|Posted by Matt Posner on February 21, 2014 at 8:55 AM|
Today the operator of an award-worthy interview series, who recently interviewed me, visits me for the longest interview I have ever done. There was Dusty Rhodes, there was Dusty Springfield, and now there is... Simon Dusty Duringer.
Disclaimer: some links are from Mr. Duringer, some from me. If you're not sure which is which, feel free to ask me.
My site is not cooperating. I make all the fonts the same in the edit
box, and then when I publish, the fonts change to not matching. Maybe I
can fix this later.
Introduce yourself. Then, where do you live, and how do you like it there?
Many of those I have become acquainted with over the years simply know me as Dusty. In fact, I decided to slot it into my Facebook name for their benefit. Newcomers to my social circle generally refer to me as Simon and readers as Simon Duringer. The full handle is Simon Kenneth Duringer; Kenneth being my father’s name.
My middle name ‘Kenneth’ seemed to evaporate somewhere along the line,
perhaps as it appeared to be a source of amusement to friends during my
school years. My school mates thought it fairly obscure,though I share
it with Kenneth Grahame (1859- 1932),author of “TheWind in the Willows”
and more recently the likes of Kenneth Branagh,the British actor, who,
on rising to fame made me feel rather more proud of the name.
Incidentally, the English meaning of the name is Royal obligation, Good-looking and fair. But, I’ll
leave any resemblance to those characteristics down to you and your readers…
I have lived a rather nomadic existence. My education took place in boarding schools in different parts of the U.K. I was packed up and carted off at the ripe old age of 8 years and would commute home during the school vacations. For a large portion of that time my parents were residing in the North of Spain, just outside a quiet little castle town called Begur. They moved back to England in the 90’s before jetting off again around the start of the new millenium, that time close to Évreux in the North of France, remaining there for several years. Whilst they have now finally decided to settle down back in the South of the U.K. where it all began for them, I have inherited their travelling ‘bug’ and I like to travel whenever the opportunity arises and/or circumstances allow. In terms of where I rest my head at night… I live with my ‘better half’ Liz and her three children in Chorley, Lancashire. It’s possibly the farthest inland I have ever lived and I must confess I miss the clear air and unique smell of the seaside.
Chorley is fairly close to Manchester, home of the Trafford Centre, one of the U.K.’s largest shopping centres, so there’s no shortage of great shops, and then at the other end of the cultural scale there is Rivington (Pike), former home to the famous Industrialist, Philanthropist and Politician; William Lever (1st Viscount Leverhulme).
So, that’s me….
When did you realize you wanted to write? What was your process for developing your craft?
I suspect that I am like many others in that I don’t recall a ‘Eureka’ moment. I can trace my first success back to winning a compulsory writing competition whilst still at school; I remember being annoyed at not choosing to enter, but subsequently delighted to win a £10 Book Token for my efforts! So, I guess one might deduce that I was blessed with a small amount of natural talent and furthermore, once committed to something, however reluctant I might initially seem, I always give 100%.
After school, the quill went into storage for many years. I was aware that, akin to sportsmen and women, only 10% of writers earn 95% of royalties generated. Whilst not impossible, one would need to be incredibly fortunate to be elevated to the dizzy heights enjoyed by those top 10% of earners first time out, perhaps ever! Therefore, I followed a slightly more conventional path and became embroiled within the process of growing up, working that ‘conventional’ job and putting responsibilities to my family first… Writing was never allowed to be a priority and so I remained ‘distracted’ for decades!
That said; allow me to throw in what may appear to be a major contradiction by alluding to the fact; throughout my career I have been unable to avoid writing! Rarely on topics of my choosing, but as your question relates to learning my craft, for me, it has relevance….
I have created innumerable management reports, speeches and/or presentations, designed processes and documented procedures. I have written a number of published magazine articles and professionally written hundreds of product reviews…. Rarely being given the opportunity to choose the subject matter for my ‘work related’ writing gave rise to some of my greatest writing challenges i.e. Attempting to take some of the most boring and tedious of subjects possible and still leave the audience wanting more. In order to do that, I would have to get into the minds of the audience, offer them fresh perspectives on the same old subjects they had read about time and time again. I enjoy discovering what makes my audience tick and then playing to those sensibilities. Individually, all of the above activities require the design and delivery of a ‘story’, explaining oneself with a great degree of accuracy and, more often than not, injecting a certain amount of ‘spin’ into the process along the way.
