Kier McGuinness is an adult horror writer from the United Kingdom. His upcoming release with Curious Cat Books is titled, Generation Dead and is planned to hit the shelves in 2020.
In this comprehensive interview, you can learn a bit about his writing methods, preferences and processes.
If you're writing a horror, this could be the interview you've been waiting for!
But first, please note this interview contains strong language and adult themes.
I feel successful because I’m 25 and I’ve written a novel. I think I can give myself a pat on the back!
How important is research to you when you're writing your first draft?
For me, research was key for building information within my fictional universe. Instead of it being how to build a story, it was more how do I make the fiction as factual and scientific as possible? I want my story to seem real—like what would actually happen if this situation or this scenario were to take place. What is the science behind it? I did a lot of field research around my home city to get locations right in my head. I’d drive around locations, take photos. I'd google science and maths questions. I did actually read a book called ‘You might be a zombie and other bad news”, a New York Times bestselling book about shocking yet true facts—it became my best friend for about six months when doing fact checks. I had to make sure everything made sense; I read articles, watched hundreds of movies to get a feel of different feelings and perspectives. I listened to music to spark visualisation and wrote down my visions. I played games to experience the horror first person. I felt like I could really build from there!
When did you realise you wanted to be a writer? In other words, why are you a writer, and how important is it to you?
It’s funny because I didn’t actually want to be a writer at first, I was more interested in acting and directing. I wanted to be the greatest actor the world had ever known since I could play dress up at like the age of 3. I went to a privileged acting school called Stage 54 until I was 11. I was always making scenes and playing the lead in something and I was given the opportunity to take it higher, be on TV—I went to auditions for big movies, I was getting call backs etc. So, I would write screenplays and scripts from as early as I could hold a Crayola. I’d send them to agents and productions teams—misspelled and confident!
In school, teachers used to get me to write stories in order to concentrate due to my ADHD and dyslexia. I was a little sh*t; I distracted the other bright sparks in the class and was disruptive. I was literally ‘sent from Hell’ according to one of them—I’m not mad, I’m just pis*ed someone told her the secret! Obviously, It didn’t work, but I was a fascinating subject for the greatest minds at Geneva to experiment on!
Journal Prompt: if you keep a diary, think about the reasons why? Is this to keep a written history or for a safe space to vent your frustrations?
Words change lives, they have power and meaning.
I’m a writer because I like to play pretend and live in the land of make believe; the real world is sometimes ugly and the people are uglier. My own mind was often the ugliest of them all too—I was always in a psychic civil war for control, not in a serial killer way, more the moody teenager. Having dealt with acute mental health disorders through my teens I would often escape my own brain to another world... a world I wanted to be in rather than the reality I was in.
I live to tell stories, sometimes stories are all we have and if I can gift that to someone who is in the same situation I was growing up, then I know I have done good. It’s important to me because at the end of the day when all is said and done, all we have is words and words mean everything. I don’t believe in the ‘words are cheap’ sentiment. Words change lives, they have power and meaning. Words start and finish wars; they are the most powerful thing civilisation could materialise from atoms.
What inspires you to write, and where do you get your ideas?
That is a tricky one! I would love to be able to just say; “Oh, this old thing? It just comes to me like a bolt a lightning darling!” But I’m not that creative I don’t think. Sometimes it actually does come to me in my sleep or in the supermarket and I’m like *PING* “WRITE THIS DOWN! WHERE IS MY ASSISTANT?
Often my ideas would come from mind mapping or just writing nonsense until it makes sense. Like I said, I watch a lot of movies and shows and then it might come to me like: “Oh that’s interesting. I wonder how that would work in the world of GD!” I play with it until I have something and I think: ‘Yes that flows well—that ties with this and it ties with that.’
Generation Dead (GD), originally stemmed from one short story, a series of 12 chapters which after nearly 5 years continued up to a whopping 12 in the Series, which I hope people find moderately interesting to say the least. My writing is inspired from a deep devotion to the sub-genre that is all things undead—ever since I was a young boy. Like a moth to a flame I was drawn to George A Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and I was not the same after. My cool aunt’s and uncle’s would let me watch scary movies when my parents weren’t looking. I thought to myself, what if the movie didn’t end and it just kept going? I was always wanting to know what happened after, what happened next. I never wanted the story to end. So, I wrote my own.
