Writing is quite a lonely business and, as such, you really value the writer friends you make. I am lucky to have writer friends from the Fforde Ffiesta and writer friends I made during Nanowrimo. Back in the ethers of time, during my first or second Nanowrimo, I met Sean Sweeney, a writer based in New England. It is because of him I became an e published author, without his advice and guidance it just wouldn’t have happened. Sean is a prolific author who always has at least one project on the go. His latest is The Long Crimson line and he has kindly let me probe him about writing in general and his latest book.
EHW: I remember the first time I tried to write a book. I must have been eight or nine and it was about a family of mice. What was the first novel you ever attempted?
SMS: We have to go back through the mists of time to the mid-1990s. I was in high school, and I had been writing about sports with my local newspaper (ironically, the same one I for which I write to this day). I had never been much of a reader growing up; the books that teachers ripped your arms out of your sockets and beat you over the head with to get these books read, as I see it now, had very dry writing that didn’t reach out and grab me by the throat. When I was maybe 16 or 17, I discovered Star Wars Expanded Universe books at my local WaldenBooks, and I just jumped into them. This was well before I knew what trademarked material was, and so I wrote a couple of pages of what I thought happened to Luke, Han, and Leia a few years after Return of the Jedi.
After that, it was a few years before I really put my fingertips on the keyboard to create the Obloeron fantasy world, which should return to eTailers this November.
EHW: What is the best thing about being a novelist?
SMS: Drinking as much coffee as I can. No, seriously: it is probably knowing that people read the stories that I create, and actually enjoy them, too.
EHW: You are the person who got me into e publishing (without your advice I would never have taken the leap), so as someone who knows this side of the business really well – what one piece of advice would you give an aspiring e novelist?
SMS: So much advice. And I can only pick one thing? Lordy. You drive a hard bargain, Ms. Walter. Gee, I would have to say make time for yourself outside of the worlds you create. I sacrificed quite a bit while starting out; at one point, all I was doing was covering games, writing my fiction, and sleeping. That meant no going out to the bar/pub, no dating, no TV. It was a rather solo existence, and I kind of forgot who I was outside of being an author, or an aspiring author, at the time.
Shit, I sound like such a loser. :)
EHW: Like me, you write an ongoing series (the Jaclyn Johnson ‘Model’ series) and stand alone books. How do you organise your time and concentration to work on such diverse projects?
SMS: Basically, you have to treat it like a job. For me, and my experience will be different from other authors, but I basically punch the clock: I’m in my office by 8 am, and I punch out by 2 pm. In the winter, that may change due to night games; instead I’m in the office by 10 and out at 3, 3:30. Recently, I’ve been distracted by a lot in the news; the Tsarnaev trial in Boston, the FIFA escapades, the Aaron Hernandez trial. But I still manage to get a thousand words or so, sometimes more, written per day. On some days, I’ll write a couple thousand words. And then you throw that in with sportswriting, managing a farm, and laundry (which I still have to do this week, since I really can’t do it on the weekends because my wife and sister-in-law are both teachers), sometimes you have to push everything else out and put your fingertips on the keyboard.
EHW: Can you let us in on what adventures might be waiting for Jaclyn in your latest ‘Model’ book?
SMS: Right now, I’m writing Jaclyn’s seventh full-length adventure, and it’s taking place in Seattle. Slogging through this scene, which I hope to have done soon. Then I can move on to the next, and the next, and the next. Hoping to have this book done by the middle of July.
EHW: Going on to your stand alone work, tell me what The Long Crimson Line is about…
SMS: In a nutshell, The Long Crimson Line takes place in my beloved Boston, where a few heinous murders have taken place. There are no leads, and the police haven’t been able to come up with a suspect. A former cop, Ricky Madison, comes up with the idea that the killer may not be all that he seems—and that it may not be a he doing the killing, either.
EHW: What gave you the germ of the idea that became TLCL?
SMS: I am a massive Anglophile, more so than anyone else I know or with whom I grew up. I love everything about England; football (I’m an Arsenal supporter), the Royal Family (GSTQ), Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, everything. And I always knew that Jack the Ripper was from England, but during some reading I discovered that one member of the Royal Family (Albert Victor) was once accused of being The Ripper…. So that got my mind a-thinking, and I thought, “what if I put The Ripper in Boston, make the killer a devotee of him, and let the devotee run wild?” I knew this book would be rather bloody, and that it would go into great detail. So this is by far the most envelope-pushing I’ve done in my stories, that’s for sure.
EHW: You've decided to offer TLCL for preorder (which I don't think you've done before) – why the change?
SMS: I had wanted to try it out but I hadn’t found the right book with which to do it; my AGENT novels get snapped up pretty quickly. I want to put a concerted effort into marketing this story with the avenues that don’t cost a lot of money (since I have none… practical) available to me. And I hear it’s a great way to get onto best seller lists, so get me there, people. Get. Me. There. : )
EHW: Will there be more adventures ahead for Ricky Madison?
SMS: You assume much. Do you think he’s still alive? Muhahaha.
EHW: I’ll just start calling you George R R Martin then. Another question for you: what inspires you to write?
SMS: My rent bill. No, seriously: The inspiration is simple—I just want to be read. And writing is great therapy, let me tell you. A lot cheaper than paying a shrink.
EHW: If the universe was to give you your perfect writing career tomorrow, what would that look like?
SMS: Look out the window of your flat, love. If there was a way that I could take my wife, our horses, and cats… all of my books and movies and my laptop and desktop and clothes, our cars… and get them to England. I could do that. Write in the pastoral loveliness of England? Where do I sign up?
EHW: And finally, if you had to take just one of your characters to live on a desert island with you, which one would escort you and why?
SMS: I would say private detective Connor Wood, of AN INVITATION TO DRINK… OR TO DIE. He likes his booze.
Thank you, Sean. Remember folks, The LongCrimson Line is available to preorder in the UK and in the USA.