• Rebecca Yelland

Interview With An Unpublished Author - Andy Roberts

Welcome to my series of interviews with writers on the journey to becoming published authors. Their stories are as unique as the individual and their experiences. I'm sure we can all relate to their hopes & struggles in the pursuit of their dreams.

Next on my list is Andy Roberts aka @AndrewRoberts. Let's see where Andy is in the process and what we can learn about this up and coming author.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hello! My name’s Andy, and I write historical adventure fiction reminiscent of the old pulp magazines (think Indiana Jones and you’ve got it). I used to be an accountant, but last year I decided to take some time out to go to university and study for a BA in Creative Writing. I’m coming to the end of my first year, and I think it was the best choice I’ve ever made. One of my biggest ongoing projects has been a novelette called The Lady’s Favour, a pirate adventure set in the late 17th Century Caribbean, featuring a pair of wandering rogues called Kestrel and Scar. They meet Rosanna Barclay, who has arrived in the Caribbean from England in search of her missing father, learning that he was a pirate who disappeared with an alleged fortune stolen from a French payroll carrier. If I’m not writing, I’m usually playing video games or laser tag, fencing, or running a campaign at a student roleplaying games society. Or, more likely, procrastinating on Twitter.

2. When did you decide to become a writer?

At school, I’d always been fond of exercises which involved creative writing, but I started writing as a hobby when I was seventeen. At that point, I was struggling with the stresses of Sixth Form (the UK equivalent of high school junior and senior years), and found an escape in writing. Low self-esteem over my grades was beginning to make it difficult to feel joy, but I felt joy in putting figments of my imagination through perilous situations while a triumphant film score blared in the background. After finishing an apprenticeship, I tried to take my creative side further by joining a local writers’ group. I garnered plenty of constructive feedback, and shared some of my stories at public events. It was through this group I learned about the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. I visited this week-long retreat in 2016 and have been back every year since, always leaving with a desire to write more. I’d say it was Swanwick which influenced my decision to go to university.

3. Are you using a pen name and why?

I’m not currently writing under a pen name. I didn’t see much of a reason for it when I started.

4. What should people know about you?

While I study Creative Writing at university, I didn’t study it at school. I believe that the way some subjects are taught carry the risk of putting some people off. One of the reasons I enjoyed writing when I was in Sixth Form was that I wasn’t being marked on it. The grade boundaries are a lot more lenient at university.

5. What inspired you to begin your current project?

The two biggest inspirations I’d cite for the pirate aspects of The Lady’s Favour are Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and the video game Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. My interest in writing a swashbuckler story stems from my love of The Three Musketeers and Zorro, both the original books and the numerous adaptations which followed. After beginning the project, I was also recommended Fritz Leiber’s fantasy stories featuring Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. While it isn’t the same setting, the stories are a great source for character dynamic.

6. How’s the process going?

I finished a first draft of The Lady’s Favour back in 2016, sent it off, and got rejected in January of 2017. My plan had been to put it on hold and write a few other stories to develop my main characters, but I’d recently changed jobs at that time and the longer hours made that difficult (I’d moved from a four-day week to a five-day one). After leaving that particular job, I spent the summer on a revision, and sent that off just before I started at university. I haven’t heard back yet, so I’m fearing the worst. That said, university may offer some opportunities for research. Taking up fencing gave me a chance to be a real swashbuckler, and I can put the theory to use in my work. I’ve even run scenarios featuring my characters at the roleplaying game society.

7. Do you have an estimated date of completion?

Unfortunately, I don’t. While my story is in a polished state, work is currently on hold so I can spend the time on my university assignments.

8. Do you plan to self-publish or query for traditional publishing and why?

I’m exploring both avenues. I’ve been querying my story via Pitch Wars’ quarterly #PitMad tags, but so far it hasn’t been picked up. I feel that self-publishing won’t get the story out there as much as traditional publishing might. So, I thought that I’d self-publish work once I’ve managed to get a traditionally published story out there, but I’m told that the other way around could be more viable.

9. What is your goal as a writer?

Basically, I just want to write. I love the community I’ve discovered through this journey, both online and offline. I also love the characters I created, and want to see them go on more adventures and get into all kinds of trouble.

10. What is your goal for this book?

I want to publish The Lady’s Favour, and from there write more stories featuring Kestrel and Scar. I’d like to send them to different publications, and perhaps later release a collection of their stories.

11. Any advice for your fellow writers trying to survive their first book?

Don’t be dissuaded by rejection. It’s a natural part of life as a writer, and it means you’re getting your work out there.

I want to thank Andy for being my guest interview this week. Can you find Andy on the following links:

Links: Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndrewRoberts66

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AndyRoberts66/

Blog: https://andrewswritersblock.blogspot.com/

    © 2020 by REBECCA YELLAND