1. Tell us a little about yourself and your writing
journey. When and how
did you become a writer?
1 & 2. I’ve always had the
yearning to write from an early age. I have dabbled with writing
but I never had the time to devote to it due to work and family life. A
few years ago I attended a weekly meditation class. I used to read out a
“Thought For Today” that I had written and snippets of information I had
researched and composed. They always went down extremely well and the
members of the class urged me to start writing. I then lost my small
business and we were almost homeless. Writing became my refuge. It helped
me to get through the pressures of life at the time. Out of curiosity, I
attended a Shamanic evening. I found it thoroughly interesting and I read
more information on the subject. Months later the idea for a series of
children’s novels, featuring children travelling to different dimensions
via the beat of a Shaman’s drum, materialised in my head.
That is how the
Tom O’Kell series of novels were born. I am on my 3rd novel in the series.
I have the idea for a 4th novel in the series, set in a Babylonian or
Egyptian dimension and featuring lots of Ancient Knowledge. I don’t know how many novels will
be in the series yet. I find that poetry just drops into my head from time
to time. I don’t set out to write it, it just appears. I also wrote a
light-hearted play on Mediumship, called Spirit. This was the first of my
writings. After becoming unemployed I would travel into Manchester and sit in
the Royal Exchange Theatre with my writing pad, where I would spend the
day writing my play. I also have the outline and plot for a book about a
serial killer with a difference. I don’t know if I will ever get the time to write
this. I want to spend the next few years concentrating on Tom O’Kell.
3. What type of preparation do you do for a
I get an idea for a story in my head
and I will do some research on information needed for the story and then I
create a skeleton outline of the plot, from start to finish. I then start to
write but, as I write my characters begin to take control of the path that the
story takes and I veer away from most of my original outline. I do further
research on required information as the story progresses.
4. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
I enjoy using my imagination and becoming attached to my characters. It
amazes me how they take on a life of their own and take over the storyline.
5. What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
There are so many writers out there. It’s a million to one chance that
you will ever get noticed. I am my worst critic and it can be depressing at
times but you have to believe in yourself and encourage yourself to keep
going. It’s a bit like running a marathon.
6. What were you in a past life, before you became
I worked in I.T. for 38 years, mainly on Unix System Administration. I
come from generations of miners but, thankfully, my Dad said he would never let
his son go down the mines. I always wanted to work with my hands, a
bricklayer or some outside work, but I ended up working in I.T. I never really
enjoyed the work but it paid the bills and I enjoy solving problems and
7. What is your greatest writing achievement?
I’ve never won any
prizes for writing, but Dr Dahlia Wasfi, a motivational anti-war speaker and a
War Veterans Group read some of my anti-war poetry and contacted me requesting
to use the poetry. Dahlia Wasfi said they sent shivers through her body. Also,
last year, while my wife was in a coma on life support, I wrote a poem for her
to read if she ever woke up. During a visit to the hospital, I saw one of the
nurses reading the poem and she was crying. Thankfully, my wife did wake up
from the coma.
I was interviewed
in London a couple of months ago for an internet TV Channel and, again,
when I read some of my poetry in the studio one of the ladies listening had
tears running down her
cheeks. To touch someone’s heart with my words is very inspiring for me.
8. What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I am writing the 3rd novel in the Tom O’Kell series - Tom
O’Kell & The Papanuk .These are stories of Fantasy/Horror
interlaced with sadness and humour, in which the children travel to other
dimensions via the beat of a Shaman’s Drum. Tom’s Father was tragically killed
in the 1st novel but Tom discovers his Father is stuck between dimensions and
there may still be a chance that he can save him. However, to make his task
more difficult, Tom finds that he is in a battle with the Devil in His quest
for Eternal Infinity and the Devil will kill anyone who dares to stand in His
In Tom O’Kell
& The Papanuk, the children travel to a dimension of Native
American culture. The
Papanuk is a Messiah figure who lives amongst the Chicuan tribe. The Chicuan, a peace
loving tribe, share this dimension with the Kalamon, a tribe of evil cannibals, who
worship their dark God, Kinta-Ketzel. The Papanuk has a vision of Armageddon
visiting the Chicuan Nation and the children soon find themselves caught up in a final
battle between these two tribes. Like the 1st two novels, I try to end
every chapter on a
cliff-hanger and the end of the story won’t be what anyone is expecting.
