Welcome, dear readers, to this month’s Q&A! Today, we’ll be chatting with Farrell Keeling, a Belgian-born English indie author of a spectacular fantasy series, The Phoenix Saga! Keep reading see his quirky answers, author bio, and books!
1. When did you start writing seriously? What inspired you to start writing?
I’d written on and off until about the age of 18 when I came across one of my older short stories and thought that perhaps I could make something more of it. As it turned out, that short story morphed into the beginnings of my first book, but it wasn’t really until two years later that I started to take the whole process a lot more seriously. I think it’s fair to say I’m slightly quicker with my writing nowadays!
In terms of what inspired me, I’d have to say – as I’m sure other writers will – books. I’ve always loved a good story and, ultimately, they are our greatest teachers!
2. What are some challenges you have faced through the writing/publishing experience?
Writing a convincing character, with a distinct personality and motives, is particularly challenging, regardless of how long you’ve been writing for, I think. At the end of the day, you can write beautiful, flowing prose, but if people don’t believe in your characters then the whole thing just falls flat. Don’t get me wrong – you need a great story too, but it’s always going to be the characters that drive it along.
I self-published my books on Amazon, so I’m fairly familiar with the process by now and I’ve been particularly fortunate to have worked with some supremely talented people for the book cover designs. The one stumbling block, as always, however, has been marketing and promotion. Having too much control over the whole process can be a burden just as much as a blessing!
Having that initial confidence to just get the word out about the books on social media and to friends was also tough, but I’m a bit more assured about it now. Marketing, I’m afraid, is something I’ve still yet to get to grips with.
3. Who is the one author (living or dead) you would love to co-write a book with, and why?
Robert Jordan. No question about it. His Wheel of Time series is an impeccable feat as epic fantasy goes and I feel I could have learnt so much from him.
I think my ultimate ambition as a writer is to produce an epic fantasy, as broad and well fleshed out as the Wheel of Time. Oh, and manage to write a 98,000-word book in 13 days – Robert Jordan for you, ladies and gentlemen.
4. Out of all the characters you have created, who is your favorite?
As much as I love Death, it’s a toss-up between Thorne and Samir.
Thorne was my first main character and so I think I’ll always have an attachment to him because of that.
Otherwise, if I’m honest, Samir is probably my favourite creation. He has some of the best qualities of humanity – he’s kind, a massive bookworm, a good friend and a real gentle soul.
5. How do you come up with story ideas?
I keep a lot of notebooks! Ideas can hit you at any time of the day, so it helps to have a notebook close-by to jot a random thoughts down before it disappears into the ether. If you don’t have a lot of time for writing, it helps to make use of those gaps in the day during train journeys, lunch breaks, that kind of thing.
Again, however, the value of books cannot be understated. As a writer, you’re a product of all you’ve read.
6. Do you listen to music when writing? If so, do you have a specific genre/artist?
I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to mixing music with writing. Mostly, I like to just shut myself in my room and write in complete silence, other times I’ll throw caution to the wind and whack on some Radiohead or electronic music – something that’s not too distracting. Some of the electronic study playlists on Spotify can be quite helpful in that regard.
7. If you were a character in a book, how would you be described?
I reckon I’d be that kind of character who means well but ends up inadvertently causing some kind of cataclysm/end-of-the-world event that I then end up having to somehow solve – hopefully with help of some kind. But that sounds like a fun story to me!
8. What can you tell us about your next writing project?
Well, I haven’t actually told anyone yet, but I’ve had a recent change of mind in terms of my next writing project. I was initially taking a break from the Phoenix Saga to start work on a separate project but, to be completely honest, I miss the Phoenix Saga terribly and I feel it’s probably better if I finish one series before moving on to another!
So basically, my next/current writing project is the third book of the Phoenix Saga.
9. Do you have any advice for other writers wishing to self-publish?
Personally, I learn best by doing, but it might help for others to have a look at Amazon’s self-publishing services and get to grips with the whole process beforehand.
Secondly, a great cover can take you a long way. I highly recommend the designers on 99 Designs for that purpose, but there are other sites you can pursue.
If you have any marketing experience on top of that, you’ll be in good stead.
Thank you, Farrell, for answering these questions! And thank you for your wit and humour! For anyone who would like to learn more about Farrell Keeling’s books, you can visit here.
About the Author:
Between his reading, and shouting and gesticulating wildly at the television whenever his beloved Liverpool play, you’ll probably find him spending some of his free time dreaming up faraway lands and ridiculous plot lines. And, of course, enjoying the odd beverage…. or three.