Sunday Surprise

Aand… Happy Easter! Welcome to today’s author interview! This month we’re lucky, we have a bunch of people as Authors of the Month on Goodreads! Let’s go with the first, then! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Alp Mortal!

e4cb38d9fb3ba90bf4bb4e7c0c450b5bf8912d23Where do you live and write from?

Currently, I am split between four centres of fiction writing worship: The Isle of Wight, UK in the town of Newport; in the mountains of the Vosges in Haute Saone, France, and in Indiana, USA, where I stay with Shannon from time to time. I also spend time in St Tropez with Chambers – usually if we’re getting a Fenchurch Mystery ready for publication.

Living this way really helps to keep me topped up with ideas for new stories – travel broadens the mind … and the vocabulary!

Why do you write?

I write to express myself, to connect, to excite and to entertain. Originally, it was a way to preserve memories in a more challenging way than simply writing a journal. A lot of my early stuff was more autobiographical, at least, a story was more likely to have been triggered by a very personal experience/encounter than anything else. That is less true these days but it is still a factor which for me is vital in processing my emotions/issues/questions. I love to tell stories; I am a story teller first and foremost.

20562587When did you start writing?

I began writing in January 2009. I did do some writing when I was much younger – mostly poetry. I abandoned it for a very long time, concentrating on other art projects when I had the time for anything creative. I started travelling in January 2009 and the idea of writing to preserve the memories occurred to me after a conversation with a close friend, so I – and you – have them to thank/blame!

What genre(s) do you write?

I write m/m romance, m/m/f romance very occasionally, m/m romantic thrillers, and gay-themed crime stories and series (mostly with Chambers Mars when we write as Carter Seagrove). I am just about to start my first Sci-fi project which is also gay themed (Trojan Horse – a kind of Space Opera). I have a gay-themed soap opera (Swallow Close) on the table but that is languishing due to project overload. At some point in 2015, I hope to output a series of poems based around the themes of Metaphysics, Gestalt Theory, Solipsism and Synesthesia – themes which occur in my stories too.

I shuttle between stories of varying length and style – epic fantasy sagas alongside very brief encounters, poetry and things which are essentially plays.

b56739ba431b15d90b57ddee630dfd1bec384a0eWhat does your writing routine consist of?

These days, I write in very short and concentrated packets – slotted in between all of the promotion work and company administration which I have to do since The Project started. In the early days, I wrote whenever I had the chance, and always between 8pm and 11pm in the evening. That tends to be between 11pm to 2am now … but if I have to write something down, then I just do it. I am always working on 5 or 6 projects at the same time and jumping from one to another is second nature – I actually find it very difficult to concentrate on one writing project at a time.

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?

My friends and readers tell me that the strength of the stories which I have written lies in their originality and diversity. I hadn’t heard the phrase ‘cookie-cutter’ until I started writing – it seemed like something to avoid. However, I write just what comes into my head – a very strange place – so I guess that accounts for it. I like strong stories with a point and characters who I can love or hate who have a realism about them, some quirk or other. I guess I try hard not to repeat anything except at a general level. I don’t know if the skill is strengthening – it definitely shifts focus – for example, from an action-based story to a dialogue heavy story but I don’t really control that process.

I see stories as moving images – I don’t hear them – I describe what I see. My artistic and other interests are very varied and I suppose that helps to keep things fresh and exciting.

20456951Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?

Inspiration comes from everywhere – it’s why travel is so important to me. I find that a lot of the energy for a story comes from my own experiences and relationships. There is a lot of me in each story. The things I study the most also feed into stories – ecology, art, cooking, veganism, Buddhism, social history, evolution, mythology, fast cars, poetry (especially John Donne, Andrew Marvel and Coleridge), Metaphysics, Gestalt Theory, Synesthesia and Solipsism. Fundamentally, I find the greatest source of inspiration to be the idea that a set of words can influence how a person feels and thinks – that suggests a very deep connection and a privileged one too.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I write without a plan – I just write – sometimes 10k words at a time, sometimes 10 words. Generally, I will be outputting 2 to 3 stories a month. So far 1.7 million words have found their way onto the shelf. Speed is of the essence for me. I’ll have the perfect phrase pop into my head and I have to write it down – if I don’t, it’s gone forever. Being an Improviser (I like that word) means that I am usually relying on the deus ex machina to help me out at the end – so far so good!

I took a Goodreads prompt for this year’s Don’t Write in the Closet event and it’s really hard to write to someone else’s prompt to a deadline – good discipline for me though.

