I’m speaking of an excellent new author named Steven Bannister and his new book, Fade to Black. I was lucky enough to be able to ask Mr. Bannister a few questions about his novel and the inspirations behind it.
Mr. Bannister, welcome to Dandilyon Fluff and congratulations on your new book, Fade to Black. Can you please tell me as much as you can about your story without any spoilers?
Basically Fade to Black concerns a young woman, (Allie St.Clair), who is fast-track promoted to Detective Chief Inspector at New Scotland Yard, London. Unfortunately for her in a sense, she comes from a background of conspicuous wealth and privilege and this is entirely at odds with most of her peers. She is also Cambridge educated which further alienates her. However, she has certainly earned the promotion through brilliant past field work. Challenging though the promotion is, it is nothing compared to the revelations that suddenly emerge about her family- its ancient connections to The Archangel Michael and the role she is called upon to play. Two gruesome murders occur in inner London and only Allie knows the true motivations behind them. She has to ‘run’ her Murder Investigation Team without the freedom to share all the information she has, protect them from forces they could never deal with, cope with pressure from her superiors and bring a greater evil to heal to fulfil her obligations. It all happens within one week-her first as a DCI. Her life, unsurprisingly, is changed forever.
That sounds like a complicated plot. What were some of the inspirations behind the story?
The story came about through two events: First, I ‘accidently’ climbed an ancient Tor (hill) in England while visiting there about twelve years ago. A colleague and I were travelling through Somerset when I spotted a weird hill jutting into the sky from the dead flat plain, some distance away. Curiosity got the better of us and we drove to it. I climbed the incredibly steep hill (still in my business suit etc) and found myself in an ancient tower at the top. Subsequent investigations revealed I had climbed ancient Glastonbury Tor- the source of many legends surrounding King Arthur, faeries and other myths. It was a magical place, I kid you not. Secondly, my daughter works in St James’s Park in London for one of the police authorities. The two came together and I just had to write the book.
We’re glad you did! Are you like any of the characters, and if yes then how are you alike? Who are you least like?
Hmmm…good question. I guess I’m like all of them in various ways-except I hope, our killer. I’d like to think I was more like our tall, good-looking Archangel, but who am I kidding? Maybe we share the same sense of humour, that would be about it!
Of course I always want to know about marketing… would you share some of your best strategies? What hasn’t worked?
I’ve spent my career in international marketing and communications, but strangely, book marketing is not my strong point. Talking-up my own work is just not something I feel comfortable with. Author J.A.Konrath’s blog about self-publishing is instructive, but even he says you have to write a damn good book in the first place and everything else is secondary. I see (some) indie authors making preposterous claims about the success of their books and clearly their reviews on Amazon have all been written by family and friends. In the long term, how can that work? The reviews of Fade to Black that I’ve seen have come from the U.S., England and Australia and they are what they are without my involvement-that’s how it should be in my humble opinion.Because I have been travelling in the U.K. for a month or so, I’ve not done anything with the book other than enrol it in Amazon’s Kindle Direct Programme. The results have been okay- a couple of thousand went immediately during the promotion, but I have a lot of work to do to build awareness-‘Discoverability’ as it is now termed. Amazon represents at base level, a gigantic bookstore with hundreds of thousands of books on offer. Mine is just a quirky book poked into a dark corner on a high shelf.
Do you plan to continue this story line? What other projects do you have planned?
I have two other projects lodged in the back of my skull- one concerning an Australian criminologist transplanted to London (I must love London…) and another book set in 1930’s Los Angeles-this one is light hearted and inspired in part by Hugh Laurie’s The Gun seller. All I need is some time to write! It’s hard living in Tasmania- the water is so blue and clean. I gaze out at the yachts sitting about on the Derwent river and just want to be out there! And the cafes serve the best coffee…ok, enough of the travelogue.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
I’ve written, one way or another, for a living all of my life- media releases, government briefings, feature stories for newspapers, etc, but writing a book is a different animal altogether. My advice? Just do it. Get your loose storyline in your head and write like there’s no tomorrow. Forget about correct spelling, syntax errors and paragraph indents and the like- just write the thing and importantly, let the story take you along. Be receptive to the new directions your subconscious (Muse) offers you- I’m betting it will improve your story. But for me, the most important thing you can do BEFORE YOU WRITE, is have some sort of handle on the universal elements that make up a satisfying story. It’s a big subject, (and this is a huge sentence…) but as you probably know, the Greeks invented the art of storytelling and they discovered the basic elements that we as humans need to experience for a story to have taken us on a journey with the protagonist and deposited us back in our warm beds where we ultimately close the book, turn to our partners and say, “Hmmm,I really enjoyed that book.”