Q&A with author Andrew Q. Gordon

I was contacted recently about hosting a guest post by law-enforcement official and writer Andrew Q. Gordon, author of fantasy and paranormal books like Purpose and Kings of Lore and Legend. Below is a Q&A with Andrew, I hope you take a look and enjoy it as much as I did! I’m filling in a similar Q&A that will be hosted on his website so look out for that in the very near future.

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  1. Welcome Andrew. Since this is your first time to the Steven A. McKay blog, tell the audience a bit about yourself.

You’d think doing this since kindergarten I’d have a pat answer at the ready, but it hasn’t gotten any easier in the decades since. My husband and I have been together 22 years and married for 3. Our daughter is 5. During the day I work in law enforcement (think the suit half of Law and Order.) I love baseball and am trying to teach my daughter the game by taking her to see the minor league team in our area. I’m also a life long soccer fan—I’ve played since I was 8, refereed since I was 25 and more recently started to coach.

Fantasy and sci-fi—books, movies, comics etc.—are my genre of choice, but I do like historical entertainment as well. Wine more than beer, whiskey over scotch, and coffee not tea. I’m a bit of a tech junkie but more of a second follower than a first adopter.

  1. How long have you been writing?

    I started writing in college. I gave it up when I went to law school. Started again by taking a writing course when I got my first job. Gave it up again when my husband and I moved. Took it up again about ten years ago by reconnecting with my writing teacher and have been going strong ever since.

  2. What was the first story you wrote?

    It was a dreadful fantasy story back in high school. After several years of English and writing courses in college, I wrote a much better one for a writing class. It was written on yellow legal pads and took forever to type using a correctible type writer.

  1. What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Typing “The End.”

Okay, so not really. I enjoy figuring out my characters and what are they like. Sometimes they are Athena, born fully formed from the mind of Zeus, others they are Darwin and take years to evolve. Finding what makes them tick, their quirks, and how they react to things is the fun part of writing. It’s like meeting new people and since I’m immersed in their development and their lives, they take on an almost best friend like quality.

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  1. What is your least favorite part?

I probably should say edits, but that isn’t really true. Rules. Specifically, following them. Use active not passive; don’t use autonomous body parts (I didn’t even know there was such a thing); avoid simultaneous actions; watch out for unintended perspective shifts. Yeah, I get it, doing all that stuff is detrimental to good writing, but why can’t it be easier?

  1. Tell the readers something interesting that isn’t in your bio?

    Not sure if this is interesting or not, but I have a collection of inexpensive yet very old books. My grandfather (for whom I am named after in real life) never went beyond 6th grade. He was the oldest of eight and he had to leave school and go to work in my great grandfather’s bakery to help support them. Despite that, he felt it was very important to keep learning. He used to go to yard sales and buy books so he could read them. He also never threw them out. When he died, he left me his books. Many of them were the equivalent of mass market paperbacks, many are not in good shape, but most are at least a hundred years old. They are in my home office in a hundred year old barrister bookcase.

  2. What have you read lately that most people haven’t read but should?

    I really like Greenwode, by J Tullos Hennig. It retells the Robin Hood vs. Guy of Gisborne tale with a twist. The old ways – druids and the like – haven’t been entirely stamped out and Robin is the new leader of those who follow the old ways. It’s really a well written and interesting take on the legend.

  3. If you could meet any writer, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

    Part of me wants to say J. R. R. Tolkein as he was my first favorite author, but I think if I only got one bite, it would be Roger Zelazny. There is a ton of information available on Tolkien, but Zelazny is really only well know among fantasy readers. Zelazny’s Amber Chronicles, specifically the first five that tell Corwin’s story, are wonderful. What I really loved about the entire series is how when they were written affect some of their content. The first five were influenced by the Sixties and Seventies. The second group, that tell Merlin’s story, was started in the Eighties, after the computer age started to take hold. Getting a chance to have coffee or a beer with Roger would be amazing.

  4. What’s a fun – non-writing – day for you?

Spending time with my daughter. It’s a cliché, but kids do grow up fast. Blink and they’ve moved beyond that toy, or phase. I’m trying to create memories for both of us, though I still could do more. I’m sure the day will come soon when she doesn’t want me around so I’m banking my time now to carry me through after she’s become more independent.

