It's with great pleasure I welcome another fantastic author to the blog today who writes gripping crime fiction with Sharpe Books!
Please meet Shaun Baines!
Shaun lives in Scotland with his beautiful wife and less beautiful dog. He writes about crime, but rarely commits any. Woodcutter and Pallbearer were published by Sharpe Books and feature Daniel Dayton as the reluctant head of a crime syndicate in the north-east of England. When he is not writing, he grows his own vegetables, rescues ex-battery chickens and keeps bees.
Who are you and what do you write?
My name is Shaun Baines and I'm a writer-aholic. While I read all genres, I mainly write in crime, which has a huge span in itself. From hard-boiled noir to cosy mystery, crime fiction has something for everyone. My books are best described as urban thriller. Woodcutter and Pallbearer follow Daniel Dayton, a reluctant leader of a crime syndicate in north-east of England. I work hard on making them addictive reads so when a reader says they are hooked from the first page, then I've done my job.
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
It began when I moved to a damp cottage in rural Scotland. I had plans to start a gardening business in the spring, but this was winter and nothing grows in a Scottish winter. With three months to waste, I decided to follow a life's ambition to write a book.
Inspiration came from my new neighbours. I'd catch them giving me odd looks as they wondered why someone like me might be in a place like that. Maybe they thought I was a gangster on the run and the first page of Woodcutter was written.
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
It's been relatively painless, but not without its sticking points. I wrote a book. Got an agent. Published through an independent publisher. Agent left his job. All writers, including myself, were cut loose. Wrote a sequel. Acted as my own agent. Sequel accepted by a second publisher. Claimed back rights to first book. Also accepted by the second publisher. Currently editing third book. Second publisher eagerly awaiting.
This all occurred from 2016 so its been a bit of a whirlwind.
What's been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far? And the most enjoyable?
Someone smarter than me once said, Writing is like telling a joke and waiting two years to see if it was funny. I'm not a patient man and writing a novel takes a long time. Editing, pitching and publishing takes a long time. At any point, the process can breakdown or stall. It can be a frustrating tightrope walk.
In part, the enjoyment I receive is due to this process. Good things are never given. They are always earned. Nudging a book over the finishing line is a huge achievement, especially when it comes with positive feedback.
Would you go back and change anything?
When I was at university doing my English Literature degree, I had the opportunity to enrol on a Creative Writing course. I didn't because it seemed too esoteric. I mean, what kind of person thinks writing flowery words might be a job? Twenty years later, I regret not taking the chance. I might have learned some basic skills I'm frantically trying to learn now.
That said, I don't believe attending (and paying for) a creative writing course guarantees success any more than hard work does.
Where would you like to be in 5 years time?
Maybe a bit slimmer?
My gardening work pays for most of my bills and my part-time self-sufficiency provides food for most of my family. My ultimate goal is to make enough money from writing so that the electricity isn't cut off and my family don't perish from malnutrition. But I would like to continue with my gardening business. I would like to donate the money I make from gardening to a food bank, both in my local town of Dumfries and in my home city of Newcastle.
No-one should ever go without food.
The third Dayton book is due to be published at the end of 2019 and I'm also hoping to self-publish a short story anthology at the beginning of 2020.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to new writers just starting out?
This advice seems harsh and I don't want to discourage anyone from writing, but it would be – Go hard or go home. It's a jungle out there. A handful of writers write a book, become a bestseller and change their lives forever. As for the rest of us, we're in the trenches. We're basically doing a job no-one asked us to do so we have to fight every step of the way.
The trick is not to take it personally. For every rejection, every harsh critique or poor sales performance, remember you're doing something you love. (If you don't love it and you're doing it for the money, then jog on. You're not going to be happy.)
Do it because you want to entertain or have something to say. You'll be fine.
And before you go...
Ketchup or Mayo? - Mayo. All the way.
Night or Day? - Day. Morning, preferably. Earlier the better.
Inside or Outside? - Outside. Crazy gardener here.
Dogs or Cats? - Dog. Got a crazy dog.
Twitter or Facebook? - Twitter. It gives me access to famous people.
Ebook or Paperback? - Mmm. Not sure. I enjoy both.
Walk or Drive? - I drive a van with 165,000 miles on the clock. Safer to walk.
Sun or Rain? - Rain. No-one got cancer from rain.
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? - Keyboard. With two speedy fingers.
Comedy or Drama? - Comedy.
Chips or Chocolate? - Depends. If by 'chips' you mean what I call 'crisps,' then it's chocolate. If you mean 'chips' as in deep fried potato wedges smothered in heart-stopping salt, then I'm a chips man.
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!