Author Spotlight Interview: Larry Igbon
Today, we’re chatting with Larry Igbon, the British author of taut thrillers Bringing Hell, Project G and Beyond Vengeance. Formerly on Her Majesty’s Service, and a third Dan grade in Shotokan Karate, Larry brings real world experience to his thrilling books; and subscribers to Hidden Gems were thrilled when they got a chance to read his work for FREE as part of our community.
HG: So, Larry – for readers who haven’t checked out your books yet, how would YOU describe yourself?
LI: I’m a fan of thrillers, action thrillers, crime thrillers, and suspense thrillers – thrillers that feature and depict humans on Planet Earth, past or present. As such, that’s the genre I also like to write in. I like to write about what I see and experience wherever possible. My novel, Beyond Vengeance, is based in my home town of Manchester and includes facts about an actual family gang who reigned in the 1950s here.
Obviously, as a fiction writer, I make stuff up: in that particular novel I have used facts intertwined with LOTS of poetic licence. I write what I hope my readers will enjoy. Right now, I’m 7,500 words into my next Tom Ramsay novel. I am striving to provide a piece of work that readers will enjoy reading as much as I’m enjoying writing it. I have always had an active imagination and loved telling stories.
HG: Which books and authors influenced you as you became a writer? I’m seeing shades of Ian Fleming, Dick Francis, Lee Child. Good, solid, hard-hitting writers with a masculine edge.
LI: Looks like you sussed me, but there are lots more I admire: John Grisham, Jeffrey Deaver, David Baldacci, John Gardner, Harlan Coben, and on… I have all 14 of Fleming’s James Bond books, and I have read all the John Gardner Bond books (also 14). One of the first books to influence me was one I found years ago while on holiday abroad. It’s by Mickey Spillane and is called ‘I the Jury’. His protagonist was Mike Hammer and that guy is the paradigm of the tough guy. All of the above influenced me as a fan of the thriller genre, and fueled my will to create my own thrillers.
HG: I’m a big fan of Mickey Spillane!
LI: Are we joined at the literary hip or what? We sure have good taste.
HG: Great minds think alike! So, what was the first thing you ever wrote?
LI: What an embarrassing question. OK, here’s the embarrassing answer. It was an essay I wrote at grammar school, titled ‘Billy Thompson versus The Nazis’. Yes, I groan too but I got 10 out of 10, ‘Excellent’, for that story! The first thing I wrote semi-seriously was years later when my son was four years old. He insisted on a bedtime story every night. I re-created Billy Thompson and made up every bit of the tale as I was telling it to him.
The next night and every night for a year-and-a-half after that I had to tell a Billy Thompson story. I created ‘Billy Thompson’s War’. Alan loved it! I kinda liked it too. I created character identities and short story plots (and drawings) which I kept in notebooks, so I wouldn’t lose the beats. At five-and-a-half Alan informed me he was too old for bedtime stories, and boys weren’t interested in WW2 stories anymore. I binned the lot, because I knew he must be right. I really enjoyed creating those tales and there were hundreds of `em. Then came another son, promotion, mortgage payments, life and a hundred other things. I still had an imagination but I didn’t have time to write again for years.
HG: Oh, it’s such a pity when you lose old writing! What fun, though. I LOVED WWII stories as a kid. I was always imagining I was a Spitfire or bomber pilot. So, when did you dust off the old keyboard?
LI: I started ‘noodling’ about on the keyboard around 2009. At that point I’d never written anything longer than 5 pages of A4 paper. I mean that. I’d start stories and run out of steam after a few pages and think “How the hell do they bloody do it?”
My Janie said, “Man up for goodness sake! You’re as talented as any of the authors I’ve been reading recently.” In fairness she has had a few books from Sainsbury’s £3 shelf. Anyway, I decided she was right and I promised to create some characters, a scenario and give it a shot. That was a good decision, it took ages for me to produce anything I actually thought was good. But the joy in going from 5 pages to 100 pages, then 200 pages and on and on. Then the first read-through and the realization the crap breeds. Then I got a plan, I went on the internet for help. I found a guy who was a great help and everything he imparted was free. It made me look at everything differently, urging me to write for myself. I invested a lot of time, while working full-time, into writing in the knowledge that I’d come up with something worthwhile.
HG: What was the process and story behind seeing your book live on Amazon for the first time?
LI: Having read a ton of information about indie-authors, I decided that was the route for me. I loved the idea of complete autonomy, working at whatever pace I chose and seeing a larger royalty share than traditional publishers were offering.
I found lots of help and good stuff on the Internet. When you have so much to choose from, it becomes overwhelming. As a result, I got too many versions of what was right and what wasn’t. I found myself stop-starting way too much. I had no tutor, no muse, but I had ideas. I decided to do what all the pundits advised “Get the first draft down.”
Without a specific outline, I wrote like a pantser. I loved it, the words came easily and I had some marathon writing sessions. Writing was not my life, so I also had days when I couldn’t be arsed. After 6 months I had 90,000 words and I knew I was done. Two Wrongs was finished. I’d found CreateSpace the indie publishing company on Amazon, so I read all the tips in there. Saw something about self-editing and read everything I could find on the net about that.
Then I went back to my manuscript: I still loved the story but WOW! There was so much throat-clearing and info-dumping. I got to work, much more slowly than before, and finished up with a leaner, 70,000 word novel. I still loved the story, and so did the trusted friends and family who read it. CS had a cover-creator tool so I used it to make a clever cover, which I later came to hate with a passion. It’s shite. Uploaded the book to Amazon and Kindle – crickets! I loved it, just seeing it there, a fait-accompli.
I hadn’t expected to earn much from it, but I had a book I could hold in my hand and think I did it! It was the greatest feeling. Guess who hadn’t given a single thought to marketing? I left the book there but one day I’ll remove it, rewrite it, and have a suitable cover made. I took a long break from writing after that, but I made notes like crazy. Found lots of indie authors on the net and read their blogs, picked up oceans of advice, ideas, and success and failure stories. I was amazed that the spirit and optimism of writers is tough as tarmac.
Within a year I released Beyond Vengeance, I loved the story, the cover, the characters – everything. Seeing that on Amazon was a terrific feeling! I was no longer a pantser, thanks to guys like Chris Fox I became an outliner. I write now because I have something to say and I want others to read what I write. Try as I may, I have never been able to build an email list and not having one has clearly worked against me. I have a CTA at the end of my books and I know that I’ll get some response somewhere along the line. Believe me I feel terrific every time I see one of my books on Amazon-I’m a writer.
HG: You are indeed! Okay, so what’s the best advice you can give anybody who wants to become a self-published author?
LI: The best advice I can give to aspiring self-published authors is essential. Believe in yourself and your ability, and remember this, ALWAYS: Determination Plus Effort = Achievement. This creed will direct you to all the vital stepping stones you need.
HG: Fantastic advice! And, finally, where can readers find out more if we’ve whet their interest?
IG: You can check out my website, Facebook page or Twitter.