I’m delighted to welcome the fantastic Stewart Bint to Bookaholic Confessions. Stewart is an multi-talented author of novels, novellas and non-fiction so I had great fun quizzing him about which type of writing he prefers. Stewart also gives us the lowdown on his novels, talks about having the confidence to become an author and gives us his tips for solving writers block (no shoes required!)
I was born in the dim and distant past (I’ll admit to 1956 under extreme torture). My Dad died when I was 11, and I believe that pushed me into maturity much younger than most people, and was responsible for me retreating into the worlds I created with my stories at that time.
Writing takes up pretty much all my time in three different guises. As well as my novels, I also write a column for a fortnightly local magazine, and I’m a Public Relations writer for the world’s leading industrial CAD/CAM software developer. I trained as a journalist and worked as a radio broadcaster reading the news and presenting current affairs and phone-in shows for ten years.
When I can get away from the keyboard I’m a member of a Barefoot Hiking Group, and get out on wonderful treks, barefoot, through the countryside and woodland trails.
You’ve written a number of novels, novellas and short stories. Can you tell us a bit more about your books?
My latest work of fiction, Thunderlands, is a collection of 17 short stories. Probably best to let one of the reviews on Amazon speak for it:
“Stewart Bint’s ‘Thunderlands‘ is a study of human nature, even if all its characters aren’t, strictly speaking, human. The stories examine themes such as greed, lust, gluttony and plenty of other deadly sins, with a widely differing series of characters and settings. The book truly puts us, which is to say humanity, on trial for our offences, in some cases literally. The book starts with the trial of Santa Clause and ends with the trial of a twitter bully (the two strongest stories in the collection). In both these examinations of societal evils the blame may be placed at the feet of an individual, but the stories show us that the issues are far more complex than the easy answers we’d like to assign them.”
A new edition of my novel In Shadows Waiting is coming out shortly with a different publisher, and my editor has written a superb new blurb for it, which sums it up perfectly:
“Young Simon Reynolds lives a bucolic life at his family home, White Pastures, surrounded by a loving family and a charming community. Simon finishes his A levels and looks forward to unwinding while his sisters work on their tans.
“Meanwhile the tiny community of Meriton has been plagued by a spate of burglaries, and White Pastures seems to be next. A shadowy figure stalks the house, but the police can find no signs of an intruder. Inspired by the author’s real-life experience with the supernatural, In Shadows Waiting recounts a summer that changes the Reynolds’ lives forever.
“As the summer progresses, the shadows take on an altogether more sinister implication, and White Pastures begins to reveal a terrifying secret.
“The epicentre of an event that has scarred an entire community, White Pastures grows more and more dark, possessed by a shadow that yearns, a shadow that will not be denied. At White Pastures, someone will die – but love never will.”
And if you want to find out what happens after you die, then the satirical novel The Jigsaw And The Fan is a must. You’ll meet Guardian Angels Wallace and Mozelbeek, along with a dead trades unionist, and the upper crust Lord Barrington-Pottsherbert.
Don’t bother reading my two novellas, Malfunction and Timeshaft. They both went down a storm, and many readers said they’d like to see them extended. So my full length sci-fi novel, Timeshaft, does just that – it extends and links both stories. So anyone reading Timeshaft will find out what the engimatic old tramp in Malfunction was really up to, and you’ll also see whether the young couple were stoned to death for conceiving an Ashday’s Child in that novella.
The original inspiration to start writing in the first place came from the TV series Doctor Who. I remember watching the very first episode way back in 1963 when I was seven. I became enraptured by the storylines which could take place at any time in Earth’s history and future, and absolutely anywhere in the universe and beyond. I started creating my own worlds and my own characters, writing my stories in little blue notebooks until my parents bought me a portable typewriter for my 9th birthday.
And those make-believe worlds became invaluable after my Dad died, as I was in control of my characters’ fate – knowing that whatever happened to them during the story, I would make sure they were okay in the end. My worlds were certainly better than the real one at that time.
These days my fiction is purely to entertain others, and inspiration for the storylines can come from anywhere, and has included a walk in Cranford Park in London, reading an article on the Chernobyl disaster, and a couple of real-life brushes with the supernatural.
Do you ever experience writers block? If so do you have any tips for overcoming it?
If I’m not sure how a situation should develop I simply write anything, taking my characters down any road, and I often find that they change direction for me. Their actions unfold before my eyes, as if I’m watching a film, and I simply have to describe what I see them doing. For instance, a major development in Timeshaft came about by the main character doing something I hadn’t originally intended.
And on the odd occasion I’m really stuck, a 10-mile barefoot trek works wonders for clearing my mind and getting the literary juices flowing again.
Are your characters completely fictional or are they ever based on anyone in real life?
All fictional, although the apparition I describe in In Shadows Waiting is based on something I once saw. And there is a brief cameo role in Timeshaft for my wife, son, father-in-law and me, in a real scene which actually inspired that novel.
Do you have a preference for writing novels, novellas, short stories or non-fiction?
I love writing my magazine column, which can be about absolutely any subject I like, and my PR work. But fiction is my first love, as it fires my imagination in any direction. I don’t think I’ll write more novellas – my future lies with novels and short stories. Novels purely to entertain, and short stories to entertain via a deeper message.
Have you always wanted to be an author?
Oh absolutely. But I never had the confidence that my work was good enough. It wasn’t until a friend persuaded me to give it a serious go that I plucked up enough courage – and led to my first novella being published when I was 56.
Do you have any reading or writing ‘confessions’? (E.g. guilty secrets or habits?)
Hmmm. Not really. I do need a set routine for my magazine column and PR writing, but I will confess to using social media and making endless coffees instead of doing as much work as I should on my fiction. Maybe you could say my use of the Oxford comma is a guilty habit!
Who are your favourite authors and what kind of books do you enjoy reading?
Interesting question in terms of authors, because the advent of self-publishing has led to the rise of a number of extremely talented authors, who just needed the break that traditional publishers were too frightened to give them. To name just three: DM Cain, Autumn Birt, and Robbie Cox.
Of the “old school” authors – C.S. Lewis, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, James Herbert and Stephen King.
And my favourite genres: sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and paranormal.
And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
Two of my existing novels are in different stages of production with a new publisher, so there’s a lot of work being done there, especially on the marketing plan with their marketing manager. And it’s likely that they will bring out new editions of Thunderlands and The Jigsaw And The Fan next year.
In terms of writing, the aim is to bring out a new novel, called To Rise Again, in 2017. This is set on Jersey both in the 1980s and during the German occupation in World War Two. It was inspired by a visit to one of the German underground installations on Jersey while I was on honeymoon there in 1982.
A huge thank you to Stewart for participating in this interview.