A couple of weeks ago I put out a call on social media for Indie authors to contact me if they wanted to be part of an interview series I was doing and got way more responses than I ever thought I would.
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After a little deliberation, I decided to respond to a few of the first to respond and then apologise to those others stating I had received far too many to ever get around to theirs and so didn’t want to disappoint them.
The first author who got in touch was Steven Kedie, author of Suburb. I won’t talk too much about Steven and Suburb as I interviewed him about his book, being an author, the pros and cons of the publishing process and what he recommends for budding writers:
Q. What is your book/book series?
A. My debut novel is called Suburb. Set in 2004, it tells the story of Tom Fray, who returns home to Manchester following three years at university to find no one has changed but him. Desperate for escape and adventure, he starts an affair with a married neighbour. The book covers that time in a person’s life when you’re not quite an adult yet but you’re not a kid anymore either. You’ve had a taste of freedom and are now desperate to see more of the world than the streets you grew up on.
Q. Where did the idea for the book come from?
A. At the time the book is set, my wife and I were away backpacking and a lot of my mates were returning home from Uni. We had lots of conversations about how we no longer enjoyed where we live because we’d seen a bit more of the world, home seemed so small and boring.
A lot of Tom’s feelings in this book were my own at the time. Questioning whether this was it and whether we were all destined to end up like our parents?
Not to give away any spoilers, but I also always liked the idea of trying to write a book about an affair where the couple wasn’t ever caught. As I said, no spoilers as to whether that is the case in the finished novel, but that was certainly the original intention. I felt there was drama and tension in that idea, as often in stories with affairs, the main drama is in people getting caught and everyone finding out.
Q. What made you want to write a book in the first place?
A. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer. I couldn’t be paid to read but I’ve got a vivid memory of when my dad bought the first computer for our house. I remember opening whatever the equivalent of Word was back then, and clearly thinking “I’m going to write stories on this”.
Now, I love reading. Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby made me realise there were books about things I loved and that set me off on my reading journey.
I also have a memory of being on holiday as a teenager and meeting another family. The dad of this family was reading an old copy of The Godfather by Mario Puzo. He told me, “I’ve read this book every year for 30 years. People don’t give it enough credit because the film is so good.” At the end of the holiday, he gave me his battered copy (pages were falling out). I read it and it made me fall even further in love with reading. It was such an incredible gesture for that man to do, given how important that copy was to him. I must have really shown him I had a love for stories.
As for Suburb, I wrote the book a while ago and it came out in 2014 as an ebook, but during lockdown, I decided to give it a new lease of life and had a new front cover designed for it and (finally) released it in paperback. This said lease of life, I’m pleased to say, is finding a new audience.
Q. What was the biggest struggle when writing your book(s)?
A. The struggle with writing a book is time. I have a full-time corporate job and two kids. There are a lot of family things to do. I’m fortunate enough to not work on Tuesdays, so I try and use that as my full-time writing day.
On the promotion side of things: not having a team behind it makes it a lot harder. Being a solo indie-published writer is time-consuming which takes away time from being able to write something new. The more you learn about the industry, you realise that even those doing well on a small scale have a great team behind them. When you’re doing it on your own, you can’t do everything. For anyone wanting to try solo indie publishing, I’d recommend finding a good editor and ensuring you employ a great cover designer.
Q. What’s been your favourite thing about being a published author?
A. My favourite thing was giving my mum and dad a copy and saying “I’ve written this.” I was worried they might see Suburb as a dig at them and that they might think the book was telling me that I didn’t like the way I grew up.
When my mum started reading it, I said, “Please be prepared that this might be difficult/ awkward/ weird to read. We might have to have an honest conversation around what is fiction and what is based on actual things I or my friends have done.”
My mum was blown away by Suburb, which was amazing for me. Although she’s never asked any questions…My dad has never read a book in his adult life but he read it and when I asked him what he thought, he said “Yeah, it was all right that.” Which, if you know my dad, is basically a five-star review.
Also, I don’t think you can underestimate the positive feeling of a review from someone you don’t know. I’ve read reviews from people I’ve never met, and when they connect with Suburb and they love it, it feels amazing.
Q. If you could give advice to someone looking to write a book what would it be?
A. I would definitely say that if you feel the need to write, write. And write. And then rewrite. Even if you’re the only person to read it, the creative process can be incredibly fulfilling. The achievement of finishing a short story can be so satisfying. More people in life should attempt the things they want to try. Fear shouldn’t stop you from trying.
My main advice from a publishing perspective is that it is an industry and should be treated as such. If you’re publishing on your own or with a big five company, it is a business. Although there are a lot of people who do this as a second job, it’s still a business. The people who work in it are very serious and very good at what they do. You should take the time to understand it.
Get contacts in the industry – writers, reviewers, publishers etc. Having a circle of people who you can bounce ideas off and speak about the business side. Not only can they offer professional support but it also allows you to offload any fears or anxiety you may have about writing your book.
Where can you find Steven?
Details of Steven’s writing can be found at www.stevenkedie.com
You can follow him on Twitter: @stevenkedie