“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Today we are chatting with Paul Anthony about his background, writing life, and latest titles. Get ready to be educated and entertained by one of the best writers of our time.
Featured Book Title: Septimus
Genre: Historical Fiction / Thriller
Hello, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Answer: I’m a retired police officer living in the Lake District, England. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the UK to live. We are a mile from Hadrian’s Roman Wall, ten miles from the Scottish border, and about twenty miles from Lake Ullswater. My wife is a retired nurse and we have three children and six grandchildren. A former counter-terrorism detective, I specialize in crime thrillers, true crime, espionage and anthologies for various charities. I’ve been published by a vanity publisher and a commissioning traditional publisher, but I much prefer the self-publishing path. I describe myself as an independent publisher responsible for editing, book covers, marketing, and everything else that goes with the book business. I have absolutely no desire to look for a traditional publisher and often wonder why so-called ‘indie writers’ spend endless hours looking for a publisher. It’s quite possible to achieve tremendous goals without help from these big companies.
Discuss your newest book.
Answer: My latest novel is entitled ‘Septimus’ and it is a welcome departure from my usual foray into crime genres. Having written two detective series I decided to take a break, refresh the mind, and produce something entirely different. Septimus is about the Roman invasion of the Lake District, a man called Hallin who stands in the way of the invasion, and a subsequent incursion into Caledonia (Scotland) where the Romans never really manage to succeed. More importantly, it’s about the characters in the book and how they interact with each other in times of war and peace. Hallin is the leader of a tribe and trades his skill with the Romans in order to try and forge a peace between them. This is quite a complex thing to try and achieve given a constant background of jealousy, treachery, betrayal, and murder as individuals within their own peer groups try to overcome each other and increase their personal power base. Some years back I wrote the history of the family name and learned more about my great uncle. His name was Septimus too. He was one of the first recorded white men to cross the River Sioux complex into Indian country. He was a scout for the US Cavalry and lived in what is now called South Dakota. Readers of Septimus will soon see how my great uncle’s life story inspired ‘Septimus’ and what drove me to write the novel.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Answer: I suspect it all began with reading. As a youngster, I read books written by Enid Blyton. A famous UK writer, she wrote children’s adventure books featuring the ‘famous five’ and the ‘secret seven’. These stories took you into the adventurous mind of a child and, somewhere inside there, it sticks. When you come out the other end, you want to be a writer yourself because inside you think – I wonder if I could write stories too?
What are your current projects?
Answer: I’m currently writing the next Boyd crime thriller. Boyd is a Cumbrian detective who gets posted into the nation’s Special Crime Unit. Here, he works with elite officers on major crime, serial homicide, terrorism, espionage, and all things internationally evil. These books have proved very popular over the years and have an excellent following here in the UK. Each one is a ‘stand-alone’.
What books have most influenced your life?
Answer: It’s not so much the books as the authors. My favorite authors are Gerald Seymour, Jack Higgins, Clive Cussler, and Terence Strong. They are thriller writers. Comparatively, you’ll often see me deep inside a non-fiction book studying another language, a religion, a political or economic doctrine, a biography, or a sports manual.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Answer: I was studying for a degree and writing assignments at 4 am every Sunday morning. When I finished the degree, my wife suggested I continued and inspired me to write my first novel. She told me I had a book deep inside me waiting to get out. I followed her advice and eventually published The Fragile Peace. Since then, I’ve written over 20 novels in the various crime genres but I tend not to write at 4 am on a Sunday morning anymore.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Answer: All my novels carry a message of some kind and that is not at all unusual. Crime writers generally promote good over evil and readers find themselves taking sides with the various characters that an author has written about. They are not that different from romance novels because readers find themselves drawn inside a good book supporting a character (or not) and wanting to know what happens next’. I try to entertain readers whilst also enlightening and informing wherever possible. My novel, White Eagle, for example, offers an explanation as to how terrorism can be avoided. Sound crazy and unlikely? Not if you turned the clock back to the end of various wars and incursions and rewrote the so-called peace agreements. (In some cases there are no peace agreements, hence we have continuing conflict) Terrorism, if you want to focus on that for a moment, is generally rooted in religion and sovereignty. Delivering a thought-provoking message at the same time as delivering a good read is not a bad thing to do.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Answer: Constantly developing new plots that haven’t been used before whilst simultaneously writing at a pace that will keep the reader held and enthusiastic about the book they are reading.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Answer: Finding the time. I’m retired and enjoying life yet I still don’t have enough hours in the day.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Answer: I’ve always looked upon my writing career as a hobby. Finding quality time to do something you enjoy is quite easy. You just move the goalposts so that you can do what you do best.
