The Writing Life of: Carl Ashmore
This week on ‘The Writing Life of:‘ I am thrilled to be interviewing author Carl Ashmore. Carl will be sharing with us detail of his writing life, telling us all about his latest book series ‘The Time Hunters‘, the first was released on 30th November 2010. Plus Carl will be answering a few fun questions too.
So without further ado I’ll hand you over to Carl
Carl Ashmore is an independent children’s author of the series ‘The Time Hunters’. ‘The Time Hunters’ books have proven to be amongst the most acclaimed independent children’s action adventure series in both the UK and USA.
He is delighted the TH series appears to have the same crossover potential as his literary influences – Rowling, Dahl and Lewis.
He likes chives, marvel comics and tweaking his daughter’s nose. He is rubbish at fixing stuff.
1) As a child what did you want to do when you grew up?
As far as back as I can remember I wanted to be a writer. I grew up in a very working class household, my father worked seven days as week as a postman yet we never seemed to have any money. Being a writer, using your imagination to craft stories and getting paid for it was a world away from the reality of my childhood, it just seemed a wonderfully romantic occupation. In many ways it still does.
2) Who were your favourite childhood authors?
I loved Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books, but the two authors that really captured my imagination were CS Lewis and Roald Dahl: ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ was (and still is) my favourite book.
3) At what point in your life did you realise you wanted to be a writer?
As I said in my first answer it was at an early age – perhaps six or seven. The first novel I started writing was called ‘The Death Beast’ (when I was about nine) but the less said about that the better.
4) How did you go about following that dream?
I wrote… then I wrote some more. I wrote plays, which I acted out with my friends, and as I got older started to film and television scripts.
As a child, I was obsessed with the TV comedy group Monty Python and spent hours writing comedy sketches, none of which (I later realised) were remotely funny. Many years later, I worked in television and completed a Masters degree in Screenwriting.
5) What is your writing day like? Do you aim for a certain amount of pages or words before you stop for the day?
I have recently taken voluntary redundancy from my job as a lecturer (for 27 years) and am currently a stay at home dad to my one-year-old son, Will. Because it’s so difficult to write when he’s awake I start writing at 3.30am until the rest of the household wakes. Then I work when he has a three-hour nap in the middle of the day. Such is the nature of the modern writer, not all of this time is devoted to writing.
I do so many varied things related to promotion. Yesterday, I was editing an online video advert, planning a Facebook marketing campaign, and doing some graphic design. Today, I’ve been working on audio editing ‘The Time Hunters’ Audiobook and working on my website. The modern writer has to have an immense range of transferable skills.
6) Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
7) Do you have any strange habits before starting, or whilst in the midst of writing?
Not really, although getting up at 3.30am to start work means I have a strong cup of coffee beside me at all times.
8) Do you write longhand, typewriter, or on a computer?
Computer. I love my MacBook Air. It’s lightweight, well designed and yet very powerful. My handwriting is so atrocious that if I wrote longhand I doubt I’d be able to read what I’d written at the end of the session.
9) How many books have you written? Do you have any unpublished work?
I’ve written seven books, and am publishing my eighth – an anthology of short stories and poetry in the next few weeks. I’m also 52000 words into my next novel ‘Zak Fisher and the Angel Prophecy’ which should be completed in early 2018.
10) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a plotter. My Time Hunters novels are really quite complex and there is a fascinating backstory that is revealed as the books progress. I needed the overall narrative arc to be plotted in great detail to do the story justice. I do, however, leave myself plenty of room to go off on a tangent if the story needs it.
11) Do you read all the reviews left for your book(s)?
I read all comments. As for bad reviews, well I’ve only had six one star reviews from over seven hundred reviews across the world so it’s not been so much of an issue for me. Still, I read any negative review carefully and decide for myself whether the criticism was justified. The fact is, you can’t please all the people all of the time.
