The Author Spotlight series featured on this blog showcases writers and their work. Writing can be a fulfilling but lonely journey - so why not have some fun and make a few friends along the way? Let’s get to know N.R. Baker (@NRBakerWriter):
What inspired you to start writing?
I can’t remember starting to write. When my parents moved houses and cleared their loft, they discovered some of my early works, written when I was five or six years old. The stories were brief and terrible, but they proved that I’ve always been fascinated with the art of storytelling.
What are common traps/mistakes for aspiring writers?
Having fallen foul of most of them myself, I feel qualified to answer this.
I think the biggest one is impatience. Generally speaking, the publishing industry moves slower than an arthritic sloth with a hangover. If you really want to be a successful writer, patience is not only a virtue: it’s an absolute necessity.
As tempting as it is to inflict your masterpiece on the world as soon as you’ve typed ‘The End’, it really does pay to take your time. Learn to accept constructive criticism, edit your work, edit it some more, get feedback from test readers, edit your work again, proof read, send query letters, don’t let the rejections dishearten you too much, edit your work yet again… and be prepared for lots more editing and reworking when you finally hook an agent or publisher.
It’s painful while you’re going through all that, but I know the book I’ve produced at the end of the process is immeasurably better as a result. I also found that writing short stories and flash fiction satisfied my impatient streak, and they’re a great way to work your literary muscles and hone your craft.
What is something you loved but had to edit out of this book that was like sawing off a limb (isn’t writing fun)?
I had to change the title of my novel. There was no anesthetic, and it hurt. All the way through writing and querying, my book was called Yelling at Cows. I thought it was intriguing and a bit different, but my publishers asked beta readers if they’d be interested in finding out more about a book called Yelling at Cows, and apparently the response was "Er… no." So I renamed it 10:59, which the publishers and readers really liked, and the new title led to the great cover design I’ve got now.
Tell us a little bit about your story and what inspired you to write "10:59".
10:59 is the story of Louis (with a "wiss", not a "wee"): a teenager who has a seemingly unique ability to see things that are invisible to others. When he’s asked to come up with an idea that will change the world, his answer is both shocking and simple. And it is a solution that will transform everything, forever.
Louis finds himself thrust into the heart of an organisation that has the power to save a planet on the brink of destruction. But are their motives pure? And can he live with the devastating price that humanity must pay?
Readers will make assumptions about my inspiration for the novel, because it features a deadly virus. In fact, I wrote the book two years before the Coronavirus pandemic.
If you had to describe the main character in three words, what would those three words be?
I’ll let Louis answer this one himself. Here’s an excerpt from the book:
Brad had asked me a few times over previous months whether I’d be interested in waiting tables or working behind the bar after I turned eighteen, but I told him I was much more comfortable helping out in the kitchen, behind the scenes. Brad hadn’t wanted to take no for an answer and on one occasion had said, "You’re just the sort of person we need: polite, reliable, sensible."
He’d intoned the last three words like a really unexciting version of the FBI’s "fidelity, bravery, integrity" motto and I’d had a sudden mental image of a headstone bearing the epitaph: "Here lies Louis Crawford. Polite, reliable, sensible". I wasn’t particularly bothered what people thought of me — that was their problem, not mine — but it sounded so boring. I was happy to be all three of those things, but I didn’t want to have a boring life. If I’d known what lay ahead, I might have been more careful what I wished for.
How can we purchase your book?
10:59 will be published in paperback and ebook formats on 7th August. You can pre-order the ebook on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08BX4RY7W Want to try before you buy? You can download a FREE extract here: https://www.subscribepage.com/1059nrbaker Visit my author website here: http://nrbakerwriter.com/
Follow me on Twitter or Facebook: @NRBakerWriter