Today we sit down with Glen R. Stansfield, writer and aircraft engineer based in Bahrain. Glen tells us about his work, his inspiration and his writing process. Please enjoy this installment of 20 Questions.
Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’d been writing short stories at junior school. Composition it was called in those days. After leaving school I had the desire to write articles for magazines and newspapers, but never had the courage to try. Then in the eighties I started what was to be my first book. At least it was the idea behind the story that would become my first novel, because when I came back to it in 2011 I realized how bad my writing was in the eighties. I’ve learned a lot since then, and I hope I never stop learning and refining.
Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?
My first, Fishing for Stones’, took four years, if you don’t count the terrible attempt in the eighties. ‘Harry’ will have taken just less than a year when it is published
Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Ah, schedules. I’ve heard of those but I’m not very good at them. I’m really a night person, but because of the early start to my day job I can’t write when I would like, so typically during the week I will write in the late afternoon and sometimes into the evening. Weekends, I will maybe write until three or four in the morning. I do try to write every day, even if it is only fifty words. Sometimes I fail miserably.
Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My last chapter is the first thing I write. Even when writing short stories, I usually have the last paragraph written first. Then I have to figure out where I am going to start from and how I am going to get there. With the books I don’t write the chapters in order, I write as parts of the story come to me.
Q5) How are your books published? (traditional, indie, etc.)
Technically I am a self-publishing indie, as I publish through by own imprint. I wouldn’t rule out going with an established publisher, but they would have to give me some compelling reasons to do so (a cheque – check for you guys across the water – with a lot of zeros at the end would probably work).
Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?
Fishing for Stones came about when I realized how easy it would be to steal a helicopter from where I worked at the time. Security in those days consisted of a locked door and an alarm system. Nowadays it would not be so easy, which is one of the reason the story is set in 1990.
Harry was as a result of a character development exercise I was doing at the time. I liked the character so much I knew I had to write a novel length story about him.
Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were you?
I’m a latecomer, I was 57 when I published Fishing for Stones
Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Before moving to Bahrain you would find me on a motorcycle. I don’t get to do that as much as I would like anymore. I do spend a lot of time online, researching, even if it isn’t relevant to my current work. (Okay, I surf the net a lot.). I read as often as I can.
Q9) What is your favorite book?
Now that is a tough one. I’m a huge fan of Terry Pratchett, so possibly the first one of his I read, Guards, Guards, though Tom Clancy could well be in the running with Hunt for Red October or Red Storm Rising.
Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?
They have been incredibly supportive. I bounce ideas off my wife, Jess, but I am not allowed to give her the full story. She wants to read it when it is finished as if she had picked up the novel in a bookshop.
Q12) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Your characters start to talk to you, decide their own stories. (I hope I’m not the only one that happens to!)
Q13) What do you hate most about the writing process?
Seeing how far away the end is when I first start. Unlike many, I enjoy editing. That is the first time I see the story in the correct order.
Q14) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
One and nine tenths. I think Harry will be my favorite. I am trying to get into the heads of the characters, let the reader know what makes them tick.
Q15) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?
Write, write and write some more. Read a lot and try different genres.
Q16) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?
I have to say this is one aspect in which readers can play a much bigger part. Authors need to hear your encouragement as much as they need to hear what you didn’t like. Feedback for the author is vital, both direct to them and as reviews on Amazon, Goodreads or anywhere where readers go for ideas.
Q17) What is your preferred reading audience?
I think my books are aimed at a strictly adult audience. They are not graphic in any way but the subject matter of Harry would certainly not be suitable for a younger audience.
Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
The top of the list would be, not to grow up. I have achieved that one. All the way through high school I intended to be a marine biologist. Strange how I ended up as an aircraft engineer.
Q19) Where can we find your books?
Available from Amazon, both Kindle and paperback, and any good bookstore should be able to order them. They can also be purchased from my website.
Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works?
Sure, here is an extract from Harry
In common with most places of its kind, Tower Hamlets’ Cemetery could not be described as fun place to be during the day, but at night it gained an extra creepy edge. The majority of rough sleepers stayed away, the rustling of the trees in the darkness gave them the shivers, but on occasion a lone, brave soul would chance their arm for a good night’s kip. Not being the sort to scare easily, Harry belonged to that select group, when the mood suited him.
That wasn’t to say the park would be empty after dark. Some used it as a shortcut, while others lingered a while longer. Harry often stumbled upon lovers, teenagers really, using the place for some illicit fumblings, even going all the way on occasion, on top of a convenient tomb, or in the grass. In other parts of the cemetery small groups of the living dead milled around. Not zombies of course, he didn’t believe such things existed, but the druggies. Dark sunken eyes, pale skin, yellow teeth, scarred arms, one might well believe many of them had recently risen from a grave. Sadly, for some, a journey in the other direction would be more likely to feature in their immediate future.
