Interview with author Quentin Cope
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I have been writing in one form or another for many years but it is only since 2011 that I decided to seriously play about with words on a full time basis.
Q: Why did you decide to write your latest book titled ‘Carlisle’?
A: ‘Carlisle’ is in fact the middle title in a trilogy tracing the lives of individuals linked in some way by traumatic events with the first story beginning in 1920’s France, moving on to America and ending in 1944 during WWII, once again back in France. ‘Carlisle’ takes the story forward from 1946 after WWII has ended through to 1976 in America where the second story ends and the third and final story begins. This third story takes the existing characters through to the year 2000 hopefully leaving no questions unanswered.
Q: How long have you been writing this book?
A: ‘Carlisle’ has taken over a year to write and edit and for me this is a normal time frame for a full length novel. When the first manuscript was produced it stood at over 100 thousand words and was finally edited down to 71 thousand words. Sometimes the editing can take longer than the ‘writing’!
Q: What do you want to tell your readers?
A: I am a passionate writer and ‘go to work’ every single day. I love words, I love playing with them and even more, I love creating with them. I write stories that are designed to be narratives that matter and ones that accurately reflect the reality of a particular period in time. Through the immeasurable power of words, I want to take the reader on a journey through a series of exciting scenarios and immerse them not only in the mindset of the characters, but also in their surroundings and social situations. In short, I want to make all of my novels ‘unputdownable’ and if you, the reader, find them so … then my job is done.
Q: Are you writing any other book at the moment?
A: Yes. The sequel to ‘Carlisle’, currently with the working title ‘Millbury’, is on the drawing board. All the preparation work and detailed sketches are finished and by the time you read this, the manuscript will be well under way, with a target date for completion of December 2017.
Q: What advice can you give to new writer’s who want to make their dream of publishing a book reality?
A: I personally am not encouraged to follow the traditional publishing route. The reasons are simple and straightforward. I have used both traditional and self publishing pathways to market for my work and found neither of them totally satisfactory. To find a traditional publisher who will really go to work on your behalf relies more on good luck than good judgment, no matter how good your mum and dad think your new novel is. To self publish and end up with a professional looking result takes more skill than one would at first imagine. Unless you are prepared to outlay some quite substantial sums of money on a marketing program, then your book will sit forever on Amazon … and no one will ever know it’s there! The general disappointment rate for new authors is around 85% and the whole point of being a writer is simply to be read by as many people as possible. This is why the perceived ‘middle way’ of crowd funding a particular project will hopefully provide sufficient finance to market a book properly … and seems to be the way to go. Not only does the author solve the problem of finding his publishing costs up front, the people who back him/her also gain from sharing in the profits. It appears to me to be a win/win situation and one that is worth trying, particularly by new writers wishing to make a name for themselves.
Q: What is your favorite book?
A: My favorite book is currently a novel titled ‘Hard Act’ by superb novelist and writer, Glover Wright. He is a close personal friend of the inimitable Jack Higgins and I’m glad to say he is also a friend of mine. His writing is completely atmospheric and his use of the English language allows the reader to become completely lost within the page.
Q: So, when did it all really start for you and what experiences can you claim that finally gave you the overwhelming urge to become a full time writer and author?
A: Well, I suppose it could be said that my life really started when I joined the British Air Force as a boy. It was an exciting as well as a fearful period in world politics and at no time in the past, or since, had or has the world come as near to anhilating itself as it did then. I trained in what was for it's time a new technology called 'electronics' and my entry group were the first to be exposed to this mysterious world where valves and heating elements no longer exisited and in it's place came something called 'a transistor'. This new technology was to revolutionise the design of aeroplanes of the future, make war a more certain occupation and spawn something called a 'micro chip, which has invaded every facet of modern life and communications as we know them today.
Q: And what happened next?
A: After training I was sent to what would be called today a 'Spy Plane Squadron' where, at the height of the cold war ... and especially during the Cuba Missile Crisis of October, 1962 ... most of the Squadron's time was spent at full alert, pilot's in cockpits and aeroplanes waiting at the end of the runway ... for the word to go. The rest of the time was spent fighting off some fairly determined 'Ban the Bomb' demonstrators forcefully attacking the perimeter fence of what was supposed to be a top secret, top security air base.
Q: Did a life of adventure fade in any way when you left the Air Force?
A: No ... just the reverse in fact. After leaving the Air Force, I never looked back and with my rather specialist background found myself working on government contracts, in some strange and often unhealthy parts of the world, installing state of the art microwave communications systems. I had one or two 'near misses' during this rather testing period of a life spent living out of a suitcase with the odd extended stay in some comfortable hospitals.
Q: What did you decide to do next?
A: Not being able to move as quickly as I used to ... it came to pass that I would have to give up a life of adventure 'on the run' and find a place to hang my hat on a more consistent basis. Dubai, a place not many had heard of at that time, eventually beckoned ... and I answered the call, basing myself there for over a quarter of a century. Of course, I was never too far away from a war in one form or another. Financially, it started well but ended badly and I ended up in a not so happy place.
Q: So, now broke, much older, and possibly much wiser, did life become easier or harder?
A: That's when I started writing ... partly for therapy ... and partly to concentrate on something whilst I absorbed how bad it actually was ... and how I could get back into providing myself with a sensible living again. Earning money took up much of my time over the following years until I finally decided to give up chasing the golden dollar ... and just write about chasing it instead.
Q: And has it worked for you?
A: It most definitely has. I now spend most of my time in a beautiful part of Spain where the weather is kind and the local people even kinder. I write every day, whatever is happening in my life and without doubt ... I still really enjoy it.