Sunday 25 October 2015

Confessions of a Writer Tag by Kevin Ansbro

 Once tagged, and understanding I wasn't going to let him escape the challenge, the indomitably witty, imaginative and superb author ,  Kevin Ansbro,  quickly realised that telling his website designers not to create an attached blog might have been a little premature. Not imagining he would ever use one, he had dismissed having it as an option as unnecessary...

But, now, where the heck to put his responses to the challenge?

I'm honoured to host Kevin's revealing and funny post (and am also glad Kevin's now checking out the setting up of his own blog. I want more of what he has to offer!)

(Remember, if you're tagged, to let originator of the tag, Nicolette at A Little Bit Bookish, A Little Bit Writerly, know, so she can check out your cool post!)

Over to Kevin...

‘Confessions of a writer’ tag.

I was chased and tagged by congenial Annelisa Christensen, to continue a creative succession of blogs whereby writers can guiltlessly talk about themselves without appearing to be too self-obsessed.
Self-aggrandisation is not normally my thang, but bugger it, let’s do this and be damned!

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always wanted to be?
Hell, no. Like any sensible schoolboy, I wanted to be a footballer, or James Bond. Curiously, neither of these things happened; instead, I began adulthood realising that achieving good qualifications in art and English literature didn’t immediately propel me into a life of glamour and affluence.
Nevertheless, every time I read an underwhelming best-seller, I would vaingloriously snort, “I could write better than this!”
To which my wife would reply, “Well, what’s stopping you, big head?” (Julie didn’t actually say the ‘big head’ bit, but I knew damn well she was thinking it).

My first book, The Angel in my Well, was a short story written as a diversion from the stress caused by my mum’s slow death (and her descent into dementia), whilst in a care home.
Mum subsequently died, and I was left with a raw, rushed, heartfelt manuscript which I didn’t have the inclination to edit. I certainly never intended it to be read by the general public!
To cut a long story short, a wonderful publisher (2QT) took it in its raw state and did everything for me, including uploading it to Amazon. They suggested I wrote a novel; that novel, Kinnara (polished and edited) is available in paperback and Kindle.
The Angel in my Well, meanwhile, has been/is being read by an unanticipated amount of readers, which continues to amaze (and humble) me. I dearly wish I’d edited it now!
So, were it not for my mum’s terrible situation, I might never have written a book in the first place: the only silver lining to an extremely dark cloud.

What genre do you write?
I would class my writing as magical realism: Salman Rushdie and Gabriela Garcia Marquez are just two of my literary heroes.

Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress?
Best that I talk about Kinnara, as it’s only recently-published. My current work only consists of a shambolic scattering of coffee-stained notes and indecipherable scribbles!
Kinnara is a * nasty * funny * heartbreaking * uplifting * novel that shows us how awful consequences can arise from thoughtless actions.
The book is set in England (boy/girl relationship), Germany (vicious serial killer) and Thailand (optimistic beach vendor).
The book’s USP is that that the destiny of these chief protagonists lies in the hands of a mythical creature who resides beneath the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea.
Now, who wouldn’t want to read that?
Intrigued? You bet yo’ ass you’re intrigued!
Go to Amazon and ‘Look inside’ – oooh, you know you want to, you saucy thing!

What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?
I won a regional poetry competition when I was aged twelve, and an extremely camp poet arrived at my grammar school to present the prize. The guy sported a foppish hat, ruffle shirt cuffs and a cravat. When I walked up (red-faced) to collect my award, all the boys wolf-whistled, stomped their feet and shouted out things like, “Give him a kiss!”
I can remember one of my poems being about a bear, showcasing an unbridled overuse of alliteration, his baggy body bouncing buoyantly, or some similar pubescent nonsense.

What’s the best part about writing?
Seeing my riotous collection of scribbled notes beginning to form cohesive
paragraphs on a computer screen. It’s exhilarating!
I’m fervidly passionate about the whole writing process, from that initial blank screen to final sign off.

What’s the worst part about writing?
My healthy social life had to be adjourned.
I was also forced to abandon exciting passages of writing whenever lovely friends decided to pop round. How dare they? Nnnng! Grrrrrr! I could’ve cheerfully strangled them! Huh, friends being friendly – who needs that sort of foolish behaviour when there’s a chapter to finish!

What’s the name of your favourite character, and why?
Sinéad, Mother of Hannah, the lead girl in the story: she’s Irish, beautiful, confident, feisty – and wickedly funny (Inspired by my mother).

How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?
When I was in *full-on* writing mode, I wrote from 4 a.m. right through ‘til 6 p.m. barely pausing for food/drink or bathroom pit stops. Personal hygiene, male grooming and interaction with human beings all but disappeared during this process. You do have to commit – writing is not for wimps!

Did you go to college for writing?
I studied English literature at college and went to a good grammar school (which helps), but my writing comes from within. Oh, get me, with my high-falutin talk an’ all!

