Happy Friday to you all,
It's now begun! That BIG, big countdown to Christmas. Ten days from now it will be an early start to get those turkeys in the oven and the rest of the prep to do for Christmas dinner. Piles of presents ready to open for the kids or grandkids, whichever applies to you. I daresay that many of you will have some last minute shopping to do before the big day. But enough of that!!
Okay! So today we welcome author, Vincent Formosa!
Eva: Good morning Vincent and thank you for showing an interest and being part of my author interview series. Now, tell us all about yourself (as in, a bit of a biography).
Vincent: Good Morning Eva and thank you for hosting me. Tall, dark hair, nice smile. :D I don’t think I’m anything special. I have an eye for detail, a good memory for little things, which always comes in handy when it comes to historical research. I always wanted to be in the RAF as a kid, but the cut backs in the mid 90’s scotched any hopes I had of joining the services.
I lingered for a few years in sales. I specialised in graphics rendering rigs at a time when 3D CGI was in its infancy, and some of my clients were film FX houses. It was pretty special going to Shepperton Studios and seeing a little bit of how the movie magic is made. After that, I washed up as a government servant.
Apart from that, I’ve got the standard nuclear family, 3 cats and a nice house in a nice bit of the country.
How many books have you written up to now? Are they published or self-published? What genre are they?
Seven published, and my eighth is released on the 30th December. All have been self-published and are in the World War 2 aviation fiction genre. Someone compared one of my books to Douglas Reemand and Len Deighton once, and I was rather flattered by the comparison.
Of all the genres there are, is there any genre/s that you feel you wouldn’t be able to write and why? Is there any genre that you really wish you could write, but feel you wouldn’t be able to do it justice?
I don’t think there’s a genre I couldn’t write. I’ve got a fairly broad range of taste. I’ve read a lot of books over the years so I’m sure I could have a fair stab at most things, but I have always gone by the rule that you write about what you are interested in. If a writer wants their work to be crisp and vibrant and maintain a reader's interest, then the writer themself has to be engaged by the subject matter.
My thing has always been military fiction or science fiction. I think I would struggle to write a contemporary teen vampire drama and make it interesting. Similarly, a legal thriller or a good horror are other genres where my lack of interest would impact the prose.
Do you have any favourite ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ words that you like to use in your books? What are those words? Also, what words used by other authors irritate you more than they should?
Glid is one word I like to fit in if I can. Purely because it prompts a ‘huh’ moment. I try to make sure I utilise period slang in the novels and avoid very modern phrases because part of my world-building is to layer in as much detail as I can.
I find it interesting how style has changed over the decades. For example, one of my all-time favourites is Shogun by James Clavell, but that book overuses the word now a lot. for example, ‘they were gaining on them now. or The frigate had the bit between her teeth now. etc. It was used too much.
Derek Robinson also has certain little tropes that he has re-used a number of times. A character becomes frustrated, writes something down, and then more often than not, tears said note into tiny pieces and chucks them in the bin. I’ve been guilty of similar. In a few of my early books, I became aware that I re-used a moment with a character who screwed up a piece of paper into a ball before throwing it at a waste paper basket.
Do you sing at all, be it karaoke, in a choir or have done so professionally? Whether you have or not, have you ever written (or had the urge to write) any song lyrics? Have those lyrics been used at all?
I have always sung, from an early age. If I'm not singing, I’m humming to myself. I find I rarely sit in total silence while I am working. Either a film, documentary, or piece or music is playing in the background to give me something to listen to. I’ve never sung professionally, and I don’t think I would inflict myself on anyone else.
I’ve never written song lyrics into a book. As I write historical novels, I tend to reference contemporary music or films of the period, but that’s as close as it gets.
What question would you like to pose, (if you were to ever interview your favourite author), which never seems to get asked in author interviews? And who is that favourite author?
I think I would ask a favourite author how they deal with writers block, and secondly, what mechanisms they employ to have multiple projects on the go at once. I find I tend to work in a very linear fashion, i.e., write one novel at a time, and I don’t tackle the next one until one is finished.
Favourite authors would be James Clavell and Elleston Trevor.
If you were to ever write a children’s book, (and those of you who already do) would you/do you do the illustrating yourself, make use of a family member or friend’s talent or pay an illustrator? Do you solely write or do you have any other creative pursuits?
If I was to write a children’s book, I would do my own illustration work.
Aside from writing, I do quite a bit of graphics work. I did it long before I wrote seriously and I’ve produced all of my own covers and typesetting for all of my books. All of my paperbacks have 3D rendered art produced by myself.
Aside from that, I paint when I have time, make plastic models. I’m very good with my hands, very creative.
Of all the characters you have created, who is your favourite? And why?
Of all my characters, my two favourites are Alexander Carter, the main character from my third novel, Maximum Effort. and Charles Chandler who is one of the main characters in my second novel, Run The Gauntlet.
I think Carter was the most complete, most rounded character I have written so far. The whole novel was really a character study of the strain of combat on someone who is already a veteran returning to the crucible of war and the affect is has on them. Thus, we see his journey from the beginning to end.