Countless of therapy bills later and still not clue on how to ‘fix’ me, AMC’s The Walking Dead came along and slowly everything began to change. It occurred to me that aside from shows like The Walking Dead, Z Nation etc., today, there isn’t really many mainstream shows around based specifically in a modern post-apocalyptic zombie world especially that depict something from the start and the events leading up to a fateful outbreak. I say mainstream because I know there are hidden gems out there that somebody might push up their glasses and say, “Um, excuse me, but you forgot this show/book/art piece, XYZ!” I’m just saying... I decided to write my own little British twist on what I visualise, in my mind, as a TV show taking inspiration from films, shows and games that have influenced me growing up. But I have tried to be as original as possible and make it as exciting as I can until the end.
Every so often a movie, book or show would get released that is identical to a subplot in my book and I have to sulk and rethink and rewrite or I'd look like I stole the idea. Other influences include, How to get away with Murder, The Strain, Black Summer, Children of Men, Utopia, Dead Set... to name a few from a never-ending list.
I can write blocks at a time for hours, but I can’t sit and concentrate through a cinema movie because I need a pi*s!
Do you have a schedule for writing, or do you write only when you feel inspired? How often do you manage to write and when you do, how many words can you manage in one sitting?
I wouldn’t say that I had a schedule. I know that if I was meeting a deadline, I would prioritise my book over everything else; I would give up social events to stay at home and write. The old ‘I’m-too-poor-I’m-too-sick’ chestnut.
Wherever I went travelling to other countries I took the book to continue. I would often write even when I wasn’t feeling inspired which sometimes felt like a chore because I knew it had to be done. And that’s another thing... I never write chronologically. I’d often write random scenes I already had in my head that could be at the beginning, then something in the middle and one at the end and I'd have to sit and think about the in-between bits that connect all the dots so it is a coherent story. I have no idea if writers do that, but I hear everyone has their own little way of doing things and there is no right or wrong. I mean, that was droll and mundane at times which would lead to writer's block and disinterest.
I would often write until it felt like it was done—in my bones. Sometimes I can do two thousand words before the screen goes blurry and I’m like "Take a walk! Break time!". Sometimes I’d write for maybe 6 hours at a time because it flies by. I could start at noon, look at the clock and it would be six. And then I’m like, “Oh my god I’ve been needing to pee for about 2 hours!” It’s amazing. I can write blocks at a time for hours, but I can’t sit and concentrate through a cinema movie because I need a pi*s!
Writers are often labelled as loners and introverts; in your opinion, is there any truth to that?
Ah, I’ve often heard this said back to me quiet a few times that writers are loners and introverted. I get it said to me a lot because I actually appear the opposite. I often hear that I’m so funny and outgoing and friendly, easy to talk to and approachable which is a gift and cruse, given I have chronic anxiety disorders and the mere sight of a camera and I shake like a leaf. Which again is ironic to say I’ve performed in front of cameras and theatres full of thousands of people growing up. It’s like it developed later in life; there’s a difference between visualising being on Graham Norton’s couch and living it. People might describe me as popular and life of the party. But that wasn’t always the case. I am actually quite lonely; I haven’t had someone on the same wavelength as me in a while.
It’s a stereotype, isn’t it? Most of the successful writers, artists, singers etc. have the best story or something that moulded them to be the best. Writers are often perceived as introverts and quiet, isolated people, quirky, different, ‘freaks’ who were often bullied at school. Some say writing is a lonely activity and therefore writers are loners. I personally think writers are hungry for the world around them. I devour human drama, desperation, pain, madness, crimes, despair, horror (basically my daily life!). Hunger means insatiable and thus, often difficult to put up with.
I think many introverts naturally see the world in terms of story and symbolism. I think it has to do with the way our brains are wired.
