1.Tell me a little about yourself:
I live on the outskirts of London; enjoying much of what the city has to offer: theatre, museums, architecture, jazz and blues concerts,and,of course, the pubs.
2, Can you tell me about your name (Fatman Butter)?
My own name has a lot of clutter attached to it when Googled, including a namesake writer who
specializes in the horror genre. So as I'm pretty much forced to use a pseudonym; Fatman Butter, I
think, is memorable and has cadence. He was a character in a story I was writing that didn't pan out; a grizzled old blues singer and piano player. I do get remarks that I might not be taken seriously due
to using the name, but I take the view that if anyone is so stuffy that my de-plume puts them off
buying a book, then my books wouldn't be to their taste anyway. To be honest, since adopting it I've
found the name an engaging talking point, and I very much enjoy being Fatman Butter
3. How long have you been writing?
It would be reasonable to expect a short answer to a question like that, but...At the age of four I was
convinced everybody else in the world had defective hearing. This was put right by my parents
sending me to a speech therapist. Today the confusion I had with words would have been recognized as a symptom of dyslexia. Way back then it was a symptom of stupidity.
I didn't have the best of educations, largely my own fault, as I was resistant to learning. I hid my inability to comprehend under unruliness, leaving school aged fifteen, a poor reader and with an ability to write that was no more proficient than a nine year old.
At 18, I realized I was not going to go far in the world without being able to read and write
properly, so determined to master my failings I started to read my first book. Yes, I had gone through the education system without ever having read a book.
It took me six months to read that first book. Thank God it was a good one or I might never have
read another— Alice In Wonderland. My next book took only three months and quite soon I was a
book a month. How my life was elevated! Not just the pleasure of reading, but in so many ways, not least conversation.
But it was a result of that ability to be more articulate in conversation, combined with my big mouth
and a couple of lagers that I came to writing. While discussing a couple of books that I had rather
low opinion of (from illiterate philistine to condescending critic in just 17 years and a few too many
beers) I said, "Anyone can write a book."
With dissenting voices ringing in my ears, I sat down to prove I was right and everybody else was wrong. It took a while— a long while, but I have never been short on determination.
So about three years later (it wasn't just me being me that was responsible for it taking so long, I
had a few other things to take care of at the time— like putting food on the table), there it was, my
book; finished. And of course it was a mess. But in that mess was a great story. I don't feel any
sense of boastfulness in saying that, the story could stand with the best of its genre, but my delivery of the story was woefully inadequate. The solution was simple— edit it. And edit it. And edit it. And without really knowing how to, I edited.
As my manuscript improved I sent it agents and by return collected a nice pile of rejection slips.
Until¼instead of the usual approach, I the sent whole manuscript and a brief cover letter which
said, "It's a horror story 123,000 words, please read the first page, after that read the next one if you
want to. If you don't want to then send it back, the postage is paid."
Now I had a one month exclusive with an agent. Sadly nothing came of it, and the manuscript went
into the draw. Life goes on. When it came out again...more editing. I've seen would be authors
surrounded by dozens of manuscripts that repeat the same mistakes over and again, I have always
maintained I would rather have one piece of work I could be proud of than a dozen mediocre
manuscripts. I have since learned a lot more about editing; Devil's Seed is now 93,000 words, and I am very proud of it.
So to answer your question: I have been writing for about 25 years, but that's not reflected by the volume of my work.
4. Who or what inspired you to be a writer?
(AC: I think that's covered in question 3, and question 7)
5. What do you find most challenging and enjoyable as an author?
Everything about good writing is challenging, and therefore everything about it is enjoyable.
Having said that, there are extra special moments when you craft a phrase or a paragraph to exactly
your intention. This is the best paragraph I have written:
That might not look much on its own, but in the context the story it is in, it says so very much.
6. What books do you enjoy in your free time?
For me, reading is essential to writing (as it should be for all authors) so I often read outside of my favorite genres. But if you want to keep me happy, sit me in a corner with a bit of science-fiction or horror.
7. Who is your favorite author and why?
Without the tiniest hesitation: Stephen King. This should fall somewhere near the middle of what I saying earlier; I reached the age of twenty-five on a steady, one a month, diet of Dickens, Twain, C.
S. Lewis, and a whole load of other Victorians. Then, while staying at a friends house for a
weekend, I found a copy of The Stand on her bookshelf. WOW! I just didn't know it was allowed that people could write like that. Next came Different Seasons, then Cujo; I've lost count of how
many Stephen King novels I have now read, but I think it would be fair to say the royalties he has earned from me would have brought him a decent pair of shoes, and probably socks too.
8. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
My first advice would be: Let your imagination run wild.
My second advice would be: Learn to edit. When the writing is finished, the book is only ten
percent complete. You have nothing until those words are moulded, massaged and smoothed so that
they tell your story to the reader with consummate ease.
My third advice would be: wear sunscreen!
9. Can you tell us about any of your new work?
Already written and hopefully available this year books 1 & 2 of the G-World series. This series is fantasy, with a dark edge that I think allows it to cross into the horror genre also.
I'm very excited about these novels; I sat down with a short story in mind, and when I got up I had a
quarter of a million words, six outstanding characters, and, I promise you, just about the craziest
place a story has ever been set in. And remember, I've read Alice in Wonderland!
In case you think I'm bigging this up just to get attention, I can tell you one agent turned down the
opportunity to represented it on the grounds that it is too different!!! (If there is anyone out there
writing really ordinary stuff and is in need of a gutless agent, please let me know and I will pass the details on to you).
10. What question do you wish someone would ask and what is the answer?
An easy question!
Posed by the CE of one of the big publishing houses: Fatman, would you please sign this contract?
Reply, by me after snatching the CE's pen: Oh! I'm sorry...I'm sure they will be able to sew those fingers back on at the ER.
11. Tell me about your cover art.
The art, which I love, has been by supplied by the very talented Danielle Tunstall. I happened onto her work on the net, and knew instantly I wanted her art for my cover. As Danielle lives only a little over a hundred miles from me, I took the time to go meet her. And I'm so glad I did. I don't want to
say anything about Danielle circumstances here, but I will tell you she is a fighter. Rarely have I
met anybody with her determination, she also has quirky sense of humor, and it only takes a glance at her work to see she has the imagination of a genius. No surprise that I have future projects planed with Danielle.