  1. Besides reading and writing, what else do you enjoy?

I enjoy watching baseball and soccer. Lately I’ve been more involved in teaching my daughter to play soccer, but I still like going to the games. I live close to a major university so we take her to see the mens and womens soccer matches when we can.

  1. Last question is all yours – feel free to talk about anything you want your readers to know about you, your book, anything at all.

As geeky as it sounds, I love to talk to other readers about fantasy stories. Which ones they loved or hated. Why they liked or didn’t a particular series. I especially enjoy talking magic. There are as many ‘systems’ as there are readers and its fun to see how different people perceive how magic should work. So feel free to email and we can chat about it if you are so moved.

Thanks for having me today.

Get book one in Andrew’s Champion of the Gods series free here. http://aqgsignups.getresponsepages.com

Andrew’s website – http://www.andrewqgordon.com/

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Footnote – nice little synchronicity I doubt Andrew or his PR people knew about: he has a place called Dumbarten featured in his novels. I grew up in, bought my first house in, and was married in the real, Scottish town, Dumbarton! I even worked as a steward in the castle. 🙂

Q&A with my narrator Nick Ellsworth – James Bond and more!

robin hood book narrator

Rise of the Wolf is out NOW from Audible, so hopefully you haven’t used your monthly credit yet. It should also be available on iTunes soon. And that’s not all – Friar Tuck and the Christmas Devil is also available to pre-order from Audible, you’ll be able to listen to it on November 13th!

To celebrate, here’s a Q&A I did with my excellent narrator, Nick Ellsworth. Enjoy!

 

Collaborating with someone on a project has to work in more than just the obvious ways. Anyone that’s ever been in a band will know it doesn’t matter how good your music sounds if you just don’t get on with the other musicians!

I’d heard some horror stories when I first started looking for a narrator to produce Wolf’s Head so I was very pleased to find Nick Ellsworth. Someone who not only sounded great but completed the project quickly with very little input needed from me. He’s since produced all of my books (five so far) and has been a pleasure to work with each and every time. If you’re looking for someone to read your novel, check him out on the ACX website, but first, read this…

You’re a busy man – can you list your resume in terms of acting/voice-over work?

As an actor I’ve worked for the RoyalShakespeare Company, The Royal Court, Hampstead Theatre and various theatres up and down the country. I’ve done some TV stuff including a recent episode of The US series, ‘Bones”. As a young actor I had small parts in the movies, “The Spy Who Loved Me’ and ‘Force Ten From Navarone’.

What was your favourite job, ever?

Probably playing a despicable villain in a play called, ‘Heaven and Hell’.

What’s it like doing voice-over work compared to TV or film? Is there much difference?

Voice over work can be much more concentrated as the scripts tend to be much shorter than performing in TV or film, but voicing a TV commercial for example, you can spend up to an hour just working on a few words and getting it exactly how the client wants it.

robin hood booksWhen I’m writing a book I have a file with a list of characters and what they look like, height, hair colour, etc. Do you have similar audio files, with snippets of each voice you do for characters, so they’re consistent?

No, but if a character comes up again later on in a book or a later book in the same series, I’ll refer back to previous voice files to refresh my memory, regarding the voice I used.

Speaking of your accents – are you a Yorkshireman? You do a very convincing version of that one, almost as if it’s natural, which is, obviously, perfect for my books. One listener told me she thought your Yorkshire accent was sexy!

Well, I was born and brought up in N. Wales, but my family on my mother’s side are from the Manchester area, so I grew up around people with strong northern accents.

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FT&XD

You’ve produced all of my books now, including the Xmas novella. Which did you enjoy narrating the most?

I’ve enjoyed reading all of them, but the last one, the Friar Tuck novella, I thought was totally captivating with its blend of religion, folk-lore, courage, humour and adventure. All set around the magical time of Christmas!

Who would you choose to narrate a book you’d written?

I really like Peter Firth’s voice, who was one of the leads in the spy series, ‘Spooks’. I think he has a great reading voice.

Of course you HAVE written books – my own daughter read one or two of them even before we started working together. Tell us a bit about them.

