Author’s name: Bill Kirton
What is your latest novel called and what is it about?:
The last one I published is called Alternative Dimension and it’s a departure from my usual genre. A couple of years back I joined the online role-playing game Second Life to do some research into a short story. I found it fascinating and a great source of other stories about how people interact at real and virtual levels. I wrote a few stories about it then realised that they shared some common themes so I linked them with a wider narrative and they became part of a new novel. It features a man who invents a game like Second Life and is surprised by how people play it. It draws him further into it and the ending is either absurd or tragic, depending on the reader’s point of view. I suppose it qualifies as fantasy but really I’d like it to make people laugh a lot and think a bit.
Why is independent publishing important to you? :
In a word, freedom. The old traditional publishing took ages and you often had to make compromises. Today, the independent writer retains control (and makes a better percentage on sales). I have to add, though, that it’s crucial that, before putting a novel or story out there, it’s crucial to get second, third and even more objective opinions about it, preferably from professionals. That’s one of the things that makes Awesome Indies books so reliable. Readers know they’ve been vetted and had to meet rigorous production and literary standards.
Where is your favorite place to write? Why?:
I have a room in our house which is dedicated to my writing. It has desks, filing cabinets, bookshelves, computers – all the stuff I need to research and write. It has a view of the garden and is at the back of the house so there’s no traffic noise (because I have to have near total silence when I write. I don’t understand writers who have music playing as they write. Once I get into writing a sequence, I lose touch completely with the ‘real’ world – it’s just me and the characters.
When and where is the most inapropriate/bizarre time you’ve gotten a burst of inspiration to write? What did you do?:
I’m not sure this qualifies as bizarre but it was certainly unique in terms of deciding to write a novel. I was talking with a non-writing friend about nothing in particular, certainly not about books, when, out of the blue and without any connection with the rest of our chat, he said ‘You should write about a figurehead carver’. I have no idea why he said it, nor has he. But I thought about it and very quickly got excited at the idea. I researched the subject and also joined carving classes to make a figurehead of my own. I grabbed the chance to join a beautiful square rigger as a paying crew member and sailed from Oslo to Leith (Edinburgh). The resulting book was The Figurehead and I’m now writing a sequel.
Do you ever read novels more than once? If so, give us the name of one and tell us why you reread it.:
I used to teach French Literature at Aberdeen University and Flaubert was one of my specialisations. Before that, as a student, I’d studied him and read several of his novels more than once. But I got to know Madame Bovary so well that it became a sort of obsession. At first, I was re-reading it because I liked it, thought it was funny as well as tragic, felt for the characters, liking some, loathing others, and I loved the evocation of 19th century provincial France. But the more I studied it, the more I saw in it. It took him 5 years to write and he fought over nearly every word. So I love it as a story with terrific characters and set pieces, but also as a highly complex piece of carefully crafted literature with all sorts of narrative levels.
Do you have other creative outlets or skills? What are they?:
I still attend the carving classes I mentioned earlier and have now made all sorts of statues, grotesques, wall hangings, creatures, birds, and even a second figurehead. I love wood and carving it to find the things it contains is a real joy. I’ve also tried and enjoyed pottery which is the opposite process, building up the shapes rather than reducing the material in which they’re contained.
Follow Bill Kirton:
Twitter page: https://twitter.com/carver22