Stuart Yates has returned for his second interview with me. You can find the first one here. Now, I always find time for the thoughts of Stuart Yates. I like the way he writes and he deserves the title of “A Writer’s Writer”. What is a writer’s writer? Well, like a singer’s singer– it’s someone who rarely scores a huge hit book– but is a writer who is respected around the world as a guy who is leading the way. Stuart Yates embodies the spirit of a writer’s writer and with many books on general release, he is just waiting for the public at large to notice him. I present Stuart Yates to you again in a new light.
Q) Welcome back, Stuart! So how’s the new book coming along?
A) Road Kill? The rewrite has been completed and sent off to the publisher. I am now working on another, with WHIPPED UP waiting in the wings for its final redrafting.
Q) How do you get published so easily? You make it seem so simple. I’m sure a lot of readers would love to know the secret.
A) Well…I have been published by five publishers, and this spring one of those publishers went out of business, unfortunately; but I guess I have something they all like. It’s just a pity that none of them are Transworld or Harper Collins but a sixth publisher is publishing a book of mine in the spring.
Q) It must get confusing when you receive those royalty cheques. How do you keep track of them all?
A) Royalty cheques? I never worry about them. I just like to hear my publishers say the books are good, the people who read them say they are good, but I never worry about those royalty cheques. I never promote unless I have to. I have over 450 ‘friends’ on FB.
Q) I get a lot of readers who ask about advances. As a well-proven and tested author do you get advances on your work?
A) No! I wish!!! If I got advances I’d go part-time at work, and make writing my main occupation.
Q) Has a publisher ever promised to take your sales from middling hundreds to crazy thousands with one book?
A) No, none of them do very much at all. The one I have signed with for spring seems the most promising. They advertise books in trade magazines, acquire reviewers, all of that. The publisher for Burnt Offerings is ok, but it is only a part-time thing for him. He is good, gets books out in paperback and E-pubs very fast, and he takes those risks, but not much in the way of marketing. But the others? Nada.
Q) So what are your thoughts on self publishing?
A) When I began writing seriously, all those years ago, even then there was one rule that would-be writers were ´told´ to adhere to–do not pay to get your work published. I suppose that has always been my guide. Then, in 2009 after I was totally ripped off, and I was so depressed, when another publisher said they would publish my book, but that it would cost £199, I said YES.
Some of my fellow authors were outraged. Not at me personally, but that such publishers could do that. Vanity Publishing. And no serious author would touch them with a barge pole.
Well, I learned my lesson. I do not pay anything now. BUT, times have changed. The past year has seen an explosion as far as self-publishing is concerned, and many people have taken advantage. The Kindle platform has opened up the sort of possibilities that could not even have been dreamed of when I began. But, with it has come a deep concern. One, to do with quality. And two, that people are being lured into getting their name into print and are being asked to pay for the privilege.
It is seen as a ´money-making´opportunity, and the old ideals of craft and art, of creativity, are being side-lined by this idea of it being a business, a means to make money. That upsets me.
I don´t write to make money. It would be nice, but my raison d´etre is to create. I will continue to do so. Perhaps that is the real reason why my sales are so low. All this marketting malarky, it doesn´t sit comfortably with me. Publicity is essential, of course, but…the reason I do what I do is because I cannot help it. I am creative. I create. End of.
Q) You live in Spain now, am I right? Why did you leave England?
A) Yes, I live in Spain now and it was for my job. I’m a teacher and wanted a bit of a change. I looked at France first, then a job came up in Spain. I thought I would come here for a year, then go back, but the time simply flew by. I’ve been here five years now.
Q) How many books have you written whilst you’ve been in Spain?
A) Funnily enough, my first published books came out whilst I was here. Although only two of my fourteen published novels are set in Spain, it was quite an inspirational place…was, and is I suppose. Although my latest books are not set in Spain. Road Kill and Whipped Up are set in the UK, and Minus Life, the one I am currently working on, is set in a future UK.
Q) Yet, I sense you think about England a lot from the subject matter of your latest book “Road Kill” which is set on Bodmin Moor.
A) Yes, very much so. England is home. It’s where I grew up, and it will always be more of a home than Spain ever will. I’d still like to live in France, though.
