Interview with self-published author Andrew Meek
Andrew? Introducing Andrew? Many throughts and feelings go through me while I try but all attempts seem inadequate. So, I will just put my bland, honest self before you and blurt out what I think of his work after reading a sample of Quintessence and A Small Selection of Tall Tales vol 1. Andrew is a revolutionary writer, there is no one like him and his spirit burns with an unstoppable ardour to define the Truth of Life. Somehow his work makes me think of James Joyce’s. IMHO, Andrew Meek could become as great a writer and philosopher as the Irishman, if… if his work was picked up by an agent and he was *discovered*. I truly hope I’m wrong here but I keep thinking that he’s the type of writer that should be cocooned, given all the space in the world only to think and write. No frivolity like marketing his heart & soul.
Needless to say his work – like Joyce’s – is way above my limited understanding but I do know that the brilliance reflecting on me when looking in Andrew’s mirror is enough to help me come closer to (the) Truth as well. I will definitely read the entire novel and thus gain a better understanding of myself and my motives.
Where do you live (town, country)? Were you born and bred there?
I live in the ancient village of Sherburn – in – Elmet, West Yorkshire. It is one of only two places left in England that still carries the ‘in -Elmet’ tag. This refers to the ancient Kingdom of Elmet, which was the seat of the first real king of England; Athelstan.
I was born in Chertsey Surrey and lived in the village of Shepperton (which has the famous film studios) I moved to Hampton Hill, near to Hampton Court, then to Hounslow west London before making the move ‘up north’ 11 years ago.
What kind of food do you like? Are you a good cook? How important is food to you?
I love Chinese and Italian food. I have cooked for my family ‘full time’ since moving to Yorkshire, I’m not bad at it.
Do you do any sports? How often? What does exercise mean to you? Any other hobbies?
I don’t ‘do’ sport. But I exercise quite a lot these days, cycling and working-out. I play video games, nothing like blasting zombies to get rid of the stress of the day! I paint (well I did, I intend to start again soon). I build scale models when I can; I have a huge model of the ISS hanging over my head as I write this. I have a passion for science and read and watch and listen to everything I can. I love brains! They are my special interest. I sky watch, day and night. Love clouds as well as stars and planets. I walk and visit historical sites, and far, far too many old churches – which you may think is odd for an atheist, but you’d be wrong.
Do you have kids? If so, please tell us a little about them?
I have a daughter; Elizabeth. She is 16 and has just started 6th form collage. She grew up with me (my wife earns more so it made sense for me to stay at home) so we are very close – as such a few of my passions have rubbed off on her.
Do you like travelling? Where do you go then?
I love travelling, but money has always been an issue so we don’t go very far. I went to Venice 16 years ago and fell in love with the place. We were in Tunisia just before the revolution, I thought it was an amazing country. I will never forget standing on a sand dune in the Sahara, or watching the sunrise/moonrise, over the ocean. We intend to return there asap, and we have never been back to the same country before. If I could travel more I’d go to the Bonneville salt flats during speed week for one thing. Iceland is also on my list. I love the ocean so visiting a coral reef is another dream…. one day.
Do you have another job apart from writing? For how many hours? How do you feel about the ‘other’ job?
I gave up work when we moved north. I have had some health issues that made it difficult for me to hold down a ‘normal’ job. I consider myself unemployable these days.
How do your family/friends react to you being a writer? Have their opinions changed since you became a published author? Which remark from your surroundings has stuck most with you?
My family aren’t very interested in my writing, neither are my old friends. Most of them just think it’s odd, or they don’t care. I can watch their eyes glaze over whenever I start to talk about it. Has any of that changed since I have been published? Nope. Not one friend or family member has read anything of mine, nor have they expressed any great interest in doing so. Luckily I have my writer friends. Without them, and my wife, I would have given up this dream long ago.
Would you call yourself a social human being? Do you have time for going out and spending time away from the writing desk?
I do enjoy being with other people (some of the time) I used to be very hedonistic, and was something of a ‘party animal’. We often have friends over for dinner. And I have a bunch of older male friends (in their 80’s) who I see most Thursdays in and around York. They have introduced me to the world of classical music. I love listening to their stories. I love adventures – not knowing what is around the corner.
For me, the journey is always more exciting than the destination.
Which character trait do you like best about yourself and why? Which trait would you rather do without?
