Saturday, October 8, 2011

Interview with Stuart Aken author of Ten Tales for Tomorrow and more

Today I have an interview with Stuart Aken author of several books and short story collections. Click on any of the covers through the interview to be taken to the Amazon page for more info.  If you are an author I recommend checking out his blog for some great info.


When did you decide to become a writer?


Good question, Scott. I’m not sure I ever decided; it was more that writing
became a compulsion I could no longer ignore. I started writing illustrated
articles for the photographic press when I was 19 and working as a professional photographer. Fiction began really with a drama contest held by the major TV/radio listing magazine here in UK, the Radio Times. My radio play, Hitch Hiker, won 3rd place (Willy Russell of Educating Rita and Blood Brothers fame came 1st) and was broadcast in the 1970s. Since then, with long periods of enforced absence from the writing scene, I’ve written lots of short stories and several novels. My romantic thriller, Breaking Faith, was published at the very
end of 2008 and I published the anthology of speculative fiction, Ten Tales for
Tomorrow, in January this year.


If you are not a full time writer what do you do to pay the bills?


A lengthy period of illness forced me to reduce my full time employment to part time about 8 years ago. I still suffer from periods of ME/CFS if I overdo things, but I work part time for a local government department involved in advising and collecting a tax on business.


What was your route to Indie authoring?


In 2008, the UK Arts Council sponsored website YouWriteOn decided to get
involved in publishing and offered a print on demand and distribution service for
a very good price (£49.00). I jumped at the chance, as I’d tried my novels with
several agents and publishers and, although I’d had some encouragement, they
felt the book would not be a mass market product. I retained the digital rights
to that paperback, Breaking Faith, (available through most book retailers) and
published the novel in 2010 as an ebook through Smashwords. Later, I also
placed it on Amazon’s Kindle.


Any tips for your fellow Indie authors?


I know it’s traditional for us to encourage each other here, but can I make a
plea first? Unless you’re already published in another field or have a degree
in English language, engage a professional editor. So many badly turned-out
indie books give the whole field a bad reputation and spoil the chances of good
authors. Beyond that, I’d say persevere, write a good strong tale or a well-
constructed non-fiction work with something new to say. Ensure the text is the
best you can produce before you publish. Otherwise, the advice is the same as it
is for authors travelling the traditional publishing route; be prepared for rejection
and develop the hide of a rhino. But, most of all, enjoy the journey.


What served as your inspiration for Ten Tales for Tomorrow?


I’ve been writing short fiction for a good many years and have had several stories published in small magazines and others as prize-winners in writing contests. It seemed a natural progression to publish an anthology of the genre I’m currently concentrating on.


What other work do you have available?


My novel, as already mentioned. And another anthology of gentle love stories;
Ten Love Tales. I also edited, designed and contributed to an anthology of
short stories by my writing group (all published authors). A Sackful of Shorts is
available as an ebook through Smashwords and on Amazon.


What sites is your work available on?


My own website, http://www.stuartaken.co.uk/ and my blog http://
stuartaken.blogspot.com/ both contain samples of my writing. I once placed some
work on a peer review site but quickly discovered that the feedback was often
illiterate and the rankings were dependent on some very false support for other
works on a quid pro quo basis, which bore no relation to the quality of the work
involved, so I withdrew. I generally get all the support and useful criticism I need
from my wife and the writing group to which I belong, so I tend not to get involved
in the many online groups. There are undoubtedly some good ones, but they are
not the sort of thing that excites me.


Are you currently working on anything new and if so when can we expect to see
it?


I’m about half way through book 2 of an epic fantasy series. Book 1 is written and
stands at around 208,000 words. But I’m going to complete the second volume
before I consider publication. It seems to me that many fantasy writers embark on
a series only to run out of steam before they reach the conclusion. I don’t want
my eventual readers to worry that the same might happen with my work (it won’t)
and by having the first 2 books already written before anything is published, I
hope to demonstrate my dedication to the project. I’m thoroughly enjoying the
writing process and producing between 1,000 and 2,000 words a day. I expect to
have the story written as first draft by late summer/early autumn. Then I’ll begin
the lengthy and thorough editing process. So, I expect it’ll be early next year
before I’m ready to take the first steps toward publication.


