Friday, 2 October 2015

Out of Control by T.A Belshaw

Release Date: 24th August 2015
Publisher:T.A Belshaw
Genres: Fiction / horror

Brook Cottage Books is thrilled to welcome T.A Belshaw to the blog with this great author interview! First, lets find out a little about his latest book, Out of Control.

Book Blurb

It began with a trivial moment of carelessness, but the shockwaves that reverberate from this seemingly insignificant incident, spread far and wide. 

Ed and his heavily pregnant wife Mary are on an errand for Ed’s ailing father before the pair depart for warmer climes. But the winter of 1962 comes early and one innocuous event and a hastily taken decision will have devastating consequences for the family of young Rose Gorton. Mary’s already fragile mental state is put under further stress while Ed tries to make sense of events that are spiralling massively, Out of Control.

 Author Interview

Do you write under your real name or is this a pen name you use?

My adult books, Tracy’s Hot Mail, Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail and Out of Control are all written under my own name, T. A. Belshaw. My children’s books are written under the name of Trevor Forest. I only do this because I wouldn’t want any kiddies to pick up a copy of Tracy or Out of Control. Kids do grow up quicker these days but I don’t want to grow up quite that fast.

Where are you from?

I’m from Nottingham in the UK I’ve lived in the village of Ruddington for about 40 years now so I’m almost a local. I was born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire but left to move to Nottingham when I was 17. Most of my family still live there.

Did you write as a child?

Yes. I’ve always loved writing, it really was a release. My best subject at school was English Composition, (I don’t think they call it that now,) I always got good marks for my stories and essays. At home, I used to write silly little plays with my brothers which we’d perform in front of our long-suffering parents after tea on Sundays. I wrote an almost novella length story about a space ship when I was ten. I can’t remember that much about it but I know I spent weeks on it. Probably longer than I spend on a story nowadays. Sadly the only writing competitions we could realistically enter back then were handwriting competitions and mine was, and still is, almost illegible.

What was the first thing you ever had published?

My first published book was a humorous look at the X Factor/Facebook generation through the eyes of a young girl called Tracy. (Tracy’s Hot Mail.) It was picked up by Crooked Cat Publishing in 2012. The book is a series of emails written by Tracy to her best friend Emma, spilling all the juicy gossip about her friends, enemies and family. Crooked Cat also published the sequel, Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail, which told of Tracy’s ambition to rise to the dizzying heights of a C list celebrity. After flirting with agents, the BBC and a film producer, I ended up self-publishing my first children’s book, Magic Molly, The Mirror Maze. I have gone on to self-publish seven books in that series and fourteen children’s books in total. I have had offers from small/indie publishers for the children’s titles but as I would have had to put all the work in myself to promote and market the books, I decided I’d be better off keeping all of the profits instead of just 20%. I enjoy the thrill of publishing a book myself but don’t get me wrong, if a large publisher with an equally large promotion budget came after me I’d sign before the contract hit the table. Until then I’m happy to self-publish, you do get full control over every aspect of the book.

Do you have a writing routine?

Yes and no. I write when the muse takes me and it sometimes ignores me for extremely long periods. When I do write, it’s always at my desk in my utility room with my Springer Spaniel Maisie at my feet. When the urge strikes I have to take advantage so I write anything from three to five thousand words a day in a break-neck sprint to get to the finish. I do edit bits of it as I go and I quite often have a flash of inspiration when I’m in the middle of a new chapter and I have to go back and add, edit, remove the prose before my brain will allow me to carry on. Oddly, when I write I don’t read anyone else’s books, not a single paragraph, and when I am in one of my regular reading binges, I don’t’ write. It’s as if when I’m writing, I get my creative fix and don’t need the thoughts of others to satisfy my cravings. When I’m on my writing marathons I can sit for ten to twelve hours at a time with only the odd coffee or toilet break. When I go to bed my mind is so full of the project that sleep seldom arrives until the early hours and when I wake in the morning I often have a whole new story in my head or at least a good few chapter ideas for the current project.

Do you have any writing rituals? 

Not really rituals. I always edit the hard copy with a yellow marker pen, never any other colour. If I don’t have one the edit waits until I do. I never let anyone read anything from my first draft, unless it’s a piece I’ve put on my blog asking readers for their opinion. 

Do you have a current work in progress?

