Category Archives: Author questions

Author Spotlight: TOBY FROST

On my blog I love to bring you authors I love who I think you’ll love too. Today I’m thrilled to welcome the brilliant TOBY FROST into the Author Spotlight. Author of the utterly fab Space Captain Smith series, he is now writing a new, darker fantasy series, the first book of which – Up To The Throne has just been published. 

Toby Frost author pic

When did you first decide that you wanted to write?

I first started writing when I was about 12. I can’t remember why, or what it was that pushed me from reading novels to writing them. My first efforts were scribbled in a small blue notebook, along with illustrations. I don’t remember either the text or the story being especially good!

What interests you as a writer?

So many things! Firstly, there’s a sense of exploring and creating. You’re showing the reader people and places, but you’re also creating them, so in a way you’re discovering them as well. I often find myself thinking “What if this happened?” and then following the story from there.

And then there’s characters. People are just fascinating, whether your book is set now, in the past or in the distant future. You’ve got to have strong characters that the reader cares about. That means that, whoever they are, what they’re doing has to make sense. I love seeing what happens when two very different characters clash.

For me, concepts like theme and subtext take second place to the story and characters. Because I write fantastical stories, I’m often writing about something in the real world through a surreal, magical lens. But it’s always got to feel convincing. I find history fascinating, and I often steal bits and pieces to make my writing more believable. Whether you’re talking about a trip to the shops or a journey to Mars, the reader has to think, “Yes, that’s what it would be like.”

Toby Frost SCS Books 1

Are you a plotter or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I never know how to answer this question! I think about what I’m going to write for a long time before I start. I’m often pondering a second book while I’m writing a first one. I think I’m probably more a plotter, but I do sometimes have moments where I stop and think “Hey! Wouldn’t it by better if I just did something completely different?”. So maybe 75% plotter.

Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?

I don’t, really. I don’t find it difficult to write, and I’m lucky in that. I don’t have to be in a particular mood or even a place. Having a day job, I tend to work in the lunchtimes and evenings, but I’d be just as happy writing at other times. Preferably on a luxury yacht or my own private spacecraft.

Toby Frost SCS Books 2.jpg

What inspires you as a writer?

Pretty much everything! I’ve come to think that writing is a way of interpreting and processing the things I experience, albeit in a metaphorical and indirect way. Also, I’m influenced by history, by places and by other fiction, written and visual. So I’m always soaking up ideas and influences, although a lot get discarded. I don’t think I can switch that off – not that I’d want to!

What are the best things about being a writer?

One of the best things must be seeing my own work in bookshops. To see your own novel for sale with a great cover is amazing. A few years ago, I did a reading at a steampunk event and a man came up to me afterwards. He said that a friend of his had got very depressed after a death in the family, and my books had helped cheer him up. That was a pretty excellent moment, too.

And the worst?

It’s hard to think of any. Maybe the expectation that some people have that you’re extremely wealthy? If I had to point to one moment, it would be a couple of years ago at a writing convention, where I was on a panel with another author who I was trying to impress with my literary knowledge. I climbed up onto the stage and whacked my head on a low-hanging beam. After I’d finished staggering around clutching my head, I went on to do the panel, but my aura of genius was gone (if it had ever been there!). Goodness only knows what I said after being hit on the head.

Toby Frost book pic

Tell me about your new novel, Up To The Throne.

It’s a fantasy story set in an imaginary city in a magically-enhanced version of the Renaissance. Giulia, the lead character, returns to her home city after several years, to take revenge on the man who tried to kill her. She’s clever, skilled and still burning with anger, but the world has moved on, and her enemy is no longer a criminal but a rising politician with designs on the throne. Killing him could throw the principality into chaos. As she closes in on him, she starts to realise just what taking her revenge will do to the people she cares about, and has to make hard choices.

How have you found writing a darker fantasy series? Has it required a different approach to your Space Captain Smith books?

