Take it away Sam!
I met the lovely Linda when we were both inmates at Wormwood Scrubs. We ended up sharing a cell after we had each been caught trying to tunnel out using nothing more than, in my case, a teaspoon, in hers, a set of false fingernails.
Of course, Linda wasn’t then the sweet Southern lady that you all know and love. ‘She’ was an Eastend bruiser named Ronnie, with tattooed biceps like painted boulders, a bald head the size of a pumpkin that could double as a wrecking ball and fists like sides of ham with which I saw ‘her’ take out Billy the Baby-eater Brown and Mikey the Manic Madman Malone as if they were schoolboys rather than the most feared bare-knuckle fighters south of the Thames. (Billy didn’t really eat a baby. It was a dead squirrel, but you know how rumours can stick.)
No one ever dared mention to Ronnie his camp tendencies. Not if they valued being conscious. I always knew he would one day give in to his feminine side. I’m glad that he did. Welcome, Linda. You’re much nicer than Ronnie. And I happen to like tattooed biceps on ladies.
Sam, good to see you again! How you been on the “outside”? Me, I’ve been fine. Check out my new tattoo… it’s a beauty huh? Glad you’re here to tell us about yourself and your books! Make yourself comfortable.
1) Sam, would you tell us about your most recent release.
The Beacon is the second book in the Earth Haven trilogy that began with The Cleansing. It begins where the first book ended so readers should start with The Cleansing. The trilogy is post-apocalyptic science fiction, a long tale about how humankind is brought to its knees by a manufactured virus. Who developed this virus and why… can’t say too much here as it will spoil it for new readers, but the makers have their reasons. The Cleansing deals with the spread of the virus and the immediate aftermath. In The Beacon, the handful of survivors face a new threat – as if they haven’t been through enough already, bless them. Again, it’s difficult to reveal too much. The book’s blurb contains about as much as I can say without spoiling anything.
The Cleansing was terrifying. I look forward to The Beacon and being scared witless again.
2) How do you react to a bad review of one of your books?
I stamp my feet, poke the cat, throw the computer out of the window, get drunk, eat chocolate, smash plates, solder my nostril hairs, squirt shaving foam at my wife, speak in tongues, paint the house and run naked through the streets, wailing and gnashing my teeth.
Nah, I don’t really do any of those things. What I also don’t do is respond to the review. The reviewer is perfectly entitled to his or her opinion; I’m just grateful they bought my book and took the time to read it. All too often I’ve seen authors bemoaning bad reviews, either in direct response to the review itself or by starting threads in various forums. Such authors rarely come across in a good light.
Sam, I have to agree with you on the reader’s right to their reviews. Stories are very subjective and what one may love, the next may hate. They invested time to read it, and they can say what they really think about the story. I think you’re wise.
3) Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist? I mean, it’s gotta be easier than being in prison right?
I think the obvious one is becoming unfit (or, in my case, more unfit) by spending so long sitting down. To try to combat this, I’ve invested in a home gym that sits in my garage. I even use it now and again…
Very smart! Gotta stay fit in case you go back in the “big house”.
4) Tell us something surprising about yourself.
I have a distant relative who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in the defence of Rorke’s Drift (immortalised in the film Zulu). He was one of the soldiers who helped save six injured men who were being attacked as they lay in the camp infirmary. He’s (something like) my great-great-great-uncle.
That is entirely fantastic.
5) Who are some of your favorite authors?
Too many to list them all, but here are some of my go-to authors: Stephen King (for his horror and fantasy more than his crime writing), Terry Pratchett, Agatha Christie (for her Poirot books), Bill Bryson, Iain Banks (and Iain M. Banks), Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Frederick Forsyth, Gerald Durrell (I have a soft spot for the Greek island of Corfu thanks to his books). That’s just off the top of my head. I could list many, many more, but I think that’s probably enough to be going on with.
I like some of those as my favorites too. Great list.
6) What are your favorite movies?
In no particular order: Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid; Inception; The Great Escape; The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (and one of my favourite film scores); The Wizard of Oz; Hair; Gladiator; Bladerunner; and, of course, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. At least once each year, my younger daughter and I spend a day watching the extended versions of all three films. We often quote our favourite lines to each other (‘My friends, you bow to no one’). She’ll be leaving home for university in September, but tells me she wants to maintain what has become a tradition when she returns home during the summer vacation. I won’t argue; I love our ‘Lord of the Rings days’ as much as she does.
That sounds like a fine tradition. I know y’all have fun.
7) Do you laugh at your own jokes?
Of course; someone has to.
8) Are you jealous of other writers?
No. I’ve never begrudged another writer their success, even if their books are not to my taste. I have, however, felt envy in the sense that I’ve longed to match their success, whilst at the same time cheering them on, glad that they’re reaping the rewards of all their hard work. They are living proof that persistence, allied to no little skill, can pay off.
Sounds like a good philosophy.
9) What makes you cry?
I almost skipped this question, but at the risk of looking a complete wimp, here goes.
I barely cried until I was twenty-six. In May 1991, my first child was born. As I sat in the hospital, holding her in my arms while she stared intently up at me with bright eyes, something inside me shifted. I went to the ground floor of the hospital to ring the new grandparents and could barely get the words out. It must have seemed to passersby that I was imparting bad news, not good.
Since then, I find myself choking up during films, books, sad news stories and whenever Wales win at rugby. It can be embarrassing, but I’m powerless to prevent it.
I think that’s a positive sign. Being a parent brings on many changes and we’re healthier people when we’re in touch with our feelings. I won’t let on to any of “the boys on the inside”. 😉
10) What are you planning to write in the near future?
I’m currently working on the final instalment of the Earth Haven trilogy. Provisionally titled The Reckoning, it will bring the series to a definitive end.
I look forward to reading that one also.
11) What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
There’s only way to go from being an aspiring writer to being a writer. You take a blank piece of paper or a blank screen and add words to it, one at a time. Do that regularly and, there you go, you’re now a writer.
That is great advice! Can I quote you on that? That is really profound.
12) Do you write under a pen name?
Yes. I am by nature a shy person, who hates being in the limelight. That’s a bit of a problem in this game where visibility, at least of the books, is key. I decided from the off that, since I am not good at blowing my own trumpet, I needed to use a pen name. I still don’t find that self-promotion comes naturally, but it’s easier to promote Sam Kates than it would be the person behind that name.
Interesting. I am reminded of the old proverb… “He who tootheth not his own horn, often finds his horn goeth without a toot.” Okay, I made that up, but I understand how you feel. I use a pen name too. 😉
Sam Kates writes science fiction and dystopia (the Earth Haven series), horror (The Village of Lost Souls), short stories (Pond Life), and general fiction. He lives with his family in South Wales, U.K.
Website / Blog: http://www.samkates.co.uk/
Sam Kates, Thank you so much for visiting with us. I appreciate your time and try to stay out of trouble. lol
A note from me. I have read several of Mr. Kates books and I have certainly enjoyed his creativity. Horror is not my primary genre, but once in a while, I just love to read a good old dystopian drama or horror story. Mr. Kates excels at his craft. I know you will enjoy his work as much as I do.
Sam, once again, thank you so much for being here and giving folks a chance to know you better.