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Indie author Graham Smith might have never stepped into a college or university as a student after leaving school with eight O levels and two highers, but not attending a college never stopped him from pursuing what he loves doing most: writing. Speaking to the Literary Express in an exclusive interaction, the author says he has no formal writing qualifications other than forty years of being an avid reader. ‘Nonetheless, I began writing about a decade ago, my first attempt being a novel, but it was horrifically bad; so I switched to short stories and flash fiction to learn my craft then went back to novels in early 2013,’ he tells us with a smile.
Talking about his published works, the author, who dwells outside Gretna Green on the Scotland/England border, says that three of his books have been written under his real name of Graham Smith while one under the nom de plume John Ryder.
‘I have written the DI Harry Evans Series, set in Cumbria and the Lake District; the Jake Boulder Series, set in the USA; and the DC Beth Young Series, set in Cumbria and the Lake District under my real name while as John Ryder I have the Grant Fletcher Series set in the USA.’ he tells us, adding that the latter happens to be the series he is concentrating on at present. ‘The second in the series, which was released this month, sees Grant Fletcher drafted into rural Wisconsin to hunt the killer of his colleague’s school friend,’ he says.
Planning, Plotting, Pantsing
On being asked if he plots out his stories before beginning them, Mr Smith says that after signing with a literary agent, he has been planning his novels out chapter by chapter, although he does allow leeway for ideas that develop during the writing process. ‘Sometimes, you don’t know the real story until you’re rattling around its innards,’ he says with a laugh.
He also tells us that being an avid reader has helped him become creative over time and that he has many favourite authors from whom he derives inspiration. ‘I’m lucky to call most of them my friends,’ he says. ‘In no particular order, they are Craig Russell, M W Craven, A A Dhand, Matt Hilton, Stuart MacBride, Zoe Sharp, and Diana Thomas,’ adds the author, who ensures to spend at least an hour writing every day although his goal, he says, is to get a minimum of thousand words done each day after having finished his work.
Be that as it may, Mr Smith lets on that becoming an author was not a conscious decision. ‘More that after years of tossing books that didn’t grab me aside and grumbling “I could write something better than this”, it became time for me to put my money where my mouth is,’ he pronounces.
The Parting Message
Talking about his work in progress, Mr Smith, who supports a local football team, says that he has a novel out on general submission. ‘I also have a standalone with my agent,’ he adds, letting us know that his work prevents him from becoming a full-fledged author. ‘I would love to become a full-time author if I could, but that day is still far off for me,’ he says with a smile.
On the question of if he has something to tell budding authors who lose motivation if their works don’t do well, Mr Smith says that he’d ask them to remind themselves why they first fell in love with writing. ‘I’d also suggest they use any negativity they had as a spur to drive them to create the very best book they can so they’d be able to change their fortunes around,’ avers Mr Smith, who is also a very strict disciplinarian.
And would he want to see a thing or two changed in the world? ‘There is far too much hate and anger between people. Whether it’s religion, culture, race or politics that are at the root of it is immaterial,’ he says. ‘Why can’t we accept the fact that people have different opinions on things and try to better ourselves by learning from those who have something to teach us?’ he asks, thus ending the interaction with a thought-provoking question.