Bryan Pentelow Author Interview
I recently had the honor of meeting a wonderful children’s writer from the UK named Bryan Pentelow. Brian is a rare type of wonderful person that the world could certainly use more of.
Since I started releasing my books out in to the world I’ve have the pleasure of having several people tell me they were going to read my books. I honestly can’t wait for that to happen. Bryan, however, cleared time in his schedule and not only read one of my books, but also took the time to write a review and post it on multiple platforms. (I can’t stress how much reviews actually help authors.)
Bryan also agreed to be interviewed for my blog and again made the time to not just answer my questions, but he made a fantastic effort in giving open and honest answers.
Links on where to find Bryan and his works will follow the interview. Without further delay here is Bryan’s author interview:
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in rural Northamptonshire in the town of Raunds. You won’t have heard of it, people from the other end of the county haven’t heard of it. However American bomber crews in the last war will be familiar with that part of England and those who served up to Vietnam. I had an uneventful state education the latter years of which were made bearable by being the singer in a rock group and playing in the PX clubs of many of the USAF bases. I trained as a teacher in Caerleon in South Wales (which had little significance since the Romans went home) and taught woodwork, engineering, technical drawing and remedial English for five years. When our first child was born I became a salesman for an educational publisher and supplies firm as the money was nearly twice that of teaching and they gave me a free car. This job involved running courses for teachers on how to use the books and products we supplied and I had great fun with screen printing, playing the recorder, pre and early reading courses (I can still read upside down so the children can see the book) and playing percussion instruments. I am now proficient in playing a Samba triangle amongst others. I am an engineer by training and choice but with the exception of a few years in light engineering companies designing such fascinating things as flat pack book racks and tray trolleys and researching how thin you can make a clothes airer before it collapses under the weight of a damp sock have had little to show for my efforts.
2. Do you have a day job as well?
I’m retired with four grandchildren, who the hell has time to work? Seriously though with writing and being available to look after/at the achievements of four whizzing kids, squeeze in the occasional holiday and pay at least enough attention to my wife to prevent her from leaving me and depriving me of the best proof reader and editor anyone could wish for there is no time left over for work.
3. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
A tank driving pilot who played top line professional sport and topped the charts in his spare time. It changed on a minute by minute basis.
4. What do you like to do when you’re not writing
Draw breath and sleep/ the thousand and one things that all the people I know and love think are more important than writing.
5. Could you please tell us what you write? How many books do you have out?
I write the Sprocket Sagas for children of which there are three in print and eBook and a fourth nearing completion. The first was written for my first grandchild Sophie, a genius who will one day rule the world or something more worthy of her talents. My son and daughter then had the lack of imagination to produce another three wonders so I had to write the other books so they had one each.
I have also written Sea Change, a sci-fi book and the first of the Human Advance series to clear out all the brilliant ideas I had for saving the human race orbiting the inside of my head and never had the money to make reality.
Sprocket and the Heart of the North will be out in September and Look to the Stars will surface when I have finished combing through the midden of my thoughts.
6. Which is your favorite?
How can I choose between my children; which is what these books are. Writing them is, I hope, the nearest I will ever come to child birth. I have to admit that Sea Change was written for me so has a warm place in my heart. The only thing which puzzles me is why the rest of the English speaking world fails to recognize them for the gems they are.
7. How did you come up with the titles?
The first book Sprocket and the Great Northern Forest grew from the story and it didn’t have a title till I had written it and Brassroyd named the dragon Sprocket because when it curled up to sleep he looked like a small cog wheel. From then on they were Sprocket Books and the titles have become Sprocket and the ——. With Sea Change I needed a phrase to sum up the quantum leap that true artificial intelligence would bring and thought I was being really inventive right up to the book coming out on Amazon and me typing in the title and finding a list of other books with the same title none of which were mine. So much for originality.
8. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I didn’t want to write. I can’t spell to save my life and have a tenuous grasp on English Grammar. At school I would go to any lengths to disguise my inability, including developing handwriting so tiny and contrived it was almost impossible to interpret what letters actually made up a given word. I have always had a love of words and their creative use by really good writers. I am full of stories and an inveterate embroiderer of the truth. So when computers and word processers with spell checkers came out I felt able to dip my toe in the water. However my creative approach to spelling (why spell a word the same way twice when there are so many possible ways it could be spelled) has defeated every spell checker program I have used to date. I took up public speaking to improve my presentation skills and joined a speakers club to keep in practice which forced me to produce work on a regular basis. The advantage of this was that I could appear erudite without at the same time appearing illiterate. This pile of writing may one day become a book but will need name changes to protect the guilty and keep me out of court.
