It's a Wonderful Life…

…isn't it…?

Interviewing Sarah Lillie July 5, 2012

A Musical Benefit in aid of Breast Cancer Care

Hi Sarah! I’m so excited to see you perform live at New to This Solar System tomorrow night; thanks so much for finding the time to answer my questions

Q. Tell me, how did you get started?

A. Guitarist Ben Hood and I met at Southampton University and have been performing together with drummer Rob Austen since we graduated last July. For the Sevenoaks Festival, Ben and I will be performing as a duo.

Q. So, what you do for your day job?

A.  I live in East London and work as a professional singer. Aside from Ben’s solo work, he also works as a professional songwriter, singer and teacher.

Q. And, how did you get into music?

A.My Dad, Grandparents and Mum were all music lovers, so my sisters and I played music and sang from an early age. Ben has been a songwriter for many years; since watching blues-guitar band Divided by Three with his Mum in concert.

Q. Aside from the love of music, do you have any other creative outlets?

A. We both love cooking, Ben makes incredible paella and I bake most days. I love my knitting, painting and writing too.

Q. Do you have any particular musical inspiration?

A. We’re both big fans of Elbow; their music, lyrics and production are all incredible. I listen to a lot of the female jazz singers including Ella Fitzgerald and Julie London and am greatly influenced by music and instruments from China, India and Africa.

Q.   So, what’s your mission for your music?

A. I’d love to travel with my music, and learn to play more instruments and techniques from different cultures.

Q. Is there anyone in particular that has inspired you or given you great advice to get where you wanted to be?

A. I met an incredible musician called Rob Greenfield at my secondary school who encouraged my singing and song-writing, he will always be a musical inspiration to me.

Q.   Tell me a bit about your history as an artist?

A. I’ve led several acts and bands since school. Then, at University I began performing with Ben, we’ve been gigging, writing and recording together since. We play with friend and drummer Rob Austen and have begun rehearsals with bass player James Williams. We’ll be performing with cellists, a keyboard player and percussionist for some of the upcoming Summer gigs.

Ben joined a band at University and, since graduating, began performing his own material with them. He’s now recording his debut solo album with the same group of musicians.

Q. Are there any especially memorable gigs you have played?

A.Selling out Ronnie Scott’s Bar and the Jazz Club Soho earlier this year with Ben and Rob are two incredible gigs we’ll never forget. One of my most memorable performances however, was a spontaneous, wine-fuelled jazz gig in the crammed cellar of a piano bar in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The owner of Aux Trois Mailletz  invited me to sing with the world-famous house band, it was brilliant.

Q. Do you have any future developments my readers might like to know about?

A.We’re performing at a new festival in Benenden on 10th August called Jack’s Festival, and again at Local and Live Music Festival at The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells over the August Bank Holiday. We’re in the process of recording for release later this year. Ben’s also been recording his solo album ready for Autumn 2012.

Q.How did you end up involved in New to This Solar System and fundraising for Breast Cancer Care?

A.We met Steph when lead singer of The Find, Jay, invited us to perform for Breast Cancer Care earlier this year. It was a wonderful gig for a brilliant campaign.

This is the first time we’ve been involved in the Sevenoaks Festival so we’re really excited to be performing this year.

And I’m sure everyone is really looking forward to seeing, what is sure to be, a stellar performance tomorrow night at Sevenoaks School for the Breast Cancer Care Benefit Concert. It’s been lovely getting to know Sarah Lillie and I wish you all the best for tomorrow evening.

To all those that are thinking of attending, tickets are available on the door and you are guaranteed to have an amazing night of music whilst raising funds for a very worthwhile cause. I look forward to seeing some of you there!

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Interviewing Amy Coulshaw July 3, 2012

As those of you who read my blog regularly will know, I have been interviewing the performers listed for the New to This Solar System concert at Sevenoaks School this Friday. Today, you can read my interview with Amy Coulshaw.

