Graeme Cumming is the author of Ravens Gathering, a dark fantasy thriller that twists and… Well, you get the idea.
Ravens Gathering is listed on Amazon as Dark Fantasy. Is that how you’d describe it?
If it has to be pigeon-holed, then yes, but that’s how booksellers and publishers categorise things. In a sense, it actually crosses several genres, which was the best way to tell the story.
What gave you the idea?
I was driving and spotted a group of birds at the side of the road. More flew down to join them and I commented on the ravens gathering. As soon as I said it I thought, “That’d be a great title for a book.” So the title came first and it lent itself to the creepy stuff followed naturally.
Do you normally come up with titles first?
No, though it’s not unheard of. I remember challenging school friends to give me any title and I’d create a story line. Someone said “Solid Gold”, and within 24 hours I had a plot involving the simultaneous hijacking of two gold bullion shipments and the shady dealings of a US President. (The arrogance of youth…) Thirty-five years later, it’s still waiting to be written, but now the bit’s between my teeth I’m confident it will – though the title needs changing!
Thirty-five years? Why did it take so long to write your first novel?
I’ve written stories since I was a child. One of my English teachers was once heard to say that she’d eat her hat if I wasn’t a published writer by the time I was 25. She’s had time to work her way through the stock of a large milliners since then, so I hope she likes a high fibre diet. The bottom line, though, is that I’ve not been sufficiently driven. It’s what I always wanted to do, but there were always other more pressing things that distracted me. In the early days it was rock concerts, girls and alcohol, but later it became about having to support my family.
So what changed?
I realised time was running out. In my mind I’d developed a fixed idea that I had to write “properly”, which meant doing it consistently every day, which I found difficult with young children, work and an inclination for idleness. So for long stretches of time I didn’t bother because, if I couldn’t do it properly, there was no point in doing it at all. But, as I hit my early forties, I realised I was depriving myself of the pleasure of writing – creating characters, places and situations I found entertaining. So I decided to just write when I could – and, after around six years, I finished the first draft of a novel.
Good God, no! After five years and long gaps between writing, I had the makings of a novel, but it needed a lot doing to it. And having lived with that one for so long, I needed a change.
So, yes, then I wrote Ravens Gathering. But I’d learnt a lot from the first novel, and I’d steadily become more focused. The first draft took about eight months. A year later it was ready to publish.
And you self-published.
In part it was about wanting to retain control, but it was also to speed the process up. I was fast approaching 50, so I had an increased sense of time passing. I know I probably should have more patience, but didn’t want to waste any more time than I already had.
So presumably you’ve been writing constantly since and must have another book due out?
Ah… Okay, I walked into that one, didn’t I? No, there’s no second book imminent. I went back to the first one – Carrion – and spent a long time editing that, but still wasn’t happy with it. In the mean time, my business began to take over my life and I haven’t written much at all in the last year. But that’s been a wake-up call, and I’ve spent a lot of the last 6 months re-structuring the business to give myself more time. In the next month or so the writing can begin again.
Completion of Carrion?
I’m hesitating over that at the moment, but probably. It’s about time it was given a wider audience than the limited number who’ve read a version of it so far. On the other hand, there are a number of others I’m just desperate to get out of my head and on to paper (or a screen).
It sounds like you could be busy, then. Will it be more Dark Fantasy?
Some of it will, but I just want to entertain. So, whatever I write, you can expect suspense, action, a little humour in places and a few twists along the way. It’s been gratifying that readers have said: “I didn’t see that coming” about aspects of Ravens Gathering.
You’re just trying to tempt us in now, aren’t you?
Of course I am. It’s not often I get the chance to make people aware of the book, so I need to take every opportunity to get them to read it – or at least try the sample on Amazon.
Do you want to provide the link, then?
Thought you’d never ask…
For my home market, it’s:
Otherwise, the best starting point is:
You can also find my website at: www.graemecumming.net. Keep an eye on it. There will be changes soon.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Like most things, books are mainly sold on personal recommendations. So if you enjoy any book you read, take a few minutes to write a review on Amazon – and then tell all your friends.
Thanks for reading.
Thank you Graeme! This interview had such a great flow and was so much fun! If you’d like to do an interview of your own for the Wednesday Mirror Interview feature, feel free to email me from the contact page. :) Keep writing–it’s the thing to do.