Categories: Author Interviews
Written By: Socialpaws
When I finished writing my first novel, I dreamt of stardom, admiration, respect and all the things ambitious authors of the past and present might enjoy.
At the beginning of this very amateurish journey I stumbled upon a website designed by Harper Collins named Authonomy, which invites authors to upload their books for reciprocal review and ranking.
The main attraction, if you will, was to hit the Top 10 of the Authonomy book charts, where you would receive an editorial review and the possible (if slim) chance of publication.
Needless to say, my senses pulsed with excitement. It was my chance to showcase what I’d just achieved. But almost immediately after I uploaded my book to the site, I realised that I had just thrown a pebble into the sea.
Thousands of books and authors (some of which had been there for over a year) jostled, cajoled, and pitted their opinions and expertise (or lack thereof) with each other.
Never before had I witnessed such a frantic parade of snails and hares scrambling ambitiously to the top of a publishing tree.
I jumped in with great expectations and held on to the precariously swinging branches for dear life, but each time I climbed a little higher in rank and moved one branch aside, another would swing right in front of me.
I must point out that it wasn’t entirely competitive. I made friends, learned a lot about my writing, helped a few others, and to my surprise during the intensity of the entire experience I even reached a modest ranking position.
But I lost faith. Not only in my work, but in my ability to network proficiently with the more elite and experienced networkers and of course; the better writers.
I soon suffered tree-climbing exhaustion, as the peak became harder to grasp without falling off. Plus my book, although a story in its own right, was also an intangible hook to my unrealistic expectations and unbalanced emotions.
A few heartless reviews later and I crumbled.
So as an author it takes some quality writing, but as a person it takes guts, faith, determination and a perhaps a little sprinkle of ruthlessness, to get to where you want to go. Today I look back there with awe, a little fear, but always with immense respect for the authonomites, whom I like to think of as ambitious virtual gladiators of the 20th century.
I recently took a walk down memory lane and decided to interview an author who has been making that same challenging climb.
Carl Ashmore and his book, The Time Hunters, currently stands on a very auspicious branch of that tree.
In fact he currently stands at number one.
I read a portion of Carl’s book and was impressed. I approached him for an interview and asked him some questions about his personal life, writing life, authonomy, and what his future dreams might be as an author. He responded warmly.
Carl lives in Crewe, Cheshire, and is a 41 year old lecturer in film and media at a college in Stoke On Trent. He lives in a tiny and delightful terraced house, with his tiny and delightful girlfriend, Lisa, his tiny and delightful one year old daughter, Alice, and his fat and less than delightful cat.
He started his first novel at the age of nine. Ingeniously entitled ‘The Death Beast’ it was, in retrospect, far too violent and just plain nasty than the musings of a nine-year old has any right to be.
At school, he resisted his careers teacher’s advice (which was to become a postman, like his dad) and attended Bournemouth University, then worked in the television industry before undertaking a career as a lecturer.
In 2001, he achieved an MA in Screenwriting at Liverpool John Moores University and won the Lynda La Plante Screenwriting Award. In 2005, he took a year’s sabbatical and lived in the South West of France, where he wrote the first draft of his children’s novel ‘The Time Hunters.’
In the not too distant future, Carl Ashmore may well be a name you’ll hear more of in the literary world.
1. What or who inspired you to write your book?
The idea was the inspiration. In 2005, I had an idea about a teenage girl who discovers her uncle is a time traveller and becomes embroiled in a murder mystery and search through time for the Golden Fleece.
The more I considered the possibilities of fusing legend with history, myth with reality, the more it excited me. I reached a point the story had to exist outside my head and so began to write.
However, two years ago, my dad died suddenly and eleven months later my beautiful daughter, Alice, (pictured) was born.
These events sharpened my focus– initially as a way of dealing with grief (‘The Time Hunters’ contains a strong surrogate parent/child relationship) and as a story for Alice to enjoy in the future.
2. Where do you get your creative ideas from?
Ideas come from anywhere and everywhere – books, films, websites, museums, art galleries. Of course, the best ideas pop into my head at the most inopportune moments. I had a cracking idea surrounded by bubbles in the Jacuzzi at my local gym. Needless to say, I had no paper to hand.
3. Do you see writing as a career?
That would be a dream come true.
4. Can you share a little of your experience on Harper Collins Website, Authonomy?
Authonomy is what you make it. Some use it a social networking site for writers, others as an aggressive means of self-promotion. Personally, I have gained valuable advice from the community and feel it has improved my craft. I think Harper Collins has done an excellent job creating a forum for writers to gather, share ideas and offer critiques and I’m thankful for the opportunity to hone my skills and learn from others.
Indeed, a fellow Authonomite and gold star winner, Mel Comley, undertook a detailed edit of the full manuscript, for which I shall be eternally grateful.
I was immensely proud when ‘The Time Hunters’ became the most successful children’s book of all time on the site.
5. Why did you choose to write for children?
I would never want to write anything else. Writing for children allows me to explore the most fundamental themes – courage, honour, decency, identity, whilst also stretching my imagination to its limits.
In ‘The Time Hunters’ I visit Ancient Greece, Victorian England, Ice Age Kansas and Jurassic London; my characters include Will Scarlet, Jason and the Argonauts, a vegetarian Minotaur and a Megalosaurus called Harold.
Writing for adults could never offer such opportunity for fun. Besides, I’m a big kid so technically I write for an adult audience too.
6. How long did it take to write your book?
I wrote the first draft in six months. Sadly, (although I wasn’t aware of it at the time) it was utter rubbish. It took five years of redrafting for the book to be what I wanted it to be.
7. What do you think makes a good story?
This is by far your hardest question. I could state the obvious – strong, well realised characters, clear and accessible prose, imaginative and unexpected plot developments, but I really don’t know. What I would say is never underestimate your reader, particularly the younger reader. Most children are infinitely more discerning than adults.
8. Tell us about your favourite book and author?
I really have too many to mention. Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ is probably my all-time favourite. I cannot imagine a more entertaining and imaginative book. JK Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ comes a very close second.
9. Have you any advice for new authors?
Writing a novel is one of the most time consuming, frustrating and joyous things you can do. Therefore, you must fully believe your story should exist in one form or another before you start. Write when you cannot not write! Does that make sense?
10. What are your future writing ambitions?
Like so many writers, I would love to gain an agent and ultimately a publishing contract. I have planned a sequel to ‘The Time Hunters’ and am writing another book about a fourteen year old boy who becomes embroiled in an ancient, hidden war between a contemporary Knights Templar and Hell Demons.
The fact is, whether I’m published or not, I intend to keep writing children’s stories. After all, I now have an audience of one to please and it’s the most important audience I can think of. And I hope when Alice is older she can appreciate her dad was capable of doing something other that dance like a buffoon, intentionally embarrass her in front of her friends and nag her to clean her room. Actually, I’d never do the last one. I’m something of a slob.
I’d like to express my thanks to Carl Ashmore for his kind co-operation, and also wish him every success with the publication of his books.
Carl has since written two other books for children ‘The Night they Nicked Saint Nick’ and ‘Bernard and the Bibble’
Read excerpts of ‘The Time Hunters’ (Young Adult Fiction) on Authonomy
You can contact Carl at: email@example.com.
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