It’s the 25th so it’s time for Meet The Author. This month, I am very happy to feature author Gavin Ough. Gavin is a British author (like yours truly), he hails from Kent in the UK. I read Gavin’s interview with a smile and real admiration, it’s so refreshing to see a male writer turn his hand to contemporary romance :).I feel warm inside at this thought. Gavin is clearly a writer who does not do what is expected of him as a man… not write about love, feelings or relationships. Or try to make a romance junkie smile with his humour in his stories. Gavin is multi -talented now he has published his first book, he’s creating a paranormal romance genre novel. I’m intrigued by him and excited about his paranormal work, are you? Good. Let’s get to know his style, what does our male romance author have to offer us romance junkies… Over to you Mr. Ough.
Hello nice to meet you! Tell us a bit about you where are you from and other than writing what else do you enjoy?
Hi, I’m Gav. I live and work in Herne Bay, Kent although I grew up in Whitstable. I’m married with three daughters; one’s a secondary school teacher, one works in a pre-school nursery and my youngest is in junior school.
Needless to say I love a good read, but my latest hobby is woodturning. I bought a cheap lathe and have been trying to create things of beauty – with varying degrees of success – ever since. I managed to make a walnut bowl I’m quite proud of so that’s going okay at the moment. Other than that I like playing video games with my youngest and watching The Amazing World of Gumball with her (don’t judge!)
Kim Haha Gavin, I’d never judge you, I have a three year old son I can quote Paw Patrol and Postman Pat theme tunes.
How did you start writing? What was your inspiration to create?
I’ve loved reading since I was just a liccle boy. I clearly remember reading The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings in junior school so I suppose I must have been a precocious reader. I always had the dream of being a writer but never thought I had the talent (the jury’s still out as to whether I’ve got any now). So I trained in the horticulture industry before getting jobs cleaning other people’s muck off other people’s toilets, ended up as a landscaper for ages. Work dried up in about 2008 and so my wife said I ought to give writing a try. I’d been trying to write a fantasy novel off and on for about ten years but didn’t have any real idea how until I started reading other people’s hints and tips. Joined a few freelance sites and managed to get work with an online publisher called Serialities. They gave me the little boost I needed to realise other people thought I could write as well and the rest is history.
Kim: Oh your wife rocks, what support and encouragement. I wish you all the best with creating your “new world” in your fantasy book. Be sure to let us know when it’s released.
Who is your favourite author, is there anyone out there that inspires you?
I was a fan of the old Fighting Fantasy game books, by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone when I were a lad which probably fuelled my thirst for all things fantasy. David Gemmell and David Eddings continued the theme. For horror I love a good Stephen King (obviously) but the English Shaun Hutson is a master too as are Richard Laymon and Dean Koontz. As for chick lit authors, my wife recommended Trisha Ashley and I was hooked on the humour so started reading as many different authors as could. Sophie Kinsella, Sue Johnson, Dawn French to name but a few. Sorry if they don’t consider themselves as chick lit writers but I think they fit the bill.
Kim: *raise eyebrows* you’ve read Sophie Kinsella, now that’s refreshing. I’m sure she’d be thrilled to know she’s reaching male readers.
Kim: Ya know, the only vampire stuff I got into is True Blood. I’m such a True Blood junkie. When it aired on TV in the UK, I would sit and watch back to back episodes with my mouth wide open. Love it.
Have you ever thought about writing in a different genre? If you could what genre would you like to dabble in?
Just the ones I’ve mentioned. Fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal. Actually I’m working on a paranormal book now.
Kim: keep us posted.
What has been your most proud moment as an author?
Getting published by Serialities. Even though it hasn’t sold a billion copies I think that’s more to do with our combined marketing skills (or lack thereof) and the fact I haven’t quite reached a million followers yet. Not yet but I will.
Kim: A million copies, that’s every author’s dream we’re behind you with your vision! Good luck.
Was there ever a time you wanted to pick up your laptop, and then launch it out the window with frustration?
Not really. If I do have problems writing something, I just stop and do something else entirely, shut the laptop and cut the grass or let the dog walk me or watch something with the missus. By the time – usually the next day – I get back to it I can usually carry on without much hassle. You need to enjoy writing even though it’s hard, even when it’s hard so if it gets to the point you’re getting frustrated you need to stop for a while.
Are you a “plotter” or a fly by the seat of your pants “pantster” as a writer?
