Blindsided: A Q&A with Sophie J Clark

Cool, you’ve written a book, what’s it about?

In short, the book is about a man who is trying to work out if he is an android or not. 

And her’s the blurb:

Christian Miller’s world was turned upside down when he awoke inside a box, having been purchased by a wealthy eccentric in order to become their perfect ‘companion’. There were so many things wrong with his situation, but for Christian, the one staring him in the face, was the fact that his new ‘boss’ was a man.

After losing his sight as a child, Evan Malco was determined not to lose his independence as well. Dedicating his life and his hard-earned fortune to creating a more dignified alternative to a seeing-eye dog, he jumped at the offer to develop a more life-like mechanical assistant when it was given. 

But neither man expected what happened next. When past choices threaten to shatter their worlds, will they turn to each other to find what they need, or will the barriers between them prove to be too high?

If you had to summarise your book in five words, what would you choose?

Anyone, am I an android?

Is this your first book?

No, I have two more. They can be found on Amazon. My first was, Getting Out: Escape is harder than he’d ever imagined, and my second is, QP-id: Love, Sex and Nano-machines.

How much will it be?

It will be £3.99 or equivalent wherever you are in the world.

Where can I get it?

It will be available across all major e-book retailers, which includes Kindle Bookstore, the Apple iBookstore, the NOOK® bookstore, and the Kobo Bookstore

Why are you publishing it as an e-Book?

Honestly, that’s how most people read nowadays. It’s also a way of getting my book out to more people, at a more affordable price.

Will there be a paper copy available?

I am looking into making one available soon! I promise! Watch this space!

What inspired you to write this book?

It might sound cliché, but, it was a dream. I woke up one morning with the whole of chapter one in my head and had to write it down. After that…I didn’t stop. It was an idea that captivated me and I wanted to explore where it led. I still do! I’m going to be working on book two of this series right away.

Did you aim for a specific length for the book? Or did you just write as much or as little as you thought the book needed?

I’m a discovery writer, so I had no fixed length in mind. I knew where I wanted to aim for, but I don’t like to set word limits for getting there. Word limits are best kept for writing exercises in my experience. Setting yourself challenges can really help boost your problem-solving skills (and as a writer, that’s kinda a big deal), but for my books, I don’t really like to set a length. All that matters to me is if it feels right or not.

Do you ever base characters off people you know?

Ha ha! The classic never piss off a writer! The answer to this one is…not directly, no. It’s actually rather hard to pick a person and mould a character from them, but I do take inspiration from people. A quirk here, a speech pattern there, that sort of thing. More often than not, I let a character emerge from the page and will then look back and see parts of people I have met in them after the fact. It’s an interesting process, that’s for sure.

Why did you choose to write a Gay Romance instead of a Lesbian or Straight Romance?

Honestly, I’d personally describe it as a bisexual romance, but there’s not really a big distinction in the literary world. The main love interest is bisexual and the protagonist is…confused. But, for the sake of finding readers, it would be classed as a gay romance. Neither character objects to breasts though, have no fear about that.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

Writers that say they don’t get this, are lying. Everyone does. But the difference between it lasting for three days v three months (I’ve had both), is a desire to push through. I have written a number of articles on this topic, but the big take that I’ve gotten from it is to keep on poking at your book. Even if you think it’s complete garbage, keep on writing. THAT is how you will get through it. 

Set yourself a LOW word limit; even if it’s 100 words, and hit it, every day. It doesn’t matter if you miss one, get back up and write them the next day. You will find that somewhere along the line, you’ve pushed through your block. As your hand writes or types, your brain moves forward. It’s the same with hitting what’s known as ‘The Wall’. 

When you hit the wall, you will find that your brain just goes ‘Nope, no more. I’m done for the day.’ When that happens to me, I see it as a signal that I need to get up and get out of the house. I go for a small walk, get some air, and come back refreshed. More often than not, I have found that it’s what I needed to get another good push in. If the words still aren’t flowing, then, well, that’s OK. I’ve hit my daily word count and I can feel accomplished.

Do you have any secret techniques for finding inspiration?

Yes! People watch! Well, actually, people listen! Honestly, it’s GREAT for inspiration. Hearing a phrase as you walk through town, or wondering how on earth someone ended up with a bright yellow floor-length coat (yes, they exist, I’m scared too) is great for getting the idea muscles flexing. 

Imagination is a talent, just like any other. So practice. Read as much as you can, watch programs that make you think and be around people, even if it’s just sitting on a park bench and watching the world go past. You will connect things in your mind as you do.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions: Some of the great books of our time have been inspired by simple what-if’s. For example, what if Pride and Prejudice had Zombies?

Why did you become a writer?

In short: Because it was fun.

But to give a more detailed answer: Because it’s what I’ve enjoyed doing consistently throughout my life. I’ve always been a collector of stories and I’ve enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t start looking into it seriously until a few years back after a friend of mine found one of my stories, read it and told me that I should turn it into a book. I haven’t looked back since.

Do you have a routine for writing?

I do and it’s a very simple one. I have to write at least 300 words a day, every day, no matter what. It’s deceptively simple and now, takes less than half an hour to do, but it keeps me going. 300 words a day is a novel in a year and anything more than that becomes a bonus. It’s what has ensured that my last two books got written and has helped me feel more accomplished and calm than I have ever been in my life. I would recommend it to anyone.

Do you have any authors who really inspire you?

Yes. I adore both Terry Pratchett and Molly Harper, but I have enjoyed all kinds of books. I love Neil Gaiman, Stephen Fry, Anne Rice, Sue Townsend, Susie Bright, Russel Brand and Susan Elizabeth Phillips to name but a few.

I want to write but I lack confidence, do you have any advice?

I do. Remember this: NO IDEA IS ORIGINAL. It may sound stupid for me to say it, but it’s true. The number one thing that I’ve seen from all the people I know who have wanted to write but have stopped is their belief that there’s no point in writing their story because someone else has done it better. It’s bollocks. No one has written your story, and you know why? Because YOU have a new take on an idea that has been around and about for ages. But no one has written YOUR TAKE on it. THAT is what will make your story interesting. Don’t give up because you’re working on something that has a walled city in it and now everyone will think you’re ‘copying’ Game of Thrones. Have you any idea how many books have walled cities in them? More than anyone cares to count. People aren’t reading your book to find something that has never been done before. People are reading it to hear what you have to say. So keep on writing.

Write out what you have in your head and then let someone you trust read it. Don’t ask them what they think, ask them if they think the idea has potential. There’s a HUGE difference. 

At the start, you don’t want someone nit-picking about word choice or your ballistic approach to punctuation. What you need to hear is that your idea works. Everything else can be fixed afterwards – believe me, it can – so make sure you have a solid footing to stand on. 

Also, if you are typing it out on a computer (and let’s face it, who isn’t?) get yourself a program like Grammarly or HemingWay. They will help you so much with your grammar and spelling as well as passively up your level of writing. 

Read. I can’t stress this enough. I know it’s a ball-ache sometimes (as someone with dyslexia myself I know how painful it can be – as a child I once threw out all my books because I was so sick of having to read – but it will help and it will make you a better writer. 

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