Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Guest Blogger: William DeSouza


Death's Door: Where Right and Glory Lead by [DeSouza, William]

Please tell us about your latest book.
My last work to be published is a science fiction short story titled The Outer Colonies. I was very fortunate to have this featured with seven other talented authors in the compilation novel Project 9.  Prior to that, my first sci-fi, or speculative fiction novel, Death’s Door: Where Right and Glory Lead was picked up by Solstice Publishing and I was very proud of that novel. It is the fist of three in the Death’s Door saga.

My first romance story is a novella titled ‘Jamaican Heat’.

I’ll admit it, I never thought about setting out to write a romance story. And certainty not a story told in the first person of the protagonist Elizabeth. At first I was just going to create the novella as a stand alone but the story has taken on a life of its own and I am working on a full length novel of the same title.

Jamaican Heat is about love, loss and dreams, and how one deals with the pain of a love that is wrong. The larger story explores the tragic circumstances of life and what human emotions can endure.
What can we expect from you in the future?
If I can survive my own self imposed schedule (grueling as it is); I am in the re-write stage of book two of the Death’s Door saga titled ‘Beyond Death’s Door: Fortune Favors the Brave’. I hope to have the re-write completed in the next couple of months and on to the editing phase.  A couple other projects I’ve had on the fire for the past two years are slowing coming together. A stand alone sci-fi novel titled ‘Home World’ is shaping up to be a very long but thought provoking and action packed feature. I am also working on a collection of short stories in the general fiction category titled ‘Shorts’.

But that said, I hold a special place in my heart for Jamaican Heat. I recently returned from Jamaica where I was able to gather additional material for the Jamaican Heat novel and I hope to have that completed before the end of 2016.

How do we find out about you and your books?
You can visit my website – William DeSouza at http://wdesouza3.wixsite.com/williamdesouza and blog at http://williamdesouza.blogspot.ca/ .
My books can also be found on the Solstice Publishing website at http://solsticepublishing.com/search.php?search_query=william+desouza&x=0&y=0
And my Amazon Author Page at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00PMCRPWM   
You can also download a free sci-fi eBook from Kobo at https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/a-guards-story

Why did you decide to write romance novels?
I’ve been writing for a about eight years, but only dabbling, and nothing sent to publishers. It was only in the past five years that I decided I really enjoy the act of creating worlds and characters to the point that I’m going to be more serious.

Believe it or not, writing Jamaican Heat was at the urging of my ex-spouse and co-workers at the office. I always had the back story in mind, and part of it is based on real life, but never thought, never imagined for a minute, that I would want to put pen to paper and tell the story.

But when I began, the narrative flowed quite easily

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
That’s an interesting question. In my science fiction work, its always been a large part of me – since I’m quite a geek. My fiction stories are mostly based on the stories of people around me. Not directly of course, but I like to watch people, strangers. And their interactions tell a story that I like to write about.

The romance storyline however, that’s different. There is a back story that is – indirectly - part auto-biographical. The story begins well before I was born and ends at the time of my birth. And it’s a difficult story to write.

Being male, writing such an emotional story from a female perspective is not an easy thing to do and get right.  Putting myself into this situation is a risk. If I don’t get the emotions and story right its not going to read well. I have also heard some criticism and disapproval that being a man, I don’t have the knowledge of what its like as a woman and don’t have the right to tell a story like that.

I disagree because love, loss and the pain these bring are not synonymous with one sex or the other. The affect to each person will be different, but I am able to draw on my own personal life experiences and I think I’ve been able to convey that to the reader.

Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
I’ve been able to write a full story in several days to several months. For me, the story line begins with the initial concept and the first few pages solidify in my head.  After that, I’ll write down ideas on paper (I keep a story book for this) and then, when time permits, I’ll begin the process of getting thoughts into words on the laptop. The total time really depends on day to day life; and in the last year and a half, life had a way of taking over.

Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?
For the most part, I go with the flow; but I try and flow as often as I can. I am hoping to flow far more often moving forward.

What is your writing routine once you start a book?
I begin with the initial concept or thought. I can be watching people in a mall, on the street or market; I can get ideas from the news, reading, as part of a dream or in conversation. In general terms, life has been my largest source of story ideas for all writing genres.

