Today we welcome Robert onto the blog for a great Author Talks! Be sure to check out the excerpt to his novel and check out his website!
Tell me a little bit about yourself:
I’m 66 years old, married, three children and two grand children. I’ve had three different careers before taking up full time writing. I’ve also, thanks to my employment, been lucky enough to travel to large parts of the world. I still enjoy travelling and would like to be able to afford to do more.
What first inspired you to start writing?
I was always a keen writer as a child and never really lost the habit. I’m far better at expressing my thoughts in writing than in the spoken word. Some people say that their life is accompanied by a musical soundtrack in their head. Mine runs to a plot line in my head. As a child, when I went to bed at night, I told myself made up stories in my head until I fell asleep. This is something I still do now, the difference being that when I get up in the morning I now write the stories down.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a pantser. I have the idea for the first couple of thousand words of a story, then wait and see where it will take me. I’m often just as surprised at what happens as I hope my readers will be.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
They are built up based on the needs of the story, a sort of ‘designer person’. But I will often imagine real people that bear some similarities to the characters. The character has to act and react like a real person, so it helps me to keep them grounded, providing I’m allowed a little bit of poetic licence
What book have you read that has most influenced your life and writing?
So many to choose from. I think the first ‘adult’ book that I read was one of the James Bond novels and I think that encouraged me to be bold. James Bond is one of the most unrealistic heroes in fiction – yet the world loves him.
Tell us a little about your plans for the future. Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years?
Having just finished writing a 9 book series I would like to try another one. I have just started a project that is going to consume most of my writing time this year, so in 5 years time I might just be getting to the end of another multi-book series – but don’t ask me what it will be about because I have no idea yet. There are also a couple of my earlier works that I’d like to write sequels or prequels for, so maybe I’ll revisit them when I have the time.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
An Kohli, protagonist in my Magi series, is undoubtedly my favourite. Being able to develop a character over several books allowed me to make her more multi-layered. She feels more real to me than most of the other characters I’ve ever created. In fact she feels more real to me than some real people I know.
Any website or resources that have been helpful to you as a writer?
I follow a number of writers groups on Facebook, but especially The Writer’s Circle. They post all sorts of useful stuff with links to the source so I can follow up and get a more in depth help if I need it.
What do you love most about the writing process?
Using my imagination. In my previous jobs I was always constrained by the vision (or lack of it) of others. Now I feel I can create any sort of world that I want. It doesn’t always work out, but when it does it’s wonderful.
If you could spend time as a character from your book whom would it be?
And what would you do during that day? Again, it would have to be An Kohli and I’d want to go to one of the worlds that I created for her. Space is just so full of possibilities. I wish I was younger because I have a feeling that there will be some genuine developments in space travel over the next 100 years.
What are some tips you can give other aspiring writers?
Write every day. It doesn’t matter what and it doesn’t matter how good it is. Just get into the habit. Stories will come if you open your mind to let them in and the quality of writing will improve as you learn what works and what doesn’t. But to be practical – a creative writing course is always a good investment of time and money.
What are you working on now?
I’ve just started writing a memoir based on some voice recordings made by my father, telling about his life in the army during World War II. It’s very much a labour of love.
Can you share an excerpt with us from one of your novels/projects?
This is the opening scene from Book 1 of the magi series, title “The Magi”.
One – The Out of Place Android
The door of the shuttle craft hissed downwards and An Kohli stepped out along the ramp it formed. Two younglings stared at her with interest, but when they saw that she wasn’t carrying goods to barter or sell they lost interest and scuttled off about their own business.
Such was the nature of the galaxy these days; not even the arrival of a shuttle craft attracted any interest. She doubted that the younglings would even mention her arrival to their parents. That suited her for the time being. She wanted to find the one she was looking for and then get off this useless lump of rock and never see it again.
