Welcome, one and all, to my second author interview of 2017. Hot on the heels of my review for G.D. Sammon’s Wolf Boy, I had the chance to interview Mr Sammon himself regarding this and other works of his.
Gerry, welcome to the site. Your children’s novel Wolf Boy is due for release on 23rd February 2016. How would you describe the book to those that don’t know about it?
It’s a pre-teen fantasy adventure set in the real world and in a separate universe where wolves were the dominant species – they speak and are intelligent. The story revolves around Connor Meredith, his friend Evelyn and the school bully, Billy Lennox. Connor suffered a serious trauma when his father, a part-time soldier and geneticist, died in mysterious circumstances attempting to introduce wolves into the wilds of Scotland. Connor suddenly went blind, but by some powerful skill of insight, Connor was able to see with his mind. It was a power no-one was aware of, not even his mother, or the numerous doctors he was referred to. Connor had sleepless nights watching endless battles by creatures under his bed at night, and the wild yellow eyes of a wolf that emerged from his wardrobe every evening. One night, Connor walked towards the wolf and embarked on a fantastic journey with his friends into the realm of Lupusopolis, the city of the wolves, who were in a constant battle with hideous creatures of the forest, under the command of an evil human man.
When I first read the blurb, I thought that the story sounded like an interesting one. Could you take us through the process of how you wrote the novel? For example, where did the idea for the story come from? Did you have the main details in mind from the get-go, or did you simply have an idea as to where you wanted to go and just let things flow?
It’s a theme that is familiar in my family. Both my daughters used to have nightmares that a wolf lived in their wardrobes when they were small children. I can’t explain why. I believe my elder brother had the same dream many years before that. It was merely something that I was aware of, as a dream that occurred to at least three people in my immediate family, and I decided to develop it from that point. It is my debut children’s novel. Other work has been action adventure stories for adults. But I enjoyed writing this immensely.
One thing that stood out for me when reading the book was that the main protagonist, Connor, had a real feel of authenticity as a character. Was he based on a real person, or were there any particular influences that contributed to the way that you write him?
Connor is a completely made-up character. He is vulnerable, with a physical disability that he has managed to overcome with a certain power of the mind. Connor is also a symbolic character. The name Connor means ‘lover of wolves’, and his surname, Meredith, means ‘great lord’. It sort of fits with the whole fantasy theme. His character is strengthened by the reverence the wolves have for him. They defer to him and force Connor to make hard, strategic decision. Evelyn becomes skilled in medicine, and uses her father’s knowledge of herbal remedies to help the wolves, and Billy the bully becomes a reformed character. His skill at fighting comes in useful, especially when facing the evil human leading the forest creatures.
Wolf Boy is being published by Black Rose Writing, who are based in Texas. How did you end up signing with BRW, and was there anything that set them apart from other publishing houses for you?
Black Rose Writing have quite a large portfolio of children’s publications and they were good enough to accept Wolf Boy when I submitted it to them for consideration. The fact that they are based in Texas, and me in the UK doesn’t really matter, because the internet and eBooks have no geographical limits, and the hard copy paperback versions of the book will be available on demand.
I know from working with BRW myself that they give authors plenty of space to breathe when it comes to cover design. I must say as well that I thought that the cover for Wolf Boy really grabs the attention well and gives a good indication of the tone of the book. Was the that something that you came up with and gave to them to actualise, or was that something created entirely by the BRW team?
The cover was created by the BRW design team as a result of reading the manuscript. I am extremely happy with the cover design because it is the type of design I had imagined in the first place. The manuscript itself went through a couple of revisions after BRW looked at it. They obviously know their trade, and the book is much better for that.
I understand that you previously published a political thriller titled The Royle Deception. That’s obviously quite a change in pace to your latest release. Did you learn anything from that experience that you were able to apply when working on Wolf Boy?
