Thank you for having me.
First up, please tell us about your connection to Wales.
I was born in Cardiff and my family moved to Pembrokeshire before I started school. I’ve lived in other places and love to travel, but will always return to Wales. This is where I wanted my children to grow up, and where I hope to grow old. Wales is home.
Which Welsh person would you invite to dinner and what would you serve?
I’m not a great cook, it’s not something I enjoy doing either, but there are many Welsh people I’d love to meet down the pub for a beer and packet of crisps. I’d like to nip back in time to observe Dylan Thomas chatting at the bar – that would have been an education.
Tell us a little about yourself as a writer and person
I’ve always been a reader and came late to writing. I discovered a huge online community who wrote as a means of escape and to relax after they finished their day job. I joined a critique site where we exchanged and commented on each other’s work, and one day I received an email off somebody who claimed they would help me polish and sell my stories. At that time I had no real interest in writing to publish and said as much in my reply, but that email planted the seed and here I am – one short story collection and one trilogy published, and I have two more in progress.
Not very well is the honest answer. The truth is I detest doing any self-promotion. I keep meaning to do more on social media but it’s a struggle, there’s so much noise and I hate shouting. Not having to attend launches and talks and signings and all that malarkey is one of the reasons I chose to self-publish. I can’t help being me, I didn’t choose to be this person who’d rather take a walk along a beach than attend a literary lunch in London, or meet local characters in the pub than host a celebrity dinner party – I’d love to be the confident one, but since I’ve told myself it’s okay and I don’t have to be I’ve been much more content, and have actually reached out a little more. Hence, again, here I am.
Who are your editors and how do you quality control your books?
Before I sent Alone away to the professional editor, I wanted it as polished as possible. The general advice is not to trust family and friends, but it really depends on the individual. For example, I gave a story to my daughter, a voracious reader, and she said, ‘I stopped reading at 8% because it was boring and I couldn’t care less if they all got blown up.’
So that was useful.
What is your advice to new writers?
Write like nobody will read it. And find somebody ruthless to read your work before sending it to the editor – somebody like my aforementioned daughter.
Gratefully. Seriously, all comments are always gratefully received by writers. Review, people – review!
The thing with books is that it is impossible to please every reader. If we all liked the same thing there would only ever be one type of book published. Imagine that.
What is your favourite book?
My favourite book changes regularly. Currently it’s a book by Shirley Jackson called ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle.’ It’s just my sort of book – quirky and odd people in bizarre and menacing situations, I love it. But next week I might read something which will knock it from the top spot.
What book are you currently reading and in what format?
I read one paperback at a time and I’m about to open ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte. I’ve never read it before, which might surprise a lot of people. And on my ereader there are short story collections, and I’ve a couple of top ranking psychological thrillers on the go… a crime, a horror and I think there’s a historical too. I tend to read according to mood and often have several books on the go at once. I don’t dip into fantasy too often and tend to avoid romance. (My poor husband.)
What are the best and worst aspects of writing?
The best is creating characters and having control over their lives. I adore getting into the characters’ heads and laying them out raw to the world – especially those bits that they’d rather we didn’t see, their secrets and lies, quirks and crazy compulsions. It’s the oddities of the characters I like to expose. Like Sin in ‘Alone’ – I loved picking her brain apart. I think we all have something going on in our heads we’d rather those around us didn’t know about. I find it great fun tapping into the weird, the wonderful and utterly bizarre thoughts of ordinary people like you and me.
I’m useless at Facebook, but please tweet me @BobSummer5
‘A Genie Called Vodka & Other Short Stories’ is available free
The Alone trilogy