Hiya, Amy, thanks very much for giving up your time to answer my questions: I know you are extremely busy at the moment but it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to get to know you before the Breast Cancer Care Benefit concert.

Q. So, I would love to hear a bit about your background and how you got into music?

A. I live in Kent after moving up from Devon three years ago following a mixed bag of destinations growing up: spending the majority of my childhood in Brunei. It was here that I first started training classically as a singer at the age of six.  Having spent several years working professionally as a performer and singing teacher I have since begun a career in childcare which I love but I still take any opportunity I can to help out at charity events with my music!! I have always had an incredible passion for music, especially singing and have done since I was a toddler. I could barely speak but always managed to sing nursery songs!  This passion is even stronger today and I spend a lot of my spare time playing the piano, singing and writing songs.

Q. Is there any one in particular that has inspired you to keep singing?

A. My family have been the inspiration behind my music as, if it wasn’t for their love and support and belief in me, then I wouldn’t have been given some of the amazing opportunities that I have been lucky enough to have.

Q. So, having spent most of your life as a songstress, are there any particular stand out events that you have been asked to perform at; or anyone you have worked with that has been memorable?

A. I have been lucky enough to perform at some incredible events; the most recent being a spring ball at the Honorary Artillery Company house in London in aid of Help for Heroes. In terms of working with someone; as a classical singer, a real highlight for me was when I was given the opportunity to have a master class with Benjamin Luxon and perform with him!

Q. How did you end up involved in New to This Solar System and fundraising for Breast Cancer Care?

A. After moving up from Devon, I initially got a job working in Fatface in Sevenoaks which is where I first met Steph [for those of you that haven’t yet read my previous posts, Steph is the organiser of the Breast Cancer Care event that Amy will be performing at this Friday]. Steph is an inspiration for all women who suffer with breast cancer and is the reason I support and care about such an important and incredible charity. Steph soon found out that I was a singer and straight away put her faith in me asking me to perform at the annual BCC event, even though she hadn’t heard me sing (I did point out that I might be awful but she still went ahead anyway even asking me to do it the following year!) It’s because of these events that Steph asked me to perform at New to this Solar System, which I am honoured to do.

Amy, it’s been a real pleasure getting to know you and I’m very much looking forward to seeing you in action this Friday. Thanks again for your time. I hope some of my readers will come along and lend their support to your cause.

 

Interviewing Dan Clews July 1, 2012

Once again, lovely readers, I have a fantastic blog guest for you! I interviewed Dan Clews to give you all an insight into the artist before he performs at the New to This Solar System event next Friday.  Dan is donating his time and his musical talent to help raise funds for Breast Cancer Care at the Sevenoaks Music Festival event. For anyone that wants to see Dan (or any of my other New to This Solar System guests) in action; I’ve been told there are still tickets available.

Dan tells me that his day job, fortunately, largely revolves around: playing music, teaching music and recording music. He also mentions that he sells the odd Christmas tree [I, for one, will be asking him more about this on the night]. Dan has always been surrounded by music as his father is also a musician and he tells me it was a natural progression for him to follow that path too. When I ask if he has any other creative outlets, Dan tells me that he has a huge interest in music videos.

Q. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Dan! So, tell us, who are your musical inspirations?

A. Paul Simon, Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan did I mention Paul Simon?

Q. What is your mission as an artist?

A. To play music that makes people feel like they’re not alone.

Q. Have you had any set backs in getting where you wanted to be?

A. Always, it’s not for the faint hearted, but I love what I do.

Q. Is there anyone in particular that inspires you or gives you great advice to get where you want to be?

A. My wife and my son – always.

Q.  Are there any especially memorable gigs you have played?

A. I’ve done Local & Live in Tunbridge Wells and I also played on the Arctic Circle once.

Q. Have you played at any particularly outstanding venues?

A. Definitely: playing at the Hammersmith Apollo and the Shepherd’s Bush Empire were real highligh

ts for me.

