Spotlight 004: Steven Moore
Welcome to the Self Publishing Spotlight, where each week we ask authors the same five questions about their process, their mistakes, and their successes. In episode #3, Tom interviews thriller writer, Steven Moore.
Mark Dawson: I’m Mark Dawson from the Self Publishing Show and this is Self Publishing Spotlight, where we shine a light on the indie authors who are changing the world of publishing, one book at a time.
Tom Ashford: Hello and welcome to the Self Publishing Spotlight. We meet indie authors at all stages of their careers and ask them a series of 5 questions. 5 questions about their process, their mistakes, and their successes; 5 answers that will help you level up your own author career. My name’s Tom Ashford and I’m part of the Self Publishing Formula. Don’t forget that you can get your self publishing resource kit at selfpublishingformula.com/starterkit.
This week’s guest is Steve Moore. He’s written 8 books in the action thriller genre and he lives in Mexico, though originally, you’re actually from the UK aren’t you?
Steve Moore: That’s right, yeah, I grew up in Lowestoft in Suffolk, the same town as esteemed guru Mark. We went to the same schools together and we hung out a bit as kids, but then since I have been a nomad for the last 20 odd years we kind of fell out of touch, but recent years since Mark’s become a well known author and I’ve been following in his footsteps we’ve reacquainted through the SPF which is great.
Tom Ashford: Cool and we actually met at the London Book Fair, didn’t we? This year
Steve Moore: Yeah this year, this March which was great fun, good to hang out with loads of like-minded indies like yourself and Mark obviously and all the other great guys that we get to meet there. It’s a great place to hang out with fellow authors.
Tom Ashford: Yeah, cool, all right, well let’s jump in with the 5 questions. The first one is just probably the hardest and one that most people seem to find quite challenging is “Why do you write?”
Steve Moore: Yeah I’m still trying to work the answer out myself about … I’ve always been, I’ve always considered myself a little bit creative at least, sketching, scribbling, drawing, little bit of writing, and I tried to focus on painting for a while until I met my now wife Leslie, who’s a travel writer, back in 2011. I started writing a bit more, doing some blogging and bit of travel writing, but then she challenged me to write a novel, which I had never considered, never written any fiction before, for Nano Wrimo, and she had done a few books in Nano Wrimo so I thought, “Okay I like a challenge, I’ll give that a go”. And I did and I followed that through and that became my first, my debut novel in 2014, which was a literary novel. Probably the less said about that the better, but that was where I got my start and I’ve never really stopped.
Tom Ashford: Cool, and you’ve actually started a collaborative project haven’t you, recently?
Steve Moore: I have a few actually, yeah, the Book Fair is where this all began, and the online communities are fantastic for meeting people. So Dave Berens of the SPF was the first guy, he actually approached me, we’d known each other a little bit through joint promotions and things and he invited me to collaborate on his brand new series which was amazing, very honored to be part of that, so that’s going great. In fact today we launched our first book in that new series. And then, I also got to meet Adam Croft who most people are aware of, lovely fella, great guy, and we got chatting and then out of the blue, a few days after that I got an email from Adam inviting me to collaborate on his brand new series which, as anyone listening to this can imagine, that’s quite a … it’s an endorsement for whatever skills I might have; but a great confidence boost and Adam’s a great guy so we’re well underway with our new series, which should be available I think at the end of July, so very exciting times.
Tom Ashford: Very cool. You’re self published rather than traditionally published, or hybrid or anything like that?
Steve Moore: Absolutely right, yeah proudly self-published and we all know it’s probably the future. We’ve all had the dream of scoring that big deal but I don’t really think about it, I am just happy doing what I’m doing right now.
Tom Ashford: Whatever brings in money really, isn’t it, keeps it being a living
Steve Moore: Yeah it’s my job now. You have to treat it as a job otherwise it just is a hobby and no one gets paid for their hobbies as far as I know.
Tom Ashford: Cool. Question number 2 is, “How do you write?”. [inaudible 00:04:32] has very different answers you can give to that but let’s start with, are you more of a plotter or a pantser? As they say
Steve Moore: Yeah vague answer but actually both because I definitely am an outliner, I am a plotter for sure, when I start out on a new manuscript, but I do allow myself the freedom to pants it as I go along and quite often I find that with an outline to begin with, the pantsing becomes more fun and actually some of the best, unencumbered ideas I have come when I veer off my plotted outline. So I have to answer both but I always start out with a solid plot and an outline, because that keeps me focused on the end point of any given story. The answer is both but I start out as a plotter.
Tom Ashford: Yeah fair. And do you have any sort of preference for what platform you use to write? Like Scrivener or Word or anything like that?
Steve Moore: Yeah, technology is definitely my weak spot in this whole business, but I do … one of my early gifts from my wife was a Scrivener package so I’ve been using Scrivener for all of my first drafts. But that’s as far as I take Scrivener because the technology of it is just a bit too much for my small brain, so I always export and then finish off in other platforms, but Scrivener is my go-to for my first and second drafts definitely. And I highly recommend.
