Author: Alan Williams ISBN: 9781425131517 Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest, Alan Williams author of Archy the Flying Dolphin & The Vampire's Curse.
Good day Alan and thanks for participating in our interview.
Hello, Norm. Nice to talk with you.
Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.
I was born in South Wales, UK, and brought up amidst the chaotic excitement of showbiz. My father was an entertainment agent/manager. So as you can imagine, being surrounded by professional entertainers was so stimulating. I never knew what to expect next or what household name might be knocking on our front door. And mixing with such vibrant people taught me one valuable lesson in life. Although talent is an intrinsic ingredient for success it must be backed up with hard work, dedication, and dogged determination.
This was a valuable discipline that stood me well into adulthood where I kind of drifted into the world of property development. About a year after I got married my wife came across a property that she loved, but it needed some attention. So, always up for the challenge, I soon discovered I had the knack for turning properties around.
How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?
As a child I had a vivid imagination and was always very creative. It was never difficult for me to come up with ideas. I loved making things up. And given my background in entertainment it was natural for me to become involved in the music scene for a while, where I had a great time. But it never occurred to me to write anything longer than song lyrics. In fact, I was in my late twenties before I wrote my first novel.
I guess my writing career really started when my wife brought home a ‘teach yourself to type’ book from the local library. I got so hooked on the daily exercises that I taught myself to type in three days solid. Of course, it wasn’t long before the creative juices took over and I wrote a short romantic story that won first prize in a competition run by Chat Magazine/Robinson Publishers.
What keeps me going is a love for writing, coming up original ideas, new characters, and developing them through to the first draft. Indeed the challenge of the blank page still gives me a tremendous buzz.
What is your background in children's literature?
When I first started writing I soon realized that most of my original ideas were geared toward the children’s market. So I guess writing for children came naturally for me. And with so many ideas in my locker aimed at the children’s market, I decided to study with The Academy for Children’s Writers. From there I went on to study screenwriting at University of Westminster and UCL, where I met Hollywood screenwriting guru Syd Field.
Actually it was Syd who encouraged me to get Archy the Flying Dolphin & The Vampire’s Curse published. I was working on a movie script project when I told him about this children’s story I had in my locker, but wasn’t sure where to go with it. He took one look at the premise and urged me to get a publishing/production deal.
You see, Archy the Flying Dolphin was born amidst that initial explosion of my earliest ideas and, indeed, when I originally sent out the proposal I secured interest from both Penguin and Harper Collins simultaneously. Back then they were accepting submissions directly. I couldn’t believe it. I’d only been writing a short while and already had commissioning editors from two of the biggest names in publishing calling me up saying they loved my work. But I guess the excitement and lack of writing experience went against me and they eventually passed, with great reluctance I must add. But it certainly gave me a terrific buzz.
Can you give our readers a brief resumé of Archy the Flying Dolphin & The Vampire's Curse?
Archy The Flying Dolphin & The Vampire’s Curse is a children’s fantasy adventure…a rollercoaster ride of fun and excitement where eleven -year old Thomas Parkinson and his sister, Suzy, embark on a perilous voyage of discovery, where they confront the powerful forces of evil, and where danger lurks around every mysterious corner.
Thomas and Suzy spend a summer vacation with Uncle Fibber, an ex fisherman who lives at Sneaky Cove. After listening to one of his scary sea-faring adventures they re-enact their uncle’s adventure on the nearby beach. But when they discover a dolphin trapped in the wreck of an old fishing trawler they attempt a gruelling rescue, only to discover…they’ve unwittingly invoked an evil curse that has banished their uncle to the never-ending darkness. Of course, Thomas and Suzy are compelled to save their beloved uncle. After all, it is their fault. So they embark on a perilous journey and soon discover that only one person can break the evil curse. Trouble is Victoria von Vampire loves to boil kids in her Coffin Pot Stew.
During their voyage of discovery Thomas and Suzy learn the true meaning of family values and realize that a little curiosity can be extremely dangerous.
What kind of research did you do to write this book?
Archy the Flying Dolphin & The Vampire’s Curse is a fantasy adventure. That doesn’t mean to say there was not a lot of hard work and story/character development. But there was no real need for in-depth research. A story that is set in a fantasy world does allow the writer free license to make it all up. But then s/he must abide by those rules. Of course I delved into my own view of the world to tackle the underlying themes. But my overriding aim was to write a fast paced action story that would allow the kids to escape into an exciting fantasy world where they could experience a thrilling adventure and simply have some fun.
Did you work from an outline when writing Archy the Flying Dolphin & The Vampire's Curse?
