Monday, September 16, 2013

Q & A with author Andrew P. Weston

Andrew P. Weston

Let’s start with what’s next. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called Guardians. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Certainly. All being well, Guardians, book 2 of the Guardian series, is due mid October. There might be a small delay due to an unexpected and ongoing illness my regular editor has suffered, but the team is sure we should be on track for the October deadline.

As for a teaser:

Cradling her head, President Vivian Becknell, the first woman ever elected to that office, looked back on the way her day had started.
She had been enjoying a particularly restful dream. In it, she was just sixteen years old again and was reliving a day at the beach with her grandparents, sadly taken from her some fifteen years previously. Suddenly, the scene had vanished as she was forcibly snatched from the joyous reunion by a shaking, roughly administered to her by her personal Secret Service Agent, Christopher Joplin.
Trying desperately to hold onto the dream, she was momentarily bewildered as to her surroundings.
“Ma’am, you have to come with me.”
“Huh? What?” she replied, squinting from the glare of the light shining into her bedroom from the corridor. “Chris, what’s the damned time?”
He became more insistent, “Its six-thirty, Madam President, you have to come with me now. This is urgent.”
Sitting up slightly and moving away from her husband lying next to her, she replied, “Just give me a few minutes to make myself presentable and I’ll…”
 “I’m sorry, Madam President,” Christopher cut in, looking awkward, “There’s no time. She says if you don’t come now, she’ll drag you out herself.”
Suddenly, Vivian’s attention became much more focused and her fiery, no-nonsense African heritage asserted itself. Raising her hand to cut out the glare from the doorway, she looked the agent in the eye and demanded, “What did you say? Who said she’ll drag…”
“I did! And I mean what I said!” a woman’s voice rang, full of authority.
The President looked toward the corridor as her bodyguard straightened and stiffened, obviously uncomfortable about the situation.
A silhouette belonging to an imposing woman filled the entrance. Although she couldn’t see her features, the President was able to make out the eyes. Eyes that were shining brightly with some sort of inner luminosity!
A Guardian, she thought, what’s a Guardian doing here?
Hearing her thoughts, the Guardian replied, “Stop farting around in bed and you’ll find out. Now get out here, or I’ll start making the decisions for you. We’ll all be in the Green Room.”
The Guardian turned and strode away, but the bedclothes moved of their own volition and Vivian Becknell felt herself lifted into the air, only to be deposited unceremoniously onto her feet moments later.
Vivian had barely been in office for a year, having ridden to success on the back of the “Anti-Guardian” brigade, so she was in no mood to be told what to do by those she felt were a law unto themselves.
Gathering herself together, she grabbed a robe from behind the door and made her way to the Green Room, together with her ever-present Secret Service detail. Her anger rose with each step. Who the hell does she think she is, summoning me to the principal’s office like she owns the place?
Christopher Joplin was at her side and opened the door ahead of her. When she entered, she came up short, the wind taken out of her sails. Inside, she found several Chiefs of Staff and Jack Balotelli, her personal advisor. All of them had obviously been roused only minutes earlier and were in various states of undress.
In amongst them all were four Guardians who appeared to hold high rank.
Before Vivian could gather her thoughts, the woman who had summoned her turned from speaking with Jack Balotelli and came striding towards her, together with two men she didn’t recognize.
Seeing her clearly for the first time, Vivian felt instantly intimidated.
At close to six feet tall and with the lithe body of a panther in human form, the Guardian stalked towards the President with the bearing of someone clearly in charge. Her long, dark hair was swept to one side in a no-nonsense plait, and her expression was businesslike and serious. As she drew closer, the president felt her teeth begin to throb, and her eyes began to water.
Cursing any sign of weakness, she began to let rip, “Who the hell do you think you are telling me what to…?”
“Madam President,” Jack Balotelli interjected, raising his hand to deflect her ire, “You need to listen to what she has to say.”
The Guardian calmly waited for her to fight down her anger, clearly unimpressed by the posturing. Then she introducing the NASA specialists who were able to confirm the news she was delivering. Vivian Becknell listened in silence, took a deep breath and then began pinching herself on the arm, hard enough to cause bruising.
A raised eyebrow from the Guardian caused her to confess. “Just checking, I was hoping I was still dreaming and that I’d wake up!”

How important have your social media relationships been? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?

I think social media is an extremely important aspect about being an author. It’s a medium through which you can interact with your fans, and build relationships. I’ve noticed a number of very well known authors who have very active ‘chat rooms’ that are well supported. When your readers see there’s a human face behind the print, and that you actually speak with them, well, it pays dividends. And yes, I do see that interaction spilling over into my success. A healthy number of my fans have gone on to buy all of my books, even from different series.

Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

Yes, I love to make personal appearances and take part in book signing events. Why? Because it brings me into direct contact with my readers, and lets them see how crazy I am. When they see I’m totally normal – if somewhat eccentric – it really warms them to what it is I’m trying to achieve, ie, creating stories that entertain people and keeps them coming back for more.
Additionally, living as I do in Kos, Greece, it allows me to establish a presence where I wouldn’t otherwise find it. Appearing in local bookshops and newspapers, etc, brings me to the attention of the holiday firms proliferating the island, and that, in turn opens doors of opportunity with the thousands of holidaymakers visiting the island each year. (Hoorah for me J ).

