One of the authors who will certainly grab your attention is the somewhat enigmatic Stewart Bint, author of several novels and contributor to world anthologies. He is also a member of the relentless Awethors, which is where I was first introduced to his world of writing. Meet the kind and quirky Stewart Bint!
1. Who is Stewart Bint in his own mind’s eye? What matters most to you?
My family is the most important aspect of my life. My wife, son and daughter.
2. How do you start writing a novel? Does it begin with a plan or an image? Do you do research for it?
Each of my novels has begun life in a different way.Timeshaft was inspired by a walk in Cranford Park, London, when my son was four months old. That scene is actually included in the book. Research included some science – particularly solar wind and nuclear fusion – and history, notably Shakespeare and the introduction of forks into the UK. Yes, all those things feature in Timeshaft. Oh, and witches, don’t forget witches. The plan for this novel went out of the window when the main character went off on a tangent. And a minor character, Bob Gannaton threw a spanner in the works towards the end which I hadn’t seen coming.
The idea for In Shadows Waiting came from an experience I had with the supernatural in the 1980s, when I saw the figure I describe in the climax of the book. No research was needed for this one…it’s just the tale of how a family are plagued by an increasingly hostile and malevolent spirit. But this book went according to plan. I was more in control of the characters than I was with my Timeshaft creations.
The Jigsaw And The Fan is a satirical ghost story, so again, no real research. The idea was borne during a period of industrial unrest in the UK in the 1970s when trade unions were extremely powerful. The story revolves around a dead trades unionist who can’t progress to heaven or hell because of a strike in the afterlife. I didn’t fancy researching that! And I wrote the final chapter after the first two, so I knew exactly what was going to happen. There were just a few detours which took me off the original route to get them to meet up.
3. Who is your alfa reader – the person you let read and comment your work before anyone else?
Novelist DM Cain, author of The Phoenix Project, and A Chronicle Of Chaos. We met on Twitter. And then we discovered we live just 500 yards from each other. I don’t think I would have persevered with my writing had it not been for her inspiration and encouragement.
4. How do comments and reviews affect you? Has your attitude about reviews changed in time?
I’ve never been „precious“ about my writing. If someone doesn’t like it, that’s fine with me as long as their criticism is constructive and not malicious. And believe me, I’ve had both! I still get just as excited now about a new review…whether it be good or bad…as I did when I started out, so, no, I don’t think my attitude has changed.
5. Do you think the reading audience has changed in the last decades and how? What do you think sells books more – the author’s image, covers or content? (Can’t help but ask about your barefoot image. Care to explain?)
A few questions in one here! First; reading audience. Yes, I don’t believe the majority of youngsters read nowadays. In fact, a friend of my son’s had never read a book in his life until In Shadows Waiting came out. So I hope I have set a 25-year-old on a lifetime of reading.
What sells books? I wish I knew, ‘cos whatever it is, I don’t think I’m doing it! They say you should never judge a book by its cover, and I think that rings true. Difficult to see how content plays a part, certainly with new authors. Authors’ image, yes, I think that can help. If readers can identify with what an author does away from the keyboard they may be more likely to take a punt. That’s why I’m so active on Twitter, tweeitng not only about my books and writing, but also about my love for the TV series Doctor Who, my support for mental health awareness, and why I go barefoot. It shows readers and potential readers the real me – the true person behind the keyboard.
I think recommendation and marketing, marketing, marketing play the biggest part in getting a new author’s books off the ground.
My barefoot image? Well, that’s just who I am. I started going barefoot on and off in my teens, when bare feet were mandatory for running cross country races at the fairly strict English Grammar School I attended in the late 1960s and early 70s. I quite enjoyed connecting with the Earth in that way.
This spiritual connection became even more important when I was recovering from a fairly catastrophic period of mental ill health, and I realised that I felt so much better, both mentally and physically, when I was barefoot.
6. What message do you want to send through your writing? In Shadows Waiting is a horror. What about Timeshaft?
All I’m looking for from my writing, is for it to entertain my readers. Timeshaft is about time travel where my characters can change events. It has been said that because my relationship with my Mother was strained in the last few years of her life, writing about time travel is my way of wishing I could turn back the clock like my characters can, just to say: “Mum, I love you, and thank you.”
7. Would you like to try writing in a different genre? Which and why?
Well, I’ve done sci-fi, horror/paranormal, and humour/satire. And one of my novellas is fantasy. I don’t fancy trying thrillers (too much research needed!). Romance – I’m sure all of my efforts in that field would fail miserably.
Which doesn’t leave much apart from BDSM (now, I wouldn’t mind doing that research, but it may keep me tied up for too long.
8. Why do you think books and stories matter? Which books would you say have been life-changers for you and in what way?
Stories are an important way of passing on information and instilling ideas, and educating people about issues. An earlier question asked about messages in my writing. I suppose Timeshaft is my way of telling people we all need to look after the planet we live on. It’s the only home we’ve got.
People are far more likely to remember a good story than they are more formal ways of getting information across.
A life-changing book: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, because it reinforced in me the difference between good and evil, and right and wrong, at a very young age, far better than all the pontificating I had to endure at Sunday School.
9. If you could interview any famous person in human history, who would it be and what would you ask?
Agatha Christie. Where were you for those 11 days?
10. Which of your characters has made the most profound effect on you and why?
Ashday’s Child, the main character in Timeshaft. He is a very complex, enigmatic character…even I don’t fully understand him. And that sums me up perfectly. My inferiority complex drives me both to succeed and to help people, and I don’t understand why. I think I developed Ashday’s Child’s character to try and give me an insight into my own strengths and weaknesses.
11. Would you like to add anything about your current work or send a message to the readers?
I would like my fans to know how grateful I am to you all for finding the time to read my stories, and I hope you enjoy them. My work is only intended to entertain, I know it will never be classed as great literature.
Thank you so much, Stewart! Best of luck with your future projects! Happy writing.