Dust swirled around her and she wrapped her neck-cloth around her face in a vain attempt to keep the dust from entering her mouth and nose. Already she could feel the grit between her teeth. She looked at the hand held tracker. The steady pulse indicated that her target was about one hundred li to the north, if this lump of rock actually had a north. OK, she admitted to herself, north was a concept not an actuality; her target was about one hundred li diagonally to her left. It would feel like double that in the heat and dust of this lump of rock. She wished she’d landed the shuttle a little closer but she hadn’t wanted to let him know she was coming. He was the type who always ran first and asked questions afterwards.
An Kohli took a deep breath, regretting it at once as she inhaled a mouthful of dust, and strode forward, skirting past some mud built houses. She passed the same two younglings struggling to pull a bucket of water from a well and then pour it into a small tank mounted on wheels. When the tank was full it would need both of them to drag it home. Again she puzzled at the nature of a galaxy where the arrival of a shuttle craft from an orbiting space ship could attract so little attention, but where the inhabitants of the planet still drew their water from wells. She gave a mental shrug. The galaxy was a big place and she had encountered stranger things than younglings at a well.
The dust continued to torment her as she crossed the open ground. Across the rock strewn plain she could see the building she was heading for. There were draft animals tethered outside and a crude neon sign announced its purpose, though she couldn’t read the alien script. She corrected herself angrily. Here it was she who was the alien.
She pushed open the door and ducked under the low lintel into the dim room. Bars across the galaxy all seemed to conform to a type, she mused. The darker the interior the more shady its clientele and there was no one shadier than the one she was looking for. Now for the fun part.
He was a shape shifter, which meant that he could be any one of the occupants of the bar. There was a trick to identifying a shape shifter, though. Stare at him, or her, for ten seconds or more and he, or she, was bound to reveal themselves. They hated being stared at. The problem was that if you stared at people in this sort of bar you were likely to start a fight, which was why shape shifters liked bars like this one.
Her arrival had caused heads to turn. Her tall, slender figure always attracted attention. One look at the powerful Menafield Pulsar holstered on her hip suggested that there was nothing to look at here and that it was a good idea for people to just go about their business. She stomped her way to the bar, her thick soled boots making the floor vibrate. Sly looks still came her way, admiring her good looks and the waves of glossy purple hair that framed her face perfectly. She ignored them and focused on the task at hand.
End of extract.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us before you go?
Books aren’t an alternative to TV or cinema; books are what allows TV and cinema to exist, but the book will always take you deeper into a fictional world than TV or cinema ever can.
More About Robert:
Bob was born in Edinburgh in December 1951 to Katherine Sutherland and Bob Cubitt (confusing at times). Bob senior was a professional soldier and the first few years of Bob’s life was spent travelling around the world with his family. During his first 15 years he lived in Edinburgh, Austria, Malaya, Enfield, Leigh-on-Sea, Maldon (the Essex one), Harlow and Peckham.
Fed up with such an itinerant lifestyle, in 1968 Bob Joined the Royal Air Force as an apprentice electronics technician and spent the next 23 years travelling the world and enjoying all that service life had to offer. Places visited included Oman (a small island by the name of Masirah), Cyprus, Malta, Holland, Germany and various parts of the UK. During this time he met and married Bernadette and produced three children, Ewan, Tara and Sinead. He retired from the RAF in 1991.
Following on from this Bob took up new employment with Royal Mail as part of their logistics team and stayed with them until 2009. After that he returned to his roots and took up a position with the Ministry of Defence at their Logistics facility at Bicester, Oxfordshire, before leaving to take up full time writing 2012.
Bob has always been keen on writing and had tried his hand at various projects over the years, but the need to earn a crust had always interfered with his desire to be more creative. Now with time to spare, Bob returned to writing with passion and produced two works of fiction in rapid succession. In truth these had been “works in progress” while he had still been in full time employment and just needed finishing off. Since publishing these books on Amazon he has focused on new projects and now has a total of nine fiction and three non-fiction works published, with more in the pipeline.
In his spare time Bob enjoys playing golf, is an ardent supporter of Northampton Saints rugby club and is a member of a pub skittles team. He also writes a weekly blog for this website.