I asked MT McGuire what made her decide to become an author and this is what she had to say:
It wasn’t really a choice. There’s a reason I call myself an authorholic. I’m addicted. I wrote my first book when I was about five. It was called “Charles The Dragon Slayer” yes, even then it was spec fic. I write because I have to.
How long did it take to get published the first time and how did that go?
I never got published, per se. I did it myself. It was 2008. I’d written a humorous science fiction fantasy action adventure book with hints of clean romance. I duly went and bought the “Writers and Artists Yearbook” ready to submit to agents and publishers. Once I’d sorted out the ones who were prepared to read a fantasy or sci-fi book that was also funny I had about 20 addresses on a sheet of A4. They were publishing companies like Transworld and enormous agencies with one or two fantasy authors on their books who were there because they were a household name like JK Rowling or even better for the agency, a dead household name like Douglas Adams, rather than there because of the genre they wrote.
At that time, you were supposed to submit your work to them in turn here in the UK. It took me a year to get the polite brush off from five of them. I have produced a lot of print in my time and I decided that if I was going to see my book in print before I died, I was going to have to publish my stuff myself.
It works pretty much the same in the US. I got one rejection ten years later!
Also, ebooks were big, selling them, at that time, was like shooting fish in a barrel and I wanted to try and get in before that changed.
What would you do differently the next time?
I would know how to pick a really, really good, all around editor and also how to get the most out of them. And that would have saved me about two grand. Also I might have successfully avoided making every single possible mistake a rookie publisher can make. That would probably have saved me another grand right there.
That’s good to know. I’m learning a lot just from interviewing authors. What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Follow your heart, write whatever fulfills you and write stuff that you like enough to be able to sell with confidence. Believe in yourself, if you work at it you will get there. Avoid looking at other authors who are writing/earning/doing more than you are. Set yourself goals that are realistic for you, so if that’s one 120k book a year, so be it. If it’s one 30k book a year, ditto. Not everyone can vomit up a 100k novel every month — although I confess to being seethingly, professionally envious of those who can, phnark. Get to know other authors. You need a good forum, Facebook group, whatever, where you can hang out. Writing is a solitary job so from time to time you need the online equivalent of a chat by the watercolor/kettle.
That’s great advice. I think I have a tendency to see where other authors are and get stressed out that I haven’t gotten published yet. Tell me, MT, who or what inspires or influences your writing?
Bad – or good, depending on your viewpoint – 1960s TV like the Avengers, DR Who, The Persuaders, The Saint, James Bond films and cheesy B-Movies as well as classics like The Day The Earth Stood Still and Star Wars because that’s a genre mash up if ever there was one. Comedy telly like Red Dwarf, anything from The Two Ronnies to Not The Nine O’Clock News, The Fast Show, Little Britain, Mock the Week and good stand up – I love Live at the Apollo. I also love animation, from Dangermouse to something like Shrek.
I loved Shrek!
In books, Terry Pratchett, Graham Greene, H E Bates, Neville Shute, PG Woodhouse, Jasper Forde, Tom Holt, the odd Ben Elton novel (but some are too cynical) and Mark Haddon, Dumas, Nick Hornby, Bill Bryson – I love the way he writes…there are stacks of them.
Do you have any works in progress you’d like to tell us about?
I’m working on a children’s book for 7 – 10 year olds, provisionally called Boldrort the Gargoyle Wrangler – which I’m enjoying writing.
It sounds interesting.
I’m also writing something with a working title Space Dustmen, which will be a series. It’s more like the later two K’Barthan Books, funny but a bit gritty and dark, too.
Tell us about your latest releases.
I have a Box Set of the K’Barthan Series out.
I’m also doing a giveaway to go with that, entrants can win a Kobo Glo reader and ebook copies of all four of the novels in the K’Barthan Series. There are two ways to enter, there is a link in the book or readers can just go here:
All the Pan of Hamgee wants is a quiet life. So why did he have to fall in love with a woman living a different version of reality, upset a murderous tyrant and then run out of places to hide?
Now all he has to do is face his inner demons, rescue everything he holds dear and save the world, or die trying. Oh yes, and he’s an abject coward. Great. No pressure then. here’s the link: http://www.hamgee.co.uk/book
I also have a stand alone novel called “Escape From B-Movie Hell.” It’s about a student living in London who discovers that her best mate is an alien, that Armageddon is pending and that only she can stop it. I gave it a bit of a twist in that she’s a LGBT heroine although the topic of gayness isn’t part of the book, she just happens to be a lesbian. Two of my best mates at school were gay and one was saying how she can never find any books where the MC is just, incidentally gay. So I wrote one. You can find more about that one here:
If you asked Andi Turbot whether she had anything in common with Flash Gordon she’d say no, emphatically. Saving the world is for dynamic, go-ahead leaders of men and while it would be nice to see a woman getting involved for a change, she believes she could be the least well-equipped being in her galaxy for the job.
Then her best friend, Eric, reveals that he is an extraterrestrial. He’s not just any ET either. He’s Gamalian: seven-foot, lobster-shaped and covered in Marmite-scented goo. Just when Andi’s getting used to that he tells her about the Apocalypse and really ruins her day.
The human race will perish unless Eric’s Gamalian superiors step in. Abducted and trapped on an alien ship, Andi must convince the Gamalians her world is worth saving. Or escape from their clutches and save it herself. Here’s the link: http://hamgee.co.uk/books/escape-from-b-movie-hell/
It may be easier for folks who are interested to go to my website, where they can find links to buy – or download the free one – from all the main ebook vendors at:
Thanks MT. After you got your first contract, were you asked to do revisions? How did that go?
I have only had one publishing contract which was for a short story I wrote. No revisions were required. Everything else is published by me although there are many, many revisions during editing. I have an excellent copy editor and then I hand it onto a super excellent gimlet-eyed lady for another edit. The pair of them always spot loads of stuff I’ve missed from continuity errors to what kinds of dashes I should be using!
How long have you been writing professionally?
I guess I’m using the word ‘professionally’ loosely here because though I earn money, at the moment it’s more like an expensive hobby. There’s a saying in wine growing, “if you want to make a million pounds on a winery, spend two million pounds on it.” That’s the stage I’m at right now, although the hard work is beginning to pay off and the books are beginning to earn.
So, what do you do for fun when you aren’t writing?
I am a Mum so there isn’t too much spare time. I love watching crap telly, cooking lovely food, tasting wine, traveling, drawing, reading, entertaining, gardening, visiting museums heritage sites and art galleries, film, music, metal detecting…I enjoy exercise so I am a regular at the gym.
You sound as though you keep very busy. Do you write full-time or part-time?
I write in all the time I have, which is part-time. Despite my cat’s efforts to stop me, I can usually manage between 2 and 4 hours a day in school term times – depending on what else I have on. Holidays it all stops. As well as my boy, I have elderly parents a hundred miles away who I have to pop in and visit regularly so that takes a bit of time, too.
I can imagine. So where is it you write?
Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England.
Thank you so much MT, this has been really fascinating.
Thanks for inviting me here today.
You can visit MT McGuire’s website or blog at the links below:
Or you can join her Reader’s Group – and get books 1 and 2 of the K’Barthan Series for free at: http://eepurl.com/bFb0fx