Interview with Indie Author Stephen R. Marriott
That’s a good question because one seems to feed into the other. As when I travel and explore that’s when the ideas for my stories tend to come. And it’s my stories (albeit fiction) that remind me of the places and people I’ve met on the way. So I don’t think I could sacrifice one for the other; in a sense, they’re a kind of alliance.
What inspired you to take up writing and what motivates you to keep going?
A few years ago I made the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain, and what came out of that was a fictional story about a young flamenco guitarist, at the beginning of his own journey. I hadn’t planned on writing that story or even being a writer but that’s what happened. You could say the Camino reawakened my creative side – that was the catalyst, the inspiration.
Of your Indie author career so far, what aspect(s) do you enjoy the most and why?
I get to set my own deadlines!! Well, apart from that it’s being involved in the whole process from the writing to working with editors/cover designers etc. through to marketing. I guess it’s comparable to being a film auteur. So I’m very lucky, as I get to direct my own movies!
What challenges you the most as an Indie?
As much as I love the whole process as I describe in the above question, it’s also one of my biggest challenges. As the swapping of hats from a creative to business person does not always synchronise seamlessly. I’m leaning that I have to separate the process on different days; and when I’m close to an editing deadline it’s better that I stay away from the business aspect altogether.
Who are your role models in the writing world and why?
Hemmingway – I’d love to be able to write as sparingly as he did but say so much. Alas, I’ve never been a very efficient person.
Kerouac – I love the contradiction of this author and his legendary spontaneous prose. His life, as his writing appears rushed, like his travels on the Highways of America; yet he took the time to observe life around him. It’s very liberalizing and he was one of the first authors that made me want to hit the road with nothing more than my backpack.
Tolkien - was one of my early influences, I loved his stories of Hobbits – small loveable folk who were completely out of their depth but nonetheless facing their fears and journeying into the unknown on their personal quests.
With the knowledge and experience you’ve gained so far, what advice would you give to aspiring Indie authors wanting to make a living from their writing?
Really ask yourself what are your motivations? If you want to stay true to your voice and creativity you may have to accept that it could be a very long time before you start to see a financial return. However, if you’re determined that it’s a lifetime career, then your patience will eventually pay off. But if you’re in it mainly for financial reasons, and you’re a decent storyteller (but willing to compromise and write prolifically), there are some short cuts and many indie authors are applying a formula to this. I would caution that this approach will be more satisfying for those writers who see themselves more along the line as an entrepreneur, on the author/business spectrum.
What does your writing/ creative process look like? Are you fixed on routine or do you work in cycles?
Ha, another good question! I’m still figuring this out. I don’t have a fixed routine as of yet, but I’ve found writing in 1.5 hour bursts seems to work well for me. Also changing my environment depending on what I’m doing helps. For example, during the early stages of writing a story I love to take myself away and write somewhere where no one I know can disturb me, but nonetheless, I experience positive distractions. For example, during the early stages of writing Santiago’s Guitar, the sequel in my Reluctant Pilgrim series, I stole myself away to Andalucía – and it’s no surprise that people and location weave their way into my story.
What feeds your creative juices and how does that express itself in your fiction?
As already mentioned I’m very influenced by travel and it helps me create fictional backdrops and stories. And regards the characters I create I guess there’s always an element of me in them – so you can probably learn more about me in my characters than I could fully explain here.
Any plans for non-fiction in the future?
Maybe – watch this space!
What do you do to switch off from work and how do you manage the work/life balance?
I love walking/trekking and at least once a week I try and get away from London and go on a day trip. And on those occasions, I do my best not to think about writing or work.
What personal qualities do you think an Indie author needs to have and why?
Marketing is really important and authors are notoriously introverted – but no one is going to see and read your book if you’re not prepared to promote it and that involves building your author brand. So being a bit of a schizophrenic from the introvert to the extrovert would definitely be helpful.
What is your idea of success?
For me it’s being proud of the books I write and if monetary success follows that would be an amazing bonus. I think setting out with a mindset of writing a book because you think it will be a bestseller, rather than a story that is personal to you, will never feel satisfactory and most likely not result in financial rewards. Write what you’re passionate about and let your readers sense that passion in your words.
Stephen R. Marriott is a British author whose creative spirit is inspired by travel and walking the roads less travelled. His debut book, CANDYFLOSS GUITAR (#1 Reluctant Pilgrim Series) has climbed the Amazon Best Sellers list and has been ranked #1 in several categories.
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