I’m proud to present a "blog hop" between the English writer Andrew Shephard, who writes Erotica under the pen name Robert Fanshaw, and me. The ‘Robert Fanshaw’ books were published as eBooks by SteameReads of Australia, but the publisher has now ceased trading.
We’re interviewing each other and posting the resulting conversations on our blogs. So have a look at his entry on http://fanshawrobert.blogspot.co.uk/
I met Andrew at the Swanwick Writers’Summer School. He struck me at once as a very amiable person with great insight into human nature and a wicked sense of humour. For some time now, we have both been "working" for the Swanwick Tweet Team. Andrew is also the Swanwick webmaster.
The most urgent question first, Andrew. When will you next book come out?
My next book, called Nellie and Tabs, is nearing completion and I’m hoping it will appear by some magic or other this summer. It’s a novel set in the ‘alternative society’ of the 1970s.
Why did you begin to write? Was there a specific event that spurred you on?
At my school there was a school magazine, written and even printed by the pupils. I contributed some pieces and later became one of the editors. That hooked me on writing and publication. I continued writing for magazines connected with my various jobs and was also involved in editorial work.
You write Erotica with an uncanny touch ofactuality, weaving in e.g. banking scandals and European politics. Why did you choose that genre?
Why indeed! Pure escapism, I suppose. Four years ago I found I had more time to write having fallen out of love with being employed. I wanted to try fiction, so set myself the goal of completing three novels, on the basis that I might have some idea of what I was doing after three. The first one, Shameless Ambition, was published by SteameReads and they took the next two Shameless books, and also a novella about cricket. It was fun while it lasted, and I learned a lot about what doesn’t work, as well as what does.
Which do you find more challenging, the process of thinking up a story or the editing?
It depends on my state of mind. Sometimes everything about writing is enjoyable and easy, and sometimes it is all very difficult, both technically and motivationally. I try to write with a light heart, with a smile in my prose. Editing can be a total slog, but it’s worth the effort of making a piece as good as it can be.
Do you have a favourite among your books/stories and why?
My favourite is the novel I have recently finished, Nellie and Tabs, because I love the characters and the world they inhabit. I had a number of goes at the ending and something was wrong. Then it was like I found the missing piece of the jigsaw on the floor, and it made me happy. I hope it makes some readers happy too one day soon.
How do you fit writing into your daily life?
I don’t go ‘out’ to work these days, so I fit my daily life around my writing. I find walking the dog is useful for working out plots and getting ideas for short pieces, and then get down to writing. Once a novel is underway, I have to stick to daily routine of 1000 new words so that the chapters build up at a reasonable rate. Reading is as important as writing and I usually start each writing session by reading a poem or two.
Should you ever consider changing genre, what would you like to write?
I think I have changed genre with my latest novel, and I also like writing poems, short stories and articles. Some of my short pieces have recently appeared in a collection called Dining on WORDS, published by a writing group. The most important thing for me is to enjoy the process, and not worry too much about the outcome. There are a lot of books being published and readers are hard to find unless you happen to strike a chord that resonates with the times.
Which of your senses is most likely to be involved when there’s a first spark of an idea?
I think I tend to ‘see’ things first, like a play on a stage, but with some concentration, sounds and smells come very vividly, especially if mining my own experiences.
Are there any writing related events that you go to?
Like yourself, Karin, I am a keen participant in the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. I have also been to Romantic Novelists Association conferences where I was very outnumbered by women! This year I am a volunteer for the Huddersfield Literature Festival which is in March.
Do you belong to any writing related organisations?
I am a member of the RNA mentioned above, and the ALCS which collects royalties etc. I have had non-fiction published in the past and chapters in other people’s books.
How important is reader feedback to you?
Feedback is very useful indeed, particularly if I can avoid a defensive reaction. Criticism is at least as valuable as praise, providing I remember it is the work being criticised, not the writer.
How can readers contact you?
Readers can leave a message on http://fanshawrobert.blogspot.co.uk/
Or you can tweet me @RobertFanshaw
For a free ebook from the Shameless series, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
(For a copy of Dining on WORDS, go to http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dining-Words-Yorkshire-Writers-Lunch/dp/0993266924 )
What’s your favourite book of all times?
I see you have saved the hardest question to last! It changes all the time, but at this moment my favourite book is Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.
Thank you for this fascinating glimpse into your writing life, Andrew. We're all very much looking forward to meeting Nellie and Tabs (good luck with the hardest part of the journey), and to hearing more about you and your novels. And I am looking forward to seeing you again in August.
Now, will you excuse me? The "Shameless" download seems almost complete…