|Riley Banks - Author|
- Where do you get your ideas?They come to me in all sorts of places. Take The William S Club, for instance. I got the idea for that sitting in a Chinese take away restaurant waiting for my order. I started reading something about the dramatic rise in property prices over the years and my brain started imagining what it would have been like to have bought back before the boom. I started jotting down notes and the book was born. Another book I have on the backburner at the moment, The Pact, came to me when my mother was admitted to hospital with pancreatitis. I did a bit of research and discovered that the ailment usually affects chronic drinkers and drug addicts yet my mother is a complete tea-totaller. From there, I came up with the idea to write about a woman who has survived some of the worst tragedies a family could face and who has watched her daughter ruin her life with drugs and alcohol. She makes a pact with God to take her daughter’s addictions upon herself and as the daughter gradually gets better, the mother grows sicker. It is a story of redemption and love, and how far a parent will go to protect their child. So in answer to the original question, the ideas come from tiny sparks, which I allow to germinate and become fully fledged ideas and plot lines. Often times, if an idea comes to me, I will sit down and write the first couple of chapters based on that idea. I then leave it and go back to whatever it was I was already working on, knowing that those chapters are there, ready for me to work on when I get the chance.
2. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
A bit of both. I generally have a loose outline of where I want to go with a story but I try not to get too bogged down in sticking to the plan. I think if you lock yourself too rigidly into an outline, your story is in danger of becoming plot driven rather than character driven. And sometimes, it is the characters themselves which take us on the most exciting journey.
3. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel, or getting it published, that you would change?
If I didn’t hate writing synopses so much, I probably would have made an attempt to get a trade publisher. In this instance, I didn’t even try. Just made the decision to Indie publish it and get on with the job of writing the next book.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could just hand our books over to a publicist and say, ‘Make me famous’? One day I hope that will happen but in the meantime, I utilize as many marketing tactics as I can. It does help that one of my day jobs is in marketing, so I know the mechanics of writing media releases. Having worked as a journalist in the past, I’m also quite comfortable approaching the media. One thing people often forget to do is harness their existing network. I’ve lived in four countries and have friends all over the world so one of the first things I did was send out an email to them all letting them know I’d published a book. I gave them the link and asked if they wouldn’t mind spreading the word to any of their friends who might be interested. That simple technique generated a number of sales that might otherwise have been missed and introduced me to new readers I would not have been able to directly market to.
Another forum I use quite heavily is social media. One of the mistakes I think a lot of people make is to only use social media to promote their work. They send out dozens of tweets and posts each day, plugging their books and their websites and their interviews and their ads… ad nauseum. They never interact on a social level with their follows, forgetting the key word is social media. People expect you to interact with them, not just bombard them with advertising material. I take the time to introduce myself to new followers. Sometimes it takes a week or two to get back to everyone, and it does take up time, but by engaging them in conversation, people are far more likely to remember you and take notice of what you have to say.
I’ve got a couple of other marketing ideas up my sleeve but I’ll let you know how successful they are once I put them into action.
5. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
The William S Club straddles a couple of genres. It is a chick lit novel with elements of drama, suspense, erotica, and action but it ultimately a romance.
6. What project are you working on now?
I’m wearing two writer hats at the moment. As R.A. Byfield, I am putting the finishing touches to book one of The Vampire Origins. As Riley Banks, I am writing The Expat Wives series about a group of pampered women living in Dubai. Having been the ‘expat wife’ I am really excited about this project and have plenty of colorful characters – some based on real life people – to explore.
7. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Keep plugging away. Every single author out there started out just like you – a beginner. And everyone of them had their fair share of rejections, knock backs and critics. Read up as much as you can on the craft of writing and read other authors to see what works and what doesn’t – but please, don’t jump on bandwagons. Forge your own path and be original. Most of all, develop a tough skin. While I haven’t had negative comments yet, I am sure they will come. The buying public can be quite cruel when they don’t like something. Act like a duck and let the negativity run off your back. My mother had a great saying – chew the fat and spit out the bones. In other words, if there is a lesson to be learned in negative feedback, take that lesson and then get rid of the rest. Don’t let it upset you.
8. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve got three completed manuscripts done in addition to The William S Club. I’m leaving two of them to mature while working on The Vampire Origins. (Like a fine wine or cheese, I believe all books need some time to sit and mature – even just a couple of months greatly improves them because on the next read through, you see things you missed the first ten times of reading through it). My favourite, so far, is Vampire Origins because it is the one book I share with my family. They helped me plot out storylines and work on characters. In fact, we had some great ‘family meetings’ sitting around discussing the book series and where it could go. While I love my Riley Banks books, I can only really share it with my eldest daughter, as the other two are too young for the adult themes.
9. Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
I think one of the overriding themes of The William S Club is that bad things happen in life. It is up to the individual whether they choose to get on with life or become a perpetual victim.
Having lived overseas, I have seen people overcome the most terrible tribulations. Met people that have watched their entire families raped and murdered in front of them. Yet despite having survived such a horrendous ordeal, they are still positive about life and genuinely happy to be alive. Many of them are trying desperately to make something better of their live, studying hard to honor their dead family members. Western society has a terrible habit of looking inwards. We’ve become a generation of ‘belly button gazers’, trying to find ourselves, to seek self-fulfillment and self-enjoyment. We are a society of victims looking to lay blame for our actions on other people.
Bad things happen to Charlotte but she chooses to get on with life, to find the positives rather than focus on the negative. Hopefully more people are inspired by her to do the same.
10. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I have a real problem writing synopses. No problem with writing the book but condensing it all down to a couple of pages is torture. For that reason alone, I chose to self-publish so I didn’t have to go through that torment. One day I’ll face that fear and see if an agent or publisher is interested in picking up my work. Otherwise, I’ll keep slogging on being an independent author.
11. Do you have any pets that keep you company when you write?
Ah, yes. We have three very spoiled pets that we shipped back from Saudi Arabia with us. Two golden cocker spaniel dogs who sit at my feet while I write and a street cat we rescued in Riyadh who often tries to lay across my keyboard. In fact, Bear, the cat, has already ‘forced’ his way into Vampire Origins as a character.
12. Do you have a favorite quote?
The quote I live my life by is ‘Do what you enjoy and it is less like work and more like fun’. No idea who wrote it or if I just made it up myself but it is definitely my motto in life.
13. Where can people buy your books?
The William S Club is available as both a paperback and ebook through Amazon, Smashwords, Sony, Diesel, Apple, Barnes and Noble and a number of other retailers. For more details, go to www.rileybanks.net Happy to do discounts for book clubs or other bulk purchases.
Thanks so much, Riley! It's been an absolute pleasure getting to know a little about you as an author.
For all you readers who wish to learn more, or read about The William S Club, you can get in touch with Ms. Banks in a number of ways. See below:
Riley Banks (Author of The William S Club)
AKA Rebecca Byfield (Freelance Journalist and Author of The Vampire Origins)
AKA Rebecca Byfield (Freelance Journalist and Author of The Vampire Origins)
Thanks for stopping by. Don't forget to leave a comment.