Wordy Wednesday with Matthew Harffy

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday! Our writer this week is my very own (baby) brother, Matthew Harffy.
We lived in Northumberland as children and it seems the area had a great impact on him. The rugged terrain, ruined castles and rocky coastline made it easy to imagine the past. Decades later, a documentary about Northumbria's Golden Age sowed the kernel of an idea for a series of historical fiction novels. 
The first of them is the action-packed tale of vengeance and coming of age, THE SERPENT SWORD. The sequel is THE CROSS AND THE CURSE.

Matthew has worked in the IT industry, where he spent all day writing and editing, just not the words that most interested him. Prior to that he worked in Spain as an English teacher and translator. He has co-authored seven published academic articles, ranging in topic from the ecological impact of mining to the construction of a marble pipe organ.
Matthew lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their two daughters.
When not writing, or spending time with his family, Matthew sings in a band called Rock Dog

As I've known him all of his life it's slightly weird to quiz him, but interesting too as I didn't know all of the answers! So grab a cup of your favourite beverage, take a comfy seat and let us begin.

When did you start writing? 
I wrote short stories at school and always enjoyed creative writing (I even won a prize for a short story when we lived in Northumberland – I was about 11 and I remember my sister helped a lot with it, but don’t all writers need a good editor?!). So, whilst I have always been interested in writing and dreamed for a long time of writing a novel, like many others, I would start with what seemed a good idea, write a few pages, and then, soon after, forget about it.

Way back in 2001, I had an idea for a story set in 7th century Britain, after watching a programme on TV about an ancient burial ground being excavated at Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland. At the end of the programme, I went to the computer and started typing the first things that came into my head. This could so easily have gone the way of all the other abandoned stories, but for some reason, the story ideas kept rattling around in my head. I bought books on the time period and started mapping out a plot for a novel.

This was it, I was going to write a book and become a millionaire author! Yeah, right!

What 3 things (not including paper, computer, pens) would you like to facilitate a good days writing?

A window of time (about an hour or two) without distractions. The most I’ve written at any one time is probably about four hours. I find small, focussed sessions more productive.

Inspiration (I have no idea where that comes from, but I think it is a product of sitting down and forcing yourself to write!).

A comfortable chair and somewhere to rest my laptop.

Do you write to a schedule, eg every day or three times a week, set times, etc or do you write as and when the mood strikes?

As I said above, I find I need to write regularly (not everyday necessarily, but a few times a week). I aim for at least 3,000 words a week. Once I have hit my word count for the day, I relax and feel able to stop. Otherwise I feel a terrible pressure to write, as if I am somehow being naughty. I think Lawrence Kasdan said that being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life!

Is writing your main source of income, I read lots of articles saying writers make no money, and my readers asked this question a lot! Can you survive on book writing alone? if not, what else do you do?
I could not survive from writing alone (then again, I only have one book out there are the moment!).

My day job is Technical Publications Manager in a large telecoms software company. It is not as much fun as writing about warriors in the Dark Ages, but it really does pay the bills!

What are your favourite biscuits?
Cadbury’s chocolate shortcakes.

Where do you do most of your writing?
I write wherever I can. I do most of it now in the spare room at home, but I have written parts of my first two novels in the following places: trains, airplanes, airports, hotels, school halls, cars (parked!), libraries, living room, kitchen, a holiday flat in Cornwall, and probably others I can’t remember.

What book are you reading at the moment?
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Do you use social media (facebook, twitter, instagram etc) to engage with your audience, do you think it helps sales and do you find it fun or a chore?
I actively use Twitter and Facebook. I don’t find it a chore, but I do find it time-consuming and a distraction at times. I am absolutely convinced that being active on social media has positively impacted sales. I would not have got quotes from established authors without chatting with them over Facebook and Twitter first. I have been contacted on several occasions by people who have discovered my writing via social media too. It is also great to get instant feedback from other readers and writers. In short, I think social media is a great thing for authors.

Do you own an e-reader? and do you prefer to read digital or paper copy?
I own a Kindle (the old one with no backlight). I read a lot on both the Kindle and in paper. I guess I prefer paper, but welcome the ease of the e-book reader, especially when travelling.

Do you dream in colour?
I don’t know…I hardly ever remember dreaming…!

If reading and writing were banned, what would you do instead?
I’d sing in a rock band (Oh, I do that already!)! If I could choose anything else, I’d make movies.

What is your ideal holiday?
Part city-break in a great, historic city, then with a couple of days camping in an amazing rural setting (mountains or rocky coastline), then a rest day on a warm beach.

For those keen to get their hands on Matthew's book:

The global link to THE SERPENT SWORD is: http://getbook.at/TheSerpentSword

My website is www.matthewharffy.com

Wordy Wednesday

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