Hey there everyone.
It’s time for my favourite thing in the whole week – a chance to find out more about a new novel and the background behind the person who created it!
For tonight’s entertainment, please let me introduce you all to author Robert Wingfield, as we find out about his latest book release and he shares some excellent advice on how to write well too!
Thanks for reading and as always have fun reading, writing and learning! 🙂
Hi there Robert, a sincere pleasure to have you here today to discuss your latest book release, along with your own passions, influences and writing experiences.
Let’s start with your latest Science Fiction novel release, which just came out a few days ago – “Countdown to Omega”, where Ancient Aliens meet Greek Gods in an epic confrontation that could spell the end of the world! Tell us more about the plot and themes of your book, along with giving us some background information on the world your protagonists and antagonists inhabit too.
The work was triggered by a dream of a friend, who saw black orbs crashing into the sea. Taking it from there, I got to wondering what the orbs might contain, and settled on them being escape pods from a space disaster.
I’ve always been interested in the theories that our planet had been visited by an alien race in the past. Indeed, all the ancient religious books and records refer to gods, fiery dragons etc., so why shouldn’t these entities be another race? That meant the story should be set long ago, and I based it on a record by a Sumerian scribe, Ishur Ninku, who detailed the ‘Strangers with the eyes of Men’ as far back as 4000BCE. Hence the setting. I then thought that these strangers could have taken the roles of the gods, and the best pantheon of course is the Greek. That fixed some of the names, but I steered clear of the usual ones to save the story sounding too contrived. Hence, Apollo becomes Phoebus, one of his alternative names, and so on. Our heroine becomes Anthea, eventually Athena, the goddess of Athens, but the story is set in Mesopotamia to begin with.
Following on, my Greek expert came up with the information that the Greek alphabet is based on a prayer, and between us we worked out what that prayer might actually be, and thence used it as the structure of the story. The amulet Anthea wears then collected the letters in order, and begins the countdown as the aliens draw ever nearer.
Anthea and two of the aliens who arrived in the orbs have the limited time, as measured by the amulet, to work out how they are going to prevent the rest of the alien fleet from sterilising their planet and terraforming it into something they can settle on. It is not helped by one of the other aliens having taken over the settlement and is passing himself off as a god to the primitives living there.
Thence follows the adventures Anthea has, trying to collect enough people to challenge the settlement, depose the alien, and form a defence against the arrival of the main fleet.
All through the work, there are explanations of some unexplained ancient structures across our world, odd events such as the pillar of salt recorded from Sodom and Gomorrah, and the theory that modern man was partially genetically engineered by this super race who are visiting (and have visited, centuries before).
You also have other books written in different genres including gothic horror, travel, satire and ghost stories for us to check out. Please tell us more about your other books. (Feel free to include as much detail as you want here regarding your releases or you can just provide us with book summaries for each series)
Countdown to Omega is a one-off on this subject, but the ideas of the Nephilim and their existence in our souls has bubbled over into the Ankerita series of modern Gothic horror, beginning with the eponymous named ‘Ankerita’.
Currently standing at three books, the series starts with the rebirth of a Tudor hermit into modern times. The lady herself is buried in a ruined abbey in Shropshire, England. She used to have a grave slab, but for some reason there was never a face carved on it, only the clothing and the pose, and a description around the edges. It was removed to prevent damage from visitors, and this triggered the idea that her soul was now free and waiting for a receptive body to inhabit.
The body arrives in the form of a petty thief, and Ankerita takes him over, regaining her original form. She now has the ability to move around the modern world, but all the time, the presence of the body owner is nagging to reclaim her. Being of both worlds, she also has the ability to see spirits and demons, and is pursued by people traffickers, because she has no identity, and the police, who suspect her of murders and disappearances. Hers is a perilous journey, concluding with a heart-rending showdown with her original husband.
The second book, ‘Requiem for the Forgotten Path’ takes her further, and is based on the Thirteen Treasures of Albion, which she has to track down and then perform a sacred ritual, in order to save her best friend.