4054839_origTell us about your latest book

I recently published The Baker of Son Frere

A romantic thriller – I have included the blurb here because it was a better summary than I could think of –

Mali arrives in the village of Son Frere to research an old legend which is the basis of his latest romance novel – the story of the two medieval lovers, the Knights, Michaud and Tristan, is compelling. Mali meets local historian and bakery owner – Rex – a man who, despite a warm and generous welcome, appears to Mali to be hiding something. Bas – Rex’s counter assistant – with whom Mali starts a fling, injects much needed energy into the project and awakens Mali to the prospect of something more than just lustful sex, even the prospect of a relationship.  Mali returns to Paris with Bas, who is restarting his degree course, and their relationship becomes more serious, and the passion for the mystery only fuels their passion for each other.  The deeper Mali probes into the mystery, the more strangely Rex behaves and Mali is even more certain that Rex is hiding something, perhaps even stalking him. The truth is far more sinister than he could have imagined.  Past and present collide and an unspeakable evil threatens to engulf them all.  The story is written as two stories, interlaced, where the medieval and the contemporary stories are presented side-by-side. Each unfolds to reveal a despicable evil; one which persists to the present day, and one which threatens Mali’s very existence.

The story was also the subject of our first book trailer on YouTube []

This story fits into the category of m/m romantic thriller. I seem very comfortable combining the two – then I love murder mysteries, thrillers and psychological suspense stories just as much as I like men and romance. A perfect match.

7b38eb9210e16bff7ff0a1a3712806369f2767deIndie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

Indie publishing without a doubt because I have the control and the freedom to publish what I want, when I want and how I want. Chambers and Shannon also feel the same so it made sense for the three of us to combine forces and start the Carter Seagrove Project – our own publishing house which will hopefully ask for submissions later this year. I never wanted to experience the rejection by a traditional publisher – that seemed a pointless and energy sapping exercise given that there was an alternative. Those traditional publishers which I did look at –

  • Had very long lead times which meant that a story which they did accept might not get onto the shelf for a year – that seemed crazy when I could publish the same book the same day.
  • Seemed less interested in LGBT fiction/only wanted a vampire story (assume it’s BDSM now)
  • Were going to pay me less than 10% royalties – excuse me?!
  • And still expected me to do most of the promotion work

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Always lots of stories! Completion of The Map Stick (parts 5 to 7); the Twelve Crimes of Hannah Smith, my web-based serialization; the Sci-fi project; the soap opera; more book trailers; at least three audiobooks this year; a graphic novel adaptation of Fenchurch Mysteries; more of the Tales of the Unexpected series; more of the Brief Encounter series; the second part of Dark Matter (called Dark Energy); a contemporary family saga called Gloriana (based on the lives of the Queens of England collectively referred to as the She-Wolves); the poetry; the screenplay for one short film; sister story to The Baker of Son Frere – no title yet; a second series of The Inspector Fenchurch Mysteries (as Carter Seagrove); and a few previously published stories still need to be completely re-edited and re-published … and whatever else crops up!

38755b4534279f5e1c3bccc77cc00160065b77fdWhat is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

My goal was and is and will remain, to excite and entertain a reader by delivering a good quality, original story. I spend every waking minute trying to achieve it – so much easier now with the support of Chambers and Shannon. I would like my stories to have a long and happy life – periodic re-editing and re-covering plus much better promotion work might make that a reality. I always wanted to collaborate – hence the stories written with Chambers. I/we also support other indie artists and projects through direct sponsorship/collaboration – for example, our funding of 3 short indie films in 2015.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

The best piece of advice was: “Just write, publish and repeat.”


Born in 1965, I’m English by birth from the Isle of Wight, living in Newport, spending part of the year in France in the stunningly beautiful department of Haute-Saône in the Franche Comté region. It is heavily forested and very tranquil but the winters are pretty harsh and my home is 820 metres above sea level so I get plenty of snow. I am also spending increasing amounts of time in the USA, co-managing The Carter Seagrove Project LLC – an independent publishing house, incorporated in the State of Indiana. I will be 50 years old in 2015. I only started writing in 2009, proving, I suppose, that it is never too late. I didn’t think about self-publishing until late 2012, now, more than two years later, I’m even more energized by the process than ever before. I’m a qualified English teacher, specializing in teaching English as a second language (TEFL), though I don’t do much of that now. In the distant past, I taught software skills. In the very distant past, I was a project manager on big IT projects and at the very beginning of my career, I was an Internal Auditor. I have degrees in Internal Auditing, Computer Auditing, and Project Management. I’m studying for my degree in Sustainable Development at the moment. Renewable energy is what really interests me and I generate my own power at home via a solar panel. I’m a member of The Society of Authors, The Society for Editors and Proofreaders, and The Independent Author Network. I am a Smashwords Author and a Goodreads Author. I grow some of my own food and from Easter to the end of October, I’m outside for the largest part of the day, tending the garden. I write in the evening and during the winter when there is very little else to do. I have no great philosophy except “energy follows intention” and “honour your gifts”. These two principles keep me sane, very happy and exceedingly busy! Together with Chambers Mars, I am half of Carter Seagrove, author of Dust Jacket and The Inspector Fenchurch Mysteries. Alp Mortal, Chambers Mars and Shannon M. Kirkland are The Carter Seagrove Project LLC – an independent book publisher. Find us at, on Twitter @carterseagrove and on Facebook

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