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Interview with Stu Wakefield

August 26th, 2011 (11:52 am)

I was delighted to meet Stu Wakefield at the UKGLBT fiction author meet back in July. He's charming, funny and obsessed with Haribo. (Tut tut. Not jelly babies?) His latest book, Body of Water is available at Smashwords, kindle and Diesel.

What inspired you to start writing?

My English teacher encouraged me to keep writing. She said it was good for my soul. I've always written bits and pieces but never worked them up into anything finished unless you count a dozen or so poems. My theatre work always led me back to the text regardless of whether I was acting, directing, or designing. I'm used to putting myself into a character's position - trying to figure out why they say and do the things they do based on relatively little information. It wasn't until National Novel Writing Month in 2009 that I wrote a story in its entirety. I did it again in 2010 and haven't looked back since.

Do you have another job (paid or otherwise) apart from being an author? If so, how do you juggle your time?

Yes, I'm a full-time IT Systems Analyst. Fitting in writing time was a constant battle until I became single. Now I write for four or five hours every night and all weekend. Body of Water wasn't due out until September but I published it in mid-August. I might be lonely but I sure am productive!

What does it feel like watching your first book fledge and leave the nest?

Now I can finally understand what so many parents go through. I didn't have months of anticipation though. As an Indie Author, I finished editing Body of Water one Saturday morning and published it by lunchtime the same day. I had so little build-up to the release that I went into shock after I pressed 'submit'. Thankfully, the feedback has been great and Body of Water has rarely been out of Amazon UK's Gay Fiction Top 20.

Are you character or plot driven? What do you do if one of your characters starts developing at a tangent?

I set some rough parameters for both my world and plot and then let my characters loose within that. In Body of Water, one character disappeared at the end of a scene. I hadn't planned it. One minute he was there and then next he was gone. After a bit of head-scratching I decided that it worked in the context of the story overall and went with it. I cut two characters from Body of Water. One will be in the sequel out later this year. At some point decisions have to be made. I find that I write one big passionate muddle in the first draft and then have to go back and sort it all out. I guess that's where the day-job skills come in – I'm a problem-solver.

If you were in a tight corner and had to rely on one of your characters to save you, which would it be and why?

DOM! He's my go-to guy. I love him and everyone who has read Body of Water has said that they love him, too. He's grumpy (some call that 'dark and brooding') but he's big and strong and I want to run into his arms and nuzzle into his chest every time he appears. He'd never let anyone hurt me and he has a special skill that would make getting out of harm's way a cinch. He rocks.

If you had no constraints of time and a guarantee of publication, what book would you write?

Well, I'm always guaranteed publication because I self-publish! I already write what I want to write. I'm answerable to no one. I do it all myself – my trailers, my book covers, my marketing. Although Body of Water will always be my baby I'm working on a Sci-Fi novel called Husk that's going to take a while to write. It's complex, dark, frightening, gruesome and sexy.

Is there a classic book you started and simply couldn't finish?

I can't finish Charles Dicken's Dombey & Son. I just can't. I had to read it for English GCSE and failed to finish (somehow I still passed with a good grade). I've tried going back to it but it's my nemesis. Now I spend most of my own time writing, I doubt I'll ever crack it.

What’s your favourite gay romance/other genre book? And why?

Death's Head by Mel Keegan. No contest. It was the first, and only, gay SciFi novel that I've ever read. For me, Mel nailed it. It had everything that I wanted from an M/M book.

What's your next project?

I have so much going on, it's a bit scary to stop and think about it. I have a screenplay being filmed later this year and an M/M Romance short story that I've co-written with a traditionally-published author. I'm also considering an offer to write a musical and ghost-write a three-book autobiography. Above all, I'm writing Memory of Water, the sequel to Body of Water. That's my priority and I'm shooting for a December release – I've got to catch those Kindle sales!

Found out more about Stu at his website, www.stuartwakefield.com


Posted by: kayberrisford (kayberrisford)
Posted at: August 26th, 2011 04:03 pm (UTC)

Oh, I'm with you on Dombey and Son!! I set myself a target to read the complete works of Dickens...I resorted to unabridged audio to get through that one ;)

Great interview - wow, all that writing after a full day's work! Go you!

I'm off on hols on Sunday and this book is top of my holiday reading list!!!!

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: August 26th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)

I've read some Dickens, all through, but by no means all. Srtill prefer it as a TV adaptation.

Have a great holiday. Bring back sunshine...

Posted by: Stuart Wakefield (Stuart Wakefield)
Posted at: August 26th, 2011 11:17 pm (UTC)

Wow, Kay - you're taking BoW on holiday? That's all kinds of awesome. Thanks babe! I do hope that you enjoy it ;)

Complete works of Dickens, eh? You're a brave woman indeed!


