For the record, please state your name.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I was bitten by the writing bug when I was seven in 1963, through watching the original series of what has been my favourite television programme ever since: Doctor Who.
Even at that young age I was enraptured by the storylines which can take place at any time in the past and future, and absolutely anywhere in the universe and beyond. I started creating my own worlds and my own characters, writing my stories in little blue notebooks until my parents bought me a portable typewriter for my ninth birthday.
And those make-believe worlds became invaluable after my Dad died when I was eleven. I retreated more and more into those places where I was in control of my characters’ fate, knowing that whatever happened to them during the story I would make sure they were okay in the end. My worlds were certainly better than the real one at that time.
What social media do you use to contact with your fans?
Twitter is my preferred channel of communication, as my fans see the full, real me, and not just the author me. I also have a Facebook author page and website:
What is your username on the different social media platforms? (do you want this information to be published) – yes, happy for this information to be published:
Twitter: Stewart Bint https://twitter.com/authorsjb
Facebook: Stewart Bint Author https://www.facebook.com/StewartBintAuthor
Website: Stewart Bint Author http://stewartbintauthor.weebly.com/
How long have you been writing for?
I have been a professional writer all my working life, as a journalist, broadcaster, and Public Relations writer, but only came to publishing fiction five years ago. In my twenties it was my ambition to become a published novelist by the time I was 30 – but I was 26 years too late for that, achieving it when I was 56 in 2012. I’d kept on writing fiction as a hobby, but it was only on holiday, bobbing up and down with a friend in the Caribbean Sea, when he said I ought to try and get published.
So I dusted down an old manuscript, gave it a thorough working over and submitted it. Now, with three novels, a collection of short stories, a compilation of my early magazine columns, and short stories in numerous anthologies, I’m mighty glad I took his advice.
What’s your writing style like?
My books are not great art and they’re not great literature, but my readers tell me they’re entertaining, so that’s good enough for me. My work is not character driven – it is plot driven, but I use the characters to drive the plot forward, so my style revolves around mainly short sentences describing what they are seeing. And I try to make the dialogue as realistic as possible in each situation.
What’s your favorite genre to write/read in and why?
While I will readily read most genres, my favourites are science fiction, and unease/horror, because I welcome the escapism they provide from everyday life. I like the different worlds I’m transported to.
The writing genres for my three novels are varied – which some people say fragments my fan base, but my argument is that it opens up my work to different fan bases. Timeshaft is science-fiction, In Shadows Waiting is paranormal/horror, and my publisher describes The Jigsaw And the Fan as social satire. The short stories in my collection, Thunderlands, include crime, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, humour, children’s fiction, and even poetry!
And the novel I’m currently working on is paranormal with a sci-fi twist at the end.
I suppose it’s really all down to the fact that I like to flex my writing muscles and try new things. Also, most of my ideas for stories are too way out for straight-forward thrillers.
What’s your least favorite genre to write/read in and why?
I don’t read or write in my least favourite genres – I’d much rather focus on what I enjoy. The ones I give a wide berth to are chick-lit and historical novels.
Some writers have something playing in the background, do you and what?
No, nothing. I like silence when I’m writing fiction so I can see and hear the story unfold like a film in front of my eyes, with no distractions. My neighbour’s cat is always curled up alongside me – ever since she discovered I work from home she graces me with her presence most days.
What’s the inspiration behind your books?
Inspiration for the actual storylines and books is very different from the inspiration I need to knuckle down and write every day. A variety of sources provides the inspiration for the books, and has included an article on the Chernobyl disaster, Twitter bullying and harassment, and it was a walk in a 1london park that inspired Timeshaft. In fact, that walk features as an actual scene in the book, with my wife, father-in-law, son when he was 4-months old, and me all getting a little cameo role of that real-life incident.
The entity I describe in In Shadows Waiting was based on something I saw in a spooky old house I was lodging at way back in the early 1980s…and my latest novel, The Jigsaw And The Fan, was inspired by memories of reading the news on radio and hosting radio current affairs and ‘phone-in shows during the bitter UK miners’ strike in 1984/85.