It is different, because it stresses different things. Usually, I worry if I’ve gone for very long without telling a joke. Here, it’s more that I’ve got to keep the atmosphere up, and keep the story moving. The same basics of character and storytelling are still there, but a more serious story needs a more engrossing plot. However, in terms of actually writing it, it’s been very similar. Things have inspired the writing in much the same way, and the characters and setting of Giulia’s fantastical Renaissance come together in much the same way as the Space Empire does in Space Captain Smith.

If you could have a dream cover quote from any author, living or dead, who would it be?

“It filled me with laughter, joy and hope for the future.” – George Orwell.

What are your top three tips for writers?

Well, first up, a disclaimer: the more I write, the less comfortable I am in telling other people how to do it. I don’t think there’s a set route to good writing, much less to getting published. But, since you asked…

1) Practice. Get used to the experience of turning thoughts into words. The main cause of books never getting into print is that they’re never finished. Practice not only improves your writing, but gets you into the habits of writing and editing. The task of putting words down becomes much less daunting once you’ve got accustomed to it.

2) Learn about writing. In the past, I would have said “Read more books” here, but it’s not just reading: it’s understanding and learning from books, TV shows, films, real life and anything else. You can learn a lot reading good-quality novels outside your usual genre. Personally, I get a lot out of reading how-to books (Stephen King’s On Writing is particularly good), but it varies from person to person. One very good way of learning is to go to events or join a writing group. My own writing improved vastly after joining the St Albans writing group.

3) Persist! It’s easy to be put off by your first few rejections, but you have to get used to it and carry on. If the first book you write isn’t a massive success, don’t give up. Start work on another project (but don’t throw the first one away! You never know, after all). Keep learning, keep going to events, making contacts, finding out new things. You might find that something you couldn’t get traditionally published works well as a self-published book, or vice versa. The important thing is to stay enthusiastic about your writing and always keep trying to improve and succeed.

Do you have a dream project you’d love to write?

I’ve got two! The first is a series of epic fantasy novels set in the same world as Up To The Throne. They’d have a wider setting and be about more powerful characters, but they’d tie into the Giulia stories and tell a grander, longer story. The other project is a set of linked novellas with an ensemble cast, about the futuristic secret service glimpsed in the Space Captain Smith books. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve started work on both…

Thanks so much for braving the Author Spotlight! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Only that Up To The Throne is available on Kindle and in paperback. Just click this link!

How fab was that?! I’m a huge fan of Toby’s writing and can’t wait to read Up To The Throne. You can find out more about Toby at his website, on Facebook at tobyfrostauthor and follow him on Twitter @isambardsmith. Watch out for more Author Spotlights coming soon! 

New vlog series – WILL IT BE A FILM?

It’s the question I’m asked more than any other as an author (and the one I secretly love…) – if Somewhere Beyond the Sea was made into a film, who would I cast in the lead roles?

In this mini-vlog I talk about why having a film or TV adaptation of your book is every authors’ dream, tell you who my original Jack was when I was writing the story and reveal why my casting choice changed when I heard the audio version of the book, read by Clare Corbett and Jonathan Bailey

Who would you cast? I’d love to know!

Happy watching! xx

Author Spotlight: RACHAEL FEATHERSTONE

On my blog I like to bring you interviews and guest posts with authors I think you will like. Today I am delighted to welcome RACHAEL FEATHERSTONE to the Coffee & Roses Author Spotlight with a brilliant guest post to celebrate her very first novel, Puzzle Girl, which publishes today! Over to you, Rachael…
Rachael Featherstone author pic
I never knew if this day would actually come. If my dream that had once felt so far away would become a reality. It’s been a long road to get here and I’ve had some amazing support along the way from my agent, publisher and family and friends. So many people ask me, ‘what does it feel like to have your first novel published?’ I answer, ‘Amazing!’ ‘Incredible!’ ‘A dream come true!’ It can be hard to put into words how much goes into publishing your debut. But the closer I came to publication, the more I began to realise that publishing Puzzle Girl has felt a lot like getting married.