9. What inspires you?
I get inspiration for my stories from
the Paranormal, from Conspiracy Theories, from Ancient Knowledge and from
the Spiritual side of life.
10. What genre do you write?
I write Children’s
Horror/Fantasy. 10 - 16 years olds but anyone who is young at heart will
11. Do you have any tips for new writers?
Never ever give up, even though you will get rejection after rejection.
Try to write from your heart and from life’s experiences whenever you
can. Create characters that your readers can empathise or identify with.
I like misfits in society, they are far more colourful and interesting.
Try to keep your audience guessing. Have them itching to turn over the
next page and wanting to read the next chapter and, of course, your next
book. Create your own style of writing. One last, very important thing -
don't ask your friends or family what they think of your writing. Ask a
12. Do you suffer from writer's block?
find it best to switch the computer off then and to just leave it. It may take
a day, a week, or a few months. I just need a break from it to get the
imagination going again.
13. Do you have a preferred writing schedule?
No. Sometimes I can get up at 4am and write and other times last thing
at night. Then again, it can be
during any part of the normal daily working hours. When I go to bed I think about my
story and where it will go. I usually fall asleep doing this and hope
that my subconscious
mind will be working on it while I sleep.
14. Do you have a favourite writing place?
I sit at my Mac in
the living room. It would be lovely to have a large house by a river or a lake,
but I’m not that fortunate.
15. What is your greatest joy in writing?
Writing takes me
into another World, where I can forget my cares and worries and I can lose
myself in my characters’ adventures. It gives me hope for a better future for
16. Who is your favourite author and why?
That’s an unfair
question. I have a lot of favourite authors. If I had to pick one then,
just because I love the
Rumpole character and his humour, it has to be John Mortimer.
17. What's the greatest compliment you ever
received from a reader?
I’ve had one reader
email me telling me that she couldn’t put the books down and saying that the
names of my 3 Satanic witches, Gildrude, Humphag and Gildrude, in Tom
O’Kell & The Shaman’s Drum, wouldn’t be out of place in a work by
Shakespeare. Only their names that is - not the writing. Then, as I’ve
mentioned, some of my poetry has caused people to cry. Maybe I’ve got the wrong
end of the stick though and they are crying because it’s so poor.
18. What was the worst comment from a reader?
All of those
rejection emails from agents and publishers. They were definitely right though.
I actually re-wrote my 1st novel. I found I had developed my own style of
writing halfway through the novel, so, after 20 rejections I spent a few months
reading the novel again and again. Then I ripped it apart and wrote the 1st
half of the book all over again. Those rejections were the best thing that
happened to me.
19. Writers are sometimes influenced by things that
happen in their own lives, are you?
Once you’ve been through grief you can draw a lot of emotion from your experiences. To
have loved and to have lost are great tools for any writer. I also like to try
to make people smile so I
draw on happy or funny experiences.
20. Other than writing, what else do you love?
My wife first. I
have to get that in. I love watching Rugby League and Rugby Union, but mainly League. I
enjoy fishing when I get the chance. Obviously reading. Live theatre.
Taking our 2
labradors for a walk and sitting on the hillside thinking of my next
lines, while they run
about chasing their
21. Did you have your book/books professionally
edited before publication?
I would love to
have my books professionally edited but I can’t afford it. I keep reading them
and reading them until I have corrected my mistakes. It does get a bit tedious
and I get, what I term, “comma blindness”.
22. Describe your perfect day?
My perfect day
would be for myself and my wife to be lazing in hammocks on a beautiful
sun-kissed beach, listening to the waves gently lapping the shoreline. Heaven!
23. If you were stuck on a desert island with one
person, who would it be?
Muhammad Ali. He
was my sporting hero in my youth. He is intelligent, witty and brave and above all he is
a man who sticks by his principles. When he was imprisoned for his beliefs he became
more of a hero than ever. He really is The Greatest.
24. What would you say if you had the chance to
speak to World leaders?
I wouldn’t talk to
the World Leaders. I would talk to the little children of this World. I would
tell them that the World Leaders aren’t really leaders at all, that they are
just the servants of the people who own this World - ie: The Rothschilds, the
Rockerfellers, the Royal Houses of Europe and the Middle East etc.. - and that
it is pointless voting because the people you vote for do exactly what they are
told to do, irrespective of the lies they have promised you. I would tell the
little children not to follow man-made religions, not to enlist in the armed
forces, not to believe the propaganda in the Mainstream Media, not to believe
the brainwashing they are subjected to in classrooms. I would tell the little
children that they are the ones to bring about change, NOT the politicians, and
that the future of this World lies in their hands and to make sure it’s a World
worth living in for everyone, not just the privileged few.
