A Lover of Books

Archive for the day “March 9, 2017”

Interview with Simon Wan

I’m delighted to welcome Simon Wan to my blog.  His debut novel, ‘Love and a Dozen Potatoes’ was published last year.  Below is my interview with Simon.


I absolutely love the title of your book. Can you tell me a bit about ‘Love and a Dozen Roast Potatoes’?

It’s about love, addiction and obsession, and how all of these three things can very easily get muddled. I also like to think that it can serve as both a warning and encouragement to people who read it. We do foolish and brave things when we’re falling in love, but we do terrible and hurtful things when we are forced to look in the mirror when it all falls apart, and this is normal. Even in the depths of despair there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes it’s a tiny flicker, often its a firework. A cautionary tale, a fairy tale, maybe a little bit of both.


How did you come up with this wonderful title?

In my family, and I guess in many other large families we only get to spend time together at Easter, Birthdays, Christmas and so on, and these times usually come with a roast dinner. We all love to cook as much as we love to eat so every meal there’s usually heated discussion on who makes the perfect roast potato. Which made me think my search for the perfect partner in life was just the same, I was looking for perfection, even though perfection isn’t real. The dozen came from counting how many times I’d fallen in love and it just clicked.


Did events in your own life make you decide to write this book?

I had always wanted to write a book and with my 40th birthday crashing towards me I only had about 3 months from making that decision. I did start writing a sci-fi opus but soon realised that time was running out. So, one night in my old flat in south London while eating a homemade pie with my house mate Tony I mentioned that I was going to struggle to finish the sci-fi book in time. His simple reply was, ‘Just write what you know mate’. I thought about it for a few mouthfuls and replied ‘All I know is falling in love with the wrong women…’ And there it was.


What do you hope readers will get out of it?

I want people to know it’s okay to completely lose yourself in another person and open themselves to being hurt, because you will. It will hurt and sting and make you feel rotten, but, and but but but but there will always be someone else if you just let go. Someone else will walk into your life when you least expect it. I want readers to know it’s okay to take risks and it’s okay to fall flat on your face. I want people to know it’s okay to be happy with who you’re with and not secretly be searching for that special perfect prince or princess who only exists in your mind.


Would you like to see your book made into a film and if so, who would you choose as the cast?

As an actor, I’d be foolish to say I wouldn’t want to play myself in the later years plus my agent Tom would tell me off. For an American remake, Joseph Gordon Levitt would be a good pick for my late 20’s early 30’s. It would be a gold mine for female casting as there are 12 featured female lead roles. Oohh, actually I’m gunna cast a few loves right now…

Lily Rose Depp as the Girl who Looked French
Jenna Louise Coleman as the girl with the perfect smile
Shakira as the Sunshine Stripper
Rose Byrne as the Ballerina

And that will do for now, or people will start recognising themselves!


What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just finished the sequel to Love and a Dozen, which is called ‘Life and a Dozen Months till Meltdown’ and it follows on almost right away from the first book. I have a few things in the pipeline, or up in the air, depending on what day it is. I’m developing book one into a TV series with my directing partner Robin Schmidt and we’re also waiting on a pitch for Creative England which, if successful will allow us to start production of our first feature film together. I had a week away from the keyboard when I finished book two, but have spent the past few days cracking on with screen plays which have been nipping at my heels now for the last few months.


What has the publication process been like for you?

I’m probably going to piss people off here, but it’s been really good. Matthew Smith (Urbane Publications) has made the whole process really easy and I trust him. He took a punt on me and for that I’ll always be grateful. The only negative things I had to get used to was the pace of the industry and having to faff around with the artwork because of a major retailer, proving that they actually do judge a book by its cover. Other than that it’s all pretty new to me so I’m just taking it how it comes.


I just have to ask you this. I saw a quote by Limahl in your book. Oh how I love his songs! Do you know him for real?

Yeah, Limahl and I go way back to the days I was in a pop act. He was part of our team and as we were riding the electro 80’s vibe we thought it was cool to have him on board. The reality of it was that he’d spend most of the days in the studio talking about when he went to dinner with Diana Ross or a million other celebrity encounters rather than helping us come up with hooks and melodies. Bless him. I remember one night we all drove to a studio in Bedfordshire because Kajagoogoo had finally made up after decades of money disputes and bad vibes and I’d convinced Limahl to let me film it. They played ‘Too Shy’ and ‘Never Ending Story’ just for us and as cheesy as it was, it was also amazing.


Do you really write just wearing a towel?

Yes of course! Although I have been double dressing gowning lately which is decadent. I don’t like writing fully dressed, it doesn’t feel right somehow. If I do find myself having to write in an office I’ll secretly take my shoes off.


Have any authors influenced your work?

I’m going to have to say Douglas Adams for comedy and pace, Antony Burgess for his melody and brutality, Bukowski for his honesty and exploration of the mundane.


What do you like to do in your spare time, apart from wearing towels that is?

Since moving up to Leeds, I spend any free time at my little brothers gym doing gymnastic ring work and martial arts tricking, it’s great fun and keeps you fit especially after being hunched over a laptop for so many hours. I do love to cook, mainly because I love to eat so much. When the suns out and it’s dry I skateboard. I’ll be a skater till the day I die. In fact, my dream would be to listen to ‘A hitch hikers guide to the galaxy’ on headphones while I skate down a hill wearing my towel eating a pork bun. I’m going to probably do that. I’ll send you the video when it gets sunnier.


Describe your life in three words.

Passionate, Foolish, Lucky.



