This interview originally appeared on but in 2024, for some reason best known to themselves, they retired all the author interview pages. It was published on 4.9.2013.

What motivated you to become an indie author?

I didn't set out to be an indie author - like many would-be writers, I had tried the conventional route to publication but the response wasn't encouraging. I then thought "well, what have I got to lose?" and put up some excerpts on a peer review site in the UK called Youwriteon. I was a lot more encouraged by the response from there and that gave me the confidence to self-publish, mainly on Smashwords and Feedbooks. I really like the fact that I'm in control of the whole process. It also means that I'm not under any pressure to write the kind of books that publishers think people want (there are already too many of those).

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?

I grew up in Exeter, which is in the bottom left pointy bit of the UK, before you hit Cornwall and fall off into the sea. It was a nice place to grow up and I would love to say that it had a really profound influence on my writing, but that wouldn't be true. I think the main influence Exeter had on me is that if you come from there, you tend not to think that you are the best thing that's happened to literature since it was first invented - so it may explain why I was a bit of a late starter in trying to get my stuff published.

How has Smashwords contributed to your success?

I have used other self-publishing platforms but Smashwords was the first for me, so it was what got me started down the self-publishing route. For quite some time, my stuff wasn't being downloaded much but after a while, I managed to pick up a couple of decent reviews (thank you to those kind souls who bothered to put their thoughts down). Then after about 6 months or so, downloads of my novel - "In the future this will not be necessary" - started to take off . I'm not sure exactly what prompted this, but without Smashwords it definitely wouldn't have happened.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

I usually start off with what I think is a fairly clear idea of what I want to write - but it often turns out to be less straightforward than I'd hoped, which can be frustrating (so I can't honestly say that writing is a constant stream of joy for me !). On the other hand, there's nothing better than suddenly solving problem that's been holding things up for some time or having the story or the characters develop in a way which I'd never have expected at the outset.

What are you working on next?

It's a story about the Chinese Communist Party, spies, corruption, international relations and the film industry. All subjects on which I am not exactly an expert, so I may well fall flat on my face. But that's the thing about self-publishing so far as I'm concerned - you are free to fail in a quite spectacular way if you want to.

Who are your favorite authors?

It's very hard to choose - I'm apt to change my mind from day to day - but today the list includes Philip K Dick, Ian McEwan, William Boyd, Max Frisch, Milan Kundera, Stanislaw Lem, Paul Torday, Italo Calvino.

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?

Writing isn't my main job (I am, horror of horrors, a lawyer) - so it's really more of a hobby for me. But when I'm not doing that or working, I like spending time with friends and family, especially my kids, going to the theatre and cycling.

Describe your desk

It's curved, from Ikea, fits in the corner of an attic room and right now I can't see that much of it because it's almost entirely covered in clutter. I hope it's not an accurate reflection of my mind.

How do you discover the ebooks you read?

I keep a particular eye out for free fiction by self-published authors on Smashwords, some of which I review on my website. Other than that, I suspect my attention gets drawn to books in much the same way as everyone else - reviews in arts pages of newspapers, blogs, recommendations from friends and so on. But I hope that more readers will invest time in reviewing self-published ebooks that they liked, because that's often the only way the rest of us will get to hear about them.

This interview has been viewed 1574 times (on the Smashwords site - until it was taken down. No idea how many times it's been viewed on this site. Maybe 5 times, if I'm lucky?).