7 Questions With Author S.D. Reed
S.D. Reed was born and raised in the Midlands, England. He has a background in film, theatre, schools, mental health and complex needs. His first Novel, The Unexpected Life of Harry Chambers – Hopes and Dreams, is out now and focuses on a pivotal point in his own life. His second novel, Kerwall Town, will be released later in 2020. He has ambitions of creating a world where both fantasy and fiction merge together as one, but only the characters in his Dark world are aware of this. It’s his way of rewarding long time readers, or as he calls them ‘friends’.
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Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m an unhealthy mix of both I think! For Harry Chambers, I planned what I wanted to get across in each section and had all the characters laid out. But It’s mostly based on my life, so it wasn’t too hard to keep track. I call it an Abstract look at my life, making it an almost true story.
Whereas, my second novel, Kerwall Town (TBR in late 2020) I’m a complete Panster and I’m loving it! I have no idea how I want this one to end. It’s very character driven and about a town set over 30 years before the events of Harry Chambers.
What’s your favorite genre as a reader?
I love to be scared! Well, I say that, but I can’t watch a lot of horror films without covering my eyes! But when I’m not covering my eyes, I’m fully engrossed. I was raised on Goosebumps books and slowly graduated to Stephen King. I adore fantasy/dystopian novels too. Anything with great characters and I’m there!
I’m also partial to a graphic novel, which are a completely legitimate form of reading, no matter what your parents tell you!
What’s the best advice/feedback on writing you’ve ever received?
The best feedback I’ve had so far is from people saying how much they want to punch the antagonist, Aunt Angie! I’ve had so many readers come up to me saying how much they loved the novel, but wanted to spend just five minutes alone in a room with her!
She’s a horrible character, there are so few redeeming qualities about her. She’s a manifestation of all the people who have tried to put me down in life. The other great reader feedback I’ve received came from a mum with an autistic son, she personally messaged me to say thank you for writing about a special needs character with such care and realness. That was such an honour! I’m 29, but I have over 20 years personal experience in the autism, special needs and mental health fields. This is why (I hope anyway) the characters seem very real and authentic.
The best advice I’ve been given is a simple one, but it’s certainly imperative: Proofread. And once you’ve done it, send it to people you trust and then proofread again! Also, It’s almost impossible to catch every spelling/grammar mistake, so don’t beat yourself up over them. As long as the story is solid and worth the readers time and money, that’s all that matters.
What’s your definition of the first draft?
I guess my answer will be a little unconventional, but here goes! I focus on the story and the characters first and foremost. Once My novel is finished I’ll then send it to some trusted friends and family, you know, the ones who are brutally honest, the ones who will tell you if the outfit you’re wearing really doesn’t go or if you’ve got a bit of food in your teeth!
They then tell me if there are any plot holes/spelling and grammar issues etc. From there, I put it through spell checker and grammarly. I include all of that as a first draft.
What’s the best way for authors to approach self-promotion?
Honestly, with an open heart and mind! Above all… collaborate! Raise people up! Self promotion is nothing to be ashamed of either! It should be celebrated as you have to do everything and be everything! Not only have you just created an awesome world for your new readers, you’ve got to promote it, edit it, finance it!
You name it, you’ve got to do it yourself! That may seem daunting at first, but think how many more strings you’ve added to your bow at the end of it all! Hard work does pay off, you’ve just got to keep working at it.
Also, don’t be afraid to tell people you’ve written a book! It’s a monumental achievement and most of the time people will be supportive. On top of this, establish an audience before you publish! This way you generate a buzz and an interest. It’s a great chance to build a relationship and trust with your prospective readers too.
How does a day in your author life look?
It’s ever so glamorous! Here’s a real peek behind the curtain… I still have to work to pay the bills, and it’s shift work, in a factory of all places, but it gives me a lot of thinking time to draft novels and plots in my head, so it’s not so bad.
But if I’m on early shifts, I’ll come home, cook some dinner and then get down to my 2,000 or so daily words. It takes about 2 hours to get them done, and that’s with some light editing too. The weekends, I’m up at around 8am and I sit in the kitchen with a coffee (all hail!) and perhaps some chocolate, depending if I’ve had my breakfast.
I’ll normally write up to 3,000 words then spaced throughout the day. I haven’t stuck to that completely with Kerwall Town, as I’ve had to do a bit more research for this one to get the feel of the 70’s right…
Just how much research is there behind a novel? Tell us how it looks behind the scenes
… Speaking of which! Seeing as I wasn’t born in the 70’s, I’ve had to do a lot of research for Kerwall Town! Even small details like how they spoke and what they manufactured. Small details are key to the big picture.
For Harry Chambers, I didn’t need too much research as it’s mostly based on my life. I did have to look into a few American states though and ask a few friends from Alabama how they would pronounce certain words.
It all comes down to how real you want your world to be. I personally feel great research can only make a great novel. So the more research you do will only improve your novel.
From start to finish, including research and editing it takes around three and a half months to complete a Harry Chambers novel. It takes a little longer to fully complete a novel not set in his world, but that’s because there is a little more research to dive into. I’ve always been told that around four months is a good amount of time to complete a novel, so that’s what I aim for.
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