I do, it’s another noir story, like Out of Control, and it is set in a similar time, (early 1960s.) The working title is, The Dark Secret (of the Old Rectory) I’m not sure if I’ll be adding the latter part. It’s about a forty-something man who returns to the UK after receiving a puzzling, cryptic message from his uncle regarding the future of old family house that he grew up in. The book is set in mid-winter and the house becomes isolated in a snow storm. Drew is met at the house by his sister who alludes to a dark family secret that was covered up when he was only five years old. On his first night back in the house Drew hears voices coming from his mother’s old room, he enters to hear young girls giggling, ghostly shadows on the wall and the window, wide open, allowing the storm to blow in. The noise stops as soon as he opens the door. In the back of his mind a memory stirs, something long forgotten, something so terrifying that it refuses to come to the surface. The rest of the book will show how those memories at first begin to trickle, then flood back as the true horrors of past events come to light.
I have also just started the eighth Magic Molly book. Magic Molly The Curse of Cranberry Cottage.
I have just finished my third book this year. A children’s story called Stanley Stickle For One Night Only.

Where did the idea for your book come from?

The Dark Secret was a story I began as a free write a few years ago. Back then I used to start with a prompt and try to build a story around it. The prompt in question came in the form of an old chocolate box from the 50s that I keep my pens and markers in. The lid of the box has a winter’s scene on it, showing a largish country house set in its own grounds. I just took that idea and ran with it and few hours later I had the first chapter of a new story. Sadly, that was as far as I got because I decided to concentrate on writing children’s books for the next few years. After my noir novella, Out of Control was released a few weeks ago, I was encouraged by my readers to write more in the same vein and The Dark Secret came to mind. Readers can find the first chapter on my blog, but there will be some structural changes made to it before the final project is released. At the moment it is set in the late 60s, (I’ll move it to circa 1962.) The house is currently set on the edge of town but I want to isolate it, so I’ll move it further out into the country. The rest of it will pretty much stay and I’ll integrate the original ghost story with a horror element.

Who was the first person you gave the book to read? 

My wife, Doreen was always my beta reader until she passed away recently. I relied on her to tell me if something wasn’t working as it should. She enjoyed the responsibility too. Doreen was widely read and could pick out a plot fault or a section of clunky prose with ease.  I don’t know who will fill her shoes as my beta reader. I don’t know if anyone can.

Do you have any advice for budding authors?

Keep going. Don’t give up, no matter what the obstacles. Join a local writing group and let your peers help you along. Never forget, writing is a craft and it has to be learned. You can’t just turn out fifty thousand words, send it off to an agent and expect to be picked up. It really doesn’t work that way. A local group or an online writer’s site will help you immensely. When you first start out, try to avoid the scenario I mentioned in my last answer, because, in general, friends and relatives will always tell you that what you have produced is wonderful, even if it is the worst piece of prose ever conceived. Gentle, constructive criticism is invaluable and unless you have an experienced writer or an English language professional in the family they aren’t going to be able to give you that. Local writer’s groups will also (usually) let your read a section of your work to the group and you’ll get excellent feedback that way. 

For real novices, don’t try to write a novel straight away. Have a go at short stories, or even flash fiction. These disciplines will teach you how to be concise and prevent you from writing over elaborate, flowery prose that readers will just skim over. When you are ready to have a go at that first novel, try NanoWriMo the national novel writing month. It doesn’t matter if you finish your work on time or if the work isn’t spectacularly brilliant, you can always rewrite and edit at your leisure. I have never attempted NanoWriMo but I know a lot of people who have and they pretty much all say that it helped them to keep focused on their writing over an extended period.

Thanks to Trevor for this great interview! Trevor's book Out of Control will be touring with Brook Cottage Books in December. If you are a book blogger and would like to take part in the tour then email to register your interest.

About T.A Belshaw

Trevor Belshaw, aka, Trevor Forest, is a writer of both adult and children's fiction. He lives in Nottingham, UK with his mad Springer Spaniel, Maisie. Trevor is the creator of Tracy’s Hot Mail (Crooked Cat Publishing,) and has recently released a noir novella, Out of Control.

Writing under the name, Trevor Forest, he has published fourteen children’s books including the Magic Molly series, The Stanley Stickle series, and Peggy Larkin's War. 
Trevor’s short stories and articles have appeared in various magazines including The Best of British, Ireland’s Own and First Edition. His poem My Mistake was awarded a highly commended status and included in the Farringdon Poetry competition best entries anthology. His children’s poem Clicking Gran, was longlisted in the Plough Poetry competition 2009. 

Trevor’s short stories have been published in many anthologies including the charity anthologies. 100 Stories for Haiti, 50 Stories for Pakistan, 100 Stories for Queensland, The Best of CafĂ© Lit, (2011 2012 and 2013) The Best of Friday Flash Volume 2, Another Haircut, Shambelurkling and other stories and 24 Stories for Advent. 

Twitter @tbelshaw
Facebook Trevor Belshaw and Trevor Forest
Email trevor(AT) 

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