Interview with UK Author Paul Anthony
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Today we are chatting with Paul Anthony about his background, writing life, and latest titles. Get ready to be educated and entertained by one of the best writers of our time.
Featured Book Title: Septimus
Genre: Historical Fiction / Thriller
Hello, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
- Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Answer: I’m a retired police officer living in the Lake District, England. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the UK to live. We are a mile from Hadrian’s Roman Wall, ten miles from the Scottish border, and about twenty miles from Lake Ullswater. My wife is a retired nurse and we have three children and six grandchildren. A former counter-terrorism detective, I specialize in crime thrillers, true crime, espionage and anthologies for various charities. I’ve been published by a vanity publisher and a commissioning traditional publisher, but I much prefer the self-publishing path. I describe myself as an independent publisher responsible for editing, book covers, marketing, and everything else that goes with the book business. I have absolutely no desire to look for a traditional publisher and often wonder why so-called ‘indie writers’ spend endless hours looking for a publisher. It’s quite possible to achieve tremendous goals without help from these big companies.
- Discuss your newest book.
Answer: My latest novel is entitled ‘Septimus’ and it is a welcome departure from my usual foray into crime genres. Having written two detective series I decided to take a break, refresh the mind, and produce something entirely different. Septimus is about the Roman invasion of the Lake District, a man called Hallin who stands in the way of the invasion, and a subsequent incursion into Caledonia (Scotland) where the Romans never really manage to succeed. More importantly, it’s about the characters in the book and how they interact with each other in times of war and peace. Hallin is the leader of a tribe and trades his skill with the Romans in order to try and forge a peace between them. This is quite a complex thing to try and achieve given a constant background of jealousy, treachery, betrayal, and murder as individuals within their own peer groups try to overcome each other and increase their personal power base. Some years back I wrote the history of the family name and learned more about my great uncle. His name was Septimus too. He was one of the first recorded white men to cross the River Sioux complex into Indian country. He was a scout for the US Cavalry and lived in what is now called South Dakota. Readers of Septimus will soon see how my great uncle’s life story inspired ‘Septimus’ and what drove me to write the novel.
- Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Answer: I suspect it all began with reading. As a youngster, I read books written by Enid Blyton. A famous UK writer, she wrote children’s adventure books featuring the ‘famous five’ and the ‘secret seven’. These stories took you into the adventurous mind of a child and, somewhere inside there, it sticks. When you come out the other end, you want to be a writer yourself because inside you think – I wonder if I could write stories too?
- What are your current projects?
Answer: I’m currently writing the next Boyd crime thriller. Boyd is a Cumbrian detective who gets posted into the nation’s Special Crime Unit. Here, he works with elite officers on major crime, serial homicide, terrorism, espionage, and all things internationally evil. These books have proved very popular over the years and have an excellent following here in the UK. Each one is a ‘stand-alone’.
- What books have most influenced your life?
Answer: It’s not so much the books as the authors. My favorite authors are Gerald Seymour, Jack Higgins, Clive Cussler, and Terence Strong. They are thriller writers. Comparatively, you’ll often see me deep inside a non-fiction book studying another language, a religion, a political or economic doctrine, a biography, or a sports manual.
- What inspired you to write your first book?
Answer: I was studying for a degree and writing assignments at 4 am every Sunday morning. When I finished the degree, my wife suggested I continued and inspired me to write my first novel. She told me I had a book deep inside me waiting to get out. I followed her advice and eventually published The Fragile Peace. Since then, I’ve written over 20 novels in the various crime genres but I tend not to write at 4 am on a Sunday morning anymore.
- Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Answer: All my novels carry a message of some kind and that is not at all unusual. Crime writers generally promote good over evil and readers find themselves taking sides with the various characters that an author has written about. They are not that different from romance novels because readers find themselves drawn inside a good book supporting a character (or not) and wanting to know what happens next’. I try to entertain readers whilst also enlightening and informing wherever possible. My novel, White Eagle, for example, offers an explanation as to how terrorism can be avoided. Sound crazy and unlikely? Not if you turned the clock back to the end of various wars and incursions and rewrote the so-called peace agreements. (In some cases there are no peace agreements, hence we have continuing conflict) Terrorism, if you want to focus on that for a moment, is generally rooted in religion and sovereignty. Delivering a thought-provoking message at the same time as delivering a good read is not a bad thing to do.