What book are you reading now?
Answer: I’ve just finished ‘Blue’ by John Sutherland. It’s an autobiography written by a senior police officer here in the UK and it’s an excellent read.
What does your writing process look like?
Answer: I write when it suits me and when the plot is ready to go down on paper. Most of the time I form a plot in my head, sit and make notes, draft it out into chapters and then – when I’m ready – I sit down and put it all together properly. It can take anything from three to nine months for me to write a book that I’m more than happy with.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Answer: Enjoy time with our family mainly – but I enjoy the gym and weightlifting, learning to speak Spanish, playing a guitar, and ballroom dancing.
From where do you gain your inspiration?
Answer: Usually from thinking about what I am about to write next.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
Answer: The advantages of self-publishing are that you can be totally independent and enjoy a work-life balance of your own structure. The disadvantages of being published by a large company is that you are in effect employed by them to write to timescales set by them. Both courses of action can be immensely successful. It really depends how much you want to put into the route you take and how much freedom you want to enjoy yourself. I think the reality is that all writers are vain. It’s in their nature. Another reality is that there are very few authors who actually make a lifelong living from writing books. Of course, they exist, but there are thousands of writers who will never make it a full-time life-enduring career for a hatful of reasons. Being retired, you can perhaps see why I favor a course that delivers a good work-life balance.
How do you market your books?
Answer: Daily via social media, by word of mouth, guest speaking at various functions, author interviews like this one, and having a good batch of business cards that are handed to people you meet on life’s journey. Wherever I go, I usually present a card detailing my website to anyone who might be interested in reading.
Why did you choose this route?
Answer: Historically, experience reveals what works and what doesn’t. Basically, marketing is a numbers game. The bigger the audience you create, the bigger your readership can grow.
What are your views on social media for marketing?
Answer: I think the book groups on Facebook are excellent devices to present your work. Using Twitter and LinkedIn also provide an audience and lead to more connections.
Would you or do you use a PR agency?
Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Answer: Try to market every day on various platforms and try to diversify the style of marketing so that you are not seen to be delivering the same constant message over and over again. A book cover displayed is great but when displayed continuously day after day to the same platforms, it becomes potentially boring and doesn’t catch the eye of the reader.
What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
Answer: Coffee time in the morning and a half hour burst at night.
What do you do to get book reviews?
Answer: Nothing at all. I always hope for reviews but I don’t chase people for them. I think that is unfair. In any event, I’m very skeptical about reviews since there are far too many people willing to pay for reviews, give books away for reviews, swop for reviews, barter, and trade for reviews – almost to the point of ridicule. The world of ‘reviews’ lacks honesty on occasions.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Answer: Work hard, keep on writing, and never give your book away for free. Everything has a value however good or bad it is.
How can readers discover more about you and you work
Answer: Links to my website and blog site are below, as well as my Amazon page.
Thank you, Paul, for allowing us to get to know you and have a glimpse into your writing life. We appreciate your sharing some important points for writers of all genres and look forward to reading your novels.
This is where you can find me on book platforms and social media sites. I’ll be writing and sharing on social media. Hope to see you there, too! Carolyn Bowen
Social Media Hangouts!
These are a few of my social media hangouts! Drop by and say hello!
February – I love you!
It was a dark and stormy morning providing the perfect background for writing my next crime fiction. I am writing again and am thankful for my fans that have encouraged me to write a new novel. You are most appreciated!
I’m looking for beta readers to provide feedback on the finished manuscript and book reviewers for my current novels. If you’re interested, just let me know and I’ll provide a Kindle version for your reading pleasure.
I’ve spent the last few months studying my craft believing that it’ll improve my writing skills. I can’t wait to see the results applied to my new novel. Of course, the studies will continue but this does dip into my time slot for reviewing new books by my favorite authors. But I’ll catch up shortly!
