© 2013 Clive Eaton
Andy Frazier is an author of children's stories. Occasionally he writes things for grown ups too but he finds this quite hard as he has never quite grown up himself. He has always wanted to write ever since he was a child and now he can't think of anything he would rather do. He gets his most enjoyment out of creating colourful characters and then bringing them to life in humorous situations.
Born into a life of farming, it took a long time and a lot of determination to get away from it, but he thinks he has just about achieved that now. Andy did quite a few things during his career, including agricultural contracting, retail sales, sheep breeding and IT before he somehow became a business analyst working in a city. Oh yes, and at one time he was an expert in grooming cows. It all made sense at the time.
One day, he had a eureka moment and upped sticks to South West France. He now lives there on a smallholding where he shares his time equally between his partner, some more sheep, some DIY tools and a set of golf clubs. Despite all the obvious distractions that renovating a big old farmhouse presents, Andy spends most of his mornings writing and that is the bit he enjoys most.
THE RIGHT COLOUR
My first novel was a charming story about a young calf growing up. Told through the eyes of the animal, I drew influences from classics such as Black Beauty and Babe, but adding in many of my own experiences. Hitting a niche market, the book got much acclaim and enough good reviews to inspire me to keep on going. From there I wrote a series of children’s novels, some of which referenced the characters in my first work.
From my home here in France, I have a great view of a disused windmill which is falling to decay. After some local research on the building bore no fruit, I decided to make up a story about it, which was great fun. The book is called Moulin and quite a rip roaring tale with time travel and Templar Knights.
For a while I wrote adult fiction under the name of Pat O’Driscoll. Two novels followed the same theme about a hapless chap called Trevor Hard who is a sort of modern day Wilt. I must admit I found it quite difficult to promote my work under another name, although I still would like to give this poor fellow some more adventures as he makes me laugh so much. The first book carries the risky title Getting Hard.
More recently I wrote a novel called SHEEPLE, for the National Novel Writing Contest (NanoWrimo). It was a rather tongue in cheek look at politics and how we, as a nation of sheep, are constantly hoodwinked and manipulated by the government. It has had some great reviews although most people find the concept of characters played out by sheep somewhat bizarre!
It’s a terrible admission but I don’t find much time to relax these days. With a big old farmhouse continually requiring my input just to maintain it, as well as slowly renovating the thing, my time seems to get sucked away. I suppose I enjoy it and it is great to see finished projects as they mature. I also love to cook and living in France gives me some great local produce to work with, particularly from my own vegetable garden and our growing flock of sheep. Sport and music are also passions of mine, although these days that is just confined to watching on TV.
I was inspired to write by a fabulous gentleman I once met called Captain J Ben Coutts. Ben had an interesting career, firstly in the forces and then as a cattleman, writer and latterly radio presenter in the 60s. He even ran for Parliament under the slogan Big Ben for Big Ben! Sadly Ben is no longer with us but when I expressed to him one day that I would like to write he made me promise that I would. I dedicated one of my autobiogs to him.
What or who inspired you to write your current novel?
I always have more than one project on the go! Over the last couple of years I started writing short travel guides on ebook under the name etravellers. I have done eight to date, but try and do one every couple of months, especially while I am on the move. They have been quite successful.
Calling Papa Charlie
We spend our winter months in East Lothian in Scotland and while I was there last year I visited an Air Museum. On wandering around the exhibits I came across a small yellow plane that had been hand-built by a local chap. On further investigation, it turned out that he had assembled it in his council house, and then was unable to get it out! To me this seemed like the sort of storyline that I enjoy and straight away I wanted to write about him. It took months to track down his family but when I did (via an advert in the local paper) his son unravelled a wonderful tale about a man driven by a passion to fly. I am only part way through writing it into a book, but hope that when it’s finished it might make a great TV film.
Having written stories about cows in the past, I was approached by the Aberdeen Angus cattle society of GB to write the history of this amazing breed of cows. It is a 2 year project, which I am still currently researching. I get to travel round UK to interview some wonderfully colourful characters and record their stories. One chap sold a bull in 1960 for £63,000! Back then that would have bought you half of Scotland! I will end up with over a 100 hours of interviews which will then need to be collated into something coherent and interesting. The end result will be a coffee-table styled volume with 3-400 photographs as well. It is my biggest challenge to date and I am loving it so far.
What process did you adopt from inception through to the finished book?
I am not one of life’s great planners. For fictional writing I tend to shoot from the hip and let the stories write themselves. Somewhere in everything I write (over 30 books now) there will be an element of me and my own experiences. Our memories are great assets to us all, so why not use them to your own advantage. For non fiction, the process is slightly different and I am just getting to grips with Scrivener.
What do you need (or not need) around you whilst writing?
I tend to write in silence. Much as I love music, it distracts my thought process as I want to listen to every word and note of every song. I tend to write early mornings, often getting up at 5am to get 3 hours in before the day kicks in. Even then I find myself listening to the birdsong.
What prompted you to self-publish your current book?