I became more involved with writing ‘articles’ whilst in the Royal Air Force, where I also spent a brief period as Deputy Corporate Communications Officer (writing press releases, liaising with the media etc). I contributed articles to, and later assisted in the edit of, a prominent station magazine. During that time I had more flex on subject matter and writing satirical articles about my exploits through training, on detachments and generally within service life seemed to hit the mark. One or two articles were picked up by the trade press and published nationally, several more….well, you know the old cliché; “I can tell you but then I would have to….”.
Another useful period within my mainstream career was spent on a post Royal Air Force interim contract as Operations Manager with a large U.K. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Company. The company, made up of a bunch of I.T. Graduates, had mastered the art of topping Google rankings for a highly impressive number of blue chip clients. Whilst I was employed to evaluate and improve processes and reporting techniques; I suppose it had been inevitable that during the process of evaluation, I would be introduced to some invaluable SEO ‘word management’ techniques and strategies which I have since adopted and used with varying degrees of success.
You run a great author interview series, Simon. I think we agree on the point of collegiality, that we independent authors are more allies than competitors. But you have interviewed a lot of high-profile traditionally published authors, too. How do you get past their layers of protection to talk to them?
Firstly, thank you! It’s always great to receive good feedback and really keeps one motivated to deliver more and better work….
Independently published novels account for approximately 30% of the Top 100 selling books on Amazon at any one time. Independent authors need to form social media and other marketing coalitions to keep eating away at that differential. It has been proven over and over that when we come together with a mentality of co-operative working, we achieve better results. I do what I can to assist others, hopefully karma will come back and visit me sometime! (LOL!)
In terms of my interviewees, I owe a great deal to Josephine Bailey, Independent author of the contemporary children’s novel, “Hotey”, and an AUDIE winning Narrator (http://hotey.net). Jo was not only my first interviewee, but has agreed to write the Foreword to one of my current projects; “The Word”. As with most of my interviewees, we have become friends, but I fondly refer to Jo as my Godmother due to the continued help and advice she selflessly offers…
I think the secret to getting high profile people to agree to interviews, partly comes down to the way I conduct the interviews, the questions I ask, and partly through building a bond of trust with those whom I deal with. I do not seek to embarrass my interviewees nor am I hunting for a scoop. After all, I am an author, too, and I firmly believe in treating others how I wish to be treated myself! I also do not allow their interviews simply to be a ‘plug’ for their work. My feeling is that if readers can relate to an author, through that personal interaction, albeit on a ‘virtual’ platform, an author will more likely endear the reader into trying/buying their work than by, metaphorically speaking, waving banners and shouting “Roll up, Roll up, Order y’er e-books ‘ere!” at the top of one’s voice.
We need a marketing strategy not a town market mentality!
I have the greatest respect for all those I invite to Simons 10 Q Interviews, a number of suggestions have been made by interviewees as to whom I should target next and I am currently pursuing several of them. But, in answer to the final part of your question; whilst I consider it their loss, sometimes *sigh* one simply can’t get through the barriers….
Who are some of the people you had fun interviewing? Who would be on your wish list for the future?
OMG Matt, are you serious? I have recently really, and I do mean really, struggled to narrow my own favourites down to the Top 20, so this may turn into a ramble or rant….where does one start….?
Recently, Simons 10 Q Interviews has been shortlisted to the UK National Blogging Awards Finals 2014; the organisers’ highlighted what they considered my best 3 interviews for their judging panel’s attention in the finals. It’s a good place to start as I won’t dispute their conclusion; AUDIE Winning Josephine Bailey. Pulitzer (DuPont) prize and 5 times Emmy award winning Martin Fletcher. Academy Award Winning and Two times Prime Time Emmy nominated Disney Director Paul DeMeyer.
Those aside, everybody has been great but here are some of the other favourites…..
Doran Ingrham, a great reader favourite, very talented and knowledgeable Ex-Special Services and Black Ops Specialist turned author. Michael Sherer, he was nominated for the best Novel of 2012. The highly active social media and ex Human Resources Manager, Canadian author Claude Bouchard…. Jake Needham who has previously been interviewed on School of the Ages, what a star he is! Jack Hayes topped the bill for the most downloaded WW2 book; his responses had me in stitches. Then come the glamour girls AKA Romance writers; Laura Taylor, Debra Salonen and Dana Delamar all at the top of their writing game and monopolising the award tables…. Not forgetting MJ Summers who stormed the literary world recently with her Amazon Top 10 Debut hit “Break in Two”! Leigh Russell; traditionally published and in all major book shops, she has topped every UK chart and has just been signed internationally by Harper Collins. James Becker served on the same Royal Navy ship that I was detached on, albeit at a different time. He shares the same writing stable as Dan Brown as do three other authors I am doing previews for now. Then there was the legendary Robert J Ahola; the CEO of Gallagher Films, Matt Lynn; the CEO of Endeavour Press, Ken Farmer and Co-Author Buck Steinke are also joint owners of Timber Creek Press. John Putnam; the author and historian spins a great yarn and is incredibly knowledgeable on the Californian Gold Rush, and not forgetting the whirlwind…. 25 Novels in 30 Months, recently on the front page of the Wall Street Journal; Russell Blake….a man who loves his tequila! H Alan Day, brother of the former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner will be paying a second visit as he launches his new book in March and of course my favourite London Doctor Tim Stevens, author of the “Ratcatcher” Spy Series.