What inspires you to write in the genre that you currently write in? Do you see yourself venturing out into other genres?
I naturally seem drawn to sci-fi/fantasy and paranormal adventures. Growing up as I did in the 60’s, the world was enthralled by the space race. It was on everyone’s lips year after year, especially as we came up to the first moon landing. I was also heavily influenced by the Gerry Anderson franchise, by the Marvel / DC comics, and programs like the Twilight Zone. Having read every single science fiction book in the library, I think it was only natural I ended up adopting what I love.
To be honest, I don’t think there’s a real need to step outside those genres to get a great story. Think of the scope you can achieve. Sci-fi/fantasy and paranormal themes can – and do – include romance. Action/adventure. Thrillers. Aspects of horror. And with the advent of steam punk, you can even involve characters from history…(As I’ll be doing in my next major novel). So, no! I think I’ll stay where I am. I seem to be making a name for myself now. I’m improving and attracting fans who like my style.

What has your experience in the publishing industry been like?

Up and down. I was fortunate enough to attract the attention of a great publisher, (Pagan Writers Press). They’re a smaller publishing house out of Houston, Texas, who operate a great team. They’ve been very supportive of my work and have helped me improve an awful lot as a writer.
The one downside with smaller publishers is the fact that you don’t get the corporate clout associated with the major houses. I still work full time, so have to fit my writing and editing in around my shifts. I also have to try and fathom out how best to attract publicity, advertising, promotions, etc. And as I’ve found out, that’s really difficult, as it takes a great deal of time to target your limited resources in the right way.

What writer support groups do you belong to? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I’ve only recently started looking into publicity and marketing services. Working every day tends to limit my time to do things, so, I’m waiting to see how helpful they actually are. I’ll get back to you on this one J

Between your book writing, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

I have to be very strict with time. Fortunately, I come from an extremely disciplined background, and make sure I keep to a flexible schedule I devised that fits around my work shifts. Basically…I have no life. Ha!

What has been the most rewarding moment during your writing career? The worst?

Most rewarding? Having a fan write to me to express how much one of the characters – Augustus Thorne, from the Cambion Journals – moved them. I was so delighted to hear that, as I’d spent months creating an individual who needs to get under the readers skin. To discover he’s doing that is extremely satisfying.
The worst? Not being able to go full time. I want to do this for a living. I want an office. (Sais me throwing teddy out of the pram). Then you’ll see a change.

Looking back on your career in writing, is there anything you would change or do different?

I think I’d make more effort to get an agent. But it’s extremely difficult to get your foot in through the door, as thousands of other authors have discovered. It’s not until you start to find your feet that you realize just how much work goes on behind the scenes. Agents can start that process for you, finding the houses with the oomph to get all the publicity, advertising, promotions, etc, completed as part of the process. It would be wonderful – even now – just to come home and know all I need to concentrate on is being creative, and getting it down in writing.

What inspired you to write your first novel?

Life experience. Thirty years in the military and as a police officer certainly brought the harsh reality of life home to me. All the suffering. All the tragedy. For years, I’d always wondered what it would be like to be able to respond to disasters more swiftly. What would it be like to have the technology to actually undo much of the suffering caused? Even anticipate and prevent it in the first place! Add that to the fact I grew up in the 60’s, as already mentioned, and it’s no wonder my thought process led me along a sci-fi/fantasy angle of devising a reply. That’s how the Guardian’s were born. Thirty years of life experience, fed on a diet of Thunderbirds, X-Men, and Star Wars etc.

When you are writing, what is that process like? Lots of noise or deathly quiet? Marathon sessions of typing or sporadic spurts of pages?

For me, it has to be silence. I absolutely churn the work out then. I don’t mind good music when I’m doing my research, but for the actual creative/typing part…quiet please!

My sessions vary on the shift I’m working. Even when I’m busy, I’m always jotting ideas down to make the plot better.

What has the reaction from your friends and family been like since you became published?

Strangely mixed. My wife is quietly proud, and never talks about it in front of me. (That’s great! It helps me keep my feet on the ground and spurs me on to keep working hard until my skill level catches up with my concept level). My children think it’s cool that their dad is an author…although they don’t go on about it either! (Crushing eh?) J
The biggest reaction has been from friends. Some wear Guardian or Cambion t-shirts and other paraphernalia all the time. Then I get embarrassed. Then I tell myself off, because after all, aren’t we in this business to become known?
One of most awkward moments was when a family from the UK, on holiday in Kos, stopped and stared at me. The father had read Guardian Angels, and the kids had too. They recognized me from the website, etc, and started pointing and nudging each other to come and talk to me. I didn’t know where to look. Aaaargh!

Me? I just make sure not to go on about what I do in front of friends. They know J

Please share all your contact information for social media and links to your books.


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