The third book is called ‘Strangers with the Eyes of Men’, and this brings the Nephilim theme into modern times, surmising that the souls of the Nephilim are reborn in people today. It brings back two evil people from the Nazi regime to wreak havoc. Ankerita has to try to stop them, while still keeping ahead of the factions determined to ensnare her.
In all instances, she is aided and hindered by a demon that only supports her when there is mischief to be done. He is invisible to most people, but can be seen by small children, cats, and occasionally, estate agents (joke).
The satirical books of the ‘Dan Provocations’ are all science fiction but based on the absurdities of our own world. The Legend of Dan and Third Universe are partially inspired by Douglas Adams, and have that sort of feeling to them, but the following three, ‘Into the Fourth Universe’, ‘The Fifth Correction’ and ‘The Fourteenth Adjustment’ are full satire on the modern world, including the stupidities of big business, the rise of car-parking forces, and the bureaucracy of controlling governments, as well as highlighting a future where pollution has overwhelmed the environment.
There are two books in the Orinoco Voyages. These are modern day ‘Swallows and Amazons’ style works. I wondered what AR would write had he been still producing books today and took a sailing course to find out. The first book, The Mystery of the Lake, records some of those experiences, as seen through the eyes of the youngsters, and adds in a treasure hunt and a brush with a bunch of criminals. The second, ‘The Mystery of the Midnight Sun’ takes the adventures a stage further, and ends up in a remote village in Norway, and a life or death situation for them.
The travel books of the One Man in a Bus series were partially inspired by the Jerome K Jerome, Three Men series. Whilst being informative, and occasionally educational, they are light-hearted travelogues of my adventures on tours around some of the lesser known holiday destinations, an attempt to convey the actual experience, rather than the usual travel tomes.
And then there is the one off ‘Everyone’s guide to Not being an Old Person’. This is an illustrated satire on old people, and what they do to convey that appearance of ‘oldness’. I live in an area where there are a good proportion of retired, and some behave old, where others don’t. The guide is to point out what old people do, and how to stop themselves doing it. There is even a quiz at the end of the book, so that people can work out their actual age (for fun only).
If you could invite any one of your characters to dinner, which one would it be and what would you cook for them? (Since you have multiple different novels, feel free to pick more than one if you prefer or just focus on your current novel release😊)
In the beginning, it would have to be Ankerita. Pick up on some of the real goings on in Tudor times. As an anchoress, she would have been party to much local gossip.
I’d invite the Magus, from the Dan series. He is an enigmatic character, and there is no real way of knowing where he came from, so some interrogation would be involved. He loves a good drink, so we would probably go down the pub and try out the real ales there.
If I was going to choose someone from Omega, it would be Diana the Gaian. No cooking here, but a fancy restaurant to blow all my remaining cash. What an amazing character to be seen with.
If any of your novels were to be made into films (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?
For Omega, Anthea would have to be played by Eleanor Tomlinson (Demelza from Poldark), but the novels I’d really like to televise would be the Ankerita series. The Gothic horror, spooky elements would provide constant shocks and occasional sniggers. Ankerita would be Kaya Scodelario, with Bradley Cooper as Brother Francis, Iain Glenn as Yolo Jones, MacKenzie Crook as Wesley, William Shatner as Abbot Hunt, and Jeremy Corbin as Thomas Plantagenet (the likeness of Jeremy to King John is staggering).
What would you choose as your own personal mascot or spirit animal when it comes to you and your style of writing?
My writing style usually has lots of action, and moves quickly through the story, so it would have to be something very active, like a nine-month-old Labrador puppy, although if I had one, I’d never get anything done.
What do you think most characterizes or defines your writing? Do you have any writing quirks or themes that constantly crop up in your stories?
I tend to write about the things that fire me at the time, so pollution and conservation turn up occasionally, and recently the ideas of the ancient aliens have provided much material. I would like to think that my writing is crafted, and I call myself a ‘wordsmith’. Some talented people are able to write the story from end to end, needing only the editor to smooth it over, but I get my ideas down and then rewrite and craft and rewrite, sometimes changing the whole story as it develops. Each book takes up to six months to write, if I can keep myself focused.
What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?
