Huge thanks to Colin Webster for interviewing with us! Colin has written two novels so far: The Mayakovski Assignment and The Solutude Tree and a short story titled "Bad Timing." Hope you guys enjoy this interview as much as I do!
How much research do you do to prepare your writing? Are there any sources/methods that you'd recommend for fellow writers?
I only really do enough research to allow me to create the fictional world in which the story is set. I am not aiming to write a text book but provide just enough detail to paint what I hope is a realistic image of the fictional world in the reader’s mind. For me the research creates a vivid image in my own mind which I then try and create in the book. I use all different sources for my research including books, magazines, TV, anything that is relevant and feeds my imagination. The internet of course is a source of knowledge on everything!
Your work is rich in history and detail, and your books are praised by readers for being page-turners. How do you balance giving us the details with moving the story along?
It can be difficult to balance historical detail and keeping the story moving along at the right pace. I try and aim to create enough of an image in the reader’s mind to convince them they are ‘there’ in that fictional world and hopefully then the reader will ‘see’ the characters and story played out in that world as if it were real. Creating that image in a way the reader does not notice is not an easy thing to do – but is part of the challenge of writing.
Someone once told me that in writing a novel the story goes a mile wide and an inch deep, and in a short story it's the opposite. What are your thoughts? Were there any noticeable differences for you in writing novels vs short fiction?
Writing a novel certainly allows the writer to develop the story and characters in much more detail. A short story on the other hand has by its nature to be brief, to bring the story to its conclusion efficiently and usually contains only a few characters. I lean more toward writing novels as I like being in the challenge for the long haul.
Your back-of-the book summaries fill us in enough to give us a picture of what to expect and enough mystery to hook us in. What helps you write a strong summary?
That’s a tough one. When you have written a full length novel, trying to summarize it in one paragraph always seems impossible. It takes time and more than a few attempts to create something which you hope grabs the reader’s attention. It forces you to think what the story is really about and then put it down in one short paragraph. Unless you are a marketing guru there is no easy answer. If it is good story you should be able to achieve it.
Are there any tips/tricks about the writing/publishing process you have to share with aspiring writers?
Writing is hard work, especially novels, and it takes time – a lot of time, so be prepared to put in the effort. If you do you will find the journey a rewarding one. I write for pleasure, it provides an outlet for my creative side. And yes, to see the finished novel published (either self or commercially) and to have it read and reviewed positively is a hugely satisfying after the years of work. Yes I did say years. Unless of course you are lucky enough to be able to write full time.
Publishing is extremely difficult to achieve. There are many more writers than agents or publishers and so getting a publishing deal is a bit of a lottery. Thankfully writers can access the market through self-publishing with platforms such as Amazon and the e-book revolution. Given that more e-books are sold than paperbacks this is a very respectable way for most writers to get their work ‘out there’.
Is there anything else you'd like readers to know?
My novels are available on all Amazon on-line stores and can be accessed by the following links:
The Solitude Tree: https://www.amazon.com/Solitude-Tree-Wartime-Memories-Australian-ebook/dp/B07BCZT9MZ/
The Mayakovski Assignment: https://www.amazon.com/Mayakovski-Assignment-Cold-War-Thriller-ebook/dp/B007Y4D750/
You can also find him on Facebook and Instagram!
Photo credit: Colin Webster