25. What are your plans for the future?
My future plans are
to keep writing and to be happy.
26. What five books would you take to heaven?
Well first of all
I'd better double check that I'm going there! My five books would
The Biggest Secret
by David Icke
Bury My Heart At
Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
Tess Of The
d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
The Rumpole Omnibus
by John Mortimer
27. Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
I haven't introduced
an alcoholic, schizophrenic, manic depressive trainspotter yet so the answer is
No. I am not in any of my characters, but some of the emotions that I have gone
28. Does the publishing industry frustrate you?
I don’t really know
enough about the Publishing Industry but I suppose they don’t take enough
chances on unknown writers, sticking instead to the already established writers
who are proven to sell books, along with biographies of well known faces from
Television, Film & Sport.
29. Did you ever think of quitting?
Yes, after my
initial rejections on my 1st novel but, as already stated, it was a blessing in
disguise. It made me re-evaluate what I had written. They were absolutely
correct. It was rubbish, so I ripped it apart and wrote it again. It’s an
excellent story now. I still get my down days when I think this is pointless as
no-one is ever going to read my novels, but then I think of the hard work that
I have put into my writings in the past 3 years and I think “so what” I’m
really proud of my creations and I enjoy writing them.
30. What was your favourite manuscript to
I am really
enjoying writing the latest novel - Tom O’Kell & The Papanuk
because my characters are more alive now and the 3 misfits, Anaemic Ben, Mad
Mick and Agatha Sparrow are taking a more prominent role. I have also
introduced, Manitaku, Chief Watanu’s boy-girl son and I am trying
to convey the feelings of him being a girl trapped inside the body of a boy. In
this novel, there is going to be an ending that no one would expect. I always
have a surprise ending but this ending is going to be even more of a surprise.
31. How would you define "Success" as a
Success to me is
writing a piece of work that you are proud of, irrespective of it being published or not.
32. What should readers walk away from your books
knowing? How should they feel?
My readers should
feel they have just read a cracking good adventure that they couldn’t put down.
I hope I have taken their emotions on a journey of horror, sadness and laughter
and left them surprised, eager to join Tom and his friends in the next novel in
the Tom O’Kell series.
33. How much thought goes into designing a book
I have a very good
friend who designed the cover for my 1st novel. The cover for the 2nd novel was
something I created myself. I would love to be able to pay for a professional
designer but I don't have the funds.
34. What's your ultimate dream?
My dream would be
to see Tom O’Kell become as famous as Harry Potter. To see his adventures
transformed into films and musicals. I can dream can’t I?
35. Writing is one thing. What about marketing you,
your books and your brand? Any thoughts?
I’ve just completed
building my website - www.allangrahambooks.com I have tried to make it very
interesting so that people stay on the website and return. Again, I would
love to be able to
afford professional marketing but all I can do is try to promote my work myself via
social and book websites.
36. Are your books self-published?
self-published my books. I wanted something to show for all of the hard work
I have put in. I’m
not trying to get picked up by any agent or publisher anymore. It takes me away from my
writing too much, and the inevitable rejections just disappoint and depress. I would
rather stay focused on developing the Tom O’Kell series of novels.
37. Describe yourself in five words.
Stubborn, Amiable, Optimistic
38. What pisses you off most?
Bad manners, lack
39. What is the title of the last book you read?
The Prophecy by
Chris Kuzneski. It is a mystery/suspense novel. Small chapters ending on a cliffhanger,
which is what I enjoy. However, although I enjoyed the novel, the ending was very
ambiguous so it spoiled it for me. I will read his other books though as I
have heard they are very good.
40. What would be the very last sentence you would
And, although Tom
and his friends still remembered the chilling curse the bent old hag had spat
from her thin cracked lips, they lived happily ever after........Or did they?
41. What would make you happier than you are now?
Care to share?
For my wife to have
good health and for our family to have a financially secure future.
Clancy's comment: Thanks, Allan. I agree with you about characters. They almost become relatives. Keep going.
Think about this!