My 8th interview is with Stu Ayris, the writer of Tollesbury Time Forever and very excited person if someone says they like his books. Which means he's often bouncing as TTF has loads of 5* on Amazon.
How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?
I wrote my first novel, A Cleansing of Souls, with no intention of publishing it and my second, Tollesbury Time Forever, assuming nobody would want to read it. As such they are written entirely without any concept of what other people would think of them. With Tollesbury Time Forever I just had great fun – throwing in poems, a song, a two-act play, made-up words and an entire chapter about the man character getting drunk whilst I drank the same drink the character was drinking! People seem to like it though! So now I'm writing my third novel, The Bird That Nobody Sees. What seems to have happened is that the confidence I have gained from the reception of my first two books seems to have cancelled out any fears I may have had that I would have to compromise my style of writing. Which is handy!
What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.
I guess the genre I write in would be classed as literary fiction. I read a post recently on a blog that quantified what the poster believed literary fiction to be and, although I can't recall much of it, I do remember thinking - "my stuff's like that!" To be honest I just write what I like to read – what appeals to me is the fact that there are no boundaries with literary fiction – you can go as deep or as mad as your mind will take you. Which suits me fine - being an odd sort...
Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them?
I have nothing remotely like any of that. When I'm not physically writing I spend all my time thinking about the book, getting it straight in my head before getting down to the writing again. Being something of an insomniac I do lie awake at night going through scenes and conversations in my head and then get up and carry on with the book. So no organisation at all. It just kind of takes me over for the whole duration while I'm writing the book. I have developed a belief that books are remembered by the author and not made up by the author. So when a thought about a scene or a chapter feels right it means I've remembered it correctly. If you force things it's like talking over someone and that's not right. So I don't plan to any degree - I just get myself in a state of mind where I can best pick up the signs and signals. Sounds a bit weird I know but it's the only way I can explain it.
How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with ?
Tom in A Cleansing of Souls is extremely close to what I was like in my late teens and early twenties – confused, passionate, angry and entirely unaware of the love forever within arms reach – but nice with it! Simon in Tollesbury Time Forever is very similar to me as I am now. I like Simon so that makes me happy!
Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters?
My wife very kindly just lets me get on with it. I think she sighs a resigned sigh every time I call out "listen to this bit!" but I do get quite excited when I've written a pleasing line or paragraph! Just as an aside, one of the characters in Tollesbury Time Forever is an anagram of my wife's name – Rebecca Ayris – Carrie Caseby! So I guess in once sense I am married to one of my characters (just happens to be a feisty barmaid - hurrah!)
What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?
I like to think my writing has elements of John Steinbeck and Jack Kerouac so of course I love reading their work. To be honest I love all sorts of books – for example the last four books I've read have been The Great Gatsby, Treasure Island, The Dharma Bums and The Moonstone! I love to read biographies too - mainly of writers funnily enough!
What lengths do you go to to convince us readers that your book has the X factor?
I guess because my books fall outside the popular genres the most I can hope is that someone is good enough to give them a go. I don't see I can do any more than that. They're just things I've written that's all. The fact that people I have never met are reading them and liking them, well, that's more than enough for me.
How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?
I'd love to shake them by the hand and get them a pint! It's like if you've got toothpaste on your cheek or your zip undone! Tell me! Due to my routine of drinking whilst writing there are inevitably spelling mistakes but I'm gradually getting better at spotting them. I find changing the entire font helps when I'm editing - stops your eyes being so lazy!
What do you like most about visiting KUF?
The breadth of conversation, the goodness of the people and the peaceful humour of it all – so different to so many other forums! It's great!
What is on your near horizon?
I am thirty thousand words into my latest novel and hope to get that completed (at least a first draft) by the end of the summer. I've opted in to the next two KUF Anthologies so can't wait to get cracking on those stories and then, well, who knows?!
Where can we find you for more information?
www.tollesburytimeforever.blogspot.com – writing stuff, reviews and other things
www.stuartayrisbooks.co.uk – a website that I'm gradually working out
Facebook – just search my name!
Twitter - @StuartAyris