On Wednesdays on social media, people use the hashtag #WriterWednesday to chat about all things author, book and writing, including authors promoting their own work. As we love to support self-published authors, we thought we’d join in and we will be featuring a UK self-published author every Wednesday on the website. This week, we met Tobey Alexander to find out more...
Please tell us about yourself; when did you first become interested in writing?
Hello! I write under the pseudonym Tobey Alexander and am a full-time worker, husband, father of three “interesting” children and author by hobby. I am relatively new to the world of being self-published and am taking each day as it comes. In life, I just try to be a good dad, fun and able to be a little bit different than the norm.
As corny as it probably sounds I have always written. It has always been a means of escape from the “every day” for me. I remember writing as a teenager at College but when I started my career it fell to the wayside. After a hiatus of not writing for around six years, I finally decided to try it again and then spent four years on my first self-published novel Footprints On The Other Side. From there it really came to the forefront when I saw my middle son’s imagination growing. I wanted to show him what could be done with it and it was that which made me take the leap and decide to self-publish. Since then I’ve just enjoyed the ability to kick back and have a real excuse to pop into my imagination!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do, it was a short story when I was in infant school. We were given a picture of Postman Pat and told to write a story. I remember the teacher looking quite confused when they read my few lines of story. Instead of the usual story of delivering letters I had gone off on a tangent. I wrote about the earth stopping spinning and gravity failing on Earth, and Postman Pat had to save the world. I probably knew from then that my mind wandered along a slightly different path! I always remember getting a gold star for the story (strange what memories stick with you over the years).
What genre/genres do your books fall under?
What I call my big novel is an action thriller, Footprints On The Other Side. However, the main book series I am working on and releasing in parts is a mid-grade and young adult adventure series. I want to create a series of stories that can be shared between older and younger generations, so I want the stories to have something for everyone in them.
What is your latest book called, what is it about and what was the inspiration behind the book?
My latest book being released at the end of January is the third in a five-part novelette series called Origins Of The Magdon: Valmiki Nagar. The Magdon Series comes from the fact when my middle son was two and a half we were walking home from playgroup, and he got scared by a noise in the woods. Instead of telling him the truth I made up a monster and lied. From there it became a bit of a story we lived. I made maps, wrote a fake diary from a long lost ancestor, and we would go in search of this monster. As with any lie, it grew and grew until both my son’s teachers pulled me into school to ask what they were talking about saying they had been digging in graveyards finding buried swords. I was quick to defend both myself and them, and it was around the time that I released Footprints On The Other Side so they told me I should write the story down. I wanted the story to be accessible and bring the idea of the family shared reading back, so I decided to split the story into books no longer than 12,000 words. In truth, the story had been lived by the boys and me for a few years so writing the main parts was pretty easy. When I needed to thrash out an idea, I would sit down with the kids and pretend I had found something new out about Great Granddad Archibald. If they liked it, it stayed in the story, if not it was forgotten.
Although hardly a best-seller all those that have read the series, I think once they know where it comes from, have enjoyed the stories. I’ve recently had the first in the series Origins Of The Magdon: Vercovicium, turned into an audiobook so it can be accessible to even more people. One thing that was insisted by my wife, however, was the fact I couldn’t just fill my children’s head with made up fun. So, as a result, I try to sneak in some facts and information along the way some history and truth which not only cements the story in the real world but also gets the younger readers wanting to find out a bit more about real stuff too.
Besides your current book, do you have any new projects coming up?
I have been working on a few side projects but have really connected with The Magdon Series. I was initially content with retelling the story of my fake relative and finishing the series after five short novelettes. However, I have fallen in love with the story so have decided to do some side stories along the way. My next project, now it has been allowed, by my children, is to make up a story about The Magdon set in modern times. They know this one will be made up but are still convinced Archy’s story is me retelling his life. As such I will be looking to release The Magdon: Generations (working title) sometime in 2018 which will let me bring The Magdon to a new setting as an independent side story.
Where can people find your books?
All of my books are available through Amazon in paperback and eBook but also other eBook mediums through Books2Read so you can get them on Scribd, Apple, Kobo and all other sorts. Origins Of The Magdon: Vercovicium is also available as an Audiobook from Audible, Amazon and Apple and we are working on book two in the series Origins Of The Magdon: Valley Of The Kings as another audiobook with my fantastic narrator.
What has been the greatest moment in your writing career?
Having people, mainly younger audience but also parents, who come and talk to me about the stories I have created like they are real. The fact I spent so long in my made up world to suddenly realise other people have been there too is quite fulfilling. Especially having a conversation about my characters as if they are real people. I also took great pleasure in supporting Care Of Police Survivors Charity this year releasing a short story for children called Blue Light Christmas of which all my author profits went to them. Their gratitude at that and the number of copies sold humbled me a lot. Even more so when some of the families of officers killed on duty sent me emails to say thank you.
Besides writing, what hobbies or interests do you enjoy in your spare time?
I love mountain walking, hiking and have a trek planned for 2018 to the Base Camp of Everest which I will again get sponsored for in support of an as yet undecided charity. In 2016 my seven-year-old son and I climbed Mount Snowdon in Wales and seeing him stood on the peak gave me such a perspective that life should be enjoyed. I am honestly addicted to keeping myself fit, both from a work point of view but also as a stress-relief, can’t live without it sort of feeling. Every day will see me throw some form of dumbbells or weights around.
Which novelists do you admire?
My favourite author would have to be Ben Kane, I cried at the end of his Spartacus series. For me though I grew up reading novels by Jack Higgins, Michael Crichton, Thomas Harris amongst others. As I read their books, I always thought if I could offer something to the world and eventually decided to bite the bullet and go for it.
What has been the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
Lock it away, leave it then read it with fresh eyes long before you even think of releasing it. I rushed into trying to release Footprints On The Other Side, and it was only after I locked it away and came back that I realised how raw it was. Time lets you detach from the story, and when you read it, you become a reader again as opposed to the author. It helps you see more things that need cleaning!
Do you have any tips or advice for other indie authors?
Don’t let self-doubt put you off. There are forums, collectives and groups out there that can help you along the way but to write something and lock it away forever because that is time wasted and talent never realised.