But I would not say loners. Solitary, perhaps. Solitude as a choice of lifestyle, or rather... a necessity. Just because someone craves solitude does not mean one is a loner. Even when the number of friends and colleagues dwindles, one is not necessarily lonely. True loneliness starts when one does not want to see friends, when one does not want to make new friends, and when one does not want to share thoughts or experiences with friends. Even so, it is loneliness by choice, driven by compulsion, but as such it leads to freedom. I’m probably the most extroverted introvert that ever was who loves writing—it’s probably in part because I get to work alone... I get to be my own boss. I’ve always had trouble conforming and I have been fired from countless jobs for my dress code! There are no staff meetings, no awkwardness, no group ice breakers that make you cringe so hard you might explode. AND, no social burnout when you’re writing. It’s just you, your notebook (or laptop), and whatever your inner world devises.
Another reason many introverts are drawn to writing has to do with the way we see the world. I think many introverts naturally see the world in terms of story and symbolism. I think it has to do with the way our brains are wired.
Journal prompt: are you an introvert or an extrovert? Write down five things about you to argue for and against your choice.
What would you say are the easiest and hardest things about writing a book? What do you love and hate the most about what you do?
I can’t speak for other writers but what is easy to me is writing my story, just writing, typing going on and on and on. I type like I am talking which makes it easier and some of my tester readers have said it sounds like me! I’m like: “Yes, Good! Adapt the screenplay, win the Oscar, write my memoirs, reach nirvana and finally evaporate into a cascade of lotus petals that drift into the wind. Perfection!” I will admit, I do think I’m funny and witty which I can use in my book... humour comes easily to me! I just want to make people smile and laugh in a world full of despair.
I love using good writing and humour in my book, but what I hate is my grammar and punctuation. I’m Dyslexic and have Dyspraxia, for me that’s the confusion of words and numbers and some motor skills. Which means whenever I see a word search or sudoku, I burst into a thousand screaming bats! I also have mild Synaesthesia (the confusion of multiple senses such as enhanced sense of smell or seeing words as colours) I have so much wrong with me people are going to think I just make sh*t up to be edgy. “Yes, today I have a rare genetic disorder that means I will collapse at the sight of anything that casts a shadow!”
So one of my pet peeves is having to go back and correct most of my work as I cannot spell, nor can I edit very well.
Have you ever experienced “Writer’s Block”? How long did it last and how did you overcome it?
Writer’s block is a real thing! And we need more awareness for our movement! It’s like your imaginary friends refusing to talk to you! I have experienced it a few times in my life when writing sometimes; its gradual, I could be writing and then all of a sudden, I will dramatically slow and bam! I’m like: “what do I do now?” imagine running out of fuel going at 70mph on the motorway and you just let the car come to a stop. The longest I’ve ever had writer's block was 6 months! Honestly, half a year—I left my book and literally gave up on it. I was close to deleting it and saying 'that was fun' to pass the time!
I can’t actually remember how I came over it. I think I got my friends to tie me to a chair and waterboard me until I’d give in! All I remember is thinking it was the closest I had come to giving up on my dream. In all seriousness, I think I forced myself to sit back down and do it—it was almost like conquering a fear, really taking it head on! I'd do more research, take a break, and think about future plot points. Meditation surprisingly helped too. I was suggested essential oils and balms galore to release my chi, my energy or whatever demon was inside me!
When you finish writing a book, how long do you wait before beginning the editing process and why? Do you edit your own work, or hire someone else to help you?
I wait a while, I walk away. I think about it and let it digest in solitude. Then I kick open a door with two bottles of whatever in tow and celebrate! Or at least that’s what I did when I completed GD. I’d say I leave it a good month before returning to the mess I have made. I feel like it’s enough time to step away and return so that it almost has fresh eyes on it. I usually wonder what kind of medication I was on to create such filth! I go in and give my book a ‘Kier’ and edit 6 times before I’m officially done with it. That means in my world, I put in all the things where I think grammar, spelling and correct punctuation should go. Then, I actually give it to my editor and pay them to do it properly thinking, “oh, they will be impressed with my effort” and they go in with their fierce red pen, scribble all over it and say “THIS IS TRASH! GOODBYE!”—I’m kidding.
It’s more along the lines of, “It looks like a spider was dipped in ink and let loose on your page!”
“But I used a laptop?"
“My point exactly, SECURITY!”
