Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing.
I was a career banker for almost 40 years. I became a published author in 2000 while I was still working full-time. There is a fascinating story about what inspired me to write, but I’ll give you a brief version of it here: I went alone on a journey to West Africa in 1997 and when I returned home I invited some friends over to share the amazing experience I had. They all said, “You need to share your story with not just us, but the world. Write a book about it!” I decided to rise to the challenge and took are the steps required to learn and hone my writing skills. My first book was published three years later.
Tell us about your books.
I have published three adult books; the first, Into Africa, a Personal Journey is a travel memoir about my first journey to West Africa. I subsequently wrote a humorous book titled Will That Be Cash Or ‘Cuffs? and a second travel memoir about my second journey to West Africa. I have now published four children’s picture books about the Adventures of Nosey Charlie, a little country squirrel who now resides in the city.
How did you go about getting published?
For my first adult books it was a long tedious process. I wanted to go the traditional route so I researched the publishing market, selected publishers who were publishing in the genre of my book and sent out numerous query letters. Then I waited and waited, and after several months I received a few responses, but no offer of a publishing contract. When I decided to write, I had joined a writers group and it was through them that I eventually found a publisher willing to accept my manuscript. For my recently published children’s books I decided not to go through that process again. I used Createspace.
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you like to write?
That’s an interesting question! When I first started to write, I drew up a schedule and tried my best to follow it. Writing was done late at nights. Note that at the time I worked full-time; I was a bank manager and worked long hours sometimes. Now that I’m retired and ‘should’ have all the time in the world, I have no schedule. I work on my manuscripts when I am in the mood and have a good chunk of time. Of course, sometimes I spend hours and lose all concept of time if I’m absorbed. I have an office in my home and do most of my writing there, however, I do write on the fly sometimes, and this could be in my bedroom, or living room.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
I read a lot, I love the theatre, and I love to go to the cinema to watch movies (I love the big screen & big sound!) I also set on a couple of boards and committee work takes up a bit of my time.
Any advice for authors about book covers?
Book covers are key marketing tools, therefore, if you have no skills in designing them, you should use an expert.
Any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
When I look back at the time when I published my first book (2000) and compare it to now, I see two very different markets, industry and consumers. The market has become significantly more competitive, and it is not easy to make a breakthrough. My advice to authors is, persevere as long as you believe in your product. Success can come when you least expect it.
What’s your favorite book?
I mentioned earlier that I read a lot, so you can well imagine that I have several favorites. It is truly difficult to select just one, so I’ll mention four: Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou; The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre; In The Skin Of A Lion by Michael Ondaatje, and Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden
What are you reading now?
I’m almost ashamed to say because I’ve been reading these books for so long and have not completed them yet. The Audacity of Hope and Secret Daughter (I tend to read more than one book at a time!)
What’s your next book project?
I have almost completed the manuscript for a novel set in the late 1950 in rural Jamaica. I have set it aside temporarily to focus on the promotion of my children’s books.