I keep a story book, a large binder really, and write the idea(s) down as soon as I can. And when the mood strikes and time allows, I start the writing process.

What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing - or are there constant interruptions?
When my children were young, they were never a bother and always came first (they would never let it be otherwise J ). I did have to sneak away a few times mind you; whenever I had some inspiration that I just had to write down.

Overall however my family has always been supportive of my writing. My ex-spouse especially has been my biggest booster and even today is a tremendous source of encouragement for my writing.

There are always gong to be interruptions however and I take these in stride. Sometimes life is out of your control, no matter how much we like to thing we run the show.

What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
Sleep J

Actually, living in Ottawa, I am very fortunate to have a multitude of places to hide and be “one with my thoughts”. The Market, Dow’s Lake, along the Rideau Canal, or even hide out on a bench in a dozen different museums. I am alone but not alone at the same time at all of these venues and it is a great place to catch some down time – and get inspired at the same time.

I have some geek friends that I do a podcast with and that also allows me to change gears and forget the real world.

And when that all fails, I write. I escape into different worlds and characters and that is a great way to recharge the ‘real’ me.  

What truly motivates you in general? In your writing?
I am motivated by the people and places around me. In a way, you can say that reality motivates me to escape into a fantasy world by writing. Reality can only take me so far before I get board and then I write to expand my world by escaping into the realm of  the impossible.

Where do your ideas come from?
The simple answer is Life; and of course my own warped imagination and one or two very strange dreams that I may have to see a shrink for J

Do you feel humour is important in romance, science fiction and fiction; and why?
I believe that humour is important in every facet of life including literary works of every genre. We have to laugh at ourselves first and understand the silliness of life around us. Life is meant to be lived and part of living being able to laugh at what is funny, and sometimes what is, at first, not intended to be funny.

I wake up every morning and no matter how bad I slept, no matter how sick I am, no matter how dyer the circumstances, I look into the mirror and what I see makes me laugh. It’s a great way to begin the day, having a good chuckle.

And if I can laugh at reality, why wouldn’t I write that same humour into my stories?

What are your thoughts on love scenes in romance novels, do you find them difficult to write?
As a man, you’d think I’ve have a difficult time writing love scenes, especially, from a woman’s point of view. Most men that I know (okay, just about every man that I know or ever met) really don’t see ‘love’ in the same way as a woman. Men tend to have a slightly one-sided perspective on the act of love, the build up to that moment, and the affect of love making after the fact.

But I have grown up all my life with women being my primary friends, and believe me, I’ve heard it all before. When I was married, my ex and I always had a relationship where nothing was off the table in discussions. We still believe in communication and being open and honest, without pretense or allowing ego to get in the way.

That said, it has never been difficult writing a love scene. In ‘Jamaican Heat’ for example, the story is being told from the first person perspective of Elizabeth and I have received some feedback, from women, that the love scenes are spot on (high praise indeed). Mind you the story is directed toward women – I don’t now of any men that have read it as yet and don’t expect any.

But I will ask that if any women download ‘Jamaican Heat’, and after reading it you feel that the love scenes are not realistic, or could be improved, please get hold of me.

What kind of research do you do?
I assume you mean in general and not related directly to the previous question J . Well, I do a lot of reading, I’ll interview various ‘experts’ in their field, including other authors. And in the case of Jamaican Heat, I spent some time in Jamaica researching locations and a number of people.

Would you like to write a different genre than you do now, or sub-genre?
My main genre is sci-fi or speculative fiction but I find that I have such varied interests that general fiction and romance are not a stretch. I was very surprised when I tried my hand at romance but my first attempt turned out better than I hoped for.

What does your ex-wife think of your writing?
At the time that I began to write, my wife was very encouraging and very supportive of my efforts. Even when we separated after twenty one years, she is still my biggest supporter and booster.

Do you ever ask her for advice?
I do still go to her for advice and she has always been honest. If I have a section or chapter that she doesn’t like, she’ll be the first one to let me know and how she feels it can be improved. If its good, she’ll tell me.

Ours is a relationship of communication, even if we’re not together as a couple any longer.