My editor is a godsend who teaches me so much I didn’t know like little hacks, dos and don’ts and tutorials on proficient editing while suggesting brilliant ideas—I would be lost without them.
Many people advise not to judge a book by its cover. As an independent author, what are your thoughts on cover quality? Would you say it plays an important role in sales?
I think that cover quality is important speaking from experience—I only ever find myself looking at books on shelves if I’m in an airport and need some loo roll for the flight!
I’m joking—but the airport part is true if I haven’t got my books on audio or something hasn’t been recommended to me. I do feel people in general will essentially by a product on how it looks, feel, smells and tastes (that doesn’t mean you’re going to see me in the corner of WHSmith taking chunks out of a paperback before hissing at you!). I just think it's human psychology that we do things this way—people will buy a shampoo for the smell, they will be drawn to something because it’s their favourite colour. I studied psychology and I understand that different colours represent different meanings.
I want something to draw me in, stop me in my tracks, pick it up, feel it, be seduced by the cover, turn over be enticed by the blurb! I think that’s why it plays an important role in sales. It makes a change from the entire top row of Lee Child novels harassing you!”
Some people believe independent (self-published) authors produce books of poor quality in comparison to traditionally published books, often down to editing and cover design issues. What is your opinion on this; what would you say to those people as an independent author?
Now this is tough! I wouldn’t say that’s the case. I don’t think people have experienced enough independent work to make that judgement, nor do they understand the process or the actual hard work that goes in to producing something like it. I thought it was just an easy thing you could do from your living room but there is so much to it! I feel more work goes into editing and design as an independent publisher than generic factory production.
Journal Prompt: think about the last book you read; there's a good chance it was published traditionally. What would you have changed about the book if you were the author? How would you have approached the ending, and what cover would you have designed?
What is your experience of publishing so far? How have you chosen to publish and why? What do you feel are the benefits of this method?
It has been complicated to say the least, getting a foot in the door for someone to give you chance is near impossible because you and 1 million other people think you’re the next JK Rowling. That’s not to put anyone off, but it is a competitive market where you have to scream the loudest to get noticed, but it’s a situation where many publishing houses are in their ivory tower and you’re at the bottom—are they going to hear you scream?
I’ve written scripts, screenplays and books and sent them to publishers most my life. I’ve been told no by everyone, but I just kept going until someone said, “Why don’t you just do it yourself?” and then I discovered the world of independent publishing. I literally thought “Wait, why didn’t I do this myself?” The benefits were monumental... being in charge of everything. I was lucky enough to seek the advice from a friend who happened to be an independent publisher who decided to not only help but SIGN me! I was under the impression they saw real potential in my work and wanted it to be the best because they knew they could make something from it!
Get your head out of your phone, pay attention!
If you were asked to give advice to primary school children about writing creatively, what top tip would you share with them?
Believe in yourself, you are worth it. Your story is worth it. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Aim wild and high, pay attention in English; you’ll be unhappy that you can’t spell or punctuate if you don’t.
If you were asked to give advice to secondary school children about writing creatively, what top tip would you share with them and would this differ at all to the previous question?
It would differ ever so slightly from my previous answer only because the first thing that came into my head was me flashing back to being a rebellious teen—what kind of life I led, what situation I was in emotionally and physically and who I listened to! I still honestly think I am that teenager... why the hell would they want to listen to a 25-year-old man-child? They think I’m old and uncool (baring in mind half of my teachers were 25 when I was 15). Hormones are everywhere, they’re vulnerable, moodier and tougher than kids. I'd still tell them to not stop believing in themselves, I’d definitely tell them that they are worth it (in every sense of the word!).
Get your head out of your phone, pay attention! Cut your teachers some slack, you’re gunna really wish you didn’t pi*s around. I’m friends with teachers and trust me, their lives are hard enough! Write about what you know, use your real life, use your past, your pain, your heartache, your anger, your sadness, your joy and your popularity to write something. Use real things that have happened to you—that’s what I did! Also, use what you don’t know. Your imagination is your friend even if it’s messed up! Read wisely and read closely, pay attention because there is a message in everything. Show rather than tell. Connect with your audience, hook them in and they are putty in your hands. Finally, most importantly, use your opportunities now. I didn’t, and it has taken me until I was 25 to do it. I wanted to be 18!
