I am very excited about this interview as it is my first one with joint Authors. Indie writers David Ayres and Darren Jacobs have been best friends since they were children. ‘Lazarball’ is their first novel and the first installment in the Anumal Empire series.
‘After merging human and animal DNA together, the Anumal race turned against their creators and wiped them out…’
Lazarball has been awarded a ‘TOP CHOICE’ Award for excellence from flamingnet.com
Today the charming pair joined me over on the ‘Lets Meet’ segment to talk about writing as a duo, how their story came about and much much more.
“Fantastic - I highly recommend this entertaining and imaginative book!!”
5 star Amazon Review
“Descriptive style that makes you use your imagination...”
5 star Amazon Review
“It’s up there with the likes of the Twilight series, the Hunger Games, Enders Game etc... for its inventiveness and characterisation.”
5 star Amazon Review
MW: What is your genre? Why did you choose it?
Darren We did not choose a genre. We had a great idea for a story and decided to write it, and then found it hard to place the story within any one genre. Now we would class it as dark YA fantasy…with dystopian elements…
Dave I suppose due to the nature of the story in Anumal Empire, it was always going to naturally fall into the Sci Fi / Fantasy genres. I could hardly see it being a historical romance, although that would be interesting
MW: Have you published any of your work for free? Why or why not?
Darren No, we haven’t published anything for free. We will probably be doing this in the future with special offers etc, but not yet. We give all reviewers a free ecopy of the book, as we don’t think they should have to pay…which then, of course, runs the risk of them hating it for free.
Dave I am a firm believer that reviewers are going to invest a lot of time into analyzing and reviewing your book, so it is only fair they receive it for free. As Darren said, we will certainly be giving the book away for free in the future, especially when book two of the Anumal Empire saga is ready to be released.
MW: Tell us about your path to becoming an author. Did you have any idea at the start what the process really entails?
Darren No, absolutely not. We only knew we had a story that we wanted to tell it, and we concentrated hard on that first. Along the way we studied and learned more about the realities of creating a great manuscript, and then we tackled the harder process of getting it published…Now, of course, we have the even harder task of getting the public to become aware of its existence.
Dave It was certainly a trial and error kind of process, but one that we have learnt an enormous amount from over the years. At first, I thought it was just a case of sitting down and writing. And then reality kicks in, and you discover that it isn’t that easy after all. I really knew I had to learn the craft first, before I could ever think of producing a good piece of fiction. Subsequently I now have an Honors Degree in English Language and Literature. Learning the craft is one thing, but learning the industry and the pitfalls it presents is another. I suppose this is the part of the process that everybody continues to learn from.
MW: How long did it take for your first book to go from an idea to a published work?
Darren Almost ten years! But for many years the manuscript was merely sat in a drawer gathering dust. We almost were signed by some of the biggest literary agents within the UK, but when it came down the crunch they would back out because the book was ‘not following in current buying trend’: it was not a genre that was popular at that moment. They all said that the story was great, and original, and well written, but it was not about young magicians, or young spies etc. and therefore was too risky.
Dave Ten years seems a very long time, but, as mentioned above, it did give us both time to learn the ropes, so to speak. I believe that it is a testament to the story, that we were able to take it from the drawer, and still find it fresh and exciting enough to continue working with. It has always been a project we both swore we would never give up on
MW: You both wrote the Anumal Empire series. How was it working together?
Darren It is/was great. We have known each other since we were young boys and so we know each other inside out. Of course we have differing opinions on matters, but I’ve found from that we have usually gotten the best material. If there is a problem we will both discuss it until we discover the best idea that works for us both, meaning that the idea is much more complex as a result, and a lot richer. We have never had to compromise, usually if one of us thinks something is great then we go with it until we decide otherwise. I think it’s all about respect. When you work as a team you must respect the other person’s idea whether you think they are right or not. Leave the egos out of the work room.
Dave Definitely. I believe we both respect each other a lot, and we are always receptive to each other’s ideas. I believe a lot of the time it comes down to how we approach the story. We throw everything down on the page at first, and then start to chip away at it, creating something that is rich and engaging. The book went through many drafts, and numerous rewrites, but everything contained in the book has been placed there for a reason, either to prompt responses, raise questions, or to include in future books. We both have a clear view of where the Anumal Empire saga is going to go, and how it will finish, so none of our choices are made half baked.
MW: Have you done a blog tour? If so, how did it go? Would you do another one?
Darren No, but I was only looking at them the other day. Would LOVE to do one, but not really sure who would want to listen to my humble opinion…
Dave I need to start my blog up first (which I have been meaning to do for a few months now, but things always get in the way.) I would definitely do a blog tour though.
MW: Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
Darren We have a few projects that we worked on, but we have such bad luck. As soon as we really get into it another book in a similar vein will be released. It has happened twice to us now. I mean scarily similar ideas too. As a result we just put the project on ice and think how we can add a twist on it. We have a great project that I think is fantastic, but at the moment we are going to push on with Anumal Empire.