Please tell us about yourself (family, hobbies, education, etc.)
Lets see, I’ve already mentioned my ex. We met after I retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and I moved to North Bay, in northern Ontario. My children are fantastic. My son has finished college and my daughter is in her second year at university.

My education, which was after the Forces, focused on social work and child protection. Which I can tell you is a far cry from my military experience.

As for hobbies, I scuba dive (not so much right now), write, and of course there is my geeky side. I host a podcast with my other geeky friends and write a couple of blog channels on BBM Channels. I also host my own blog, but I have to spend some time updating that since I let things go in the last couple of years (reality can bite you in the butt from time to time).

Fill in the blank favorites:
Dessert: Far too often it’s a really heavily laden banana split (it’s a weakness)

City: That’s easy, Ottawa Ontario Canada. Its my home and yes, that does seem to make it a biased answer. However it is a city that with a million people, still maintain a small city, old world gothic charm. It has several thousand kilometres of walking and cycling trails along the Ottawa river, Rideau Canal and through hectares of forests that snake its way throughout the city. I have a choice of dozens of museums and monuments to visit. It is a city with multiple languages and cultural flavors that will entice the eye and temp the palette. The English and French Canadian heritage that goes back over a hundred and fifty years has influenced what Ottawa has grown into. (and before you ask, I did not copy that from a travel brochure, Ottawa is just that good).

Season: I would have to say my favorite season is Summer. The warm breezes, green grass and abundant trees that blossom into a colourful showcase are both calming and inspiring. Summer brings people out from the previous Winters’ hibernation. You can hear the laughter in parks and along the canal and in open cafĂ© sidewalk patios. Summer encourages people from every culture to mingle while enjoying the fresh air and Summer concerts.

Type of Hero: Superhero of course. I am a geek after all. But a superhero can come in many forms, sexes, and ages. My type of hero is not a single set-in-stone type of person and can (and does) vary depending on the circumstances.

Type of Heroine: Strong. Strong heroine’s abound but are hard to find at the same time. In the sci-fi genre, strong heroine’s have been around for decades. But in all genre’s they are not played up, not promoted and quite frankly ignored by the media and amongst the general public. Its sad when most of what you see in the media today is a strong male role model when there are just as many strong female examples.

What are some of your favorite things to do?
Read, , write, walk, swim / dive, cook, shop (which gets me into trouble) and of course sleep (which gets in the way of everything else)

Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book?
My favorite two authors’ is David Webber of sci-fi fame (especially the Honor Harrington series of books) along with Stephen Hawking of science fame (I can actually understand his books)

What do you think of critique groups in general?
Most writer (published or not) seek out critiques or reviews of their work. A review can serve as vindication of ones work and efforts to tell a story. Personally, I ask for reviews from actual readers of my work.  I find that some of the services of critique groups are disingenuous in that they may not have read your work. I’ve seen companies solicit fees for reviews and I’m not sure these groups / companies serve the long term good of the author.

A genuine review is welcomed, and good or bad, appreciated. But when its paid for, then it only degrades the work. Its already hard enough to trust anything on the internet these days. When we read more and more about fake reviews, then who can one trust?

Where do you see yourself in five years?
A very good question and one that I keep asking myself. I’m also still waiting for an answer. Of course I’d like to say that in five years I’m able to leave my day job and live off the proceeds of my writing but I’m a realist. I’d like to think that I’ll be still writing, maybe making some money for my efforts and giving my readers enjoyment.

But like everything in life, my future is still not written. But I do believe that ones future is based on the events of the present and if I make the effort now, maybe it’ll pay off later on.

How many books have you written, how many have been published?
In the past eight years I’ve written a number of short stories, essays, novellas, and novels.  Of course not all of them are polished enough to be submitted to a publisher. I have however had three stories published; a short story, novella and novel.

After you've written your book and it's been published, do you ever buy it and/or read it?
Indeed, I have bought a copy and re-read it. I write what I like to read so its only natural for me to get the enjoyment, not only from the writing, but the reading as well. Of course, its also nice to have a copy (or two) on my book shelf.

