# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
International man of mystery and dreams 😉
I am the author of North Korea Deception and Hyde Park Deception, Books 1 & 2 in The Deception Series.
I am also a film and television actor (Creed, The Equalizer).
# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
North Korea Deception is based on my time in Russia during the Reagan-Gorbachev era and the start of the novel was inspired by a six-day trans-Siberian train journey from Moscow to Vladivostok.
Hyde Park Deception is based on my time as a captain in the British Household Cavalry (Prince Harry’s regiment) and my service in the Bosnia war as a United Nations Military Observer during heavy fighting, shelling and sniper fire in and around Sarajevo, Pale and Goražde.
# What inspires/inspired your creativity?
My favorite thing to do is read a great story or watch a great thriller on Netflix. I speak Russian, German, French and Bosnian and was always fascinating by espionage, spying and the Cold War. Daniel Silva’s books inspired me to start writing my own stories.
# How do you deal with creative block?
I like to deal with all the “personal admin” first, as they used to call it in the British Army. Get all the shopping, emails, kids stuff, errands out the way first, then I am ready to sit down and write or edit my books. If I have dozens of chores left undone, I find it hard to be creative. I also like to rise early, 5 or 6am, because that’s the only time people don’t want your blood!
# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
Writing about something you don’t care about. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, you are probably doing to spend from three to ten years with the material and subject matter depending on how fast you write and publish. You MUST be fascinated by your subject matter. For example, I was fascinated by the Tumen Region which includes Russia, China and North Korea. I set North Korea Deception in this geographic area and made up a story around it. For Hyde Park Deception, I was fascinated by the chaos, confusion, and lies of war in Bosnia, not only among the warring factions but among all the international players – UN, EU, NATO, and each of the big player nations that get involved trying to stop the war.
# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
Titles should give a tease into the story. But this is easier said than done. It is also crucial that the title and cover reflect your genre.
The largest possible chunk of your publishing budget should be spent on cover and editor. If at all possible, find a professional cover designer.
# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
You just have to move on. I have been a professional actor for 20 years, so rejection is part of the job.
You do however have to design a strategy to get good reviews up for books and audiobooks. Unfortunately, bad reviews can affect sales.
# How has your creation process improved over time?
Being a creative person is a way of life. Do you want a big house or car or swanky vacations? or do you want to create and have people read/listen to and enjoy your work?
If you can accept that you might never be rich from your art, and you are prepared to make that life gamble, you are on the way to becoming a creative person. You also have to accept that you are never going to be able to go away to a desert island and write for ten hours a day. Part of being creative is creating the space and time to be creative, being organized about family, home, bills, emails, admin in order to make that space in your head and in-person to be creative. It’s not enough to do this once or twice a month, you need to figure out how to do this every day! Remember that being creative means that you are working in an industry–the publishing industry. For me, it’s about 35% creativity and 65% business.
# What were the best, worst, and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
I decided early on that there would always be people who would enjoy what I write. They are probably not your family and friends for the most part, although they will be at the beginning of your career. I love it when folks (strangers) come out of the woodwork and support my work. Put yourself and your work out there, and people will find you. The best moments to date were reaching the number #1 best selling categories in niche genres all around the world! (See Amazon author page)
The worst part is realizing that you have to write many books, preferably a series, to make a living from writing. The most surprising thing for me was realizing you can do this! There are many, many steps, trials, and tribulations, but there are so many free resources available, you can easily teach yourself how to become an indie author. My favorite resources are/were David Gaughran, Nick Stephenson, and Bryan Cohen from the Amazon Ads school.
# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
I write commercial fiction so I have to be aware of the competition in my genre (thrillers/action adventure). But you also have to write and love and be excited by the story you are writing. So I would err toward pleasing myself rather than readers. If I don’t love my story and get excited by it, even when I am on the tenth draft, how can I expect a reader to?
# What role do emotions play in creativity?
Excitement is the most important for me as a thriller author. You have to get excited by the story, the plot, the characters, the twists and turns that YOU are writing about.
# Do you have any creativity tricks?
I like to get all my “personal admin” out of the way first. You also have to be physically fit and healthy. I am much more productive when I am at my ideal weight and physically walking or running every day and eating a good diet.
# What are your plans for future books?
Hyde Park Deception, Book 2 in The Deception Series will be released around Sep 1, 2021. I am currently working on Book 3.
# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I speak five languages: Russian, German, French and Bosnian.
I worked on a movie called “Welcome to Sarajevo” with Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei. I was Woody’s Bosnian interpreter for eating out in Sarajevo restaurants and Marisa Tomei once painted my toenails blue with white polka dots on a beach in Croatia.
My mother named me Richard because I was born in Whittington Hospital, Highgate, London, named after Sir Richard Whittington, an English merchant and Lord Mayor of London in the children’s fairytale.