5-STAR Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Friday, February 24, 2012

Indie Author Interview - Craig Stone

Today's Interview is with Indie Author Craig Stone, Author of the True-Life Book 'The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness'. The debut novel has received excellent reviews. Craig Stone has just released his second book Life Knocks - the prequel to Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness. 

Interview with Craig Stone

Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
Craig Stone: Every job I ever had I spent 90% of it writing a book and the other 10% writing a book whilst waving my arms around proclaiming how stressed my workload was making me.
The downside; I was writing for a minute then being interrupted for ten, writing for fifteen minutes then being interrupted for twenty. Not good for a writer, or for the employer.
Years ago, I worked for a bank, and eventually a thought built up in my head so much I quit my job:
You should be writing. 
I just walked out.
That’s the start of my second book Life Knocks.
Oddly, years later, whilst working in full time employment the thought returned; I had the thought over and over until eventually I walked out on my job again. Just like that, I left on Friday and never came back on the Monday.
That’s the start of my first book The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness.
This time when I walked out of a job to write I couldn’t afford my rent as a consequence; so I left my job, went home – packed a bag full of clothes and walked to my local park.
I lived under a tree until I finished my first book: The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness.
Once I emerged from the park I discovered I could self publish and had a weird website called twitter as my helpful robot sidekick.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite book, and who or what are your writing influences?
I don’t think I have a favorite writer and can’t say I have been influenced by another writer’s voice. I read a fair bit of Roald Dahl and Stephen King as a child but my main influence for writing The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness was my brain telling me if I don’t write, just because I’m scared of living under a tree, then I lose the right to ever complain I feel like I’m living someone else’s life; because the reason I would feel I was living someone else’s life would be I had chosen to let my fear decide I was never going to live mine.
Anything you want to do is possible; fear is not meant to prevent but to motivate your heart into the life you naturally think is improbable.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
I would prefer to write in a white house on an oceanfront with a beautiful wife and a dog that knows where to poo and does so discreetly.
Alas, I write in a little room with a cat that takes great pleasure in pooing at the end of my bed at four in the morning, minus the wife.
I don’t really have a routine, much like how I write my books; nothing is planned; I just do.
I drink a lot of green tea whilst writing though!

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?

The easiest part about writing is writing; I find writing effortless, I always have.
The hardest part is the complete poverty I live in; the problem with living the dream is you can’t afford to be awake.
Poverty and isolation - since I started this process I have seen my friends maybe twice in over a year.
I could go out this weekend, but nope – bank account is £6.45. Repeat.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
I think I was eight years old.

Evil Ms. Goodrich asked the class to write a story about whatever we wanted over one weekend.

Most kids wrote a few pages, I wrote an entire book and the evil teacher told me to try and get it published whilst she pushed smoke rings into my young face; aging my skin slightly.
When I was writing that story I was buzzing, rushing full of energy; over the years that sensation has turned into something more akin to having my balls caught in a tennis racket mid serve but I’ve never forgotten the original feeling because that feeling returns whenever I finish a book.

Craig, tell us a little about your first novel 'The Squirrel That Dreamt of Madness'.
I quit my job and my house and went and lived under a tree in Gladstone Park in Kilburn, London.

I had a pad and a pen and I started writing.

I told myself there was only one way I could ever get my life back on track and that was by writing my way out of it.

The book itself is set across ten days; each day in the park in the book was a real day in real life in the park for me.
The book merges what was happening to me in the park with fantasy as I write a book to escape my environment.

There is an escaped patient from a nearby facility eating the animals alive in the park, and he enters at the same time as me.
The park-keeper thinks I’m eating the animals. I then bump into the person that is.
Then a loved pet escapes from a nearby house and I’m accused of killing it.
Then it’s a race to find this pet, a parrot.
The family are in the park trying to find the parrot because it contains the ashes of their mum, the mental patient wants to eat it, the park-keeper wants to catch it to stop me from eating it and I want to catch it to prove to the park-keeper that it’s not me that wants to eat it.

What inspired you to write the book?
The mounting pressure of 3,652.42 days of denial.

...14,000 followers on Twitter and I’m bloody lucky to have lots of lovely people..."

How would you describe the success of your book? (Sales, Awards, Reviews)
So far, the Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness has had over forty 5-Star Amazon reviews and everyone loves it.
Not bad for someone with no help.
Not amazing, not life changing...but proof I’m right to try and fight to make it as a writer.
I was unable to find an agent because they are all running scared and playing safe and publishing boring books by the likes of Jordan and Peter Andre; ultimately destroying the business they think they are saving in the process.
However, it was a success because I found Kindle; I have over 14,000 followers on Twitter and I’m bloody lucky to have lots of lovely people send me messages of encouragement about my books.
In life all we can do is give our dreams the platform to fly but the wind is not ours to control. Dreams of the individual do not come true without the intervention of the inexplicable; that person who is a stranger when you put your dream into the public arena, that is touched on some level enough to  send an email or a message that says they think your ideas have legs.
I have kept up my end; I now have two books available – I will get on with my life and if somebody wants to make my dream come true, if a wind is on its way I cannot see, then wonderful.

