I recently changed website provider and host, and as my old provider didn’t allow me to export data I was forced to start again.
It focused my thinking on this question: Who am I reaching out to and what information should I be providing them with?
I tried to be all things to all people with my old one. Information about my books, me and my writing for the reading public—but I also had pages dedicated to indie authors to help them navigate the tricky shoals of publishing.
I realise now that’s not the way to go. The two purposes are at odds. I imagine readers found it confusing and, to be brutal with myself, uninteresting.
And authors? … well, frankly, my pages palled in the face of many other sites that actually are dedicated to them.
I realised that my purpose as an author is to concentrate on readers.
That brought me to another question: How interested am I in behind-the-scenes information about the books I read and their authors?
In relation to books the answer was that it tickles me to know what inspired a story.
In relation to authors it was wanting to know a little about their lives—only as much as they’re willing to give, of course—and how that has steered their stories.
So … today I’m announcing my new website is ready to receive visitors.
Each of My books has a dedicated page containing cover image and a snapshot of the story. They have a story-behind-the-story segment, my favourite review, and a slideshow gallery of photos that show the story locations. Two also have video trailers.
My About pages contain personal as well as professional information and, again, slideshow galleries depicting my past and present; nonsensical stuff such holiday pics.
Then there’s a Photo albums page where all of the slideshows reside in thumbnail presentation with captions.
I’ve kept a blog and, in fact, expanded it to two. There’s My World of Books which will continue to focus on book reviews and author interviews, but with forays into the wider world of publishing from the readers’ viewpoint. My new blog, Travel Tales, combines my love of writing with my love of travelling and gives yet another insight into my private life.
What anyone desires with their website is to engage the visitor, pique their interest and, ultimately, want them to stay and investigate.
I first interviewed Paul V Walters back in January 2013 after reading the first two books in his Jonathan Savage thriller series. Since then he’s finished the series and published a short story collection that I’ve just read and reviewed—which was the impetus for this catch-up interview. That, and wanting to find out more about his never-endingly interesting life.
Alana: Hi Paul, it’s terrific to catch up with you again and I’m not letting you go until you’ve told us everything about life as you know it nowadays. A move to Bali, freelance article writing around the world, plus two more books since we last spoke. Let’s start with the move from Queensland to Bali. How and when did that come about?
Paul: My life has always seemed to revolve around making impulsive decisions, and I guess this was another to add to the mix. After I sold my advertising agency I was in a bit of a quandary as to what to do. Fortunately I’m married to an extremely clever and talented woman whose skills are needed in the education field in developing countries. When we were wondering what we should do (or should I say, what I should do) the phone rang with an offer of an exciting project for Elisabeth in Bali. After debating for all of 3 seconds we both looked at each other and said…”Hell, let’s go!”
Alana: Do you retain a foothold in Australia?
Paul: Less, less and less these days. We have our youngest daughter there who is finishing a degree at Queensland University but apart from that not much really. Recently we sold the family home, the investment properties, cars, appliances and everything else that filled our lives. It was a liberating experience!!!!
Alana: Wow! A brave move, but how exciting! I believe you started out using Bali as your base when you wrote the first two books in the series: FINAL DIAGNOSIS and BLOWBACK. Was that still your modus operandi for the third and final book COUNTERPOINT?
Paul: I finished the third book while ‘on the road’ so to speak. Elisabeth and I travel a lot and I would use the evenings when we stopped for the day to type out a chapter. My journals, filled with notes along the way, were a great help. I ended up finishing the book in Bali although the island doesn’t feature at all.
Alana: My admiration has just gone up in leaps and bounds that you had the energy and willpower to do that! Did you have an association with the island before you began to write?
Paul: I visited Bali on a few occasions and at one point attended the Ubud Writers Festival. At the time I had a manuscript in my bag, which was the first novel I had ever written. I had no idea what to do with it and was hoping for some guidance from somebody at the festival. Fate intervened when I shared a table with an Indian stranger in a crowded café. He was a charismatic diplomat and the current Indian Ambassador to Japan. After chatting for a while I discovered that I was sitting with Vikas Swarup who told me his book Q & A had recently been turned into, as he put it, “ a small film that they named Slum dog Millionaire”. He was incredibly generous in sharing with me the methods he used in getting published and I took his advice (and shamelessly, his contacts) and viola!
