I am delighted to welcome Ian Skewis author of A Murder Of Crows to take part in my Q&A interview.
Good morning welcome to Chelle’s Book Reviews.Can you tell us a little about yourself and background?
I was born in Scotland and began writing at the age of 19. I had some poetry published and I created some lithographic prints to go with them. These were then exhibited at Dumbarton Public Library. Around that same time I began writing what would eventually, some 28 years later, become A Murder Of Crows!
When did you know that you wanted to become a writer and how did you go about it?
I’ve done many jobs since those prints and poems were exhibited. I worked in the produce department of Asda, I read tarot cards, I worked in the perfumery department in House of Fraser and now I work in event catering. I was also an actor for many years, appearing in theatre, television, film and lending my voice on radio. It was when I began to grow dispirited with acting that I returned to writing (though it never really left me). Finally, in 2013, I came out officially as a writer.
Can you tell us what genre your books are and the audience you write for?
A Murder Of Crows is a psychological thriller, but I’ve had some science fiction published too and I’m about to delve into literary fiction. Crime is what I’m currently known for but I’m trying not to be too pigeon-holed.
What is your writing process and how long does it take?
I’m only beginning to get a handle on this to be honest. I start with a pitch and a synopsis but as the pressure has increased of late I’ve begun to write by the seat of my pants! However, despite initially thinking that this is not the way forward I’m finding that it seems to work for me. Improvising seems to bring out something in my writing. The process is much more fluid. However, a pitch and synopsis are nevertheless important, particularly for marketing and selling the book, so I’d still recommend that all writers do that. I’ve got loads of stories lined up which are almost, or at least partially, complete in my head so I don’t have a great need to set them out first. They’re already gestating nicely at the moment. I’m writing three novels just now. The first is on schedule and I hope to have the first draft completed by December, with the other two soon after.
Are your characters based on anyone you know or are they just fictional?
A couple of the characters in A Murder Of Crows are loosely based on people I know. A character in Inkling, which was published as part of The Speculative Book anthology, was very much based on a real person too. Others are amalgamations of people or just created from scratch.
Have you wrote about a personal experience in your novels?
I try to write solely from the character’s viewpoint. If the plot demands I write my personal experience into the work then so be it, but I remind myself that this is not an autobiography that I’m writing. It is a work of fiction. In saying that, I have noticed that my work is generally dark, and some of my characters often have to deal with forms of mental illness, and I suppose that is very revealing about me and my own struggles.
What research do you do?
For A Murder Of Crows I had numerous online conversations with an ex-policeman who gave me some good advice for the investigative and procedural parts of the book. Ultimately, the research depends on the subject matter. I have a story I hope to have published one day about tsunamis, which required a great deal of research.
Who would you like to co-write with and why?
Difficult one this as I very much enjoy the solitary aspect of writing and creating my own world. I’m an only child too so this is a tough one to answer! If I had to say anyone it would be Ian McEwan, but I’m so finicky about the process and I rather imagine he is too, so I suspect we’d probably end up kicking the shit out of each other!
What’s your favourite book?
Atonement by Ian McEwan. Beautiful story about the healing process of writing. I also love Brighton Rock by Graham Greene and The Scold’s Bridle by Minette Walters. Also, Mother Love by Domini Taylor.
What’s your favourite food?
Pizza, followed by ice cream. I’m just a big kid. I love anything cheesy. Chips too, with lashings of salt and vinegar. Pie and gravy. White wine – Rioja is my favourite. Gin and tonic. Raspberries. Steamed broccoli is a current favourite too.
What’s your favourite film?
Withnail And I. I went to visit the locations of the film a few years back and I also met Paul McGann once. Great movie. Hilarious and poignant by turns.
What’s your favourite song?
Tough one this. So many. Beethoven by Euryhmics. Peek a Boo by Siouxsie and the Banshees. I love Laurie Anderson too. Dead Can Dance. Cocteau Twins. The Blue Nile. It’s Immaterial. Suzanne Vega – my favourite songwriter.
How can readers find out more information about yourself and your books?
You can find my author page, Ian Skewis books, on Facebook. I’m also on Twitter @IanSkewis. A Murder Of Crows can be found on Amazon and in Waterstones. I’ll also be at Bloody Scotland on September 9th sharing the stage with three other debut authors – and Alex Gray! Very exciting. In fact, I’ll be there for the duration of the entire festival so come and say hello!
Thank you so much for taking part Ian