Q. I’m sure my readers would love to know about someone amazing you have performed with?

A. I recently played a duet with Tim Minchin in front on 5,500 people! That was pretty amazing!

Q. Do you have any future developments my readers might like to know about?

A. Well, there’s the Secret Garden Party on the 21st of July, Local and Live 2012 on the 25th of August, Over The Moon Festival on the 16th of September. Plus, as of recently, people can also find me on iTunes!!

Q. How did you end up involved in New to This Solar System and fundraising for Breast Cancer Care?

A. I believe Cancer is personal to everyone: I don’t know any adult that’s not been affected by it in some way. I met Steph at one of my gigs and we got chatting about her events. I’ve lived in Sevenoaks most of my life

Thanks, again, Dan for taking the time to answer my questions: I’m sure my readers are now all looking forward to seeing you in action at New to This Solar System on the 6thJuly – and so am I!

 

Interviewing Jay from The Find June 27, 2012

A Musical Benefit in aid of Breast Cancer Care

I really do get the best interviews: it’s true. Today’s was conducted in a lovely quaint village pub beer garden in glorious sunshine! Now, I wasn’t really there for the atmosphere: I was there to meet a very interesting person – only one of the members of the band that opened on the day His Royalness – PRINCE performed at the Hop Farm Festival last summer! So, how did it come to be that I was sat in a pub beer garden chatting to Jay about where his band had been and where it was going? Well, following my interview with Steph [see previous post: What on Earth IS New to This Solar System?] we thought it would be a grand idea to give you all the opportunity to get to know the acts that will kindly be donating their time and talent to the event in aid of Breast Cancer Care.

It turns out that Jay actually works full time for his own Digital Recruitment agency, whilst also writing music for the band (and supporting many a charity with their appearances) PLUS having a little blonde cherub in tow (who merrily rides round and round on her scooter while we chat) AND being 12 weeks away from being a second time Dad (something he is clearly very proud about) so he’s a busy chap indeed. Jay tells me how he and his partner decided to move away from the hustle and bustle of London life to raise their family and despite having lived in the area for just four years every single person that passes by the pub garden says hello to jay . He explains this by saying “music really reaches out to people”.

Q. So, whats’s the story behind The Find? How did you come up with the name? How did you meet? What has been the mission driving the band forward?

A. Well, we got together about two years ago and had spent about a year trying to come up with a name that really fit with the band’s image. A friend of mine happened to comment that we were “such a good find – you should easily be able to come up with a name” and it was pretty much settled then that we were The Find. We believe a band’s name is so important as it’s how people follow what you do: I mean, Elbow is a pretty obscure name for a band – but they are also one of my favourite bands.

How did we meet? Well, a good friend of mine (whose uncle happened to be in the Hollies) invited us down to the studio for a session: the person we had lined up as our drummer fell through but, as it turned out, that was our gain as it just so happened that the sound technician was a drummer himself *enter Adam* and Chris we advertised for in the Lonely Hearts column [chuckles here], okay I’m kidding, but we did advertise for him. Alex is a very good, old friend and happens to be a bit of a legend! Its great working with people that really challenge you: the guys are always pushing me to sing in a key I wouldn’t have gone for but they can just get such confidence out of me. I’m always pretty nervous when it comes to entering the studio: especially when I’ve just written something new but they support me straight away. They genuinely are such great musicians and friends to work with.

We totally believe that music brings people together so we’ve performed a lot of gigs in aid of charitable causes including: Shooting Stars, Childline, and Breast Cancer Care [the band spent last weekend performing at a festival in aid of stopping violence]. There is always such a great energy at a charity gig. [As we’re chatting about this, the Landlord of the pub comes over and asks Jay what he thinks of his new pub furniture and to ask him if he would perform at the pub sometime soon. Jay immediately suggests that they arrange something that will also raise funds to support a local charity.]