What did you do to promote yourself and your book?
Twitter has been my main source of promotion and Facebook, of course. I was fortunate everyone who read Squirrel loved it; the consequence being that a few people that read my book had blogs and interviewed authors, so they helped me spread the word.

How long did it take it to write the book?
The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness took ten days; ten days in the park, ten days in the real world.
I then had to type it up from a hand-written scrawl on a pad of paper to a PC – which took months. The whole time I was homeless, each day my pad would be expanding with more and more words and each day I was thinking, “what if someone beats me up and stole it now?”
To others I looked like a bearded homeless madman clutching a shoe believing it was gold.
As a consequence the closer I got to the end of the book the more desperate I was to get out of the book to save my material.
Life Knocks has been a labor of love; the stories have been in my head for years so the process for Life Knocks was entirely different.
I was waiting for a time to write it.
All in all, I sat down and spent three months recently refining it; and before that I spent perhaps three or four months writing the initial draft so perhaps maybe seven months in total.

Please, tell us where you self-published the book.
The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness and Life Knocks are both available for Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

How smooth went the self-publishing process? Any issues? What are things to look for when self-publishing a book?
With self-publishing, the only hurdle to publishing is your self. So I guess it depends on how stupid you are.
Because I’m very stupid, it took me ages.
I read all these websites that made it sound so complicated; websites that offered 20 steps to self publishing and blogs that blathered on for ages about how to get a book onto Kindle; I found out people like to make it sound complicated to sell their intelligence.
Not one website simply said:
It’s really easy just download mobi pocket creator – put your word document through it and then it’s done.
I had to find that out for myself.
Once I had found that out, by an exhausting process of reading nonsense on websites and downloading pointless program after program it took ten minutes.

Did you hire an editor and/or Cover Designer for your book?
I have been incredibly lucky.
The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness was edited by a stranger that became a strange friend called Dionne Lister. If you are a writer reading this and want your book edited she is an editor, she charges, of course – but she’s good. Her twitter handle is @DionneLister
Dionne found out about my circumstances and loved my book so much she edited it for free.
The front cover for The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness is my idea and creation.
The front cover for Life Knocks again is my idea and my design.
I always knew I wanted the two front covers to go together.
I needed help with finding the right beach picture and with getting the writing correct on the sand in the image of the beach on the front cover of Life Knocks – Mark Bowler is one of London’s finest photographers and he came up with the picture and the design for the writing in the sand, I recommend people follow him on Twitter too @One_Glass_Eye

"...ignore what everyone else thinks and do it your way."

Can you give some tips for other Indie Authors regarding the writing and self-publishing process?

When I was starting to write I wouldn’t listen to anyone’s advice and so my advice would be to ignore what everyone else thinks and do it your way. Don’t try and fit your words or your thoughts into boxes other people try to throw around them. If people don’t understand, they aren’t your reader – but if you change your voice to sound like what they expect for the rest of your life you will sound like everyone else. Although that may placate the one person telling you what they want to hear you will end up just blending in.
Write your own way in, it’s the chance you have of standing out.

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I have just released the prequel to The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness and it’s called Life Knocks – it’s out now available for Kindle. Like Knocks is a love story, but not about the Hollywood love, it’s about how people in love can fall out from it in the same mysterious fashion they fell in.
Life Knocks is an adventure; the main character Colossus Sosloss lives in London whilst looking back at his time in Hawaii, Thailand and Cambodia.
In present day Colossus has to live in a flat owned by a racist, sexist landlord that hates everyone and everything but is completely obsessed with Colossus; so whilst trying to figure out exactly how he ended up living in a studio flat in London from the beaches of Hawaii, and what he does next with his life, he has to avoid a complete bastard in his own home.
It’s funny, sad and philosophical – but ultimately, like everything I hope to write; the message is positive.
The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness was based on fact; Life Knocks is fact.

Are you planning to move forward as an Indie author or are you looking forward to have one of your next books to be traditionally published?
My latest book Life Knocks I’m trying to get published via the traditional route, purely because I need money and also because it’s got a good chance of being well received by a broad audience.
My friend, and editor of my last book, Dionne (mentioned earlier) told me she thought if I can’t get my books published with a mainstream publisher there is no hope for any Indie author out there trying.
That was probably the nicest thing anyone has said about my writing.

"Kindle will not kill the book; but eventually it’s going to kill the agent..."

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only 99cent eBooks or do you see this just as a marketing phase of the book sellers to move readers into the digital book market in a fight for future market shares?