It all started with the proposal: Accent popped the question and I said, ‘Yes, yes, yes!’

Puzzle Girl cover
We set the date for the big day – 16th March 2017 – and it felt soooo far away. 15 months to wait! But it was probably a good thing because there were so many things to organise.

What was I most excited about? The wedding dress – aka the cover of the book. I was lucky that Accent’s designer took on board my ideas and I love the finished cover!

So many of us dream about having the perfect wedding, we want everything to be just right. And it was no different with publishing Puzzle Girl. We edited with a fine-toothed comb and planned out everything from the perfect wedding invite (aka the blurb of the book) to the perfect honeymoon (my two-week blog tour).

As for the hen night? Well that was my book launch. We celebrated on 2nd March, the event hosted by my best man – my literary agent, David Headley – at Goldsboro Books. It was such a fun evening and I got to sign copies of the limited edition hardbackwhich is exclusive to Goldsboro.

And of course, there had to be wedding cake!

Goldsboro Puzzle Girl cupcakes

And today the big day is finally here. My husband and I (my actual husband, not the book!) are having a celebratory lunch. Then this evening we invite all of you to join in for the publication day reception party on Twitter! There will be several Puzzle Girl party bags to be won as well as an hour and a half of Twitter chatter. I hope you can join us! x

Puzzle Girl Twitter Party Invite

Thanks so much to Rachael for a fantastic guest post – and happy P-Day!

Rachael lives in Hampshire with her husband Tim. Puzzle Girl is out today, published by Accent Press. You can follow Rachael on Twitter, on Facebook and visit her website.

Here’s the blurb of Puzzle Girl:

Clued-up career girl Cassy Brookes has life under control until one disastrous morning changes everything. When she finds herself stuck in a doctor’s surgery, a cryptic message left in a crossword magazine sends her on a search to find the mysterious ‘puzzle-man’ behind it. Cassy is soon torn between tracking down her elusive dream guy, and outwitting her nightmare workmate, the devious Martin. Facing a puzzling love life, will she ever be able to fit the pieces together and discover the truth behind this enigmatic man?

You can buy Rachael’s book in ebookpaperback and limited edition hardback.

MirandaWrites 52 – The Christmas Vlog!

Merry Christmas, lovelies!

Well, it’s been a very strange year, with lots of ups and downs, but one silver lining (pardon the pun) has been the fantastic response from you about the return of my vlogs. For this week’s vlog, I asked for your festive questions – and you gave me some great ones!

Which location makes me think of Christmas? Am I going to write any more novels set in New York? How many notebooks do people buy me for Christmas? These questions and more feature in a very festive vlog with special guests, a #LegoElvis exclusive newsflash (so exciting!) and even a bit of singing from me! Plus, I offer my advice for creating great vlogs for anyone interested in becoming a vlogger.

(I mention Hayley’s vlog – check out her YouTube channel here…)

(Read my Elvis-impersonators-fighting-alien-killer-zombies comedy novel, Elvis vs The End of the World here…)

So get ready for a bit of MirandaWrites festive fun – and thanks so much for watching! xx

Miranda Writes 42 – Moving onto new stories

All this year, I’m vlogging about writing and publishing my seventh novel, A Parcel for Anna Browne. This week, very exciting news about the book and your questions answered…

I’ve had a right old game with YouTube to get this video to upload, so apologies that the quality is not as good as you’re used to. All will be fixed next week, I promise, so bear with me while I do battle with the YouTube gods, Game Of Thrones-style!

Questions this week come from Anna @AnnaMansell and Katy @katynotwedordead (both on Twitter – do follow them, they’re fabulous writers!). So I’m talking about how you can find a good manuscript critique service that will actually be worth investing in; and how to move on to new stories once a book is finished.

Enjoy! xx

p.s. This week’s YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled, ‘Fuzeeeeeee’.

Miranda Writes 41 – SPECIAL VLOG: Finish Your Book!

