Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Interview with Phillip S. Davies - Children's Writer



Today we welcome Philip S. Davies to bookaholics. Welcome Phillip, thank you for joining us. It is a real pleasure to have you here with us today.

I am sure the readers would love to hear a bit about you. Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a Brummie lad, and still support Birmingham City Football Club, but have lived in far too many places around the UK since then. I’m the youngest of five siblings, but only twenty minutes younger than my identical twin brother. And yes, we’ve played twin tricks on our family and friends. I’ve been happily married to Ann for twenty years, and we have two children, Mark (12) and Rachel (9).

You came to writing via a bit of a different route. What gave you the impetus to change careers to become a writer?

Between 1997 and 2012 I was a Vicar in the Church of England, and noticed the absence of young people from most churches. So what were they doing, these older children, teenagers and young adults? They were at school, on social media, watching films and television, and (some of them) reading books. I began to read some of the grim, dark and tragic stories being published in teenage fiction today, and saw the dividing lines from adult fiction being blurred in terms of violence, sex and bad language. I could sit and complain about this, or I could do something about it, by writing more wholesome, uplifting stories of my own. So I began to write.

Is there a particular place, which is important in your book? If so can you tell us something about it?

One key scene takes place in a desert canyon. I wrote it with a particular place in mind: Sabino Canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, Arizona. Since my first visit there in 1985, I’ve been back several times, so it’s a clear and vivid location for me.

Are you able to tell us a bit about your first book without giving too much away?

Destiny’s Rebel is a teenage fantasy adventure set in an imaginary medieval world, with castles and kingdoms, swords and sailing ships.
Kat is ten days away from turning eighteen and becoming Queen. And she’s dreading it. She runs away from her responsibilities, only to get captured. When she discovers a threat to her Kingdom, can she return home in time to save her people? And does she even want to, if it means accepting her destiny?

Where did you get the inspiration for the book?

The first idea came in January 2006, when I woke up one morning having had a vivid dream. I could remember it: the main characters, the situation and the world. I made a few notes, and I’m very glad I did, because it was three years later that I started to write it. The main story has remained the same ever since.

When you are not writing what types of books do you read? What would you say was the best book you have ever read?

The advice to novice writers is to start with what you know and love, so it’s no surprise that I love teenage and young adult fantasy. I grew up on Tolkien, so my best ever book would have to be The Lord of the Rings, but I enjoyed also the science fiction of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke. I try to read across the wide spectrum of current teen fiction, and I’d say the best of these are Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games and John Green’s The Fault in our Stars – both deserved bestsellers.

Who would you say was your favourite character in any book you have read?

If I’m allowed to choose two, Gandalf and Frodo! Gandalf is a wizard of immense wisdom and power, but hides it under a shabby and sometimes playful exterior. Frodo is an ordinary hobbit, thrust into the most extraordinary circumstances and responsibility, and finds within himself the courage and resilience to see his task through. Mind you, I also love those characters with uncertain loyalty, such as Smeagol/Gollum and Severus Snape...

Now we are getting personal. What is your favourite food?

Lemon cheesecake flavoured ice cream.

If you could travel to any three countries in the world where would you go?

America, Australia and Canada.

Why these countries?

They’re all English-speaking! Although I speak French, I’m not confident at it. I also love the wide open spaces. Instead of crowds and cities, I prefer the natural beauty of the Grand Canyon, beaches, rainforests, deserts, mountain ranges, lakes, and so on. I love the cultivated greenery of the English countryside, but when I go on holiday I want something different.

If you ever have a day off from writing exciting books what do you like to do in your spare time?

Spare time means family. We go to coffee shops for morning coffee and afternoon tea, and mooch around the second-hand bookshops.

I know you are a Christian. What role does faith play in your book?

My novels are not explicitly Christian, but they do have a spiritual worldview. I enjoy placing moral dilemmas before my characters: what to do with our lives, our priorities, the place of duty, loyalty, friendship, selflessness, ambition, service and so on.
My fantasy world doesn’t have dragons, elves or goblins, so it’s a human story, but there are gods. My characters wrestle with issues of faith, guidance, healing, prayer, power, purpose, and so on. I’m intrigued by destiny, fate or the divine will in my stories, and how much we can choose for ourselves about our lives.

Now that we are all excited about your debut novel, when will it be available to buy?


I’ve finished the final revisions for my publisher, Books to Treasure, and the manuscript is now with the proof-reader and the cover design artist. The book is due to go to the printers in June, for Advance Review Copies to go out in July, and for the release and launch in September 2015.