Video didn’t kill the radio star – it merely made the radio star a known face on Video and set fire to a lot of deadwood. Likewise, Kindle will not kill the book; but eventually it’s going to kill the agent because Amazon reviews are doing their job for them and the publishers know it.
And the agents know it.
Has anyone tried emailing a first email to a literary agent in the past 6 months? They have never been ruder or more out of the office; and that’s because they know they are Dodo’s.
The power is now in the hands of the author, with social media not only are we the creators but we now have the potential to steer our own creativity towards the destiny we seek. The publishing industry is scared and rightly so. With Twitter readers can, at last, get to read the thoughts of a writer before buying.
If you like, the thoughts of the writer then buy their book; if you think the writer has nothing to say, hey, maybe that’s reflective of their material.
I don’t agree that Kindle and social media is a way for weak writers to rise to the top; I think with social media and Kindle we finally have the fairest way to find the world’s best writers chosen from a pool of millions – rather than what we have had traditionally– the best writers presented to us by the publishing industry who choose for us from a limited pool.
Is Stephen King the best horror writer in the world? No – but he is the best horror writer from a small pool printed by the publishing industry who resist other writers to maintain the reputation of writers that are household names.
In this new dawn, those previously thought of as writing gods are going to be revealed as just writers. Good writers, perhaps, but not the best because for the one Stephen King published there are hundreds ignored to sustain his reputation as the best because it’s easier and more profitable to publish a terrible Stephen King book than a great new book by an unknown writer.
At last, no more will an aging publisher or agent out of touch with young talent be able to prevent the talent they are out of touch with from being read.
This is the time for writers the publishing industry has feared people will find out about: Game. On.

Do you write full-time or do you have a day job?
I currently write full time; though the system has its hands around my throat and is starting to squeeze me...so I might not be able to write full time much longer.
That will be decided by the response to Life Knocks.

How can readers connect with you?

Via Twitter - @robolollycop - And anyone is welcome to find me on Facebook. I mean, if someone wants to come to my house that’s fine too. Just let me know so I’m in and wearing something decent.

Thank you so much for the Interview, Craig. Good Luck with your future book projects. 

About the Book The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness

What if you listened to that voice in your head telling you to walk out of your job? What if you listened to that first voice and another voice was telling you to go and live in a park? What if you listened to both voices and ended up one night sitting on a park bench, now unemployed, with two bags at your feet in the middle of a park and no idea what you are doing?

Well, that's what Craig Stone did.

This is the story of the story Craig Stone made up whilst trying to keep his sanity alone in a park.

There is the park-keeper but he's a midget with anger control issues. Then there is Moonface, the fat disabled man that lives up trees and refuses to come down because he believes the floor will bite him. The floor won't, he just has broken ankles from escaping from hospital. There's Madness the Parrot, who everyone needs to catch for their own reasons, an animal killer called Dorangel Vargas and Matt the carer of Moonface who seems reasonable but gave Craig "the lying fat bastard unicorn" look and so these days he can't say I fully trust him.

There's PC Whirled the police officer with the unfortunate name that I can't really make fun out of because my name is Colossus Sosloss.

And this is Craig's story. Written by Craig Stone, a guy that wasn't homeless that made himself so, and invented him to escape a pretty terrible reality.

Connect with Craig Stone via Twitter: @robolollycop


Scott Hunter said...

This is dedication. Respect.

@robolollycop said...

Thanks Scott - it's either dedication or being really, really stupid. I'm not quite sure. Fingers crossed in a few years I will be able to look back and say it all paid off and I was right.

Life seems to be heading more in the direction of it working out; but I guess you can never really tell until you are beyond the moment.

@1upUK said...

Definately dedication. Reminds me of the cartoon 'Horton hears a Who'
Cartoon: Horton hears a who (cry for help coming from a spec of dust). As 'crazy' as it may seem, he decides to help, despite the fear of the cry actually being real, torments from his sceptical neighbours & possible rejection. His motto is: "After all, a person is a person, no matter how small." In the end a microscopic community is revealed to Horton & he does everything to protect them.

Right now for the author Craig's book.
Craig: Hears a voice (in his head "You should be writing") he listens to his intuiton & sets off to do just that, despite the fear of the voice actually being real, pressure from the system, joblessness & homelessness. Because his motto was: "Anything you want to do is possible, fear is not meant to prevent but to motivate your heart into the life you naturally think is possible." In the end Craig accomplishes his book, which leads him onto another. Getting his life back on track as he says.

I'm seeing a happy ending in this one too. Maybe they'll make it into a cartoon called 'Craig hears a voice'


@robolollycop said...

Thanks 1upUk!

The journey isn't over yet, but I now have an agent; apparently a good agent that doesn't smoke meth from rusty cans in used toilets during too short lunch breaks.

maybe, just maybe, I will be able to look back on all this and say living life inside a metaphorical condom might well be safer, but in the end we only suffocate ourselves.

thanks for your comment!


