Friday, 20 July 2018

An interview with ROGER BRAY

Roger Bray

Q. A big welcome today to Roger Bray. I wondered if you would like to tell us about yourself, Roger?  For example, where are you from and how long have you been writing?
A. Hi Paul and thanks for having me along today. I was raised in Blackburn, Lancashire and joined the Navy after leaving school.  I spent nearly 10 years as an aircraft armourer before migrating to Australia in 1983 after I returned from serving in the Falklands. I served in the Australian Federal and Queensland Police before being medically retired after being seriously injured.  Rather than get depressed about the whole thing, although I did experience that, I enrolled in University and gained bachelor and master degrees in International Relations.  I have been married for over thirty years and have three grown children.  I currently live between Brisbane and the NSW border with my wife and her overly cute cat.

Q. Is writing a full-time career for you or do you have another occupation that you can talk to us about?
A. Since obtaining my degrees 10 years ago I have moved around quite a lot.  From living in Germany for a couple of years, working for an Australian Intelligence Organization and the Queensland Department of Justice.  About six months ago I decided work was interfering with my writing and I decided to write full time, which is what I am now doing.  It is as fulfilling as I hoped and I am currently working on my fourth book.

Q. Which is your favourite genre to write and why?
A. It is sometimes difficult to correctly pigeon-hole books and mine are no exception.  My first two novels have been classified by people with more knowledge than I as literary fiction with a crime thriller focus.  My third novel which is currently on pre-order and due for publication on 10th August is a psychological thriller, most definitely with crime elements.

Q. Which is your favourite genre to read and why?
A. I read many different genres, from fantasy to literary fiction, I tend to find reading the same genre boring and like to mix it up. 

Q. Who do you count amongst your favourite authors?
A. I have favourite authors in many genres including Robert Heinlein in SciFi, Leon Uris in Literary Fiction and other such as Le Carre, John Birmingham and Stuart McBride.   My all time favourite authors are Tom Sharpe and Robert Harris. 

Q. What drove you to begin a writing career?
A. I have enjoyed writing since I was at school, but it was an experience at school which almost strangled it at birth.  In third year at my school, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Blackburn, we were tasked with writing an essay / short story in classical studies class.  The best would be included in the school magazine and win a prize.  I wrote about the Minoan bull jumpers and concentrated on the training they received with a full sized brass bull with extremely sharp and realistic horns. Some of my trainees met with a miserable death which I described in detail.  I won and was ecstatic, until I was told the powers that be had decided the content of my short story was too blood thirsty to represent my age group and the second placed short story would be printed instead.  I still recall the feeling of unfairness at that and pretty much gave up writing.  I dabbled a bit over the years but is was when I was undertaking my degrees my love of writing was fully rekindled. 
Q. Have you any regrets about starting that career?
A. Clichéd I know, but I wish I had started 20 years ago.

Q. What would you do differently if you were given the opportunity to begin again?
A. That is a loaded question and one I doubt many of us have not asked ourselves.  I would say I would be more resilient or bloody minded, whichever way you see it, and not let people or events undermine what I wanted to do.

Q. Tell us about your main characters. Are they based on real people or a product of the imagination?
A. Generally they are the product of my imagination but I think aspects of people I have known do sneak in.  Probably not as the whole character but of certain mannerisms.  One ‘trick’ I sometimes use is to find a picture of a random person who I feel is a good representation of the character and use that to imagine how they would walk, talk or react to the situations I throw at them.  I also use actors and imagine them playing the part of the character to formulate how I think the character would be.  My doppelgänger for the character of Ben in The Picture was Russell Crowe.

Q. What do you feel are the greatest challenges facing any writer at the present time?
A. As soon as you type The End the real fun begins.  It never seems to end, writing seems the easy part when compared with social media shenanigans.  I would have to say the greatest challenge is building a social media presence.  I am lucky and grateful my wife took that aspect on and she is now far more knowledgable about the whole thing than I could ever be.  I think if I had to do all that she does I would never find the time to write again.

Q. Do you have an office or ‘space’ where you write from and is it at home, or elsewhere?
A. At home.  I have a study with my 120 year old ex-Queensland government teacher’s desk made from silky oak which I picked up years ago from a second hand shop and restored.  I have dual monitors and write on LibreOffice in Linux. It is my own little messy space which, even when my wife’s overly cute cat wants to help, allows me to write and be in my own little world.

Q. Do you write to a target – word count – every day, or do you have another writing discipline that you could share with us?
A. Word count – in a perfect world, yes.  In mine no. I tend to get a lot of the story set up in my mind over a couple of months before I start.  Visualizing and asking the inevitable what if questions.  I do write notes, or type them up, as an aide-mémoire but also as a proof of process if required in the future.  My writing discipline, once I start writing is to write until I run out of steam, be that a thousand or five thousand words.  I then have a break, cup of tea, smoke whatever then go back re-read, rough editing then continue the process.  My discipline is time based rather than word base and once writing I will try to work for at least 5 -6 hours at a time, repeating the above process.

