1. If you could have dinner with two of your own characters in real life, who would you choose and why?
I found this to be a particularly tricky question to answer! Then I realised that, although I love hosting a good dinner party, I don’t really write the type of characters who would be interested in being invited, they would be too bored and eager to leave so they could get on with their next adventure!
But right now, I’m writing a fantasy novel about a band of characters on a quest, there is the reluctant hero, the brave warrior, the cunning ranger, the friendly wizard, and the thoughtful healer. I would like nothing more than to join them around their campfire on a starry night and listen as they each tell their stories.
2. You write books across a plethora of genres. Of all of these, do you have a particular favourite?
The next one!
I am always excited about moving onto the next thing and by the time I finish a project as big as a novel, I am exhausted and want something completely different.
It has taken me an awfully long time to focus on writing books. I have written comedy sketches, radio plays, political satire, full length stage plays but my greatest love is the novel, and in order for me to become a master of the craft I know I will have to focus on novel writing for the next few years.
So, although I have now settled on a medium I don’t think I ever could settle on just one genre. My favourite genre will always be the next book I’m writing, or I don’t think I could ever write another one!
3. There are a few new-to-publishing writers who follow this blog, which leads to me to the next question. In terms of marketing your work to help audiences discover your stories, what methods have you found most effective? Is there any advice you could share?
I am still learning. Advice is always gratefully received!
But the most effective method I have found at getting my work in front of new readers has been to give it away for free. An awful lot of people are dead set against this idea and it is important that everyone chooses methods which are right for them. But I have a book, Magic and Romance: A Collection of Lesbian Short Stories, that I have available for free from almost every eBook outlet. This means that readers can try out my work to see if they like the way I tell stories and the characters I write, then, if they do, there are links inside to find me, and all my other books.
I think this is a lovely way for readers to really know what to expect if they then want to go ahead and spend money on my work.
4. Star Wars or Star Trek?
I love Star Wars. I love the original trilogy and love to sit down and watch them all on a rainy Sunday afternoon. But for me, it will always be Star Trek: the show stands out as one of the very few positive visions of the future, a future we can aspire to. Also, despite the often dodgy sets and costumes, it was true science fiction and had some fantastic speculative writing.
5. How do you choose the names of characters and settings for your novels?
I always start with story. This will often help with narrowing down the choices for locations, for example a pirate story simply must involve a pirate ship and that pirate ship must go to sea! Then I fill in the gaps with experience, and this can be in the form of references to other books or stories, or making use of locations I have visited. This does mean that a lot of my books are based in various forms of England and the UK, which just means that in the future I may have to take long holidays abroad for research purposes!
Character names are tricky. Within just one or two words it is important to convey so much about the character, who they are, where they come from, their rank and status in the society in which they live, but also the image they want to portray to other characters.
Sometimes the names of a character just pops into my mind or bubbles up from my deep subconscious in a way that I can’t fully explain. But most of the time choosing a name is a logical process. There are thousands of baby name resources online and I will often use very specific name categories which reflect the style of the genre and the character’s background, but every journey to finding a name is different and the influences on their name will be unique. But with every character I have written, even if I have changed their name a hundred times, I have reached a moment when I just went ‘yes’ and I knew that was their name.
6. Who are some of your favourite authors? What do you enjoy about their work?
I have just finished reading The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember. It was everything I would want in a story! Magic, romance, forbidden love, and a thrilling adventure! It was a re-telling of a little mermaid, with a few Nordic mythology twists thrown in!
It’s a book I really wish I had written myself and it has inspired me to start thinking about pulling my own half-written mermaid story out from a drawer and start working on it again!
7. Coffee or tea?
Coffee. Black, sweet, and warm. Gallons of it!
8. Thank you so much for your time, Niamh! To finish off the Q&A, could you please tell us about your most recently published book and how we can buy a copy?
My latest novel is Escape to Pirate Island, it is filled with rip-roaring adventure, lost pirate treasure, mutiny on the high seas, and unexpected love.
It is exclusive to Amazon, which means that you can read it for free through Kindle unlimited.
Check it out here: books2read.com/EscapeToPirateIsland