A little about myself. I am 29 years old, living in Scotland with my partner. We moved into our house in February, and we had our first child in September, so we’re very happy and tired. I have a degrees in Philosophy and Sociology, as well as Library and Information Studies, so I’ve been always been fascinated by ethics, how society works, and how information is ordered within society. My takes on these ideas obviously feeds into my stories, to good or bad effect, my readers will know better. I became an author because writing is a compulsion within me. I can’t help but see stories in my head, picturing scenes almost like a movie, and the urge to explore them full takes over. I just wish I could write full time as I’ve got countless story outlines stored in folders, all waiting to reach fruition, which they will if it takes me the rest of my life.
As a self-published author, I do love the control I have over choosing who I work with, and I really appreciate how I can work at my own pace. This can be very stressful while I balance my passion with another job and the needs of life. Marketing in particular is very time consuming, as well as creating the materials, but it’s also heavily rewarding to be involved in the act of creation nearly all the time. There is no better, fulfilling, sometimes nightmarish, feeling in the world.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I’m told that this is a quirk/oddity about me. I only eat or drink for sustenance. You could reply, well duh don’t we all? However, what I mean is I don’t eat or drink for the pleasure of it. Sure, I enjoy food and drink when consuming but only because my hunger and thirst are being satiated. When the primal urge diminishes, I am released from any desires that are food/drink related. If I didn’t have to, I honestly wouldn’t miss eating or drinking. If anything, eating and drinking takes up time I could be using being productive. The same goes for sleep. I really wish my body didn’t force me to and like a robot with some nuclear exotically charged battery, I could just stay awake forever.
What are some of your pet peeves?
Not a lot of things bother me at all to be honest. I’m quite happy to live and let live. However, when people use the term “active listening”, it really grates my sanity. There was no need to invent this term. We already have words to describe this. There is “hearing” and there is “listening”. Hearing is your ears absorbing all the sounds in your environment. Listening is focusing on certain sounds, ergo listening is inherently active. Moreover, nobody makes the distinction between seeing and “actively seeing”. It’s the same logic!
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born and grew up in Falkirk, Scotland. For those Braveheart fans, Falkirk was the location of the battle that William Wallace lost pretty badly. I always remember that scene because of the mad yet darkly funny thing the King of England says.
King of England: Tell the archers to fire when ready.
Underling: Won’t we hit our own troops sire?
King of England rotates his head like a wide-eyed owl: Yeeessss, but we’ll hit theirs as well.
Anyway, that all had very little to do with Falkirk. We also have the Falkirk Wheel which I’m told is a world-renowned attraction. There is always lots on and it’s only giant wheel in the world to connect two different canals at stunningly different heights. Other claims to fame, include the drink Irn Bru which was originally made in Falkirk in 1899, the Carron Iron Works smithed all sorts of weapons and implements for the British Empire (so if you’re ever close to a cannon or old sword, you should check to see if it has the Carron Iron Works Brand), and Rosebank whisky which could be back in production when the new distillery is finished.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
I would never choose to be a ruler as it’s an inherently flawed and soul-crushing role. I can’t help but consider the paradox of power, where the more power you have, the less you should actually do as it will interfere with people’s free will. So, as a ruler, you do have to be a guardian of free will, no matter the pressure and animosity you may receive for rigidly sticking to this position. Free will is a core element of liberality and a liberal society is, I think, always the most emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy of all sorts of societies. Ironically, the ancient Greeks held democracy just above tyranny which I think makes sense as the former can easily create the conditions for the latter. The more you give people the support and resources to think for themselves and rule their own lives, the more some people think the ways that others rule their lives interferes with what make the “best and most moral” life. Essentially, people think the world would be better if only things were done “their” way. However, morality is inherently subjective – there is no objective morality we can prove, or philosophers would have done it already. Morality is basically patting yourself on the back for following your own code which is pretty insane but so is the human brain. Therefore, as a ruler I would stick to being a guarding of free will and liberality no matter what. The world is better full of diversity, conflicting opinions, and even being offended without hacking each other’s heads off. Society stagnates when we don’t strive to have different points of view or learn to respect the lives others lead.
How to find time to write as a parent?
I recently became a dad and it’s an equal mixture of incomparable love, mind-stretching stress, and contentedness that you are exactly where you should be. Writing around a child, and chores too, needs to be done in bits by necessity. I do most of my writing on my phone as it’s very easy to add a thought, a sentence, a paragraph while on the go. Plus, it gets around the problem of writer’s block as you’re not staring at screen, trying to force the words to come. The words just come, usually at a very inconvenient moment, but I repeat them in my head until I can jot them down. When it comes to editing what I’ve written on my laptop, I capitalize upon those moments my little lovely terror baby is snoozing, at the expense of my own sleep.
Do you have a favorite movie?
My favourite movie is Collateral. It is the first film that really provoked me to consider and approach society, morality, and all the nuances in between differently, It’s a story about a hitman who gets into a cab in LA and forces the driver to take him to 5 hits. I found the conversations they have about life, death, and the universe to be profoundly powerful. It was also my first exposure to nihilistic thinking which encouraged my study of philosophy and sociology later at the University of Aberdeen. The film also has very cool and heart-punching action scenes – I’m always craving some high-octane action spectacles. For those interested, the film has Tom Cruise starring in the only villain role he’s ever played. It’s by far his best performance.
My second favourite move, if I may, is The Last Samurai. Between the beautiful cinematography, heart-stirring soundtrack, and narrative about tradition versus modernity, couple with redemption, I find this film to be incredibly moving and captivating. I often listen to the soundtrack to calm my mind when feeling anxious, sad, or stressed. There is a lot of wisdom to be gained from the best of Samurai culture and this definitely impacted my research when writing the My Fatal Futility series.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
To be honest all of them. Whenever I write a book, I see the scenes in my head as a movie – in fact that’s typically how I first chew into the idea of a story. I get flash scenes in my head, almost like a trailer. This probably explains the way I do my descriptions – I imagine what the camera would focus on. My current books are pretty long and it would be difficult to do a movie that wasn’t split into parts (a classic author’s problem), but I believe they’re all ready to be converted to movie format when/if the time comes.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I think capybaras are hilarious, cute, yet very durable and clever (I’m not sure if that’s an accurate picture of myself at all). These animals can evade ravenous murder by large predators, take the time to care for stray animals of any species, and be just genuinely friendly and personable in their own way. These are things to aspire to as an author or not. I especially like the idea of my mascot capybara chewing on a pipe, wearing round spectacles, and having a crazy coloured mohawk while sitting on the writer’s hammock.