Someone I know asked me a great question when we were talking about it all. He asked if I wanted to make money out of it or for people to read my work.
Mark Bishop – 2 March 2017
The Back Flap
Where the dark fish swim is a letter from Michael, a deeply troubled father, to his estranged son, Huck, written as they travel together toward the end of a journey Michael set out on to make peace with his past.
Michael tells Huck of the six people who mattered most to him in his life and how, in turn, he has gone to visit each of them. He also begins to explain why he abandoned Huck and his mother and why, very soon, he will need to do it again.
And, of course, he tells Huck of the dark fish.
About the book
When did you start writing the book?
My wife and I were trying for a baby for about five years. During that time, we had some difficult challenges and I decided it would be helpful and therapeutic to channel some of my thoughts and feelings in a creative way. So I decided to start writing this novel, which was something I’d wanted to do for a while. Whilst the book does not directly reflect anything that has actually happened to me, many of my thoughts and feelings during that difficult time come out in the story.
As I was having the edits completed on our book our son arrived and the book was published just after and so it is a fitting end to our own journey.
How long did it take you to write it?
About two years, on and off. I have a full time job and was writing in the evenings mostly. I wrote the bulk of the work in about two months as I wanted the book to feel “pacey” as it is meant to have been written in a few days.
The rest of the time was mainly editing and re-writing.
Where did you get the idea from?
I think it’s just one of those things I always had bubbling away in the back of my mind. I had had the outline of the story for years but never gotten around to writing it down.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
This was my first time writing a novel and I found myself wanting to go back over every line rather than progressing with the story. That was challenging at first but once I got into the flow of it I found the writing much easier. It was interesting then how little I had to change the later parts of the book as they were written more fluidly.
What came easily?
Writing in the voice of my main character. Whilst it isn’t an autobiographical piece, I just found a huge connection with my main character and found it easy to write like him. Maybe there is some of me in there!
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
Virtually entirely fictional. Nothing that happens to the central characters has happened to me. There are snippets of minor detail that are from my life – places, small events, feelings etc – but the vast majority is just made up.
We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
I read a lot and particularly love classic twentieth century authors – Steinbeck, Hemmingway, Orwell, Fitzgerald etc. I don’t want to say any of them influenced me because that might make people think I believe I can write as well as they can…. which I can’t. However, I think there is definitely a Steinbeck-esque tone to the writing and he is probably both my favorite author and biggest influence. So you can read into that anything you like.
Do you have a target reader?
Anyone who has lost and then found something important to them. Ultimately it’s what the book is about and reflects my own journey.
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
I’ve learnt my best way is to get through the story as quickly as possible and then go back and re-read it completely a few times. Then edit paragraph by paragraph.
Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
I outlined the whole story in chapter form with a few heading and sentences for each and then just wrote the whole thing beginning to end.
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
I began editing as I was going but it didn’t really work for me so I stopped and waited until I had finished.
Did you hire a professional editor?
Yes, and they were really helpful. They gave me some great challenge on structure, which made the story better, and some helpful tips on self-editing bits. I also had a few friends and family read it before I launched it, which also helped.
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
Weirdly I really got into Bob Dylan while I was writing it but had never been into him before. I think some of his music really chimed with my emotions.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
Yes, but not that many. I did a few initially and then started getting virtually exactly the same feedback so I submitted to a limited number of others and then stopped.
What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
Someone I know asked me a great question when we were talking about it all. He asked if I wanted to make money out of it or for people to read my work. I said I just wanted some people to read it and he told me the best way to do that was to self-publish and then move on to the next thing. Getting it out there was more important in his view and I think he was right.
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?
I got I professionally done. I’m not that artistic!
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
I have a plan… but not the contacts. So I’m winging it.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
You probably get this all the time, but just go for it. The worst anyone can do is say they didn’t like your work and that’s just their opinion.
Where did you grow up?
A small market town called Witney in the Cotswolds, UK.
Where do you live now?
In the same town, although via University and California.
What would you like readers to know about you?
Firstly, this is my debut novel and I’d like people to be honest in what they think about it. Friends and family comments are nice, but always a little biased.
Secondly, I poured my heart and soul into this and I’m really proud of. So I’d love people to give it a chance.
What are you working on now?
A follow up. A very different story but equally centered around “loss”.
End of Interview:
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