1UpUK said...

Oh my days you're actually a genius with words & imagination too & that's not forgetting your sense of humour :)

And no the journeys not over yet. Maybe not the end..... but a beautiful beginning to what could be a beautiful ending. That's massive news about the agent, well deserved though.

Wishing you all the luck in the world....& then some.

@1UpUk (a huge & inspired fan)

@robolollycop said...

Pretty sure a lot of people would call me an idiot for taking the route I am taking...

Thanks for your kind words 1UpUK!

Fingers crossed ;)

Scott Hunter said...

No, you're on the Kerouac highway. Has to be right!

@robolollycop said...

Ha, thanks Scott - I believe it has to be right too. Until injury or death we owe it to ourselves to run towards what makes sense to our instincts.

one day I'm going to have to read one one of Kerouac's books, a few people have likened my writing to his.

Until then, this is my highway, Kerouac is tied up in the boot of my car complaining that he can't get the bottle of lemonade open with his mouth whilst his hands are taped to the back of his head.

It's okay Kerouac, we are almost there...

What could possibly go wrong?...

Anonymous said...

I am slackjawed. You have robbed me of complaining about my unrealized life. I thank you for that. Off to dream of madness... @MiloKilledPunk

Claude Nougat said...

Craig, what a wonderful interview! Now I can't wait to read your book. Strange though how many parallels in our lives: I've worked all my life (as an economist, didn't do it for sport, needed the dough and through it all I never stopped writing). And I started editing a family "journal" when I was...8! If you're curious about my writing, you can download my book (a collection of short stories) DEATH ON FACEBOOK, it's free until 9 March on Kindle (or visit my blog, the link is there)...

It's a long hard road for all of us writers but I'm sure you'll make it.You have the talent. You've found a good agent now, things can only go up!

@robolollycop said...

Hi Milo - I'm happy to steal that complaint from you. The first step to escaping the sensible is to dream of the delusional.

@robolollycop said...

Hi Claude - thank-you. I have found my life/journey has paralleled a few others too. I will take a look at your blog Claude, thanks so much for sharing.

The road is long and hard for everyone; but it's not what's under our feet that keeps us walking but what's on the horizon.

Fingers crossed my agent can get my books viewed by the right people! :)

Ann Lee said...

I enjoyed reading your article. Your book sounds very interesting. Good luck in your search for publishing.

MarilynDieckmann said...

Thank you.
You inspire! The guts it took to say "enough" is a dream we all have... if we're honest enough to admit it!
With family(3 sons), I played by the rules because I had to for them... now is my time. I will follow my dreams!
Thank you.

Just bought your book! :)

@robolollycop said...

Hi Ann - Thanks so much for reading the interview; I will be rubbing my lucky green four leafed unicorn in hope a publishing deal materialises :)

@robolollycop said...

Hi Marilyn,

there is a fine line between guts and being stupid! ha - but, well, little by little more light pours in through the cracks.

Enjoy your time, and thanks so much for buying my book; truly appreciated :)

Davee Jones said...

thank you for the add on twitter. i like your interview and i wish you well with your writing projects.

Dani Harper, Author said...

Great interview! And kudos for having the guts to do what you wanted to do. I think the Universe takes notice when we're true to ourselves -- and it tends to respond well. Slowly, but well! Wishing you every good thing.

@robolollycop said...

Hi Davee - thanks so much :)

@robolollycop said...

Hi Dani - Thanks kindly for your good wishes. I've covered myself in universe juice and hoping it hears me :)

David P Perlmutter said...

Nice interview, love the words and the best of luck. I see you mentioned Kilburn, me, a North London as well now living in Madeira.

I will check out the book...

David P Perlmutter said...

Charming interview and the very best of luck with the books.

I see you mentioned Kilburn me, a from North London and now living in Madeira.

I will check out the books....

@robolollycop said...

Thanks so much David! Hope you enjoy the books; Madeira sounds lovely! :)

Roy Mayall said...

All power to you for having the courage of your convictions Craig, but I don't quite agree with some of your conclusions. I think the dedicated writer will rise to the top regardless of the system. Take Stephen King, who you mention in the interview. In fact King also wrote under another name - Richard Bachman - precisely in order to check whether his success was due to luck or to some other cause. The success of the Bachman novels gives you the answer to that. And I don't think that Kindle books or Twitter or the internet will alter that in any way. The market is not being kept deliberately small in order to promote Stephen King over all those other great, but undiscovered, horror writers. Those writers just don't exist. Stephen King made it because he was - is - a dedicated, obsessive writer who couldn't ever stop himself writing. Much like you by the sounds of it.

@robolollycop said...

Hi Roy,

thanks for sharing your thoughts, most interesting.