Q. So, any highlights of the band’s performances so far? Most outstanding gigs played?

A.  Outside of The Find’s achievements I have to say that it was a massive opportunity for me to play at the O2 with my previous band. Plus I’ve also toured with TAKE. THAT. Amazingly, last year, The Hop Farm Festival organisers actually asked us to perform. It then turned out that they wanted us to open on the day that Prince performed! We’re playing at this year’s Cornbury Festival too!

Q. Does the band have any future developments such as gigs, new music releases or press features they would like readers to know about?

A. Well, the band’s goal has always been to get one of our own songs into the soundtrack of a film. And we’ve just gone and achieved that goal! Our song L.A. will be featuring on the soundtrack of a film called Welcome to the Punch, produced by Ridley Scott and written and directed by my good friend Eran Creevy. The film is being released later this year: so watch this space! This summer we will be launching our EP, independently of a record label. We’ll be going on a mini tour to reach a wider audience and will be looking for great support slots: this EP is a massive achievement for the band. We’ll be visiting festivals and handing out our badges and our cards: we’ve been really lucky with the amount of support we have received so far. Our next step is to shoot a music video. We do have such a great local network though that we’re keen to launch everything from here.

Q. So, how did The Find end up involved in New to This Solar System and fundraising for Breast Cancer Care?

A. We did an event at The Stag Theatre in Sevenoaks where we met Steph who we I got chatting with. We later did an event at St Cleres Estate that raised £3,500 and so now we’re performing at the New to This Solar System event. My dear friend Anne has suffered with Breast Cancer so raising awareness for Breast Cancer Care is very important to the band.

Thank you so much, Jay, for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to answer some of my questions and I really look forward to seeing The Find in action on the 6th July at Sevenoaks School!

If you would like to witness The Find in action you can get your ticket for just £10!

The Find features:

Jay Scott – Vocals, Guitar,

Chris Lukins –  Keys, Guitar, backing Vocals

Adam Smyth – Drums, Backing Vocals

Alex Kennard – Guitars

 

What on Earth IS New To This Solar System? June 17, 2012

A Musical Benefit in aid of Breast Cancer Care

As many of you will recall I covered an event in aid of Breast Cancer Care a short while ago: kicking off my coverage by interviewing the amazing lady organising it all. I have been asked again to cover Steph’s fundraising activities and am kicking off again with an interview with the lady herself.

Hello again Steph, thanks so much for finding the time to share with my readers again what you have been up to, we had a great response last time.

Q. What have you been up to since we last met about your In Conversation With.. . event?

A. Quite a lot actually. We did the Pink Ribbon walk at Blenheim Place which raised around £1500. This was a fantastic event: I even got to meet Denise Lewis and have my picture taken with her! The event was so well organised! I attended the Canadian High Commission a couple of weeks ago as a guest at the Breast Cancer Care meeting of the ladies Dragon Boat racers. I’ve been working with an American lady over here in her fundraising events and it’s proven pretty insightful for us both as our fundraising and charity systems are quite different. I’ve been doing a lot of work with the Breast Cancer Care headquarters. I recently helped open a new Cancer Research shop in Sevenoaks. I’ve actually written a piece for the volunteer section on the Breast Cancer Care site – I’d never blogged before so that was a whole new experience for me! Otherwise, it’s been a whole lot of organising, coming up with new ideas and lots of meetings. Oh and lots of canvassing for this event over the weekends. It’s like a full time job, but I love it and the potential for all the good we can do!

You certainly have been incredibly busy! I think we’re all keen to find out what New to This Solar System is all about so I guess we had better not keep the readers waiting.

Q. So what IS New to This Solar System about?

A. This event is a benefit concert to raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer Care. This event also presents the opportunity to introduce four local, unsigned [as yet] acts to the people of Sevenoaks. All of these acts have very kindly agreed to donate their time and their talent to this wonderful cause.

Q. So how did you go about getting all of these acts on board?

A. Well, I had seen The Find in concert as we held a small event a while ago where Jay invited Sarah Lillie as a guest. It was so good we knew we could do something more with it. I am frequently being asked at events if I could get Amy Coulshaw to do a set so this was the perfect opportunity. Electric isn’t feasible at this venue so, bearing in mind the need for a really great acoustic sound, we stumbled across Dan Clews who fits this perfectly. Everywhere I go, I find myself talking about these guys.

