This October I will be hosting a new blog series called 20-20. It will be a collection of 20 questions for 20 authors that will allow them to spread the word about themselves to a new audience with details how to find them and their work online. The questions will remain the same for every participant and it’ll be interesting to read their replies. I’m just hoping that everyone who has expressed an interest in taking part remembers to mail me their answers.
I’m planning to publish the posts every Tuesday and Friday; starting on Tuesday 6 October. So before the series starts I thought I’d give everyone a teaser and post my replies to the questions:
What name do you write under? Barry Lillie. I’d spend too long trying to dream up a pen-name and if I did it’d probably be something ridiculous like, Moses Heathcliff.
Where are you from, live or work? Stoke on Trent. I’m a Potteries born lad who has been afflicted with wanderlust. I’ve worked in many different countries, lived in a selection of towns and cities and most previously returned after 7 years living and working in Italy.
Tell me two things that people may not know about you. I always use a shoehorn when putting on shoes and I’m appalling at reverse parking.
Do you have any hobbies? I’m an alottmenteer – is that a word? – I love growing things from seed, there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing a flower that you’ve nurtured from just a pot of compost into a beautiful bloom. I’m also a huge music lover, I have a massive eclectic collection ranging from disco to punk and electro to opera. I have music playing from waking to bedtime.
What is your favourite book(s) and why? I read a diverse collection of books, everything from women’s’ fiction to horror, from thrillers to classics and comedy. The only genres that leave me cold are Sci-Fi and fantasy; novels by Tolkien and Pratchett, books like Harry Potter and Dark Materials just don’t do it for me. Favourite books include, The Magician of Lublin by Isaac Bashevis Singer, Any book by the UK’s greatest horror writer, James Herbert: I was hooked from the moment I opened a copy of The Fog back in my teens. Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre have been big favourites since school and my ultimate favourite children’s book is The Family from One End Street by Eve Garnett.
Who or what inspired you to become a writer? I’m not sure I was inspired, I remember writing plays for friends – both imaginary and real – before I was a teenager, (mostly Scooby Doo and murder stories – I was a strange child). I had an inspirational English teacher at school and he instilled a love of the written word in me and for that I’ll always be grateful.
What type of books/genre do you write? Comedy is the mainstay of my work, be it simple or dark. I’d say mostly observational and 65% of the time from a female POV because women can often get away with the funniest and most acerbic of lines.
How would you describe your writing style? I’d say it’s quite conversational, I like dialogue and like it to move a story along. I think I’d describe my style as free flowing and observational, not very ‘purple’ and easily absorbed. Because of my play writing experience I do tend to favour first person, but I have promised myself novel three will be third person.
What comes first for you – character, plot or setting? Usually my ideas begin with a simple idea which creates the characters for me. I then work out the plot and plan each chapter in advance. I think because of my experience in magazine writing I like to know in advance what I’ll be writing about. This said I’m not rigid and sometimes ideas change between the first and second draft.
Do you have a writing routine? Not really, because I’m always working on multiple things I do write every day, but not always on the same project from one day to the next, and never in the evening.
Do you become a ‘method’ writer? Nah, I’m sometimes distracted by a song and stop writing to sing/dance along. As a lot of my characters tend to be strong northern women I think I’d stand out on the high street discussing peg bags and the price of suet.
What are you currently working on? Gay to Z a modern novel about friendship and relationships, suicide and secrecy. 25 Voices, which is a collection of monologues/essays. Essentially stories for voices. A radio play which is in development (early days yet).
What has been the most fulfilling part of your writing career? Being offered a position as staff writer by Italy magazine on the strength of two freelanced pieces I had contributed was a high point for both my ego and my bank balance. Also seeing the first play I’d written performed by a professional theatre company.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given? I think the best piece of advice I was ever given came from a conversation with Kate Bush back in 1978. I’ve applied it to everything I done and do, including writing. It was, ‘Believe in yourself and stay happy.’
What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to become a writer? If you need to, invest time in topping up your language skills and understanding of grammar etc. Then as you learn your craft, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get the response you’d hoped for. Remember writing, like all art forms is subjective and not everyone will like what you produce.
What have you published recently? My novella, Willow and the Motorway Horses. I first wrote the story in 2009 and it’s sat on a hard drive unused, but not unloved, until recently someone reminded me about it and said I should self-publish it. I pondered for a while, re-read and checked for typos. It was edited and pointed out to me that I had a penchant for the over use of a semi colon. It was re-drafted and launched upon the public. As a magazine writer I’ve had scores of non-fiction articles published, but nothing prepared me for the fear that is fiction publishing.
Do you think there’s still some snobbery between commercial and self-publishing? Yes. I did think it was waning a few years back, but now with so much self-published output, good and bad flooding the market the boundaries are becoming wider again.
How do you market your writing? It’s all still new to me, so I’m tweeting, doing the social media thing and looking at paid ads.
Where can people find your work? A good selection of my work at Italy Magazine can be found here I’ve fiction published with YouWriteon.com and Fangoria. I’ve a story in a forthcoming anthology and my novella can be found here
Where can people find you on social media and online? I have a new Facebook writer page Barry Lillie – Writer. Here on WordPress – barrylillie.wordpress.com Twitter – barrylillie1 and Instagram – Flatfield