Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Thanks Courtney for asking me to do this interview. I`m working as an author but I am also a qualified life coach. I was born in Ireland. I like traveling and I have lived in Dublin, London and Edinburgh. I have traveled widely throughout mainland Europe including Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Netherlands and Germany with a focus on areas of cultural importance. I have also backpacked in Australia and India.
Discuss your newest book.
I have published a kindle book Easter Rising 1916 A Family Answers the Call for Ireland`s Freedom. It`s a story about a family involved in a struggle for independence in Ireland. I was inspired to write it by an older woman whose father, aunt and uncle had taken part in the Rising. There`s also fictional aspects to the story, a character called Mother Mary who is psychic and a doctor who get caught up in the events.
I will have a novel published also, The Golden Age Dawns, by the end of March in Amazon. It will be free to Kindle subscribers for five days. This is a fiction book. There are dark forces that are determined to defeat humanity. The Protectors of the Light, immortals that protect humanity, combat the evil that threatens to overwhelm the world. They have a mission to guide humanity and individuals as the human race develops. The Protectors of the Light, travel back and forth to The Great Source, the force that creates all worlds and earthly dimensions, as they carry out their mission.
Susan is in a race against time to save London from the outbreak of a new virus that threatens to spread throughout the world. Linda, a successful clinical psychologist but a lonely woman, decides to travel in search of love. Colin is a young man from a poor family in Ireland and has been looking after his mother who has severe depression for most of his life. He travels with his friends to escape the world he lives in. He discovers he has to face events he never imagined. Colin encounters situations of social unrest that test his mental and physical strength.
The story is about how the three main characters deal with the events they are faced with.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
At school I was told by most of my teachers that I was not very intelligent and that I would not be suitable for college. I studied an honors psychology in University College Dublin, Ireland and achieved a 2:1. I was thrilled to achieve the grade because not only did I prove my teachers wrong but I also received what I believed to be a top class education in UCD. In school I had one teacher who said was a brilliant writer and in my degree I know that the lecturers there appreciated how I wrote essays and assignments. So I always liked writing.
What are your current projects?
Currently I`m publishing The Golden Age Dawns. I am also promoting my book Easter Rising 1916 A Family Answers the Call for Ireland`s Freedom.
What books have most influenced your life most?
I have been influenced by a wide variety of different types of books. As a teenager I read fantasy books a lot, I loved Tolkien`s book The Lord of the Rings. I have always liked psychology books (anything to do with psychology really). I came from a rather messed up background and I had a lot of difficulties as a teenager and young adult. Psychology books taught me new ways of thinking and acting that were beneficial to me. I gained a better understanding of myself. I read quite a lot of books by Stephen King and Anne Rice when I was not reading psychology books. Both these books have influenced my current style of writing.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Nine years ago life became very difficult for me. It seemed as if my whole life was falling apart and I was struggling to hold onto my home. I had at the same time broke my leg in three places and was in a lot of pain as I was going through rehabilitation for my leg. I was very fortunate to have good friends and my mother helped me too. I was reading certain books at the time about angels that comforted me. I was in so much pain that I turned to something bigger than me, spirituality, and I was desperate for help. So I learned methods to help me. I learned facts about myself and about life and thought about what I could do with this information. All these experiences inspired me to write.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
The main character is Linda. She is a very successful woman from a wealthy background. However she is lonely, all her friends are married with children and she is all alone. She leaves for Europe to have fun and maybe find a lover. Linda is faced with a nightmare scenario and finds strength within herself that she never knew existed. Linda behaves in ways she never thought herself capable of. She becomes open to influences not of this world.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I would be so happy if readers picked up just one message in the book. I would like people to know that there is no need to be afraid of events or people in their lives, or afraid of something about themselves. That reader`s will receive the help they need, if they are open to it and if they are humble enough to ask for help. Whatever form help arrives in, help will come.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
That is a difficult question! You are really making me think with these questions! To be honest I am not sure. I would like an actress who would have the skill to understand Linda`s character. Linda is complicated and an actress would need to be able to convey the depth of Linda as well as her sensitivity and love of people.
When did you decide to become a writer?
Exactly a year and a half ago in March when I started writing The Golden Age Dawns! I did not really decide, it was just a natural progression from all that went before. Then I had a burning desire to sit down and write, I had written many notes about my novel and put them together to form The Golden Age Dawns.
Why do you write?
I write mainly to amuse people. I write because it is the natural thing for me to do. I have always written in one form or another-poems, a diary, essays, reports and now blogs and all sorts of social media.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
I wrote in response to one of the above questions that I went through a very difficult time in my life and I learned certain things. I then wanted to distill all this experience into notes that I could remind myself of what to do if life got difficult again. Then I thought about writing a book. Most of all I wanted to entertain people with a good story. Life can be tough and I wanted to create something to get people`s minds off their troubles. It turned out that that ‘something’ was books. My books are not educational books though there are facts in them. If people pick up on messages in the book that is great. My books are written to entertain primarily, to give people a break from their problems and be amused.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I write full time and I hope to continue to write full time. Social media takes up a lot of time and then when that is put together with the time it takes to write my books it really is a six hour a day occupation, sometimes more hours than that.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
I have a difficulty with writing in that sometimes it is hard to stop writing. I sometimes have to force myself to stop. I can forget to take breaks during the day. When I am not writing I am thinking about what I will write next, what I will put write about the character or the next chapter. Switching off is difficult but I do manage to do so.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
My two books are being published at the same time. Easter 1916 Rising A Family Answers the Call to Freedom was difficult because, although there are entertaining events that I wrote myself, I researched the book. Learning about what actually happened at that time when some Irish people desired independence from England and the consequences of that was disturbing. The high level of violence was horrifying to read.