Amazon book link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Dozen-Roast-Potatoes-Simon/dp/1910692905

Urbane Author Link – https://urbanepublications.com/book_author/simon-wan/

Actor show reel


Music link (Fearnes show)


Super Massive Sizzle




When I went to WHSmiths and saw my book for the first time on the shelves and signed them for random people so they had to buy it 🙂


Extract from ‘Blue Gold’ by David Barker


I hope you enjoyed David Barker’s guest post.  I now have a treat for all of you, an exclusive extract from ‘Blue Gold’.


Book Blurb

The near future. Climate change and geopolitical tension have given rise to a new international threat – a world war for water. This most vital of resources has become a precious commodity and some will stop at nothing to control its flow.

When a satellite disappears over Iceland, Sim Atkins thinks he knows why. He is given the chance to join the hallowed Overseas Division and hunt for the terrorists responsible. But his new partner Freda Brightwell is aggrieved to be stuck with a rookie on such a deadly mission. Freda’s misgivings are well founded when their first assignment ends in disaster – a bomb destroys a valuable airship and those responsible evade capture. Seeking redemption, the British agents follow the trail to a billionaires’ tax haven in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and uncover a web of deceit that threatens global war. Whom can they trust?

As the world edges ever closer to destruction Sim and Freda must put their lives on the line to prevent Armageddon – and protect the future of ‘blue gold’. David Barker’s gripping debut will thrill fans of Scott Mariani, Steve Berry and Richard North Patterson.



Extract from ‘Blue Gold’


Guest Post by David Barker


I would like to introduce you all to David Barker.  His debut novel, ‘Blue Gold’ is being published on the 11th May of this year.  There is a blog tour being planned for David’s book which I will be taking part in.

David has written a really interesting guest post which I hope you enjoy reading.


Publishing Routes

Over the past nine months I have witnessed my wife self-publish a children’s picture book, a good friend get published by Penguin and my own debut novel comes out in May with Urbane Publications, a proud member of The Independent Publishing Guild. Each route has advantages and drawbacks. I attempt here to highlight the main ones, as I see them, to help you think about the trade-offs involved in each.

First, the traditional publishing route. You write a brilliant book, submit to an agent who’s interested in your genre, and get signed up. OK, that is not easy, not easy at all. Expect lots of rejections along the way. To get through the slush pile, it will need to sparkle, be on trend and be commercial. Once that’s been achieved, it’s not an automatic ticket to fame – the agent might want some editorial input. And then they have to find a publisher who wants to produce your book. I know writers who have got an agent but progressed no further.

Let’s suppose you’ve got that far and the rights have been bought – you’re definitely part of a hallowed minority and should feel justifiably proud. But the publisher might want some major alterations at this point, even to the title of your book and that can be pretty painful – like being told you don’t get to name your own child. Delays are not uncommon. For my friend, the brilliant Ali Land, whose debut Good Me Bad Me was released in January, it was virtually two years between being snapped up at the London book fair and finally seeing her novel hitting the shops.

But oh boy, when you get there… You can be sure that the publisher has invested a lot of time and money in your book. And they won’t skimp on the publicity campaign, high-profile reviews, marquee quotes on a beautiful cover. Your book will be stocked up and down the country. Doors will open for interviews, appearances at literary events etc.

At the other end of the spectrum is self-publishing. The most obvious advantage is that you get to choose if and when your book is published as long as you foot the bill. E-books are cheap, picture books very expensive. You’re responsible for editing and proof-reading. Designing the lay-out of the book and a striking cover is a skill in itself. It may be worth paying for some expert help if you can afford the increase in costs involved.

Once your book is out there, the really hard part begins. Most book shops are not interested in stocking self-published titles; it’s nothing personal, nor a judgment on your book, they’re simply too busy to look at the work of every self-published author who approaches them. A local connection – getting to know the people at the shops you want to target – can help and it might even earn you a premium spot in the store. My wife’s book sells very well at the places it is stocked, it’s just very hard to replicate that on a wide scale.

For these reasons, some self-published authors focus a lot of their effort on the e-book format, using social media to promote themselves and their work. It’s time consuming and the successful ones seem to rely on producing a large number of titles to ensure their fan-base grows and so they can afford to give away some of their work for free. You’ll need to be prolific and media savvy, but this route can work given enough time.

The final option is a kind of compromise between the first two. Independent publishers are willing to take more risks with the books they publish. My novel, Blue Gold, is a thriller set during a world war for water. Some agents suggested to me that Cli-Fi (speculative fiction about climate change) was not on trend at the moment. Were they being realistic about the current market or too conservative in their thinking?

Most indie publishers don’t require that you have an agent, which means that there is no third party taking a slice of the royalties. Typically, you’ll get more freedom in the editing process while still getting support on cover design and layout. Independent publishers may have their own fan base, helping to promote each book as it comes out. But you won’t get a big publicity campaign and titles don’t automatically get stocked in the big national chains. You’re going to have to get yourself out there, talk to people, try to get invited to festivals, offer to do talks and book signings.

It’s worth noting that both self-publishing and indie publishing can morph into the traditional route. The Martian, by Andy Weir, was originally self-published before being picked up by Del Rey when they noticed how well it was doing. Eimar McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing was originally published by Galley Beggar Press of Norwich after several bigger houses thought it was too risky. But as it started to gather critical acclaim, Faber & Faber stepped in and offered to help maximise the book’s potential.

To all my fellow writers out there, good luck in your endeavours, whichever route you choose.

You can buy my wife’s book, Amelie and the Great Outdoors here: www.fionabarker.co.uk

You can find out more about me and my book, Blue Gold, here: www.davidbarkerauthor.co.uk

And my publisher here: http://urbanepublications.com


‘Blue Gold’ can be pre-ordered from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/blue-gold/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blue-Gold-David-Barker-x/dp/1911331655/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488657122&sr=1-1&keywords=blue+gold+by+david+barker


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