Q. So, what marvellous venue have you managed to secure this time and what are the details of this event?

A. Well, Sevenoaks School have actually been kind enough to allow us use of their facilities for this event: this place is absolutely beautiful [she says this knowing how much I fidgeted in my attire at the Tonbridge School because it was so grand] and it holds 420 people. New to This Solar System is actually a part of the Sevenoaks Festival.  The concert is being held on the 6th July in the Pamoja Hall, The Space at Sevenoaks School. The doors will open for guests at 18.45 and the concert will begin at 19.30. With ticket sales and drinks purchases on the night we are hoping to raise around even more for Breast Cancer Care this time around.

Q. What’s prompted you to organise this event?

A. Well, we know how much people are struggling with the economy being as it is and we also know that charity fundraising is also really struggling because of it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter whether the economy is bad: Breast Cancer doesn’t go away just because we can’t afford it! Breast Cancer Care doesn’t stop working just because people are hard up and it’s really important to me that they continue getting the funding they need for their outstanding work.

Q. I know from your previous events that organising a concert is a fairly new thing for you. Have you had many difficulties?

A. Well, we’re finding that a lot of people aren’t really sure what the event is about and that people aren’t buying their tickets straight away which inevitably causes us a bit of worry that we won’t actually be able to deliver for Breast Cancer Care on this event. The difference with this kind of event is that usually I make all the decisions on what’s happening, when whereas this time I’m working with groups of people who all have different agendas and workloads. We’ve still got a lot to do but, well, it’ll be alright on the night! We just really want people to come along and have a drink and enjoy the music: it’s all about having a really great night whilst raising money for a worthy cause.

Q. So, how can people find out more about the event or get themselves a ticket to this great occasion?

A. We’re doing a poster drop over the Kent area, we’re advertising the event on the Breast Cancer Care online site, we’re listed in the Sevenoaks Festival line up, we’ll be out in Sevenoaks telling people about the event and we have a Facebook page [http://www.facebook.com/pages/New-to-this-Solar-System/125336894270462]. For tickets you can also call: 01732 450175.

Well I, for one, can’t wait for this event because I’ve looked up all the acts and they are genuinely amazing. I’ve got my ticket, have you?

 

Craig Hallam on the Perils of Becoming An Author – Part 2 June 13, 2012

Filed under: Books,Writing — leatierney @ 6:37 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Thanks to all of you who took the time to read Craig’s guest post last week: I’m sure you weren’t disappointed! Here you can find the rest of what Craig has to say about his journey to becoming an author with Inspired Quill:

At some point in this process, somewhere around the start of Haven, I had the funkiest cheese-induced nightmare of my life to date. It rattled me. I woke in the dark feeling utterly weird and a little sick, and immediately grabbed for a pen and paper. Sat in the dark, using the screen of my mobile phone as a light, I doodled, scribbled, put lots of question marks and eventually stopped to look at what I’d done. An image of an ancient sewer system, a group of deformed misfits walked the dark passageways, slurry and stench all around them, and the biggest of the group was carrying something. A machine. Something like a sarcophagus made of brass, filled with a strange blue fluid that gave off its own light, and there was a girl inside.

            That dream had such a profound effect that I toyed with it for quite some time. Who were they? Why were they in the sewer? And who was the girl trapped in the strange contraption? It became a bit of a favourite obsession, trying to figure out how those characters could have ever got into such an odd situation. And, over the years, that cheese-dream became Greaveburn.

            When I started to write Greaveburn, maybe four years ago, I still had a lot to learn. Hell, I still do. But there was something in that idea that I couldn’t put down. It was a nagging, gnawing, incredibly annoying idea that kept haunting me. Writing that novel has been the longest exorcism performed in human history. But, eventually, it was done. I took creative writing courses, finished my degree in Nursing, started another in English, fell in and out of love a couple of times, ate, slept, played too many video games and read even more books, and throughout all that, Greaveburn was a constant presence.

