Monday, 12 January 2015

Stephen Mullaney-Westwood

Author: Stephen Mullaney-Westwood
Best Known WorksUnforgotten Tales
Where you can find him: Website / Facebook / YouTube
Top Writing Tip: Expect nothing. Simply do it because you can't not do it. 

Hi Stephen, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us.

Tell us a little about yourself, what are the main life experiences that have led to this book?

I’m a 40 year old tree hugger currently living in the Cotswolds, in the UK.  I write slightly dark fiction philosophising on nature, and the nature of man. My forthcoming novel is about the true haunting faery lore of Cornwall.

I grew up in a village where there was quite a lot of countryside. Climbing trees and wellie-booting through ponds were my favourite past times. I guess that was when my excitement for nature was sparked, but I kind of lost my way as a teenager and became very depressed, and actually ended up quite mentally unwell for a good twenty years of my life. 

My recovery began with writing. I had an autobiography published and did a lot of work spreading awareness of the mental disorder I suffered from. But true fulfilment came with love, with the understanding that I am a sensitive soul, and by spending time with the trees. A spiritual coming of age I suppose, which is how I describe my novel.  

When did you realise that you were Pagan?

Well to tell the truth I shy away from labelling myself, I am just me, and I certainly don't follow any doctrine, but the ideals of paganism definitely come the closest to how I feel about the world. 

There have been so many hundreds of years of conditioning, warping and merging of every thought human beings have ever had, that I personally don’t think any religion can be truly believed or followed.  But paganism, in its pure form of nature worship, can not really be argued... it is a beautiful, honest thing.

When and why did you begin writing?

I have always been creative and I have always written. I may not have published The Adventures of Harry the Hedgehog but I was very serious about writing it, drawing the illustrations and putting a fake publisher’s mark on the corner of the cover!  I used to put on puppet shows for my family, programmed computer games in the 80s, made board games, have been in bands, written songs, play the drums... I just like to create.  But it was clear to me that writing was where my passion really lies. Through the years I have amassed pages of completed novels and short stories but these were training... now it’s serious!

Tell us a little about the community you’re building through your blog and social media.

I find all this very difficult as I’m quite a loner. I do have the skills to chat to people and I am not completely devoid of technical know-how either, but there is so much competition and I am not really sure how to fight my corner. I have a website, a Facebook page and I do vlogs on Youtube.  Please take a look at them because although I enjoy doing it, it will be much more fun if I have some followers.

Is this your first published piece or have you had work published before?

Unforgotten Tales is my first release under my name Stephen Mullaney-Westwood. It is an introduction to how I write and what I am about, released at a low price on Kindle and will soon be in paperback.

It's a collection of thirteen short folktale-style stories, modern fables and fairy tales, written in a method now often forgotten. Intentionally allegorical, darkly twisting while yet enlightening and inspirational. Brought to Kindle as a prelude to my forthcoming novel Forgotten Things; the first chapter of which is included. Because some things are important to remember.

Are you published or self-published, and what has been your experience of this process? 
My autobiography was published (under a different name), and I have recently self published a collection of short stories called Unforgotten Tales.  Yet currently I am seeking a publisher for my full length novel Forgotten Things.  Nowadays whether you are traditionally published or self published you will still have to take care of marketing it yourself, and it is time consuming work. I had a lot of positive response from my first book, but I think if it was self published that would have been the same. There were errors in the text I would have loved to have control of tiding up, and money wise, we are artists, so unless we are very lucky, we will always be poor! 

My reasoning behind looking for a traditional publisher for the novel is that, with so many books out there, having some initial credence behind it might get it noticed more.  To be honest though, it may be a little bit of vanity, and I think some good reviews on Amazon are probably equally beneficial. 

How did the topic of your book come to you?

I like to write the things I would want to read.  A lot of the books I do read were written many years ago, and I don’t think there are many who write that way in modern times.

As for faeries, I don’t really remember when I first discovered the truth about that folklore. I am very interested in how things we now see as fiction were long ago completely believed in. I used to be obsessed with vampires and I had a lot of books about them, some of which had sections on other mythical beasts, so perhaps it was from one of those books. It all clicked in to place with me, their darkness tinged with the mystical magic of the woods... I felt a strong draw to be their voice.

What do you enjoy reading?

I find it so hard to read because I can sometimes be only a few lines in when an idea comes to me for my own writing!  I read a lot of non–fiction for research and enlightenment. I read about faeries and forest spirits... I actually love old fairy tales even if they are written for children. And I don’t associate myself with current writing or trends. The likes of Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allen Poe are where my aspirations lie.

Who encourages and inspires you?

Trees.  Woodland.  And music I suppose.  I have always been very much ‘into’ music; it can change my mood or enhance it. I will latch on to a particular artist and listen to them constantly for a while before finding another. Tori Amos, Patrick Wolf, the Smiths and Morrissey... to name a few that have shaped a part of me. 

How important are reviews of your work, do you read them?

It is hard to keep confidence in yourself as a writer, and while a good review might make you smile for a moment, it is the bad ones that stick in your head. Personally I am very good at picking out the negatives from a glowing review. But we have to remember that every view is subjective, not everyone is going to ‘get’ what we do. The people who go out of their way to write a review tend to do so because their reaction to something was strong, whether that be for good or bad. But I would rather be loved by a few than have many that think my work is ‘so, so’.     

I would say read them, then forget them, unless there is something truly constructive that you can use. They are there to help others make an informed choice as to what to buy... and as consumers we all know how to read between the lines.

If anyone wants to read my book and review it for Amazon, I would actually be very grateful.  

Tell us a bit about your story, key characters and plot.

Excuse me for simply pasting my ‘blurb’... I'd like to keep an air of mystery!

Forgotten Things is a coming of age tale set in the Cornish countryside during the mid 1980s. Delving deeply into Cornwall’s rich and dark faery lore; it is a novel of nature in contrast; sinister, beautiful, wise and innocent. With an otherworldly twist it explores the importance of influences; of growing up, whilst still looking backwards.
The tale which unfolds is seen through the eyes of one man recounting the memories and adventures of his childhood. In a similar way to a classic ghost story the ‘horror’ is subtle and unnerving, with its antagonists being the little people in their true form; ancient beings which transpose boundaries- taken seriously and sitting in mysterious juxtaposition with the secular world.

Do you plan your stories before you begin?

Everyone has their own way of doing things, but I think you have to plan to some degree. If you are making it all up as you go along, I think it will show. I have a beginning middle and end, I have key scenes and lots and lots of paragraphs I have written that I want to slot in. But you can fix it all together as your mind flows, and sometimes the best ideas will be those that you had not planned until your character was there, in the situation at the end of your fingertips, waiting to see what is around the corner. That is where writing becomes exciting to the author, because typing out the parts you already knew were going to happen can be quite dull!

If you could pick one book you wish you’d written, what would it be?

The Picture Of Dorian Gray.

What are your future plans for writing?

My novel Forgotten Things will be released either by myself or by a publishing house. And I have made plans to begin a semi-sequel... there are pages and pages of notes to sift through already!


Thank you once again for taking the time to talk to us, Stephen. We wish you all the best in finding a publisher for your next novel.

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