I met Mick Williams at an author meetup just before lockdown. I only managed to have a quick chat so it was great to find out more about him and his books during the interview.
Q. Your latest book, Hope’s Game, came out earlier in the year. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
A. First of all, it’s a little different from what I usually write! If you’ve ever seen the TV show Black Mirror, you’ll know what to expect. It centres around a character named Charlie who has lost everything after suffering a breakdown following the disappearance of his young daughter, Amelia. When he hits rock bottom, he’s offered the chance to take part in a trial for a revolutionary Artificial Intelligence program. Users are able to go ‘Under’ to worlds of their own making. In his world, Charlie meets Hope, a stunning seductress, who helps him to understand how to make his ‘Under’ more vivid and powerful. Of course, nothing goes to plan and it’s not long before Charlie finds himself in a fight for survival. Plus, what happened to Amelia? And what is Hope’s game?
Q. You write stand-alone thrillers. What do you most enjoy about writing in this genre?
A. I thought I did too but, the more I look at my books, they actually span genres, from thrillers to adventures, and from romantic comedy to a splash of sci-fi! Ultimately, I love to put ordinary people into extraordinary situations. I’ve been told that, although my books do move at a fair pace, it’s the characters that make them. They each also have strong female characters and at least a hint of romance. And it’s funny that you mentioned ‘stand-alone’, because I keep having thoughts about my previous characters (not those kind of thoughts!). Exodus, my first award winning novel (it’s great to be able to say that!), is now the first book in what will become a series. It is a thriller, but it’s packed with action and interesting characters. I’m about halfway through the sequel to that. And I’d also love to take Paul and Sabrina from A Guy Walks into a Bar and do something new with them. They became a brilliant and witty team and could be a lot of fun to revisit. And finally, I did write ONE romantic comedy (A Reason to Grieve) …my readers have been crying out for a sequel to that, too! Again, it’s got lots of witty characters and I have about a third of a sequel to that sitting here! So much to do and so little time!!
Q. Have you thought about writing a series? If yes, will you be and what will it entail? If no, why not?
A. Haha…see the above answer. I’ve gone from writing none to at least two. And, again, it’s all about the characters. They’re so much fun to hang out with that I find it hard to let them go. And they’re so fully formed, all I have to do is find interesting things to do with them. The only thing stopping me is time. And procrastination. Lots of procrastination.
Q. What are you currently working on?
A. Too much! The first draft for the sequel to Exodus is about half done. About a third of the first draft for the Reason to Grieve sequel is done. Oh, and I started to write another stand-alone thriller (because, you know, why write two books when you can write three!) that’s darker than my previous books. This one is about a retail store worker who decides that he’s had enough abuse from the public. You really shouldn’t tell a stranger where to deliver your new sofa, and then abuse him…that’s just asking for trouble. And a visit. And then, not knowing that he’s developed a liking for a little ‘retribution’, you really shouldn’t mess with his friends. It’s going to get nasty. Through all of this, my publisher has suggested that I concentrate on one book at a time, so I’m giving the Exodus sequel my undivided attention at the moment.
Q. Where do you get your ideas from?
A. Everywhere! They’re all around us. Exodus came from a holiday in Jamaica and a visit to Bob Marley’s estate. A Guy Walks into a Bar came from people watching at a bar in Kentucky and an article I read in Wired magazine. Whatever it Takes came from talking to people I knew that deer-hunted (also in Kentucky). A Reason to Grieve came from an old co-worker who’d get to work early to trawl through the obituaries to see if he knew anyone that had died recently. Callie’s Eyes was a blessing – I dreamed the basic plot (and even her full name) and woke up enough to write it down. That was a lot of fun to write. And Hope’s Game is based on a screenplay by a very good friend of mine, Craig Ostrouchow. His film version of that is on hold due to the pandemic, but what I’ve seen so far looks spectacular.
Q. Your last two book covers, in particular, instantly catch the eye and really stand out. How do you get your ideas for your covers?
A. I’ll confess that I leave that to the professionals. I had a large hand in the cover for Whatever it Takes and, although I like it, it’s possibly the weakest of the covers for my books. Lesson learned! At first, I didn’t like the font on the Exodus cover, but now I think it’s perfect. I almost asked for it to be changed and it would have been a huge mistake. So, like I said, leave the pictures to the experts. I’ll concentrate on the words.
Q. What’s the hardest thing you find about being a writer?
A. Sitting down and doing it. As well as writing, I currently work full-time from home. Once Covid-19 kicked in I figured I’d have more time than ever to write, but it seems the opposite has happened. My writing space has turned into my workspace and, for whatever reason, it’s had a huge and negative impact on my writing. I’m trying to get back into the habit of writing at certain times of the day because if I don’t make the time, I’ll never find it!
I also struggle with patience. I’ve only written one book ‘by the seat of my pants’ and, as exciting as it was, I ended up making loads of time-consuming changes to the draft. I normally outline my books, then get halfway through the outline and jump in! Again, it’s something I need to work on. Having said that, the last few seem to have worked out okay, so maybe not.
Q. Can you tell us about your journey to publication?
A. I’ve been fortunate beyond words. I lived in Kentucky for almost ten years, where they have an excellent convention called Imaginarium. There’s nothing better for meeting people, learning about how writing works, and getting inspiration than something like that. I’ve written for as long as I can remember but have never had the push to let anyone else see it! I left the first Imaginarium with a new mindset and wrote my first two books. Once I’d completed A Guy Walks into a Bar, I printed off two manuscripts and gave them as a ‘thank you’ to two great people I met there. Later that year, I asked one of them, Tony Acree, for advice on self-publishing and he suggested we meet for lunch (as you do in America). Little did I know, Tony had taken over Hydra Publications and I left our lunch meeting with a smile, a full tummy and a publishing contract! Four of my books have now been published through Hydra. I’ve also self-published two of my own; not through any fault of Hydra, but because it’s a completely different journey and very fulfilling. I’ll probably continue to mix it up a little.
Q. Do you get time to read yourself and if you do, what books do you read?
A. I love to read. It’s writer’s homework! I grew up reading Stephen King, Dean Koontz and James Herbert, and then seemed to get worn out on horror and moved onto Stuart Woods, James Sandford and Lee Child. Recently, I’ve really enjoyed Blake Crouch’s books recently, along with some published friends of mine like Mel Sherratt, John Pye, JF Burgess and Chantelle Atkins. Right now, I’ve dipped my toes back into the horror pool and I’m reading Ravens Gathering by some fella named Graeme Cumming.
Q. Finally, what advice can you give to writers who haven’t yet had the break they’re looking for?
A. I’m still looking for that same break, but I’d say keep writing. I think it’s important to write at least something every day. That’s the thing I’m having to work hard at more than ever. Marketing is also vital and something I’m useless at. And read. Read lots. See how the experts make you laugh and cry and then, don’t steal from them, but adapt your own writing to incorporate their techniques.
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All of my books are available from my website www.mickwilliamsauthor.com, or from the following Amazon links…