Name : Stuart Fish
Where are you from; Born in South Africa. Left with my family, from Cape Town in 1993 to head up an investment company in New Zealand. Moved to Sydney in 2002. I retired from corporate life (was made redundant) soon after and now blog, write, develop websites and occasionally coach.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc: I got my degree, BSc at Cape Town university. Am an actuary by profession, so was good at math. Met my wife at work, married and have 3 gorgeous daughters. Eldest is a vet in New Zealand. Middle daughter is training manager for hi-tech company in Sydney and youngest works at Euro Disney, in Paris, as Cinderella, amongst other Disney characters. So I have kids all over the world. One of my books, How To Be Good Parents And Raise Great Kids shares how we raised our daughters. Written under a penname, James Comfort.
I am now divorced and about to publish my autobiography – well the first book of three – called Coming Out On Top.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news? I have suffered from severe depression over the last 4 or 5 years and am still under treatment and on medication, but my writing is really keeping me motivated and ‘alive’ at the moment. I have documented that experience in Kicking The Dog – 5 Steps To Beat Depression. But I have always enjoyed writing, even though I am actuary, which means I am a numbers man. I started writing my autobiography a few years ago, but as recently as in May this year, I came across a course on writing books for Amazon Kindle. Since late May, I have written and published 12 books. Currently on target to sell just under 200 books in the month of August so pleased with my progress. They can all be found here. http://www.stuartfish.com/wordpress
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing? I have always enjoyed writing and did write a few books – unpublished, – over my life time. In my corporate life, I was in the marketing area for many years and did lots of writing there. As I mentioned above, I did a Kindle course in May and since then have focussed on nothing but writing. I am almost addicted to the buzz of seeing each new book published and start to sell.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer? I suppose I have always enjoyed writing. Although I wrote a couple of books some years ago, it was only when my first book was published on Amazon in the middle of May, that I realised that wow, I was a published author.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book? I enjoy sharing, I love kids, and animals and a couple of years ago, I got the idea that I wanted to help parents and kids read. I realise that today, young boys especially, don’t read much – they prefer online pc games and video games. So I thought I would write a book that parents and especially young boys could read together. That is the first book I finally published. Answers to 350 Quirky Questions
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? I like to write as I speak, so keep my writing simple, direct with no fluff… well that is what I aim to achieve. I have received reviews that support that. In my autobiography, which I hope to publish in the next couple of weeks, I have varied the voice and style in the various stories that make up the first book in the series. I have also included one story from the second book (not complete yet) at the end, as a teaser and hook to keep the readers interested. This one is written in a very different way to all the other stories.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title? Some titles come to me right away – such as “Coming Out On Top” – that has been the title for my autobiography since I got the idea many years ago. Kicking The Dog, was also a title that just came to me up front. Some titles come to me only when I am well into the book. My How To book titles are usually pretty direct and related to the main keyword. And a few titles I tend to leave until the book is finished and then decide what title best represents what is in the book.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? I try to have a message in each of my books. In my autobiography, my underlying message is how an individual can cope with change and the slings and arrows that life throws at you. I came out gay at the age 45 and have documented how I got to that point, after 25 years of marriage, how I dealt with it, and how I have adapted as a gay man.
My main novel series, Crossover Red, is a series of gay erotic vampire stories. I have recently published a prequel, Crossover Red Beginnings, a month after I published the first book in the series, Crossover Red At Dawn. The story uses gay vampires and ‘hot’ sex to talk about the drug trade, refugees, poverty, European economic woes and the attempts of some keen students in Sydney to address and solve these issues.
In my best selling book – it made #1 Best Sellers list in its first week in its category – Write Your First Book – 49 Tips to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book – I aim to show wannabee writers that they can in fact write a book. This book is based on my own experience again.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic? In my parenting book, my depression book and my autobiography, they are all based on my own experiences. My writing book is based on my own experience. My Crossover Red series is pure fiction and I have used my vivid imagination to create the characters, the situations and the outcomes. The sex is based on my own experience (LOL – that is off the record.)