What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors or grammar errors?
Spelling errors are the lesser of the three evils as far as I’m concerned (after all, some authors are dyslexic).
You don’t need to be a grammar Nazi to write a great story, but you do need to understand the basic tenets of grammar and punctuation.
Aside from an absorbing story line, readability and flow are the most important things. At least a publishing editor can correct the bad grammar.
That being said, there are rules, a manuscript laced with the poison of bad grammar won’t hold an editor’s attention for more than a couple of paragraphs. Sadly, a lot of so-called ‘writers’ wouldn’t know their syntax from a Tampax!

What is the best advice that anyone has given you?
My wife, Julie, is a voracious reader of books; she’s the perfect person to proof read my work before anyone else gets to see my mistakes. I value her honesty (and trust me, she’s bloody honest!). She advised me to use restraint: I have a tendency to ramp up the descriptive imagery à la Salman Rushdie. This guidance was echoed by my publishing editor, who suggested I cull some of my extraneous paragraphs.
This was fantastic advice. I begrudgingly deleted about 20,000 words from my novel, then realised that the story was all the better for it.
My publishing editor did gift me a wonderful review, however, for which I’m eternally grateful:

‘Murder, myth and Mr Ordinary meet up in this extraordinary novel. However bad the weather is here, Ansbro’s vivid writing will transport you to a sun-drenched tropical island – with darkness at its heart. I loved it!’  -Karen Holmes, editor 2QT

What advice would you give to another writer?
·        Don’t be a pompous, head-up-your-own-arse diva. Accept informed advice.
·        Don’t believe your own hype.
·        When you think your book is finished, it isn’t.
·        If - after you’ve read/reread/rewritten and edited your book – and you still think it’s finished, it isn’t.
·        A novel is a marathon, not a sprint.
·        Find inspiration all around you. Life, movies, books, nature. It’s all there if you know how to look.
·        Very few books can carry the weight of excess verbiage.

What are your favourite writer sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips and encouragement?
Um, I’m afraid that I haven’t yet visited any of the above. Maybe I should?
I started on Twitter about 5 months ago, at the behest of my publisher, and have found this to be a wonderful platform for meeting other writers and raising my author profile. I’d always stubbornly resisted social media but, thanks to Twitter, I’ve since ‘met’ an army of wonderfully creative people from all over the world, many of whom I would happily spend a boozy evening with, if they lived nearby.
But, GOD, aren’t there also some insufferably arrogant authors who can’t stop banging on about their dreary novels? Jesus! Many of them have zero social skills, so Heaven knows what their wanky books are like?
And … reeeeelax…

Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?
H-O-B-B-I-E-S? Hobbies, you say?

Oh, I so miss my hobbies!

They’re a thing of the past and have since passed into folklore. I’ve spent the last few months concentrating on promo, including book signings, magazine interviews, radio interviews, Twitter, Goodreads. You name it, I’ve tried it!
I’m a real foodie, and something of a bon viveur now, whereas I used to be a kickboxer, pubber, clubber and renowned hellraiser. I’m WAY more boring now, but unsurprisingly, Mrs A prefers me this way.

What’s the best movie you’ve seen this year?
It’s been a poor year for films; some of the best ones have been foreign language ones, including Force Majeure, a Scandinavian movie.
I am, however, going to see Spectre next week.
I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it!
I love Bond movies! (I should’ve been James Bond, don’t forget).

What is your favourite book or series of all time?
Les Misérables:  Victor Hugo
(Ooohh, I’d like to sneak about twenty other titles in).

Who is your favourite author?
Salman Rushdie. The man is a literary genius.

What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?
·        Try to prise myself away from social media.
·        Find a write/life balance.
·        Presently my groovy friends can visit me anytime, without me wanting to strangle them. I’d very much like this entente cordiale to continue.

Where else can we find you online?
I’m funny, scandalously naughty, and I’m extremely sociable.
Pay me a visit sometime, or send me an email via my site – I love to chat!

My website is the best point of call:

I’m on Twitter:


And I post some blogs/funny stuff on my Google+ page:

Thank you, Annelisa, for tagging me. It’s been fun!
To whom, though, shall I extend my finger?

Next tag yet to be decided…


  1. Loved your answers, Kevin. Sorry to hear about your mother. I had a similar experience, in that I wrote one of my books (not yet talked about on the Net) whilst dealing with the pain of watching my mother fade and die of Alzheimer's. I did the same when my best friend, Julia, was dying. That was when I wrote my first magical realism book, Sole Possession.

    Apart from this sad reason for starting writing, love the humour in your answers. Also totally agree with what you say about never quite finishing editing. It doesn't stop when you finish. It doesn't stop until it's published. Even then, I bet (with opportunity) you could change something, if you haven't another project on the go to distract you :-)
    Thanks very much for allowing me to host your answers, Kevin. I really enjoyed the opportunity of getting to know you better!

  2. Thank you, Annelisa, for affording me this opportunity.
    Always fun to be allowed the chance to show off!