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Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Simon Swift

Under my spotlight this week is the lovely Simon Swift
 
To meet Simon I decided to go by train for a change. I headed up to Kings Cross and much to my surprise I got on the right train. I'm notorious for getting on the wrong ones. Simon was planning on meeting me at Wakefield Westgate Station. The journey was  pleasant enough and the scenery was stunning. Alighting from the train with my Mary Poppins bag I could see Simon in the distance waving. How did he recognise me I wondered?  Anyway whilst briefly chatting Simon introduced me to his sleek little black number. Settling down in the passenger seat and with David Bowies' Life on Mars playing (It reminded me of the tv programme) we headed out to his home.
 He informed me it was approximately a 10 mile drive through rolling countryside. Passing the National Coal Mining Museum on the right we headed towards the towering Emley Moor Tower (Still Europes' largest freestanding structure)

The journey took in some of the finest views I have ever seen, stunningly beautiful. Rolling green hillsides with fields awash with frolicing lambs and partitioned by the magnificent dry stone walls.
The scenery on the short drive really is a treat and I couldn't help but comment on the fact that Urban West Yorkshire is so incredibly beautiful. I really had no idea. Simon nodded knowingly, I guess he'd heard it all before from visitors. Gods' own country is not far off I reckon.
Twenty minutes later we turn right into the lovely quaint village of Highburton. The sign lets me know it's six miles outside of Huddersfield. It sits atop a steep hill and I guess it causes quite a problem with deep snow. Simon confirmed that it's not at all unusual to be cut off from civilisation.
We park up (No! I didn't turn us into a layby :-) I'd left my magic wand at home) and pop into Highburton Village Stores. Apparently it's the oldest independent village stores in the Country. Here we picked up some fresh eggs and bacon for breakfast. Yum!
When we arrived at Swift Towers, Simon introduces me to his charming wife and two adorable children, then sets about brewing coffee and frying the breakfast. In the meantime Swift Junior drags me outside to play footie. Nothing new to me of course I taught my son to play and regularly watched him play in the school team. I was the lunatic mum running up and down the touchline cheering him on.
Errol the black cat was sunning itself in the flowerbed stretching and yawning whilst taking in the delicious smell of bacon cooking. Little Lady Swift as she is known was picking blueberries at the bottom of the garden and watering her sunflowers.
After a very filling brekkie Simon and I took our coffee outside in the garden to get on with the interview. Out came my trusty tape recorder and I started in with my first question......
I asked him about the Highs and Lows of being published
Being published is great but I have quickly discovered that it is only the beginning of a long journey. I suppose I set off on this journey when I uploaded to Authonomy, the Harper Collins website for aspiring authors. I gave Black Shadows a thorough edit and decided to upload. Authonomy was a roller coaster journey, but it did introduce me to some incredible people (nods at me) . Some offering invaluable advice. It wasn't all good but what it did do was give me the opportunity to polish and improve the novel. Black Shadow attained a gold star from Authonomy in January 2010, on ther way to becoming the all time top ranked crime novel and generating a record of  1000 reviews.
Whilst waiting for the review I took a deep breath and decided it was time to start querying agents. The first time I got a request to see the manuscript my heart leapt. This happened many times and I did receive back a lot of positive feedback but unfortunately no deal. When the review from HC came through a couple of months later to my immense relief  it was very positive. In places it could even be described as glowing. Although HC were not offering a deal, the review carried a clear message that Black Shadows was of publishable standard, but would be more suitable to a small niche press.
Since Authonomy I have spent a lot of time on Night Reading set up by an old authonomist Tim Roux. This is a truly wonderous place full of splendid people - winks at Tee and makes comment which I'm too modest to include :-) who constantly offer support and best wishes. They also publish about 50 books a year which has brought some great books into print. As far as being published is concerned I don't think there are any lows. As long as you are realistic and believe in your work, the up and down of the kindle market is simply a side show. It is great that one day I find myself outselling, Chandler, Hammett and Spillane, but the next week could see a dip and then a rise and then another dip and so on. (Just like the wonderful rolling hills surrounding us !!) The major high so far has definitely got to be my book signing at Waterstones in Huddersfield. There are other signings lined up in Leeds and on Saturday 13th August in Waterstones at the O2 in London. That one I'm really looking forward to. Featuring on blogs such as the great Dan Holloway's or Alan Guthrie's are great experiences. The other strange pinch-yourself moments are when you swop email messages with legendary authors like Peter James.
How did you get picked up by WWP Simon
Wild Wolf Publishing were one of those presses and were recommendede by my very good friend Poppet (author of Darkroom and Dusan) After submitting to Wild Wolf Publishing in August 2010 I was offered a contract to publish in January 2011. It was a hell of a long wait and more than once I began to feel it wasn't going to happen. When it did I have to say it felt great.The goal was always to get the story out and read at one point. I had the dilema of having more than one contract offer. What would normally be a writers dream actaully felt quite burdensome. I had to make the right decision!!
Tell me more about Errol honey and also when will Casablanca Case be finished? I can't wait to meet up with Errol again after all this time. It'll be like meeting up with an old friend.
Errol has been developed over many years. I suppose he was born from a thousand mysteries, encapsulating Sam Spade, Phil Marlowe, Mike Hammer and more recently Max Allan Collins' Nate Heller and of course with a good dose of Simon Swift mixed in there. I wanted to make him much more three dimensional than the typical wisecracking private eye but not lose that authenticity and hardboiled grittiness. Errols' story will unfold over the trilogy, whilst Black Shadows is heavily influenced by the Maltese Falcon.( Best selling author Debbi Mack broke down in tears of laughter when she realised what I had done with the classic original) The Casablanca Case is a much darker psychological tale. The last as yet untitled third instalment will be the last of Errol Black but will hopefully prove  a fitting conclusion to my hero. I intend finishing the Casablanca Case in the next couple of months and will be looking for it to hit the shops by Christmas 2011. There is also a novella on the way which will be a dark tale set of good versus evil.
Thank you so much for the interview honey and it's been just great chilling out in this wonderful countryside, talking to a great guy who I feel will get the big break at some point in the future.
Are there any links you would like to include
For the duration of  June and July the e-book of Black Shadows can be downloaded for less than a £1
Buy either e-book or paperback from website http://errolblack.weebly.com
The day ended far too quickly and before long I waas back at the station for my journey home. The train looked like it was going to be late and I didn't fancy the journey from Kings Cross much so I slipped round the corner out of sight. Delving into my Mary Poppins bag I took out my trusty Nimbus broomstick hopped on and I was gone travelling at the speed of light.........:~)

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