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? See the above answer. I can also add that my first erotic novel, True Gay Erotic Tales, written for obvious reasons under another penname, are all true sexual adventures that I have had, as a gay man.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? I have always been an avid reader of adventure fiction – Wilbur Smith, a South African author was my favourite as a youngster. The book that has most influenced my life, though, it The Power Of Now, by Ekhardt Tolle. That book has helped me deal with many issues that I have had to face and I use that as one of my saving graces in my autobiography – in Book Two.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? As I write in so many different niches and genres, there is no one writer that I see as a mentor. But the style of writing that I would most like to emulate in a novel one day is how Nick Flynn writes in Another Bullshit Night In Suck City. He writes as if he is telling his reader a story. That is how I have structured my autobiography. That book is always next to my bed, as is The Power of Now. I do like to write simply, in short sentences and short paragraphs, as I believe many readers today need to be helped to read, to divert them from all the technology distractions. I try to do that with my writing style.
Fiona: What book are you reading now? I am reading The Charge, by Brendon Burchard. He is a very inspiring man and I want to learn from his book and CDs – which I have ordered – how to activate the 10 human drives to make me feel alive. Hoping that will help me deal with my depression.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? I am meeting many new indie authors on the various FB groups that I belong to and am learning from many of them. I have downloaded many of their books and enjoy learning from the different styles.
Fiona: What are your current projects? Wow, where do I start? I have a folder on my computer with 50 separate files for each of my books, where I store ideas for various books that I have in mind to write. As I have published 12 of them, I still have 38 to go. But at the present time, I am working on a number of projects:
· A kid’s book – The Boy, The Dog, The Cat and The Rat. Well into this one and it will have 5 or 6 life lessons for kids to learn by reading this story. I see the main character having lots of ‘legs’ for future stories.
· My second book in the Crossover Red series, Crossover Red At Midday. I am well into this book and the plot is clear in my mind.
· A book on How To Write A Good Book Review. I am co-authoring this with a FB friend in New Zealand.
· I am researching another book “Let’s Talk About Death” which will help people understand that why death is a terrible event to deal with, it is, in fact, just a part of life. Everything in life is temporary, including life itself. EG, teach parents how to help their kids deal with the death of a pet. How to understand grief. And so on. I want this, if possible, to be a light hearted book, not a serious read.
· I am working on 7 Secrets To Ramp Up Your Kindle Sales – as a follow up to my How To Write Your First Book – based on how I promote my books.
· I am working on a number of relationship books. I recently published a short book, 3 Secrets To Win Your Man Back, and that has sold quite well. So I see this niche as worth exploring further.
· I am half way through a cook book, Mr Fish’s Fifteen Favourite Fish Dishes. That is just a fun project, as I try out various fish recipes and adapt them, then capture in my writing system.
· My ex is a fantastic chef, from Colombia, and he and I will work on a book with some of his best recipes at some stage. With lots of mouth-watering-pictures.
· I have also thought about writing a gay version of 50 Shades – working title 50 Shades of The Rainbow, but that market niche is pretty busy at the moment.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. I have actually not had much support from family at all, as they are all overseas. Sadly, they don’t even buy my books – yet! A good friend has supported my writing, but I get most of my support from the FB groups that I belong to, and from the writing courses that I have taken.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career? I do now. After spending years in counselling looking for my new purpose in life (after my 30 year very successful career in financial services) – this story about how I came crashing down again will be covered in Book three of Coming Out On Top – I finally feel that I have found my bliss, in writing. I love writing and am hoping to make a supplementary living from my books, articles and so forth.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? My latest book has only just gone live, so too early to say. One aspect I will work on for some of my earlier books are the covers. I have found that when I rework the covers, I see the sales rise. I will also consider, as I mentioned answering an earlier question, whether to use American spelling or Australian spelling in my books.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I have always loved writing, from when I was a kid. I would write stories as a school boy. I have been a blogger for the last 4 years. In my corporate career, I used to do a lot of marketing writing, board papers and annual reports. My blog is aimed at helping people in many aspects of their life. 4abettalife has sadly been hacked recently, so I am still trying to recover all the 800 plus previous posts that I have lost. So yeah, writing has always been a part of my life.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us? The book that I am most involved with of the few I am working on is my kid’s book, The Boy, The Cat, The Dog And The Rat. In this book, Bobby is a typical naughty, or maybe just mischievous, 9 year old, who was given a puppy, Jinx for his 8th birthday. They become great friends and get up to all sorts of mischief together. Then his aunt leaves her cat, Smokey, with his family for 4 weeks when she goes away on holiday and the dog and the cat have to learn to get on with each other. In my book, the animals can understand Bobby and can speak and communicate with each other, but Bobby cannot understand them. They teach Bobby some life lessons as the story develops.
