Richard Shury, whose books include Rook and Laid Hold the Dragon, talks about his approach to writing and his plans for the future.
Why do you write? Is it something you’ve always done, or always wanted to do? Or is it something that you started fairly recently?
I have been writing since I was at University. I switched from studying Biology to studying English, which was my other favourite subject. I bvegan thinking about the idea of writing a book myself. I realised I wanted to create exciting books with interesting concepts behind them. I started writing my first book, Laid Hold The Dragon, in my second year at Uni.
Tell me a little about your books.
I’ll put down the summaries of the books that I have already published.
Laid Hold The Dragon: Into a world of dust and anarchy, a young woman is thrown. How and why Janice arrived are mysteries. Someone or something has caused her to arrive and seems to be following her. The world she encounters is dark, the people she meets battered by the effort of living. Still, they have hope of a way out. Janice joins them, but she soon finds what looked like escape may be something else entirely
In The Arms Of Sleep: Sheldon is a troubled man. Suffering from nightmares in which he is pursued by an unnamed terror, the dreams begin to spill over into his waking life, until he is no longer sure what is real and what the product of his mind. Yet even as he fragments, he sees a solution which may help him regain control of his dreams, and his mind. The question is, will he be able to save himself from himself?
Hannah Black: Hannah Black is a short story involving the disappearance of the girl of the same name. She vanished in mysterious circumstances, leaving behind only a notebook, which was discovered later by a local vagrant. The notebook is in Hannah’s handwriting, and describes her last hours; it is a compelling and at times shocking portrait of a young girl whose life was suddenly changed beyond recognition.
Rook: Rook is the story of a hardened mercenary who steals valuable items – for a price. After he steals a vaccine for a deadly virus, he finds himself in a crisis of conscience, one that will put him in the firing line of anyone who stands to profit from the virus’ spread. Will he be able to survive long enough to do the right thing?
Are there any authors who inspire you?
Definitely. I have been into classical lit, such as Shakespeare and Milton, for a long time. I also love sci-fi, and especially Arthur C. Clarke. I like to read Batman comics, and Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons was amazing. One of my favourite authors is Douglas Coupland. I would like to write a book one day which has his knack for characterisation and plot.
How do you write? Do you make yourself write a certain number of words per day?
I try to trick myself, by saying I’ll start with just a few minutes. Once I am into it, I can write for much longer. Also, once a story develops and is getting interesting, I get carried away and want to keep going. However, sometimes I will leave a book for a long time and revisit it later, probably just out of laziness.
Did you try to get a conventional publisher or agent interested before you opted for self-publishing?
My first book was initially done via vanity publishing. This was probably a mistake. I was unable to find an agent. Since then, a friend of mine and another writer, J.H. Sked, has told me all about the online world, and indie publishing, and I have really been excited by it.
What goals have you set yourself? Do you want to sell a certain number of books in 2012? Is there some way you measure success, on your own terms?
At this stage it is a labour of love. I would like to produce more and get it out there, but I am not making profit at the moment. I really just enjoy seeing my work finished, and hoping people will enjoy it.
How have you marketed your books?
I have a Facebook author page, I tweet, and I have been asking people to do reviews for me. I haven’t paid for any advertising as I am not in a position to do this at the moment.
Have you signed up for KDP Select?
I used KDP Select once but I didn’t have much luck with it. I may give it a go again when I have a bigger following/online presence, but I don’t really like the exclusivity side of things.
Away from Amazon, have you had much luck with other outlets? Do you use Smashwords, Barnes & Noble etc?
I use Smashwords and Amazon primarily, and only others via Smashwords. I feel like I am just getting going. I really want to focus at this stage on getting more work out there, and generate buzz by the quality of the work if I can.
Do you worry about Amazon gaining a monopoly in the ebook market?
It hadn’t really occurred to me. Thinking about it, it’s not a concern. The internet cannot really be monopolised, and the strength and tenacity of indie publishers will mean that no one site has real dominance.
What’s next? Are you working on anything at the moment? Do you have anything new coming out in 2012?
I am working on a book about an alien who gets stuck on Earth, and learns about us through the TV. This will be more of a novella. I am also working on another sci-fi book, this one set much further into the future than Rook.