Author in the Spotlight – Richard Dee

One of my favourite areas of PR is working with authors to promote their books. It is one thing to write a book, and what an amazing thing that is, but another to get it out there so people know about it and buy it.

As part of the Natalie Trice Communications blog, each week I will be featuring a different author and talking to them about their work, what inspires them and how they sell themselves.

Richard Dee is here today to get things started. I love the way he talks about how he writes as if he is watching a film, it really got me thinking and I hope you enjoy what he has to say.

Tell me a little bit about you and your books
I’m Richard Dee; I’m a retired ship’s Captain and Thames pilot. I come from Brixham in Devon, where I live now, just a short walk from the sea. I’m married to Yvonne; we have three daughters and two grandchildren. The genres that I write are nominally Science fiction and Steampunk, although I’ve been told that they’re stories which transcend genre. To explain that, I think of what Captain James T Kirk once said when asked if he was from outer space. “I’m from Iowa,” he replied, “I just work in outer space.”

In the end, I think that the location is just another character, an important one to be sure but as useful a way of amplifying the story as any hero or villain. The style of all of them is adventure, conspiracy and triumph over adversity, preferably with a twist, an event or revelation that the reader never sees coming. I currently have six novels and two short story collections available, including my latest creation, Andorra Pett, a reluctant detective. She’s a cross between Agatha Raisin and Miss Marple, in space.

I have also been involved in a collection of alternative history fiction, “1066 Turned Upside Down,” for which I contributed a short story.

How did you get into writing?
I had ideas for short stories years ago but never got around to writing them down; I guess that life got in the way. When I retired and had more time on my hands I started putting them onto paper and soon realised that the stories could be joined together to make a novel. It all grew from there. Ideas that were prompted by things in that first novel turned into sequels, prequels and spin-offs. I found that the more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. Once I had started, other ideas popped up and demanded my attention, some turned into novels while others remained as short stories. My Steampunk novels, based in an alternative Victorian world that’s grown up, started from a desire to explore how we could develop as a society without using oil and electricity.

Did you always want to be a writer?
No, I used to have trouble writing letters home when I was at sea. At first, the idea that I could write a whole book frightened me, which is why I initially thought that short stories would be perfect. But I have learned that it’s easy once you get into the flow, it almost becomes automatic. For me, it’s like watching a film in my head and typing what I see on the screen. I can pause and rewind but never go forward, so the ending always remains a mystery, until it’s written.

How do you publish your work?
I self-publish all my work through my own imprint, 4Star Scifi (in honour of my wonderful wife and daughters, my four stars). I like the control it gives me over my work and the lack of deadlines.

How did you promote your books and writing and how easy do you find that?
I promote through my website, Facebook and Twitter. I also dabble in paid advertising. To be honest I think that writing the book is the easy bit; I still find it hard to ask people to buy my work. Perhaps it’s because I hate being on the end of a salesman’s patter myself.

I also attend literary and other events as a member of the Exeter Authors Association. At them, I give readings and present a workshop on Fantasy World Building, which will shortly be available as an online course. And I’m always on the lookout for advance readers and reviewers who’d like to join my team.

If you could see your work anywhere in the media, where would it be and why?
According to various reviews that I’ve been grateful to receive, some of my novels are suitable for T.V. or big-screen adaptations. I’m flattered that people think that but to begin with I would love to get more reviews or mentions in magazines or newspapers. And displays in bookshop windows. Building a solid fan base is the first step on the road to success.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Initially, dreams that I had, but I’ve found that once you start exercising the creative muscles ideas can be prompted by all sorts of things. A walk on the cliffs, people who you might see in a shop, events that you hear about. They are all good sources of inspiration. I also keep up with news of the latest scientific research and inventions. It’s surprising how much of it can be used as a basis for things to adorn a future setting. It’s all about added realism. And as I said before, the more I write, the more ideas I get.

What are the biggest challenges for authors today?
The biggest challenge is getting heard, there are so many people writing and publishing now, thanks to the internet and all the ways that your work can be read. You can choose between kindle, phones, tablets, laptops, as well as the good old-fashioned printed book. To be spotted, your product has to stand out, it has to have a great cover, a catchy hook and make someone want to read it.

Do you have more books planned?
I have several stories on the go; it’s my way of avoiding writer’s block. If ideas dry up I just switch to a different project. At the moment I have two finished novels waiting for editing and a further four in progress. I also have plans for five or six more.

What are your top three tips for others thinking of writing a book?

  • Just write, get some words down on paper, don’t worry about the quality to start with, you can always edit them later.
  • Believe in yourself and your story.
  • Get the best editor and cover design you can find, your work deserves it.

What is your favourite book?
My all-time favourite, the one I read, again and again, is the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. Every time you read it you spot something else. To think that the first part dates from 1942 is amazing, the man was a genius.

My website is www.richarddeescifi.co.uk  and I can also be found on Facebook @RichardDeeAuthor

Prices for eBooks are normally £2.49 or £2.99 but please check the links at http://richarddeescifi.co.uk/portfolio/ as I do run promotions all the time and prices are often less than that. Paperbacks are £7.99 online or £7.00 delivered if you would like to buy signed copies directly from me and you can email shop@richarddescifi.co.uk for details.

If you would like to be an Author in the Spotlight, or are interested in how I could help you get your books, and name, out there, get in touch and I would love to talk over your ideas.

Natalie

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