I am thrilled to welcome D J Kirkby to the blog to talk a little about ‘Without Alice’ her novel. (This was actually scheduled to go up tomorrow (Sunday) but, as I’m not sure I’ll have time to post it then, I’m popping it here.)
Hi DJ! Welcome to the blog. So, ‘Without Alice’ – who’s it for and what’s it about?
Without Alice is for every adult reader – male and female – who enjoys contemporary fiction.
It’s a bout a man named Stephen who has a secret that is tearing him apart. It’s about love, loss and redemption.
This is the blurb:
Have you ever had a secret? One so important that it feels as if it will tear you in two? Stephen’s got one. He’s also got a great job, beautiful wife and an adorable son. Outwardly his life seems perfect but it means nothing without Alice. Read Without Alice and meet a man who you will love to hate until you learn to love him.
Why did you write it?
I’m autistic and have long been fascinated by complexity of communication . To be able to function well in a predominantly neurotypical world I have had to make a lifetime’s work of studying communication in all its forms. I find it fascinating how easy it is to misunderstand what another person means and the major events that can occur because of a simple misunderstanding or through lack of communication. Without Alice came about as a result of me messing about with different scenarios to see if I could figure out what would happen to a person trying to communicate effectively when in a prolonged stressful situation.
What’s the reaction to the book been like?
Overall the reaction to Without Alice have been exactly what I had hoped for in relation to each of the characters. The readers have been mostly female to date and I am hoping for feedback from more male readers.
Could you tell us about your route to publication? Was it a rocky path or was it like cruising down a motorway?
Well I would say it has been very rocky. I was offered a publishing contract and almost a year later I ended up having to invoke the termination clause in the contract. Then I had to begin the search for a publisher all over again. Finding a publisher is a challenge at the best of times but I think I probably went through the worst of times trying to raise interest in Without Alice. If anyone reading this post wants all the gory details then my blog post all about it is over here: http://djkirkby.blogspot.com/2009/08/without-alice.html
How did you write the book? Could you tell us a little about your writing process?
As I said above, I began to play with various scenarios to see what could happen when I placed the characters in situations of prolonged stress. I wanted to know if their personalities would change. What would happen if they fell in love? What if they hated each other? What kind of miscommunication would occur and how might it change the path of their lives? I didn’t do any plotting, just sat down and wrote and eventually all the stories merged together into a complex novel of which I am very proud. Reading back over this it sounds as it was much simpler than it really was. It took me two years to form it into anything resembling a novel and then many months of editing to make the characters and dialogue believable.
What do you think makes a story great?
Are you talking about short stories here? That is what I am basing my answer on….For me a story has to be vibrant, full of lush descriptive passages and rich with high impact events. A story where everything is more significant than it seems a t first.
Which stories do you think are great?
I like your writing Nik, for the reasons I mentioned above. I also really enjoy stories written by Sarah Salway, her writing sweeps me away from my life. What more could anyone ask for from a book?
Any tips you’d give to people wanting to be published?
o Believe in yourself
o Develop an online presence through a blog and open social networking sites such as twitter – this will give your readers a place to find you and an opportunity to get to know you.
o Always remember that publishing is a small world and as an author it’s important to behave professionally at all times
o Write something worth publishing
o Have it professionally edited by a reputable firm such as BubbleCow
o Submit it with a catchy tag line, robust blurb, a synopsis that meets their requirements and concise cover letter.
o Have any publishing contract vetted by the Society of Authors
o Sign the contract
o Drink champagne with loved ones to celebrate.
o Begin writing your next novel.
o Be prepared to do a lot of self promotional work
o Don’t expect to earn a living from writing for a long time.
What’s next for you?
Lots of book signing events which I am hoping will be a valuable source of unpaid writing research. There should be lots of time to people watch while I wandering around the bookshops looking for the next person that I’ll get brave enough to approach and engage in conversation about Without Alice. I am also currently writing two novels. The Plump WAG’s Club – A year in the life of four fat forty-something friends and A Dappled Life – A young man struggling to leave his past where it belongs.
Anything you’d like to add?
My dedicated website is almost ready to go live. On there is a forum where readers can come and have a chat – with me and each other. I’d love to see you and your readers on there so please do join in. You’ll find the forum tab on http://djkirkby.co.uk/
I spent my childhood knowing I was different though I didn’t get to prove myself right until I was diagnosed with a form of Autism called Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 40. I spent my childhood in the wilds of the Canadian West Coat not realising how very lucky I was to have room to roam and longing to be a grown up so I could do something with my life. I developed a passion for reading at four years old, progressed to writing quirky stories at an early age and then produced volumes of dire poetry full of teenage angst at just about the age you would expect such behaviour. When the opportunity arose to actually do something different with my life I came to England to pursue the dream and never left. I now have a husband, son and 2 stepsons whom I love with every beat of my heart. My home is often filled with the sound of laughter as well as two crazy cats, a grumpy tortoise, two timid hedgehogs and loyal friends who stop by from time to time to make sure I’m not writing anything about them.