Q. Which of the books that you have written so far is your favourite and what can you tell us about it without giving the game away?
A. There is something about all of them which I like and would classify as a favourite bit.  If I had to choose one book overall it would probably be The Picture which was my first and reasserted my belief that I could actually do it.  Subconsciously I put a lot of myself into the book as well which I couldn’t really see to start with but my wife assures me is the case.  I particularly like the story of The Picture and the interactions the characters share. 

Q. What can you tell us about your forthcoming publication?
A.  My soon to be published third novel is based in Salem, Oregon and tells the story of a young woman struggling to make her way in the world.  She has some good friends in her life, and some bad ones.  Unknown to her there are ghosts and secrets in her past which are bubbling their way to her present and threaten her life.  She struggles to make sense of it all while trying to solve a murder mystery which is 35 years old.  The spiel for the book reads:
When Brooke Adams is found battered, bleeding, and barely conscious, the police are at a loss as to who her attacker is or why she was targeted. Then, PI Rod Morgan turns up convinced that Brooke’s attack is the latest in a string of unsolved disappearances dating back thirty-five years. The police, however, aren’t convinced, leaving Brooke and Rod to investigate the cases themselves. As secrets from the past start unravelling it becomes a maze, deeper, darker, and far more sinister than either of them could have imagined. Will they find Brooke’s attacker before he strikes again, or will that one secret stay buried forever?

Q. When you have finished writing the book – what do you do next? By that I mean, do you edit the book yourself? Do you design your own book cover? Do you prepare a project plan to market your book?
A. The first step for me is to get my wife and her co-editor (Gimli, the overly cute cat) to read it through.  This is a sanity check to ensure it actually reads well, for an overall plot check and for any typos ( typos- the bane of my writing life).  I’ll fix all that up and send it to my editor, the excellent Emma Mitchell at Creating Perfection.  A bit of toing and froing and we come to a final edited version. I have my covers professionally designed by Deranged Doctors who are excellent in taking my dodgy descriptions and turning them into a professional cover.  I do my own e-pub / mobi conversions and that is a whole different process which can take a few days depending how many times I mess up.  Then there needs to be a print version copy which can also take a little time to process.  Once that is all complete (phew!) I am ready to go.  My wife with her marketing / social media manager hat on tends to be well ahead of me organizing cover reveals, book launch and publication day blitzes for which I am grateful especially as she gives me a strict timetable to which I must adhere or else incur the wrath of her and the cat. 

Q. What is the best piece of advice you could give to someone starting out on a writing career?
A. Don’t procrastinate, get writing.  Doesn’t matter if it is rubbish, at least you have made a start.  The more you write the easier it becomes and the more you write. 
Have your work professionally edited by a good editor, be prepared for any changes the editor suggests including maybe a name change or ending change.  Don’t take offence at their suggestions. You are paying for their advice, take their advice. Have a professional cover made.  Some homemade covers look good,  95% look rubbish and you can always tell.  ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is a fallacy.  How else are people going to judge it on Amazon or on a bookshelf, the cover is what draws people in in the first instance. Support other authors, what goes around comes around.

Q. If you were gifted an air ticket to ‘anywhere’, which destination would you choose above all others and why?
A. Gibraltar, one of my favourite places in the world.  I spent some time there when I was in the Navy.  It has more pubs per square mile than anywhere else and the pub crawl from the dockyard gates to the centre of town is the stuff of legends.

Q. If you could invite three people from history to a dinner party. Who would you invite and why?
A. Max Webber – As a student of International Relations I would love to discuss his intentions for the constitution of the Weimar Republic in which he was heavily involved and would have been a guiding light had he not died during the Spanish Flu epidemic. Stieg Larsson – Please, for the love of everything give us a look at the fourth manuscript for I am sure what did come out as the fourth Lisbeth Salandar book was not what he intended.
Freddie Mercury – Genius, enough said!

Q. What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing, marketing, or being involved with your book business? Do you have any hobbies?
A. Motor cycle riding.  I enjoy riding the back roads of South West Queensland and Northern New South Wales on my Triumph Thunderbird.  Exploring, getting lost.  Even then though I often come up with some plot ideas but I find it generally clears the mind. Gaming.  Dual boot to Windows 10 and play first person shooters.  All time favourite – Half life 2, current favourite – Dying Light and the Far Cry series.

Q. Can you provide any links to your purchase site, website, blog site, or any social media sites that might be of interest to readers?
A. Sure can:

Thanks you so much for inviting me on your blog, and asking interesting questions.

And thank you Roger for taking part and enlightening us. Check out Roger's links above. Here's the book covers for your enjoyment.