Are there any authors that you really look up to?


Probably too many to do justice to here. But I must acknowledge William
Horwood, Richard Adams, William Golding, Jane Austen, Graham Greene, Ray
Bradbury, Charlotte Bronte, Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Anne McCaffrey,
amongst many others.


What do you see the biggest challenge in being an Indie author as?


Marketing and getting your name known as an author are without doubt the most difficult challenges. There’s no big publisher behind you to kick-start the process, but there are many, often unscrupulous, marketing organisations out there ready to take hard earned cash from the unwary. I’ve never used such organisations and rely on my networking, my blog and my website to do the donkey work.  Opportunities like those you provide, Scott, are few and far between and much appreciated. In fact, because I know how hard it is, I also offer author interviews on my own blog.


Have you ever been published in any magazines or any national publication?


Apart from the play on the UK’s major radio broadcaster, the BBC, I’ve had non-
fiction published in Amateur Photographer, Practical Photography, Photography
Magazine and The British Journal of Photography. My fiction has appeared
in Delivered, Scribble, Words and Writers’ Forum (the major British writing
magazine), where I’ve won prizes and been published in 3 of their monthly
contests.


Do you have a homepage/blog/twitter/facebook etc... that fans can follow your
progress or contact you at?


My blog is http://stuartaken.blogspot.com/
My website is http://www.stuartaken.co.uk/
You can Tweet with me: http://twitter.com/@stuartaken
I invite readers and writers as friends on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/
stuart.k.allison
And I recommend anyone with an interest in reading to join me on Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4234877.Stuart_Aken
Another good place to meet like-minded folk is LinkedIn: http://
www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=78124450&trk=tab_pro
Smashwords author page


What is your favorite book/series?


A tough one: I’m reading new stuff all the time and finding some really good
reading matter. But, I was definitely impressed by William Horwood’s The Stonor
Eagles and Richard Adams’ Maia struck a chord with me. More recently, I read
and reviewed Robert Jordan’s latest book in the Wheel of Time series, The
Gathering Storm and thoroughly enjoyed that, even though I haven’t read the
whole series.


Are there any specific sites that you visit for advice or inspiration?


Advice; I find most of that, as a writer, from a combination of reading novels and
various writing magazines and from my writing group members. But I visit quite a
lot of sites in pursuit of links for readers and writers who visit my website (I have
over 300 links on there of interest to visitors) and often pick up useful information
along the way. I’m a member of Goodreads, where there are many groups
offering opinions on a great range of reading matter, as well as reviews of many
books.
Inspiration; I find this in the world in general: everything from a break in the
clouds on a stormy day to a single line of poetry can act as inspiration for me.
My ideas flow from two great driving themes in my work. Injustice in all its forms
inspires me to promote fairness and my strong belief that organised religion (of
every sort) is basically a bad thing for mankind, leads me to advance the cause of
agnosticism.


Thanks for this opportunity to blow my own horn and pepper your readers with
opinions, Scott. I hope to find new friends and readers as a result. And, should
anyone decide to read anything I’ve written, I’d really appreciate a review on the
various sites that sell my work. Reviews are probably the single most important
influence on whether people buy a book.


I'd like to thank Stuart for taking the time to share his opinions with us and wish him the best with his literary career.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks very much for this, Scott. I really appreciate the exposure and the opportunity to let readers know a little more about my writing.

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  2. As it happens I've just read "Ten Tales for Tomorrow". Gave it 4*. I found some of the stories unsettling - but that's part of the point of fiction, SF or not, to keep jangling a little bell at the back of a reader's mind.

    Thanks, Scott, for another good interview.

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