Dave I don’t so much as work on manuscripts, but I have an ideas book filled with ideas for other books / stage plays / television scripts. As Darren said, we did embark on a few new projects, but we were beaten to the post by other authors. However this isn’t to say that they are dead in the water. With imagination and a clever twist, our own ideas can always be changed and re-imagined into something new and fresh.
MW: What is the best comment/compliment you have received about your work?
Darren We have had so many that I am truly humbled. But I have to say that the best was from a reviewer who was being interviewed and said it was in her top five books of all time, along with The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Games of Thrones, and Anna Karenina. My eyes nearly popped out of my head.
Dave I have to agree with Darren. To be placed on a top five list with the likes of Game of Thrones is very exciting. I like comments that also come from the heart. I have often said that I love what is called “Marmite Writing” writing that really prompts a love or hate response. After all, you can never be everybody’s cup of tea. When we receive a strong reaction, it is then, that we know that we have really touched someone in a way for them to react so strongly. To receive a compliment / comment of “it’s nice / ok!” annoys me, as it feels like we have not done our job properly.
MW: If the movie rights to your novels are purchased, how involved would you want to be in the process of bringing those stories to life on the screen?
Darren Very involved. As an actor I am very aware that the current trend for many films is to have a director who is more of a director of photography than a leader who knows how to work with actors. It’s all very nice and lovely to watch a film that looks beautiful, but people aren’t going there to watch a set of photos. They want to see acting and a story, and a director needs to get the actors to tell the great story; they actually need to direct the actors. My favorite movies are from the 70’s and 80’s where films were not dependent on CGI and visual tricks. It was about acting, and the mood, and the suspense, and the music, and how the director pulled all these elements together. I wish that more directors would go back and look at the movies then. It was much scarier seeing all those rubber monsters because the director knew he had to make the story so much more believable.
Dave I would also want to be very involved in bringing it to life on the screen. I know that there will always be an element of lost vision from your own head to the page, and then from the page to the screen, but I would hate to see a hacked up and remolded version of a saga we have worked so long to create.
MW: How many books have you published? Are they traditionally published, indie published, or a combination?
Darren This is our first book and it is indie published. We decided to stay away from agents until we have a bigger following. I know many would be gasping at this, as they are desperate to be with the agent of their dreams. But David and I aren’t. We’ve been burnt by agents etc, and we are very wary of them.
Dave I believe it is the way the industry is going. More and more authors will indie publish as a way of proving the worth of their book. If it shows that it can attract readers and garner good reviews, then I believe literary agents and publishers will take them more seriously when the manuscripts land on their desk… hopefully.
MW: How much time do you spend on Twitter each week? What about Facebook and other social media?
Darren More and more. It was something we only just learned about. And it is such a mighty tool. But it’s also very annoying. Sometimes I get wound up at the blatant manipulation of FB and twitter. It’s so obvious that people are only there trying to sell. Dave and I are trying to actually have a laugh and not make twitter just about getting ‘punters’ to buy our book. Of course we are going to recommend it (we’d be stupid not to) but it’s so tiresome getting the continuous twitters from the same people who don’t have a clue who you are, but are busy telling you to buy their book. Boring. No thanks. Unfollow.
Dave It begins to take over a lot of the time. As many know, part of being an Indie Author is self-promotion, and this takes the form of social networking most of the time. But as Darren said, we tend not to have a twitter account that is all “book, book, book, sell, sell sell!” Rather, I try to be funny (don’t know if it is working yet lol) or at least give followers something of interest to read. I have yet to start my own site, but that is in the pipeline.
MW: Are you the type of person that constantly carries around a notepad to jot down ideas or are you more in the technical age and use a dictaphone or other sound recording devices?
Darren No. I know that it is not very ‘artistic’ of me, but I personally don’t need to carry a book around with me so that if I witness something inspirational I can write about it there and then. I just like to use my imagination, and if inspiration hits and I think of a great plot or book idea, I just remember it and then write it down later. I tend to use my memory or imagination as a stimulus.
Maybe when I am a full time writer and get paid to write, then I might allow myself to embrace all the clichés of being a ‘real’ writer and happily wear earthy colours with clashing patterns as I sip my latte (in the darkened corner of the homely looking coffee shop) while I run my hands though my dishevelled hair in ecstasy over my latest artistic creation. Until then I’ll just stick to using my imagination.
Dave This is where we differ lol. I have a notepad in the car for jotting ideas down (not when I’m driving of course) and I have one next to my bed. These are the times when ideas start to bombard me most. My iPhone note pad is also full of hastily typed sentences or ideas. If I don’t get it down, then I will forget it. Although I don’t wear earthy colours…or sip lattes…or go into coffee shops for that matter, as I hate coffee lol. I just have a memory like a sieve, that’s all.
Thanks guys for a great and thoroughly entertaining interview!
For more on the Anumal Empire series please visit www.anumalempire.com
Follow Dave on Twitter: @DavidAyres01
Contact Darren via his website www.darrenjacobs.com/