You've heard the old phrase, "No shoes, no shirt, no service?"
We all have, I'm sure.
But what if lacking one little thing could make all the difference?
How bout a new slogan?
No name, No problem.
Anonymity can be a powerful tool when you begin writing. We all use it whenever we put pen to page. Before our work is discovered, we are all unknown authors. Take Beowulf for example, at only 3182 lines, the book of a hero is still analyzed, studied and translated to this day.
No name, No problem.
In the book Go ask Alice, more than 25 years in print, the point of view is in diary form from a girl who is just discovering drugs as her life takes a turn for the worst. Whether the diary is a true account or fiction is still debated to this day. It has sold over a million copies since its first publication in 1972, and has not dated at all. Necessary reading for all teenagers and their parents.
There are others. Such works as the Post Secret books and Sweeney Todd or The String of Pearls to name two more.
Today, we have a chat with another Anonymous (who I call Anon for short) author I have kept in contact with for a few years now. I saw him on myspace when he first published with Lulu press and picked up a copy of his book. I took that thing everywhere, sometimes reading it in the passenger seat of my dad's work truck while we were waiting for the rain to die down. I'd tear through that thing six chapters at a time. We've exchanged messages back and forth and when the opportunity to question him popped up, I couldn't pass it up.
Without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to Anon.
What is your earliest memory of writing?
I remember when I was six years old I wrote a short story at school. It was about a man who had a tomato for a head. My teacher liked it and read it out to the class. I was so pleased that I started writing stories every week, even when I was supposed to be doing something else.
How does it feel having a growing number of fans?
I’m getting used to it. Lots of people email me through sites like Myspace and I’ve made some really good friends through it. One of the most pleasing things about it is that a lot of people say I’ve inspired them to try and write their own novel.
When did you decide to be a writer?
As I was approaching thirty I was stuck in a job I didn’t like and I kept asking myself "How did I get here?" I realized that I was in a job I disliked because of all the choices I’d made. I’d always wanted to be a writer but I hadn’t done anything about it. Once I accepted the fact it was my own fault that I wasn’t where I wanted to be, I started writing and I haven’t looked back.
Do you get writer's block? How do you combat it?
I haven’t ever suffered too badly with writer’s block. If I’m stuck and not sure where to go with a story, I just start writing nonsense and see where it takes me. Usually this is where most of my best ideas come from. I’m very lucky because things just tend to fall into place when I write myself into a corner. If what I write is rubbish, I can always go back and delete it.
Music is always a big help too. I listen to all kinds of different music when I go running and it seems to make ideas pop into my head. The ones that I remember often go on the page later that day.
Do you write longhand, typewriter or computer?
I wrote my first novel longhand, but by the time I’d finished it, I’d vowed never to do it that way again. Both The Book With No Name and The Eye of the Moon were typed up straight on to the computer, but I did then rewrite both of them seven or eight times.
Tell us about The Book with No Name and how you decided to self publish at first.
When I was writing I kept on reminding myself that I was writing it for me, not anyone else. I knew that by incorporating so many different genres into the story I would harm my chances of getting a publishing deal. But I kept reminding myself that the story was for me, not to impress anyone else. With that in mind I was pretty sure I would end up self-publishing. I approached a few agents and publishers with the manuscript and as I expected they politely declined it.
I was quite sure that self-publishing meant I would struggle to sell many copies because the book would be competing against traditionally published books that sell for half the price. So I knew I would need a really good marketing plan. That’s when I came up with the idea to call it The Book With No Name by Anonymous. I completely rewrote the novel and added in the storyline about the mysterious untitled book that was causing the death of everyone who read it. When I was done I had a much better story and a gimmick that I hoped would attract interest from the book buying public. I was able to generate interest because no one knew who the author was, and because people were intrigued about why the book was claiming to cause the death of everyone who read it.
What was your inspiration for writing it?
Anyone who has read the book will know that I’m a fan of films. I wanted to write a story in which I could take a lot of my favourite scenes from films and put my own interpretation on them. Many of the chapters are similar to scenes from films and TV shows I’ve seen. Some are instantly recognizable, others have been changed quite significantly. The reason The Book With No Name crossed so many genres is because I was inspired by such a wide range of films. Most people say the book reminds them of From Dusk Till Dawn, but the films that most inspired the book are less obvious ones like Heat, LA Confidential, About Last Night, Payback, Seven, Kingpin and True Romance.
What are you working on now?
I have just finished writing a new novel. It will either be called The Devil’s Graveyard or The Hex Factor. It’s the usual mish mash of genres – bounty hunters, serial killers, the undead and a talent show featuring dead rock stars. I threw Sanchez, the Bourbon Kid, Elvis and the Mystic Lady into the mix and it came out as a very unusual story.
There is a teaser trailer for it on youtube - The Devil's Graveyard
I’m also working on a couple of other projects. One is a desert island murder mystery. The other is another Bourbon Kid adventure along the lines of a Mad Max or Terminator movie (with vampires instead of cyborgs)
I’ve got the utmost respect for anyone that can write a novel. Knowing how much effort goes into it, I have a much greater appreciation for what other writers are trying to achieve, even if I don’t particularly enjoy the genre they write in. A few writers I admire (off the top of my head) are Richard Laymon, Trudi Canavan, Dean Koontz, Jeff Lindsay, Patricia Cornwell, Brent Weeks and Iain Banks.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Write your story the way you want to, and always be positive. Most importantly, make friends with as many other writers as you can and see what you can learn from them. You should be able to learn at least one thing from every other writer you meet, no matter how good or bad you think they are.
And write a blog.
Blogging is becoming a very good way to get noticed, but use your blog wisely, don’t use it to trash other writers. If one day your manuscript lands in the hands of an editor or agent who is considering making your dreams come true, they’ll do an internet search to find out what they can about you. Don’t let them find you trashing books they’ve published or authors they work with!
Most important of all, don’t give up. If all the agents and publishers you approach reject your manuscript, don’t get angry or upset. Ask yourself what more you could have done to convince them how great your manuscript is. Or work hard on improving your manuscript.
Find out more about the book with no name here.
"A good scare is worth more to a man than good advice." ~Anonymous