I’m pleased to welcome Edinburgh based author David Atkinson to the blog today. He’s sharing #TenThings about himself and his new book, Future Proof. I reviewed one of David’s earlier novels, The Second Life of Nathan Jones, a while back. You can read my review here. Future Proof is published today by Collective Charm Books so congratulations to David! Over to him now to find out more.
10 things – about me
- Where I live – Edinburgh, a literary giant of a city – I reckon the long dark winter nights have encouraged generations of writers to put pen to paper/curser to screen – in the days before Netflix boxsets anyway. I was born in Glasgow, but have lived all over the UK, settling in Edinburgh when my first child was born 13 years ago.
- As well as writing I try to be a musician and song writer which is why the latest book – Future Proof – is accompanied by a soundtrack if you like, songs that match up with key events in the narrative that hopefully reflect the mood and emotion that is on the page at the time. I’m not sure what reception this will receive as it is a little different.
- Getting published. My road to publication has been unusual – my first exchange with an agent around my debut novel Love Byte was interesting, she sent me an email reply to my submission, simply saying; “OH DEAR!!” – in capital letters with two exclamation marks – encouraging!! Love Byte eventually got picked up by Buried River Press (now Joffrey Books) and was nominated and shortlisted for Romantic Comedy of the year by the RNA (Romantic Novelist Association). This meant attending a very posh awards ceremony in London. Later I signed to Harper Collins and my first novel with them The Second Life of Nathan Jones came out a few years ago, the next one with them Quiet Kisses should be available late spring early summer 2023 (as long as I can get the final edits completed.)
- My current work in progress – Future Proof is due out on 16th January 2022 – Future Proof is a time travel Rom Com, with the above mentioned accompanying soundtrack. (It has echoes of The Midnight Library, though, in my defence, I had started writing this before that came out!) This is being published by a small Edinburgh publisher. Harper Collins would likely have published it but the lead in time would have been too long (2024) and I was keen to get it out before then. I’d already spent the best part of two years writing the novel and the songs and felt that I had to get it out there. So I chose a different route for this one. I entered an early draft (a very early draft) into the Page Turner Awards and Future Proof made it through to the longlist. You get a badge for this – Yaay LOL. Anyway I like to think that means it’s at least half-decent!
- My day job is in risk management for a financial services firm. Whilst it is a good job, there is not a lot of room for creativity and I am happiest when being creative, whether that be writing prose or music. If I had my life over (like Sam in Future Proof) I would have taken some kind of creative courses at university, not the business one that I did. Hey ho, that’s life.
- My current reading list: At the moment I’m reading The Accidental Mother by Rowan Coleman, a great yarn about a career minded woman who suddenly has to look after two young children full time, whilst trying to climb the greasy pole at work – a lovely warm story well written and executed by the talented Ms Coleman.
- My writing day is varied – I work from home 4 days out of 5, and try and squeeze some creative time in at lunch time and towards the end of the day assuming I can clear my day job workload – writing doesn’t pay much unless you are ultra-successful so it remains a hobby for most published authors – who dream of that huge hit that would allow them to be creative full-time – not something that happens that often. I also have a young family which restricts the time available for my ‘hobby’.
- Influences – I grew up loving the classics – when in high school the class was presented with a lengthy tome from Dickens, Hardy or Hemingway all the kids used to groan where I’d secretly rejoice, I loved them – the richness of the language, the characters (especially Dickens) and the emotions evoked within the pages meant by the age of 15 I’d read all Dickens and Hardy had to offer. At that stage I had no desire to be a writer, that came later when at College I got involved in script writing for the annual shows that were put on by the drama society. I wasn’t even a member as all lead parts and script prep was reserved for members of the degree course. One of my friends was given the script duty (as she called it) and I helped her, then once it became clear I was doing the writing they involved me and it kind of grew from there. It wasn’t until years later however that I started writing with any conviction, and even then my early efforts were pretty awful. There are exceptions but most writers need to write a few stinkers before they get the hang of it…
- Self-published books. There’s a lot of discussion around this area. Let’s be clear, the traditional publishing route is hard to achieve. The bar is set very high which means that what tends to make it out there in terms of presentation quality is usually pretty good. (However, I have recently read a few big publisher novels packed with typo’s and questionable continuity errors, so it’s no guarantee.) It also does not guarantee any kind of story/narrative quality. I won’t name them, but this year alone I have had to give up on three ‘Big Hyped’ books because they were frankly awful. Some self-published books I have recently read have also been terrible – authors deciding to publish one of their early stinkers instead of learning their craft first. However, some of my favourite books of the last 12 months have been independently published – The Bank of Goodliness by David Luddington – about a vicar who becomes a merchant banker, LJ Ross’s, Angel and a kind of leftfield book for me – The Stone Giant by Luke Smitherd. – A book I didn’t want to like but did. If you read it you’ll see what I mean – it is sort of addictive, despite the story losing its way a little toward the middle. Self-publishing is with us whether we like it or not and I like it – the gatekeepers of the big publishing houses have to make commercial decisions – they have large payrolls and overheads to cover and can’t take risks. Plus, sometimes taking the plunge to back yourself as an author is a good thing – it makes you more aware of what is involved. (As long as it’s not a stinker). Many authors are now taking the two-pronged approach – some books will be traditionally published and others they will do via a small publisher or on their own – it’s a healthy approach I feel.
- Music – as my next book has music to accompany it I thought I’d talk a little about the process and my experience – I’ve played the guitar since I was about 14, not very well but adequately. I started writing songs back then, and whilst never playing live to more than about 30 people I’ve kept my hand in. I suppose I’ve wanted to make an album for a long time but it is only recently that the technology has advanced to allow this to happen. I was about three quarters of the way through writing Future Proof when the idea came to me. I’m well past my teenage angst years and finding suitable subjects to write songs about was tricky – but immersed as I was with my characters in the story I tapped into their emotions, issues and dramas to produce the angst required for some of the ballads. It is a romance after all. I play all the instruments, did all of the arrangements, melody lines and also the production work. I only sing on one song – because despite what my wife may say I really don’t like the sound of my own voice!
More about the book
Life has not been kind to Sam Harris. Aged forty, he’s divorced living alone and facing eviction from his rented flat. With all his worldly possessions tucked into a rucksack with room to spare, homelessness looms. At the last minute he’s given a reprieve as long as he agrees to participate in a medical research project. A side effect of the treatment he is being given propels him back through time to his childhood. Once there he realises, he has the chance to once more be with Andrea, the girl he loved and lost many years before. She has the power to change his destiny and he hers, allowing them both to live the lives they’d always been destined to live. But things are never that simple. Future Proof is an emotional story of second chances, filled with humour and love, and a life or lives well lived, several times over.
Buying Link: Future Proof