1. What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
My name is Alan Parr and I was born in Liverpool, England. I live, after a roundabout journey between the UK, US and France, in Lake Elmo, MN.
2. What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My latest (ahem, first) book is called Renewal, about a tech-obsessed world starting anew after a singularity, as witnessed by a boy and the last gadget on Earth.
3. Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Yes, this is the first in a series looking at humanity’s slippery relationship with technology, with itself, and our beliefs about the way in which the world works. I’m writing the second book right now, and it’s about the revival of technology among humans and how quickly events can escalate, particularly when you have an evil piece of gadgetry pushing the buttons (so to speak).
4. How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I actually started out writing non-fiction for business a few years ago. Seth Godin, marketing guru, wrote a blog post titled “You Should Write An eBook”, and I thought why not? I wrote a couple of short eBooks with my business partner through ChangeThis.com and then a couple more through Scribd. My foray into fiction was simply because I wanted to write a story for my kids, something that I would really enjoy writing, and that’s why it’s a humorous piece of science fiction and fantasy, and has a six-legged dog called Barf in it. It’s just fun, pure, blue sky fun that I couldn’t find in the world of business writing.
5. Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
I haven’t yet, but that doesn’t mean I won’t. I’m sure Smashwords has a way of accommodating this, I haven’t figured out how just yet.
6. How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
The titles generally suggest themselves, in fact it’s that kind of word play that gets my mind working on story lines. I designed the cover for Renewal myself (I’m an artist in my spare time).
7. Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
I think every character is the author in part, and an amalgamation of real people, character traits observed and any necessary ingredients to suit the plot and to add a touch of verisimilitude. I’ve never taken an actual event and put it directly into my writing, although I’m quite willing to take an event and twist it to make it more interesting.
8. Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
Stephen King’s “On Writing” has been a huge influence, and I would recommend it for any writer. In terms of authors I have read who have bowled me over and made me green with envy, definitely Douglas Adams, and also Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Gaiman has a dark humorous side I love, and Pratchett is incredibly witty.
9. Which format of book do you prefer, ebook,hardback, or paperback?
I like ebooks for ease of distribution, paperback for airplanes and casual reading, and hardback for those favorites I want to have and to hold and to keep in my library. They are like souvenirs of my journey as a reader and writer.
10. What is your favourite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
I'm not sure I could pick only one, but there are a number of books I will happily re-read time and again: The Hobbit, Brideshead Revisited, Neverwhere, Red Dwarf. Each of these books has a special association with a time and a place where I was introduced to a new idea, or a style of writing, or both and I read them to recapture those moments.
11. Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst book to movie transfer?
Any book that includes car chases, explosions and scantily clad women performing superhuman feats of martial arts transfers well to the silver screen. Okay, I'm probably being snotty here, but I do think the movie-going public is willing to settle for a wafer-thin storyline topped off with gobs of special effects in a way that the book-reading public simply won't swallow. Why is that? It's as if the passive voice has crept in to film making. I think there are a number of foreign movies that have transferred well, and I'll focus on some French movies here such as Jean de Florette, Le Diner du Cons, and Le Huitieme Jour, to illustrate my point. These are stories shown on the screen, as much for the mind as they are for the eyes. Don't like foreign films? Transformers 28 will be showing at a cinema near you.
12. What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
I have been working my way through Patrick O’Brian’s complete Aubrey/Maturin novels – “Master and Commander” is the first and probably the best well-known of that series. O’Brian wrote twenty one Aubrey/Maturin books (he died before completing the twenty-first) and it’s an amazing achievement; the series is a continuous story of the friendship between two characters and their lives in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars. I’m reading “The Hundred Days” right now which I believe is the nineteenth book, and I’m starting to slow down because I want to make it last. I have the entire series in hardback – I love these books.
13. Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish?
Pretty much any work by a politician. There are too many books and not enough time, so politicos will always slide off my reading list.
14. Is there anything in your book/books you would change now if you could and what would it be?
I actually started writing the second book while taking a rest between drafts of the first book, with the intention of ensuring I had sufficient character development and had run out plot lines well enough in the first book to suit the second.
15. What do you think about book trailers?
Er.. they would be more useful if I could tow them behind my car? I’m not a fan of book trailers, and here’s why. Firstly, I believe the magic in books has to do with the connection created between the writer and reader, and it is created by words. Not pictures. The best kinds of books are mental movies for the reader. What is wrong with writing a great description, a blurb for a jacket, an elevator pitch? If you feel the need to show rather than tell, maybe you need to consider writing screen plays? Secondly, a lot of the trailers I have seen are not done well and they don’t present the book or the author in the best possible light. This is marketing: if you’re going to do it, put the effort into it and get it right. Move me, make me want to open your book.
16. What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Read a lot, write a lot. And start – you need to get all the experience you can rather than daydreaming or pontificating about your first novel.
Where can readers follow you?
Your blog details? http://alanparr.blogspot.com
Your web site ? https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/alanparr
Your facebook page? http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Parr/1061265627
Your Goodreads author page? http://www.goodreads.com/parr_alan
Your Twitter details? @Parr_Alan and http://twitter.com/#!/Parr_Alan
And any other information you wish to supply?
I'm always on the lookout for great books to read - I'm reading Susanna Clarke's "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" after lhearing Lev Grossman give it a huge recommendation on Minnesota Public Radio. If you have a suggestion, drop me a line at any of the above sites.