I was kind of waiting for someone to contest some of the content. Certainly using Stephen King as an example is massively open to contention and rightly so.

I never knew Stephen King wrote under another name, thanks for informing me.

I do think other great undiscovered writers must exist, and not only are they great but they are better than some of the established.

I think this because I am one of those writers. And well, if there is me - there must be thousands like me because every individual achieving is representative of a potential realised; and that opportunity to realise, I believe, is in far more people than the few writers established.

That said, maybe I need to read a lot more kindle horror books!

I am dedicated, but I'm not sure who supported Stephen King when he first started out...somebody must have. Sadly, I don't want to go back to living in a park so if nothing changes soon I have to find a job. And that's when the world will start sucking my dream out of my brain, shaping it into a carrot, and dangling it front of my face for ever more.

And then, well, I don't know what's going to happen.

Sometimes I feel I've walked to the top of the mountain only to find the view is of a city on fire and I'm helpless to do anything but watch.

that said, maybe any day now I'll get the email telling me "book deal" - I guess at least that email is no longer an impossibility.

Thanks for your comment Roy, all the best and hope you have a great day.

Anonymous said...

It's really very nice to know about You and Yours books ... Its great work, worth so much.

“Praise is like sunlight to the human spirit: we cannot flower and grow without it.” –Jess Lair.

Dianne Greenlay said...

Craig, You are a VERY entertaining and talented writer. Even a day job won't detract from that and if it comes down to having to spend some of your waking hours at a "job", look upon it as an opportunity to interact in a whole new environment, collecting ideas for your next book! Best wishes for your success in all things.

@robolollycop said...

Hi Anonymous - thanks so much for reading.

Praise is a curious accolade; personally I don't agree with Jess. We are flowers already grown, and it's okay to praise that recognition. But to think praise is needed to become what we already are? I don't think so Jess. That's a recipe for all kinds of insecurity.

Thanks for sharing the quote anonymous, I've never heard it before. I quite enjoy pulling apart accepted words of known philosophers :)

hope you have a great week, thank-you again.

@robolollycop said...

Thanks so much Dianne!

Well, I started off in a day job and that was one of the reasons I ran into a park. To escape from it all.

That said, my life is different now. when I'm in my next regular job I will know my books are out there - rather than sitting, questioning what right I have to turn on auto-pilot before having even earned my licence to fly.

I have that licence now. I earned it by writing and following my path so my brain is more settled, my desperation to not fail myself subsided.

Thanks so much for your kind wishes and thoughts.

Best of luck in all you do too Dianne :)

Marie Gilbert said...

Hi Craig. You sent a tweet to check your site to make sure I wanted to follow you. Not only will I follow you on twitter, but I'll be following your blog as well. You seem to be a fellow vampire slayer in that you don't let the emotional vampires drain your dreams from you. I've started much later in life to follow my dream and the constant "what to do or don'ts" that other writers advise almost made me want to quit.
Almost is the word of the day here, being involved with my nine grandkids has made me learn how to fight for myself.I'm working on a trilogy(paranormal romance and have sent in a short story to a publisher. Check out my site and read Lilith's Escape. This will give you idea of what I like to write about. Nice to meet you.

@robolollycop said...

Hi Marie,

so kind of you to comment, thank you so much for your words.

I think somebody who has a dream has a duty of care to themselves...the beauty of having a dream is it is yours and yours alone.

Because it is yours, nobody else can tell you how to chase it. There are no rules. There are no wrong ways or impossibles.

nice to meet you too and best of luck :)

Marie Gilbert said...

Thank you

judydianne said...

I would say you are Chuck Palahniuk meets Simon Cowell. Hope you are as successful! Going to Amazon from here to buy your book. Good luck. No, you already have it!

Judy Dianne

@robolollycop said...

Wow. Thanks so much Judy!

I hope I am successful too...recently made homeless again. Fortunately I am not in a park now but my girlfriend has let me stay at hers. Bizarrely her flatmate was made redundant the same day I was kicked out of where I was living. The flatmate booked a 5 week trip to Peru, so I have 4 weeks now until something else has to happen.

Never a dull moment; I am truly still believing our dreams are destined to create waking beauty if we just keep reaching for them.

hope you have a great weekend, and thanks again for your comment and in advance for reading any of my books! :)

Bernadette Davies said...

How very inspiring. One has to marvel at your perseverance. Well done you for doing something you love and keeping at it despite the hardships. It will all pay out in the end I am sure. It has to :)

@robolollycop said...

thank you Bernadette - I believe it has to as well. I have been told that Life Knocks has been shortlisted for the 2012 Dundee Book Prize.

I started homeless under a tree with a dream and now I have a one in twelve chance of a million to one chance coming true.

We can become.


Steven Lee Gilbert said...