A muffled scream, cut short, drew his attention. Not an uncommon occurrence here, but this was different. Not a scream of pleasure this time, but one of fear.
He moved rapidly toward the source of the sound. In the autumn these paths would be covered in leaves and fallen twigs, but at this time of year nothing lay to catch underfoot, except maybe the odd discarded aluminium drink can. A different story in the grass; condoms and syringes not an uncommon find. Nobody these days showed any respect for the dead; only to be expected, most of them didn’t have any respect for the living either.
A low voice came from behind the bushes to one side of the path. Whispered threats and muffled sobs entwined in the darkness. Harry knew how to do this; the silent approach. He was good at this. The forces trained him well; it became second nature to him. Moving without a sound, he cautiously peered around the edge of the bush; his eyes now fully accustomed to the dark.
What he saw did not surprise him, but filled him with disgust. This was no lovers’ tryst, or a quickie, not unless they were into some seriously dangerous role play, and the look in the girl’s eyes; one of fear, not longing. A rape in progress. He read the papers, and chances were that this was the man who featured on the front pages over the past few months; at least, the search for him had. Why did people not heed the warnings, especially the lone young females?
He felt in his pocket and searched the comforting touch of something familiar. His fingers caressed the wooden handles then dallied on the cold steel wire, almost stroking it. An unexplainable sense of calm washed over him; a calmness borne from familiarity. The wire was his friend, it never let him down. The wire belonged in his pack. Not since Kuwait had his friend been used in anger. Though on many occasions he had been tempted, he fought the urge, but now the urge would have its way; unleashed in all its glory. The pent up anger created by the death of Brian would be released. His friend would taste blood again, as would its close ally, the knife. The three of them made a formidable team.
The man pinning the girl to the ground was disadvantaged on three counts. His first – he had only one thing on his mind, his whole being focused on terrifying this girl and satisfying his own desires. His second – his hands were full; one held a knife to the girl’s throat, with the other he attempted to undo his trousers; the girl’s pants already ripped off and discarded; an inconsequential barrier to his lust. His final disadvantage – his back faced Harry. Even if he had not been so intent on his actions, he would have been unaware of the man in the shadows watching and judging; the last judgement he would have on this earth. There would be another, of that Harry was sure, his belief unshakable, but that was for a higher authority, he merely delivered the means by which that judgement would be made; a tool in the hands of God.
The wire flicked around the attacker’s neck before he realised Harry was there; the first indication of a hell to be suffered. Harry kept the wire tight and gathered the toggles in one hand, keeping the garrotte tensioned but at the same time freeing his other arm so he could lock it around the man’s neck and pull him off the terrified young woman on the ground.
At first the girl didn’t respond, having retreated into the depths of her own fear; her senses diminished. Several seconds passed before she registered the man was no longer a threat. When she realised, she scrabbled away from her attacker.
“Go. Now. While you can.”
She needed no second telling. Scrambling to her feet she staggered into the darkness, sobbing loudly and tugging at her clothing to gain some modesty; her pants remained on the grass, abandoned in her haste to put as much distance as possible between her and this dreadful place.
She hadn’t seen Harry’s face. He kept the rapist between them at all times. She would know only the voice, and in her state she wouldn’t be able to recall anything significant. The only face she would remember would be that of her tormentor. She would remember that for a long time to come.
The man stopped writhing and Harry slackened the garrote a little to let him breathe again. He didn’t want him to die, not just now.
He brought him to a semi-conscious state, he didn’t fancy trying to drag a dead weight deeper into the bushes, not one this size. The man had more girth than height; Humpty Dumpty in the graveyard. Give him a little hope and he would co-operate, move willingly, and if he didn’t, a little tightening of the garrotte could be very persuasive.
He and Harry were going to get acquainted for a while. Harry suspected he would enjoy it far more than the disgusting creature rubbing his throat and staring up at him in confusion from the ground.
About Glen Stansfield:
Glen R. Stansfield is a qualified aircraft engineer, a profession he has pursued for over forty years.
A lifelong interest in crime, in particular forensic psychology, led him to write his debut novel, Fishing for Stones.
Glen is working on his second novel, Harry, a tense thriller set in Kuwait and London. Expected to be published in the summer of 2016.
When not writing, he can usually be found on two wheels, often using his motorcycle to raise money for charity.
His work has taken him to Bahrain, where he lives with his wife, Jess.
He looks forward to your comments, good or bad, and you can visit him at:
Amazon link to Fishing for Stones
Link to My online store
Link to Harry on my website.