This year, in addition to my regular vlogs about about writing and publishing my seventh novel, A Parcel For Anna Browne, I’m also doing a series of special vlogs each looking at one aspect of writing…

THIS WEEK: WHY SHOULD YOU FINISH WRITING YOUR BOOK?

I meet so many writers who tell me they’ve only written a few chapters of their book and sent it off to agents without finishing a first draft of the whole thing. And others who have written most of the book, but have found it got difficult, boring or something stopped them writing it. It’s a very common problem for writers!

So, in this vlog, I’ll tell you why you should finish your book and talk about some of the things that hold you back. There’s also a scary thought and a Wurdy dare, so you have been warned!

Enjoy!

p.s. This week’s YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled, ‘Flat-cap Serious Face…’

Miranda Writes 40 – Alternative Careers and the Curse of Writers’ Bum…

All this year, I’m vlogging about writing and publishing my seventh novel, A Parcel For Anna Browne. This week, I reveal the truth about my very short-lived acting career and talk about the constant threat to writers’ – ahem – behinds…

Before you get to do your dream job, the question you’re asked most often is what you’d like to be doing. When you are doing the job you’ve dreamed about for years, what everyone wants to know is what you’d be doing if you weren’t doing it! So, this week I reveal my infamously odd previous employment history, including the reason my fledgling acting career was scuppered as soon as it had begun.

Fantastic questions this week come from Jennifer Joyce (about my favourite snacks for writing), Rosemary Umbers (on balancing being a full-time writer and a full-time mum) and Peachy Outlook (on what I would be doing if I wasn’t a writer).

Enjoy!

p.s. This week’s YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled: ‘Behold, The Amazing Blurry Hand of Doooooooom!’

Miranda Writes 39 – three key words and book recommendations

All this year, I’m vlogging about writing and publishing my seventh novel, A Parcel For Anna Browne. This week, key words, Christmassy book plans and books I’m excited about reading this year!

I’ve been having a lot of fun working on some new projects before the page proofs for A Parcel for Anna Browne arrive. Which gives me lots of time to answer your fab questions which this week come from Katie MarshJulie Williams and Jennifer Joyce. What were my three key words for writing APFAB? Am I writing a Christmassy book this year? And which books am I getting very excited about reading this year?

Enjoy!

p.s. This week’s YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled, ‘Where did you get that hat?’

Miranda Writes 38 – writing tips, changing publishers and sequels

All this year, I’m vlogging about writing and publishing my seventh novel, A Parcel For Anna Browne. This week, the latest news on my book, plus I answer more of your wonderful questions!

Would I consider writing any more sequels? Why did I change publishers? And what’s my advice for new writers about planning a novel and staying focused? It’s all in the vlog this week!

Questions this week come from the very lovely Wendy Kerridge, Daniel Riding – check out his new vlogs – and Carla.

Enjoy!

p.s. This week’s YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled, ‘Finding this script HILARIOUS, love!’

Miranda Writes 37 – The Importance of Daydreaming

All this year, I’m vlogging about writing and publishing my seventh novel, A Parcel For Anna Browne. This week, why being a daydreamer is crucial if you’re a writer and I answer more of your lovely questions!

At school, all of my reports said I would do better if I ‘did less daydreaming’. But today I’m proud to daydream for a living… In this week’s vlog I’ll explain why I think you have to be a daydreamer if you want to write and why, right now, I’m in my ‘daydreaming stage’.

Also this week, I have fantastic questions on the influence of childhood on my writing (from Simona Elena of Sky’s Book Corner blog) and my first three steps to writing a novel (from Katie Marsh). If you would like to ask me a question, leave a comment below this vlog, email me at: mirandawurdy@gmail.com, tweet me @wurdsmyth, or visit my author page on Facebook

Enjoy!

p.s. This week’s YouTube-inspired freeze-frame is entitled, ‘The Chin Rub of Thoughtfulness…’