I’ve written picture books for very young children and short stories for older children. I’ve also written an anthology of bible stories and a re-telling of famous fairytales. You can find most of them on my Amazon homepage.

robin hood novelWhat future projects do you have lined up (until my final Forest Lord novel needs your talents)?

I’ve written a comedy series for radio which I’m trying to sell and have a booking for a radio commercial for the ‘Most Haunted’ TV series and am presenting an awards ceremony for the Heathrow Academy. Most excitingly, at the beginning of November I’m heading off to the US for 7 weeks. I’ll be visiting friends in LA and San Francisco, playing a little poker in Vegas, then shooting off to Washington DC to spend Christmas with my brother and his wife. Should be fun! (providing I don’t lose too much at the poker tables!)

Thanks for doing this interview, enjoy your Christmas!

You can contact Nick via his website

Podcast interview with yours truly, check it out!

The Glen & Dean Show

Robin Hood

I recorded an interview with the guys from the Glen and Dean Show yesterday. From Scotland to Ohio thanks to the magic of Skype! Note to self, next time don’t say “exactly” so much…It’s a fun listen though, check it out by clicking the pic!

Author Steven McKay joins us via Skype all the way from Scotland to discuss his work, process, working with Amazon, playing guitars, history, and a whole lot more. This week’s episode’s theme is music from Steven. Be sure to check out his work on Amazon, and enjoy the episode! 

Audio interview with me from last year’s London Book Fair

I was interviewed at LBF14 for an internet radio station – AudioBookRadio.net, but never heard much more about it. Until today, when they contacted me to tell me it was on Youtube so… have a listen. I hope you can all understand my (polite) Glasgow accent! It’s a bit noisy and you can’t really hear the interviewer but my answers are clear enough.

1 – What book most inspired you to be a writer?
2 – Is there a book that you wished you had written?
3 – Is there any subject that you think does not belong between the covers of a book?
4 – What book would you most want read to you?
5 – Do you think you would have been a storyteller in the days before print?

ROBIN HOOD

Need a cover designer? Q&A with More Visual

Today I’m talking to the guys that have created all of my fantastic covers. If you’re an indie author and need a striking image that will attract readers then you should really check this out and get in touch with More Visual Ltd once you’ve read the interview!

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First of all, you’re a two-man team, is that right?

Yes that’s right, we’ve been working together for nearly ten years now so we have a great working dynamic. I think it makes us both stronger to have another set of eyes critiquing our work.

How long have you been designing book covers?

I [Olly] started when we were at our previous company, so about ten years ago. Richie (Cumberlidge)’s been doing them for over 15 years.

Did you study art at school/college? What inspired you to become a designer?

Stunning cover for one of David Pilling's great books

Stunning cover for one of David Pilling’s great books

I did Art and Design at college and also went on to do photography as well. In fact, both of my brothers are graphic designers as well and my dad studied graphic design at college, so I guess I was inspired by my own family in a way, it’s sort of in the blood. I’ve always loved playing around with graphics, manipulating images, drawing and sketching ideas, I feel incredibly lucky to have a creative job, especially one where I work with writers. I find my clients very inspiring too; their excitement about their books and ideas is often the best inspiration for my design work. There is nothing more satisfying than when you create a cover that does justice to an author’s idea and helps with the book’s success.

What’s the cover you worked on that you personally like the best?

That’s impossible to answer; I usually prefer whatever I am working on at the time. Seriously I could not pick out one cover. Some I like because they fulfilled a challenging brief, some I like because they are technically strong, some I like because the book’s premise really caught my imagination and I am pleased with the artistic outcome. I can’t pick a cover I like best, but I can say which genre – personally I prefer working on sci-fi and fantasy the most. It’s a genre where you really have to be innovative and imaginative to make a cover stand out.

The Knight of the Cross cover for the Audible version.

The Knight of the Cross cover for the Audible version.

Have you ever read any of the books you designed a cover for? If so, what did you think of them?

I read a lot, but I am a sucker for older classics like War of the Worlds, Day of the Triffids, I Am Legend and Dracula. But yes, sometimes I will end up reading a book because I have felt very close to the cover design, or because the writer’s idea really intrigued me. But look, you can’t ask me to start reviewing my clients! I think they all deserve their success; it can’t be easy to write a whole book.

