Tell us about how you began your journey as an author - Where did it all start?

I really have been writing stories for as long as I can remember. But I got a massive boost of encouragement from my English teacher when I was 10, when she said a story I’d written could be publishable. It never was published, but that encouragement changed my life – I’ve wanted to be a published author ever since, and got interested in indie publishing in its very early days (an Arts Council scheme called ‘YouWriteOn’ around 2008-09, in which I published my first novel, The Noble Sword). Since then, I’ve published archaeology non-fiction books with traditional publishers, but for fiction, the indie route is amazing – revolutionary and genuinely exciting.

What has been the toughest part of the journey so far? What part has felt the most natural?

The indie publishing world – both for marketing and for the author community – is largely based around social media. And unfortunately, I just don’t get social media. I just can’t work out what I’m supposed to do. It’s always been that way. Even in the Noughties, I resisted joining Facebook for a long time (my rejoinder: ‘Not with this face’). The only part of indie authoring that feels natural to me is the writing – it’s what my brain wants to do, as often as it can.

How have you found being a part of the indie community?

Having said that I don’t get social media, I do dip my toes in (on X/Twitter and Instagram as @markofascribe), and the author community there is such a wholesome world of mutual encouragement and booming creativity. There’s a wonderfully buoyant indie publishing podcast too – The Creative Penn, by Joanna Penn – which brings out all the positives in the indie sphere. Listening to Joanna (and reading her books) spurred me on to finish and publish Mordicax after nearly 10 years of intermittent writing.

If you could give some advice to a new writer in the indie community, what would it be?

Don’t rush things. Don’t be afraid to edit, edit, edit – even trim the bits you love if they’re not adding anything (but keep the trimmings somewhere – they might find a home in a later story). When it comes to publishing, if you can afford it, get a professional cover design – the single most important ‘author service’ you can buy, as far as I’m concerned. Finally, when your first book appears, don’t compare your successes with other, more popular authors. Just stick around, keep writing, keep publishing – enjoy it and never give up.

Troupe of Shadows Author Profile Cover

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