At some point, I broke out into short stories, got my first few publications and nearly passed out from excitement. Someone somewhere was liking what I was doing. That was a novel (excuse the pun) concept that I’d never considered. What if people actually enjoyed reading my junk? My new goal seemed clear. Now, it wasn’t just to write. It had evolved but was still blindingly simple:

Get a book on a shelf.

            That is, any shelf, any shop, even my own study. But book and shelf had to happen. And I thought I knew exactly how to do that. Finish Greaveburn. Make it awesome.  Get it published.

            Oh so simple, and oh so hard.

But five drafts later, Greaveburn was done. Finished. And the pile of paper sat on my desk, looking back at me.

“Well? Now what do we do?” It seemed to ask.

Well, I had no idea. And so I went back to my reference books. I made lists. I used Post-its and white boards and dry wipe markers. And eventually I had a plan. Greaveburn was hitting the road. I took the first few chapters, packed them some sandwiches into a hanky on a stick and booted it out the door, telling it not to come back without an acceptance in its pocket.

It came back.

A lot.

The rejection slips seemed to come through the letter box in flurries. I had to stand a shovel by the door just so I could get by. Over the course of a year or so, Greaveburn hit more desks than was decent and bounced back from an equal number. I was getting exasperated and downtrodden. To soothe myself, I put together my short stories into a collection and made them work the streets in the form of Not Before Bed. That passed the time and the feedback helped to stop myself from checking the light fittings for tensile strength. But in the end, there seemed no hope. As with anyone in these kind of life-changing dilemmas, I went to Twitter and pleaded for help from all the lovely people there. And, blow me! I got a message from a publisher by the name of Inspired Quill who were open for submissions. I’m surprised the paper didn’t combust with the speed I packed those three chapters into an envelope and sent them off. Something felt just a little different about this one. I told myself that this would be the last time I sent Greaveburn out. The very last. I had other projects to work on, ones that might fare better in the publishing world. I would concentrate on them and chalk Greaveburn up to experience.

That is, until the damned thing came back with a lovely little letter saying that Inspired Quill wanted to read the rest. All of it. This was the furthest I’d ever got. My faith in humanity was reaffirmed. And, luck of all luck, IQ liked it. Someone had read my novel and thought it was pretty damn good, thankyaverymuch.

Not even my excessive verbosity can describe the sounds I made that day. They were bestial, there was elated cursing, and all in a Yorkshire accent. Not pretty, my friends, not pretty at all. But I’d done it.

Contracts signed.

Muchos thanks to whatever Gods were on duty that day.

Queue sitting back in my smoking jacket and swirling sherry while making egotistical fnar fnar noises.

That was November last year, fourteen years after I first put pen to paper, four years after I started writing in any earnest. A long, hard, uphill slog. And it’s been bloody fantastic; the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

But that’s all irrelevant. A warm up. A starter for ten.

Now the work really starts. Greaveburn (my own book! A-woo-hoo!) hits the shelves in August. I get to meet people who’ve read it, talk about it, swirl my sherry and pretend I know what I’m talking about when people ask me what it’s about. I get to meet Steampunks at conventions, strangers at signings, beg people to buy it…and try to ignore bad reviews. Getting to the top of that uphill slog, I realise that I can’t hoist the flag just yet. It seems this is just a hump in the foothills, and there’s a whole mountain range beyond that with my name on it.

Shoulder that backpack, tighten the bootlaces, adjust my bobble-hat.

There’s climbing to be done.

