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You Gotta Read Reviews Admin Team

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Welcome Author Graham Storrs...

YGR:  Welcome!  Tell us a little about yourself and your books.

GS: Thank you. These days, I'd describe myself as a science fiction writer, but I've only been able to say that for a short while. I've always written stories – like most writers, I got the bug young and I've always done it in all my spare moments – and I've always supposed one day they'd be published. Yet the years went by, decades went by, and it didn't happen. I published all kinds of other things. I've had three non-fiction books published. When I was at university, I earned money by selling articles to computer magazines. But fiction was a market I couldn't crack until about two years ago. Then I suddenly got the hang of it – the selling, I mean, not the writing. Since then, I've sold a dozen short stories and my first novel.

YGR:  TimeSplash is your début novel.  Can you give us a glimpse into the book?

GS: It's a time travel adventure set in the near future when time travelling terrorists are able to go back to the past and create terrible devastation in the present. Two young people, both damaged in different ways by one of these terrorists, have sworn to track him down and stop him, but is only when they get together and combine their efforts that they really stand a chance. The book is a thriller, but woven into it is a quirky love story as these two gradually grow closer.

YGR:  What inspired you to write the novel?
GS: I'd just finished another time travel novel – something completely different – and my head was full of time travel and paradoxes. I was actually pitching that novel to a publisher when I had a sudden image of time as a broad, powerful river and a time traveller being lobbed back into it like a brick, creating a splash but the splash being absorbed and smoothed over as the river flowed on. And I thought, what a cool an exciting thing to do, to be thrown back into time like that. And suddenly the whole basis for the book unfolded in my head and I found myself gabbling it all out to the publisher, right there and then. I should have kept my mouth shut because she clearly liked the TimeSplash idea better than the other one.

YGR:  Is science fiction the only genre you write?  If so why?

It is – and 'hard' science fiction at that. I've written fantasy and crime stories in the past and I've enjoyed it, but sci-fi is where my heart is. I find science fiction – based on real science – is very challenging. You have to work hard to create worlds and stories that make sense scientifically and yet are imaginative and new. Keeping the science real puts a lot of constraints on you that you don't have with fantasy, say, and I like that challenge.

YGR:  Do you have anything new in the works?

GS: Since TimeSplash I've written another near-future thriller – a guy who is caught up an a power struggle between two very powerful factions, one of which isn't quite human, and has to try to save everyone around him, even though his own life and emotional state are a complete shambles. It's called The Credulity Nexus and I'm looking for an agent for it right now. I sold TimeSplash without an agent but I don't think that was a smart move. Meanwhile, I've just started writing a space opera – a trilogy set in the same world as The Credulity Nexus but ten thousand years in the future.

YGR:  What advice would you give unpublished writers?
GS: Probably the best advice I could give is in two parts. First, you should think really, really hard about whether you want to be published or not. Once you get that book deal, you'll spend months working on the book with your publisher, then you'll spend months promoting your book to the world. If all you like doing is writing, you need to be careful about getting sucked into the production and marketing cycle that publishing entails. It's not much fun and the financial rewards are negligible, so you really have to be sure you want it. The second thing I'd say is, if you really want publication, spend the time and effort needed to understand the publishing business. Find out what it's all about, what makes books attractive to agents and publishers and readers and make sure you know how to sell your work to these audiences. Network a lot with other writers – all kinds of opportunities are passed around by word of mouth (or word of Web) and if you're not talking to people, you will miss them. Just sending a manuscript off to a slew of agents and publishers every couple of years may get you a contract, but there are many other things you can do to improve your chances.

YGR:  What is your writing process like?

GS: When I used to work for a living, I'd take my tiny hand-held computer out to lunch with me every day and sit in a café writing. I'd keep the machine with me all the time and write whenever I had a spare 15 minutes. These days, I have more leisure. Each day I take my little computer out into the garden, or to a nearby beauty spot, and write for an hour or two. I save all the other stuff – networking, editing, marketing, and so on – for when I'm inside at my desk.

YGR:  Where do you get your inspiration?

GS: Inspiration is never a problem. I read a lot of science magazines, science books, and science blogs. If you're not inspired by science, your heart must be made of stone. I just read the history of the Voyager space probes and I had a dozen ideas just from that. What is hard is not the inspiration – ideas are cheap and most of them are trash. Whittling down all these ideas until you have something that is realistic and feasible but would still make an excellent story is the hard part. I believe that realism in a story is essential. Whatever incredible futures I might foresee, the people in them have to be genuine people – like the ones all around us – or else what is the point?

YGR:  When you set aside your work in progress for the day, what sort of books do you like to read?

GS: I read science fact and science fiction. I sometimes read other genres (crime, or thrillers mostly, but sometimes a romance or comedy or even literary fiction – although I usually regret that.) When I've had too much dross, I read something clever and beautifully written – like Jane Austen, Wilkie Collins, Thomas Hardy, Elizabeth Wharton, Aldous Huxley, JG Ballard, or poetry or classic plays – to recharge my batteries.

YGR:  What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?

GS: Most of my research I do online. I like to find pictures of my characters early on so I have a concrete image while I write. It feels a bit weird, I must say, searching Google Images for “beautiful teenage girls” or even “beautiful teenage boys”! But I think I need to visit somewhere for one of the books I'm working on, and I've a feeling it might get me arrested. It's a sci-fi comedy and it all ends in a big climax at an airforce base near to where I live. But I've never been on that base and I need to know things like what kind of planes they have there, what kind of anti-aircraft capabilities they have, where are their bunkers and hangars, weapons stores, officers' quarters and so on and so on. In these days of hysterical fear of terrorists, I can see me being clapped in irons even for asking the questions.

YGR:  Where can we find you on the net?

GS: I have a blog where I talk about writing and what I'm doing at http://grahamstorrs.cantalibre.com/ People can also find me on Twitter, where I chat most days. That's http://twitter.com/graywave

YGR:  Where can we find out more about your books?

GS: TimeSplash has its own website and its own blog (these are the times we live in.) The site is http://www.timesplash.co.uk/ and the blog is http://blog.timesplash.co.uk/ If anyone wants to buy the book, they can go along to the publisher's website (or visit Fictionwise or Amazon) and my profound thanks go with them. Thanks to you too, for having me.

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