Wolf Boy is a complete change from The Royle Deception. In writing Wolf Boy I used my knowledge of my children’s schools and the books they read at the same age. I am a journalist by profession, and I teach in university, and I was able to change my style to write the children’s book. It does tend to hit the limits of the pre-teen or early teen audience it is aimed at, but I don’t think that is a bad thing. There isn’t a UK TV ‘watershed’ with the written word, but I guess I try to sail close to the edge with some of my storylines.
The Royle Deception is not currently available for purchase, because you recently sold the rights to Endeavour Press. How did that partnership come about, and is there anything you’d like to say regarding the novel?
Yes, Endeavour Press have taken up The Royle Deception. I don’t have a publication date yet, but I expect it to be sometime in early 2018. The book had previously been self-published on Amazon, and had done okay sales-wise. Endeavour gave me some editorial guidance and I made certain revisions, including introducing a brand new chapter. To be honest, it was my first attempt at a published book and was a bit of an experiment really. I’m very happy the way it worked out.
The Royle Deception is based on true stories, but it is a complete work of fiction. It spans years between the Second World War, when Japan invaded Malaya, and one man’s mission as part of a British special force. That one man, Thomas Royle, went on to battle the so-called Emergency on Malaya after the war and advised US forces in the early days of the Vietnam War. During these days of action he encountered Mao Tse Tung in China and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. Later, in quieter days as an academic, he is recalled to bring home a double agent he had recruited years earlier, and it takes him back to war-torn Vietnam.
Are you currently planning or working on any future novels?
I have a sci-fi novel in mind. I wrote the outline may years ago, before I got too busy with my career to do anything much about it. But it is something I am keen to pursue. I am also starting work on a sequel to The Royle Deception, with a working title of ‘Bodyguard of Lies’. And if Wolf Boy is a success, there is plenty of scope for a sequel there too.
I am of the view that there’s always more to learn, especially when it comes to creative ventures. That being the case, is there any advice that you’d give to upcoming authors trying to get a footing in the industry?
Well, I’m a relative novice myself, and I wouldn’t be so conceited to give advice to people who are probably more savvy than I. All I would say is, keep faith with your ideas, take advice from those who know how these things work, and stick to your guns.
Moving away from your most recent work for a moment, what was it that inspired you to start writing and when did you realise that you wanted to try to get books out there for others to read?
For some reason writing has always been part of my DNA. There is no-one else in my family interested in creative writing, although by elder brother (he who first dreamt about wolves in the wardrobe) has written a number of academic tomes, because he is very clever. I began writing my own stuff after leaving school. I would take myself off to the local park or even on the town hall steps when the weather was fine, to let the creative juices flow. Truth to say much of that work was pretty rubbish, but it started an itch that I had to eventually scratch.
Outside the literary world, what else do you like to do during your down time?
Apart from socialising with friends, family and colleagues, I read a lot, and I like to walk in the Lake District and on the moors near where I live.
What would you say is your favourite book, film, song and TV show?
I am a massive fan of the sci-fi works of the recently late Iain M Banks. He is the thinking man’s Douglas Adams, with thoughts and ideas that leave the reader gasping.
I’m a sucker for the Tolkien films (and books), but I also love the Bourne series. I think one of my favourite films is Contact, based on the book by Carl Sagan
Jazz and the blues send me into a different world, and I just can’t get enough of early Led Zepp and of course the music of Eric Clapton.
I don’t have a favourite TV show, although Sherlock would be right up there if I did have one. Otherwise, I watch a lot of news programmes and documentaries
Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to potential new readers, or are there any websites or social media accounts that you’d like to plug?
I have found that it’s important to read new stuff. Readers should try other authors, and these days, with eBooks being sold cheaply, and even freely, it has never been easier to try different writers. If they don’t like them, then that’s ok. If they find they do like them, then that would be an exciting discovery for those readers.
I like to keep a blog on WordPress, and I have an author page on Facebook, to keep anyone who is interested informed about what I am up to. For anyone interested:
My WordPress link is: https://gerrysammon.wordpress.com/
My Facebook link is: https://www.facebook.com/GerrySammon.author/