Author Interview — Peter Blakely-Novis

library-419254_1920Today we’re giving a warm welcome to author Peter Blakely-Novis. Read on to learn about this exciting author.

  1. What would you like to tell us about yourself? My name is Peter Blakey-Novis, and I’m based in a small town on the southern coast of England. Although I’ve enjoyed writing as a hobby for as long as I can remember, it wasn’t until February 2017 that I released my first book. I’m fairly new to it all and am learning a lot as I go! I also co-run Indie Writers Review, a monthly digital magazine featuring book reviews, short stories, poetry etc.
  2. What genres do your writings fall under? What age group? Quite a mix, actually. I started out writing a novel, which is a femme fatale thriller along the lines of Fatal Attraction. This book (The Broken Doll) has a sequel which was released in August 2017. I have also written two collections of short horror stories, and at the other end of the spectrum, have a children’s book out which was co-authored by, and stars, my daughter.
  3. When and why did your start writing? I had an idea for a story back in March of 2016, which kept playing on my mind. I wrote a little when I had a bit of spare time, with no real thought as to what I’d do with it if I ever finished it! It came along slowly to begin with, until I needed minor surgery and was bed-bound for a few weeks. With little else to do I cracked on with the story and the end of it began to appear in the not-too-distant future.
  4. What other goals do you have for yourself? How do they fit with your writing?Writing has been a great way for me to get ideas out there, and has given me a real sense of accomplishment and pride. I’ve always been very wary of how I’m perceived by other people, and it took a lot of courage to show my work to others, but the feedback has been better than I could have imagined, and that helps build confidence in what I do.
  5. What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t writing? Reading is just as important as the writing, so I get through a couple of books a week. Aside from that, life is pretty busy with four children.
  6. What do you hope readers take away from your writing? Is there a particular theme in your work? Does your work have a moral? My two novels are purely fictitious, perhaps a life-lesson in how fragile relationships can be when someone from outside decides to try and destroy it. The horror stories that I have written cover a range of sub-genres – some are creepy ghost stories, there’s one from the POV of a serial killer, and others are simply about people and their fears.
  7. Which of your characters is your favorite and why? Probably Ella, the antagonist from The Broken Doll. She was the most fun to write, anyway. Despite the trouble she causes, you can’t help pitying her a little, and wishing you could somehow save her.
  8. Which of your characters is your least favorite and why? I’m quite fond of all three of the main characters in The Broken Doll books, but there are quite a few despicable minor characters. I’d say Maggie, from book one, isn’t a person I’d like to hang around with.
  9. What genre is your favorite to read? I mostly read horror, much more so since writing my own. I’m keen on collections of short stories more than full-length novels, but I’m usually happy to read almost anything.
  10. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change? I would have been better prepared! I didn’t even look at what to do with the first book until it was almost finished. I knew nothing about self-publishing, or where to promote it. As a result, sales have been much better in the months following that first release, once I had a better idea of what I was doing.
  11. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre? Social media is now the only way that I promote, through my pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The novels have had good reviews, and I share these in book-related Facebook groups. I have tried paid advertising on Facebook and Amazon but it didn’t seem worthwhile. My horror books actually sell better than the novels, but I am involved in a number of horror-specific book groups, and learned how important it is to promote other peoples work just as much as your own. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have received some fantastic reviews on a number of blogs, as well as in Scream Fix magazine. For the children’s book, selling in person far outweighs online sales, so I attend school events such as summer and Christmas fairs.
  12. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published? All of my books are self-published, although I have had a few stories included in other anthologies, so I am able to put a book out there myself without the fear of rejection from a traditional publisher.
  13. Can you tell us about your upcoming book? I currently have a few projects on the go. One is (probably) going to be a novella, about a young woman to kills someone but can’t remember doing so. It deals with some mental health issues and PTSD in particular. I have a few stories completed ready for my next collection of horrors, and I’m expecting that to be ready around June. I also have another horror book planned for later in the year, around novella length, but quite different to most books. My daughter is keen to release another children’s book, but I’m holding off until we have recouped the money spent on the illustrations!
  14. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?The two novels are entirely fictitious, but a number of the landmarks in the books are easily recognized as being around my home town. The characters are not based on real people, although the main characters are quite similar to myself and my wife. Some of the horror stories are rooted in some past experience, for example Opened Up is a medical horror about an infestation, inspired by the surgery I had on my foot. There is one called Embrace the Darkness, which features a creature that I did have nightmares about when I was a child. So, although not ‘true stories’, they are partly based on real events.
  15. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why? In the second Broken Doll book, something happens to one of the main characters. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but it seemed inevitable from my point of view, yet I knew it would really affect the readers. It was a difficult chapter to write, but was the best fit for the story, and gave the whole tale a change of direction.