This is a difficult one. I guess my empathy is my strongest character trait, that and curiosity. Worst? My lack of self belief. I’ll leave it at that.
Can you describe the place where you write + the view?
I have my own study (small spare bedroom) I look onto a large curved desk and a wall with book shelves (Dictionaries, quotation books, technical books) The rest of the room is filled with more shelves of books (almost entirely science books) and reference books, atlas’ etc. Oh, and my model cars and planes. I have photos of my wife in front of me and a large painting I did 21 years ago. The window behind looks out over the village – I have the best view of the church up on the hill.
Is there something you always need to have near you when you work (beverage, cigarette, mascot, music, quote, etc)?
I always have several books on the desk that I am reading – I have always read more than one at a time. When I need a break I will stop and read for a while. Oh, I have a CD player – I find classical and experimental music works best when working.
What genre(s) do you write in? How did that develop?
This is a tough one for me to answer. Experimental is best I suppose – but what does even that really mean? I’m not being deliberately awkward about this, I really don’t know what to call it. It’s philosophical, scientific, metaphysical, human based literary drama I guess. But that isn’t a genre you see on Amazon, so I chose Science-fiction/ visionary. It came to be that way because I wanted to write the kind of books I wanted to read but couldn’t find. I genuinely wanted to break new ground. But that is a hard path to take. Will I be successful? I haven’t a clue. But getting readers to try something different is the hardest thing to do, especially if I’m asking them to pay for trying something out of their usual genre. I like writing stories that have multiple
meanings and allow the reader to have some input, yet make them think, deeply think. Many have warned me this approach is doomed to fail… time will tell. For one thing, the whole novel takes place inside one character’s head, and it is not even the character you think it is (that is a clue by the way *wink*).
At some point you decided to self-publish. Can you tell us how that process developed?
Because of my style and subjects, going the ‘normal’ route soon became a head banging exercise. But I resisted self publication for a few years, mainly because I still thought of it as vanity publishing and was waiting for a zeitgeist moment when I could rise up and seize the moment. A few of those moments came and went, but alas it didn’t happen for my book. Then, having seen so many friends go the Kindle route, well, it seemed the right move. Now I have made that move I’m not so sure, but then, selling new ideas is never easy. I have quickly discovered there are many pitfalls to this new way of selling books. Something weighty as my novel is not the usual electronic fare it seems.
How do you feel about self-publishing now? What are the advantages, disadvantages, pitfalls, etc.?
And I think I have covered some of this in the previous answer. I’ll just add that I have only been at this a few weeks, and I am a rookie. I’m a writer, I never intended to be a publisher, editor, salesman.
Are you in a network of Indie authors? How do you market your own book?
I have been out on my own for so long now I don’t feel comfortable ‘networking’ never have. But I have been invited to join in one group of indie writers… time will tell if I don’t screw it up. Team playing has never come easy to me. The marketing is still something I’m learning. I just revamped my blog, and I have made a few ‘book promo videos those I enjoy (being creative you see), it’s the nuts and bolts slog that is alien to me still. People are giving me advice which is wonderful, but I often feel they are impatient with me to ‘get on with it’ The ‘team player’ thing again you see – I struggle with that.
When was your first book released and how did that make you feel?
My first published work was in an anthology. When I got a copy of the book in my hand I almost cried. And when I read my stories I very nearly did – full of typos! I wanted to die, people would read these, know it was me. I was mortified. So a bad start. These problems have since been addressed. My novel
was edited again, and again, and again, and again. There may be one or two left I missed but I’d be surprised. Now my novel and two anthologies of short stories are ‘out there’ the overwhelming feeling is fear and apprehension. I have sold
one copy of my novel so far that I know of, and I know the person reading it – they are a self published writer themselves and have written several books – I live in fear of what they will say. Because I want so much for someone to ‘get it’ and thereby, get me.
Can you tell us some background information on the book? (How did you get the idea, how long did it take you to write and edit it, is it part of a sequel, how does the published book make you feel now?)
Whoa… the BIG question! Oh boy where do I begin… ‘Quintessence’ is my ‘Opus Magnus’ and it truly is. Yeah, I’ve started at the end of my writing career and I’m gonna be working backwards. Told you I did things differently. This is the book that burned in my brain for almost 12 years. And it did, at times, almost costing me my sanity as I chased it around in my head and tried and failed, again and again, to get the ideas inside to sound right in ink.
