Joining us today for an author interview is Neil Bursnoll! He has agreed to talk about his writing process, new book, experiences in self-publishing and a little bit about his character.I don’t often read books in this mixed genre, but I was intrigued by the thought and story that Neil has created.
What inspired you to want to write this particular story?
I’d just finished the first book in the series and still had plenty to tell. I dived right into it as soon as the first was ready to be published.
It is an exciting book as it spans an array of genres – what caused you to take that route?
I wasn’t aiming for one particular genre, I just wanted to write about things that I enjoy. The paranormal is a huge influence on me, and it wasn’t until I’d published Augustus Baltazar that I heard of urban fantasy. So a bit of it applies to that genre, but also some to paranormal thriller, and there are even bits of horror and mystery in there. It really is a mixed bag.
Could you give us a rough rundown of your story?
It continues directly on from events in Augustus Baltazar. The protagonist, Stu, is unexpectedly sick following his last battle, and it’s a real struggle for him to accept his place in the world and what he needs to do to keep ticking. I tried to stick to a theme, and as the book is called The Scar That Bleeds, all of the main characters have these old wounds and desires that they can’t stop from weeping. So it’s not necessarily just about Stu’s scar, which is an important part of who is he, it’s about everyone’s scars.
What do you admire most about your main character and how are they like you?
I admire his tenacity and will to get the job done, no matter what. There’s a little of me in there, but maybe more the darker aspects of the human mind than just me in particular. He’s also got a cool superpower, which would be useful to have in real life. His relationship with best friend Mike is based on a friendship I had many years ago, so that was helpful to draw upon to build on their rapport.
How long have you been writing, from childhood or recently?
I’ve been writing since primary school, so probably from the age of 5 or 6. I’ve always loved to write, I just never had the confidence to put it out there for fear of it constantly being rejected. The feedback from my first book has been fantastic, and it’s helped me push myself to write more now that the first hurdle has been vaulted.
Was this story planned from beginning to end or did it throw some interesting plot twists at you?
I originally envisioned the series as a lot of short stories spread across two ‘seasons’. The first book contains the majority of ‘season 1’, and book two contains discarded elements from ‘season 1’ and bits of ‘season 2’. I had the idea of what was going to happen from start to finish, and it was just about filling in a few gaps to make it flow correctly. It has changed a bit as I’ve written it, primarily to keep in line with where I was heading.
What is your writing process like? Could you explain a normal writing day to us?
I tend to just get stuck in. I have a list of ideas that I want to incorporate into a chapter, and work from that. Usually I get through a lot and expand on the initial ideas I had, whereas other times I can’t write as much, and just bulk it up at a later point. There’s usually tons of ideas I get later on to help certain bits that I go back and deploy – usually they help reinforce something I write about later on, or tease upcoming events.
Do you outline your work or just let the story flow where it may?
I try to outline the main crux of what I want to get in. It doesn’t always work though, as I may change my mind or find that an idea doesn’t fit anymore.
How did you find the publishing process?
A friend who has supported my writing for years works for an independent publisher, and he helped to get my debut novel out there. I’m self-publishing the rest of my books, but the hardest part I’m finding is marketing and self-promotion. It’s just about getting my name out there first and hoping that people enjoy my work enough to keep coming back.
Do you find self-publishing a pleasant and viable option with more freedom or would you like an agent in the future? What are the pros and cons for you?
It’s nice being in control of what I’m doing. In that same sense though, there is a margin for error that an agent or editor may pick up on. There are pros and cons for both – I would love to have a massive marketing budget behind me to drive sales, but then I might get less per book sale than if I managed the publishing aspect myself. If an agent does come knocking then I’ll weigh up my options as to whether it’s a good deal or not.
Do you have any ‘writing rituals’ that you follow such as coffee in a specific mug or wearing a special hat?
None whatsoever. I write when I can and do what I can, providing I don’t get interrupted. I do like to listen to music as it helps me concentrate, but it’s not a necessity.
What authors have inspired you?
I haven’t read a great deal over the years – however I read the first two books in A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin in 2012. It made me start writing with a scene/character per chapter, but I then realised my chapters weren’t long enough to accommodate this, so I abandoned it in the editing phase for Bleeds!
Which book do you think every library should contain?
All of mine, of course.
What inspires you, what or whom is your muse?
I get random ideas through doing my usual things and visiting my usual places. It all depends on where my mind is at that particular moment. I sometimes get inspiration from a snippet of a TV show or news report that snowballs as the idea builds.
Does writing run in the family or are you the first author to pursue storytelling?
I believe I have a great aunt who published a book, but I’m not sure when or what it was about. I also have an ancestor that worked for a UK newspaper. Apart from that, I am the first that I know of.
What is the main theme or moral of your book that you are trying to get across to audiences?
I try to stick to the darker themes of humanity, and that not everyone is perfect or easy to get on with. I don’t like to conform to the idea of a typical good guy that always wins. I want to mix it up and do something different – one of my traits is to try and not write clichéd dialogue or phrases, as I hear them so often.
Where is your book available and are you currently working on another project?
Augustus Baltazar is available at a raft of online bookshops, namely Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore etc. The Scar That Bleeds will be published via Draft2Digital, so wherever they can push the book online. Both are also available as paperbacks. My next book is going to be a YA horror novel as a result of NaNoWriMo. I also have a kids dinosaur picture book on the way. I’m donating part of the profits to the Chiltern and Thames Valley Air Ambulance service, which is a vital commodity in my local area.
What advice can you give to up and coming authors?
Keep persevering. If you have a story to tell, just keep going. Whether it takes six months or six years, it’s an incredible feeling when it’s out there. Finding out that people you don’t even know have enjoyed what you’ve written is also very reassuring.
Thanks Neil and best of luck!