Interview With Author Ruary Mackenzie Dodds

Ruary Mackenzie Dodds

If you would like to be featured like this on my blog, drop me a line.

The next author in this series is my wonderfully talented Uncle Ruary. Which makes me even more honoured to feature him in this series.

Ruary has two books currently published see the photos below, or you can visit his website to find out more.

Aberfeldy Dragonfly Diaries

What are you currently working on?

Hope to have The Dragonfly Gardener published in 2016. But longterm I’d like to see my two historical novels (Luc’s War and Luc’s Gold) published, plus my childrens’ story (Dorigen) and some more of my poetry.

When and how do your characters come to you? Is it in a moment of inspiration, an epiphany? Or do they grow in some murky recess of your mind?

They are often based on real people, either with known historical characteristics, or just people I know. In a few cases they are me in disguise.

There’s an acceptance that authors often write in traits or characteristics of themselves into their work, you have several books, is there any part of you in any of your characters?

Well, I just wrote that above, didn’t I, without seeing this question first! So, yes there is. Especially in Luc the hero of my novel ‘Luc’s War’. He’s a nicer, cooler, braver version of me. And he has the same flaw, a liking for drink.

How do you develop your characters? Do you let them brew in your subconscious, use character interview sheets, or something completely different?

They brew in my subconscious, often doing things I hadn’t quite expected as I write. Sometimes they do things as I lie half awake in bed.

Are you a planner, or free writer?

I’m a free writer with fiction, and a planner with non-fiction.

When you are developing a book, what tools or techniques do you use, e.g. timelines, mood boards, character interviews, scraps of notes?

I use actual chronology as a frame. I read a great deal. I often allow things to come to me whilst walking or in bed. I tend not to write them down when that happens. I let things brew. Except sometimes if I think I’ll forget them. That can happen in the middle of the night.

Has your technique changed over time?

I’m more relaxed now, perhaps too relaxed. Less disciplined certainly.

Where do you draw inspiration from? Do you actively look for it?

History, landscape and personal experience.

What kind of an environment do you write in? Day/night/silence/music/desk/sofa etc

In my study. In silence. In a comfy swivel chair I can lean back in from time to time, and for which I paid good money. Sometimes I’ll get up in the middle of the night and write so as not to lose the immediacy of an idea.

I’m 53K words into my first novel; it’s taking over my brain! What advice can you give me on completing it? Or maybe an easier question. What do you wish you had known about writing a book before you started?

Enjoy the obsession. Accept the time it takes. Also accept that it always takes much longer than you think.

The publishing industry is in decline across the board. Do you think things like the Kindle are bridging the gap, is there still the same love for the written word, or is it being diluted by the modern obsession with tech and gadgets? 

I’m not sure I agree that the publishing industry is in decline. It’s changing, certainly, but think of the number of people self-publishing and the number of ways of reaching an audience. Do you mean to say that all these creative writing course are destined for a shrinking market? Of course not. More people are actively writing today than ever before. And more work is finding an audience.

50 Shades of Grey author EL James was reported to make around £100k a day at the book’s height, and the upcoming film will make her millions. Do you find it a shame that the most lucrative and famous book franchise of the moment is one so widely derided for its lack of literary value? Or is it just good to have a book going mainstream?

It’s nice for someone to get lucky. The Da Vinci Code was another. If they get people to read books, any books, it’s good.

If a fascist regime was burning the worlds libraries, what books would you save?

That’s a previous-century question now. It’s almost all digitized. It would be almost impossible to destroy everything. But, accepting the question, save history books and good historical novels. It would be the only way to knock out the Fascist state.

Which publishing route have you taken? Did you always know you were going to go down this route, and if so why?

It feels more respectable, more legitimate, and shows others really like my work and are backing me.

What do you wish you knew about the publishing process before you started?

How little money the whole effort produces. You’re financially better off working in Tesco.

What is the best advice you could give to aspiring novelists like me? Or what was the best advice you were ever given?

Find a writing buddy you can trust to tell you the truth about your work as she/he sees it. Comment on his/her work in the same way. Meet once a month at least. Maybe over a lunch. You will both grow from this. Accept criticism but only from those people who you’re sure understand you. Don’t listen to people who wish to teach you. They are often over-analytical and prone to dogma.

I am finding more and more, that writers often have several creative outlets. Do you? Or is writing your one source?

I play. I play with trains and toy soldiers. And I collect them. It’s terrific. If only I could write about how great play makes me feel!

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

A speaker. I’d tell people about dragonflies. Oh! I do that anyway!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve written poetry ever since I was 15, when I lost my mother.

What authors do you admire, and why?

Patrick O’Brian. Derek Robinson. William Boyd. Sebastian Faulkes. Ian McEwan. Philip Pullman. Why? Because they really get inside other people’s heads and summon up extraordinarily real episodes. Clearly I prefer blokes. Their work stays with me longer. Hmm. I must be a blokey sort of bloke.

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