Multi-talented Keith Brooke is a writer, editor, e-book publisher and creative writing tutor. His latest book ‘The Accord’ is available now. What started you writing and is it something you always wanted to do?
For me, writing has always gone hand in hand with reading, and I read voraciously from an early age. If you read, it just seems natural to want to write. What really kick-started things was a wet holiday in Yorkshire when I was 17: it rained just about every day, and so I ended up working through just about every trashy paperback they had in the village shop. It passed the time and, more importantly, it set me thinking seriously about writing: writing as a career, writing as a way of life. Do you write full-time or do you have another career?
I've had periods of several years writing full-time, but pressures of mortgage and regular bills tend to make a day job a necessity for most writers, and I'm no exception. I currently work at a University, managing the website and learning technology teams, with a bit of creative writing lecturing on the side. I also run the infinity plus ebook imprint (www.infinityplus.co.uk/books), publishing the work of award-winning authors such as Eric Brown, John Grant and Iain Rowan. Describe your typical writing day.
Ideally, I get up early, go for a run, have some breakfast and a good strong coffee. Then I try to get 1500 words in before lunch. I aim for another session of at least 1000 words in the afternoon, by which time I'm slowing down a little. Anything on top of that is a bonus.
In reality, even a day devoted to writing is broken up with the business of being a writer and publisher: keeping on top of correspondence, promoting books in various media, Facebooking and tweeting, various administrative tasks, etc. And a day entirely devoted to writing is a rare thing, so more typically I carve out slots of an hour or two from days when I'm at the day job or doing family things. One of the most useful things I've learnt over the years is how to take advantage of even a short opportunity to write: a couple of hundred words in a snatched hour on a train is far better than waiting for that perfect writing day to come along. What inspired you to write ‘The Accord’? The idea
first came to me as a fantasy short story. I was driving to work and out of nowhere I wondered what it must be like for a trusted advisor to be in love with the Emperor's wife. By the time I'd reached work, the trusted advisor had become a wizard and his solution was to conjure up a parallel world where copies of himself and the Emperor's wife could be free to have an affair. As the idea matured, I started to wonder how long this parallel world might exist - could they live there forever, if the wizard has created it? And what would the Emperor do when he found out? Gradually, the idea of a love triangle that spanned millennia, and the ensuing feud as the Emperor pursued his wife and her lover transformed into something more science-fictional: rather than wizards and magic, why not have a virtual reality heaven instead? Once I'd made that leap, I knew it was going to be a big novel rather than a fantasy short story, and there was no turning back. What projects are you working on now?
I've just delivered two books. Strange Divisions and Alien Territories is a non-fiction book about science fiction, with chapters written by some of the top writers in the field, due from Palgrave Macmillan in early 2012. And alt.human is a science fiction novel, an extreme alternate history crammed full of aliens - both topics I've tended to steer clear of in my 20 years as a writer. How do you publicise your work?
Websites (mine and one for infinity plus), my blog and guest-blogging elsewhere, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Academia.edu, interviews, mailing lists, readings and signings, appearances at conventions and other publishing events, by writing non-fiction for various publications... and probably lots of other ways that slip my mind. I hate to be brash and pushy about it, but I like to engage with people anyway, and I think it all adds up to raising awareness that, yes, I'm a writer and I have books available. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Be persistent. Finish what you write. Revise it until it's the best you can do. Submit it. When it's rejected, submit it elsewhere. When you think you've run out of markets, find somewhere else to try (my first novel sold to a publisher right at the bottom of my list; I so nearly didn't bother submitting it to them). Be very wary of self-publishing to start with, unless you're sure you can do it really well. Other than your own, what’s your favourite work of fiction?
I love writers like Graham Greene and Ian McEwan, and it's hard to pick out a single work. If forced, I'd be torn between Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Silverberg's Dying Inside. Which author had the greatest influence on you as a child?
Depends at which age. I was an obsessive Enid Blyton fan as a kid, but I'm not sure what influence that might have had! Later, John Christopher and John Wyndham figured large. Finally, and most importantly, you’ve lost your wallet, who do you enlist to help you find it, Poirot or Miss Marple? Probably Poirot: I love the cleverness and the way he plays people. Miss Marple plays people too, but she's just a little too creepy for my liking... For more information about Keith and his work check out: http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/books/kb/accord.htm