There are so many opportunities before college and university... people are dying for young blood.
Lots of authors struggle to market and promote their book/s. Do you have any top tips you can share with them, and what have you found to be most effective?
I was lucky in the fact I have a large social media following from growing up over the years. I was very unpopular in school, bullied, few friends etc.! But as I left school and went to college/uni I really started exploring myself, discovering who I was with my identity and sexuality. I tried new hobbies such as fashion, photography, psychology. And that enabled me to build a repertoire of friends and followers on social media. I worked in a nightclub, so people knew me; my popularity rose so I decided to utilise my talents on social media and the internet, selling my talents and showing the world what I had created. This included my photography, amateur modelling and so on. I have found that sharing, promoting and marketing my book on social media and the internet—pushing it relentlessly until people are sick of looking—it really helps!
Use your local paper, use your local library, make banners, posters, notes even if you don’t have a book—blow smoke up your own arse and get people excited!
...this is my life, this is how your brain is wired, you have this lifelong disease... deal with it, kid.
What is your opinion on the benefits of writing on mental health issues including anxiety and depression? Would you recommend it as a form of self-therapy; of looking inward and reflecting? If not, why?
This is a biggy for me—something I am strenuously passionate about. I have worked and volunteered in mental health most of my adult life. I have suffered and battled with mental health issues in my late teen years and early 20’s. To this day, I have several disorders and conditions... among them depression and social anxiety disorder. The charity I volunteer for ‘Queen B’ is a drag pageant was set up in honour of a close friend who committed suicide in 2015 due to depression and being bullied by trolls on the internet.
A lot of my demons have been resolved but it has been a struggle. I think writing on mental health issues is a great idea and I would recommend it as a form of self-therapy. You have to get over the silliness of what you feel. It could be shame or just thinking ‘this is stupid!’ but once I got over that, I didn’t know why I hadn’t done it sooner. Sometimes my brain couldn’t function properly so I would write words, random words until that lead to sentences and before I knew it, I was off and it wasn’t long before I was like, “Oh this would make a good character arc”. I know writing about issues helped but then again because I feel so strongly about it my views are biased. I tackle a lot of issues in my writing to really blow the lid off the taboo subject. I think people feel a lot of shame still, like if they speak up someone will put them in a straight jacket, but I genuinely just don’t care. It was a long process coming to terms that this is my life, this is how your brain is wired, you have this lifelong disease... deal with it, kid. Writing about characters with underlying health and mental issues to really give people an insight to what life is like while discarding the real from the rumours. It really is a great way to subliminally show what it is really like.
I cannot stress enough how critical it is that we talk to each other and if I have to wear my battle wounds and disorders as badges then I will wear them with pride.
Journal Prompt: write down three wholly positive statements about yourself and your writing. Be complimentary and use interesting, beautiful words.
Do you believe that writing can be learned, or that you must be born with a passion and/or talent?
Of course writing can be learned, anyone can write, you can write a shopping list, a diary, a recipe. The fundamentals of writing can be taught, however, I do think there is a certain level of passion and talent that does come into it. It takes real guts and imagination—sure people can research and mimic writing styles but only those with a true passion and belief in themselves will show it on paper. You have to really look inside yourself and let it flow to write true poetry; it comes in emotion and experience. If you have that then you can truly write. It’s like what they say about singing, drawing, painting—anyone can be taught how but there is always one that was just born with this a gift. Or in my case... years of unresolved trauma that makes for great drama sci-fi!
Do you believe that it's more challenging to write about beliefs, morals and values that conflict with your own? How do you feel about books that explore unusual, 'risky' themes? When reading these books, do you feel at all uncomfortable?
Yes, I do! Anyone who writes about views that conflict with their own and doesn’t feel much probably doesn’t have any or feel that strongly about them in the first place. OR, they can switch off their ability to feel while writing. I heard some authors do that to get through a tough chapter.
I don’t feel that strongly about some of the issues I tackle because I realise people are just different from me with different opinions and beliefs—that is just the way the world works, imagine waking up and realising the world doesn’t actually revolve you... shocker!