More a pantster than a plotter I would say although I’ve gotten better at planning and plotting as the works have got longer. I started out by writing 500 word pieces easily read on a phone and the readers voted on the plot twists so I couldn’t so much planning. Now I write a few short character descriptions and a very brief outline with what I want to happen in each chapter then virtually ignore the whole thing until I hit a stumbling block. I suppose I’ve got a good idea of where it’s going when I start so the plan is in my head rather than on paper but I don’t spend weeks with worksheets and plot diagrams, no. A list of major events from start to finish and then I just start typing.
Kim: massive respect to all pansters out there!.. I sit there and plot my heart out then write like no one is looking. I’m learning with these weekly writing challenges I’m doing with Didi Oviatt to be more of a panster.
Am I the only one who gets hung up on commas? Do they make you go blah! when you’re writing?
I used to be a complete grammar Nazi! Everything had one way – the RIGHT way – and that was it. I think that was just the way I was taught and being born before the internet – fetch me pipe and slippers – was invented meant things didn’t change much. Language is fluid, always changing especially globally, so I’ve relaxed my perspective. I’ve gone all Zen and become enlightened, at peace with the world of the comma. Apostrophes though those little…
As long as what you write is easily readable and makes sense I don’t think there need be any hard rules about punctuation.
Every writer has a word(s) that they always slip up on when they write, then slap their forehead when they notice their typo. For me it’s further and farther exit or exists- but hey I’m over it now. Do you have a word (s) that make you go blah! Go away not another damn typo.
It’s an odd one and just down to muscle memory but I find my writing peppered with ‘fro’ instead of ‘for’. It’s literally just down to the sequence my hands tap the keys in but as for is a word, the spell check never picks it up. I have to run a search/replace at the end of everything just in case I’ve done it again. Apart from that I’m a fairly good spellist but it also depends on what version of English I’m writing in. US publishers obviously want US spellings and grammar so I end up typing neighbour instead of neighbor but I set the language at the beginning of every document so the machine picks it up for me. I have got to the point I’ve been writing ‘realize’ with the ‘z’ no matter what version of English I’m writing in too.
Kim: Interesting, ya know I write and spell in British English only. It used to really annoy me when my publisher in the USA changed my spellings. I’d go back in and change them. In my head I thought, this is how I spell this so I want it as I spell it, see the logic.
What three tips would you give any aspiring writer?
Choose whether you’re writing for fun or profit and if it’s for profit, make sure you know the market you’re writing for. Don’t try to be different or quirky because you won’t sell. Find out reader expectations by reading as much in the genre as you can and emulate the style. Don’t plagiarise obviously but try to copy the style and voice of the top sellers in your chosen genre or, I’m afraid you’re not likely to get anywhere.
Believe in yourself. It’s cliché and trite and all that but if you don’t, you’ll give up. I did for years, never believing in myself, never thinking I was good enough but I think I am and I’m gonna make a living from being a writer.
Learn the business of marketing. I never bothered and again thought I’d be no good at it but I found out how much people were making from my ghostwriting just by knowing a few marketing skills. It’s a long, slow battle and takes away from your writing time but I think it’s the single biggest thing you need to know how to do whether you’re self published or traditionally published.
Kim: Amen to the last point, this is a must. Thank you Gavin great tips.
What are you working on now? What will you release next?
A sort of paranormal romance I’ve called Time to Turn Back. It features a guy, Xander, who can see the past by connecting with people and objects. The protagonist, Katriona, loses her Gramps (who raised her after her parents were killed) and discovers he had a secret family she never knew about before he married her grandmother. Needless to say she discovers Xander who helps her discover the truth about her Gramp’s past. It’s got Russian gangsters, a little bit of funny and a cat called Humboldt.
Kim: Ha! A lil’ gangster ha? As well as romance. It’s on the read list keep us posted. 🙂 I’m quite excited for this.
So…where can we get your books?
Amazon, unfortunately. I’m not keen on all their policies and how they treat authors but they’ve managed to become the biggest name in the book industry and by making it free to publish your own stuff they’ve just about cornered the market. So yeah, there it is until I can generate a massive following and publish elsewhere as well.
Amazon UK link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071CR7GS4
Kim: Take a look at smashwords.com good luck, shout me if you need a hand with publishing here.
What does “success” look like to you? When would you say “damn, I’ve made it baby!”
I think if I was able to pay all my bills and live the life I would like to – a humble one – from writing I’d call that a success. I wouldn’t want to be a celebrity but a few nice emails from fans would be nice. I actually enjoy what I do so in a way I’m a success already.
Kim: Gavin you’re just too cute, fan mail? Really? … I’ve read your first book I’m “a fan.” *chuckles*
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
I think big egos hurt anyone don’t they? I suppose it depends on how people handle the ego they’ve got. If they’re the kind of pleb that goes around belittling everyone they meet I expect it’s going to hurt them in the long run. Karma, baby! Watch out for it.