Concerning your latest book:
The Time Hunters Saga Book One
Publisher – Addlebury Press
Pages – 278
Release Date – 30th November 2010
ISBN 13 – 978-0956859501
Format – ebook, paperback
Becky is a typical thirteen year old girl. She likes Facebook, animals and plenty of sleep. So when she and her brother Joe are invited to stay with their ‘loony’ Uncle Percy at his stately home, the mysterious Bowen Hall, she thinks it’ll be the worst summer ever.
What she doesn’t realise is that Bowen Hall is also home to a baby Triceratops, two Sabre-tooth tigers and the mythic hero, Will Scarlet… ‘The Time Hunters’ is a thrilling adventure that takes Becky, Joe, Uncle Percy and Will on a quest through time to find the legendary Golden Fleece. The Clock is ticking….
12) How long did it take you to get from the idea’s stage to your date of publication?
I’ll talk about The Time Hunters series for this if I may. I wrote the first draft of ‘The Time Hunters’ in 2005 when I took a year’s sabbatical and lived in the South West of France. I didn’t do much with it until 2010 when I independently published. Each Time Hunters book takes around a year to write.
13) How did you come up with the names for your characters?
My lead characters are Becky Mellor (13) and her brother Joe (11). I wanted very ordinary names for two very ordinary children who become embroiled in an extraordinary adventure.
14) Can you give us an insight into your main character(s) life?, What makes them tick?
Becky is a typical thirteen-year-old girl. She likes Facebook, coffee shops and her friends. Her life, however, turns upside down when she goes to stay for the summer with her reclusive Uncle Percy and find out he’s a time traveller, who shares his stately home with Will Scarlet, two sabre-tooth tigers and a dinosaur.
Becky has very real teenage problems and angst, but ultimately she is decent, compassionate with an innate bravery she doesn’t even know exists.
15) Which was your hardest scene to write?
There is a death in the fourth Time Hunters book that was almost impossible to write. It was a character I cared for very much and it broke my heart to kill him/her (no spoilers here). However it was always planned to happen and I would never have changed that original detailed story arc. It would be remiss of me to say anything else.
16) How did you come up with the title of your book?
I really did think about it a great deal. Ultimately, I wanted to create a grand time travel adventure that involved quests for some of the most famous relics of all time: The Golden Fleece, Pandora’s Box, The Spear of Destiny, Excalibur and The Holy Grail. The name ‘The Time Hunters’ was the best fit.
17) Did you get a family member/friend to read your work before sending to the publishers?
Yes, my partner, Lisa, always reads my books first. I then send them off to my editor, a very fine lady called Kath Middleton. She’s also a great writer herself.
18) What process did you go through to get your book published?
I tried the traditional route initially. I had my fair share of rejection but also some very positive dealings with literary agents, including a meeting in London with JK Rowling’s literary agents. In the end I pursued the independent route which is a good fit for me.
19) What did you do once you had written the final word in your book?
For the independent author, that’s when the hard work begins (editing, cover design, promotion etc.) However, I’m certain I had a rather large glass of Merlot, a long hot bath and then danced the night away with my amazing children.
20) What’s next for you, writing-wise?
As I said, I’ll release the anthology in the next few weeks, then finish the ‘Zak Fisher’ book early in the new year. Then I’ll either write the next Time Hunters novel or start planning my own foray into a magical world (move aside Mister Potter) with a book called ‘Alice Mason and the Book of Shadows’. It’s about a young girl that discovers she’s a distant descendent of the Merlin and embarks on an adventure to find his spell book. I think it’s got real potential.
1) What’s your favourite food?
Indian food. I have a soft spot for Naan breads.
2) If you had a box of crayons and you could only choose one, which colour would you choose?
Blue. Not sure why.
3) What movie could you watch over and over again?
The Godfather Part 2
4) What would be the top song on your playlist?
‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ by Joy Division.
5) If you won millions, what would be your first purchase?
A nice hat.
6) A talking duck walks into your room wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses, whats the first thing he says to you?
Mister Duck: Quick… Quick…
Me: Why are you not quacking, Mister Duck?
Mister Duck: I’ve got the hiccups.
You can find out more about Carl Ashmore by visiting the website/social media sites below.
I would like to say a big thank you to Carl for sharing with us details of his writing life, and for a wonderful interview.