However, there are some issues that I do find triggering or difficult to either write about, read or even watch on TV. Sex was hard to watch on TV after a nasty break up a few years back. I was very uncomfortable watching anything to with relationships and romance. I couldn’t be in the room because all I could picture was my ex-partner with their new partner. But I used it to my advantage and wrote about it! Even then, it was tough to write about but then I just made myself get over it or I wasn’t going to get on—like self-therapy.
Religion, war, racism and sexism is usually something difficult to write about or read about. Whenever I’m writing something I don’t agree with it’s almost like I do it reluctantly, like a character having a jaded view about women, gay people, people of other race or even having an intense situation unfold to create an atmosphere dynamic. Distressing and triggering adult content for shock tactics sells, as sad as it sounds. I believe that taking risks is good sometimes, pushing the boundaries, getting out of your comfort zone and doing and saying things you wouldn’t normally do or say for good dialogue or story. That is what makes a good book! Good drama!
I used to think that success was making it onto Forbes Magazine or being a New York Times bestseller, having all the money and people knowing my name—everywhere!
World-building applies to all genres, even to those where it is not necessary for authors to create unique societies, landscapes and species. No matter your chosen genre, what top tip can you give aspiring authors when world-building?
Worldbuilding is great but it is so hard! Some writers make it look easy... the Tolkeins, Rowlings and Martins of the world. Especially when you're talking about the science fiction and fantasy genres. Great authors can create a living, breathing environment for their stories, invite readers into another world, and make us homesick for a place we've never been. That’s something I tried to do in a world that already exists—bend the rules of reality. I like to make alternate realities of the world we live in, like the same world but something slightly different... a different rule that applies to all unlike our own. How these people create entire worlds with their own language, the food they eat and their currency is beyond me: Westoros, Middle Earth? My brain aches from just thinking about it.
A top tip I would give for world-building would be APEX! Write everything down. Even if it’s in bullet points, you are creating an entire world! Write down the setting, the names of places, the languages, the people, everything social and cultural! It helped me refer back to things I created and names for things. I changed a lot of names of places and buildings and made up companies and it was hard to keep track of! Say yes to yourself and do your research because it doesn’t hurt to channel other worlds. And most importantly, give your world a history. To make it solid and incredible you have to make a vast history of your world that thickens it, that goes on and on!
Journal Prompt: Imagine your perfect world. What do people look like, act like and what do they say? What job do you do and what are your relationships like? Are there any flaws—is this a utopia or dystopia?
How do you view and define success? What does it mean to you, and do you currently feel successful? If not, what would you need to achieve to reach success?
I used to think that success was making it onto Forbes Magazine or being a New York Times bestseller, having all the money and people knowing my name—everywhere! I would practice my speeches in mirrors, have conversations in the shower as if I was on a talk show, which I feel like everyone has fantasised about at some point.
But as I have gotten older (I really don’t know if this is an age thing) as cliché as it sounds I believe that to me true success is finding the happiness, being happy about what you have done! Because none of that other sh*t matters anymore, I can’t describe it—it’s like half of my life’s anxieties and worries just melted away? It dropped like a penny—this switch just went off. True success is happiness and self-worth, having self-esteem and confidence. It almost changes you... people notice you more. People were saying to me “you just seem right, you just seem genuinely happy” and they were happy for me AND I believed them! it was the most incredible feeling in the world.
True success is being happy in yourself and sharing your story with the world. I’m not bothered about riches and flashing lights—if it happens, it happens! But to be able to sell my book to people, see it on shelves, people reading something I wrote knowing I exist in their mind is true success. I feel successful because I’m 25 and I’ve written a novel. I think I can give myself a pat on the back!
Journal Prompt: what does success mean to you? Do you currently feel successful as a writer? If not, what would you need to do to satisfy that need?
What is the secret to becoming a bestselling author, if you believe there is one? Do you agree an Amazon bestselling status counts, even if that status was for a free or discounted book?