Thank you Philip. I, and everyone at Bookaholics wish you all the very best with your book. Perhaps you would join us again when your book is published.

See you all back here soon my Bookaholic friends. Until then keep reading. 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Meet the Author by Katie Aged 11




Recently I was at a local primary School to do a talk for World Book Day. One of the pupils, Katie, agreed to do a blog post about the visit. 

An amazing author came to my school. She told us about her lead up to being an author .
I really enjoyed it. It was very inspirational and made me want to write like her. She got us all writing our own opener for a crime book which I loved doing. It got everyone very excited I had so much fun and a lot of people in my class liked it.

My opener was 
As a young boy was walking home from school two police cars were parked out side of a tree. As he walked by he said in he's head "I shouldn't have done that," he went home and told his dad that he killed a man and hid him up a tree but now I have told I have to kill you now that's two men dead. 3 more to go.

Thank you Katie. I had better watch out or you will be taking my job over as a crime author. It was a pleasure to have you on the blog, and I am glad you enjoyed the visit.


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Inspiration



I want to start with a question on the blog today. What do Arthur Conan Doyle and I have in common? Have a think about that one and I will get back to you with the answer later in the blog. Don't let me forget now.

Yesterday I was through in Auld Reekie for the day. For those uninitiated in the Scots language. This is a nickname for Edinburgh from the days when coal fires left a black haze of smoke over the city. Translated, Auld Reekie means Old Smokey. Doesn't have quite the same ring to it in English. No offence to my English readers but us Scots certainly know how to romanticise language. 

Anyway, enough of the lessons in the Scots language. Whilst I was there I went to the Scottish National Library. This fabulous old building houses an array of books both ancient and modern. A book lovers paradise. I felt like I'd died and gone to heaven. They have a couple of exhibitions on at the moment. One is on the Jacobite Rebellion and there are a number of ancient documents and books  about the rebellion. One of these is Bonnie Prince Charlie's birth certificate as seen below.


Now that is what you call history as Bonnie Prince Charlie, or to give him his real name, Charles Edward Stuart, was born on 31st December 1720. 


There were also many other Scottish writings from this time and some can be seen in the photo above. This made me think about my heritage both as a Scot and a writer. I am proud to be part of a history of Scottish writing which started before I was born, and will continue long after I am gone. Looking at the books and documents has inspired me to write more and to be the best writer I can be. I don't want to let my fellow writers, whether living or dead, down. If you can get to the national library of your country then I would urge you to do so. It is the most inspiring day I have spent.

The other exhibition was about different aspects of Scottish writing and had many items about Arthur Conan Doyle. Many people forget that he was Scottish, as his most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, is London based. It was fascinating to find out more about him and his work. We often forget that he wrote many other books several of which were in the exhibition. He takes his place amongst other great Scottish writers such as Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.

What's that you say? What do Arthur Conan Doyle and I have in common. Well firstly take a look at the photo below.


This is me with a copy of my book sitting in Arthur Conan Doyle's chair in his study. So we've both sat in the same place and thought about writing. 

The second thing we have in common is the fact that his books, and my books, are now in the Legal Deposit Libraries in the National Library of Scotland, The Bodleian Library in Oxford, Cambridge University library, the Library of Trinity College Dublin, and the National Library of Wales, as well as the British Library. I was depositing five copies of Killer's Countdown for legal deposit. I felt quite famous for five minutes.

This post was brought to you by a very proud, emotional and inspired Scottish author.

I'm going to finishes with a question. What inspires you to write? If we share in the comments below we will be able to help each other be inspired and to be better writers.

See you all back here very soon for another reading and writing frenzy. Until then, keep reading








Friday, 6 March 2015

It's Freya Again



Today's post is a guest post by my niece Freya. She is developing her writing career by filling in spots and n my blog. So please make her feel welcome. 

Hello it's Freya, and it's been ages since my last post.  It was world book day on Thursday at my school and I went as a girl called delia from Tom Gates. She's quite grumpy and she hates her
Brother Tom. She is just like my sister.

We're at toby carvery right now and everyone's being silly. Especially Aunty Wendy. Thanks everyone for reading. I am going home to play my x box. No books tonight. 