Lastly for this list, but certainly not least; Rene Schultz, another author who has become a great friend, She’s the Bestselling author of “Searching4MrRight.com”, “Bishop Street” and recently published “Done Deal”. Formerly a B&N author, Rene turned independent…. She’s a highly inspirational lady!
There are of course rather more and I apologise to those whom I have omitted, I can’t stress enough what great people, individuals and authors they all are!
the future I would like to continue interviewing from the broad cross
section of both traditional and independently published authors out
there, so essentially I will be striving to do more of the same, but
there might be other exciting things happening soon too *Ssshhh!*
You’re an expert marksman. Is that something more learned or based on natural talent?
A mix of both; I grew up on and around farms where shooting is a part of daily life. When I arrived at boarding school a .177 rifle was thrust upon me very early on. With minimal guidance and a bunch of other newbies, we attempted to handle and shoot the air rifles towards targets without killing each other in the process. I think in this day and age The Health and Safety Executive might have something to say about it all!
Whilst nobody died at the range, when the lead bins were full, the ricocheting pellets would sometimes go hunting! It wasn’t unheard of for individuals to be sent to the matron to sort out minor grazes and cuts caused by stray pellets! The school had a very good reputation to uphold in shooting competitions and therefore, as one was chosen for the team, practice became a regular occurrence.
Given your knowledge of weapons, how would you play a part in a zombie apocalypse? (As a non-zombie, I mean)
Hmmm, well given that I know very little about Zombies… Methinks I would have to get by with a little help from my friends… I think these days I am probably best suited as a facilitator; after all I can’t be everywhere at once and by trade I am also a trained Contingency Management Silver Commander! So, working from the comfort of my impenetrable bunker and assuming that my family, partner and children are all safely taken care of whilst I play my war games! Here we go…
We will immediately send for Giles Kristian, author of “God of Vengeance”, to provide a front line army of Vikings. I think they are of the correct mindset to take on killing dead people and should be able to assist, at least in containing the initial zombie insurgence.
To help the Vikings and buy us some time, I would employ your “School of the Ages” magicians Matt Posner to muster up some spells powerful enough to assist in creating battle confusion and useful diversions.
Meanwhile, Assuming Zombies don’t swim, I would mobilise James Becker, author of “The Lost Testament” and an obvious choice to lead offshore operations. He has great operational and naval carrier experience; he also doesn’t suffer fools lightly, so we could rely on him to make devolved decisions as the situation unfolds! He could provide air cover from offshore and perhaps after the initial confusion has past, we would decamp and run operations from HMS Illustrious, as I know my way around!
High on my list of priorities would be to employ my friend Doran Ingrham along with his writing partners Ken Farmer and Buck Steinke. They will take charge of designing new and bespoke weapons and training on the use of them to carry out this task. They did such a good job in their “Blood Brothers” series.
The objective here I assume being to wipe out (or cure) the zombies, I am led to believe attacking their brains’ is the only way to kill them? So, Tim Stevens, author of the “John Purkiss” series and a consultant Doctor in the National Health Service, will be called upon to coordinate the treatment of our casualties whilst expediting research for a cure. He can also liaise with Doran when discussing potential biological and/or chemical weaponry!
For Intelligence gathering we need creative people, fearless and daring…. Robert J Ahola, author of “The Rainbow Builders” could render his film company Galahad at our disposal and I would send in our top correspondent, the Pulitzer prize winning Martin Fletcher, author of “The List” to report from the front line and head up international liaison…. We can ask Academy Award winning Disney Director Paul DeMeyer, to postpone filming his new Disney Animation “Miles from Tomorrowland”. He deals with characters of the non human variety on a daily basis and can be on hand to advise and Direct Martin.
