Author Interview – Andrew Buckley
This week’s author being interviewed is Andrew Buckley, the man behind the audacious Read Around the World challenge that I took part in last year. Andrew has written several novels, the links are below. Here are his answers to my questions.
How long have you been writing for and what made you start writing?
My stock answer to this, which is true, is that I wrote a story about a big blue dinosaur when I was 4 in elementary school in the UK and got a gold star. If I look at it seriously, and I so rarely do, my love and talent for writing emerged from age 8-12. My teachers found that my quality of writing was well above my actual age and I spent most of my years in secondary school and college in the UK trying to find my niche with writing.
Do you write for a living, or do you also do other work?
My main income comes from writing. I have a day job writing for a web marketing company, I’m also a published author with two books already out, a serialized novel scheduled to start being released this summer and my first Upper MG novel to be released in Fall 2016. I also work for a publishing company in the US called Curiosity Quills, where I manage their production and acquisitions departments as the VP of Operations.
How did you get into being a professional writer, and how much effort did it take to be able to write full time?
I attended school for writing for film and television but once I realized how deep the competition pool ran for that, I decided to switch to novel writing. This was prior to self-publishing being a thing, as one could now argue that the competition pool for novel writing is now deeper than the screenwriting one. After receiving well over a hundred rejections from agents I got picked up by a blog site called Curiosity Quills. I did some writing for them and then fell out of touch for a year or two. When I re-connected with them they had grown into a publishing company and asked if I had any work I was shopping around. They signed Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish in 2012 and then Stiltskin the following year. Shortly thereafter I began working for them, first as an acquisitions editor, then acquisitions manager and so on. Jump forward to early 2014 and you would find me a happily published author who had just secured an agent with one of New York’s premiere literary agencies, working part time for a growing publishing company, but working a day job that was sucking the life out of me. So I took a shot in the dark and applied for a copywriting job with a local company and now happily write professionally 🙂
Were you always good at telling stories, or has it come to you as an adult?
Growing up in the UK I always had a bit of a penchant for the absurd. I like comedy and humour and believe it’s the key to diffusing so many problems in this world. I always applied that silly sense of humour to my writing and it was through that particular avenue that I learned to grow stories. I’ve played in all sorts of genres but generally favour urban fantasy though my upcoming serialized novel is a spy thriller with a female protag. I will admit that the older I get, the more I write on a daily basis, the easier it’s becoming to craft stories and come up with new ideas.
Were you good at English in school?
I can actually attribute my love of satirical humour specifically to English class. I attended the Blue Coat School in Oldham, just outside of Manchester, and the english teacher there in 94/95 was an American lady called Mrs Malinson. She was an amazing teacher and between her, my elementary Junior 4 teacher, Mrs Curtis, and my college mentor in Canada, Timothy Perrin, I can easily identify who my writing influencers were.
It was in Mrs Malinson’s 4th Year English class where I wrote a satirical essay about Macbeth. It contained such witticisms as “and then Macbeth stabbed him, which really wasn’t a very nice thing to do, not only did he kill the poor bugger, but he also made a terrible mess of his knife.” Mrs Malinson was mortified, as she had asked for a serious essay and case study into Macbeth. In order to teach me a lesson, she made me read out the entire essay to the class. Everyone laughed. A lot. And it made me realize just how much humour can move people. It was the best, and only, ‘F’ I ever received in English.
What advice would you give someone who wants to be a writer?
It’s probably cliched but I would suggest writing. A lot of people like the idea of writing but not the act. You need to write to be a writer and you need to write as much as possible. We live in a different literary landscape than we did a decade ago. Anyone can publish their work now, there’s no need for a publisher or agent, there are no measuring sticks to quality. It’s challenging. Write lots, and put your best work out there.
What is the most useful advice you’ve been given?
Don’t give up, this is a completely subjective industry. One wonderful agent rejection told me he loved my book, but he couldn’t represent it, humour is too hard to sell. His exact words were “one man’s giggle is another man’s groan.” That statement well represents the entire publishing industry. Persevere! And use social media, build yourself a website, and blog. They’re the foundation pieces to getting noticed and most publishers want to see you’re already trying to put yourself out there.
What is the strangest advice you’ve been given?
For being a bit of a peculiar person, I actually haven’t been given that much strange advice when it comes to writing. Early on, I was told to change Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish into a YA novel which made very little sense considering the age, social, and professional situation of the main characters. As I sat there trying to edit it down to YA level and quickly realizing how many times I’d used the word testicles (12, 12 is the answer) I concluded that it should never ever ever ever be a YA novel. I write silly stuff for adults. Young adults have plenty of silly stuff to deal with already. Puberty, for example.
How do you deal with the stranger reviews?
I love all reviews. Good, bad, and strange. I tend to re-post them to my social media accounts. It’s impossible to write a book that everyone loves so it’s good to enjoy and own your reviews, good or bad.
Who do you write for?
Primarily, adults. My recent foray into Upper MG moves me into a different weight class so we’ll see what happens but I really enjoyed writing HAIR IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES and am looking forward to it hitting shelves next year.
What sort of things do you write?
I tend to write what I love. Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish came from my love of Monty Python, Porridge, Open All Hours, Last of the Summer Wine, Are You Being Served, Red Dwarf, and all the other wonderful British comedies I grew up watching. Stiltskin came from my love of fairytales, particularly the older scary ones. Hair in All the Wrong Places was due to some sort of deep desire I had to write a werewolf novel. Havelock came from my love of Ian Fleming’s work.
What do you have in the drawer? (i.e. what have you written but not yet published)
I actually don’t have anything else complete. I am however writing 5 separate works simultaneously. I have sequels to DTDTG and Stiltskin in the works, the serial instalments for Havelock, a yet untitled hysterical historical fantasy about Jack the Ripper, and a comic book adaptation of Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish.
Describe your writing process, what, where, when and how please?
Time is my enemy here. I don’t have enough of it. I have three paying jobs, my own writing, and an active family life (1 beautiful wife, 3 amazing kids, an absolute asshole of a cat, and a very needy dog). I write when I can, which normally ends up being late at night when everyone is asleep, my wife snoozing next to me while I tap away on my MacBook Air.
You organised Read Around the World last year. What gave you the idea, and what have you learnt from having done it?
I had a crazy idea to have a couple hundred people read one of my books out loud on camera and post it to YouTube in order to promote literacy, reading, and plain old fun. It ran for a couple of months but we constantly hit technical issues, human error, and scheduling problems so in the interest of my own sanity I had to shut it down early. I’d definitely do it again, but I’d work out the scheduling beforehand and probably figure out a different way to post the videos. But it was a lot of fun and I met some awesome people through doing it.
What question(s) would you like to have been asked but haven’t been (not just by this interview, but in any interview you’ve done as an author)?
In Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish, there’s a fictional drinking game that the main character played when he was at university called ‘Hide the Kipper’. No one has ever asked me if anyone has actually played it. I don’t know the answer, but I’m still hoping for the question 🙂
Where can we read your words? Links to blog, website, book sales etc. Maybe some good reviews
- Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish
- Havelock: Coming Summer 2015 from Curiosity Quills Press
- Hair in All the Wrong Places: The Perils of Growing up Werewolf: Coming Fall 2016 from Month9Books
- Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish Comic Book: Issues #00 and #01 coming May 2nd from Artisync Technologies
My website: www.planetkibi.com
My Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/AndrewBuckleyAuthor
My Twitter: @abuckley23
Curiosity Quills Press: www.curiosityquillspress.com
Artisync Technologies: http://artisync.com/
Represented by Mark Gottlieb at Trident Media Group