Keeping myself going is the most difficult. There are so many other distractions that drag me away: from aging relatives, to the four-legged friend, to housework and even computer games, the latter can take many hours, but sometimes one needs a diversion away from the constant pressure of the writing.
Easiest is collecting the ideas. The world is full of inspiration. E.g. people sit and complain, ‘I can’t believe it’s taken this long…’ whereas I see that as material for the next satire. Brexit has already featured in the Dan series as ‘Fuksit’ and the absurdity of paying at the airport to drop someone off was the basis for a large part of ‘The Fourteenth Adjustment’. Then there are all the scientific breakthroughs, which only need to be projected to see the future in vivid colour. The trouble with satire though, is that sometimes the stuff I write about comes true. Argh.
Who are some of the authors, musicians, poets and/or historical figures that inspire you?
Robert Rankin, PG Wodehouse, Jerome K Jerome, Tanith Lee, Jack Vance. Not sure about poets, unless you can class Dante Rossetti and the other Pre-Raphaelites under that heading. The PR Brotherhood inspired my creation of the Inca Project, a group of like-minded independent authors loosely collaborating to help each other get published.
My main historical figure is John of Gaunt, a man who had connections with so many kings, yet was never one himself. He was the father of Henry IV (parts one and two). Others include King Arthur, a guy we meet in the Ankerita series, along with an explanation of why he could never be tracked in history, and Thomas Plantagenet, who built Dunstanburgh Castle amongst others. Further afield, we meet the Byzantine king, Basil the Bulgar Slayer, who features in books 4 & 5 of the Dan series as Basil the Burglar Slayer, and a host of others.
Do you listen to music when you are writing and if so, then what type of music do you listen to?
Occasionally. ‘Ankerita, Seasons out of Time’, was inspired by a single line in a haunting song by the prog band, IQ. The time vortex in the Legend of Dan is from Hawkwind, and a band called Seventh Wave, and of course the Nephilim in Omega actually speak in musical notes, making music the language of the gods (which explains why we like it so much).
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
It depends on the book. The travel ones are easy. Go there, do that, record it, but with the humorous slant to make the story entertaining.
Omega was put together from the knowledge of my Greek expert and much research into the Greek gods, ancient aliens, and a knowledge of the Bible and other holy books.
Ankerita involved a lot of background work concerning her family, including meeting an actual descendant who still lives in the manor she was brought up in (sadly demolished, but he lives in the ‘new’ one that replaced it in 1630). Then the spiritual encounters are based on actual experiences, some of them my own, because I am an amateur ghost hunter and diviner, and the rest of the detail from internet research into the concentration camps, and so on. Police procedure was discussed with a retired copper, and other information is gleaned from newspaper reports and TV.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
Everyone has a story in their head. It takes time and effort to put it down, though. I had been making anguished jottings since a young age, but things took off when I got one of the original laptops, discarded from work —a Data General 1 (now donated to the Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park), along with a word processer called ‘Smart’. The Legend of Dan came together on that machine, heavily influenced by Douglas Adams, but since rewritten so many times that all you will find remaining are a few quirky phrases and the footnotes. Some of the episodes are based on trips to Eire, including the name of the arch-baddie, Oilflig Phoist, and others on adventures in Denmark, with a broken Audi 100, hence the creation of the Skagan race.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
Always have several books on the go at one time. I’m currently working on ideas for three new books. For a complete block, pick up one of your old works and make it a little slicker, or redesign the covers for some of them to give them a whole fresh feel. I am fortunate in that my agent keeps on at me whenever I start flagging, but if you haven’t got one, then get a friend or partner to nag you. If you’re only working on one book, read it through to them if you get stuck, and ask them where it should go next. I have different contacts for each genre and share the progress with them.
Beware though, the emotional vampires, who are not interested in what you are doing, and would rather take your time up in other ways. If you have a partner, make sure they are on board with what you are doing, and support you. Otherwise ditch them. Always retain, in order of priority, the dog, the book, and then the partner. I say the dog is top priority, because not only are they your ever-loyal friend, but they get you out of the house into the fresh air. You can’t spend all your life at the keyboard. Your priorities are health first, then the book, then happiness and domestic bliss. You can’t truly be a writer (or artist of any sort) unless you suffer some anguish.