I honestly have no idea! I think you have to have something about you that makes you different from the rest—for me it’s total insanity! I think you have to have something that makes people want to either learn about you or think “Yeah I wanna read this guy’s book”. If there is a secret, I’m not in on it! I feel like having “Amazon bestseller” under your belt as a status or title is pretty epic! I know it’d be proud of that even if my book was free? You earned the title rightly, so you made enough noise or sold enough that Amazon wanted to give you the title! Wear that crown. Prance, my queen!
How do you deal with rejection, criticism and bad reviews from friends, family and strangers? What would you say to someone struggling with a lack of support, or worried about online negativity?
I have dealt with rejection most of my life, being in acting, writing and troubles through school, heartbreak—it kind of comes naturally to me—that doesn’t make it any easier! But it’s more expected even though I try to believe in myself and remain hopeful. I used to be my own worst critic. I was always way too hard on myself, telling myself the book was crap, why am I bothering? But I’ve tried to relax that now. I take criticism on the chin—people are different, their brains work differently; they might not get the comedy or like the story pace—it’s life, so I take like a professional. It’s when it’s personal that my gloves are off!
I often send my work to my closest friends, family and my partner and I tell them to scathe me honestly! Sometimes I send random snippets to the internet and let people review. Most of them like it and come back with points and suggestions... others don’t hold back which does knock the wind out of my sails sometimes. But I know it’s because they want me to succeed so badly! When I was growing up I would want people to like me. If they didn’t I would want to know why, especially if they didn’t know me. I would fixate on online negativity which really didn’t help things. As I have gotten older I’ve actually done well to stay away from it. So, I would advise that if someone doesn't have much confidence... make sure you have a support network of family and friends and if you don’t have that, find online groups that are safe and on your level for support and communication. They’re tonnes of friendly groups willing to give advice and reviews.
Stay away from the dark side of the internet—someone has always got something to say. It takes a thousand beautiful showering compliments to build you up and then just one to knock you down, trust me, I know! Take constructive criticism on the chin as it comes from a place of love but be careful and don’t let bullying or harsh words be masked as 'constructive'!
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Kier J. McGuinness is a Scottish-English author, photographer, designer and trainee paramedic. Kier likes to write, design, party and cook; he thinks he good at it, so he decided to teach people (poorly) on apps such as ‘Snapchat’ & ‘Facebook’, calling it ‘Cooking with K-Jay’. The at times hilarious and lovable series has gained a cult following and has hit thousands of viewers. Everyone else just gets irritated…
When he isn’t cooking or socialising, he spends his spare time working for the NHS and studying to become a paramedic. He also volunteers for an LGBT charity that hosts an annual drag pageant competition, which he recently won an award at for best event in all of LGBT Leeds 2019.
Kier is gearing up to release his main book and ambition ‘Generation Dead’ which was due to go on sale in May 2020, but due to the outbreak of Covid-19 it was pushed back. Generation Dead is a comedy-horror ironically about on outbreak that takes place in his hometown of Leeds. What a sh*t-show that has been—it will be out at some point.
Kier returned home to provide for his mother, eat all of her food and drink all of her booze... which is going quite well.
You can follow Kier on Facebook via https://www.facebook.com/kiermcguinness/
BONUS: GET TO KNOW KIER
Favourite Author and Reason: I don't really have authors that I specifically follow. I am much more into the specific book itself. Is it possible to even answer that simply? Ironically, I’m not much of a reader in the traditional pick up a novel sense, I’m more screenplay, comic, audiobook in the sense I follow someone if something has my attention, I will pursue it. I’m more of a of writers than authors, but I’d say anything that is written by Charlie Higson (The Enemy series), Charlie Brooker (Dead set, Black mirror), Steve Pemberton, Reece Sheersmith (Inside Number 9, League of Gentlemen), Russel T Davis (Queer as Folk, Doctor Who, Years and Years!) Mark Gattiss (Sherlock, Dracula!). I absolutely love their style of writing, their techniques, it’s like each one of them has their own little niche and style that when you watch something, you know it’s theirs. However, Margaret Atwood writes in lovely tone given the morbidity of her stories, but she always has a hidden meaning... everything she writes means something else. I feel you have to read between the lines.