Back in the ops room, I would require the presence of detectives and spies of Jake Needham, author of “The King of Macau”, Jack Hayes, author of “Candleburn”, Leigh Russell, author of “Fatal Act” and Michel Sherer, author of “Night Blind”. Collectively such minds should be able to solve what is behind the crisis and work on long term solutions to avoid it occurring again…
(You're killing me with these links, Kenneth.)
Morale is always tricky during crisis or conflicts, but there’s much truth in the comment; “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” so we’ll put Claude Bouchard, author of “Something’s Cooking” in charge of catering and public liaison, he might need to learn about logistics on the hoof, but with his huge social media following and wicked sense of humour I am sure he could cope with the challenge of staving off panic and ensuring there is enough food reaching the front line force….and wider population.
Another morale issue can be boredom. We don’t want troops moping around considering their fate. I suggest we get MAGGIE winning Laura Taylor, author of “Desert Rose” and her award winning Romance Novelist colleagues; Debra Salonen, author of “Are We There Yet?” Dana Delamar, Author of “Revenge” and MJ Summers, author of “Break in Two” to dream up some exciting entertainment in case we are at war for an extended period.
By now you’re probably asking where all the money is coming from to pay for this lot eh? Well, I think we could have this covered by way of John Putnam, author of “Tales from the Promised Land”, John has every secret of the Californian Gold Rush under his belt and I am sure he could find us a nice clean seam of gold to extract!
I think that’s most tasks covered, I guess we’re going to need instructions and orders raised and since we are undoubtedly in a hurry, there’s only one man I can think of who could type fast enough to do the job…. 25 novels in 30 months, Russell Blake, author of “Jet”
Of course, now that everybody’s busy with their own tasks I am going to need somebody to bounce ideas off whilst I create our contingency plans. So, until the progress reports start coming through… Jo Bailey, author of “Hotey” and Rene Schultz, author of “Done Deal” should be spared the horrors of war. They can keep me company in the safety of my bunker, Rene has some incredible banking contacts so in the event John Putnam fails in his task, Rene can be on hand to ensure wages are paid etc….
So, there you have it Matt…. As the old saying goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know!” I think we could have those zombies licked!
p.s. If all else fails, we do have a secret weapon, Phil Hogan, veteran Observer Journalist and author of “A Pleasure and a Calling” who I am yet to meet. He would be the next on my; to call list…. Phil has created the character; Mr Heming. Mr Heming holds the key to everything though you can’t read too much about him until his debut appearance in March!!
How did your knowledge of marksmanship and firearms affect the composition of your first detective novel, Stray Bullet?
Not a great deal to be honest. U.S. readers may not be aware but, in the U.K. getting a firearms certificate is a real chore, keeping hold of it is even worse.
As with most legislation put in place by those who know nothing of the subject they legislate over, firearms laws in the U.K. at best simply upset and makes it difficult for those who go about things legally and quite frankly at worst make not a single jot of difference to those who don’t!
So, I took the decision many years ago to give up my firearms licence under which, to be fair, I could hold a fair arsenal for one man i.e. A .22 rifle, .410 Shotgun, 12 Bore Shotgun, .22 pistol, .38 calibre handgun, 9mm automatic and .45 calibre handgun. The insane pre-cursor to having the licence was that I couldn’t carry a loaded firearm in public, nor indeed keep ammunition with any of them. Essentially this meant that transiting to my gun club or indeed to any form of farm shoot, clay pigeon range etc I would be breaking the law! Having voluntarily given up the right to hold arms, I was also essentially giving up the sport and as such I have since let my knowledge slip.
Within “Stray Bullet” there is nothing too technical to contend with. I am not attempting to show off my marksmanship prowess, which I consider being outdated anyway. “Stray Bullet” is the story of two individuals from opposite walks of life whom are pulled towards each other by circumstance. There are some fairly intense sub plots and twists which I hope, and given its reviews believe, keep the reader on tender hooks right until the conclusion.
In “Phoenix”, the sequel to “Stray Bullet” I will undoubtedly need to check up on a number of facts as the story tells of several assassins who, and without giving any spoilers, are called upon to tie up some loose ends!
What was it like for you to write a novel for the first time? Is Stray Bullet your first novel, or just the first one on the market?
As I mentioned earlier my writing was effectively on hold for many years. There was also a gap between starting “Stray Bullet” and finishing it, a gap of a decade or so! Some readers say they can identify where I got up to first time around, which I find quite interesting… But to answer the question yes it is my first Novel, though “How Do I Win on a Lottery?” came first.