What book for you has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun?
I have to say that they are all about the same, not too hard and not easy. When I write, I let the dialog and scene flow out and happen naturally. For example, I may have an idea as to the scene, and who is in it, and may even have some thought as to where I want it to end up. But as the character’s begin to interact, I let them decide how they want to move, what they want to say.

Sometimes I begin the action and part way through find that I am moving in a direction I never thought about.  I’m not sure how many other writers let their character’s take over; but I don’t mind. I allow the story to tell the story in a manner that works. I may wait for it to unfold in my mind, but on paper the words are flowing into descriptions and phrases are moving everything along.  

Granted, at the end of it all I may also find that things have gone pair-shape and I’m being held hostage by a highway-man; when the story was supposed to be about two lovers.  

Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
Yes…..

What are the elements of a great romance for you?
The interaction of the characters…. All the characters have to have their place in the telling of the story. Its not just about the two (or more) lovers. But how each person in the story interact. Even the peripheral performers play a roll; at least in the good stories I have read (and I’m not talking about the pulp-romance books).

Have you experienced writer's block---> If so, how did you work through it?
I have experienced writers block many (many) times. Most of the time that it comes up has been my own fault however.

My own mind wondering, a distraction, anything to take away from the action on the page. Even though I let the story tell itself, it can’t write itself. The story requires me to bang away at the keys to bring it to life. And if I’m not paying attention, the climax can’t be achieved (I know… I’m a bad boy for throwing that in but I couldn’t help myself – and I’ve been distracted again… now where was I?)

Oh yes, I do experience writers block on occasion; but after I re-focus, it usually works its way through.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
The completed story. I love being able to take a concept, a thought, an idea, and turn it into people and places in another time.  I enjoy when others read the story and a smile crosses their face. Or they cower in horror, or their eyes perk up in shock. I enjoy the fact that I can read my own work at the end of the process and know I’m going to read a story that only I can bring to life.

If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?
Its an interesting question. I’m sure I would have found another outlet for expressing myself. Stand up comedy maybe, slam-poetry, or nascar racing? Or maybe nothing at all. But in the end, in this time and place, I am writing and although I’m not able to retire as yet, I’m really having fun and enjoying the creating process.

Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Keep slogging away. Never give up on the dream and creative energy of writing; tell your story and tell it well. When someone asks me about my writing, I hear them say that “[they] always wanted to write.”

And I always tell them why don’t they. If you have a story, write it out. If its good you’ll know and you’ll be inspired to add more and more to the idea and before you know it, you’ll have a full blown novel on your hands. You may be surprised how many other people will be interested in your tale.

As for getting published, again, never give up. Even the most accomplished published author that makes millions every year from writing gets their manuscript turned down from time to time. Rejection is going to happen, but that one time you get accepted, will be the greatest moment.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Guest Blogger: CS Patra

Amazon's Author Central Page


The Winter Key (Keeper of Fate Book 1) by [Patra, CS]


1) Please tell us about your latest book.

I've actually got a couple of things that I'm working on. I usually don't work on one thing at a time. Right now, my main focus is called The Summer Key, which is the sequel to my fantasy book, The Winter Key. The Winter Key came out around May this year and I hope to have its sequel out around October or even earlier if possible. It follows a group of friends as they try to find answers behind the world that they are living in while trying to hide from the government that's trying to kill them. Bit by bit, they find out things that they really shouldn't have known in the first place.

2) Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?

It varies on a lot of things for me. It depends on how much time I've got on hand, how inspired I am to write something, what I'm in the mood for, etc. It can take me between a month to a couple of months to finish something.

3) How do we find out about you and your books?

You can always follow me on social media. I haven't updated much lately because I haven't had much going on lately. But I do check it regularly and try to keep up with the changes as much as I can.

Twitter: @CyberPeacock

4) What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing - or are there constant interruptions?

My husband is pretty good about not interrupting me while I'm working. He's usually busy with something else. Sometimes, he might come into the room but he's usually very quiet about it. I hardly get interruptions from him.

5) What does your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend think of your writing?
Do you ever ask him/her for advice?

My husband has yet to read anything I've written. He usually leaves all writing related things to me.

6) What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?

These days, I just go on YouTube and watch videos on there. I might find some fun things to check out. I also like playing PokemonGo and going outside to do all that. I'm no expert at it but it's fun thing.