Tom Ashford: Nice, yeah I do as well, it’s great. Is there a particular place, that you write? Is there a favorite writing spot that you have?
Steve Moore: I’m lucky enough to have … Well we live in Mexico as you said, so I have my office space in my house. I also like to work in the garden, it’s very peaceful in our neighborhood, the occasional stray dog and ice cream van coming round. But we have a nice roof terrace so I often write there and if I need a change, which I often do, I go in to our beautiful down town, there’s lots of coffee shops and bars that I quite often can be found writing and having the odd beer or glass of wine whilst I am getting on with the work. So loads of different places and I am pretty comfortable working anywhere really so.
Tom Ashford: Sounds like a hard life you’ve got there.
Steve Moore: Yeah I manage, I don’t know how I do it for the money sometimes.
Tom Ashford: Okay, question number 3, is “Are you a full-time author? If you are, how did you get there, and if you aren’t, what steps are you taking to make it happen?”.
Steve Moore: Yeah. I actually am a full-time author now, but that is not simply because I have been successful and can afford to be, I’m just lucky enough that my wife gets it, she’s a writer too, and she sees the potential here with the books doing okay, but not quite well enough that I could afford to go full time without the support of my generous wife. We live in Mexico for many reasons, one of them is it’s cheap, we don’t have too many outlays or overheads. Yes I’m full time, but I would like to … I need to take it to another level now to justify it financially because we’re not quite there yet.
Tom Ashford: Cool. Question number 4 is, “What mistakes do you think you’ve made, and what do you think you’ve got right?”
Steve Moore: Well, I think most people asked that question would say lots of mistakes, I have made plenty. But I guess my biggest one is not starting this whole thing earlier. Because I realized I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of ideas that could be turned into a book, but it’s only just in the last three years really that I’ve been really taking it seriously. I wish I’d have started earlier, but that’s something, you could say that about anything.
Tom Ashford: When did you start writing? In a serious manner?
Steve Moore: Probably, really, really seriously three years ago, and then the middle year of those three I had a full-time job that was really manic. I was working fifty, sixty hours a week for the year, so I didn’t have too much time. So I kind of stored a bit, and then since that year more or less since the London Book Fair of last year I’ve been at it as a full-time job. So three years but with a year off in between.
Tom Ashford: Fair enough. And question number 5 which is, “What’s your final piece of advice for authors starting out in indie publishing?”.
Steve Moore: Where to start? Basically get the words down on the page because quite obviously if you’re writer and you’re not writing then you’ll have nothing to show for it. So first of all get the words down on the page, however you manage it, if it’s ten minutes a day, or you can get a couple of hours a day or if you’re lucky enough to have three or four hours a day. Whatever it is, get the words down, get that first manuscript finished before almost before anything els. Because without words you have nothing and you can’t really say you’re a writer unless you are writing and have something down, so just get the words down on the page. It’s obvious but I mean I needed to tell myself that, five years ago, four years ago, and it’s only the last three years that I’ve actually followed my own advice. Well it’s the advice of hundreds of great people out there telling us the same thing.
Tom Ashford: Yeah hundred percent, absolutely.
Steve Moore: And listen to people who know better than you do. Mark’s a great one, Joanna Payne. Loads of great guys out there offering their services and advice and encouragement, usually for free. So listen and take on as much as you can.
Tom Ashford: Nice. Now this isn’t one of the 5 questions, you’re now off the hook for those five, this is more of a … I mean I’ve noticed that you’re obviously quite a well traveled man, at least from a UK perspective someone living in Mexico seems fairly well traveled. And your books seem to have, from a glance, seem to have a theme of different cultures and histories and things like that. So is there an element that you’ve taken influence from traveling for your work?
Steve Moore: Yeah, absolutely, it’s a good question. I’ve always traveled, I left Lowestoft for the first time in, giving my age away now, 1990, no, 1993. And I’ve never really lived back in the UK for more than a year or so at a time since then, apart from when I went to university. So all of those travels have given me so much knowledge and inspiration, all the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been. That also inspired my degree, I did a triple degree in archeology, art history and anthropology, so all of those, that I learned on that course, which is still the greatest thing I’ve ever done.
Steve Moore: And now in my books, yeah you mentioned my books so Bali, Peru, Japan, Mexico, my last book was set right here in San Miguel in Mexico, so yeah all of my books are places I’ve either lived in, they are set in places I’ve lived or traveled extensively and spent a long time in. So you know one of the old writing cliches is write what you know, but I would also like to say write where you know. I think my readers have said they have felt they’ve been traveling along with my characters and the journey, so that’s great and I like to put that into all my books.
Tom Ashford: Brilliant, okay well, thank you for coming on.
Steve Moore: Thanks Tom, it’s been a pleasure
Tom Ashford: You too. That’s it for this week’s Self Publishing Spotlight, don’t forget that you can get your free self publishing resource kit at selfpublishingformula.com/starterkit. And if you want to appear as a guest on this show, send us brief details about yourself and your writing to [email protected] using the subject line “Self Publishing Spotlight”. I’m Tom Ashford and I’ll see you again next week.
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