- What is the hardest thing about writing?
Answer: Constantly developing new plots that haven’t been used before whilst simultaneously writing at a pace that will keep the reader held and enthusiastic about the book they are reading.
- What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Answer: Finding the time. I’m retired and enjoying life yet I still don’t have enough hours in the day.
- What is the easiest thing about writing?
Answer: I’ve always looked upon my writing career as a hobby. Finding quality time to do something you enjoy is quite easy. You just move the goalposts so that you can do what you do best.
- What book are you reading now?
Answer: I’ve just finished ‘Blue’ by John Sutherland. It’s an autobiography written by a senior police officer here in the UK and it’s an excellent read.
- What does your writing process look like?
Answer: I write when it suits me and when the plot is ready to go down on paper. Most of the time I form a plot in my head, sit and make notes, draft it out into chapters and then – when I’m ready – I sit down and put it all together properly. It can take anything from three to nine months for me to write a book that I’m more than happy with.
- What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Answer: Enjoy time with our family mainly – but I enjoy the gym and weightlifting, learning to speak Spanish, playing a guitar, and ballroom dancing.
- From where do you gain your inspiration?
Answer: Usually from thinking about what I am about to write next.
- What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
Answer: The advantages of self-publishing are that you can be totally independent and enjoy a work-life balance of your own structure. The disadvantages of being published by a large company is that you are in effect employed by them to write to timescales set by them. Both courses of action can be immensely successful. It really depends how much you want to put into the route you take and how much freedom you want to enjoy yourself. I think the reality is that all writers are vain. It’s in their nature. Another reality is that there are very few authors who actually make a lifelong living from writing books. Of course, they exist, but there are thousands of writers who will never make it a full-time life-enduring career for a hatful of reasons. Being retired, you can perhaps see why I favor a course that delivers a good work-life balance.
- How do you market your books?
Answer: Daily via social media, by word of mouth, guest speaking at various functions, author interviews like this one, and having a good batch of business cards that are handed to people you meet on life’s journey. Wherever I go, I usually present a card detailing my website to anyone who might be interested in reading.
Why did you choose this route?
Answer: Historically, experience reveals what works and what doesn’t. Basically, marketing is a numbers game. The bigger the audience you create, the bigger your readership can grow.
- What are your views on social media for marketing?
Answer: I think the book groups on Facebook are excellent devices to present your work. Using Twitter and LinkedIn also provide an audience and lead to more connections.
Would you or do you use a PR agency?
- Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Answer: Try to market every day on various platforms and try to diversify the style of marketing so that you are not seen to be delivering the same constant message over and over again. A book cover displayed is great but when displayed continuously day after day to the same platforms, it becomes potentially boring and doesn’t catch the eye of the reader.
- What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
Answer: Coffee time in the morning and a half hour burst at night.
- What do you do to get book reviews?
Answer: Nothing at all. I always hope for reviews but I don’t chase people for them. I think that is unfair. In any event, I’m very skeptical about reviews since there are far too many people willing to pay for reviews, give books away for reviews, swop for reviews, barter, and trade for reviews – almost to the point of ridicule. The world of ‘reviews’ lacks honesty on occasions.
- What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Answer: Work hard, keep on writing, and never give your book away for free. Everything has a value however good or bad it is.
- How can readers discover more about you and you work
Answer: Links to my website and blog site are below, as well as my Amazon page.
Author Novels: Paul Anthony Website
Paul Anthony’s Blog
Novels: Paul Anthony’s Amazon Authors Page
Thank you, Paul, for allowing us to get to know you and have a glimpse into your writing life. We appreciate your sharing some important points for writers of all genres and look forward to reading your novels.
This is where you can find me on book platforms and social media sites. I’ll be writing and sharing on social media. Hope to see you there, too! Carolyn Bowen
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