Monday, 25 June 2012

Author Interview: David Ayres

David Ayres has co-written Lazarball.

1. What is your name and where do you call home?
My name is David Ayres, and I live in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in England.

2. Do you have a pen name?

3. What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or less words, what would you say?
The name of my most recent book is Lazarball which is book one of the Anumal Empire series. To sum Lazarball up in 20 or less words, I would have to say “Mankind is dead, Anumals now rule. Lazarball is Thundercats meets Hunger Games in a unique and savage urban saga.” That’s 19 words…I should have thrown in another adjective in there shouldn’t I? 

4. Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Lazarball is the first book of the Anumal Empire series, which is set to span across seven books in total (and possibly some more) so it’s a big old beast of a story. As well as this, I have a writers journal fit to bursting with ideas and outlines for other future books.

5. What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing?
I have been writing for about ten years or so. I was one of those people who was always bursting with ideas for stories, but never knew how to realise them. How ever much I told my mum I hated English, I secretly loved the lesson at school and was told I had a natural flair for story telling. I have always been bought up surrounded by books (mostly my dad’s collection) and I would often read many of them, as well as the stories he would start writing. I say ‘start writing’ as he never used to finish any of them. He was massively into Tolkien, David Eddings, Clive Barker  and H.G. Wells for example, and this rubbed off onto myself. So the inspiration for me to start writing must stem from my dad really. Now, ten years down the line, I have a degree in English Language and Literature, and a completed book. My dad is very proud…he bought me a pint.

6. Do you gift books to readers for book reviews?
Of course. I am in a metal band, and I adopt the same attitude with the book as I do with our music, and that is the more people we can get to read / hear it, the better, even if it means giving it away. It’s all exposure. To read a book is a huge investment in time, especially when you are going to review it, so it is only right that they receive the book for free.

7. How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book?
The cover came about from a brain storm between me and the co writer of Lazarball Darren Jacobs. We wanted something very eye catching, and not too cluttered and complicated. The elements of the battered, rusted steel gives the book a decayed urban feel, whilst the splashes of blood convey the animalistic savagery and danger that is present in the book. The symbol on the front is called The Mark of the New World, and plays an important role in the story. Its placing on the cover seems to tie all these elements together. I feel it is a great representation of what the book is about. The cover itself was designed by my cousin called Ben Wilkinson who runs his own graphic design company called Export 2 Reality

8. Which is your favourite cover of all the books you have written?
This one…because it’s our only one…but there will be plenty more

9. Is there anything you would change about your book covers?
No not really. I pretty much go with my gut, and when something seems to click, and look just right, I don’t see any point in messing with it. I loved our cover the first time I saw it. That was good enough for me.

10. Would you have different book covers for different countries?
Not so much different countries, but I would for different demographics. Lazarball was written to appeal to a wide spectrum of ages. In the past we have had some amazing concept art done for the book by an artist called Steve Jones, and I would consider using some of this art on the front covers so it may appeal to wider tastes.

11. How did you come up with the title for your book?
Lazarball has always been the one true name for this book. At first, this name was used as a kind of umbrella name which we called the project by, but since then it has just stuck. Lazarball is basically a high tech and brutal team sport, which plays a pivotal role in this book and future books. However we felt we needed a name that reflected the saga on a broader scale also, and not just one element. That is why we have the umbrella name of the Anumal Empire series as well. Anumals are hybrid human / animals, therefore the word Anumal is the same. Anumal Empire seems to encapsulate all what the saga is about, and signifies that a new breed now dominates earth.

12. Is there anything you would change about your book? And why?
The length of time it took to write it lol. Seriously though, Lazarball was a huge learning curve for both Darren and myself. I wouldn’t change anything to do with the story or the characters, but I know we are set to write the next book to a slightly different game plan, which should make the whole process a lot smoother.