In a storm, Ben the rat seeks shelter under the house and again, the cat and the rat have to learn to get along. So the story will have some adventures that they all get caught up in. Each will have an opportunity to save the day. And of course their will be some humour 9that is humor lol) that young boys love, such as fart jokes ( I can imagine the four ‘friends’ comparing the sounds of their farts in one scene) and poo and booger elements, if I can fit them in. Lessons that the book will cover are issues like accepting diversity, that bullying is bad, learn to always be honest and truthful, and a few others.
I am well into this book at the moment, and loving how it has taken on a life of its own. I will find someone to draw pictures for each of the 7 chapters and then publish on Kindle and through Createspace.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? I guess my passion is driving me rather hard and I am losing some life balance. I am spending far too much time writing, although at the moment that is not a major issue. I saw a definition of a writer on FaceBook today; Writ-er = a person who can turn countless cups of coffee into books. One issue that I am debating with myself is whether to write in American English, or the English English that I am used to. As I sell most of my books in the US, I am seriously considering reworking all my books into American English. I would love your view on that.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? Hmm, I don’t really have a favourite author at the moment. I tend to go with the book I am reading at the moment, so let me say Brendon Burchard.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)? I have visited Wellington, New Zealand a couple of times, to write sections of my autobiography, as I find that being in the actual situation of where the events happened bring more vitality to my writing. My last book was set in LA, so I guess, I should have visited Downtown LA where the gay vampires were at work. But sadly, I didn’t.
Fiona: Who designed the covers? I have used Fiverr for a couple of book covers, two friends from FB groups who each have a business of cover designing have each designed a cover for me and I have designed my own covers as well. I will move more and more to getting my covers professionally designed.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book? In a couple of my books in the wellness and weight loss niche, I found the hardest part was deciding what information to include and what to leave out. My blog of over 800 posts focused on wellness, so I had a wealth of material there. But I think I succeeded in keeping my current two wellness books, Eat, Drink, Move and How To Lose Weight with These 101 Foods sufficiently different and concise.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? I suppose the most interesting thing I have learned – about the power of the human mind – is that when writing my autobiography and writing about times when I was a child, that I can recall amazing details of certain events as if they were yesterday.
I am also amazed when my creative mind works its way through to my fingers and I type things that I don’t know why they are in my story, until some pages later, something else pops out of my fingers and links up with the previous ‘piece of writing’.
For example, in Crossover Red At Dawn, in an early scene Den punches Josh, the hero, on the shoulder when they say goodbye. Why I wrote that, I don’t know, but later, when Josh gets home very late after meeting a vampire at a sex club, his girlfriend notices a new bruise on his neck. He doesn’t know the guy was a vampire – and neither does the reader at that stage – although they may suspect it – but he remembers that Den punched him and uses that as an excuse… etc etc.
And for all the vampire names, such as Nawor, Levic, Tursat, Cerbu, Nabir and Leisha, I have just taken ordinary Australian names and switched the letters around, including my own. Tursat, my name twisted around, gets killed off. That was fun.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers? Stay true to yourself. Don’t write junk. Keep your content unique and original. Don’t write for the money, write for the joy of writing and sharing of your story. Don’t undervalue your work.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? As I usually say at the end of each book, I want my readers to enjoy the experience, to learn something from my own life in any particular book of mine that they read, and if they enjoy it, to tell their friends. And maybe to consider that they too, can write a book one day and share their life experiences. Oh yes and….. if you enjoyed the book, please leave a review J
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done ? Nothing at this stage of my life. I had a wonderful 30 years in the financial services industry ending up as CEO of a company in New Zealand and Chairman of another company. I also owned a restaurant for 3 years – that is also for another story – Book Two of my Coming Out On Top LOL. But more than happy with my current focus. But if I HAVE to say something, then I would like to be sailing a yacht in the Mediterranean.