Welcome to Alp Mortal
Born in 1965, I’m English by birth from the Isle of Wight, living in Newport, spending part of the year in France in the stunningly beautiful department of Haute-Saône in the Franche Comté region. It is heavily forested and very tranquil but the winters are pretty harsh and my home is 820 metres above sea level so I get plenty of snow.
I am also spending increasing amounts of time in the USA, co-managing The Carter Seagrove Project LLC – an independent publishing house, incorporated in the State of Indiana.
I will be 50 years old in 2015. I only started writing in 2009, proving, I suppose, that it is never too late. I didn’t think about self-publishing until late 2012, now, more than two years later, I’m even more energized by the process than ever before.
I’m a qualified English teacher, specializing in teaching English as a second language (TEFL), though I don’t do much of that now. In the distant past, I taught software skills. In the very distant past, I was a project manager on big IT projects and at the very beginning of my career, I was an Internal Auditor. I have degrees in Internal Auditing, Computer Auditing, and Project Management. I’m studying for my degree in Sustainable Development at the moment. Renewable energy is what really interests me and I generate my own power at home via a solar panel.
I’m a member of The Society of Authors, The Society for Editors and Proofreaders, and The Independent Author Network. I am a Smashwords Author and a Goodreads Author.
I grow some of my own food and from Easter to the end of October, I’m outside for the largest part of the day, tending the garden. I write in the evening and during the winter when there is very little else to do. I have no great philosophy except “energy follows intention” and “honour your gifts”. These two principles keep me sane, very happy and exceedingly busy!
Together with Chambers Mars, I am half of Carter Seagrove, author of Dust Jacket and The Inspector Fenchurch Mysteries.
Alp Mortal, Chambers Mars and Shannon M. Kirkland are The Carter Seagrove Project LLC – an independent book publisher. Find us at www.carterseagrove.weebly.com, on Twitter @carterseagrove and on Facebook www.facebook.com/thecarterseagroveproject.
Where do you live and write from? Currently, I am split between four centers of fiction writing worship: The Isle of Wight, UK in the town of Newport; in the mountains of the Vosges in Haute Saone, France, and in Indiana, USA, where I stay with Shannon from time to time. I also spend time in St Tropez with Chambers – usually if we’re getting a Fenchurch Mystery ready for publication.
Living this way really helps to keep me topped up with ideas for new stories – travel broadens the mind … and the vocabulary!
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write m/m romance, m/m/f romance very occasionally, m/m romantic thrillers, and gay-themed crime stories and series (mostly with Chambers Mars when we write as Carter Seagrove). I am just about to start my first Sci-fi project which is also gay themed (Trojan Horse – a kind of Space Opera). I have a gay-themed soap opera (Swallow Close) on the table but that is languishing due to project overload. At some point in 2015, I hope to output a series of poems based around the themes of Metaphysics, Gestalt Theory, Solipsism and Synesthesia – themes which occur in my stories too.
I shuttle between stories of varying length and style – epic fantasy sagas alongside very brief encounters, poetry and things which are essentially plays.
Where do you find inspiration? Inspiration comes from everywhere – it’s why travel is so important to me. I find that a lot of the energy for a story comes from my own experiences and relationships. There is a lot of me in each story. The things I study the most also feed into stories – ecology, art, cooking, veganism, Buddhism, social history, evolution, mythology, fast cars, poetry (especially John Donne, Andrew Marvel and Coleridge), Metaphysics, Gestalt Theory, Synesthesia and Solipsism. Fundamentally, I find the greatest source of inspiration to be the idea that a set of words can influence how a person feels and thinks – that suggests a very deep connection and a privileged one too.
Do you have a favourite character? If so why? Cicero in Dabs of Blue, Casper in Guiltless Trip, Inspector Alfred Fenchurch in The Inspector Fenchurch Mysteries, Daniel in Daniel’s Garden, Archie in Brave, Alfie in A Lifelong Love and Jason in The Weaver & The Loom – because they represent the best of humanity … and that doesn’t mean always just good – neither are they the most complex (Emile in Juxtaposition) or the simplest (Adam in Camping Gear) – they offer a kind of optimism.
Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? Ben in Juxtaposition; Fulshard in The Inspector Fenchurch Mysteries, Lawrence in Guiltless Trip, Anthony in Brave, Pierre in Love On The Beach – they exist to fulfil a purpose – to highlight the good in someone else – to provide the motivation to act in a certain way, to engender an emotional response. I haven’t created a character that I began to dislike – sometimes I become ambivalent about a character – sometimes I elevate a character to play a part which I did not anticipate at the start – most notably Gus and Jacob in Brave.
Are your characters based on real people? All of the characters are based on real people to one extent or another – some of them I know well, others, less so.
Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? Yes …
Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? I love research – ferreting around out of way places and musty old bookshops. How much I research I need to do depends on the story – The Inspector Fenchurch Mysteries takes place in the 1930s, so that took a lot. Some stories are written straight out of my memory of a particular place – Guiltless Trip, Consequences, Camping Gear. The Internet is absolutely invaluable to me – Wikipedia & YouTube probably most – often Google Maps.
Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Do you feel this is important in a book? Always a message – I can’t write something which does not have a ‘point’ – it is fundamental to the process of creating a story – before the characters are drawn oftentimes. It provides the energy, motivation, realism and hook.
Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) Great Characters, Solid Plot, Great World Building, Technically Perfect
I am a storyteller – and love reading stories – but I remember the characters and prefer to create characters because I am turned on by people. Great characters can compensate for a thinner plot – a great plot can never compensate for badly drawn characters. I prefer as a reader – and for the reader – to build the world themselves – I hate too much detail – I want to use my imagination. Technically perfect – of course – but not to the detriment of getting the story told – my editor hates me!
In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? All of my titles are available as eBooks – in all formats – and some are going to be produced as audiobooks. Print is too costly and the retail pricing model doesn’t work these days in the face of eBook pricing. I used to offer all of them in print and sold zip, so took them off of the shelf.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I used to; I don’t anymore. Yes, a book suffers. When I look at the mistakes I made and left unchecked in early stuff which I did self-edit, I cringe. I realised after a while that you owe your reader at least a script that is as good as it could be, given even the best editor will always miss something. I am blessed with a wonderful editor who takes great pains to make sure the script is ‘worthy’.
Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Yes. We used to be treated as a joke. Now we’re getting some kudos. We represent the new construct, are closer to our readers, are better at social media and get books published quicker. I see a lot of negative press but discount it because I have exercised a choice in being a self-published author – we have freedom and control our output. If someone believes that a trad’ published author is the only kind or the ‘real’ kind or the ‘best’ kind then they are missing out on great reads.
Do you read work by self-published authors? 90% of my contemporary fiction reads are from self-published authors.
What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? I used to get hooked on them and upset by bad ones – now I never read them. You can’t influence the outcome once the book has gone out there – I’d rather devote the energy to writing the next story.
When buying a book do you read the reviews? Sometimes but they do not always influence my decision to purchase.
What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Write, write and write … leave the editing to the editor. Enjoy the process or quit. Respect your professional and artistic integrity and respect your reader.
What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst? Website – blog – Twitter – be Goodreads active – put your product everywhere – advertise on All Romance eBooks and Prism Book Alliance – have a profile everywhere – enter competitions – comment on blog posts
Worst – paid boosts of posts on Facebook
Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare
Assignment to Disaster by Edward S Aarons
Strange Conflict by Dennis Wheatley
The Romance of Tristran & Iseult retold by Joseph Bedier
Stripped Expectations by James Lee Hard
The Twelve Chairs by Ilf and Eugene Petrov
Lexington Black by Savannah Smythe
Wondering, The Way by Luke F D Marsden
Jonathan’s Hope by Hans M Hirschi
I read rapaciously – I am aroused by the way a series of words invokes an emotional response – I read all of the packaging on the food I buy – it’s fascinating!
Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? Trad = too difficult to choose one but would have to be Emile Zola (dead) / Stephen R Donaldson (alive)
Indie = too difficult to choose one but Dill Pickles
What are your views on authors offering free books? It is a necessary evil – I do – without a free offering there is zero chance anyone is going to take a chance on you if they don’t know you.
Do you have a favourite movie? The Matrix
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I was born in 1965 – the population of Asia then, equated to 1000 times the number of words I had written by the time I was 49.
FOR EROTICA AUTHORS
As a writer of erotica have you encountered any prejudice? How have you dealt with it? Do you write under a pen name? I write erotic romance – as Alp Mortal – that’s me.
Yes; some people think it’s dirty or somehow perverted. I usually ask them if they have watched Brokeback Mountain …
Where do you think the lines are drawn between romance, erotica and porn? Those lines exist only the reader’s head – for me the line is between the gratuitousness of the sex and whether the characters engage with me and whether there is a point to the story which lasts beyond the orgasm.
Erotica is not a new genre do you think it is becoming more accepted into mainstream reading?It was always accepted into mainstream reading – the difference now is that more people admit to reading it.
Book links, website/blog and author links:
Book links – http://carterseagrove.weebly.com/books-by-our-authors.html
Website/blog – http://alpmortal.weebly.com
Author links – use the book links – above – (a new gallery we have created) to find all of the links to the other author/retail links
The publishing house – http://www.carterseagrove.weebly.com,
on Twitter @carterseagrove
and on Facebook www.facebook.com/thecarterseagroveproject.