You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?
I’m largely happy the way things have turned out so far. Those things I would like to change can’t be changed anyway. Fate has taken me on a course which has all built up to where I am now. I gave up working after a personal tragedy, figuring that we are all wasting our time trying to make money simply to pay the fare to get to work, and have an occasional splash on an exotic holiday. If I want abroad, I now have enough friends through the Inca Project to visit, and not spend too much. One can live quite comfortably on a lot less income than you would think, if you don’t bother with trivialities like food and heat. 200 years ago, I’d have been in a seedy garret, freezing to death in winter and boiling in summer—and I did spend some time like that in the days of my youth, again valuable life experience.
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
Many pastimes. Always the dog needs attention and exercise, but I do a bit of DIY (essential maintenance), play a few computer games to put my mind in neutral (Skyrim being one of my favourites, because the open world it contains is a fantasy escape—and I don’t even write fantasy. Odd isn’t it?) I have my grandson to entertain occasionally and pick up on his traits for a character in the children’s books. I have my son to amuse, also occasionally, because he is into railways and programming big time—I cut my teeth on modern computing, but he is way ahead of me, so becomes my technical consultant in the kit I use. I might still have the odd ale or two, and potter around the country visiting the old ancestors and friends. In fact, in November I am in Lancashire, supporting two of the other Incas, who have actually had books published through real publishing houses, in talks to aspiring authors. My expertise lies in the formatting and presentation of the manuscripts, so I will be sharing some of my experiences with them.
What are you views on audiobooks and would you consider having your novels made into audiobooks? If so, then who would you get to narrate them?
I do like the idea of audiobooks, and did have a go producing one of my short stories for my grandson, but the recording quality was not good enough for the retailers, who of course would like me to pay them to get someone else to read them in a special studio. As an impoverished author, I haven’t got that sort of money to invest, and I can’t see the returns even coming near to offsetting the costs.
Having said that, Stephen Fry lives just down the road, so I should become chummy with him and get him to do them for free, in return for becoming an honorary Inca. He would do a grand job.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
Yes, the sixth book in the Dan series, hereto untitled, the fourth Ankerita ‘Shadow of the Nephilim’, the third Mystery YA, ‘Mystery of Shark Island’. I don’t have anything to follow Omega yet, it being pretty final in its own right, but that’s what I thought about the ‘Legend of Dan’, and here we are, beginning book six.
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
Experience things. I always wondered if it would be worth getting sent to prison, just so I could write a book based on that, but seriously, everything you do, don’t just let it wash away, but record the memories and the feelings. If you can find humour in situations, write about that. Everything you do is a potential story. You only have to read Syros, One Man in a Hat, to see how a simple trip can become an epic.
Read. Lots of books. Read in the genre you want to write about. See how other authors put their talent into the writing. See what they do that you hate, and what you love. Take their experience and make your own books as good. Self-published authors can be equally good, so perhaps help a few of them out. You can see if they make mistakes and learn from them. I was the submissions editor for a small publishing company for a while (another experience) and I saw some excellent and absorbing works come across my electronic desk, but equally there were a few that made you want to eat your own foot. All are valuable because you see everything. The ‘look inside’ option on some retailers is great. You can tell if you even want to start reading, and then only get works that you find absorbing. Oh, and when you’ve finished, if you liked it, do put in a positive review, and not, like one I had, “It was brilliant, I loved it, best book ever, four stars – because I never give more than four stars…” Duh, what?
Keep at it. Once you start writing, set aside a small amount of time each day. Even 15 minutes is enough. Just make sure you write something down in that time, even if it is only planning the structure of your work. When you get into the book, set a word target for each session. You can start with 100 words and work up from that. Once you get the buzz, you will find you can do 1000 or more. On one day with ‘Strangers’, I reached 9000 words. I was so wrapped up in it. Wore me out. I really should have taken a break, but I didn’t have a dog at that time.