7) How long have you been writing - have you always wanted to be a writer?

For as long as I can remember. The moment I started reading books and learning how to write, I realized this was what I wanted to do. I think you can say I always wanted to be one but didn't really get serious about it until much later in life.

8) Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?

For me, I need to know the story. I need to know how it ends first. Then I work my way through and create a little path. The characters and setting fall into place as I am writing. If I know how it's going to end, I just need to figure out how I will get there.

9) Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?

I usually just write what I feel like. If I have a deadline for something, I will work on that first. Otherwise, I just go with whatever I'm feeling at the moment. I'll go with what is inspiring me right now.

10) What is the hardest part of writing/the easiest for you?

I have a hard time ending chapters. Starting them isn't too hard for me but trying to end them can be difficult. I want the ending to be unique sometimes and it's not. The easiest is just coming up with characters and figuring out who they are, what they do, what motivates them, etc.

11) What truly motivates you in general? In your writing?

Just all the things around me motivate me. The desire to be better with each thing that I write. I can pull inspiration from almost anything. I just have to sit and let it come to me.

12) What can we expect from you in the future?

Definitely a lot more books of various genres in the future. I've so many that are currently being worked on. I've put a few on the back burner for now but I do plan to finish them eventually. Slowly and surely, I'm getting through everything that I have.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Guest Blogger: Christopher Davis

An Innocent Act by [Adams, TJ]

https://www.amazon.com/Innocent-Act-TJ-Adams-ebook/dp/B01J990YSA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472515425&sr=1-1&keywords=an+innocent+act


Good Morning Lizzy and thank you for having me. I’m on about my last cup of coffee for the morning and starting to feel a part of the human race?



Tell Us About Your Latest Book

That’s going to be a hard one as I have several coming out and published under two names. I guess the short story Cinnamon Girl will be the next one out September 16th, followed by a pair of 1930’s crime novellas Meet Me in Tulsa and Going Back to Dallas and all from Solstice Publishing.


Cinnamon Girl is an older story for me that never could gain any traction with the crime publishers that I’ve worked with. It has a surreal / tragic romance thing going on that is neither crime nor horror. This one went right up the middle.


What Can We Expect From You in the Future

Good things…I hope?
I was really starting to sing the blues after a third small crime publisher closed its doors earlier in the year and returned the stories that I had submitted. Like I’ve said, I’ve always had a problem of writing a little romance into even the darkest of my crime stories. It’s just the way I see the world, I guess?


After a very accidental erotic short story, An Innocent Act was signed by Solstice Publishing I was able to get them to read a handful of others which have since been signed and through various stages of editing/publishing. Solstice really put some wind in my sails, when no winds wanted to favor me.
For this, I will always be quite fond of that particular publisher.


This morning, I returned the contract for my first novel length story, Walking to Babylon. This one is a gritty crime / Vegas Mob style thing that starts as Sammy Soriano walks away from a burning car in the desert outside of Las Vegas.


How Do We Find Out About Your Books
www.christopherdaviswrites.com
www.tjadamsfiction.weebly.com and of course my publisher www.solsticepublishing.com


What Prompted You To Submit Your First Story

I was writing well back in the 90’s and my intentions were to wait until retirement to really go for it. If you remember 2012, the news was all about the Mayan calendar ending and of course the end of the world as we knew it?

I submitted a thriller novella to an e publisher on the premise that if the world was going to end…why not?

That bug bit me and I have been sending stories out since.

What Are Your Thoughts On Love Scenes? Do You Find Them Difficult to Write?

If the story requires a love scene, I think that it should be there. Of course, I’m a guy and I don’t really read romance, per se. I fashion myself a writer of westerns and crime, but I’ve always had the problem of running a romantic theme under my stories. Crime publishers hate me for it as they want the story to step on a reader’s throat from page one and keep it there until the end.
Walking to Babylon is one of those. The story is told first person by a sentimental enforcer of sorts. He knows that cancer is going to take his lifelong pal and there’s just nothing that he can do about it. It’s not romantic, but carries the same sort of love for someone that would be, if between a guy and gal?


Do You Ever Buy And Read Your Own Books

Of course I do. Doesn’t every one?