Great hearing about another self published author who took the plunge to write no matter what. We share other similarities: the muse calling at a young age. Write your own way. Poverty.

Here's to the future!

@robolollycop said...

Thanks Steven -

It's good to be reminded dreams mean more than avoiding fears.

Here's to the future indeed!

*raises soggy cardboard glass*

wonderactivist said...

Craig, I completely relate to the cat problem. Between the dog hair and the kids' mess my home has become sort of a jungle since I started writing again. That mess hangs over me. On any given day, I know in the back of my mind that I should be cleaning this or dusting that. But when I go to my grave I don't want to be remembered for my spotless house. I want my books to speak for me.

@robolollycop said...

Ahmen wonderactivist! I just had a blog interview, and the last question was what advice would I give to other indie writers, I said the following - so you and I totally agree!

"And hey, you might not make it, I might not make it – but don’t be that person that’s on their death bed regretting they never put down that novel in their head or that song in their heart.

How sad to leave this world with regret, when leaving this world without regret is the only gift we get to take with us."

Keep on ignoring the mess ;)

CJ Stone said...

Hello Craig, obsessive writers are people who keep writing regardless. One of the things about writing is that - unlike maths or football, say - it can be done in later life. Thus some writers don't even start writing till middle age. I know. I'm one of them. My first published piece came out when I was forty, and I've been writing ever since. William Golding didn't publish Lord of the Flies till he was in his forties, PD James started writing after she retired, and, my favourite, Laurence Sterne, began his first novel, Tristram Shandy, at the age of fifty five, and spent the rest of his life writing it. George Bernard Shaw, meanwhile kept on writing till he was in his nineties. When asked what the secret of his success was, he said (I may be paraphrasing here) "the ability to keep my arse on my seat." Plenty of time mate. Writing is like a fine wine, or a Stradivarius violin. It matures with age.

@robolollycop said...

Hi CJ!

I wrote most of Life Knocks without a chair, bizarrely - because I broke my chair and couldn't afford a new one. So I wrote it on the floor and before that I wrote Squirrel under a tree.

Writing matures with writing, I think, not necessarily with age. Though the older we get, the more time we have spent writing.

Age isn't necessarily about the number we reach, but about the experiences we go through to reach the number. So in that light some people old can be young, and some young old.

haha, I guess there are no rules - and that's the beauty of writing, and why we keep going back to the chair :)

CJ Stone said...

Malcolm Lowry wrote without a chair too.

No, life matures with life and good writing reflects that. It's not only about an accumulation of writing experience, it's also about an accumulation of life experience skilfully communicated through the writing. At least that's my version of it.

@robolollycop said...

life ages with life; I know immature people in their fifties, and others that are serious before their time.

There are plenty of terrible books penned by people of all ages, young and old - and plenty of great works too.

The art of skilful communication comes not from age, but from hours spent communicating. A 30 year old that has spent 5,000 hours writing will be a better writer than a 40 year old starting their first book. Generally speaking - because there are always exceptions.

Sometimes writing reflects who we are, and where we are, other times writing reflects the simple beauty of words on a page, and therefore writing can exist beyond the restrictions of age and maturity. Other times the words become arbitrary to how the reader interprets them.

And then there are those times words transcend the page and the reader, and old words can fall into young minds and young words fall into old.

I'd like you to read Life Knocks CJ, and forget my age whilst you do - then tell me how old you thought the person who wrote it was. Really, I'd be most interested.

I think Life Knocks is beyond my age, but then Squirrel is something that reads like it's been written by someone in their early twenties!

I wrote the two in a different voice, in Life Knocks I used an older voice because it's a book that tackles more serious themes.

Words don't have an age, the black ink on the page never turns grey, perhaps another reason we all like to cuddle up to them - regardless of where we are in our life.

Thanks CJ - interesting and thought provoking comments.

PS Malcolm wrote without a chair - haha, he understands the pain! :)

Leah Griffith said...

Reading this interview has inspired me to continue forward on the road I'm on. I've just published my first novel, Cosette's Tribe, and I'm damn proud of it. I'm doing what I love, although, like you, my bank account is on life support and I may need to get a day job. We'll see.
Looking forward to reading your books and somehow helping to support a real writer.
My Best,

Anonymous said...

Hi Craig,
I'm off to buy your books for my daughter's birthday. They sound quite good!

@robolollycop said...

Hi Leah -

Too right you should be proud of your novel; better a bank account with nothing in it because you chose to live your life to the full, than have a full bank account because you lived someone else's.

Thanks in advance if you do read any of my work and best of luck with everything that comes from your writing!

@robolollycop said...

hello anonymous,

thanks so much for taking a look - truly kind of you.

Anonymous said...

Craig, you are my new hero. You, and Arthur Wellesley, because I've always had a thing for guys in uniform--and he really looks confident in his. But I haven't had one since him, so you can see I'm really picky.