Stephen King has the greatest storytelling ability—so many mysteries. For fantasy, it's El Jefe’s, H. P. Love Craft and George R. R. Martin, their writing is truly ugly in the sense of its brilliance... they aren’t afraid to be ugly, cross the line in the way they describe something or use their dialogue. Something I try to inspire in my own writing.
Tea, Coffee or Hot Chocolate?: Herbal tea—the type of herbal tea depends on my mood.
Currently Reading: “I’m currently between Mythos by Stephen Fry and my own book if that counts? Which I’m sure will come across as very egotistical but I swear it’s just to check it.
Last Book Reviewed: “Table Manners: The Cookbook. Jesse Ware & Lennie Ware.”
Favourite Writing Food/Drink: Weekdays would usually find me sipping a three mint Pukka tea that’s gone cold because I’ve forgotten about it. Weekends would find me with a Jack Daniels on ice and Doritos although I had to stop because my laptop kept getting caked in cheese dust and this belly began to appear over the keys after a few weeks—so that had to go!
A quote you live by and why: “I may have schizophrenia—but at least I have each other” – Unknown.
I read this on a T-shirt once and I fell in love with it. I don’t know why it stuck out so much for me but it’s the only quote I remember to this day. It beats the other quotes that you see on magnets and hallmark mugs about sunshine and poetic animals like doves or a kitten hanging from a tree saying ‘hang in there’. I think it might be because I’ve always been told I’m a little weird and quirky and as someone who has worked in mental health and battles with it, it was a nice tongue in cheek reminder to not take yourself to seriously. My life is filled with gallows humour and there’s nothing drier and more gallows than a quote like that.
What question/ comment do you hate receiving in relation to writing? Why do you think it frustrates you so much, and have other authors agreed with you? What answer/s do you usually give?
I Love a good bonus round! What do I Win?
It’s a little hard for me to answer this being in the middle of my book going to print, pausing because of Covid-19! But, I will do my best!
I don’t hate any particular questions as when people ask it I’m aware they don’t usually mean any harm and it is genuine ignorance unless their tone and demeanour says otherwise which I have come across. I get a lot of 'can I have your book for free or mates rates?' That does irk me a lot because friends joking aside there are people cheeky enough to say “I’m not paying, I expect it for free” which I think is bullsh*t!
Some people don’t see writing or being an author as being an artist and a phase comes to mind called “support your local artists!” This is how musicians, bands, singers, drag artists, DJ’s, tattoo artists make their living—we don’t do it for the good of our health! If I was to go and support something my friend did, I’d pay money to support them to help them earn a living. Some people turn their noses up at paying £10.99 for something you have worked hard on but will gladly spend that on 5 Jagerbomb’s on a pi*s up on a Friday night. I will gladly do mates rates at a discounted price, but I do think the cheek of some people is chutzpah!
Another one that popped into my head was more of a comment people can make when they look down their nose at me! I hear stuff like “you know it’s not a real job / are you ever going to get a real job?” Well first of all I have a job—it’s how I support the funding for my book to be made. Despite the fact there are millions of books being published and so many authors who make a living as writers, we are still assumed to be chasing some “non-job.” But don’t despair, it’s not just writers who get this treatment... anything creative is seen as suspect to these people. That includes musicians, artists, actors, dancers etc. Apparently, if you want to do something creative, it’s a “non-job “… even if you get paid handsomely for it.
I get “You’re a writer? (usually with surprise). What have you written?” It’s an honest question but for many writers, there is not an easy answer. If you’re published, you can mention your book. Whenever I describe Generation Dead I get “Oh, you write zombies? Don’t you think there is enough already?" I personally think no, there will never be enough, and it will never die! But, because apparently all the zombie books, movies and games have already been made there is nothing you could ever create that would be even remotely different. Ever! *eye roll*
I hear stuff like “you know it’s not a real job / are you ever going to get a real job?” Well first of all I have a job—it’s how I support the funding for my book...
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A huge thank you to Kier McGuinness for this interview. If you would like to learn more about Kier's writing journey, please be sure to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask your questions!
If Kier's Extra Bonus answers resonated with you, check out E. Rachael Hardcastle's, 'The Universe Doesn't Give A Sh*t About Your Book'. Rachael covers her response to this question in the Introduction.
Images sourced from Pixabay.com