Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Interview with author Andrew French - Michael Prentiss series

Welcome Andrew French, author of the Michael Prentiss series to my blog. Thank you for joining us.

 Andrew French was born in Derby in 1964. Raised in the market town of Grantham in Lincolnshire he left school at 16. Following an interesting few years he became a Funeral Director. Qualifying in 1988, Andrew went on to become the Managing Director of a large independent funeral group. Andrew is married to Alison. They have five children and live in rural Leicestershire.

Following a period at home to care for his youngest son he wrote his first spy novel, Assassin's Run, in 2011 - the first of the Michael Prentiss stories which chronicles how a young man about to join the British Army is reluctantly drawn into the shadowy world of espionage and assassination.

Tell us more about your Michael Prentiss series. What inspired you? 
The Michael Prentiss series is a chronological series of six thrillers set in the 1980's. Assassin's Run is the first in the series and I suppose was the book I always wanted to write. I'd had the idea for the story for a while and when I found myself with time on my hands decided I'd try and write it. A year later it was finished and I sent to just about every literary agent I could find, all of whom turned it down saying although they loved the story and the characters, they felt a book set in the 1980's wasn't commercial enough. That was when I decided to go down the self-publishing route as I wanted people to read it.
Assassin's Run
It is May 1980 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. An undercover operator with a secret intelligence unit is murdered when he discovers that an American oil tycoon is about to fund the vicious leader of an IRA splinter cell. As the unit mounts an unofficial operation to kill the tycoon they are forced to recruit a most unlikely assassin. This is a story of murder, treachery and double-cross where not everyone is as they first appear.
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I prefer to read traditional paper books rather than an e-reader. 
What book/s are you reading at present?
Currently I'm reading Icon by Frederick Forsythe but I also enjoy John le Carre's books.
Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.
I design all of the covers myself as I enjoy the process and can be certain it reflects the story of the book.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
As I sell nearly all of my books on Amazon kindle I think it's vital to have an eye-catching book cover with so many titles to choose from. If someone is scrolling down page after page of book titles, it's very often the cover design and an intriguing title that will make them stop and take a closer look.
How do you publish your book and why?
(*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)
As I explained earlier I am an independent author selling exclusively on Amazon. My books are available in both e-book and paperback versions although I find that 90% of my sales are through kindle.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
As far as I'm concerned the main advantage to being an independent author is I can get my books out there to be read. If I hadn't done so the series of 6 books would still be sitting on my laptop hard drive unread. To date the series has 225 reviews, the vast majority of which say some really nice things about them. The main disadvantage is with so many books out there, getting my books noticed is constant uphill struggle. Without a publisher or agent I have to do all the marketing and promotion myself which can be more time consuming than writing the books themselves. 
Have you always enjoyed writing?
I always did a lot of writing when I was younger. As a teenager I wrote freelance comedy for the BBC The Two Ronnies show. I then spent a long period not writing anything. That's the trouble with real life, it has this annoying habit of getting in the way. When I had an opportunity to sit down and write Assassin's Run therefore, I thought, why not? let's give it a go.
What were you like as a child?
Smaller and with more hair.
How do you fit in writing with family life?
I'm very much a night person so I tend to do much of my writing while everyone else is asleep. This way I get to spend time with my family rather shutting myself away for hours at a time. Fortunately, I only need 2 or 3 hours sleep a night so I can crack with a story without disturbing the rest of the family.
Do your family support your writing?
My wife, Alison is my harshest critic and most supportive fan. She reads everything I write before anyone else and isn't afraid to tell me if something doesn't work. That's really important as I need to know if something isn't any good. Honest criticism by someone you really trust is essential to every writer, it certainly is to me.
Do you have a day job?
I don't have a day job anymore. When my youngest son was born we discovered he had serious digestive problem and so need constant 24 hour care. At that time I was a self employed consultant so my wife and I decided that I should stay at home and care for him full time as she had a 'proper job' in London. After 5 years he became completely well and went to school. Unfortunately I found that a forty-something man can't take five years off work and then go back. After several months of trying I concluded that I was considered unemployable so I started writing.
What hobbies do you have?
I love film and theatre and just spending time with family.
Have your own hobbies/interests crept into your characters?
I was always advised 'write what you know' so when I was writing the 2nd book I made Michael Prentiss a funeral director. (I'm a qualified funeral director and bereavement counsellor) 
How you choose your characters names?
Character names are easy. They are often derivations of people I've known in the past or just names that sound 'right' to the character's personality.
Which is your favourite character you have written about?
I love writing about all the characters really. I particularly enjoy the evil ones. In addition to the three main characters, all of which I adore, there have been two strong female characters (Orla Duncan in Assassin's Run and Angela Lane in books 3-6). These two characters were an absolute joy to write and I love them both.
Do elements of yourself filter into your characters personalities?
All three of the main characters are elements of me. Anyone who knows me well knows this. 
You have many successful book reviews congratulations, is this something you've worked hard to achieve?
Pretty much straight away it started getting some really good reviews which I was both delighted and not a little relieved with. Although I never intended to write more than one book I really wanted to see what happened to the main characters next so I wrote The Ares File, set 4 years after the first book.
There are now six books in the series following the lives of the three main characters, Michael Prentiss, Richard Jordan and Colonel Charles Mabbitt. It all begins with Assassin's Run when Prentiss is almost 17 and about to leave school applies to join the Royal military Police in the British Army. During this process he is recruited by a secret intelligence army unit, the 14th Intelligence Company known as 'The Det.'
Have you made any marketing mistakes? What would you avoid in the future?
I don't think I've made any marketing mistakes as marketing was part of my course at university. Promoting the series is a struggle in a very over-populated market and making people aware of my books seems to have become an increasing part of my day.
What are you currently working on? 
I've just published book 6, Set A Thief so I'm really busy promoting that at the moment. it's been out for 2 months now and already has 13 5 star reviews on the UK Kindle page which I'm absolutely delighted with.
Set a thief
Having successfully left his secret life behind him, Michael Prentiss is once again reluctantly drawn back into the dangerous world of terrorism when a ghost from Richard Jordan's past returns from the dead.
Where can we find you online?
I'm all over the internet like a rash. You can find me on Twitter @AFrenchAuthor  On my Facebook page Andrew French-Author
Find Andrew French on Amazon: (UK) (US)
All 6 novels in the Michael Prentiss series, Assassin's Run,The Ares File, Personal Retributions, Rules of the Game, At All Costs and Set A Thief, are available in both Kindle edition and paperback. 
Thank you so much Andrew for taking part in this author interview and for your time.

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