Today we sit down with Welsh author Riley J. Froud. She is going to share her inspiration, writing life and some of her work with us.
Please enjoy this installment of 20 Questions:
Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’m not sure I ever really knew, if I’m honest! Becoming a writer just sort of happened. I’ve always enjoyed writing and I remember writing stories as a child (once, much to the dismay of my grandmother, I wrote a story in ball-point pen all over the face of my doll. I was a peculiar child). I never really took it seriously though, until I met my husband and he pushed me to write more.
Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?
I’m quite a slow writer because I’m not very disciplined! I tend to work on my books only when the mood takes me, which is probably only 2-3 times a week. For that reason, it can take me years to fully write a book.
Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I’m not at all disciplined (with anything, really) so calling what I do a ‘schedule’ might be pushing it a bit! I write a little every single day, but I only tend to work on my books 2-3 times a week. For the rest of the time, I’m writing blog posts for my own blog and blog posts or articles for other people. When I finally sit down to work on my books though, I get fully immersed and suddenly it’s 2am and I’m jiggling up and down because I’m desperate for a wee.
Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have a tendency to talk about my characters as though they are real people. You might hear me say things like “you’ll never guess what happened to Mr. McCavity today,” in the same way that I would talk about my friends and family because to me, they are friends and family. Other writers will understand – I’m not completely off my rocker, I swear!
Q5) How are your books published? (traditional, indie, etc.)
I’ve self-published my books on Kindle through Amazon. When I first started writing, I held the rather old-fashioned view that you weren’t a true author unless you’ve been traditionally published. Self-publishing, I thought, was a vain concept and I figured that if a publisher didn’t think your work was good enough, then it probably wasn’t. I’ve changed a lot since then. I never ended up going down the traditional route and have never submitted my work to publishers. Instead, I came to realise that that’s not really what I want. I love to write and I love people reading my work, but traditional publishing is notorious for being closed, perhaps a little pretentious, and perhaps a little un-appreciating of their authors.
Self-publishing is tough too, what with so many books being released each day and having to do every little step of the process yourself. The hardest thing, for me, is self-promoting, but it all comes with experience and for me, self-publishing was the best path.
Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?
Everywhere! I run a small bar in France with my husband and we get some characters come in here. I get ideas from things I see and hear every single day and then I mush them altogether to come up with some kind of half-comprehensible story!
Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book?
I can’t remember the first book I wrote, but the first book that I actually finished would be John Sharpe: No. 1,348. It was published in 2015.
Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Reading, reading, and a bit more reading. Reading’s awesome.
Q9) What is your favorite book?
That’s an impossible question to answer! It’s like asking a mother to choose between her children. The honest answer is: I don’t know. I love the classics, like George Orwell, Anthony Trollope, Thomas Hardy, and Margaret Atwood, but then I love indie books too, like Tanya Jones, Jo Roderick, Elaine Chissick, and Maria Gibbs.
Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?
My family are very proud of me – my mother and my husband in particular. I think they would happily fight for the spot of No. 1 Fan! I’m extremely lucky to have such a great support structure, one that pushes and encourages me every step of the way.
Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
How much work it involved that wasn’t writing! I suppose it’s a bit naïve to think that in a book is just about the writing but there is soooo much more – editing and proofreading, formatting, creating a cover, and all that is before you’ve even begun the promotional work.
Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?
I wouldn’t say I hate any of it. I get a bit embarrassed when talking to people about it in real life, which I suppose is a confidence issue. My husband likes to tell the world and his dog about my work, which is sweet but also makes me shiver at the thought of having to talk to a real live person (as opposed to the computer screen) about my books!
Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written one complete book and lots and lots of part-books and short stories! My favourite would have to be the one that I’m writing right now. It’s sort-of a follow-on from my first book, John Sharpe, No. 1,348 in that it is set in the same world with many of the same characters, but it can be read alone.
Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?
Forget everything that you’ve been told you should or shouldn’t be doing. Write for love. Write what’s in your soul. Start typing and let your fingers tell the story because your fingers will be following your heart instead of your reasoning and that’s where your true story is. You can worry about the logic of it all when it comes to editing!
Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?