13. Do you have a book trailer? And what are your thoughts on book trailers?
We do have a trailer which one of my friends did for us. It basically tells the viewer where they can buy the book etc, plus it has music on it from my band Old School Enemy. I think trailers are a great idea. After all, isn’t You Tube like the second or third biggest search engine on the internet? It would be crazy not to exploit that and use it for publicity. I have not come across anyone who dislikes book trailers, but I do believe that in this day and age, where books become films, films become games, games become books etc etc, that you have to appreciate and try and utilise every medium out there.

14. Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hardcovers or audiobooks?
Any, as long as they contain a good story. I am a little late to the ebook party, but I am really getting into it. However nothing beats the feel of a book in your hand, or that sense of triumph inside when you thumb through the amount of pages you have read. As for audiobooks, they are something I have never really tried, but I wouldn’t say no.

15. Are you a self-published / Indie author?
I am an Indie author. The way I see it, is that the book industry, like nearly every industry, is out there to make money. If the process of writing your own book, self publishing your own book and marketing your own book teaches you valuable lessons in how the industry works, then it can only be a good thing. Being an Indie author could be seen as a proving ground, one where Indie authors can build a following and demonstrate to publishers or the world that there is indeed a market for their work. I cannot say if being with one of the big 6 is better that being an Indie author, as I have never been with a publisher. But at the moment, I am really enjoying learning the ropes, and loving the fact that our work is now out there for people to read. Who knows what it may lead to, but you have to at least enjoy the ride.

16. Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so what was it?
The only books I have ever read more than once are The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Wuthering Heights. The Lord of the Rings was purely because I love the books. As for Wuthering Heights, I find the book massively intriguing. Id love to write the middle section to Wuthering Heights, something like “Heathcliff…The Missing Years!” I love the fact that he disappears, and years later comes back incredibly wealthy, yet we don’t know why. I live near Haworth (where the Brontes lived) so I might nip up there and find some old relative and have a word. Watch this space. (Sorry, went off on a tangent there.)

17. Have you ever bought a specific edition of a book because of it’s cover? (For example a UK, US or Canadian version)
No, not really.

18. Have you ever read a book just based on it’s cover?
I don’t think I have. The cover certainly draws me to the book, but I always read the back cover after, then flick halfway through the book and read a page or two. I do this just to see if the writing annoys me, for example if it’s too flowery and over descriptive or if any of the dialogue sticks out as clichéd or unbelievable, or to see if the writing actually flows. This sounds pretty harsh, but like I said, reading is an investment in time, and with two kids, a job, Anumal Empire, a rock band and a cat, I usually don’t have much time free, so when I do read, I want the book to be great.

19. Has the quality of the cover of a book ever put you off of reading it?
Possibly. Like I said above, I am attracted to a good cover, so I will have probably over looked something with a bad cover, even though there could be a gem inside.

20. What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format?
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson. This is in paperback. I have a stack of books I now want to read. Having just finished my degree, the final module was literature, where I had to study a range of texts from Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko to James Joyce’s Dubliners. Don’t get me wrong, these were amazing books, but I’m looking forward to reading something of my own choice now, and not something I have been told to read. I have to admit though, my eyes have been opened to a whole new world of books. It’s good to step out of your comfort zone once in a while.

21. Do you have any advice for other writers? And what’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing?
I can’t help but sound clichéd here, but the best advice to other writers is do not give up. Keep at it no matter what. If you really want something, then work towards it. I think the best ever writing advice I received was from one of my creative writing tutors called Michael Stewart. He told me that with every story, always push it to its furthest extreme. From there you can always pull it back. It’s like the old saying, always better to be a mile too long than an inch too short. But this has been great advice to work with, especially in the first draft of a book, where you throw everything onto the page. If I could give one more bit of advice, it would be to take writing seriously. There are many people who say they are going to write a book, and just get to it, without any consideration for learning the craft. That is why I studied English. I wanted to equip myself with the best tools to really give it 100%. Learn the craft, keep on learning it and don’t give up on it, I suppose that sums it up really.

22. Where can your readers follow you?

Twitter: @DavidAyres01

Thankyou so much for taking the time to do this interview and allowing us a glimpse into your writing world!

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