Cate: Readers, please welcome paranormal suspense author, Colin Galbraith. Colin, will you please share a bit of background with us?
Colin: Hi Cate, it’s great to be here! I’m 35 and live in Edinburgh, Scotland, with my wife, daughter, two bunnies and a shoal of fishes. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, and seriously for about 11 years. I love monkeys, easy Saturday mornings and chocolate pastries, and I’m a top grade expert in the art of fake falling.
Cate: Your home sounds like a menagerie, as mine is.
Please tell us about your recent release and where it’s available.
Colin: STELLA was released on 7th June by those wonderful people at Eternal Press. It tells the story of Randolph, an ageing assassin who finds himself falling in love with the woman he’s been assigned to kill – the beautiful Stella. What he doesn’t realise is that by getting closer to her he’s putting his own life at risk - because Stella has her own dark and deadly secret. He chases her, loses her, and it all comes to an explosive head in Amsterdam.
Cate: Sounds like an on-the-edge-of-your-seat read! And such an evocative cover - very Bondlike.
Stella is a paranormal suspense story. Do you prefer any particular genre over another?
Colin: STELLA is the first paranormal work I’ve written. Normally I write crime fiction or contemporary “urban” fiction, but this was an experiment that went right, and naturally, I’m delighted it did.
STELLA wasn’t meant to be a paranormal book when I started writing it, though. My original idea was for the book to be a spy story, something with its roots in the mysteries of underground Eastern Europe. As the ideas began to develop on paper, though, the book began to take on its own form and it made sense for a paranormal aspect to come into it. I can’t honestly see it working without it now.
Cate: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Colin: I’m the only one! My mother has often said she doesn’t know where my inclination to write came from but I’m glad it did. I’m passing the bug on, too, because my daughter is a voracious reader and one of my biggest supporters. She’s started to really enjoy writing stories, which I like to think is down, in no small part, to me.
Cate: Very cool to pass along that gene.
What inspires you in your personal life? In your writing?
Colin: I get my inspiration from people. It might be something that happens in the street that provides me with a tiny nugget of an idea that I can build around or just the look of someone. It’s the old what happens next trick, like if someone ran up to you in the middle of the street and shoved a piece of paper in your hand then ran off again – that’s the start of a novel – what happens next?
That’s what I love about writing. My imagination is my only restriction, so while I still have one I can make anything I want happen, write about it, and hopefully give people enjoyment from it.
Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Colin: I’ll answer that one in reverse. The easiest thing about writing is when it’s all going well; you have a great story, magnetic characters, and everything is just flowing along – that’s the easy bit because it’s fun. But there are so many tough things about writing that if you thought about them all it might depress you into never wanting to write again. You really have to love writing to want to do it all the time.
I reckon the most challenging thing is when you’re on a real low but you know you have to keep going and make yourself write for a deadline or to meet your own goals. That’s the toughest – being tenacious enough to reach the completion of a novel is what sets out the wannabees from true writers.
Cate: Persistence is definitely key.
What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Colin: Hearing positive feedback is an amazing thing. When you speak to someone who has read your work and you know would tell you it was rubbish if they thought it was; hearing them say they like it means the world.
But there is one thing greater and that’s when you make a change to someone’s life through your writing. I recently gave a copy of a kids’ poetry e-book I had written to someone because I heard their child had been ill. It turned out the child was severely disabled and can’t communicate, but one of the poems – about a worm! - made him laugh. That choked me up and meant more to me than anything any book feedback could ever do for me.
Cate: Do you feel as if your characters come alive vividly as you write? Do they assert themselves in ways that surprise you?
Colin: Constantly! It’s one of the delights of writing and part of the chemical compound that makes it so addictive. I find there’s only so much you can do when creating a character; give them hair colour, attitude, clothes, that kind of thing, but to get right under a character’s skin the art is to be able to listen to them, feel what they feel, and let them do what they need to do. After that the plot falls into place round about them – most of the time :)
Cate: What comes first in your writing process – a scene, characters, title? Are you a plotter or pantser?
Colin: It depends. Sometimes it’s a person or a situation, sometimes it’s music or one of those “what if?” moments. Sometimes it’s a good title. I could plot until I go blue in the face but in the end when the story begins it more than often goes off on its own tangent anyway.
Taking STELLA as an example, the idea first came to me in 1988 while I was listening to an album of the same name by Yello. The music formed themselves into a series of images in my mind. I wrote down these images, and from that I used what I had as a structure and began writing until I had a first draft.
Cate: Love that trailer!
Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Colin: My favourite authors tend to change quite a lot depending who I’ve been reading! But I’d have to say Paul Auster is my top favourite, along with William McIlvanney, Janice Galloway, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Favourite books: The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster, The Outsider by Albert Camus, and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn. I’m currently reading The Grave Tattoo by the wonderful Val McDermid.
Cate: What's next for you? Anything in the works?
Colin: At the moment I’m working on the sequel to STELLA. I couldn’t resist doing more with Stella and Randolph, since there were so many questions I wanted to ask and things I wanted to know about them, I had to dig deeper! So I’ve begun work on BACCARA BURNING, which will be book two of a trilogy involving those two characters.
I also have one novel and a novella both in the editing stage, am working on a new chapbook of poetry to be released later in the year, and I also want to complete the crime novel I began near the end of last year. What with all that and writing gig reviews for News of the World, it’s a busy old time!
Cate: Wow, congrats on juggling all those projects! And best of luck with them all.
Any other hobbies or specialties?
Colin: Because I have a day job – I work in I.T. to pay my way – any hobby time I might have I sacrifice to writing. When you throw research, reading, promotion and marketing into the mix, there isn’t really much time for anything else.
I do like eating out and going to the pub whenever the chance avails, and I enjoy the cinema, theatre and going to see live music, but that usually involves writing since I’ve started writing concert reviews for News of the World. It always seems to come back to writing!
I’m quite a talented fake faller, though. I’m getting very good at the Stumble and Roll manoeuvre.
Cate: I'd love to see it sometime! Where can you be found on the web? Rolling or otherwise?
Colin: Most of my Internet activity revolves around my blog, Freedom from the Mundane, which you can find at http://www.colingalbraith.co.uk/blog - remove the ‘blog’ from that URL and you have my main website.
Cate: Anything else you’d like to share?
Colin: If your readers would like some more excellent fiction and poetry they could do worse then check out the e-mag I edit and publish. It’s called The Ranfurly Review and you can find it here: www.ranfurly-review.co.uk
Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Colin: Would any of them like to win a free copy of STELLA to add to their collection? If so, back to you with the information…
Cate: Readers, you heard Colin. He's giving away a book to a random commenter... so start commenting. He'll pick a winner and announce it here on Sunday the 21st around 8 pm EST.
Colin: Thanks for having me today, Cate – I’ve had a whale of a time!