Interview with Grant Leishman author
Q Who are your greatest support – who believes in you?
An easy question first up. My wife Thess is my No.1 fan, my loudest proclaimer and my most loyal supporter. I don’t actually think she’s read anything I’ve written (She’s way too busy for that), but that doesn’t matter to her. If I wrote it, it’s brilliant!
For me, there is not greater support than that which is unconditional. She is with me every step of the way, through the inevitable self-doubts and the nail-biting wait for reviews. She is more confident than I am that I’ll be a success in this industry.
Every author needs a wife/husband like mine.
Q Where do you write from? e.g. Kitchen table? Study? Bedroom? Garden shed?
I used to write on the kitchen table, but now I’ve got my own purpose designed nook in the corner of the lounge. It’s still right in the middle of the traffic areas, but fortunately when I write the house is usually empty anyways
Q Do you write at set times e.g. morning, afternoon, evening, very early morning?
I am definitely a morning writing person. As soon as the house clears out for the day – the excuses have to stop and I have to write. In general terms, I try to write at least three hours every morning. Sadly, it doesn’t always work that way, but that’s the plan. The rest of the day is usually spent doing those horrible things all authors seem to hate and despise – marketing, social media et al.
Q What motivates you to write?
I could be flippant and say my age. Having written my first novel at 54, I know the clock is against me. I’m never going to write as many books as an author who starts in their twenties, so I have to get my skates on and write as much as I can before I depart this mortal coil.
Seriously, though, what motivates me to write, more than anything, is a desire to tell a story that other people will find worthy of reading. All my life I’ve read other people’s work obsessively and with great enjoyment. I want to know that somewhere, someone is reading something that I wrote. Allied to that is a desire to leave a legacy – something that will last forever. There will always be a book on a shelf somewhere (even if it’s only my bookshelf) with my name on it. That means a lot to me.
Q What are the biggest distractions to your writing time?
Another simple question – the internet and social media. Whoever it was that thought up the silly idea of having our main writing tool also be the device we access the world-wide web, clearly didn’t think things through. I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have been an author 100 years ago, with a pencil or a fountain pen, or even 30 years ago, with a typewriter, but then I remember that awful writer’s cramp I used to get as a youngster in school and thank God for the laptop. .
We are blessed though to have these wonderful things called computers that allow us to write, edit and publish with an absolute minimum of fuss.
Q What part of the world do you live in?
The beautiful islands of The Philippines.
Q Are you from there originally?
Nope, I’m a New Zealander born and bred, raised in Dunedin. I came here to Manila in 2011 in search of peace, happiness and love – guess what I found it! In fact, you can read a story remarkably similar to my own if you were to purchase my novel Just A Drop in the Ocean. The Philippines is one of the most maligned and misunderstood countries on earth, in my opinion. It is a beautiful land, with wonderfully warm and loving people. I would highly recommend it as a tourist destination. (That’s earned my retainer from the Philippine Tourism Board).
Q Have you ever suffered from writers’ block?
Funny you should mention that. Up until a few days ago, the answer was NO…now…not so much. I’m struggling to start my next book and coming up with a decision on the direction I want to take is proving problematic. I’m at a real crossroads in my writing career I think.
Q How do you overcome it?
In the past, when I’ve felt slightly blocked, I usually just walk away and toss ideas around in my head and the answer comes. Another technique I’m lucky enough to have is access to my author son. He’s usually a font of knowledge for ideas on where to go (some not so nice I might add), but he;s certainly helped over a few humps in my stories in the past. With regards to right now, I just have to make a decision and stick with it. Every time I think I’ve made a decision on my new book, I start vacillating and before you know it I’m back to square one.
Q .Have you taken any writers’ courses and have they been worthwhile?
No, I’ve never taken a writer’s course I’m afraid. I know I break many of the rules when I write and the last thing I probably want is for some young, super-smart, expert to tell me everything I’m doing wrong. I might not be perfect when I write, but I’ve reached the age where I don’t actually care too much if I’m not. Some readers seem to like my conversational writing style and that’s, frankly, good enough for me. As my late departed Dad said when I asked him if he’d read my book…”Ahhhh, well….I did read the first chapter, but it really wasn’t my cup of tea.” My style is not everyone’s “cup of tea” and that’s okay…I’m good with that.
Q.Have you ever belonged to a writers’ group? And what value did you gain from it?
I belong to lots of Social Media author’s groups to try and get my message out, but as a far as a critique group, I did try that early on and found the other writer’s critiques were either too fulsome in their praise (no use at all) or to scathing and negative, just for the purpose of being negative (again no use at all). I’m open to criticism and I’ll change and adapt if I think it’s necessary, but I prefer that criticism to come from readers rather than other authors.