Take one example, the opening prologue alone took around 30 or 40 times to get
right – from scratch – over a decade. (This is more than a story, this is a work of art to me). And with each new rewrite it grew into something even bigger and deeper than I had originally planned. The prologue morphed into a poem after a female poet read the, maybe, 20th attempt, back on Authonomy, and suggested it may work better that way. She produced an early version of what is now finished. It took a few more years to get right. I truly did agonize over every single word. It had to be perfect – because it contained so much information about all that was going to happen – and why. And the meaning in what I have just typed there will be lost on anyone who does not read the book (and I’m not just saying that) But I can say no more without starting to give the game away. Needless to say, there are several different narratives happening at the same time right from the first page – and they do all come together at the end, that is a promise. Writing down the plot this book would require writing another book almost as long – it’s that complex and intertwined. But my real point is; so is the world, but… but, behind all that seemingly
impenetrable complexity in the world lie patterns, and within those patterns lie simplicity, and within that, lie the answers. The book repeats themes over and over
in different contexts, here are the patterns within, and here lies the key to unlocking the simplicity at the heart of the book. Still with me? It is not an understatement to say that books could be written about this novel, many books, about what it is about. It is about many things. But at its heart is a simple story that is played out to its conclusion, and it is a story about love. About the sacrifices made in the name
of great love. You don’t need to know everything contained in the text to ‘get it’, because it can be read on different levels. Am I sounding full of myself? I hope not, because I am being honest about what I have created. One thing is certain – there will be no sequel. I wouldn’t know how to write that. In the past other writers have tried to fathom out just what I have written form the first few chapters and what I have tried to explain – and they all to a one got it hopelessly wrong. There is only
one way to get this, as the few who have read it will tell you, and that is to actually read it. It is a book whose ending you will never see coming, but once you know it, you will see it was in front of your eyes from the first line.
Sum it up in as few words as possible? Here goes: It is about the choices we make and how they impact and spread out all around us. It is about the possibility to undo what has been done – change who we become. The catalyst? The birth of my daughter. If my wife had listened to me – Elizabeth would not exist. I carry a heavy weight upon my shoulders with regard to the man I once was. It is about the reality we think we experience and that we take for granted every second we live. It is about dreams as an alternative reality – the ultimate virtual worlds inside our heads. In there we create people that seem to act as if they have minds of their own (minds within a mind) and we create worlds for them to exist in. And we do it without knowing how we do it, or even what will happen. There appears to be an invisible,
silent playwright who whispers our lines to us only at the last moment. And one
more thing… What happens to those people, those worlds when we wake? What are dreams made of? I explain just what they are, and why they are not so different to the reality we take for granted in our ignorance of what it truly is. When we close our eyes and dream we become gods; the creators of worlds. My novel takes that idea to another level. …okay, I’m done.
What are your writing habits? (every day, number of words, etc.?)
Habits? I don’t really have any that I am aware of, writing is not a mechanical activity for me and it comes and goes with the muse. When my mind is full I write, when it gets empty I stop. I don’t force myself to write every day.
Who’s been your biggest inspiration and why? Since when?
Wow, there are so many. I’d say number one is Carl Sagan – the poet scientist. He knew the true value of knowledge; that it should inspire – and if it doesn’t? Then there is something wrong with the teacher. Einstein of course: for so many reasons, not just his amazing equation, which, despite the fact that it is incomplete as to being a final explanation of ‘everything’ still holds more information about just what we are than thousands of novels and plays ever could. I mean that. Ludwig
Boltzmann is another (can you spot a pattern here?) Why him? Because he stood
up for the truth of how the world is when all around him where in confederacy
against him. This brilliant mind took his own life in the end, a year before Einstein proved him right and his detractors hopelessly wrong. I have been made to feel like him many times, and I have even tried his solution in the past. But others saved me from myself – I got that second chance to do something important with my life.
Where do you see yourself in 5-years’ time?
Oh my. Well I never look past the moment I am in so I have no idea what-so-ever.
THANK YOU SO MUCH, Andrew dear friend!
Want to read Andrew’s work and I think everybody should!
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005IWZQKO A Small selection of Tall Tales vol 1
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005JPKWW2 A Small selection of Tall Tales vol 2
http://staalman.blogspot.com/?zx=a4840f3dd16f8826 Quintessence Blog.