Interview with Stu Wakefield
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