Good Afternoon you B-E-A-Utiful Bookworms. ^_^
I hope you’re all enjoying your weekend.
Personally, I’m looking forward to a rest as I’ve been writing and reading non-stop this week, not to mention working on numerous projects alongside my already heavy workload. What can I say? I just love writing.
Our Interview with Shaun Baines
1.) Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
It’s more important to be observant. It’s unrealistic to expect someone to run the full gamut of emotions in order to write about them. Could you imagine being intensely happy, intensely jealous and then intensely angry? It would be exhausting.
Better to keep a close eye on your friends and family. Let them do it for you. Plus, people react to their emotions differently. When angry, one individual might go quiet with a pulsing vein in their forehead whereas another may start to rave. Draw on your own emotions by all means, but watching others gives you a richer palette.
2.) Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building connections between a series of books?
It was always my intention to create a series of books based in the Daytons. As a reader, there is no greater thrill than falling in love with a group of characters and discovering there is more than one book.
Woodcutter is just the beginning. Crime fiction lends itself to series writing and I hope to contribute to that. There is huge scope to expand the Dayton world because every Dayton has a story and every one of them has an axe to grind.
3.) How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Like most writers, my first book was written in anonymity. It gives you a freedom to experiment and make mistakes. Writing was a hobby and a therapeutic pastime for me. I didn’t know it would get published and how that would affect my writing.
I’m currently doing rewrites for the sequel and the process has changed. I’m more aware of having an audience. It’s not pressure, but more of a responsibility. I want to give my readers the things they enjoyed, but dressed in a new way. I’m also conscious of trimming down the stuff that wasn’t so well received.
That said, this is my book and my voice. I won’t write anything I’m not 100% comfortable with.
4.) How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
While I was submitting Woodcutter to agents, I wrote a sequel. At the time, I didn’t know what I had with Woodcutter and the sequel became an odd blend of crime, horror and science-fiction. There is a lot to be said for genre blending, but my interests lie in crime fiction and genre soup isn’t for me. I spent three months on that book, but had to admit when I was beaten. Instead of being upset, it was a relief to get back on the right road.
5.) What does literary success look like to you?
I’m a part time gardener and literary success would mean going full time as a writer, though I doubt I’ll ever abandon gardening entirely. Not until my knees give up on me. I love being outdoors. There’s something wholesome about it that contrasts directly with a mind that’s teeming with gangsters and treachery.
But, having the option to choose between gardening and writing would mean I’ve reached a level of measurable success.
6.) How many hours a day do you write?
I start writing around five am before the rest of the world wakes up. It gives me the quiet I need to concentrate. Of course, it doesn’t take long before life gets in the way. In between part-time gardening work, tending to chickens and bees, being a husband and all the other roles I have, I try to write at least four hours a day, every day.
7.) How do you select the names of your characters?
I’m notoriously bad at naming characters. I know how important it is, that their names should reflect their personality in some way, but I don’t pay a lot of attention to it. I’m too busy driving the story forward to pause for long. When I write, I sit in front of shelves of books and DVDs. I usually steal the names of my favourite actors or directors. If I can’t find anything suitable, I drag a name up from my subconscious and use that. The danger of this method is that I often accidentally name gangsters after family members, which doesn’t make me popular at get-togethers.
8.) What is your favourite childhood book?
George and his Magic Knitting Needles. When I was ten years old, my teacher asked the class to write our first book report. All my classmates went for children’s classics, like Enid Blyton. I went with George and I was scolded for having low standards, but I enjoyed it. He saved a town from being flooded by knitting a dam. What’s not to like? I learned how easy it was to be judged for your preferences, which for a ten year old is a heavy realisation to have.
9.) What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
I tend to get a little obsessive with my writing, zoning in on every detail. They say, a book is never written, but rewritten and to do that an author needs distance. I can get too close. I have to force myself to step away from the narrative to gain perspective.
The writing process is full of gaps, or should be. At these times, I’m generally pacing the floor, itching to get back to work.
10.) Does your family support your career as a writer?
My wonderful wife has been incredibly supportive, suffering my writerly anxieties on my behalf. When I get stuck or frustrated by a sudden inability to string a sentence together, she is happy to talk things through. Or read and re-read a chapter for me, even the grisly bits.
I don’t come from a ‘reading’ family. We had encyclopaedias on our shelves, very little fiction, so I’m not sure how much my parents understand me being a writer. They’re very proud, of course and bought the obligatory half dozen copies, but writing is a profession that doesn’t register with them as a job. They’d be just as happy if I worked at a car factory.
It has been my absolute pleasure to have Shaun Baines with us this afternoon.
If you’d like to learn more about Shaun and his upcoming works, simply head over to his website: Author Shaun Baines
OR, Find him on Goodreads: Goodreads: Woodcutter, by Shaun Baines
OR, Twitter: Shaun Baines: Twitter