How does the process usually work? Obviously, for my last couple of books I emailed you a sketch of what I wanted and you brought it to life, but the cover of my debut novel, Wolf’s Head was just an idea I gave you and you did the rest. How do authors normally work with you?

I do like it when writers send sketches but it can be even more challenging than a blank slate. You have an idea but I have to make it look as good as it does in your head! It’s quite good when someone knows what they want it gives me a good starting point, as long as I can get an insight into what they’re visualising. Other than that, I just work with written descriptions and sketches with a general plot line to the book.

Has anyone been a real pain to work with (no names needed, just the story!)?

Everyone’s different really and everyone has quirks that are challenging and enthusiasm that’s catching. If you’ve been writing a book for some time and you have lived and breathed the characters and architecture of your novel, it’s hard to pick a visual for the front cover which explains your book and which is understandable to someone glancing at it on the shelf. Sometimes I have to point out that my client needs to step back and not try and explain the entirety of the book in the cover, ideally you want something visually appealing that will bring your reader to your book.

Was my sketch for The Wolf and the Raven the worst an author has ever sent you?

To be fair, a lot of the sketches are quite similar to the one you did! It’s fine; it gives me a good idea of what you want, which saves a lot of time. And if you can’t draw, remember that I couldn’t write a book.

My wonderful concept art for The Wolf & The Raven...

My wonderful concept art for The Wolf & The Raven…

How does it feel when you hold a paperback with one of your covers on it? It must be pretty cool to know thousands of people all around the world have your artwork in their houses!

Yeah definitely it’s good to see it printed, although nowadays quite a few are just seen online.

What other services do you offer? You had a vinyl decal made for me using the Wolf’s Head text for my guitar which was great – what other stuff do you do for authors? Posters? Business cards? Flyers? Mugs?

We originally started out doing stationery, point of sale and brochures whilst doing the covers at the same time. Although we try to specialise in the covers, we can provide other services from printed material to even websites.

My "Wolf's Head" Jackson Randy Rhoads guitar with custom decal.

My “Wolf’s Head” Jackson Randy Rhoads guitar with custom decal.

What are some of your own favourite book covers (ones you didn’t design I mean)?

I use to like those point horror book covers when I was about 12. You know the ones I mean, the they looked a bit like those illustrations by Drew Struzan (Star Wars, Indiana Jones poster artist). I really like the front cover to the hard back version of The Martian by Andy Weir, the one where the astronaut is being blown through a sand storm.

the martian

Do you take inspiration from other places, like album covers?

Probably more from film posters I’ve always been intrigued by them; I’m always looking at apple.com/trailers and Imdb at the new film posters. Saying that, I really like the photography and imagery that Storm Thorgerson created for Pink Floyd, Muse, Biffy Clyro and Mars Volta album covers.

Pink_Floyd_-_Dark_Side_of_the_Moon

Storm Thorgerson’s iconic (and wonderfully simple) cover for Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”.

Thanks to Olly for talking to me. I think you’ll agree the covers these guys come up with look fantastic. I’m pretty sure a large part of Wolf’s Head‘s success was down to the great artwork.

If you’d like a quote for your own project, you can find the guys HERE.

This incredible cover was the one that caught my eye when I was looking for designers. Gordon's books are also great reads!

This incredible cover was the one that caught my eye when I was looking for designers. Gordon’s books are also great reads!

Writing Superheroes! New interview with me, have a gander

Brand new Q&A with yours truly in which I talk about the new bookhow I deal with my supervillain, and the importance of Wham! and Noddy Holder…

http://randombitsoffascination.com/2015/07/19/writing-superheroes-steven-mckay-the-sequel/

All good superhero stories, have a sequel–something else happens after the first foe is vanquished.  How does your sequel begin (after the publication of you first/most recent book….)

In my last book, The Wolf and the Raven, Sir Guy of Gisbourne was vanquished, with a terrible scar and an eye missing for his troubles. In the new novel, Rise of the Wolf, Gisbourne is back and, as you’d expect, rather annoyed…In terms of beginnings, this is the first time I’ve used a prologue. I never really understood why they were needed but, looking at the structure of the book, I thought this would be a better way to kick things off than the first chapter. I hope my readers agree!

Click the pic of me to read the rest!

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