An Interview With Graeme Cumming @GraemeCumming63

This week’s interviewee is thriller writer, Graeme Cumming. I first met Graeme at a blogging event a few years ago. Here, he tells us about his new book, future writing projects, the importance of attending writing events and connecting with like-minded others and much more.

Q. Your second book, Carrion, is due out on the 9th May and available to pre-order now. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

A. Carrion started life as a bedtime story for my children, with a quest at its heart, and touches of fantasy along the way. Over the years it’s transformed into something much darker. You could still say there’s a quest, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Especially since you’re not sure who’s looking for what – though you do know there’s a rather nasty piece of work in pursuit. Anyone who’s read Ravens Gathering will know I don’t do straight line storytelling, so there are a few surprises along the way. And those surprises aren’t just in the story itself. There are at least a couple of characters in there who aren’t really what you’re expecting.

Would I still read this to small children at bedtime? I think not.

Q. How different is it to your first book, Ravens Gathering?

A. Very. And yet, not at all.

Ravens Gathering was a genre mash-up, with elements of horror and fantasy, alongside police procedural, thriller and probably a few other genres. Carrion also crosses genres, but perhaps not as much. For shorthand, I’d say it’s a fantasy adventure, but really there’s a lot more going on than that. I’d love to tell you more, but I don’t want to spoil the surprises.

As for the similarities, at their hearts they’re both about pretty ordinary people in extraordinary situations. For me, the key was to make them feel real and grounded.

Q. What can we expect from you next?

A. Crime – so that is change, but it’s safe to say it won’t be too predictable. I’ve got two projects in mind. The first is a trilogy – the first draft of book one is written and I’ve already outlined the revisions to it, as well as each of the other books in the series. I described it to an agent last year as The Persuaders meets Jack Reacher. I thought he’d laugh at me, but he didn’t.

The second project is about an ex-undercover cop who works on the borderline between the law and the criminal underworld. I’ve already outlined four novels in that series, and I know there’ll be at least one more.

They’re both calling out to me, so I’m torn as to which to work on first?

Q. Where do you get your ideas from?

A. Ravens Gathering came from a chance remark. When I saw a load of birds congregating on the hard shoulder of the A1, I commented to my passenger: “Did you see those ravens gathering?”, and there was something about the phrase that captured my imagination. Very often, though, it’s simply a case of seeing or hearing something happening in real life and wondering, ‘What would happen if…?’

Q. What’s the hardest thing you find about being a writer?

A. Discipline. Making sure I write something regularly. Ideally, I should be writing every day, and I had a plan to do that. I even sold my business for enough money to allow me to not have to work for five years. And still I find distractions…

Q. You’ve attended a number of writing events – as an attendee and also as a participant. What do you get out of the events and would you recommend them to other writers?

A. It’s a great way of mixing with readers and authors. Who wouldn’t want to spend time with other people with similar interests? The biggest thing I get from it, though, is inspiration. It doesn’t matter whether I’ve been to a writers’ conference, a literary festival or a gathering of book bloggers and authors, I always come away feeling more motivated to get on with my writing. I ought to do it more often to overcome the discipline thing…  So, yes, I’d recommend them.

Q. You belong to a speakers club. Public speaking is so important when it comes to promoting your work, whether you’re going to a writing meet-up/event, giving a talk about your book, or are part of a writing panel. Can you share a few tips with us?

A. Before I joined a speakers club, I’d already done quite a bit of public speaking and I knew I wasn’t bad at it. The problem was, the opportunities to speak didn’t crop up very often. So, when I had to go and give a presentation or talk, I was a bag of nerves in the days running up to it. The speakers club I joined meets once a month, which means that, even if I have no other reason to do it, I’m getting regular practice. So, when I am called on to speak, I’m much more relaxed and usually give a better performance. The big tip, then, is do it as much as you can – and joining a local speakers club is a great way to do that.

Q. Can you tell us about your journey to publication?

A. When I published Ravens Gathering I was approaching my 50th birthday, and already felt I’d wasted a lot of years not writing, so I didn’t want to waste even more seeing if I could get a publishing contract. I also recognised that my multi-genre story was going to be a hard sell to organisations that want to put you into conveniently labelled boxes. Around that time, by chance, I met a publicist for what was then the second biggest publisher in the US. Her advice was to self-publish. If it did well, the big publishers would swoop on it, because they’re watching the Indie market. There were other factors as well, but it was increasingly obvious that this was the way for me to go at that time. And I’m doing the same with Carrion.

Q. Do you get time to read yourself and if you do, what books do you read?

A. I don’t really think you can be an author if you’re not a reader. It’s only by reading I’ve learnt how to create and write stories. Bearing in mind my inclination to mix genres, I read across a good range too, from crime to horror, adventure to thrillers, but also the occasional comedy and even romance (you can learn from all genres).

Q. Finally, what advice can you give to writers who haven’t yet had the break they’re looking for?

A. If by that you mean the break of finding a publisher, that’s tough. There are an awful lot of great writers out there who aren’t getting picked up – and that’s not going to get any easier. With the supermarkets’ dominance in the trade, they want books that are sure-fire winners. And that doesn’t mean great stories. That means big names – either already well-established authors, or celebrities. So, get out there and get your name known – on social media or going to book-related events. And keep making those submissions. But don’t rule out being an Indie. There’s a lot more respect for Indies now than there’s ever been.

www.graemecumming.co.uk

www.facebook.com/Graeme-Cumming-1638108329841072/

www.twitter.com/GraemeCumming63

Where to buy:

Carrion:

For Amazon UK, click here.

For Amazon US, click here.

Ravens Gathering:

For Amazon UK, click here.

For Amazon US, click here.

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13 Responses to An Interview With Graeme Cumming @GraemeCumming63

  1. Ritu says:

    Fantastic interview!

  2. I really enjoyed RAven’s Gathering, Esther, and so did my mother. I have pre-ordered the ebook until the international deliveries reopen and then I can get a hard copy. A super interview with Graeme.

  3. Mary Smith says:

    A great interview with Graeme. Good to learn a bit more about him and his work – our meetings have been very brief 🙂

  4. Pingback: Esther Chilton Interviews Graeme Cumming @GraemeCumming63 | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  5. Great interview with Graham. Wishing him much luck with Carrion. Fabulous cover by the way. 🙂

  6. Great to read something more Corvid than Covid-related for a change. An inspiring interview.

    • So sorry, Martin, just realised your comments have been going into spam! I didn’t mean to ignore you! How are you all? Hope you’re coping with this mad world.

  7. To Graeme and Esther – can I ask a follow-up question about the statement that the big publishers watch the indie market – do you think titles could arouse interest based on self-published sales volumes, or the quality of books available? I guess it’s the former. Thank you.

  8. Exciting! Thrilled for you, Graeme. I need to read both these…I know, and I will. I am intrigued! Great interview, Esther, loved getting to know about your writing history, Graeme, and helpful advice too. You big day is almost here, huge congratulations! 🙂

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