If you would like to keep abreast of Craig’s progress with Greaveburn or just want to see his amazing Steam Punk costume for the book launch you can find him in these places:

Join the Facebook fan page – http://www.facebook.com/CraigHallamAuthor

Follow him on Twitter – @craighallam84

Subscribe to his blog – http://craighallam.wordpress.com/

 

Craig Hallam on the perils of becoming an author June 9, 2012

Filed under: Writing — leatierney @ 6:41 pm
Tags: , , , ,

As many of you may already be aware I have recently managed to bag myself a marketing internship with Inspired Quill publishers. I should insert drum roll here as I announce, very proudly, that I am the marketing intern assigned to Craig Hallam. What excites me so much about working with Craig? Firstly there’s the author himself and secondly there’s novel he’s launching at the end of the summer. Whilst Craig and I haven’t yet met in person there’s a good deal one can learn about a person from their writing (as you would figure when working with writers). His enthusiasm for his book launch and his excitement about having someone to share it with is infectious and he has offered me up a good many of his own ideas on what might be a different way to promote his book. Craig will be appearing at the Steam Punk Convention in September – in full steam punk attire. So, what’s so exciting about his book? Well, until I was introduced to Craig I knew nothing of the steam punk aesthetic as it applies to literature and have found myself very excited about the possibilities for creative promotion and for gaining a diverse audience. The novel Greaveburn is due to be Craig’s first ever published novel. Now I will stand aside and allow Craig to tell you himself about how he got to this stage *ENTER CRAIG*

I’m not sure when it started, or if it’s been there all along. I certainly can’t remember a time when my goal in life wasn’t to write. I certainly started putting pen to paper at an early age, even going so far as to start writing my first novel when I was fourteen. If you’re interested, it was about a jester called Malcolm and his talking funny-stick, saving a seaside town from impending doom at the hands of a Kraken. There was something to do with a giant tuning fork on the cliff tops that he had to ring in order to lull the leviathan to sleep again. That little project got to about four pages long before I gave up.

            But it was a start, if not a good one.

            I’ve always been an avid reader, and far more interested in the worlds that could be created rather than the one I was living in. My geography teacher once noted to my mother at parents’ evening that I wasn’t particularly interested in how a volcano might be formed, but more what it would be like to actually be there. That about sums up my formal education in a nutshell.

            Suffice to say, I always loved the creative writing aspects of English as a subject, and wasn’t really bothered about the literary commentary. My teachers must have hated me. My creative writing homework was always a couple of thousand words over the limit, for example. I remember having an argument with my GCSE teacher about whether I meant ‘permeated’ of ‘perforated’ in a piece of work. It was the latter. But we argued for about fifteen minutes before she demanded I change it. Now I think about it, that was probably my first interaction with an editor. Kooky.

            But the writing took a back seat. I grew up (only a little bit) and realised that there was no money to be made in writing for a sixteen year old, and my friends all had jobs and hence had fun. I had to get one of those pesky things, too. Long story short, I got a job as a Nursing Assistant which led me into studying Nursing at University. But even throughout that, the writing bug still nibbled at my brain. And somewhere in that course of studying Biology and Sociology and any other Ologies they threw at us, I started writing my first novel. Really this time.

            That book became known as Beyond Tor, and was the greatest learning experience in my life. My first lesson…that I was crap. The book was terrible. It still skulks on my hard drive, but it’ll never see the light of day. However, by the end of that novel, not only had I proven to myself that I could write a novel, but the ending was noticeably better than the start. That meant I could get better, too. And so there came a sequel, Haven. And that was a lot better, albeit still a fair bit of a work in progress. By this point, I was determined to write something good. And so I ingested books about writing. After three or four, I realised that they all said pretty much the same thing and went back to the first one. Until I read Stephen King’s On Writing, which I won’t bash on about, but was a great eye opener. Not only did it chronicle the progress of one of my favourite authors but, as it turns out, he was pretty rubbish when started out, too. He even thought his first book was terrible and threw it away (That was Carrie, by the way). While Beyond Tor was no Carrie, I was given a little hope.

Thanks so much for reading. You can read more of Craig’s journey here next week. Please do feel free to post any questions for the author in the comments box below 🙂

http://craighallam.wordpress.com/