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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Welcome to my blog Adam.  Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about yourself and your book, Cell Wars – The Battle For Brian

Q. Tell us about your latest worktitle, genre, etc. and why you wrote it?
A.  I blame my diet. You see I edit two health magazines and so believe in the power of nature I started “juicing” raw fruit and veg, which gave birth to … and some strange behaviour in my head! My mind suddenly found renewed energy, like Lewis Carroll on speed. OK a dry martini or two of an evening may have helped, but suddenly this peculiar story was spilling into my laptop at an astonishing rate.

Oh, beg pardon, you asked about title and genre. It’s called Cell Wars, a reference to what happens when we don’t treat our bodies right. Yup, we’re talking cancer here so it may surprise many people that this novel is an attempt at humour. A little bit of education, too. All in a science fiction wrapper, I suppose, because it all takes place inside an accountant called Brian.

Am I losing you? I blame the juice, or the martinis, or both. Besides it’s difficult to explain except to say it’s probably the world’s first health book that’s actually a novel.

Q.   What draws you to your genre(s)? Why is this type of story compelling to you?
A.  I have edited several health magazines in my time as a journalist, and my wife and I have a library of thousands, half of which is categorised “health”. These are pretty much all dry, science-based books on body systems and nutrition. Not one novel until your eye falls on my Historical Fiction shelves.

Now I confess that I’m not good at reading non-fiction. I like historical novels, science fiction, a ripping yarn. And one day while I was researching the role of probiotics in the intestines, how the “good guys” are fighting a losing battle against the baddies in the average Western diet, that I decided to get right down there with them (figuratively speaking) and have a look-see at how the war was proceeding.

After several days of pure liquid nutrition topped with those miraculous martinis I realised the story was virtually writing itself and I had stumbled upon the “Protectorate”, the minuscule guardians that live inside each one of us, all of them quirky, full of character and mostly loveable. Except that in this “Host’s” case, they were about to face the battle of their comfortable lives because a team of cancer terrorists had sneaked in the back door, so to speak.

Q.  What is your writing process like? Do you map the whole thing out or do you just let it unfold?
A.  Ah, the writing process. I have written 2.5 historical novels (under my real name, Alistair Forrest, These require a lot of research and I check facts as I go. My first novel “Libertas” took a year to write, my second, “Goliath”, six months. My third (and best in my opinion) is unfinished as yet.

But Cell Wars took just a few weeks. This is because I already have a grounding in body systems, but also because Cell Wars is very short at 25,000 words and – sorry about this folks – the characters are all made up thus requiring zero fact-checking. And yes, the story told itself. I was astonished how many words flowed each evening. I just let my fingers do their stuff on the keyboard and read the story as it leapt onto the screen. Amazing. My wife, children and the gardener read bits as the story developed and were all very kind. They could have sent for the men in white coats.

Q.   What kind of research was involved in writing your book?
A.   I am privileged to have a wife who buys every health book going, to work in an industry full of wonderful people who all want to share their knowledge of natural health, and to have lived a good proportion of my life under the influence of a Mediterranean diet. But I am no angel, and I know the pitfalls of stress, working long hours, Western diet and potentially harmful over-indulgence (ask any journalist about that). In other words, life itself has been my research for Cell Wars.

Q.   How much of YOU makes it into your characters?
A.   A lot. Not just me, but many of the people I love or admire. There are heroes and villains. I fall into both of those categories, I like to think, my past demonstrating more of the latter. But I say that with a twinkle in my eye, a bit like the hero of Cell Wars.

Q.   How do you balance the need to have time to write with the needs of family, society, etc.?
A.  I haven’t written in either genre for a year now, and it hurts. The reason is that my wife and I have moved house and country in the most trying of times and true to form we have spent all of our time and resources on restoring a fabulous Guest House on top of the Long Mynd in Shropshire, UK. Both of us eagerly await completion so we can enjoy our family and the company of our friends, and resume doing the things we love most – writing, photography, art and socialising.

Q.   Have there been any authors in particular, that inspired your writing?
A.  In historical fiction, good old Bernard Cornwell, plus names from the past like Mary Renault and Mary Teresa Ronalds. For Cell Wars, most definitely the artist at The Beano who invented the Numskulls! That brilliant comic strip about the little people inside Edd Case was my starting point, so that was my inspiration I guess. Terry Pratchett of course and Lewis Carroll too – you’ll see several throwbacks to Alice in Wonderland in Cell Wars.

Q.   Is there a story you want to tell behind or about your work(s)?
A.   I was digging a hole in the garden of our house in Monda, Spain, when we moved there in 2005. Suddenly my spade clanged on an old chest. Inside was a suit of armour, all burnished bronze, plumed helmet, short sword the lot. At the bottom of the chest was a fading Polaroid of the owner wearing his outfit, signed “Gaius Julius Caesar”. So, realising I was living on the site of an ancient battlefield, I wrote my first novel, Libertas, based on Caesar’s last battle (Munda, 45BCE).

Q.  What other projects are you currently working on or about to start?
A.  Alistair Forrest wants to finish Shamash, the story of a youth exiled after the fall of Samaria who returns to his homeland as an Assyrian diplomat.
Adam Fox wants to write a further 30 novels in the Cell Wars series and become Terry Pratchett.

Q.  Could you share some of your marketing strategies?  Which ones are the most effective in your opinion?
A.  I used to own a PR company so you would think I could do this. But I am lousy at promoting myself. When I have time I’ll be active on several groups, create Facebook pages, Tweet, do Pinterest, get more Linkedin, do book signings and generally make a nuisance of myself.

But I’d really love it if the world would come to me instead.

Q.  What would be the top five, (or 3 or 1 or however many) things you would tell aspiring authors?
1. Are you mad?
2. Do you want to be broke?
3. Looking forward to losing your hair?
4. And all those agent rejections?
5. What are you waiting for?

Again, thanks Adam for taking the time to share your knowledge with us. We appreciate you and your work.

Good luck with your current and future publications.
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