Chandler, because what he started as and what he became are two different things. Run the Gauntlet is book 1 of a series. Book 2, Channel Dash picks up the story and I have a third novel planned with the surviving characters. Chandler is at the heart of that adventure and it’s been interesting revisiting a character and developing them across multiple novels. The challenge has been keeping them fresh, vital, realistic and involved in the story.
Have you ever killed off a character in your books (I’m sure you have)? If so, was it because…it fitted nicely into the storyline? OR…Did you start to really dislike the character and, with too much work involved to re-write without that character, think it the easiest option to have that person die?
There is always a lot of death in my novels. A LOT. Combat and war is a dangerous business and a key part of my novels is that war is brutal. It doesn’t matter how good a pilot someone is; if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time, they can be killed. There is always a random factor at play. I can say that no one in my novels is safe.
I’ve never killed someone off because I didn’t like them, but similarly, I don’t just randomly kill a main character without good reason. It has to serve the story. Sometimes it helps drive the narrative and provides character moments as characters react to that person's demise.
Are any of your characters based on family members or friends? Have you kept their characters totally true to life or have you given them bonus traits that you wish they possessed in real life?
I think a good writer draws on what they have around them. I don’t think any one character is fully based on one particular person, but certainly I have included traits from people I know, family members, etc to help create characters. Bits of me are in there, and if I’m including myself, then no one is off limits.
I do think it pays to be careful. To make a character too like one particular person opens you up to hurting someone's feelings and that’s not what it’s about. My stories are to entertain, not cause offence.
My main focus is to always create multi-faceted characters. Cardboard cutouts don’t do much, and it’s difficult to feel empathy for a cypher. I want my audience to invest in characters so they are drawn into the story.
Relationships/family life aside, what are your TWO main regrets in life?
I’m not going to answer that.
What was your passion as a child? Did that passion stay with you during your adult life OR did you, as you grew up begin to detest what you once enjoyed?
Passion. Flying, sci-fi, star wars, napoleonics, wargaming, roleplaying, and to be honest, all of that has followed me into adult life. All of my interests have stayed with me and given me a broad range of knowledge about a lot of things and an appreciation for same.
What was your best subject throughout your school years? And your worst?
Best - History and Art
Worst - Languages (for whatever reason, I just didn’t get French or Spanish)
Tell me about your favourite teacher throughout your school years? Was it a crush you had? Were they just an excellent teacher of your favourite subject?? Or some other reason…kind, fun, generous…?
My history teacher Mr Grey. He would do accents. He was very expressive and engaging as a teacher. I’m sure today that someone would take offence, but it helped draw us into the subject he was talking about. He did this thing where he would gradually talk quieter and quieter and we would all be straining to hear what he was saying, then he would slam his hand on a desk and make us all jump. He made it interesting and made it come alive which is no mean feat as a teacher.
Did either of your parents ever express a wish to write? Are they supportive and proud of your work? Or do they just choose to not get involved, but they are pleased for you?
I don’t have a conscious memory of them ever writing. My mother might have tried something once but that was long ago. My parents are always interested in hearing about my latest work. They are supportive, and my father never tires of posting links to his facebook page or posting about my work.
Tell us about your ultimate ambition, be it personal, travel, writing, work, hobby related or other?
Ultimate ambition? To get a wider audience. More exposure. Get invited to literary fairs to speak; that would be nice. Like anyone who writes, I don’t think it would be a surprise to say that I would love to be able to make enough that I could jack in the day job and just focus on writing.
Do you have any phobias and if so, what are they? Have you ever conquered any phobia and if so, how did you do it?
Chicken mesh walkways. particularly rusty ones. I don’t have a fear of heights as such, but I hate walking on them. I always have this feeling they are going to give way on me.
I can’t stand ladders. Again, it’s not the height; its having the confidence that it isn’t going to shift on me or move.
I wouldn’t say I've conquered it; I just have to move slowly.
Most people I know are not happy with something physical about themselves (face/body etc.,) but if you could change anything about your personality, what would you wish to change?
Better social skills. I can go down the rabbit hole at times, particularly if its a passion project, and while that means I find things interesting, it is often at the expense of consideration of what is going on around me.
Sometimes that focus can be good, but not always.
What is your ‘go to’ snack, whatever the time of day? And drink of your choice?
Jam and bread. Blackcurrant or strawberry jam on sliced bread.
Ribena. It’s only in recent years working in an office that I drink tea and coffee.
Cats or dogs? What do you have? Do you introduce any pets into your books?
Cats and dogs. but with a caveat attached.
Cats at the moment because they are low maintenance. if I didn’t work shifts, then I would have a dog, but I think I’ll have to leave that until I’m retired so I have time to take it for a walk etc.
Pets occasionally feature in my novels, but not often. A character in my latest book has a pet dog in fact, a white terrier they call Badger.
AND FINALLY, Hit me up with all your Amazon book-links? And the links to your website and social media profiles?
2nd and 6th (book1 and 2 of a series)
3rd and I think my best one - most rounded story
Latest one to be released on 30th December, 2023.
What an interesting interview. Thank you so much for taking part Vincent. It's been a pleasure.
Up next Tuesday we have author, Karen Naylor. I hope you all have a lovely weekend!