And the idea for my 2017 novel that I’m currently working on, To Rise Again, came about by a visit to the underground hospital on the island of Jersey.
But what inspires me to write each day is a different pan of potatoes altogether. Sometimes I’m full of beans and raring to go. Other days I’m too easily distracted by the coffee machine and biscuit tin, and have to tell myself: “No differ or glass of wine until you’ve finished this chapter/scene.” Oh, yes – that definitely inspires me to crack on.
If you could do it all over again, would you change anything about your books?
Nothing about the actual books, no. But I should definitely have taken the plunge and started approaching publishers years before I did.
Is there anything you found particularly challenging about writing?
The first thing is being able to transfer the words from my brain to my computer screen fast enough. As my fingers fly across the keyboard they invariably mis-spell, and my neat and ordered mind becomes at odds with itself – do I go back and correct the spelling immediately or do I wait until I’ve finished that scene?
It’s also quite challenging deciding which of the thousands of ideas floating around in the malt whisky and red wine that comprises my mind, can actually make it into one of my novels or short stories.
Who are your cover designers?
I leave that side of things to my publisher – they provide the cover designer, who liaises closely with me about ideas etc. But I’m the wordsmith – they’re the experts at the visual side of my story.
What books/authors have influenced your writing?
A number of fiction writers have influenced me, mainly giving me the inspiration to write to entertain in the way they do. My favourite mainstream author is, and always has been, Stephen King, for his ability to take perfectly normal, everyday situations and people, and throw in a sprinkling of the macabre, sci-fi-paranormal, and downright horror, while making it all perfectly believable.
And would I be totally uncool if I also said J.K. Rowling? I love the way she developed the Harry Potter overall story arc from a fairly light and fluffy initial story into a plethora of unease and impending doom, with outright black magic and horror. As a child it was the then ubiquitous Enid Blyton, before progressing to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Fleming and his James Bond series (and hey, did you know he also wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?) and two thriller writers who have dropped out of fashion nowadays, Dennis Wheatley and Alistair MacLean.
What is your take on fanfiction?
Although it’s not for me nowadays, personally, I suppose you could say I was one of the original fanfic writers, in that I wrote Doctor Who stories way back in 1963. I can see its appeal to budding writers, who create their own stories around readily accepted characters, and for readers it’s another source of stories about the characters they love.
I am a big believer in canon and proper ongoing continuity in fiction, so what I really detest about some fanfiction is the way writers ignore that.
What advice would you give any newbie author or anyone that wants to pick up writing?
Write for yourself, first and foremost – your stories should make you happy. Also, keep persevering and never give up. But, above all, submit your work to publishers or agents. I never thought my work was good enough to be published and didn’t bother to polish it beyond a first draft until my friend persuaded me.
Tell us a little about yourself. Perhaps something not many people know about? Can you share with us the best way to contact you and where to find your work? This is where you have the floor.
Okay, this is the dull, boring bit. I’m just an ageing hippy who goes barefoot most of the time and likes to entertain people through stories.
I was born in the dim and distant past (under extreme torture I have been known to admit to 1956). Writing takes up pretty much all my time in three different guises today. As well as my novels, I write a column for a fortnightly local magazine, and I’m a Public Relations writer for the world’s leading industrial CAD/CAM software developer.
Having suffered a major bout of depression 20 years ago, which led to me being hospitalised for ten weeks and sectioned under the UK Mental Health Act, I am passionate about mental health awareness, and was honoured to be named on the 2016 list of “Inspirational Mental Health Advocates that are changing the world.”
Since getting married 35 years ago, home has been in Leicestershire in the UK. My wife and I have two grown up children, aged 26 and 24.
As a dedicated barefooter, I only ever wear shoes when it is absolutely necessary – i.e. six inches of snow or a situation where it would be socially unacceptable not to.
The easiest way to contact me is through Twitter (https://twitter.com/authorsjb) as I engage with fans almost every day there.
And Amazon is the best place to find my work – my own books and books to which I have contributed short stories.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with us!!!
My pleasure…thank you for putting up with me. I appreciate your time and your patience!
Links to Reviews of Stewart’s Novels