  16. How did you come up with the title? The Broken Doll refers to Ella, the seductive femme fatale. The title seemed to fit well, balancing her physical beauty with the fact she was severely damaged inside. Titles for the horror collections were simply enough; I chose my favourite short story and used that, hence they are called Embrace the Darkness and other short stories, and Tunnels and other short stories.
  17. What project are you working on now? As I mentioned earlier, I have a few projects on the go. The next for release though will be another collection of shorts.
  18. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment? I’ve been very fortunate with the reviews I’ve received, with more than 90% of them being 4 or 5 stars. I did receive a 1 star review for The Broken Doll, although with no details written as to why. I happen to know the person that left it, which made it quite hurtful, but I managed to ignore it and focus on the good reviews. My favourite review described the Broken Doll as ‘incredibly well-written, an intense, gripping, and emotionally stirring read’ and featured on a blog.
  19. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers? Keep at it! Get the book finished, check it over as many times as you can stand to, get other people you trust to read it before going public, and take on board any feedback – both positive and otherwise.
  20. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans? Two years ago I never would have dreamed I’d be doing what I am now, so I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am to everyone that has taken the time to read my work, to those who have given me advice and helped promote my books, and an extra big thanks to those who take a moment to leave a review, or to recommend one of my books to their friends. It really does mean so much, and it keeps me motivated to put out more stories.
  21. Do you also work a day job? How does it inspire your writing? For the last four years my wife and I have been running a catering business. Unfortunately, my wife became ill at the start of 2017, and we had to close the business. Although financially challenging, this has given us the time to focus on getting my books out there. My wife was able to train as a graphic designer and together we began Red Cape Publishing, an umbrella for not only my books, but the magazine Indie Writers Review, the upcoming horror book subscription service Boxes of Blood, as well as her design work.
  22. If you could visit any time period, which one would it be? It would be a tough decision between the 1920s and the 1950s, there is something exciting about the clothing and music in those times.
  23. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? I’m keen to visit Japan, New Zealand, and Iceland. They are definitely my top three countries whenever that becomes possible. We enjoy city breaks, and visited Venice last year, with Budapest being next on the list.
  24. Have you travelled to places outside your home town/country? Where did you go? What did you see/experience? I haven’t travelled all that much, I don’t feel. Of course being in England, Europe is close enough for short breaks, and I’ve been to Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, and Greece. Out of these, going on a mountain safari day in Portugal with my eldest, and riding the gondola in Venice, are my fondest memories.
  25. Do you prefer comfortable clothes or dressing nicely? Both, I guess. My wife would definitely prefer me to be in a suit permanently, but once winter is out of the way I’m usually in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt!
  26. If you could visit any cartoon world, which one would it be? I’d have to take my daughter and visit SpongeBob Squarepants.
  27. If you could visit any fictional world, which one would it be? Strangely, the first thing that came to mind was Water World, the Kevin Costner film. I do love being near the sea, so perhaps messing about on boats all day wouldn’t be too bad?!
  28. What’s your favorite comfort food? Pizza, with a variety of meats and plenty of jalapeno.
  29. If there was one food you could get rid of, which one would it be? Celery, no need for that ever!
  30. Who’s your favorite superhero? Deadpool appeals to my sense of humour, so probably him. Although I have enjoyed the more recent Batman movies.
  31. What’s your favorite holiday? Why is that one special to you? Christmas is the only real celebration that we do, and I’ve never really been that keen on it! That said, last Christmas we managed to go away for a few days, and we had a really great time so I may be starting to enjoy it more.
  32. What historical figure inspires you most? Anyone who has stood up for human rights, whether that be defying the Nazis, opposing racism and segregation in the second half of last century, as well as those that do so today. Most of these people have names we wouldn’t recognize, but have helped so many people – that’s something that is very inspiring.
  33. If you had to have a mythological creature as a pet, which one would it be? My daughter’s obsessed with unicorns at the moment, so if there was a way of getting a mythological creature it would have to be that (or I’d never hear the end of it!)
  34. What was your favorite stuffed animal as a child? Does this toy show up in your writing? I had a stuffed dog, imaginatively called Doggy, which apparently was bought just before I was born. He’s seen better days, but I still have him (actually my youngest does).
  35. What author would you most like to meet? If I had to pick, I’d probably say Stieg Larsson. I have a special hardback set of the Millennium Trilogy, and thought they were incredible. I’d also really like the opportunity to meet up with some of the fantastic Indie authors that I connect with online, but geographically we are quite spread out across the globe.
  36. You get to bring one of your characters into the real world. Which one is it and why? What do you hope to accomplish through your relationship with this character? It would have to be Ella from The Broken Doll. As I mentioned, there is an impulse to help her. However, there would be a risk, of course, as she is both unstable and dangerous.
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