An Interview with Shaun Baines – Author
It is our pleasure to feature an interview with Shaun Baines on “Thoughts, Stories & Novels.” Shaun is the author of Woodcutter, his debut novel published by Thistle Publishing. You can find his e-book on Amazon UK or Amazon US . The paperback is due 7th June 2018.
Woodcutter – Book Blurb
On the run from his criminal family, Daniel Dayton returns home to Newcastle Upon Tyne when his abandoned daughter is attacked.
But his family have problems of their own. Targeted by a brutal mercenary, their empire is destined to be destroyed if Daniel refuses to help.
Betrayed by his parents. Despised by his brother. In love with his sister-in-law. Home has become a dangerous place to be.
Daniel wants his daughter safe. And he wants his revenge, but in the shadowy streets of Newcastle, things are never what they seem.
TS&N: Shaun, where did you get the idea for Woodcutter?
Shaun: The book is set in my native north-east of England. Ironically, it took a move to rural Scotland to galvanise me into writing it. My wife and I moved into an abandoned cottage with only one neighbour in view. Like every village priding itself on minding its own business, gossip sprouted like wildfire and I wondered what they were saying behind closed doors. What questions were they were asking? Were we a secret English invasion onto Scottish soil? A terrorist cell? Doing a documentary on kilt wearers?
I eventually settled on us escaping a criminal past and Woodcutter sprang from that. (PS. We’re not actual criminals. My wife can be a bit dodgy at times, but I don’t like to talk about it.)
T,S&N: Tell us about your new book.
Shaun: Woodcutter is about a criminal family whose secrets have torn them apart. Where loyalty is demanded, betrayal is never far behind and an outside force attempts to take control. Daniel turns his back on his family and his past, but doesn’t know who he is without his criminality. He is drawn back into that world, using his gift for violence to find answers.
In doing so, the daughter he swore to protect is placed in danger and only a loyal friend can save them.
T,S&N: How would you describe your writing?
Shaun: It’s definitely fast-paced, which is born from being an impatient reader. I’ve read too many thrillers and crime novels where I’m willing the story on. Things have to move quickly in this genre. Every scene or chapter has to count. I work hard to make sure my writing is either full of intrigue, revelatory information or action. I can showcase my characters’ personalities as they react to these things. I don’t need to stop the flow to introduce a backstory explaining why Daniel hates his father or why his brother is disturbed.
T,S&N: What is a typical writing day for you?
Shaun: I rise early – crazy early – around 4am. After mainlining caffeine, I write to 6am. From there, I shower, breakfast and go feed our chickens. We rescue ex-battery farmed hens and I love to see them out scratching where Mother Nature intended them to be. I then go to work as a gardener. I work for myself and as little as possible. I’m generally back in the house for 2.30pm. A cup of tea later, or beer if the day warrants it, and I’m back writing for an hour or so. I do the dishes, cook the evening meal and stare dumbly at the TV until my eyelids droop.
Then I do it all again the next day.
T,S&N: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Shaun: Like I said, we keep chickens, but we also keep bees. We manage four hives and inspect them weekly. The bees generally look after themselves until swarm season and all hell breaks loose. In May/June, my time is spent trying to re-capture them, which isn’t easy considering each swarm can have up to fifty thousand bees in them. A much better time is honey cropping season where I chase them around with a sticky spoon and a jar.
I also grow my own fruit and vegetables, enjoy cooking, baking bread and brewing wine. And wherever possible, I like to spend time criticising anyone younger and more attractive than me. Plenty of opportunities there.
T,S&N: What made you choose writing as a career?
Shaun: If you keep returning to something again and again, no matter what your success rate, it has to be important. I genuinely wish my passion in life could be admin. There are plenty of administration jobs out there and I hold those people who do them in high-esteem. It would be a lot easier than being a writer, but I can’t help it. I like to write. I like stories and I get a thrill from thinking someone might ignore their admin duties just to get to the end of my book.
I’m not imparting universal truths or trying to change the world. Unadulterated enjoyment is my goal. If I can take you away from the stresses of workaday life, I can’t think of a better way of spending my time.
T,S&N: Do you have any tips for would-be writers?
Shaun: I was thrilled when one of my readers said they could recognize my writing anywhere. Hopefully, she was referring to my writing style rather than me re-churning the same old story time and again. Finding your voice is the most important thing a writer can do. It’s what marks you out. Stephen King, JK Rowling and Elmore Leonard are exceptional writers, but none of them can write like you. You’re bringing your life to the table, your experiences and perspectives. Harnessing that enables you to write things no-one else could.
Of course, there are a billion other ‘writer’s rules’ you need to understand, but being you should be the first thing you learn.
Thanks to Shaun Baines for taking time for this interview and for telling us about his debut novel, Woodcutter. To learn more about Shaun and his writing, go to shaunbaines.com or to @littlehavenfarm on Twitter.