Carolyn said...

Craig, I love this interview, your books sound really interesting and I love that you walked on your jobs to fulfill the real you! I just stepped out of my job too, and am writing big time! Sometimes you have to walk away to walk into something wonderful! Good luck to you and I am looking forward to reading your books! Following you on Twitter, glad you showed me this page- very cool!

@robolollycop said...

ha, thanks Peak - Imagine superman but without any powers, in jeans, in a park with a beard. Often found staring blankly at bread. That's me. Who needs superman?

thank you Carolyn! - absolutely; we have to walk out of the room we are put in to understand we are in a building to discover the outside world.

Good luck with your journey too! :)

Sharon Hamilton said...

I'm going to echo Carolyn, and you demonstrated part of your success. Very smart to direct followers to this page. I'm stealing...

So affirming to hear these tales, especially when we Indies are in the dark, alone, writing, and there are no cheerleaders or media book tours. I'm buying your books as a show of my support, and eventually will read them. Thanks for sharing.

@robolollycop said...

thank you so much Sharon and my pleasure.

I started out with the usual "please buy my book tweet" which over time evolved to showing people this page about me. I seem to offend less people now, though I could never truly grasp why sharing information was offensive in the fist place. Some would send me a message of hate and then block me before I could even explain...which I always thought rather close minded.

If I make it as a writer, I will be able to tell anyone that asks I did it by giving up everything I had. Then the only question is how much do you really want it?

Of course if all fails you will find me in a bin; with my pants over my head singing songs about U boats firing missiles into libraries.

I honestly think we live in a world where we can be whatever we want to be.

Either that, or I've watched too many Disney films...

PS It's not possible to watch 'too' many Disney films ;)

Anonymous said...

Great interview!!! Thank you for the insight into who you are. :)

Aron Joice said...

Thank you for sharing and helping me realize maybe I'm not crazy afterall. You made me realize sticking to my guns is necessary. You sir are already a success, I think your ride is going to be great!

markbeyer said...

Very thoughtful answers to quality questions. The sunset of the publishing houses shall take many years, but the dawn of the indie authors' being noticed is well upon us. And I completely agree with you about agents; they are scared and don't have a clue how to "stop" what is, effectively, the end of their business.

Congratulations, Craig. Much success with the prequel.

@robolollycop said...

Thanks for reading Fayth! :)

Aron - you're not crazy; success is knowing you gave your dream a shot with your eyes open and your guns stuck to your face.

Nobody should give up on their self, those that do find themselves shouting at children and sneering at people in love.

Mark - yes, good point - my answers are only as good as the questions asked. Thanks for the luck, I need it!

tft said...

You're right, the people who agents are looking for and publishing houses are publishing are, by and large, people with degrees in creative writing programs, masters of fine arts, creative writing teachers....etc. To be honest, even the 'indie' publishers are guilty of perpetuating this type of glass bubble author. I have wondered, 'where are the stories of real people leading real lives", like Ernest Hemingway fishing off of Cuba and then writing "Old Man and the Sea, or working as a journalist in Spain and then writing "For Whom the Bell Tolls". Self-publishing is letting the genuine writers back into the limelight, the ones who have a story to tell. People like Craig who have lived their story and have the talent to tell it. Self-publishing is taking literary power back from the literati glitterati in black turtlenecks and avant-garde glasses in London and New York. Good luck Craig, I think we're going to do it, I think we've got a revolution on our hands.

@robolollycop said...

thank you tft.

viva la rloveution!


@robolollycop said...

Hello everyone,

UPDATE: Life Knocks made it into the final 12 of the Dundee Book Prize, but, I have recently been informed Life Knocks failed to make it into the final 3.

I'm not sure where I go from here, or what happens next, I will keep plugging away of course.

I was close!

If anyone reading this wants to download Life Knocks and review it on Amazon that would be a great help, despite the shortlisting I still only have a handful of reviews - the few that have read it speak highly of the material.

Thanks again everyone who has commented, and thanks to Indie Author News and Alan for giving me the space here to respond to other writers in a similar position.

One of us has to make it!

Arlee Bird said...

Outstanding interview. The books sound quite unique. I wish you great success.

Tossing It Out

Book Readers Storytell said...

I admire your faith!!! May you be Bless and reach more of your dreams.

vinnie said...

I too respect your dedication. It's a tough world out there for indie writers!

Judy Thompson said...

this is what marie gilbert wrote:
Hi Craig. You sent a tweet to check your site to make sure I wanted to follow you. Not only will I follow you on twitter, but I'll be following your blog as well.
this is what I wrote: DITTO.

@robolollycop said...

Hello Lee - thank you for your kind wishes.

Thank you for your blessings Book Readers - I hope they help me reach my dreams.

