AUTHOR INTERVIEW 80 – Craig Sennett


C P Sennett

United Kingdom

Age 45

Well I was never an academic achiever at school, I moved around a lot during my early years which seemed to help my social skills if nothing else.  Thankfully though, I knew from the age of 16 that I had at least one story to tell.  I just didn’t know when I would get around to doing it.
As a child I had a vivid imagination and at least some talent for sharing ideas and storytelling.  It was many years later before I finally found the confidence to write down the stories that were buzzing around in my head.
Now, far older, I’m a family man and I’ve mellowed a lot, it’s this mellowing which has enabled me to find the time for writing.  It is a great form of creativity and something which I am always looking to improve.  Best of all, for me, it’s a stress reliever and something I actually, genuinely enjoy.
As a Suffolk based author, life here is pretty quiet, which is good.  I live and work in Ipswich, England where I run a small IT Company that I spend a lot of time on.  I also spend a bit of time as a business mentor providing help and guidance to a few other local business owners who I get on well with.

My hobbies include martial arts and role playing, both of which I began at primary school and they have influenced my writing as well.  A late addition to my hobbies is Airsoft, which is a great adrenaline boost and if you haven’t done you should.
I’ve been thankful enough to be a member of Ipswich Round Table which I have been for a decade now.  During this time as a group we’ve helped a lot of local people financially and also with time and expertise.  It’s a great feeling and charity has always been something close to my heart.
My latest fancy in writing is the Suffolk Sentinel series.  It’s about modern day wizarding for adults, it’s got plenty of grit and a likeable lead character I think with some real potential.  In fact, this now has it’s 3rd instalment our now – entitled Dark Places of Control.  Plans are also afoot to take them to print as well.
The Plague Doctor (crime/thriller) is my first novel in print and I take inspiration from being an avid people watcher.  The book came out of reading a newspaper article in the Daily Mail and a sense of frustration at the British Justice system.  Another fiction title is the‘The Squire’ (epic fantasy) which is the first in ‘The Tales of Marilia Saga’ (currently available in eBook format) with ‘The Plague Doctor’ being in both formats and also on Amazon.
I also have several business titles published, including ‘The Company Starter’‘Marketing Guide for New Businesses’ and ‘Starting in Sales’and a higher level book titled ‘Advancing in Sales’ all of which are out now and are based on my own experience in business and as an employee.

Finally, on Amazon and Smashwords you can find most of my work.  Even a short Sci-Fi series which I am particularly proud of.  The first in this range is called Interview Room 9 (Sci-Fi and crime), feel free to give it a look.
I hope you enjoy my work as much as I enjoy writing it, it’s a great stress reliever.  Also, all my work is published under C P Sennett and if you read something of mine you like, feel free to get in touch.
Eddie Holt is the Suffolk Sentinel and this means he needs to keep the supernatural creatures of Suffolk in check. Being a Sentinel of The Order means he is tasked with keeping quiet everything that plagues humanity.
The problem is, with the recent death of the Essex Sentinel, he is also covering Essex until a replacement is appointed and this means he has a lot of ground to cover.
Suffolk has a lot of spirts and Essex as we all know is run by vampires and this means he is spread very thin, often in an area he doesn’t know.
In Eddie’s opening story he is looking for a missing girl called Tabitha having taken some work from a person known as ‘The Broker.’
If Eddie thought this job would be an easy pay day or another dead-end job from The Broker, then he is definitely wrong, as he encounters a host of supernatural problems.

Romelia: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE UNDER-APPRECIATED NOVEL?

C P Sennett: I like a very under appreciated novel called The Reluctant Swordsman, part of The Seventh Sword series. 

Everyone I know who has read it and the short series of books loves it.  It’s a very good read and very engaging for people of all ages, a real hidden gem.

Romelia: HOW DO YOU BALANCE MAKING DEMANDS ON THE READER WITH TAKING CARE OF THE READER?

C P Sennett: Being honest, this isn’t a concept I am familiar with.  I write the stories as well as I can see them, and I make a point of keeping things clear but I don’t feel I ‘take care of the reader’. It’s more important to tell a good story with great plot and characters so I guess I do it that way, but every writer will claim they do this.

I think good characters and plot with plenty of genuine surprises is how I do this.

Romelia: AS A WRITER, WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE AS YOUR MASCOT/AVATAR/SPIRIT ANIMAL?

C P Sennett: If anything, I would guess a lion.  Strong, resilient but I am just someone who writes and loves telling tales.

Romelia: WHAT DO YOU OWE THE REAL PEOPLE UPON WHOM YOU BASE YOUR CHARACTERS?

C P Sennett: I don’t really base them upon people.  At times someone will say, is this character based on me but in truth it’s not as I avoid this like the plague. 