I want to see the story as a potential reader might and they usually come along so far after the writing is finished that I tend to forget some of the story, so it’s a surprise for me also.


How Many Stories Do You Have Published

If you count flash fiction sites and anthologies…I think Walking to Babylon will make something like 37 or 38?


Thank you again, Lizzy for having me. I’ve enjoyed the time this morning.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Guest Blogger: Margaret Egrot


Click for Options



                                        Girl Friends by [Egrot, Margaret]
https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Friends-Margaret-Egrot-ebook/dp/B01EX9DPMS/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472219276&sr=1-3&keywords=margaret+egrot



Please tell us about your latest book
Girl Friends is a novel for young adults about the friendship between two girls who were born without any advantages in life except that Courtney is clever and Grace is beautiful. This is how a recent critic describes the book:

What happens when teen-aged Courtney has to be the adult in her family of two very young sisters and an alcohol addled mother? Then what happens when she must also save her best friend from an abusive boyfriend? How does Courtney keep her dreams of going on to college when she's faced with dire prospects and told there is no future for her by her own mother? There are no easy answers for this insightful-beyond-her-years girl. [All the] characters have very human flaws and with personal demons of his/her own to overcome. There are no villains and no heroes in this story.
The book lends itself well for further group study.

What can we expect from you in the future?
I am working on a series of short stories to create fictional back-stories for several of Shakespeare’s female characters – what was going on in their lives before they came on stage, or after they left? It’s great fun, and is chance to re-read the bard’s plays away from the pressure of exams and essays (I studied English literature at University). Solstice has published a few of these stories in anthologies over the last couple of years (Chains of Magic, Journey to the Fair Mountain, A Mid Summer Day’s Dream). Another, The Ghost Queen, will be in their fantasy anthology in the autumn.
I also have a short play being read at a local literary festival, so will shortly be re-working the script with the young actors involved. The city where I live now (Coventry, UK) is bidding to be the next City of Culture.

How can we find out about you and your books?
Both my novels, and many of my short stories, are available from my Amazon author page.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO 

Information about my plays is on my website: www.margaretegrotwriter.weebly.com I also write a blog which goes out twice a week:
 https://writingandbreathing.wordpress.com
And you can find me on Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Margaret-Egrot/1374506486178952
 Or twitter https://twitter.com/meegrot

What does your husband think of your writing?
My husband is very supportive. He never reads my stories before I submit them to a publisher, as he knows that he couldn’t resist offering suggestions – and I that couldn’t resist biting his head off for them. He does however read most of my plays, and attend any performances.

How many books have you written and how many have been published?
I have written three full length books. One was purely to see if I could actually stick with a writing regime for the length of a novel. I’ve never revised it and never tried to get it
published. I have since written two novels for teenagers, And Alex Still has Acne, and Girl Friends, both released by Solstice Publishing.

Have you ever experienced writer’s block?
For years I would think I had a good idea for a book, but as soon as I sat down to write, everything would evaporate. Hence, that first book I mentioned above was a drill I put myself through to get over this hurdle. Now I will sometimes sit down to write a play – and find it works better as a story, or vice versa. And Alex Still has Acne started as a play, but I felt the scenes with the adult characters didn’t work as well as the scene with two minor characters – Alex and his friend Sam – so it became a YA book instead. Girl Friends started as a book for adults in the third person, but it was boring me to write it (so what would it have done to a reader?) Rather than abandon the project I switched to writing the story in Courtney’s voice.

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
I am not comfortable writing about any character that remotely resembles me – maybe, one reason why my two published books are for young adults. But a lot of life experience, and people I’ve met, appear in all my work (suitably anonymised of course!)

What do you do to relax?
I swim before breakfast four times a week, including one master class. I like to tell people that I train in the next lane to a woman who is scheduled to swim the English Channel in 2017. It’s true – it’s just that after an hour I go home for my breakfast, but she goes to a nearby lake to swim for another five or six hours, even in the winter. I also enjoy reading, going to the theatre and taking the dog for a walk.

Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Don’t do it! There are more than enough books out there already, so take up reading instead. But if you still can’t resist putting pen to paper, then all that reading will have vastly improved your own writing skills.