|The 'real' CJ Heath - rarely seen outside his avatar|
What have you had published?
I’ve two books completed.
Dark Angel is a dark fantasy with a touch of romance. Rachael is the main character who is a soul too good for Hell but not pure enough for Heaven. There is a touch of the erotic too it but it’s not overly explicit with most ‘naughtiness’ occurring behind closed doors. Told in current day London, the story tells of a demon seeking to possess Rachael’s 600 year old soul in order to burn a corridor to Hell and permit all the Spawn to reap havoc in our world. Set against this are the Host of angels, led by Briathos who seek to thwart the demon and if possible, redeem the dark angel. Though it appears as a traditional good versus evil story, the truth is Rachael wishes to be on neither side and wants only to be left to her own devices and pleasures.
The second work is a very different story and more the kind of tale I would like to continue to create; Her Name is James is about an 18 year old boy who returns to the family home after 3 years in care. He is transgender and as he makes the decision to become she, James meets Tina. Tina is a friend from school who announces she has always loved him. The story explores familial conflict but mainly looks at James and his emotional assessment of who he is and where his life is heading, especially with regard to a possible future with Tina.
What genre(s) of book do you write?
I enjoy writing fantasy that entertains but my passion is for the authentic, ‘rip your heart out’, coming of age tales. I have to admit, I’m not one to naturally place a book within a single genre. Life doesn’t have one aspect, neither do my stories.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Although Dark Angel is the first published, James was written first. The largest inspiration for that was David Bowie’s song, Rebel Rebel:
She’s got her Mother in a whirl,
Not sure if she’s a boy or a girl.
It conjured an idea and I began to research the world of gender identity and found so much pain and love in that community, I wanted to share what I found but I wanted people to understand too.
How long did it take you to write “Her Name is James”?
It’s embarrassing to admit but I wrote James in just 6 weeks. I was dedicating myself to writing full-time in that period and writing James became a compulsion.
What is the working title of your next book(s)?
I have three on the go at the moment. A sequel to Dark Angel is titled Hell on Earth and there is another trans story currently called She’s Just a Poor Boy that I’m going to put on Wattpad a chapter a time. The third work is one I’m very excited about but has no title as yet. It’s set in 1953 England and is a pained romance between a macho gypsy boy and a soft and meek local lad. Their potential love isn’t going to be easy as aside from their love being illegal, the gypsy culture is a harsh environment. In addition, the fact the gypsy is engaged could prove volatile. Part of me is looking at the title Gypsy Boy but it doesn’t feel right.
When and why did you begin writing?
I remember my parents dropping me at my aunt’s house and my parents and my aunt and uncle went out leaving me with my older cousins, I would have been about 8. One of the amusements was we all went into different rooms to write a story. I wrote something about a werewolf and lost myself in the story. In retrospect I think it was just a way to keep me quiet and out of the way but in those few hours, I discovered I had worlds in my head I could vanish into. That was the start, that imagination amused me for a long time; it still does.
Do you self publish your books or go through an agency?
I’m self-published as I originally submitted a story to one single agent and it took so long to hear back, I decided I wasn’t prepared to go through that wait all over again. I may make another approach when my gypsy tale is ready as I’ve not been knocked back for my writing, merely for submitting ‘unsuited genres’.
What part of writing books do you find the hardest?
Staying focussed on one story. I have so many stories burst fully formed into my mind I am tempted to put a current work aside to move on to a new story (which is just what did for decades).
What do you do in your spare time?
Tragically, if I’m not in my employed work, I’m generally at my laptop screen writing. I do have distractions of three grown sons and also, my wife and I make time for ourselves by walking the countryside. And of course, there’s always candy crush.
Who is your favourite author?
Every author has written a book that has let me down a little but the most consistently enjoyed writer I’ve found is David Gemmell. He was an author of traditional fantasy but his characters are so complex and engaging I can fall into his stories and not resurface until the closing page.
What’s your favourite genre to read?
I do dip into many genres but my favourite is fantasy such as Terry Brooks, David Gemmell and Storm Constantine. Curiously, the stories I love writing are in genres I’d not read myself.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Set a routine. I have four days out of eight I have no commitments. On those days I’m in front of the laptop before 7am and write until the battery dies. Until I established this routine, I would prevaricate and delay. Days and weeks would pass and I’d produce nothing. Setting myself a specific time to write has given me the discipline I needed. In those two to three hours, I may write 4,000 words, I may write 100 but I know it is my opportunity; I try not to waste that time.
I have much more advice I’d gladly share but the discipline of a routine can’t be under-stated.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to thank everyone for reading, not just this but books, all books. Any author will still write without a reader but it would be an unrequited love. When we write we put so much of our heart and soul into a story that it becomes a part of us, when you read our tales, you give us meaning.