Hello Judy - thank you, I appreciate your support. I don't have a blog though - this blog is Alan Kealey's - us Indie Authors are lucky to have him ;)

Unknown said...

Realy inspirational, to knock against the 'norm' is always hard as life has a nasty habit of throwing obsticals to make you conform. People think your crazy to follow your dreams & do your own thing, but to not go along with what makes you tick, decays the very existance of the mind we were all born with. I too have spent a lifetime trying to "do the right thing" before realising I had forgotton what makes me tick, but now I have my first book with amazon, a second one to follow plus a spin off of the first & a poetry compilation on the go, along with the nightmare of trying to market & promote. I wish you luck, & continue being YOU, talent like yours cannot be ignored.

@robolollycop said...

Thanks Susan.

I'm beginning to think Life is the obstacle that makes us conform.

Congratulations on your books and good luck with them.

I shall keep being me.

I'm the only person I know how to be, and sometimes I even get that wrong.

Thanks again! :)

@robolollycop said...

Hello all,

should any writers or readers have read down this far, my first book mentioned in this interview "The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness" is now free on Amazon for the next 5 days. No refunds!

My second book, Life Knocks, is now available for the same price as a poorly constructed sandwich. That's £1.99 in England, and $2.99 is America.

Please follow the links in the interview above if anything on this page has interested you enough to read my material.

Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely remarkable, man!
Love your style. Funny as.
I just went to Amazon to buy your books and realised the The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness is free. I was a bit disappointed - I wanted to pay for it. Then I read your post from the 12th saying it's free. I love consistency! Oh, well. I'll have to write a review for it instead. ;) I'll just move it higher up the queue of still-to-reads I have piling up so it won't take months to get round to it.
I believe your assessment of the industry is spot on, too. Power to the author. I've often felt too, that the agents and publishers are the ones who should be worried. Wasn't quite sure as I'm not familiar enough with the industry yet but this adds a lot of weight.
Oh I wish I could walk out of my job and do this full time, too. Wife and kids might be upset about the bank kicking us out of (still) their house, though.
Good luck with everything. :)

Unknown said...

I understand the sentiment of wishing I could just drop everything and focus my time on writing but taking care of my kids and grandson would become a more difficult challenge than it currently is.

I'll definitely be checking out your books and thanks for getting in touch. Your interview was very engaging; I didn't know what I'd read next. :)

@robolollycop said...

Hi Richard!

Writing is all about consistency, very much like making custard.

Thank you in advance for taking a look at my books, any reviews are always welcome, even bad ones!

thanks again, I need some luck!

@robolollycop said...

Hi Norma.

Hope you enjoy the reads - when I walked out on everything I had nothing, in terms of girlfriend, kids etc...so it was easy(ish) for me...not sure I would have taken children with me to live under a tree! haha.

Thank you Norma!

Billy Ray Chitwood said...

@Robolollycop - Guess it's okay for me to jump in here and let you know I'm staying a while longer in the van. Will likely get around to "The Squirrel Who Dreamt Of Madness" and "Life Rocks" but wanted first to tell you I like your style and grit. I'm an older fellow with family roots in Chetwode, England, just north of London - lovely, quaint, rural. Living now on the Sea of Cortez with wife, Julie, and a Bengal cat named George. My books are previewed on my new website/blog: www.billyraychitwood.weebly.com
Check me out - I've got room in the van!

This is in response to your 'direct message' to me on twitter (@brchitwood).

Best wishes in all you do.

Billy Ray Chitwood

Anonymous said...

Terrific interview, Craig. Would like to buy the Squirrel book. Don't own a reader, though. Any chance it might come out in paper? ––Kirk Alex

@robolollycop said...

Hi Billy Ray,

Sounds like you have a far better cat than the fat deadly one that thought my face was its bed. And slept with its claws out. In my eyeballs. I will take a look at your website and thanks for reading the interview!

All the best :)

@robolollycop said...

Hi Kirk Alex,

Thanks for reading and for commenting.

You can buy Squirrel on paperback, here's the link:


Thanks again mate, appreciated!

trampemporium said...

Hello, Craig! My name is Christian and to me is an honor to have you among my followers - thank you very much! I read your interview on Indie Author and I tell you that I really admire you. I am on the road since 2 years, but soon I'll stop somewhere, open a bank account and publish my eBook about my travel hitchhiking in the tundra (at the moment, I'm correcting it). And soon, I'll also buy your ebook - what I've read, I loved it!
See you, Craig!

@robolollycop said...

Hi Christian!

Thanks for your kind words mate, your books sounds interesting. Hitchhiking has to throw up some hilarious stories! I hitchhiked around Hawaii for a day once, and I was picked up by a drunk cage fighter who took me to a bar. He was getting smashed because he wasn't allowed to see his son. True story - ended up having this massive bloke crying on my shoulder.

It's a funny world! :)

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