The feedback that I’ve had from my readers has been positive. They tend to use words like ‘quirky’, ‘unusual’, and ‘whimsical’ which is awesome because that’s what I was going for (as if I could go for anything else – those kinds of words describe me too!) I’ve been extremely lucky to have some great reviews on Amazon, and I’m really pleased that my work has entertained people.
Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?
My books are all about having fun and not worrying about anything. I try to keep my work multi-layered so that the audience can read as deeply or shallowly as they like, but in general, I want my audience to be able to be silly and to enjoy a good laugh. I think my books are great for those who are having a stressful time and need to put their head elsewhere for a while.
Q17) What do you think makes a good story?
A story has to engage readers more than anything else. Without engagement, you’ve just got a string of words and sentences.
Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Anything and everything! I think I went through a phase of wanting to be a writer, teacher, dancer, speed-skater (not sure why), secretary (I loved the idea of answering the phone), and actor. I’ve never been one of those to have a ‘calling’, I’ve never wanted to be anything in that kind of deep and meaningful way, but writing was the only thing to ever make me feel like my true self.
Q19) Where can we find your books?
You can find my books on Amazon, although if you ask me nicely, I might just send you a free review copy 😉
Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your own favorite works?
John had his head in the oven and his arse in the air when the man appeared out of nowhere, unfurling like a woodlouse coming out of hiding. He was a portly gentleman, wearing top hat and tails (not John, of course, but the peculiar man). His red satin waist band shimmered in the light, the shine matching that of his rosy red cheeks. On his face, he wore a huge, toothy grin and his second chin protruded somewhat further than his first. He rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet, beaming at his unsuspecting host.
“Ah, there you are Mr. Sharpe, I’ve been looking all over for you,” the strange man said, his smile not diminishing one single iota. John jumped in surprise and in doing so, he smacked his head on the top of the oven with a twang. He groaned an almost knowing groan, as though this wasn’t the first time that that particular part of his head had had relations with that particular part of the oven. What a shame it is that they don’t teach ‘removing things from ovens’ in schools these days.
When he turned around to face his sudden visitor, John had in his hands two tea-towels, which in turn held an oven tray, on which sat a rather sad looking ready-meal made for one. These are a necessity, apparently, for your average middle-aged bachelor, much to John’s dismay. John was a slim fellow, since ready-meals offered little in the way of nutrients, and he had a rather non-descript look about him. In fact, he was distinctly average.
“Um,” he said eloquently in reply to the strange man’s exclamation.
“Cat got your tongue, Mr. Sharpe?” the over-dressed gentleman asked, a little surprised at the lack of sentences or even words emanating from our young Mr. Sharpe’s mouth. His expectant smile beamed towards John like a beacon.
“I need to put this down, it’s hot,” John replied, somewhat blankly. It was true. The heat was beginning to burn through to his fingers. The intruder huffed impatiently and his not-so everlasting smile slipped ever-so slightly.
“Look, we haven’t really the time for this chitter chatter-”
“How did you get in?” John asked, suddenly realising that a man had appeared in his kitchen, seemingly from nowhere.
“Why, with magic, dear boy! How else?” Why, of course.
“Okay,” John said. He was nowhere near as surprised as he should have been. “Look, I really do need to put this down, Mr….?”
“Aren’t you meant to be a cat, as in McCavity the Mystery Cat?” John raised his eyebrows in question. Despite sounding facetious, he was in fact perfectly serious. McCavity, in reply, performed an almost imperceptible double take.
“Do I look like a cat, Mr. Sharpe?”
“Then I am not a cat, my dear boy, not a cat in the slightest. Come now, enough about cats, we really must hurry.”
About Riley J. Froud:
Riley J. Froud is truly a wonder to behold. No, honestly, she really is. Originally from the Welsh seaside, she now lives in the French countryside, where she runs a small village bar with her husband Roy and their dog, George.
When not working, she spends her time writing and wondering. Mostly wondering, actually. The writing tries to muscle in whilst the mind wanders. She started out writing serious stories until she realised that she just can’t keep a straight face and hence, a whole bunch of Underlings were born.
Connect with Riley:
Visit Riley J’s Facebook page or blog to see all the general nonsense she posts, or better yet – go to Amazon to buy her first novella, John Sharpe: No. 1,348 to get dragged through an eye-rolling, jaw-flapping, thigh-slapping world of magic and mayhem.