarming and life-affirming. I also wanted to write a proper ensemble piece and so I wrote the book from four first person perspectives. I think this gives the story a real depth and we’re able to see the same story in four different ways. If you love books about growing up, love and happy endings, then this is a book for you. My first book is called THIS THIRTYSOMETHING LIFE and it’s about a man, Harry Spencer, who goes through a bit of an early midlife crisis when he finds out his wife is pregnant. It’s a hilarious and heartwarming story about one man’s bumbling journey to adulthood. Told in diary format, it covers nine months in his life leading up to the birth of his first child. I wrote this after going through the same thing in my own life. My wife had just had our first baby and I really wanted to write a funny book about what men go through during pregnancy and how it changes us. It was a Kindle top ten bestseller and it will always be the book that changed my life, in more ways than one. I’ve also just finished writing the sequel to this and it’s called THIS FAMILY LIFE and it covers Harry’s first year of parenthood. It’s a book I really love and I hope the fans of the first one will love it too.
8. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I have two kids and so I’m constantly busy. However, in my ‘spare’ time I read a lot (obviously), I love travelling and my wife and I plan on seeing as many countries as we can and one day, when I actually have spare time, I plan to take up golf.
9. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Gosh that’s a hard one to answer. There’s so many people, but if I had to pick one it would be Stephen Fry, simply because I would love to know how it feels to be that clever. I have an awful memory and trying to remember anything is a real struggle, but he just knows so much and has a vocabulary I’d die for. So I’d love to be him for a week and if I was, I’d have to get together with Hugh Laurie and maybe he could play the piano while I served us cocktails – this is only amusing if you’re a big fan of A Bit of Fry and Laurie.
10. Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Yes, just a big old THANK YOU. Since getting published and even before when I was self-published, I received so many lovely emails and tweets from people saying how much they loved my book and it really does mean a lot. Writing is such a singular, lonely old game, but then you put this thing out there you’ve created and when it genuinely touches people it’s a truly wonderful feeling. Also, without readers, I’d just be a bloke writing books for himself and that isn’t nearly as much fun. So thank you, thank you, thank you. And merry Christmas and a happy New Year!