Thursday, 8 March 2012

Author Interview: John-Paul Cleary

Great to meet you, John-Paul – tell me a little bit about yourself.

I live in a small town in the North-East of Scotland with my girlfriend and our three-year old daughter who claims to be part Disney princess and part mermaid.

It’s cold and windy up here but it’s home.

How long have you been writing? Can you pick out an influence that started you off?

I wrote my first book when I was about eight and put it in the class library at school. I think it was an Enid Blyton inspired mystery and I remember there was a dog in it called Sebastian. I was a bit disappointed because none of my classmates took it out. The teacher didn’t prepare me for that kind of rejection but it’s something you have to get used to as a writer.

What are your favourite authors and genres to read?

I’ve tried most genres but I mostly read novels and sci-fi. My biggest sci-fi influence is fellow Scot Iain M Banks. My favourite novel is The Magus by John Fowles. I’ve read it at least four times. It’s a little dated now but I love the way he messes about with fantasy and reality, and form and content. It’s full of flaws and it leaves lots of things unanswered and I like that too. There’s no reason why stories should always tie up all loose ends. Unanswered questions make you think.

Your book is called Convergent Space – tell us all about it!

Convergent Space is a dramatic sci-fi space opera. The premise I think is quite original. Normally space operas either have Earth at the centre of some grand federation or are about a different galaxy where Earth doesn’t feature. In Convergent Space there is a grand federation called the Renaissance but Earth isn’t part of it. Earth is a faded power, a has-been, an outsider. It was implicated in a terrible galactic crime that destroyed thousands of worlds and has been shunned ever since.

The story revolves around Earth’s 200 year obsession with trying to prove its innocence and thereby regain its lost status. We pick up events when one of Earth’s space-faring investigators finally finds a clue that might just lead to the truth.

All this happens against a backdrop of galactic war as a dark force is rising out of the ashes of the worlds most affected by the earlier catastrophe. And both stories – the one in the past and the one in the present - eventually intertwine.

How important is it for you to receive reader reviews for your book?

Hey, good reviews can make your day; bad reviews can ruin it.

Why did you publish your book as an electronic text rather than a physical book?

Necessity. Convergent Space was turned down by the first 7 or 8 agents I sent it to. I got fed up with the rejection letters so I decided to publish it myself. Actually it was my girlfriend’s idea. It’s one of the best things I ever did.

What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?

There are only pros. You control you own destiny and you don’t have to share your royalties with agents and publishers. And you get to meet nice people like you Sam.

With work, family, and other commitments, how you find any time for writing?

I tend to write secretly when no one’s looking! That means from about 5 am. So it doesn’t encroach on the rest of my life but it does mean I can get quite tired after writing for 2 hours first thing and then spending a full day at work.

Do you have any essential elements in your creative process e.g. time of day, location, silence/noise etc.?

We moved house recently – same town, different street – so I’m looking forward to trying out our new study. I’ll let you know how I get on!

What's your top tip for writers who are considering self-publishing?

I’m no expert but if you’re going to self-publish be prepared to switch from writer to marketer when you finish your book. You will need to devote a serious amount of time to market your book, and I mean serious, like it’s your new job.

Also don’t rush your book out. I got one or two poor reviews at the start for putting Convergent Space out without proofing it properly. That was unforgivable considering I worked as a magazine editor for four years. I should have known better. The version on sale now has been fully proofed I should add!

John-Paul Cleary is the author of “Convergent Space”, available on Kindle, from Amazon US and Amazon UK. Or you can read a free excerpt on John-Paul’s blog -

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