I’ve opened up a can of worms with my reflections on marketing, and comments that have followed via Facebook and Linked-in have certainly polarised opinion. At the end of the day, I’m not interested in busting my guts to promote my work. If people like what I do, then that is fantastic. Slowly, more people are reading my work, but it is VERY slowly. I write in two genres – Young Adult paranormal mysteries, and adult thrillers (some of which are historical) – so I have a broad ‘fan base’. However, it is no guarantee for success. Then again, what is?
OK, enough with all that. I’m not here to wax lyrical about the pros and cons of how to become a best-selling author.
What I am here for is to give some insight into the author’s life.
Or, at least mine.
I grew up on Merseyside , and I bring a lot of that into my books. Some of them are set on Merseyside, and this must be true of most writers surely? They have their memories, experiences, and they can draw on them to bring their stories to life. To infuse them with authenticity.
The weekends began on Thursday. Down we’d go, the whole lot of us, to a seedy little pub at the bottom of Victoria Street. We’d set up Pool in the upstairs bar, and spend the evening there, drinking, laughing, and generally letting the world pass us by for a few short, yet wonderful hours. When I wrote ‘Splintered Ice’, I set a scene in that bar, right next to the Pool tables. Indeed, the hero, Jed, went to my old school, Goresdale. It has long since disappeared. I’ll never forget the feeling that hit me when I learned the news. Total disbelief. I reeled, as if part of my inner being had been ripped out of me. So, Jed went there too, gets expelled after a fiery meeting with the Head teacher, Mr Phillips. Just the mention of his name sends the shivers running through me. That man was hard. I mean, granite. He had to be. Goresdale was one of the hardest schools on Merseyside, and I have vivid memories of the science teacher putting one of the older boys in a head-lock as he wrestled him down the corridor, of the woodwork teacher canning a boy so hard across the hand that the cane broke. Vicious, uncompromising. Happy days.
So, what I’m trying to get to is, the writer is honed by his past. By the experiences that made him. I’m a historian, studied the subject at university, and now teach it. I research the background for my novels, and I’m especially interested in military engagements, which is why my books always have plenty of battles, skirmishes and the like. I wargamed for many, many years. Model soldiers arrayed on tables festooned with scenery, buildings, roads and rivers. I loved everything about it – collecting the figures, researching the uniforms, painting them, applying the tactics, the whole lot. When I write of battles, I bring all that to bear, because, of course, I’ve done a mountain of reading. I’ve never been in a battle, thank God, and no one alive has ever experienced the hell of medieval combat. But we can delve into our knowledge, read the many first-person accounts and, sometimes, our memories and rustle up something like reality.
Friday would see us at the Chelsea Reach, and afterwards a visit to ‘Rani’s’, the nearby Indian restaurant. A vivid memory of a barroom brawl, of some idiot causing trouble, spouting off the usual racist rubbish. Well, my best friend told them what he thought of these fascist prigs, and we ended up jabbing and hooking. Great days. I’ve used that, and a whole host of other altercations, to good effect in my books.
‘Splintered Ice’ finds the hero pulling out a stranger from the fishing lake at Central Park, Wallasey. Then, they both convalesce at Victoria Central Hospital. All of these local places bring alive the scenes, and when I wrote it, everything came back to me. All those years, those experiences. I loved it so much I decided right there to write other stories involving the same characters. That’s what I love about writing. The escape. There really is nothing else like it.
You can read more about my work, and where to buy my books, on my websites:
www.stuartgyates.com which is where you can find ‘Splintered Ice’, set on Merseyside.
www.glennstuart.co.uk where you can find ‘Cold Hell in Darley Dene’ and ‘The Pawnbroker’, both set on the Wirral.
I hope you find something of interest there. Thanks for dropping by, and keep reading!