Get rid of distractions (apart from the dog). It is difficult to concentrate if people are milling around you or pestering you with questions and demands. Switch off your phone. Again, it is very disturbing if every few minutes the phone goes off with a text or call, or someone posting a picture of their dinner on Twitface. You might need a separate room, or in extreme cases, desert the family home and set up shop in a local café or library—if you choose the local café, get yourself a security cable to lock around the table leg. There is nothing more demotivating than seeing your life’s work disappearing on the back of a moped.
Be good. Don’t write loads and expect it to sell, unless it fills some imagined demand or talks about something everyone is interested in, but nobody will talk about, or satisfies some new trend in the reading public. To be good, you need to write the story, go through it yourself and rewrite, then get a trusted and critical friend to read it and comment, and you rewrite, and finally, if you are still not happy, get a proper editor to read it and correct. Bear in mind that if the story sucks, a paid editor won’t tell you. Listen to that trusted friend for their impressions and advice. If they say it is very good, they are lying to you, to spare your feelings. It can always be better. Find someone who will tell it how it is.
Be patient. Some say that writing the novel is the easy bit. You will have to submit to many publishers or agents to even get a nibble. Pushing your masterpiece will take considerable time and effort.
Be thick-skinned. You will have many disappointments and rejection mails. Be like Diane Chambers from ‘Cheers’, call them ‘Soon to be Accepted’ letters, and file them for when you do get that break. If you get bad reviews, read them, see what is wrong, and put it right. If someone says, “I didn’t expect this”, then your book description needs revising. Remember, set your customer’s expectations, and then meet them, and you can’t go wrong.
Don’t pay. There are many people who are happy to help aspiring authors with their cash surplus. In fact, sometimes I think that some organisations are kept running by authors paying for their own works. Watch out for vanity publishers. You can do it yourself for free, and you don’t get tied into some crippling contract. Also, advertising can be a scam. You can get caught in a ‘pay for click’ trap, where every time someone clicks on your ad, you have to pay a tiny amount. Not a problem, you think, until you realise that there are organisations out there who pay people to spend their entire time clicking on adverts, just to get the hit rate up. I have never met anyone yet who can tell me that the cost of their placing an advert has been covered by the extra sales.
Backup. I cannot stress this enough. Get yourself a memory stick, and back up your current work to it, at least every day, but I would recommend every time you leave your word processor. Most WP’s have the auto-backup feature. Switch it on and set for 30 minutes. That way the most you can lose in event of power failure or worse is 30 minutes’ work. Backing up to memory stick, and removing it after the backup, protects your work against viruses and even malware encrypting your machine. Give each backup a new revision level, don’t simply overwrite the existing file. That way, if there is a big mistake somewhere that, say, wiped a couple of chapters, you can always go back to previous versions, until you find the one before it happened.
Finally, don’t expect to make any money. If you think writing is a career, it isn’t, unless you get that big break, and we all know that a break is 90% pure luck, if you are not an established writer, or come from the correct background. Journalism is usually a good starting point, although celebrity in other areas can be: get yourself kidnapped by terrorists, and if you survive, a book about your experiences will sell. Be a film star, drive the world’s banking system into the ground, write an expose of a celebrity are all other ways to get into writing.
And if you do get that big break, well done, brilliant work. Now you can afford that extra Lambo. Just make sure you can survive if things don’t go as well as you’d like.
And that’s a wrap! Thank you for joining us Robert, along with generously sharing all of your writing advice and experiences, we look forward to reading all of your books soon! 🙂
Robert Wingfield was born at an early age, worked in computer systems and security at a large bank, and got out as soon as possible to follow his passion for the written word.
He writes a mass of different genres, including for young adults, gothic horror, science fiction, travel, general satire and ghost stories.
He is actively helping a number of authors and small publishers with editing and formatting works in paper and e-book format.
He runs the Inca Project, a small group of authors who are struggling to get their works recognised, to get the maximum impact through presentation.
His other interests include digital forensics, nature and building conservation, photography, and resisting emotional blackmail from his Labrador.
You can connect with Robert via the following Social Media channels:-
Facebook:- Robert Wingfield – Author (FB)
Website:- The Website of Author Robert Wingfield
You can buy his books here:-
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.