Author Interview of Alasdair Shaw
For this month, I interview Alasdair Shaw, a writer who seems to have taken a different path to a self publishing career, specifically through non-fiction before getting into science fiction. It’s great to see the flexibility that comes with self publishing.
Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?
Alasdair: I feel like I should make one up just to answer this question. Here goes…
I once bumped into Steven Spielberg at Cannes. He thought I had written Independence Day, probably due to the first installment of the Two Democracies: Revolution series being called Independence, and started talking about a sequel. A reporter overheard some of it and ran a big story about it.
Now, if I ever get famous, I am going to see how long it takes that bit of rubbish to appear on Wikipedia!
Have you written works in collaboration with other writers, and if so: why did you decide to collaborate and did it affect your sales?
Alasdair: I have some short stories in science fiction anthologies. One of which, The Newcomer, I edited myself. I wanted to be involved in a joint project, something that would be greater than any of us individually would create. It also seemed a good way to introduce readers to authors they hadn’t yet encountered.
They have brought more people to my series, and also garnered a few very involved mailing list subscribers.
Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
Alasdair: Yes. Usually I aim for that time to be one where I am busy anyway, and so aren’t tempted. Having finished my first military science fiction novel, Liberty, I was posted to run a training exercise in south Wales. Days of caving, rock climbing, mountain walking, tactical exercises and live full-bore shooting forced the book out of my conscious mind. When I returned for the final edit, I saw several big flaws that needed addressing.
With my latest work, The Perception of Prejudice, I finished it just before Christmas then went back to it at the start of this month.
How much research do you do?
Alasdair: I spent a lot of time reading, searching, and walking the routes for my Walking through the Past series.
To be honest, I do very little research for my science fiction. The worlds are completely fictitious, so instead of researching real places I run things through in a sort of simulation in my head. I do a little digging into historical events that I want to resonate with references in my stories. The main piece of research is into the books, music, and artwork that Indie (my main character – a sentient AI) explores.
Was anything in the book inspired by your own personal experience?
Alasdair: Johnson’s command style is akin to some of the better officers I have met. She avoids micro-managing where she can, focusing instead on the big picture. She trusts her crew to do what needs doing, and refrains from pointless orders. It makes the story-telling harder – no “Shields up” to remind the reader they have shields when faced with an enemy attack, for instance.
One of the characters in my work in progress is partially based on my personal experience in life. Not his great riches, but his interpretation of the world and interactions with other people.
Alasdair Shaw started his writing career with Walking Through the Past, a series of walking guides to archaeological sites in Britain’s uplands published by Archaeoroutes. He then got into writing physics textbooks, revision guides, and practice exam papers for OCR, Pearson, ZigZag Education and BBOP: School Physics Resources.
The Two Democracies: Revolution science fiction series starts with Independence, and continues with Liberty. A novelette, The Perception of Prejudice, comes out this month. The next full-length novel, Equality, will hopefully be released in summer 2017, followed by Fraternity the year after.
You can sign up to Alasdair Shaw’s mailing list at https://app.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/k9x9t2 and see what else he gets up to on his website at http://www.alasdairshaw.co.uk.
The Two Democracies universe intersects with our own at https://twitter.com/IndieAI and https://www.facebook.com/twodemocracies.