To start with, like all authors, I tried my damdest to find a publisher for The Right Colour, getting one rejection after another. In the end I thought F’it, I will go it alone. I knew my market and targeted it directly to a niche readership and it worked for me. Although I do sometimes speak to publishers these days, I have no intention of going down that route now. 95% of my work sells on ebook which is so easy to format myself and Amazon do the rest. With my current cattle project, I will do the whole lot myself – except for editing. I am rubbish at that!
What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) I was lucky that my partner Wendy supported me when I announced I was going to write a novel. It was hard for her as writing is quite a selfish thing where you tend to shut others out and I felt very guilty about it. She encouraged me, proofed for me, and helped me chase my dream. I am not sure I would have stuck with it if it wasn’t for her.
2) I think it takes a long while to hone your writing skills. It certainly did for me. I have been writing a column for a UK magazine for 5 years now and I think this helped, but even now, when I look at some of my earlier work I still cringe at the sentence structure. English never was my strongest subject!
3) Time. Every writer/author will concur with this – that there is never enough time to write. The more you do, the more there are demands on your time for editing, marketing and promoting. Published authors have people to do all that stuff but we selfies have to be head cook and bottle-washer, when all we want to do is write words.
Every author seems to suffer with writer’s block at some point. How do you overcome it?
I can safely say that is something I have never had a problem with. I suppose having more than one project on the go is valuable with this, but genuinely I always have too much to say. If a book is stalling, I write a blog about something totally different. Sometimes I offend my readers with my bigoted view though!
What single piece of advice would you give to any aspiring writer?
Write every day. No exceptions. Every single day, write something, even if it is just a diary. As soon as you stop, the momentum slows down and you quickly lose sight of the end. If I can add another here. Write about things that you know about. Readers will soon suss you out if you don’t know your subject matter properly.
What genre does your book fall into?
As mentioned, I write in 3 or 4 genres, possibly making me a jack-of-all-trades/master-of-none?
If I could earn a good living as a children’s author, I would stick to that. I love the way kids needs to be shown things with words, whereas adults can visualise the details. That is why with my adult books I like to throw in more humour to compensate for lack of visual detail.
How did you get interested in this specific genre?
I think we all grew up with favourite books as kids. I loved Winnie the Pooh. AA Milne was a genius and I still know all the words to Alexander Beetle!
You as a reader
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) Terry Pratchett is at number 1, without a doubt. His ability to parody just about anything puts him out in a class of his own. Usually the people who don’t get him are the ones he is taking the p*ss out of!
2) Tom Sharp had a great way of making absurd situations out of ordinary situations. I would give my back teeth for a tenth of his ability to make people laugh.
3) I love the way Iain Rankin can draw you into a plot. I think secretly many of us would love to be REBUS. The fact it is set in Edinburgh is a bonus.
What was your favourite book as a child?
Now we are six!
What is the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months?
Tricky. Like most authors, I struggle to find time to read enough, especially at present. I just read a biog on Steve Jobs which I found fascinating although, in my mind, badly written.
What was the last book you recommended to a friend, and why did you think it was worthy of recommendation?
I often try to guide people to read Pratchett, if I think they have the right sense of humour for it. It doesn’t always work out but when I does, I feel a sense of pride that someone sees real people wrapped up in his characters as I do.
Kindle (or other e-reader) or paperback, and why?
Kindle is fine for me. I travel a lot these days and, just as with my writing, I often have 2 or more books on the go at any one time.
Hollywood is calling
You’ve had the call from Hollywood and they want your opinion on who should play the leading roles in the film based upon your book. Who would you choose, and why?
Oooh, there’s a fun question. I think David Tennant would make a good lead for Papa Charlie. And possibly Victoria Wood could voice Princess the Cow.
The film of your book is now going to need a soundtrack. Which musician(s) would you want to write and play it?
I have such a varied musical taste and am always looking for new bands and styles. But, and it’s a big but, I struggle to get away from Pink Floyd. If Waters and Gilmour offered to soundtrack my work, I would just keep writing more and more for them. Puccini is also in the running.
Drink – Bordeaux red wine (well I have to, don’t I?)
Meal – Lamb. Roasted, baked, boiled or burnt. It’s still the best.
Holiday destination – Ah. I am almost stumped on this one as I haven’t been to everywhere yet. I do like New Zealand and still saddened at what happened to Christchurch.
TV programme – I might get drawn into the odd TV drama in the winter but, in general, I don’t watch TV other than for snooker, rugby, cricket, tennis or golf!
Film – Local Hero. I could watch it end to end all day. I love the way that the American guy morphs into a Scot as the film goes on. One of my favourite sayings is when he is trying to buy the pub: ‘I would make a good Gordon, Gordon!’ The soundtrack by Mark Knopfler is stunning too. Maybe he could write me some stuff too?
Method of travel – Plane, A to B. But I have an inherent dislike of airports due to the rudeness of security staff.
Sport – Rugby. Come on the British Lions!
How can people connect with you?
Website/Blog: has all my details.
I love to hear from my readers, or just anyone really.
There is a link to my blog on there too.
Twitter: andy_the_author (yes, I know its is corny, sorry)
Authors always appreciate feedback and comments. Please leave your comments by using the following link: Author Feedback/Comments - Thank you.
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