Sunday, 12 March 2017

Fab Firsts - Q&A with Malcolm Hollingdrake

Fab Firsts is my new regular Sunday feature, that is going to be highlighting books that are firsts. When interviewing authors, it will be about their first book, as well as other firsts in their lives. When reviewing books for this feature, there will be a mix of debuts, first books in a series, the first time I read an author, and possibly other firsts depending on what I can think of!

If you are an author wanting to take part in Fab Firsts then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you.

I hope you enjoy this look at a variety of hopefully fabulous firsts, while making some sort of dent in my review and paperback TBRs which are my current main focus!

I'd like to welcome today Malcolm Hollingdrake to Rachel's Random Reads who is talking about his debut book Engulfed.

What can you tell us about your first book?

The first book I wrote was hand written and hand illustrated for my nephew when I lived abroad but there is only one copy and I’m happy to say he still owns it at 36 years of age!

Amazon UK
The first self-published book was titled, ‘Engulfed’. A terrorist crime novel, it is primarily based in Bradford, Yorkshire but covers much of the north before concluding in Northern Cyprus. What is strange about this novel is the fact that it nearly was never seen. 

I sent a number of copies to publishers but received a pleasant, thanks but no and then the computer on which it was stored suddenly died. I didn’t have a back-up copy and nobody could fix the computer so it was put into the garage to be thrown away. I believed that that was the end of my writing career. However, about two years later I was sorting out the garage when I discovered the laptop, plugged it in and it miraculously came to life. I found that ‘Engulfed’ was still there, dashed and collected a disc and downloaded the novel, checked it was there on my latest computer, it was. I returned to the garage to retrieve the computer to find that it had given up the ghost, this time permanently. 

Maybe someone was looking over me, and so, I self-published the book and started writing my DCI Cyril Bennett, Harrogate crime series.

What was your original inspiration to become a writer. and to write your debut?

My career has been in teaching and I have always read or told stories to children, often penning them myself. After living abroad and reading about the Gulf War, the idea for ‘Engulfed’ came to me. I wrote it and let friends and family read it and they were so positive about my writing style I believed it was worth giving it a go.

How long did it take you to write your first book?

About twelve months, when time permitted.

If you could do anything differently in retrospect, what would you change about you debut, or how you went about writing it?

Looking back I should really have persevered with submissions to many more publishers but you get the stuffing knocked out of you when you receive the rejection slips. I think the novel is good, now I might not include the bedroom scenes but that knowledge and confidence only develops with time. It is what it is. It’s still a favourite of some readers and I’m grateful for that.

Was your first book self or traditionally published and how did you go about making that decision?

Sadly I had no other choice but to self publish. eBook Partnership did a great job and have been very supportive. It’s still with them now.

Do you have any tips for first time authors?

Simple, words said to me by Angie Marsons, and so eloquently sung by Peter Gabriel, “Don’t give up.” No matter how hard it becomes, stick at it. One day you will meet a person who can lift you to a place you cannot get to on your own. They will put you on the mountain. Your job then is to stay on and climb. That helping hand for me came from Betsy Reavley and Bloodhound Books. Together they threw me the rope and gave me the crampons to start my climb.

First book you bought

I think it was one of the Dr Syn series by Russell Thorndike but I can’t be sure. 

First memory

No idea but I can remember when I was four and asking why I couldn’t attend school with my older brother.

First person I fell in love with.

I’ll adjust the question if I may. The first weekend at Ripon College in 1971, I met a young lady; we’ve been together for forty-six wonderful years.

First holiday you went on.

Bradford to Blackpool. Loved every minute.

First prize you won

‘Secular knowledge’ prize at college. Trouble was I was unsure as to what secular knowledge was…typical student!

First Album you bought

Believe it or not, Handel’s ‘Water Music’

Firsts sport you enjoyed participating in

Rugby and Karate

First pet

Dog, Trixi

First toy

A sledge made by my father. Happy times

First time you felt like an adult.

When I was seven I travelled with my eight year old brother to visit an aunt and uncle. We had to take the train to Manchester, cross the town and collect another train. I remember tipping the taxi driver and calling him a good man. Pretentious what?

First time you were really scared

When my wife was very seriously ill. It’s the only time I’ve truly prayed. 

Thanks you so much. 

About Malcolm Hollingdrake

You could say that the writing was clearly written on the wall for anyone born in a library that they might aspire to be an author but to get to that point Malcolm Hollingdrake has travelled a circuitous route. Since leaving Ripon College of Education, Malcolm has worked in education for many years, even teaching for a period in Cairo before he started writing, a challenge he had longed to tackle for more years than he cares to remember. 

Malcolm has written a number of successful short stories and has two books now available. Presently he is concentrating on a series of crime novels set in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. 

Born in Bradford and spending three years in Ripon, Malcolm has never lost his love for his home county, a passion that is reflected in the settings for all three novels.

Malcolm has enjoyed many hobbies from flying, stained glass making and a long held passion, collecting works by Northern artists; the art auctions offer a degree of excitement when both buying and certainly when selling. It’s a hobby he has bestowed on DCI Cyril Bennett, the main character in his latest series.

He is now working on another Bennett novel whilst still in search of a painting or two.

Malcolm on Twitter & Facebook

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