Q) What do you miss about England? Do you romantically reminisce about our homeland? I always find myself doing that when I’m abroad.
A) YES! Dear old Blighty! I have been very fortunate to work in a profession that gives me the opportunity to live and work in different places. I loved them all. Especially Suffolk, I have to say. I made some good friends there. I went back to Merseyside last summer, to see my daughter. Met up with my old friends. I didn’t want to leave!!! It’s true, you never appreciate something until it is gone…
Q) So of all the books you’ve written, which is your favourite?
A) That, Nick, is an interesting question– not hard to answer as such, but because they all mean so much to me. Perhaps Death’s Dark Design if I could pick one of my books as a hit that would be number one, I think. However, I still don’t think I have written my best one! Each book I write is simply another stepping stone to reaching that.
Q) Do you believe you are still growing as an artist?
A) Definitely! With everything I write, I am becoming increasingly more self-critical, analytical. I have always been something of a perfectionist…I was very impatient at first, but I am getting better and I now want to do the best I can…but I still write fast.
Q) Do you think a writer needs to care about punctuation, or is that an editor’s job?
A) Absolutely it is the job of the writer! A writer should be proficient at punctuation and grammar, but that comes with practise. The best way to get punctuation right is to read it back to yourself OUT LOUD. You have to get the pacing right.
Q) Do you teach English?
No! History with a little bit of geography and ICT (Information Computer Technology). I would say history, however, is very closely linked to English. It requires a high degree of writing ability. Don’t forget, there is a STORY in history…listen to Simon Schama and you’ll see how true that is.
Q) I’m a history nut myself. I wanted to study history at university. Didn’t get there though.
A) Ah…I love history. It is my passion, and has been since I was a little boy. My key interest is military history. At school I teach medieval history which I love– also the time periods of the Tudors and Stuarts.
Q) So tell me, how did you get into writing horror?
A) I read Dracula when I was thirteen. I loved every second of it.
Q) What grabbed you about the book?
A) It’s sense of atmosphere, period, its brewing sensuality…but mainly its total originality. What a story! To bring together those disparate myths, legends, and realities into one vision– tremendous.
Q) Tell me about a catalyst that changed your life?
A) I watched Genesis back in 1980 and I realised something– all those dreams I had back in the late ’70s of being an author I hadn’t realised yet. I saw them again in 2007, at fifty years of age, and I still hadn’t done it, so I decided there and then I was going to write and write and write until I was published. I did and I’ve never stopped! I plan to get out at least four if not five books a year.
I’ve got a lot of catching up to do and time does not wait for any man or woman in this world.
Q) True, it doesn’t. I personally think you will get a hit eventually and it will come as a surprise.
A) I hope so! Then I can give up teaching, buy a little farm house in Burgundy, and put out ten a year instead !!!
Q) Getting back to your latest book– how do you feel about it?
A) ROAD KILL? I love it even though I changed the ending at the eleventh hour. Funnily enough, I’ve just released a book called INTERLOPERS FROM HELL. That’s an exclusive for your blog, Nick! I’ve been saving that one just for you!
Q) Thank you, Stuart! So how would you sum up Road Kill in two sentences?
A) A tale of violence and terror, of one man’s fall into insanity, and another’s loss of himself. Both meet, but only one survives the clutches of the beast.
Q) You personally saw the beast you write about in Road Kill, right?
A) Yes, I did when I was coming home from Bodmin. Across the moor, as black as night it was…. and that tail… it was the tail that did it. I had had a drink free night, before you ask, spending a pleasant evening wargaming with my good friends and so my mind was clear. It was terrifying and the Beast closes my book which is only fitting.
Q) Well, I think we will have to stop there for the time being. I can’t wait until our next interview. Thanks, Stuart– it’s been a pleasure again.
So there you have another interview with a man destined to be read around the world. Road Kill will be available soon. I hope you check it out. I am going to make sure I get a copy. Be sure to visit Stuart’s website, also.
What a refreshing, unpretentious interview. Thank you – lots to digest here.
It’s nice to see that other authors really are human, living real lives along with the writing. so many try to portray themselves as something unique and different. Whilst every individual is unique in what they have to say, few of us are so separated from the crowd as to be that different. thus humanises writing and gives us all hope.