I don’t know about you – but I love the month of February. Valentine’s Day is a special occasion for me. It’s like love is in the air. Do you have anything special planned for the holiday?
Another reason I enjoy February is that I know spring is right around the corner. For me, that means I need to get serious about my exercise program. I want to look especially “fine” for the coming seasons. If you have a routine that provides buff abs, send it to me. Right now, I have to hide from my cats with my exercise ball to keep them from popping it with their claws.
Where to Buy My Novels
Check at your favorite online bookstores and corner bookshops. Click the direct link to begin reading on Amazon. Happy reading!
Many authors I know pull from events or people from their own lives for inspiration or storyline. I’ve never been that way personally. I’m an extremely private person by nature, so it’s very unusual for me to use any of myself in my books. That is actually my favorite thing about writing; I’m able to fully create worlds and people out of thin air. It allows you to become whoever you want for the moment. I usually create a main character that is nothing like me because it allows me to be and do all the things I’ve always wanted to.
I’ve had a very eventful life. Those who know me well always ask why I’ve never drawn from my real life for a novel since my life is pretty much a lifetime movie. The idea of writing anything close to home has always been completely horrifying to me. (Super private remember?)
I have a pretty unique situation where I lost my hearing at eighteen years old. (You can read more about it in my letter to the reader in Silent Song.) Deafness is one of those subjects that most people think they understand…but actually, don’t. There is so much more to deafness than not being able to hear. There are levels (decibels) of sound that is so intricate that it is much more than just you can hear or not.
A few years ago I read a book that had a deaf main character. The book was amazing, but there were so many things that weren’t accurate. It wasn’t glaringly obvious unless you were deaf, but it really bothered me. I had brought up the issue to a good author friend of mine and I’ll never forget what she said to me.
“The only way to fix this problem Jaci is to set it straight. That means you are going to have to write the story of a deaf person from their perspective. Show people not only your world but help them understand the deaf world. Who else will?”
I instantly shut her down. There’s no way I’m writing anything close my life. A few months went by and then I had to explain a few things about deafness to people that they just never knew. Like just because you speak English doesn’t mean deaf people can write in English without a struggle. Almost every hearing person I talked to didn’t know that American Sign Language is NOT English. It has its own structure and rules like any other language. ASL is my second language, but it’s the main one I use at home with my husband. It’s hard for my brain to switch back and forth between ASL and English. Because of this, I tend to change tenses when I write, which is very frowned upon in writing. I’m pretty sure I’ve driven every editor I’ve ever had to drink over this little fact.
After having to explain this to several people over a very short amount of time I finally came to terms with the fact that I was going to have to write a story with a deaf character.
I decided to go home and just see if I even had a story in me. I don’t outline, ever. I just start writing. I usually write the end first, then the beginning and fill in the middle. (Yeah I’m weird.) So I went home and just started writing to see if I even had a story in me…and I couldn’t stop. I wrote through the night, and all weekend long. By the time I took a break I had almost written half of the book. This is the only book I didn’t have to re-write or revise. It was trapped deep down and apparently ready to be freed. I cried more while writing this story than I have probably ever cried in my life. But it was also the most cathartic thing I‘ve ever done.
This story isn’t my own, but the feelings are completely mine. The painful feelings, fears, and passion are all mine even though the story belongs to Barrett alone.
Quote of the Day: The 99.99% of all castles in America are located in fish tanks. Demetri Martin
My Great Expectations for Bubba Blue
If you know me, you’ll know that I have fish named after the heroines in my novels. That is except my newest Siamese fighting fish (Betta Fish), Bubba Blue. He’s so bold and fearless – Tookie our cat with paws grasping the inside the aquarium to say good morning doesn’t scare him or me either.
It’s a ritual – Tookie wakes up and greets Bubba Blue with his face smashed against the glass! For the most part, even his brother by another mother, tabby Ollie, believes his desire for closeness is overwhelming, but not for Bubba Blue. They do this kissy thing and go about their own day.
I decided Bubba Blue needed a water filter (contraption) for his tank and off I went to the nearest big box store to purchase one. It’s the holiday season so I waited in line for my turn and was excited about hooking it up when I got home. Note: Betta Fish are not typically required filters but I was spending way too much money buying Betta water for our tap water even with recommended products still stunk after a few days.
