I hope you've all had a fabulous week!
Mine has been busy busy as usual. I needed a serious declutter so a friend came round to help me be strict with that! Declutter the home...declutter the mind, right? And it has helped considerably!
I've also got back the final two ebook covers to help finish up and get my trilogy back out there on the platforms. Paperback covers will also be available real soon and I can't wait to get the wheels rolling again. Just a bit of formatting to complete on book three!
Two new projects started as well! Exciting stuff!
So now...it's time to turn the spotlight on and welcome Antony Dunford to this Friday's author interview!
Eva: A big cheery Hello and welcome to you, Antony! Thank you for taking part in this series of author interviews! Now, without further ado tell us all about yourself (as in, a bit of a biography).
Antony: Hello to everybody! I am Antony Dunford, I am from Bradford, I have lived in York, London, Hertfordshire, and East Sussex, and now I am back in Yorkshire again. When I’m not working or writing I am usually walking or reading, or at our local cinema with my partner.
How many books have you written up to now? Are they published or self-published? What genre are they?
I have two books published, both independently, Hunted in Jan 2021 and Born the Same in May 2023. They are action adventure / thrillers set in Africa. I have written six others that are unpublished, including the sequel to Hunted, which is called Endangered, which I am editing at the moment.
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?
Oooo, interesting question. I would have a go at writing anything. I have written a novel in literary fiction, and a Private Investigator story, and am working on a project that is historical fiction with a hint of magical realism. I also have sections of a fantasy epic inspired by the Mediterranean history of the sixteenth century, and have plotted out a ghost story. I write short stories, I’ve written plays and screen plays. I did an MA by dissertation in history, which covers non-fiction. I’ve tried fairy stories, children’s stories (involving a violin-playing mouse), comedy, horror, police procedurals. I guess the only thing I couldn’t write would be autobiography as it would be too dull ‘I got up. I read. I went for a walk. I wrote. I went to work. I came back. I read. Repeat.’
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?
Not really. I prefer to write as simply as possible, to make the story accessible to as wide an audience as possible. For example, Born the Same has a Flesch reading ease score of 84.3% - that basically means my average syllables per word and average words per sentence are relatively low, but I apply the same approach to selecting familiar over unfamiliar words. I will certainly favour some words over others, I suspect everyone will do that subconsciously as a by product of their education and what they’ve read, but generally, the simpler the better.
Words others use that irritate me – the only example I can think of is the use of ‘commenced’ when ‘started’ or ‘began’ would do just as well.
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 do not, and never have, but I have written lyrics for a friend of mine way back when. He’d write a song, with lyrics; I’d hear the song, and cringe at the lyrics, then re-write them for him. I don’t remember any of them now, but I remember two song titles, ‘Baby’ (his title, I updated the lyrics), and ‘Oxford School Days’ (my title and lyrics – opened something like ‘Well I don’t remember much about my misspent youth ‘cept my very first kiss and my new guitar’) both of which he played live more than once in front of folk.
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’m terrible at thinking of questions to ask in author interviews. I think I’ve only managed to ask two my whole life, though the second one of those included the word ‘archetype’ which surprised me, I didn’t think I knew what it meant. But I have been to a lot of author interviews, and panels, and book launches, stretching back decades, so have heard a lot of the same questions (Where do you get your ideas from, what’s your writing process, what are you writing next, etc) and some relatively unusual ones (a lady sitting on the front row of Leeds Waterstones in 1991 to hear Julian Barnes discuss his new novel ‘Talking It Over’ opened the questions with ‘I’m thinking of writing a novel, do you think I should get an agent?’ to which Mr Barnes smoothly replied ‘I should write the book first’ and moved on.).
Perhaps one I’ve not heard, or don’t remember, is ‘How do you know when your book is finished?’ Given I could tinker with / rewrite mine forever if someone didn’t take them off me. I’d ask Andrew Child now Lee has retired. (Andrew is the author I asked a question with ‘archetype’ in).
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?
My partner does the illustrations for my children’s stories (Martha and the Mouse Meet a Monster, and Martha and the Mouse Fix a Fox). She is a very talented artist. I have no other creative pursuits beyond writing. Can’t sing, can’t hold a tune, can’t draw, can’t paint, can’t dance. Terrible, really, but a kindness to others that I don’t. (Eva: I'm sure you're probably been hard on yourself there, Antony!)
Of all the characters you have created, who is your favourite? And why?
I like Jomo who is in both Hunted and Born the Same. He became a rather interesting character as I developed his backstory. He has had the most horrendous life from a very young age, but even so he never lost his humanity. I am considering a direct sequel to Born the Same just to explore him further.
I also like Gillem, from an unpublished novel called Quiet Town: The Queen’s Man, which is set during and immediately after the siege of Mafeking. Gillem has a way about him, slow and easy, like a Yorkshire cowboy in Africa.
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?
Oh, yes, loads. More than a hundred – over 40 in Hunted, and far more than that in Born the Same. The majority of those characters are unnamed, but the named ones, none of them die because I didn’t like them, they were all sacrificed to move the story forward.
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?
Sort of. Colm Reid in Born the Same is named for a friend of mine called Colm Reid, and the real life Colm is a slightly grumpy chap from Northern Ireland as is the fictional one, but the similarities end there. Mwai Odinga and Denis Makena in Hunted are both inspired by friends of mine in that when I am writing them I imagine them looking like those people, though the characters are quite different. And there are several characters in another unpublished novel, Quiet Town: The Shortest Boy who are inspired by people I know or knew.
Relationships/family life aside, what are your TWO main regrets in life?
What’s that phrase, you should never regret the things you didn’t do? I can’t think of any. I don’t tend to look back, once it’s done it’s done, move forward.
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?
Reading. Still with me, every day, pretty much. I read about 150 books a year, so 3 a week, and I usually have between 3 and 7 on the go at once.
What was your best subject throughout your school years? And your worst?
Maths was my best. Physics was my worst. (Eva: Well, I have to say, you're the first one to state that Maths was your best subject, Antony! The majority of authors I know seem to have Maths as their worst subject!)
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…?
Gina Wild, A Level English Literature. No crush, and not my favourite subject, she was simply a brilliant teacher, inspiring and memorable.
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?
My mother wrote a few things over the years, and has read both my books. Both of them are supportive, pleased for me, and possibly proud.
Tell us about your ultimate ambition, be it personal, travel, writing, work, hobby related or other?
Read as much as possible, write a book or books that is or are good enough to achieve some serious success.
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?
I am a little claustrophobic and a little enochlophobic, but not unmanageably so, at least not so far. Don’t think I’ve conquered any phobias.
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?
I have no idea. It’s not something I’ve thought about, and I’m not sure how to come up with an answer.
What is your ‘go to’ snack, whatever the time of day? And drink of your choice?
Drink is easy – tea, every day, from 6am to 3pm. Later in the day, towards the weekend, red wine.
I don’t snack, really. A banana and an apple occasionally, but that’s it.
Cats or dogs? What do you have? Do you introduce any pets into your books?
Dogs. I don’t have any at the moment, but have had most of my life and will hopefully have again.
I’ve not had pets in my books yet. They are filled with animals, but they’ve all been wild or working animals so far.
AND FINALLY, Hit me up with all your Amazon book-links? And the links to your website and social media profiles?
Thanks once again Antony for agreeing to take part in my series of author interviews and for a very pleasant insight into what makes you tick!
Up in the spotlight next week we have:-
Tuesday: Sue Millard, writer from Cumbria.
Friday: Horror writer, Ron Chapman, from the U.S. of A.
That's all for Friday, my friends!