3 December 2010

Book Savvy Spotlight on Derek Smith

Bringing you exclusive interviews with authors featured in the Book Savvy Newsletter.
Our Guest is Derek Smith, author of 'No Cousin of Mine' -A book about true life post-war stories. The foreword to this book has been written by John Noakes, probably the most famous of all the presenters of the Blue Peter programme.

Enjoy the interview.
Q1: Can you tell us a little about your book, 'No Cousin of Mine'?
The title 'No Cousin of Mine' is taken from a favourite drinking song of Number 256 RAF squadron that was serving in Western Germany shortly after the end of the Second World War. The book is a sequence of real life stories involving a young man and his comrades during their time of National Service.
It is about being conscripted into a rigidly disciplined, sometimes harsh system and learning how to survive.
It is about young lads, most only 18, entering this system and emerging after 2 years as men.
It is about learning to make the system work for you but at the same time recognising the responsibility of doing a job that entails maintaining fighting aircraft in a safe and serviceable condition in a situation where you are only a few minutes flying time from a real and menacing threat from the East.
Finally it is about the indomitability of the human spirit that will always adapt and gain from such experiences.

Q2: Why did you write this book and why did it take nearly 60 years before you got round to writing 'No Cousin of Mine'?
Two years ago I read a book written by an old school playmate, Geoff Blore. I got in touch via his publisher and we were reunited after almost 70 years. I told him that once, more years ago than I cared to remember, I had started to write a book by longhand many years before word processors, but that when, after a week of struggle, I had ended up with only 4 pages of crossings out and insertions, I had given up and under the demands of a busy life I had never attempted it again. He said that I must write it now and that he would help me. 'No cousin of Mine' was the result.

Q3: How can you be so sure that your recollection of those days is accurate?
If you asked me to recall a conversation I had in 1952, I would be able to recall it with the utmost lucidity. If, however you asked me what I had had for lunch the day before yesterday, I would have no idea. It is called senility.

1 December 2010

Author Spotlight with Steve Morris

An interview by Katie Salidas, 'Written In Blood' Blog
Friday, November 26, 2010

K.S. Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself.
S.M. So great to be here. Nice to meet you. My name is Steve Morris and I am based in the North West of the UK. In 2009 I wrote a book of short stories called “In All Probability” which was well-received by the Press. Despite a range of reviews including comments such as “an often disturbing imagination”, I was greatly encouraged by the reception of my first effort.
For a living, I travel around my region to teach math and science to students who are too ill to get to school. Some stories that I wrote in my teenage years found their way into magazines, so I compiled a collection of them into a book with the help of a publisher.
Now I am back with a second complimentary collection of (longer) shorts called “Jumble Tales.”

K.S. Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?
S.M. Just before going to press, ironically by a quirk of probability, I found myself working in proximity to someone with the same name as one of the characters with some very similar traits. I managed to change the name at last moment to avoid possible legal action.

K.S. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?
S.M. I loved reading and was taught to read and write by my parents way before I went to school. Right from the start, teachers told me that writing was what I would end up doing. So I chose to follow a career in math and physics, which I do actually love.

K.S. What genre do you write?
S.M. Short stories. All with a twist. With a background in mathematics teaching, I try to “work in” flips based on those frustrating quirks of probability which we all fall foul of now and again. Some of the stories end abruptly, but this is deliberate, leaving the reader an opportunity to draw their own conclusions or to guess at mine. Most stories cross over between science fact and fiction but some are situation-based romantic stories of pure chance.
If “Jumble Tales” is successful then there will be a novel.

K.S. What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?
S.M. Oh. Being English the classic writers Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Arnold Bennett and R.D. Blackmore.
I have always enjoyed the work of Philip K Dick for his gift of imagination.

K.S. What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book/s?
S.M. That there are so many talented enthusiastic encouraging people out there offering support.
However that there are also some people known for a lifetime who went out of their way to either ignore or dismiss my first book. We learn who our real friends are and I’ve made some great new ones after “In All Probability” came out.

K.S. What inspires you?
S.M. Tomorrow. A new fresh day ahead of me. I wake up before the animals who rule the farmland outside my house. They get me back when I try to go to sleep before them!

K.S. Can you tell us a little about any of your novels?
Jumble Tales
Psychological sharpshooters, fickle football fans and prodigious people who choose to use and misuse their incredible talents invite you into this collection of their jumbled-up worlds.
During dark days at work when people reflect both on what could have been and on what could still be, things are never quite what they seem, and never turn out as expected. Crafted to be short and snappy enough for coffee breaks, but long in the memory, Steve Morris maintains the momentum from his first book
"In All Probability" with more of his diverse short stories of the unexpected.
You'll never take anything for granted again except perhaps for uncertainty itself.
Anything can turn up in a "Jumble Tale."

In All Probability
Hold on. Not so fast. Just when you think it’s just another day…. An assassin with a unique technique, an almost-was soccer star and a bitter long-forgotten one-hit-wonder pop star are just a few of the random characters who turn up within the stories in this book. Each are loveable in their own different ways and are doing their very best to dodge Lady Luck’s sadistic target practice. Heroes they are not. This all happens within “In All Probability” the first collection of Steve Morris’ diverse short stories. And do they all live happily ever after?... In all probability - probably not!

K.S. Where can we buy your novel?
S.M. Most online shops on both sides of the Atlantic. They are stocked in the major ones.

K.S. Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?
S.M. Yes.


K.S. Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?
S.M. Like investing in antiques, where you should buy something you will enjoy yourself, in case it loses value. – Write what you enjoy