Long time readers of this blog know that there are a number of authors I regularly read for, several of whom are based in and around my home city of Birmingham. I met Heide and Iain a few years ago at an author event, and have read several of their books before (links provided below). They have a new book out called Beezelbelle, which is the fifth in the Clovenhoof series and is due out 14th April 2016. I managed to catch up with them recently to do an interview and here’s how it went!
Hi, so introduce yourself/yourselves
I’m Heide Goody, co-author of the Clovenhoof series. I have a day job in IT, which is more fun than it sounds. In fact, there’s lots of raw material in the office workplace for comedy writers.
And I’m Iain Grant, the other half of the writing team. Like many writers, I actually spent much of my early career as a teacher, not a writer. Although I’ve been writing properly (‘properly’ as opposed to the ‘improper’ writing I did before) for over twenty years, it’s probably only in the last year or so I feel confident enough to answer the question, “And what do you do?” with the word, “Writing.”
How did you meet? (or How did you meet your co-writer?)
We met through the Birmingham Writers Group – www.birminghamwriters.org/ – and started writing together about a year after we met. I think the big attracting force between us was our mutual capacity for ridiculous flights of fancy and working with larger-than-life characters. I didn’t expect our working partnership to last long enough to complete one novel together, let alone a fifth book in the series.
Tell us about your current story. What’s it about and where can we get it? How does it fit in with your other work?
The fifth book in the Clovenhoof series, Beelzebelle, comes out in April 2016. It continues the story of Jeremy Clovenhoof – Satan trapped on earth after being forcibly retired by the powers that be. After we wrote Pigeonwings (book 2), I said to Heide, “In the next one, Clovenhoof should have a baby.” Actually, giving a baby to Satan isn’t as immediately hilarious as one might think and there are a number of dark questions it raises, so we struggled to find a way to get it to work.
In the meantime, we wrote books 3 and 4 (Godsquad and Hellzapoppin’) which followed the various adventures of heavenly saints, Welsh monks and scheming demons. After the release of those, we had a real hankering to return to Jeremy Clovenhoof himself and we were ready to put our Satan-with-a-baby plans into action.
Have you got anything else in the pipeline?
We’ve just started another two novels, and there’s another one which is being edited at the moment. These are all comedy, but we’re exploring some different stories. Anyone concerned that we’re abandoning Clovenhoof shouldn’t worry though, we have also got some new short stories that will be out later in the year.
We hope that people will take to them with the same enthusiasm that they did with the Clovenhoof books. Maybe that will lead us to one or two new series. If not, we’ll have another Clovenhoof novel written and out before anyone gets withdrawal symptoms.
How did you start writing? Why do you continue?
Like many people, I believe that writing is a disease. It’s the only way to get all these ideas out of my head and unleash them on the world. I think we’d write if we had no audience at all. We write because we love.
Of course, what’s fantastic is that we now have all these readers who have taken to our books and who really love them. I think one of our major motivations now is keeping those people happy, engaging with them on social media and at public events and even getting them involved in the creative process.
For example, the nine most central characters in the book we’re writing at the moment are all names of members of THE Book Club (a 3000+ strong Facebook community) who volunteered themselves for this dubious honour and who have been throwing lots of great comedy ideas our way.
How does working as a team, rather than a single author work? Work independent of each other until the end or meet regularly?
We meet regularly to do planning work, but we never write together. The internet, and the wonderful software that makes file sharing so easy are fantastically useful.
The way that we develop things is as follows:
We toy with an idea. Actually we might toy with lots of ideas, and when we say toy we mean that quite literally, we’re big fans of index card games.
Once we have chosen the idea, we do some character development. We might use index cards again, you can get some memorable quirks by combining traits that might seem unlikely.
Once we get started on plotting, we can shape what the chapters might be, at a very high level. We have ideas documents to capture ideas and jokes as we go.
For the actual process or writing, we will each take a chapter and write a synopsis for it. After that, we swap, and write the text of the chapter, based on the synopsis. Then we swap back again for editing, to smooth out the style.
Is there anyone you’d like to work with?
We love working with anyone! We sometimes run workshops, based around the games that we use ourselves. It’s wonderful to see people leave the workshop with ideas that they intend to go and write.
Traditional Publishing or self publishing? Would you recommend it to someone else?
We have self-published up until now. It suits us very well as we love to be in control. We have our favourite editors and artists and we can decide exactly how the books should be presented. Having said that, it’s quite a lot of work, so people who want to self-publish need to be prepared for that. We do all publicity ourselves, and if selling yourself is not something that comes naturally to you then it can be quite daunting.
Where can we find you on the internet?
So thanks to Heide and Iain for their books and the interview. Links to where you can buy their books are in the text above (alternative sellers are available!), and the books can be brought in both ebook and paper format.