The Golden Age Dawns was hard to write in some ways because a lot of my personal experiences, particularly my spiritual experiences, went into the characters and into the events. I was faced with my own self at times as I wrote the characters thoughts and feelings. Writing The Golden Age Dawns helped me to rid myself of some painful thoughts and feelings that I needed to let go of.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
The easiest thing about writing is that I nearly always find it fun. Even if I am writing about something serious I tend to focus completely on my writing. The hours and days fly by!
What book are you reading now?
I am reading a book by Anne Rice The Wolves of Midwinter
What is one random thing about you?
I have traveled a lot and I tend to adopt some characteristics from the people I spend a lot of time with. I know a lot of people from different parts of Ireland. Some have very different accents and I’ve adapted some of their accents. What accent I have depends on who I am speaking to, as I will speak with their accent. I do this to such an extreme that it is random!
What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer?
I write ideas for books on the notes section on my mobile then I send them to my e-mail and transfer them to a word page. I do have a note book but that is if a have an idea about publishing or promoting that I want to write down so I will not forget.
What does your writing process look like?
I do not have a process as such. I write notes as they come to me. I have a rough idea of what I want the beginning and ending to be and the dramatic points in-between and I try to stick to that.
Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?
Not that I am aware of!
How important are names to you in your books?
Names are important. I convey where a character is from by their name.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The challenging thing is developing a piece of work that a reader can understand. To make sure I am conveying the story effectively. The editing process I find challenging. It is not as fun as writing a story!
Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?
I hired an editor last year and she turned out to be a scammer. I paid her a lot of money and she did no work for me. I found an excellent editor after that. Check out anybody that you consider hiring, thoroughly. Check their references, actually speak to the people that give the references or e-mail them because the services websites may be dishonest.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
This is one I just use for my own motivation: “Do not fear all is well”. It reminds me that I may not understand why something is happening to me but I will learn from it and I will be safe.
What is your favorite book and why?
I have books in my home, spiritual books, that I always read if I`m worried or stressed.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
As I said above make sure you check out thoroughly editors, graphic designers, anyone you hire to work on any aspect of your book. Websites may look well but do not be fooled by a flashy website.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like going to the cinema. I workout six days a week.
From where do you gain your inspiration?
Everything really. People I see, things people say, an idea a song gives me.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
I have made no effort to approach a publishing house. I am really grateful that I can manage all aspects of my books. Nothing has been taken from the stories or characters to suit the needs of a publisher. Your story can stay the same all the way through the process if you want it to. I think that is fantastic!
How do you market your books?
I am on a steep learning curve with marketing! I am beginning with social media because I have been writing my two books so it is easier to use social media. I will be branching out to newspapers and radio in the next two months. I think I am doing okay so far, Easter Rising 1916 A Family Answers the Call for Ireland`s Freedom is selling at one or two books a day so I must be doing something right!
Why did you choose this route?
I chose self-publishing because I wanted to preserve the story of my novel. The characters and events all have significance and I wanted the story to stay the same.
Would you or do you use a PR agency?
No I do not use a PR agency.
Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
There is a lot of talk about targeting your audience and only using media where this audience will be found. I think it`s possible to market your book in a way that your book will sell but also make it match what you like to do or who you like to do. I do not think marketing has to be serious all the time. It is nice to have some fun with it!
What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
I promote my book in the morning and write my books in the afternoon.
What do you do to get book reviews?
I am working on that at the moment. I am using social media currently. Hopefully I will receive reviews for Easter Rising 1916 A Family Answers the Call for Ireland`s Freedom from readers on Amazon.
How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
Since I have been publishing my two books I have not concentrated on obtaining book reviews, I will do that when the novel has been published. Getting the publishing right is the most important thing for me at the moment. My followers in Tumblr are very helpful in promoting my novel.
Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?
Not yet. Positive word of mouth I think is important.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, what a reviewer says may or may not be true. I think it`s helpful to keep in mind what reviewers might say, is there some adjustments that can be made to future books that might improve them.
Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?
I am just beginning to market so not just yet!
What’s your views on social media for marketing?
I believe social media is very effective. There are other media that are important too I think. I think radio shows, papers, launching local events, are all important too.
Which social network worked best for you?
Tumblr is very definitely working out better for me and I have fun using that site too!
Any tips on what to do and what not to do?
Be careful of editors. After my experience with the scammer I looked up other authors experiences. Most of them at some time or another had problems with editors. This phase of writing a book is fraught with incompetent or scamming people. Be really careful who you select!
Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?
Not yet. I will promote my novel in these ways when it is published by the end of March. Amazon has got a lot of methods to market books when you publish with them.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
I would like to meet Katy Perry. I really like how she dresses in costumes, she seems to be having fun. I think it is important to have fun in what you do.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
I would like to have written JK Rowling`s books about Harry potter. I really like the details she writes into her stories and the concepts she writes about like Hogwarts College. She has a great imagination and you can see it in her books
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I am only starting out myself so I cannot really speak from experience. Write what you feel like writing because people will pick up on the passion that you have for what you write and that may help them to like your book. People like passion!
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Connect to Gabriel Woods at the addresses below:
Facebook: Gabriel Woods