Thank you Freya for joining us and letting the bookaholic community know how silly I am. They all thought I was a serious Author until now. They always say you should never appear with children or animals. I hope you all enjoyed the post and I look forward to seeing you back on bookaholic soon. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Time to Write




I have been reading the posts from the new More Than Writers Blog and each one has made me think about myself as a writer. Today's post, Room to Write, really got me thinking. Tania Vaughan talks about not only having a room in which to write, but also making room to write. 

I have a fabulous office in which to write. I have a large desk, a super fast computer, myriad bookshelves and bright light. So my room in which to write is top of the range and good to go. That takes me to the next part of the equation which I call Time to Write. As far as I am concerned it is always time to write. Whatever the time of day, or wherever I am, it is always a good time to write something.

However, do I find time to write? That is another question altogether. Like many people my time is increasingly squeezed from every possible angle. I find myself saying yes to things rather than no. Now don't get me wrong, people are important and I will always find time for them. However, should this be at the expense of my writing. Also, book promotion, speaking engagements and taking random pictures of my books in Waterstones (as above), although exciting, take time away from writing. I have decided that I need to find time to spend with my writers self. What I do, and finding time to write, are important. They are important to me, and important to those waiting for book number two.

So, my fellow Bookaholic's my, promise to you, and me, is that I will now be scheduling time in my busy life to write like the demons of hell are behind me. For those of you waiting for the next book this will come as a great relief. I will also be finding time to read some great books. See you all back here in Bookaholic land soon. Until then keep writing and/or reading.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

A New Writing Blog is Born




Today on Bookaholic I am proud and priviliged to announce the launch of a new blog for Christian Writers - More Than Writers Like the penguin in the picture I am standing on the brink and ready to soar.

I am the Webmaster for the Association of Christian Writers. For various reasons the existing blog was a tad stagnant so the decision was made to give it a fresh new look by starting from scratch. This has been in development for a couple of months and I am excited and honoured to be the first person to post.

The tile of the blog, More than Writers reflects a couple of different Aspects. Firstly, the blog will share an eclectic mix of topics around writing, books and the arts. All the contributors will bring their own twist to this so expect variety. The second aspect is that we all love God.

I will be posting on the first of every month and look forward to seeing many of my Bookaholic friends joining me at the new blog. See you all soon and keep reading. 


Monday, 23 February 2015

Writing as a Discipline


As a writer I also do a lot of reading. This comes with the territory and includes non fiction, as well as fiction, books and articles I have recently read an excellent article called Writing Through that Hangnail by Jill Jepson. In this she compares athletes and writers and the way in which they approach their respective disciplines. Athletes practice every day of the year, without exception, regardless of what is happening in their life at the time. It is as ingrained into their psyche, and as natural as, breathing. Do we, as writers, approach our craft in the same way?

This made me think about my writing and the way in which I approach it? Do I have an overriding passion which means my writing takes priority over most everything? Do I make excuses saying that the muse has gone on holiday so I can have one too? Am I easily distracted by such things as a broken nail, the carpet needing cleaned or next doors cat mewing too loudly? Actually in the case of the broken nail my nails are short and next door don't have a cat. But you get my drift. Am I easily pulled away from what I should be, and want to be, doing? Or am I like the athlete who stays focussed, mind on the goal, and trains to make sure he or she reaches that goal? If writing were an olympic sport would I train harder? 

In the case of writing there are many excuses which we can drag out of the ether to justify why we are not writing. For example a day doing research or a day spent marketing, or a day spent on social media interacting with fans of your books. Yep, I am sure we have all been there and done that. Find time for this, but still write. This is why we are called writers. 

Jepson makes a good point that athletes train through pain. She says many writers give up at the first sign of a headache. Is that me? Over the last week I have been ill. I tried my hardest to write every day even if I didn't write much. I am trying to set a discipline that means I write every single day. One day my temperature was so high that I was almost hallucinating. What I wrote didn't make a great deal of sense but I was writing. I was following a routine which would make me a writer. I don't want to be a writer who gave up at the first sign of a struggle.

As writers we need to develop an ingrained habit of writing. They say it takes only 21 days to form a habit and practice and repetition are key to success. So I intend to set a goal for my writing day, and I am going to reach that goal each day regardless of what else is happening. I am going to make writing as much part of my daily routine as brushing my teeth. I am going to be like the athlete who wouldn't dream of taking a day off.

There are a lot of questions in this blog. You may want to answer them in terms of your own writing discipline. Can you find the discipline to form a habit?

I hope all the writers who follow Bookaholic have found this post useful. See you all back here very soon.