I excitingly opened the box and read the directions for mounting this new life breather for Bubba Blue. Only the box didn’t contain all the necessary parts as indicated on the marketing blitz on the outside of the box. I had a choice – should I go online and find and order the missing parts from a reliable source? Trust me; I’m not going to wait in line to return it!
I went to my go-to reviews for products – Amazonand found something even better that would have saved me from the get-go of buying Bubba Blue. I should have brought him home and put him in a large clear vase with the roots of a Peace Lily to munch on while we waited for our purchase to arrive. But, I didn’t!
The good news is that Bubba Blue will have a new home soon. It will give him the space for swimming and enjoy the aquatic plants. Tookie can watch him 24-7 with the new light filters. I can’t wait to watch them play hide-n-seek!
Just remember the folks who draw your attention to shopping at Amazon. These Affiliates strive to bring you the corner store atmosphere while providing you their best offerings from Amazon. This is their local storefront and they pay plenty for that online website privilege. You know about Amazon, in part, because of these influencers! Bookmark their pages and when you order – place it through their websites where they’ll get a commission. It won’t cost you a dime more and these are the people who have influenced buyers to shop – Amazon! Make sure they get a piece of the pie!
My bookmark is set at Roadtrips R Us (since 2011) – making daily food holidays and history come alive with the best in travel, in-house chef-inspired food recipes, and entertainment. Check them out and bookmark their Corner Gift Shop!
Now that Bubba Blue is all set and the Kitties seem happy too, I’ll sign off for now! Happy Holidays, Carolyn Bowen
Social Media Hangouts!
These are a few of my social media hangouts! Drop by soon and say hello!
Let’s not look at November as a dark and dreary month but one where we reflect on our blessings of the year. However, the overcast shadowing of the skies acts as a prompt for some great mystery writing. I’m thankful the season sets the mood for some interesting novel ideas.
I appreciate your support of my writing and the kind reviews you have left on different book platforms. You make the writing life fun and exciting!
Readers – Reviewers Wanted
I’m looking for book lovers interested in reviewing Cross-Ties (Historical Romance) and The Long Road Home (Crime Fiction, Mystery/Thriller). Please leave a comment and I’ll provide a Kindle version of the books for your reading pleasure.
Thanks for following my blog. I hope to see you on social media! These are a few of the bookstores where you’ll find my novels. For additional places, check with your favorite online or corner bookstore. Wishing you a sweet November! Carolyn Bowen
Quote of the Day: Fallen leaves lying on the grass in the November sun bring more happiness than the daffodils. Cyril Connolly
The Fall season is a great time to reflect and give thanks for the blessings of the year. I am grateful for the wonderful surprises and the high points this year.
The writing life puts us in the path of meeting some of the best authors in the world. That being said, I am grateful for the opportunity to read and review novels by Wayne Kerr.
I was delighted to get the first read of his upcoming release “Framed” featuring former detective Reggie Swann. Mark your calendar for November 15th to purchase it from Amazon and/or your favorite bookstores. Can’t wait? Preorder your copy today from Amazon.
Kerr has articulated the inside scoop on the former homicide detective Reggie Swann now serving time for murder. Dubbed the “Black Swan” since her trial she now wore orange like the other prison inmates. The difference was that she was hated by both them and the prison guards who were once considered her fellow comrades of the law.
It had been almost ten years since she was incarcerated and after many failed attempts at being released, she had lost hope. Her disinterest in the new trial except to escape the hell hole, at least during the proceedings, was worth being out of harm’s way for a day. She knew better than to get her hopes up and what more there was nothing to go back to unless she could get her former job back.
Would she be exonerated this time and be able to walk back into her old life or would she carry the stigma of a murderer? If so, how could she clear her own name without being a detective again?
Dive in to find the answer to these questions and more as Reggie Swann’s life turns down dark paths that’ll make you question, who the villain is in this scenic Canadian province. A must read psychological thriller! Reviewed by Carolyn Bowen, Author
If you like to connect with others who enjoy books, join my new Facebook group –Circle of Friends. I look forward to seeing you there.
Please check out my novels here and at your favorite bookstores!