Kim: Yes, karma is very real.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Sickeningly little as I’m lazy. If I have to look something up I do it in the middle of writing then shut the internet back down. I’m one of the infuriating people who aren’t addicted to the internet. (sorry) I’ll let you into a secret as long as you promise not to tell anyone. I don’t have a mobile phone. Not even an old Nokia kicking about in a drawer somewhere. Here’s a funny story though, I’m just finishing up Time to Turn Back and it features the baddy, Dimitri, searching for this necklace his grandmother gave to Kat’s grandfather. When I had a brief search for the Russian royal jewels it turns out a few pieces went missing during the Bolshevik rule one of which was a necklace! Weird eh?
Kim: Ha ! That is so bizarre, it’s a sign you need to finish up that book. As for not having a mobile phone, I had to sit for a moment and imagine what that might feel like. Probably quite stress free I’d imagine. The internet will really put you as an author out there Gavin… join us friend!
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I’ve only had a few so far and yes I’ve read them. Luckily they’ve been either positive or not so nasty they’ve ripped my heart out. You’re going to get bad reviews as you’re never going to please everyone but if you’ve put your heart and soul into a book and you believe it’s the best it can be, just let the bad ones wash over you. If the criticism is constructive – use it to improve.
Kim: well I bought and read your first published contemporary romance book. You’ll have another one on Amazon soon!
Do you Google yourself?
Not myself no. I do usually check to see if any new blog posts come up just after I’ve written them. If not I try and adjust the keywords until I come up somewhere near the first page. No one’s going to see you if not.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Couple of months for the first draft then about twenty years redrafting until I get it right! No, I try to get it done as fast as I can without reducing quality so I’d aim for about six months or less from idea to published.
What’s your favourite movie?
OMG how can I even pick ONE? If I was in some kind of ‘Desert Island’ situation I suppose it would have to be Love Actually.
Kim: *Smiles* you really enjoy romance don’t you. *chuckles with laughter.*
What’s your favourite book and why?
OMG again! It’s a series actually, The Redemption trilogy by Mike Smith. It’s one of those that I can read over and over without getting bored. The characters are like friends at the end and although it’s sci-fi it’s a romance too. The main character, Jon Radec, is so devoted to the woman he loves that he’ll do anything to get to her. And if he can’t get to her he’ll destroy anything or anyone in his way. Have a look, the first book, The Last Praetorian, is free so why not?
Kim: *On her way back over to Amazon.*
What music do you like?
A little bit of everything from Country to Heavy Metal, cheesy pop to love songs. I was a hardcore Dire Straits fan for a long time and love ZZ Top but just about anything goes from back in the day to current stuff.
Where would you like to travel to and why?
Promised the wife I’d take her to see the Northern Lights so I suppose I’ll have to go somewhere cold. We both like the idea of Canada so maybe we can do both there. Italy to see the coliseum and other architectural marvels. Venice for the same reasons – tourist stuff. I quite like the idea of going to somewhere like Angkor Wat or any kind of ancient civilisations ruins.
Tell us about how you develop your characters?
I write a very (VERY) basic one page outline with physical appearance and basic characteristics. If they’ve got a catchphrase or particular manner of speech I note it down but other than that, I just grow them during the story. Like I said with the research bit, I’m lazy.
Which one of your characters is your favourite and why?
I like Poppy in Poppy’s Proposal. I think I might have subliminally based her on me a bit more than I liked to admit at the time as I can actually recognise some of her flaws as mine. Of course she’s magnified a hundred times and put through the wringer for comedy effect but I relate to her more than other’s I’ve written.
What would you like readers to know?
Even though I’m a man I can write funny, romantic and realistic stories they’d like to read. Chick lit is so female oriented that the few men that do write it feel the need to use pen names or be relegated to the realms of obscurity. Like ABBA said, take a chance on me.
Kim: Gavin, us female romance readers and lovers of all things romance paranormal, suspense, sci-fi , erotica, comedy whatever … we salute you as a male author entering into this genre. I for one can’t wait to see what you publish after Poppy’s Proposal. I I really enjoyed it. Very best of luck with with building your readerships and bond with romance junkies.
And that’s a wrap! I really enjoyed getting to know Gavin, I hope you did too. Let’s watch this space, I have a good feeling that Gavin has a good idea about what makes a romance reader swoon. This could be very interesting. Please go ahead and connect with him below and wish him well on his ventures.
Next month: another fantastic author is lined up. Stay tuned!
If you’re an author and you’d like to feature in Meet The Author contact me here.