Q.Is self-publishing satisfying enough for you or would you prefer to be traditionally published?
This is something that we all think about from time to time, I guess. Would I love to be discovered? Of course, I would – anyone who says they wouldn’t is probably lying.
That being said, self-publishing is incredibly satisfying. I have learned so much over the past two years that I would never have had the opportunity to learn otherwise. When you see your book go live on Amazon and you know it is as close to perfect as you can get it, there’s no better feeling in the world. I have had to learn to self-edit (a damn hard skill to master). I have had to learn to format the books and I have had to learn the intricacies of trying to market in a marketplace that has an absolute glut of content. I’ve enjoyed the whole process, but would I still rather be able to finish my manuscript and fire it off to a publisher – maybe! Maybe one day I’ll get that chance and then I can truly compare.
Q.Have you ever tried to find an agent?
Simple answer – No. When I first entered this industry and discovered that not only will publishers not generally deal directly with authors, but that many agents won’t even deal with an author unless they’ve been to one of their writing seminars or camps, I decided that wasn’t the route for me. There’s aren’t a lot of writing seminars in Manila and anyway, I’m not a great fan of the whole agent concept.
Q.What would you expect an agent could do for you that you can’t do for yourself?
I’m certainly a bit of a virgin in this industry, so I can only assume that agents put your manuscript in front of publishers. What else they do, frankly I have no idea and at this time even less interest.
Q.Do you think you can make a full-time career being an Indie writer?
I have made a full-time career as an Indie author.
Ahhhh, you mean a profitable full-time career – right? I have absolutely no doubt that I can in time. I know I will be an overnight success, just as soon as I figure out what night that will be. I’m lucky to have both the emotional and financial support of my wonderful wife that allows me to do this, but I think someone once said that even if they never sold a book, they’d still write. I think that’s me!
Q.How long have you been writing?
Ever since Miss Paterson taught me how to do the alphabet in Primer One of Caversham School back in 1964. I’ve been writing novels, however, only for the last two years.
Q.What drew you to want to write a book?
Funnily enough, it was boredom. Once I realized I was unlikely to get a decent job here in Manila (especially since I don’t speak the language) I needed to find something constructive to fill in my day. Being a house-husband was all well and good, but my wife kept pointing out my shortcoming in that area and suggesting that I was a lousy cleaner, a lousy clothes washer and basically a lousy house-husband. That led me to do some serious soul-searching
I remember when I was eight and home sick from school for about four days, I read an entire book from cover to cover (The Swiss Family Robinson). I told my mother that was what I was going to do when I grew up – be a writer and write fantastic tales for people to enjoy. It took me another 46 years to grow up, but I finally decided it was time to fulfill my promise to my mom. Hopefully she;s looking down on me now and is proud that I finally got there.
Q.From where did you get the idea for this current story?
The idea for my latest book – Paranormal Alley came out of a discussion I was having on Skype with my son. He was complaining that I had it so easy; I had all this free time to write and so it wasn’t surprising I was able to publish a couple of books. He said he only had time to churn out short stories and didn’t have the time to turn them into full novels. I challenged him to send me seven of his paranormal/horror stories. I told him I would match them and put together a father/son anthology of short stories – thus, Paranormal Alley was born.
Q.How did you go about developing it?
Initially, I was at a bit of a loss. I write romantic/adventure stories, not paranormal/horror. I’d never written a short story in my life, so I was at a bit of a loss. The pressure was on though as Chris kept asking how was the book going. Basically, I just plowed on and wrote seven stories in that genre that hopefully were good enough to match my son’s. I thoroughly enjoyed it actually, as it really stretched me as a writer and I had to come up with seven different scenarios and plot lines. It was a lot of fun and very special for me to collaborate with my son. Fortunately, the early reviews have been highly positive and the book is doing really well in the marketplace at the moment.
Q What is your next project?
I should be working on the third installment of The Second Coming Series; Holy War, but since the second book is still with the publisher and I don’t even have a release date for it yet, I’ve decided that can wait. To date, I’ve written about 16,000 words, but I’ll get back to it when Rise of the AntiChrist is published.
In the meantime, I’m very keen, after my experiences with Paranormal Alley, to write a horror/paranormal/supernatural novel. Coming up with the idea and getting underway is proving the sticking point at present. I enjoyed writing in the genre and want to give it a crack.
So, that’s pretty much me taken care of for this year.
Books by Grant Leishman includes The Second Coming Just a Drop in the Ocean and Paranormal Alley