Welcome to Ink Drop Interviews where this week I welcome Andy Laker, author of Time To Think.
IDI – Thanks for joining me, Andy. I read the blurb and an excerpt of Time To Think, and now, I can’t wait to read it! As a writer myself, I realize the investment of time that goes into even one book and when a writer has a day job, the time to write often takes from those around us. Who has been the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?
AL – Without question, my wife Irene. We met in 1977, got engaged two weeks later and married within 3 months. She’s the mainstay in everything I do. Mind you she’s no pushover when it comes to constructive feedback. If I write rubbish she won’t hesitate to tell me its rubbish. That’s how I know any approval she gives me is genuine.
IDI – A supportive spouse is a huge benefit, especially when they’re not only your biggest fan, but your biggest critic. It’s easy to find friends and relatives to love our work, but to find one who will give it to us straight, pure gold! Would you say your stories are character or plot driven?
AL – My story is a trilogy about Detective Sergeant Jason Mayfield (Time to Think http://authl.it/B00589W4F2?d), but it didn’t originate with him. People who have given me feedback on book 1 all refer to Jason as being the center of my literary universe, in fact the plot came first for me and always will. Jason is a solid character who doesn’t need reinventing, whereas the crimes he looks into have to change to keep the reader interested.
IDI – Who is your favorite author, and why?
AL – I don’t have one. Having experienced the time and effort of writing a novel I have the utmost respect for every author who has completed the same journey. I think anyone with a little imagination can tell a story. To write that story down in a way that will make people want to read it is true dedication. To then present it to a world where every armchair critic is looking to find a loophole or mistake is sheer lunacy.
IDI – Everyone has their own style/voice (if we’re doing our jobs right), but who do you think, or have been told your writing most resembles?
AL – My plot lines have been compared to Stephen Leather. I’ve read a few of his books and take that as a compliment. However, I believe my writing style resembles James Herbert. I first read ‘The Rats’ about 30 years ago on an overnight bus from Edinburgh to London and was so engrossed I sat with my feet up on the seat, in case there were any rats on the floor. I was obviously taking note of his style as well, because I was aware of how he’d build a chapter to a peak, then write the next from a different characters viewpoint. It delayed the climax and taught me the true meaning of a roller coaster story.
IDI – James Herbert definitely left his mark on you if you remember the book 30 years later. There are few books that have stayed with me that long. Everyone has a dream. What’s yours, feature film adaption, best seller, fame, riches, Pulitzer, Oprah?
AL – Whenever someone gives me a good review it’s like winning the lottery, so that’s why I do it. I don’t need money or fame because neither will give me my health back. You see, I have Multiple Sclerosis and I’m confined to a wheelchair. No amount of money or fame can compensate for that, whereas to have someone say they genuinely enjoyed my book makes me feel better than any medicine ever could.
IDI – What was the best advice ever given to you, and by whom?
AL – Many years ago I was discussing decorating with my uncle. At the end of our conversation he said, all you need to remember is ‘Measure twice, cut once’. Those words have stuck with me since then, they’re like a twittering bird sitting on my shoulder. Everything I do, including my writing, I subject to that maxim. I haven’t got OCD or anything, I just like to make sure everything has been thought through. In practical terms every piece of fiction I write is put away for at least two weeks, so I can ‘measure’ it again with fresh eyes before I present it to the wider audience. I don’t want to publish a story with mistakes in and I’m certain no one wants to read it.
IDI – As a writer, what is the one thing you would most like people to know about you?
AL – As I’ve already mentioned I am disabled, but I don’t let that stop me. I’ve abseiled from the Forth Road Bridge and completed a 150 mile trek in my electric wheelchair in 26 hours, all for charity. My point is we can achieve anything we want to if we put our minds to it. I’m no more motivated or energetic than the next person, I just don’t like anyone telling me I can’t do something. My reply is always ‘why not’? There’s a million unwritten books out there and my advice to any potential author is ‘the only thing stopping you from writing it, is you’.
IDI – Who, in your opinion, is the best character ever written of all-time, and why?
AL – I want to say Detective Sergeant Jason Mayfield (Time to Think http://authl.it/B00589W4F2?d), because he’s my creation and it’s important to believe in yourself, but I won’t.
I could be clever and say Pierre Bezukhov from War and Peace, because it is among the best books I have ever read and he is the main character, but I won’t.
I’m going to say Janet and John. I’ve read too many books to have a favourite character, they were all my favourite at the time. But Janet and John were the start of my reading and writing journey more than 50 years ago, so I suppose I owe them everything. They are characters from a series of children’s books adopted by the school curriculum in England when I first went to school. Within the basic storylines, were keywords that developing children needed to know. Without Janet and John I wouldn’t be writing this and Detective Sergeant Jason Mayfield (Time to Think http://authl.it/B00589W4F2?d) wouldn’t exist.
IDI – Why do you write specifically in the crime genre?
AL – It’s a cliché, but I believe you should write about what you know. I’ve never read chic lit for example and wouldn’t know where to start writing it. I’m also fat, bald and wear glasses so I haven’t exactly got a wealth of experience to draw on. My interest lies in crime because I was a Police Officer for 25 years retiring in 2005 as a Chief Inspector. I pride myself on the fact that I always took a personal interest in my staff and what they were doing. Thus I was told a lot of information and anecdotes that I can now use in my writing. For confidentiality reasons I would never refer to specific cases, but I have been known to steer my plot in a particular direction so I can refer to something that will make it more interesting.
IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?
AL – Remember, this is only my opinion, but speaking as someone who has been a first time author I’ve experienced the pitfalls. The publishing industry isn’t there to help new authors, there’s no money in it for them. We put our heart and soul into our writing and the people close to us assure us that we’ve created a best-seller. Unfortunately the publishing industry isn’t close to us and will reject a manuscript for various reasons, without even reading it. I think my book (Time to Think http://authl.it/B00589W4F2?d) compares to anything Ian Rankin or Lee Childs have ever written, after all if I don’t believe it, no one else will. So why did the publishers I sent it to not make it into a blockbuster movie straight away? The simple answer is they receive so many, they can afford to be ruthless in their selection. Once they have a couple of best-selling authors on their books first timers become less important to their business (a schoolboy error by the way). Furthermore, I genuinely believe that stories don’t sell stories, names sell stories. We can all think of a celebrity who has published a successful book purely on the strength of their fame. Us mere mortals just can’t compete with status.
But it’s not all bad news. Hang in there, keep trying or publish as an eBook. Quality will always sell in the end, just ask JK Rowling.
IDI – One last question, what can we expect next from the pen of Andy Laker?
AL – Time to Think (http://authl.it/B00589W4F2?d) is the first of a trilogy of books in the series. The second will be available in the spring of 2015. It involves many of the same characters with one particular ‘through line’ villain, but the plot is new. Book 3 is simmering away nicely in my head and will begin as soon as Book 2 is published.
IDI – Andy, thank you so much for appearing on Ink Drop Interviews and the best of luck with your continued success.
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