Pete Sutton has a not so secret lair in the wilds of Fishponds, Bristol, UK and dreams up stories, many of which are about magpies. He’s had stuff published, online and in book form, and currently has a pile of words that one day may possibly be a novel. You can find him all over social media or worrying about events he’s organised at the Bristol Festival of Literature.
On Twitter he’s @suttope and his Bristol Book Blog is here: http://brsbkblog.blogspot.co.uk/ and his website here http://petewsutton.com/ He’s contributing editor of Far Horizons e-magazine which can be found here: https://farhorizonsmagazine.wordpress.com/
How would you describe your story in one sentence?
Seven Deadly Swords is the story of a cursed crusader seeking redemption across several lifetimes
What inspired you to write your story/characters/theme?
Several things coalesced into the book – one of the major inspirations was the book “The Crusades through Arab eyes” by Amin Maalouf. That triggered me writing a roleplaying campaign set in the modern day, but with events of the first crusade very much a causative factor. Later I created a comic with some of the same characters. This eventually became the novel. The resulting story is now incredibly different from either comic or rpg, but the first crusade is still a big part.
Which authors have influenced you?
Every single book I’ve ever read has influenced my writing. How could they not. As for major influences? Although my writing is not at all similar my literary heroes are Jorge Luis Borges, John Fowles, Jeff VanderMeer (Budding writers should check out his Wonderbook) and Douglas Adams (for his ideas more than his prose though I guess)
Which are your favorite literary genres?
Genre is a marketing term. I like good books. I like books of the imagination. I like history, architecture and technology. I like science. I read fiction and non-fiction. I like weird fiction.
What makes a book/story special for you?
It has to spark the imagination and allude to a larger world. A sense of ambiguity and openness is also important. I don’t like neat endings or pat answers, I don’t like things to be overexplained.
Where do you live? Did your hometown/country/culture influenced your story?
I live in Bristol, England. It does appear in the book and the book I’m currently writing, Sick City Syndrome, is totally set there. You are the sum of your experiences so it’s hard not to be influenced by the place you live. I think specifically though I probably wouldn’t be a writer if it wasn’t for Bristol Festival of Literature.
How long did it take you to write this book/for your first draft/ for your revision/editing process?
A little under a year from rough outline to beta reader version. It’s since been heavily revised and is currently out with agents – which may mean further revisions…
Did you hire a cover artist/editor/proofreader?
I’m looking at traditional publishing as it stands. That may change if no-one wants to buy it. It has been submitted to a publisher and several agents – will wait to see what happens there.
What have you learned while writing and publishing? Did unexpected things happened?
Phew, there’s quite a list. Seven Deadly Swords is the first novel I’ve ever attempted so everything about it has been a learning curve. How to develop characters, how to self-edit, how to seek & take critique, how to ditch things that aren’t working but keep things that are. How to create arcs. How to use description to support the plot and characters. Everything about writing a book really. Trying to get it published has taught me a lot about what agents do & how to approach them (I kind of did everything wrong the first set of agents I sent the MS to). I have a qualification in Publishing so I’m pretty up to speed with how that side of things works.
What helped you to get inspired and overcome hurdles along the writing of your book?
My partner was hugely supportive, the fact she believed in me made a big difference. Friends and family helped too. I also signed up to Clarion West Writeathon and that gave me the impetus to write the last 40,000 words. My writing group – the North Bristol Writers offered encouragement and critique too. Having beta readers say nice things about the book also helped.
What would you do differently on a next project?
On the book I’m currently writing I’ve outlined much less than the first book. I had strict word count targets for scenes and chapters in the first book (which fell by the wayside) and I’m trying to do things in a much closer third person POV with one main character in the second book. There are multiple POVs in Seven Deadly Swords.
Best piece (s) of advice for first time writers?
Learn the rules, then, if necessary, break them
Where can readers contact you in the internet? Do you have a blog/website?
I can be found all over social media – I tweet as @suttope, my book blog (where I alsointerview fellow writers) is here: http://brsbkblog.blogspot.co.uk/ and my website is here: http://petewsutton.com/
What are you planning to write/publish next?
As well as the second novel I have been working on a short story collection which I’m looking for a home for. I may self-publish that one, as finding a publisher for a short story collection is notoriously difficult unless you’re an established author.