Posted by: kayberrisford (kayberrisford)
Posted at: August 27th, 2011 11:06 am (UTC)

I've been wanting to read it for aaaaaaaaaaaages - well, since you showed me that yummy cover, and everything I've heard about it sounds amazing. I can't wait to meet Dom :)

Haha, yes, well I thought reading Dickens would be useful for absorbing some nineteenth-century cultural background when I was studying. And indeed it was very useful - but a slog at times. I've still not managed to get through the 80 + novels of Anthony Trollope, tho'!!!

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: August 27th, 2011 07:04 pm (UTC)
all lessons learned

What I love about LJ is that it's like our breakfast bar and random people sit over it and chat. Does that make any sense outside my head?

Posted by: kayberrisford (kayberrisford)
Posted at: August 27th, 2011 08:14 pm (UTC)

*g*! Indeed it does!

Posted by: Erastes (erastes)
Posted at: August 26th, 2011 04:08 pm (UTC)

What!? I had some haribo Tangtastics with me at the meet, Stuart!

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: August 26th, 2011 08:06 pm (UTC)

I have a feeling he'd brought some, too. :)

Posted by: Stuart Wakefield (Stuart Wakefield)
Posted at: August 26th, 2011 11:18 pm (UTC)

I think I snaffled some of your Tangfastics but, yes, I also had two massive bags of Starmix. I still have one here right now, LOL x

Posted by: Erastes (erastes)
Posted at: August 27th, 2011 07:20 am (UTC)

If you "still have" one of the bags - you aren't enough of a fan....after all this time!

Posted by: Stuart Wakefield (Stuart Wakefield)
Posted at: August 27th, 2011 09:24 am (UTC)

Fair point, well made. I'l finish them now ;)

* nom nom nom *

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: August 27th, 2011 07:05 pm (UTC)

I have to say (sorry 'bout this) that Haribo are not proper sweets. Not in the way that jelly babies or seaside rock are.

Posted by: oceankitty1 (oceankitty1)
Posted at: August 26th, 2011 08:12 pm (UTC)

Love Stu!"Body of water" was awesome XD

Posted by: Stuart Wakefield (Stuart Wakefield)
Posted at: August 26th, 2011 11:20 pm (UTC)

You are such a poppet ;)

I'm working hard on the print copy and just re-uploaded the cover so my name won't get cut off when they trim it. I'm curious to see it in the flesh, so to speak. Having worked on it on screen, reading/seeing it on screen doesn't quite hold the same appeal for me as holding a paper-and-glue version.

Fingers crossed it'll all be OK on the second review...


Posted by: oceankitty1 (oceankitty1)
Posted at: August 27th, 2011 06:45 am (UTC)

I've always wanted for someone to call me poppet! So cute!
Good luck with the print and glue; new books smell wonderful. Not to mention they are physically THERE. I have been known to "mislay" e-books......XD

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: August 27th, 2011 07:08 pm (UTC)
matt a

LOL I love paper books, too. You can't beat the whole smell/feel/look of them. especially old ones.

Bad joke alert:
Dropped your Body of Water? Mop it, poppet.

Posted by: oceankitty1 (oceankitty1)
Posted at: August 27th, 2011 09:22 pm (UTC)

That is what we call a dry joke up here!

Posted by: Stuart Wakefield (Stuart Wakefield)
Posted at: August 29th, 2011 10:07 am (UTC)

LOL. I like that. I wonder if Maggs could mutter that after a water-based duel...?

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: August 29th, 2011 12:15 pm (UTC)

LOL. Just be careful - nicked the line off Open All Hours. Have you got a Granville anywhere who could fetch a cloth?

Posted by: Jo (josephine_myles)
Posted at: August 28th, 2011 06:32 am (UTC)
barging in

Hi Stu, I thoroughly approve of the "write the first draft in a big flurry, then go back and sort it out later" method! It can mean your story takes you places you never intended, but that's part of the fun of it - why spend all that time writing something if you know exactly how it's all going to go?

I really enjoyed Body of Water - it had great energy and kept me turning pages. Your chapter endings were particularly evil - I couldn't find any good places to stop!

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: August 28th, 2011 11:59 am (UTC)

I'm all for that style of writing, too. I hate writing to a plan - it reduces all creativity.

Posted by: Stuart Wakefield (Stuart Wakefield)
Posted at: August 29th, 2011 10:09 am (UTC)

Thanks Jo!

I totally changed my chapter breaks after reading a brilliant article by Roz Morris who said that chapter ending shouldn't be the cue for your reader to put the book down but rather a chance for them to recommit to the book and carry on reading.

I've watched tired people reading and they'll often flick through the next chapter to see how many pages there are and, if they're short, keep reading.

That's why my chapters are so short!!!

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: August 29th, 2011 12:16 pm (UTC)

I'm with that on chapter endings. (Don't always succeed but I like the theory.) I was brought up on radio/TV serials, half an hour of drama and a real "tune back in" ending.

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