The experience has been good and I will continue for as long as the ideas keep coming. The most difficult thing for me is not creating stories, plots, twists etc. But as a part timer, it is remaining disciplined in setting aside time to write and, then right on cue, during that brief window, feeling like writing. I do really struggle sometimes and whilst, since “Stray Bullet”, I have accumulated a wealth of ideas, it is doubtful, that unless I can go full time, whether or not many of those ideas will ever make it to paper. A thought which I find soul destroying!
You've written a book about lottery systems. Given how many people lose money on lottery, how can a system make things better?
Let me throw that right back at you. Given how many people lose money on lottery, how can a system make anything any worse? LOL!
It’s a controversial subject. You may be surprised to learn that none are more sensitive about it than those licensed to run the lotteries; In Florida believe it or not my computer’s I.P. address is blocked from their website, so when I ran a site publishing and analysing their results I had to source the results elsewhere! In the U.K., it took over six months bouncing emails backwards and forwards, to and from the organisers, requesting the full back catalogue of results, before I had to resort to threatening to pursue organisers in court for breaching the Freedom of Information Act 2000. They finally, yet reluctantly supplied an unusable version of the library of results to me…. It took what seemed like an age to copy those results across manually to ‘clean’ worksheets! But, ordinarily only six months of results are available to the public from their website and for me that size of sample simply wouldn’t have been enough to create anywhere close to a conclusive analysis.
Perhaps so many people have had their fingers burned in the past with scams that they are sceptical of such works, but the book “How Do I Win on a Lottery?” is largely based around the 5 years worth of recording and mathematical analysis I carried out between 2008 and 2013, dissecting past results in hundreds of ways using countless systems and algorithms. In the main the results achieved were what I expected across six global lotteries, the only exception being the Spanish lottery which seemed to defy the norm! You can draw your own conclusions from that, although they do draw the world’s largest lottery “El Gordo” numbers by hand from a barrel!!
Personally, I arrived at my own conclusions with the U.K. lottery and these days I will play only when a certain number of variables meet my requirements. I then know my odds of winning are good. It’s a case of fairly simple mathematics and probabilities, the systems I use are all demonstrated within the book.
I am actually not particularly worried whether other people buy the book or not. In fact recently I posted across over 100 Facebook groups that people should not consider using their money to buy the lotto book, but rather use any available book money to purchase my debut Novel “Stray Bullet” instead. Yet the book’s ranking has climbed to Number #1 in its genre within all three major Amazon countries independently (i.e. the U.K. the U.S. and Canada), two other genres to the Top #3, and on several occasions within the 12 months since it was published.
Perhaps it’s a breath of fresh air to read an honest analysis? The realists seem to love it and so they should, the book is useful and informative and based upon literally thousands of hours of work.
I’m not going to say any more on the subject, but instead will leave readers pondering the last two lines of a professional casino goer’s very comprehensive Amazon.com (purchase verified) review which concludes thus:
“'How Do I Win On A Lottery? The Top Twenty Lotto Systems' has a permanent place on my Kindle. If you are a lotto player then you need this book. It is money well spent.”
What are you writing now?
I have at least two big projects coming to fruition within the next year. The benefit of being an Independent is that I don’t have to answer to publishers and therefore I don’t need to announce deadlines! However, I will digress briefly by saying that on the subject of Traditional versus Independent, I do think as independents we miss a trick in not having international, multilingual representation at our finger tips…. But hey ho!
“The Word” is probably the next book to be published. It is essentially a compilation of the Top 20 Interviews I have carried out to date. The Foreword is being written by Josephine Bailey, Author of “Hotey”, her own interview will be the first in the book. A very talented young man who designs Rene Schultz’s covers, Michael Price, has already done the leg work on the cover and I am working towards final edit right now. The majority of the interviews have been shortlisted now but I can’t give an exact date for publication just yet…. Though there is a literary festival taking place within Chorley, Lancashire at the end of April this year and I would be disappointed not to have it available by then. My other project which really should be out there already is “Phoenix”. I had thought optimistically that it would have been completed by now, but I am still around half way through and the story is at a cross roads…. Left or Right…. I’m struggling to decide!
For an interesting story by Simon, see my goodreads blog here...
What would you like to say to readers toend this interview?
If your readers have made it this far, I would simply like to thank them for their patience and extend an invitation for them to read my work and interviews on my blog, Simons 10 Q Interviews, and of course, thank you, Matt, for inviting me. Below are a few of the main links where I can be found around the net.
Happy to be followed, prefer not to be stalked! Txs.