Alana: I take the view that he wouldn’t have shared if he wasn’t okay with that. And there’s no point in letting information go to waste!
Paul: The first publisher I approached took the novel … a fluke one might say!!
Alana: Well done! And well deserved. Getting back to Bali, give us an insight into your typical day. What do you do? Where do you go? What do you see?
Paul: It always intrigues me that 99% of visitors to this place spend all of their time confined to .5% of the island and never venture beyond the confines of their resorts. To me Bali is a treasure trove and one I will never get tired of exploring. There are over 70,000 temples here, a culture that stretches back 5000 years, and impossibly beautiful places that will take your breath away. And then there are the people. The Balinese I do believe are infused with the ‘nice’ gene at birth as they are some of the most wonderful, loving and warm people on this planet. They also smile pretty much all the time. So when S & P (sloth and procrastination) doesn’t envelope me I get out and about. I write for several magazines here and around the world and Bali is always a topic they want covered and so off I toddle to get the story and the photographs … it’s a fun job!!
Alana: It certainly sounds like it. You travel to some very far-flung and interesting places in search of topics for articles. How did this side to writing come about? Are the articles commissioned or do you write them and then find a market? Where are some of the places you’ve been and what topics have you written about?
Paul: I feel a little blessed most of the time. A couple of years ago I ran into an editor who runs a high circulating English Language magazine and she asked if I would consider writing a piece for her on a well known artist from Bali. I did and suddenly I was swamped with requests from other Vox Pop publications wanting material. I then branched out and began to scribble for in-flight journals for several of the major international carriers. Most of the pieces are commissioned; however, I will often fire off a story to a magazine covering a place I have recently travelled to. I travelled by road right across the north of the Indian sub-continent in December and January of this year and gathered a wealth of material. After that trip a 5 week stint in Africa followed which has given me more than enough material to last for a few more months. Next month I’m off to Borneo to take a river cruise into the heart of Kalimantan. So as I said, I feel blessed to be able to get to go to wonderful places, stay in fabulous hotels and then get paid for the privilege!
Alana: You finished the Jonathan Savage series a while back and then made a genre move to short stories with the just-published LOOKING FOR LIONEL collection. What inspired that?
Paul: In addition to writing for magazines I also produce a weekly blog on all matters trivial. (www.paulvwalters.com) I was rather attracted to the concept of a bite-sized read as I thought it would be easy. How wrong I was when it came to the crafting of a short story. I take my hat off to the Alice Munroe’s of this world, as crafting a short story is no easy task! Many of the stories in the Lionel anthology have been ‘hanging around ‘ for years and the bottom drawer needed a clean out so this was a good way to get them out of the way. At my publisher’s urging I also included several published articles that have appeared over the years and these are 1000 words and sometimes a little less which appear at the back of the book.
Alana: Will Jonathan Savage make a return at some stage, do you think, or has his story been told?
Paul: He has moved on and his time with me has finished. However, I have retained D.I. John Moore as a character to fill the role of the hero. I kind of like his ribald, sarcastic sense of humor and I did miss him after I finished the trilogy.
Alana: I know you’ve just published LOOKING FOR LIONEL so this may be a bit premature, but do you have any more stories on the drawing board?
Paul: I have returned to my familiar genre, which is a thriller. I have another novel that is chugging along (slowly) and it has the working title, Scimitar. All going well and, if I am able to ward of the sloth and procrastination, it just might be ready for Christmas.
Alana: I look forward to reading it. Paul, thanks for being so patient and indulging my curiosity. Talk to you again soon.
Paul: Thanks Alana, always a pleasure and I look forward to seeing you at the next Ubud Writers festival. As they say, “if you never go, you’ll never know.“
My guest today is UK author Ian Jackson. I recently read and reviewed his debut novel DEAD CHARMING, a psychological crime thriller I found confronting but, paradoxically, compelling.
Alana: Ian, welcome. First a little about yourself if you don’t mind. You were born in Liverpool but now live in Cheshire. Why Cheshire? Did you choose it for a particular reason?