In the early days when I started out on this writing journey I used to take the ‘Once Upon A Time’ approach. I used to put a lot of faith in the ‘let’s start writing and see what happens’ ideology. But over the years, experience and training has proven to me that writing from an outline guarantees the story will have a solid structure and stay on track. I now believe that writing without an outline is like going for a drive without first planning your journey. You don’t know where you’re going to end up, if the journey will be a success, or a total disaster. When writing professionally that’s a luxury that is just not affordable. But I do still recreate that free flowing spontaneity in the preparation of my story, before the story gets too involved.
From the germ of an idea I usually write in free association. It’s surprising what pops up from the depths of your subconscious. At that point I never focus on the logical side of the story. I strongly believe that, in the very early stages, logic kills pure creativity. Like a team of wild horses, creativity requires total freedom to run. So the best way to find the gold nuggets in your writing is to initially let those horses run, let things flow, let you’re your imagination go wild. Then, and only then, with a pile of ingredients on the table, can you allow logic and reasoning to make sense of it all, to make sure you have a compelling story with believable characters that arrives at an interesting destination.
Next, I sketch out a Flash Outline – the key points. This creates a solid structure that is capable of holding a more detailed chapter-by-chapter outline, or step outline. This breaks things down into smaller segments, which are much easier to handle during the long haul. However, this does not mean I stick to the original outline religiously. As Syd Field says, writing is all about re-writing. What is set in concrete today can be out of date tomorrow.
What did you enjoy most about writing Archy the Flying Dolphin & the Vampire's Curse?
Being in a fantasy world of make-believe where anything was possible. I especially enjoyed the feeling of fun and excitement, mixed with the tension that danger lurked around every mysterious corner. I enjoyed creating colourful characters that I hoped children would befriend and fall in love with, especially Archy the Flying Dolphin. What child wouldn’t love to ride on the back of a dolphin and fly effortlessly through the sky?
I can’t tell you how exciting it was to write an action adventure that literally kept me there. Each time I switched on my laptop I never once had the feeling that I didn’t want to face the blank screen. And when I got to the end I still didn’t want the experience to stop.
Before publishing your book, did you have any children read your book and if so, what was their reaction?
I knew the initial premise was good. After all, originally, I’d had such a positive response from two of the biggest publishers in the business. And I was being encouraged to publish the story by Syd Field, one of the most respected story experts on the planet who believed that Archy the Flying Dolphin & The Vampire’s Curse was totally commercial and had all the ingredients for success.
Before publication, I did have the book read professionally by independent readers. I’m also very fortunate that I have several children in my immediate surroundings that I could trust to give me invaluable feedback, including several nieces and nephews. My wife and my son also read the finished work, and I can assure you they were nothing less that totally honest with me. I’m also blessed with the fact that I have several older readers who gave me their honest opinions. So, as you can see, the book was read by children of all ages, right through to ninety- five years old.
And since the book has been published, I’m thrilled to say that I’ve had some terrific feedback from children on both sides of the Atlantic. That has to be the best buzz ever, right?
How did you come up with the title Archy the Flying Dolphin & The
The main title was easy. I was lazing one sunny afternoon in the garden with my ginger cat, Archie. And amidst the hazy glow of sunlight I imagined a beautiful dolphin flying through the sky with two children on its back, and thought…where could they be going? From then on the idea came to me in a nutshell. Indeed, it was like a magical moment where the entire storyline simply fell from the sky. Of course, after the initial feeling of excitement came a lot of hard work.
The subtitle came from the main storyline.
Is there a message in Archy the Flying Dolphin & the Vampire's Curse that you want your readers to grasp?
My overriding aim was to create a reading experience that would hopefully become an exciting page- turner. Of course there are themes of ‘family values’ and ‘be careful what you wish for’ and ‘a little curiosity can be extremely dangerous’. But the main objective was to create a reading experience that would be so much fun. After all, shouldn’t reading be a lot of fun?
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing? As a follow up, what tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A compelling narrative that keeps the reader glued to the page. Believable characters that the reader can empathize with, care about, and want to follow right through to the end.
Albert Einstein once said that imagination is more important than knowledge. I believe the most important tool any writer must possess is a vivid imagination.
Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us? (We would love to hear all about them!)
I’m thrilled to say that Archy the Flying Dolphin & The Vampire’s Curse is the first of a series of six books. I’m also collaborating on another children’s book with an illustrator. And I’m working on a science fiction screenplay that I’m very excited about. But these are just some of the projects I have on the front burners. Actually, I have a stockpile of story ideas in my locker that I don’t believe I’ll ever get through in one lifetime.
How can our readers find out more about you and Archy the Flying Dolphin & The Vampire's Curse?
Archy The Flying Dolphin And The Vampire's Curse
Click Here To Purchase Archy The Flying Dolphin And The Vampire's Curse Author: Alan WilliamsISBN: 9781425131517Publisher: Trafford PublishingClick Here To Purchase Archy The Flying Dolphin And The Vampire's Curse
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