9. How long does it take you to write a book?
I set myself a target of a thousand words a day and if the story is flowing this is easy. I have a short attention span so most of my books so far have been written in a month each. This does not include corrections, thinking time and inconsiderate people who invite me to dinner, the theatre, parties, coffee, and the thousands of opportunities to fritter away time in an enjoyable manner. Proof reading, inserting the corrections to the innumerable typos and errors my wife finds in my works of shining creation can triple this time and it can be at least four months before a book is print ready. Also a book is not necessarily a continuous process. Other ideas crop up and must at least be jotted down in outline before some other genius grabs them and nails them to their page. So in reality it takes as long as it takes and at some point I have to stop adding, subtracting, pruning and embellishing and publishing the damn thing.
10. Why do you write?
Desperation! In some ways I am the main character in Sea Change. Having reached the grand age of 65 and not having a great deal to show for my efforts I wanted to leave some mark on the world. When I was then diagnosed with cancer which is not terminal, and, though not curable is controllable I was spurred to get some stories down on paper. My characters drive the plot and are usually a collage of people I have met, worked with, lived near and so on. They are ordinary people often placed in extraordinary circumstances and they try to cope as normal people would. These are not superheroes with special powers. They blunder through the pintable of life making mistakes but learning from experience. They have personalities and a back story. They come with baggage and irritating habits and human failings. I start with a vague outline and follow where they lead and they tell me if I get it wrong and insist that I rewrite the bits which don’t fit.
I have always read books and the radio is my preferred source of news and current affairs. From these and the stupefying ability of humans to invent new ways of destroying themselves there is never a shortage of threats to rise up against. I try to take a slant wise approach to problem solving and use humour (correct UK spelling) to lighten the politics and horror which the world generates.
11. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I didn’t think so but several people who have read my books and know me say they can hear my voice in the characters modes of speech and mannerisms. How irritating it must be to have me narrating in their ear while they try to read.
12. What does your family think of your writing?
I think most of them regard it as the onset of senility and adopt the equivalent patting me on the head and saying “There, there.”
13. Do you have any suggestions to help aspiring authors become better writers? If so, what are they? And/ Or do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
The first thing that any aspiring writer good, bad or indifferent must do is to write. Don’t try to write great literature, just write. Get your story down on paper. Throw spelling and grammar to the four winds. You can correct it later. Grab the muse while the fickle jade is in your company, she will be gone if you don’t. The second thing you must do is find someone to read it and point out the mistakes. However many times you read your own work you will tend to read what should be there and not the reality. Not just the typos but the sense of the sentence, paragraph, book. They won’t know what your intention is, what you expect the reader to understand, and will find the bits that make no sense. Follow these two basic rules and you will at least have something for people to read. Getting them to read it is a whole different ball game and on that I have no reliable advice.
14. Do you hear from your readers much?
If only! Acquiring readers is the secret of becoming known, and to date it eludes me. I work on the old mail order principal that for every thousand leaflets sent out one percent will respond, so I wait and am not holding my breath.
15. What is your favorite motivational phrase?
My maternal grandfather told me that if something was wrong moaning about it achieved nothing. Get off your backside and do something about it or it is your fault the problem exists he said. I try to live by this.
Really glad you read to the bottom of Bryan’s interview. I can only hope you enjoyed ‘meeting’ Bryan as much as I have. If you’d like to learn more about Bryan (he has a couple of FREE short stories on his website) you can find him:
You can find Bryan’s books on his website or on Amazon:
Sprocket and the Great Northern Forest (Book 1) Amazon
Sprocket and the Great Museum Scam (Book 2) Amazon
Sprocket and the Poison Portal (Book 3) Amazon
Sea Change Amazon
Bryan’s books are very reasonably priced (CHEAP) and are loved by readers. I genuinely encourage you to take a gander.
With Love and Gratitude until next time,