Ian: My father moved us from Liverpool to the Wirral when I was about ten years old and when I became old enough to buy a house myself I moved closer to Chester. I think of Cheshire as my home now rather than Liverpool.
Alana: The Wirral, you’re going to have to explain that.
Ian: The Wirral is a peninsular on the opposite side of the River Mersey from Liverpool…it’s a beautiful place!
Alana: And you’ve just been married—am I right in thinking that?
Ian: Yes, June 6th this year. It was a wonderful day and I married the girl of my dreams!
Alana: That’s what I like to hear—a besotted bridegroom. ☺ You’re not new to the writing world. You’ve been a magazine and features writer for over 20 years. What was the catalyst for turning to fiction?
Ian: When you write to a contract the content is pretty much set and whilst you can be creative there’s no room to explore themes. Writing fiction means that I can write as I feel and then answer to readers, which is refreshing.
Alana: And why did you choose the crime genre?
Ian: I’m fascinated by the relationship between criminals and their crimes. I wanted to explore the psychological driving-force and the necessary impact that crime has on both perpetrator and victim—plus I love a great crime thriller myself!
Alana: DEAD CHARMING, your debut novel, is set in Manchester. Why did you pick that city for its location?
Ian: I know Manchester very well having worked in the city for a number of years. I love the city and the people and I wanted to set the novel in a place populous enough to help make the narrative believable.
Alana: I have to say that I found the subject matter difficult to read at times but even while thinking that I found myself thinking how well you dealt with it. How did you decide how graphic you should be?
Ian: I was careful to balance the murders with emotional response and bring in private lives as a shield against the natural horror of the crimes. I contemplated the psychological effect of the crimes on the characters themselves, thereby insulating the reader to a certain extent—I hope I managed to do that!
Alana: Thinking back on it I’d say you did a pretty good job of that. You have a new novel out I believe, in ebook format at the moment but a paperback edition isn’t far away. Would you tell us a little about it.
Ian: Yes, it’s called DEADLY DETERMINATION and is available throughout the world as a Kindle download. The paperback will be ready before the end of July and I have arranged book signings at Waterstones across the North West of the UK for late July and August—visit www.ian-d-jackson.com for further information.
The story is set in Liverpool and follows the trials of DI Karen Bellows as she navigates her way through a difficult investigation where honesty is not necessarily synonymous with the truth—I’ve written the book as a fast-paced crime story with an un-guessable and breathtaking ending—I hope!
Alana: It sounds like another good one from you! It may be a bit premature to be asking this, but have you started on a third novel yet or, if not, have you one in mind? And can I ask whether you’ll be continuing in the psychological crime genre?
Ian: Yes, my third novel Deadly labels will be out for Christmas this year and readers of DEADLY DETERMINATION get a sneak preview as the introduction and first chapter are at the back of the book.
Alana: Ian, thank you so much for talking with me today. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed finding out more about you and your work.
Ian: Thank you Alana and thank you for your comments and review of DEAD CHARMING. I find it truly inspirational hearing readers’ thoughts.
This is the debut novel by English author Ian Jackson, and it’s a cracker of a contemporary psychological thriller.
If you’re a squeamish reader I give you warning now: there are some disturbing scenes that you may want to skim. You won’t lose the plot by doing so.
Set in Manchester UK it tells the story of newly-qualified criminal profiler Jenny Foster as she starts work with the Manchester Metropolitan Police Serious Crime Squad and is dropped in the deep end of a serial killer case on her first day.
Among other things it’s a story of degradation, torture, manipulation and deception.
Told from multiple points of view—the victims, the killer, Jenny—it takes you intimately into their lives and their minds.
The story is well told and doesn’t lose its way at any point. Jackson keeps the anticipation mounting as the police close in on their quarry and Jenny has to contend with problems at home while hoping her observations about the killer are accurate.
And then there’s the ending! I’m not going to spoil it by saying anything about it.
If you like taut psychological thrillers you might want to give this one a go.
DEAD CHARMING is available at Amazon, Waterstones, WHSmith and all good book stores.
Go to Ian’s website and follow the buy links.