Wordy Wednesday - with Rob Grimes

Ooh a cheeky new one for you all this week, a good twitter friend of mine (I hope he doesn't mind me claiming him as a friend) someone who's blog I enjoy reading (check it out here) and general all round odd nice chap.

Allow me to welcome Rob Grimes, author of Child of Air (which Rob sent me a copy of and is on my HUGE 'to read' pile - sorry for the slow response Rob!) Find out more about Rob's writing at GoodReads 

And now for the interrogation!

Rob, When did you start writing?

I've been writing 'proper' factual things for about 20 years. I've written a huge number of dry, boring, IT software manuals and procedures for various employers. But I'd say that the thing that really gave me my start was pirating computer games software in the late 1980s - Back in those days you'd be presented with a grubby 3 1/2 inch floppy disc with the name of the game scribbled on it in crayon and that's about it.  But I always took the time to play the games and work out what all the keys were.  I'd maybe even give my own opinion of tricks and tactics - All printed out on music-ruled paper on a third-hand Epson dot matrix printer that was constantly running out of ink on the ribbon.  Even then, customer service was my watchword... (ah floppy discs, you are talking my language!)

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

Oh, now that's easy - 

1) Silence - I have the concentration levels of a fruitfly at the best of times, it takes the tiniest thing to completely derail my train of thought.
2) Snacks - I need to have access to various kinds of provender and comestibles.  I probably won't actually eat any of them, but it's kind of a literary safety-net - I can't start a new chapter unless there are at least emergency Cornettos in the freezer.  Unless I have pork pies of course... I can't not eat pork pies. (with pickle I hope...)
3) Good Weather - I'm a Martyr to temporary writer's block.  But a brisk walk down the canal path to the local pub does wonders for my creative juices.  It's just not the same if I have to find an umbrella and galoshes before I leave.

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?

When I'm writing the first draft of a manuscript, I write whenever I think of something - Which is why the 108,000 words of  'Child of Air' has taken just over two years so far.  When I'm editing however, I need to force myself to do it.  Moreso with my own stuff than with the things I edit for other writers - It's easy with other people's writing, it's a job... Something I've said that I'll do.  But the only person that I'm letting down by being lazy with my own writing is myself - And I forgive myself because I'm such a great guy.  It doesn't help that I usually have a couple of things on the go at once.  I should procrastinate less, but there's always something else that needs writing, or replying to, or sticking back together (I have two children). (you have to stick your children together?!)

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 wish it was! - I'd love nothing more than to be able to sit under a palm tree, listening to the azure waves breaking over the warm golden sands whilst a selection of dusky maidens keep me supplied with Mai-Tais.   Sadly, my reality is not quite like that.  I have a day job (I'm currently the IT Manager for an International Hairdressing company) that keeps me fairly busy before I even start to think about writing anything. From what I can gather from other people who call themselves writers (or authors) to make any sort of money you have to keep plugging away like your very life depended on it.  Which, in a way, it does if it's your only source of income. The other things you need are luck in huge amounts - and I can't stress that enough - You could write this century's 'Pride & Prejudice' but if you send it to a publisher on spec and the person who especially likes historical drama happens to have a hangover that day, it'll go straight in the bin, do not pass the slush pile, do not collect £200,000. You'll also need someone to handle your advertising (Because if people don't know your books exist, they can't buy them) which usually means a publisher or an agent - I'm all for self-publishing, my previous books were all self-published and it's really great if you get it right - You get to keep more of the profit.  It's just that it's so easy to get wrong.  Which is fine if you just want to get a book out there on Amazon.  But if you're in it for the fame and fortune, you'd be better off partnering with someone who knew their stuff. Great answer - see some of my previous author interviews for the azure seas! but yes, writing and more writing does seem to be the key, thick skins as well as talent seem to be a requisite!

What are your favourite biscuits?

Pretty much anything that's half covered with chocolate... Probably Hobnobs

Where do you do most of your writing?

At my desk at work.  I'd love to say that I write during breaks and at lunchtime... But it's pretty much whenever I can squeeze some time in. I'll have a copy of 'Word' open with my manuscript in it open all the time and I'll plug away when I can. Mostly during conference calls. Sneaky!

What book are you reading at the moment?

Now, there's a question... I usually read about half a dozen books at the same time.  At the moment I'm mostly reading 'Flaming Zeppelins (The adventures of Ned the Seal)' by Joe R. Lansdale.  A couple of Warhammer 40,000 books by Dan Abnett and Ben Counter - Their exact titles escape me, but they probably have words like 'Heresy' and 'Gothic' in them. And finally, 'Look who's back' by Timur Vermes, which is about Adolf Hitler being transported to the modern day and becoming a media sensation.

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?

Most certainly.  Social media is one of the most powerful tools that a writer can lay their hands on.  There's no other way that you can talk to so many potential readers without somehow collecting their email addresses.  I love interacting with my audience, they often say nice things.  In fact, I'm thinking of setting up a website for the new book (which is the first volume in a trilogy) where each of the major characters will have their own email address. You can ask them questions, and given a following wind, they'll reply to you - in character.  In fact, I'd be interested in what your readers thought about that idea.(answers in the comments below please!)

Do you own an e-reader? and do you prefer to read digital or paper copy?

I own a couple of Kindles (Which aren't just what South African kids have on their Birthday Cakes) , and they're great for taking on holiday where you can just throw them in a bag and take 100 books with you to the beach or in a tent.  But I prefer paper most of the time, it feels more alive - And it smells a lot better.

Do you dream in colour?

Yes I do.  And oddly, despite the fact that I own, and ride a motorcycle in real life - I have never dreamed a motorcycle in any of my dreams.  I have dreamed about riding a motorcycle, but I've always been suspended in the air with my body in the position of someone riding a motorcycle, but without the actual conveyance - It's very odd, I'm sure Freud would have a field day. ... I actually dreamed about Freud the other day, but that's a whole other story

If reading and writing were banned, what would you do instead?

Blimey! Well, firstly I'd have a good cry - Then I'd fall back on pretty much what any red-blooded male would fill his day with given the choice, the mighty triptych of TV, computer games and self-love. Nice

What is your ideal holiday?

Sadly, I'm not a great one for holidays - Which is a source of constant irritation to the rest of my immediate family - I only have two default states, which are 'Busy' and 'vegetative' with little leeway in-between. I guess, if I were to be pushed, it would be a cabin, somewhere in the world with a huge sky and where the horizon was a bloody long way away.  With comfortable beds and High Speed Broadband.

What's the nastiest thing you've ever eaten?

There are two answers to this, depending what you mean by nastiest.  The first would be a fish-pie cooked by the ex-girlfriend of my Brother-in-law. Who cooked it purely from a picture she'd seen with no real understanding of the ingredients involved.  The topping specifically was particularly terrible, instead of the more usual breadcrumb, cheese & parsley crumble.. She used crushed cornflakes... and the second? curious readers NEED to know!
Thanks Rob for taking the time to answer my odd questions, all the best with Child of Air.
 hugely different from my last three books as this is a real novel about things that happen 500 years in the future - And it may even be loosely based on my friends and family - They do say you should write what you know, don't they?
Thanks for reading, do let me know what you think of Robs idea about a character website!
Check out Rob on Goodreads or follow his adventure on twitter

Buy his books on Amazon
Wordy Wednesday

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