I have always loved writing, as a child I was away with the fairies day dreaming most of the time, imagining stories and in my own little world. I always loved English and creative writing and my mum cultivated a passion for books in me from a young age which has stuck with me through my life.
For me writing is escapism, it is therapeutic and I have always been a creative person so crafting a story is something which gives me a lot of satisfaction and like most writers I often get lost in my work and spend hours at a time with my laptop getting down different ideas.
I had neglected my writing for a long time; I did a fashion degree and soon after moved to Australia where I worked as an exotic dancer and entertainer. My life evolved around having fun more than anything back then but I don’t regret it at all because all the highs and lows and experiences from those days have helped me to develop as a person and also given me the opportunity to meet interesting people and gain an insight into a lot of different lives which helps me with my writing now.
I decided to come home to England and focus on getting a career for myself. It didn’t quite go to plan though and I fell pregnant with my son Enzo who is now 3 years old. The relationship with his father broke down when I was pregnant, I left him and decided to bring my son up on my own. It has been a very special time in my life but has also been hard, I decided that I would use the time while Enzo was young to study or train so that I could provide him with a good life. I started doing a writing class in the evening and very soon found myself filling my lonely evenings with writing. I re-discovered my love for it and it changed my life, it gave me a purpose and a goal, something to work towards. I didn’t really even think about publishing my book until it was finished a year later, everything just progressed naturally. I have now almost finished my second book which is a suspense novel and have lots of ideas for my next projects too, one of which is a guide for women who are going through pregnancy alone. I feel very passionately about writing this in the hope it could comfort other women who are going through what I went through.
As I understand, Corruputed is based around your true-life story, would you say that every part of the story is true or have you added any fictional events?
The book Corrupted happened after I took a writing class in the evening at an adult college entitled write your own life story. I wanted to write about my experiences in Australia and just thought it would be a fun way of getting me back into writing. Before long though I realised that I wanted to write a novel. There are some aspects of the book which are based on reality, the main character Ria Kimura is a half Japanese student in London who starts working as an exotic dancer to fund her degree as I did. She moves to Australia with an Australian millionaire; I moved to Australia but I went by myself. However when she gets to Sydney things start to fall apart very dramatically and her lover becomes violent, Ria runs away embarking upon a suspenseful journey. The plot is fictional but based on things that have happened to me, for example when I was a teenager I unfortunately did experience domestic violence. Similarly like the character Ria in the book, I too did travel in a campervan down the coast of Australia and worked in gentlemen’s clubs in Sydney but the events and twists in the book come from my imagination luckily or I don’t think I’d be alive right now to tell the tale!
I read your blog post about book signings. Would you say book signings work better than other marketing strategies?
I think book signings are a great way of marketing your work as you get to meet and engage with the people who are about to read your book and they are then more likely to write you a review, give you feedback on your work and recommend your book to friends. I received so many Tweets, Facebook messages and emails from people I met at the book signings who told me they loved Corrupted, a lot of them even messaged me the same weekend that I met them to tell me that they had already finished the book and couldn’t put it down which was amazing! As an author it is very easy to be overly critical of your own work so it is great to get some encouragement from people who enjoyed your book.
I also think it is a brilliant way of getting your book into stores that may not otherwise stock it and to build relationships with the bookshop managers who are more likely to put your book in a more visible spot if they know you.
I had 5000 books printed last year which was a major risk; I used my redundancy money and savings to get them done so I couldn’t afford to be complacent about selling them. In the end I managed to sell about 2500 books last year, mainly through book signings, I did about 40 in total.
I think all authors should give book signings a shot, just try not to get disheartened as I sometimes did in the beginning when people tell you your book isn’t their cup of tea. Keep going and you will find many who love it and can’t wait to give it a read.
Do you have a marketing process?
Before publishing Corrupted I didn’t know much about marketing, it has been a massive learning experience for me, one important factor I have learnt is that you should strive to strike a balance between promoting the books you have already and working on new material. An author told me last year that the best marketing is to have as much work as possible out there so you can develop a bit of a following which is what I am concentrating on at the moment.
The internet has been an amazing tool and I think it is important as an author to develop different ways to be found online. Building a following on Twitter, having a Facebook page, website, blog and even having videos on Youtube are good ways of potentailly getting new readers. Also I have found that the free Kindle promo days have been a godsend, when advertised and tweeted about effectively Corrupted has climbed up the charts rapidly, last year it went up to 4 on the Kindle charts ranking for contemporary fiction>suspense and after the promotion days sales increase massively.
I also got coverage about Corrupted and my story in about 11 local papers and magazines in the UK and I had two radio interviews last year through sending countless press releases, following them up with phone calls and coming up with a bit of a unique publicity angle. I’d recommend all authors do the same, if you have a book being published and you are local, chances are journalists will be happy to hear from you and give you some publicity.
What advice would you give to any writer wanting to do it the ‘Indie Way’.
Go for it! You only live once, getting a publishing deal can take many years and if you are itching to see your work in print then self-publishing is a great way of achieving your dream. There are so many options out there, just make sure you go with a reputable company and be prepared to do the leg work with the marketing. It has been an exciting experience for me and with the internet and electronic reading devices there are so many opportunities out there for authors to get their work out there! Just do it.
Tell us what you are reading at the moment.
I have just finished reading The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes and I absolutely loved it! Was one of the most unique thrillers I have ever read, slightly gruesome and brillianly written. I love the new wave of female thriller writers that are taking over the fiction charts as the moment, girl power!
Anything else you would like to add to your readers or to other writers.
Writers keep on writing, follow your passions and support each other because it has amazed me the network of fellow writers out there who are willing to promote each others work, online and locally through writers groups etc. And readers, take a gamble on the unknown Indie authors because there are so many talented, brilliant writers out there just waiting to be discovered by you all and you will truly be captivated by some of their work.