Welcome Steve Conoboy, a YA horror writer, to Indie Author Friday! Like most of us, Steve struggles with book promotion and getting reviews. And I agree whole-heartedly with his statement about Arrested Development – “…if you have never experienced the delight of this impression (the chicken dance), for the love of all that’s good in the world, look it up.”
Macadamian Pliers seems pleasant enough. After all, the Raines shouldn’t judge him because of his stitched shut eye, that twist of a smile, the strange angles he’s made of. He’s sold them a beautiful house… and he’ll send them screaming from it if it’s the last thing he does.
Frank Raine loves ghosts, so the fact that there’s one in the house is totally awesome. His new friend, Jack, ain’t that bad either. So what if he’s the local firebug and a serious liability?
But these ghosts are not a game. They bite. Hard. And there’s a man of strange angles lurking at the bottom of the garden every night doing… something.
A car crash left Cherry physically weak, and bullying kids are getting her down. Does Cherry have any fight left? Because the thing is, Macadamian doesn’t take kindly to silly little girls…
Sometimes you really should judge a book by its cover…
Release date April 27th, 2018
The graveyard visible from Caleb’s bedroom window grows a little bigger each day. He sees funerals there every evening, but nobody is dying. Misha, the strange girl who lives there with her grandfather, takes an unwanted interest in Caleb, and he can’t shake her off. But he’s sure those peculiar mourners, the same ones at each graveside every time, are forcing her into rituals against her will… Caleb, still reeling from the death of his mother, soon finds himself deep in a world of the dead in this chilling YA horror novel; will it be too late for him to climb back out?
What’s the most constructive criticism you’ve been given in your writing career?
There’s two things, the first of which I’ve heard time and time again, most clearly from Stephen King’s legendary ‘On Writing’ (I reference King a lot in blogs and posts and I just don’t care). Drop the adverbs. Don’t be afraid to just say ‘she said’. Honestly, I think this piece of advice makes writing a lot clearer. Going through a passage a few times and taking out adverbs goes far in the removal of clunkiness.
The second thing, and slightly more abstract, was my introduction to General Semantics. Look it up, seriously. It’s where we get the notion ‘the map is not the territory’. I learned about it from this sci-fi editor who was attempting to get my short story writing up to the point where I was worth printing. He nearly managed it. But GS can teach you a lot about clarity, word usage and meaning. Basically, I was throwing too many words at the page without considering if they were getting my message across (there are those who say I over-extend my sentences now – I was way worse back when I started out). Writing stories is fundamentally an attempt at communication between myself and the reader, and I want them to get the image I’m trying to transmit to them as clearly as possible.
General Semantics is meant to bring clearer thinking, peaceful interaction and greater sanity. This is the complete opposite of my home life. Daughters and cats result in none of these things.
What do you wish you’d known before you were published?
Pretty much everything. It never really occurred to me that the book won’t get out there on its own. I started out with a small publisher, you see (I’m not self-published, I actually got someone to accept my work, which is astonishing after so many years and hundreds of rejection slips). The author has to push the book into readers’ hands, and that’s hard. I had no clue about promotion – and it’s possible that I haven’t got much better, although I guarantee I’m giving it full beans. You’ve got to be tough too. Sending out 30 or 40 review requests when you’re starting out and getting no response can be a real gut-punch. I’m hoping to do a better job with A Graveyard Visible – which is code for ‘I will not be lazy’.
The issue is that I absolutely love writing, so much that I will hurl myself straight into the next novel without pause. If you love the book you’ve written, though, then you’ve got to realise it’s existence means little if it’s not being read.
What do you love most about the writing process?
When a novel is actually working, it can take the author by surprise. I usually have a good idea of where I want the story to end up when I start – but that’s been known to change quite spectacularly, and it tends to happen when the characters are fully formed and allowed to do the things they would actually do. At that point it flows, it comes easy, and if the story doesn’t stick to the plan, so what? It becomes a journey then, you’re riding along with the characters – and at the end it becomes a real heart-wrench to let them go.
If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?
I read a lot of horror fiction, so I would definitely NOT want to be any of the guys or gals who star in those stories. Being chased by monsters and murderers is not my idea of a fine time. I think it would have to be Count Olaf from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. That guy has a lot of fun. He pretty much does what he wants, how he wants, and yes the kids give him a bad time, but he’s very true to himself. I appreciate that.
There’s a little bit of Olaf in Macadamian Pliers, I think. Mac definitely does whatever he feels like doing without one care how anybody might judge him.
What’s the last thing you watched on TV/Netflix?
I’m not the big TV fan I used to be. My attention span is shocking these days. I like to have something on in background as I write, but more often than not now it tends to be music.
Recently I’ve started watching Arrested Development again on Netflix, only really because I want to see the chicken dance (if you have never experienced the delight of this impression, for the love of all that’s good in the world, look it up).
I’ve had a go at the latest season of American Horror Story, but I’m enjoying it about as much as all the previous seasons, which isn’t very much at all. It tries to be disturbing and scary, but all it ever seems to manage is odd and affected.
I love Fargo. Can’t recommend that enough.
The Great British Bake Off is my favourite, though. Seriously.
If you were a box of cereal, which one would you be?
Thought I’d finish on a weird one. I would be that box of muesli we’ve got in the bottom of the cupboard, the one in a blue box. Nobody wants to eat it, nobody can be bothered to throw it out, that therefore means that I will have a long and peaceful life.
With two kids, three cats, and a job in care, for Steve Conoboy writing fantasy fiction is a quiet respite from the madness of normality. Steve contributes to kidliteratureauthors.com, an initiative designed to encourage young readers and parents to promote books for children. Macadamian Pliers is Steve’s first published YA novel. The second, A Graveyard Visible, is due for release in April 2018. His short story credits include Polluto magazine, Voluted Tales, and Kzine. He lives in North Shields, UK.
Author Website: www.steveconoboy.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/authorsteveconoboy
Twitter handle: @steveconoboy
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steve-Conoboy/e/B00FOJ62YK/
Macadamian Pliers available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Macadamian-Pliers-Steve-Conoboy/dp/1612964656/
A Graveyard Visible available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Graveyard-Visible-Steve-Conoboy/dp/1785356682/
Macadamian Pliers website: http://ihatemacadamianpliers.weebly.com/