I remember in a short story I wrote, my mother-in-law asked if a character was based on my wife.  The character was a real battle axe and my wife is lovely.  The character was actually based loosely on Hyacinth Bucket, a snobbish and rude character in an old British TV sitcom.  Honest, my wife is lovely and I’m not sure how on earth she made that leap.

Romelia: HOW MANY UNPUBLISHED AND HALF-FINISHED BOOKS DO YOU HAVE?

C P Sennett: About 6 works in progress at the moment but I’m better at not getting sidetracked these days.  I’m trying to be more structured with my writing time and sticking to a project until it’s done.  Thankfully, this is a battle I’ve been winning for the past 3 years or so now.

Romelia: WHAT DOES LITERARY SUCCES LOOK LIKE TO YOU?

C P Sennett: That’s an odd question as I write largely for enjoyment and my main project is the Suffolk Sentinel series.  I’ve just released book 4 and the success for me is that people are reading all of them.  I enjoyed pre orders and when you can see the downloads of books 2, 3 and 4, you know readers are buying into the characters and the plot and that is a big win.

Romelia: WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO MARKET YOUR BOOKS?

C P Sennett: This is my shortfall; I don’t do enough of this.  I largely rely entirely on Amazon and adverts on Amazon.  This is something I plan to step up for 2021 but something I have neglected for a long time.

Romelia: WHAT KIND OF RESEARCH DO YOU DO, AND HOW LONG DO YOU SPEND RESEARCHING BEFORE BEGINNING A BOOK?

C P Sennett: This is on a case-by-case basis, but I have to confess, I am a bit of a research hound.  I do a fair bit, but I also only tend to write on subjects I am comfortable with.  I don’t envisage me doing a period romance any time soon as if I wanted to, I would be spending months doing research before anything was done.

We have some software we use to keep track of characters and other things as well.  This helps with the research and centering all the info when ‘building’ a plot/book.  It is www.writersvault.co.uk and it helps me to do much more with the time I have.

Romelia: DO YOU VIEW WRITING AS A KING OF SPIRITUAL PRACTICE?

C P Sennett: Assuming this means kind of spiritual practice.  Being honest I am not that much of a spiritual type of person and this is a wide term.  For me though it is something I enjoy, it relaxes me and I think the stories I tell are interesting enough that they bring some escapism to others so I feel my work helps me and readers to get away from life for a bit.

The books have spiritual type characters and people into all sorts of esoteric things like this and at times I’ve found myself looking into interesting religions, wicca and a host of other legends but I would say I see myself as more a practical person as my wife is spiritual enough for us both and when I need something like this, she is a good sounding board.  We writers need good people to help with our work.

Romelia: WHAT’S THE MOST DIFFICULT THING ABOUT WRITING CHARACTERS FROM THE OPPOSITE SEX?

C P Sennett: I try to keep these as realistic as possible and I don’t overly see people as ‘writing’ from this sex or that, as I know plenty of people on all sides of the spectrum in both sexes. 

I feel if you are doing something from a fantasy or period perspective roles were more gender specific and for example, you need to get into the mindset of a woman in high society at the time but in modern day I think people of any sex are more natural and have a greater variance than ever.

So, for me it’s about keeping them believable, realistic and well rounded.  One pet hate of mine is when characters are made to tick a box and that’s something I really try to avoid, that and characters doing dumb things for no reason. 

These are not on my list but I am a real people person, I like to study people and to think like they do and this helps with character generation and development as well.  The sex of a character hasn’t been a problem I don’t think so far.

Romelia: HOW LONG WERE YOU A PART-TIME WRITER BEFORE YOU BECOME A FULL-TIME ONE?

C P Sennett: I think I am still a part-time one in that I still have a day job.  I don’t make enough from it to stop just yet and I doubt I would either.  I enjoy my work and the books I write which I guess is a fortunate position to be in.

I see myself maybe moving into writing more during retirement but that’s a way off for now.

Romelia: HOW MANY HOURS A DAY DO YOU WRITE?

C P Sennett: I may have some days or weeks where I don’t write.  I don’t like to force it.  However, when I am on it, I’ve been known to do 18 hours straight writing and for it to actually be good quality.  I get, like many I guess, the ‘bug’ and when a story has me, I just keep going as long as the creative part in me is there.  I can easily spend 6-8 hours in an evening for weeks going at something with minimal distractions.

However, in my last book, The Brokers Of Power, book 4 in my current series I took a different path in writing it. 

Instead of blasting away I slowed myself down and I found that the amount of editing I and others had to do was far less.  This, for me, was a big lesson learned and a process changes I will keep with.

So, when working on a release I tend to be all in but I do benefit from periods of recharge and a break from the pages.

Romelia: WHAT PERIOD OF YOUR LIFE DO YOU FIND YOU WRITE ABOUT MOST OFTEN? (CHILD, TEENAGER, YOUNG ADULT).

C P Sennett: I don’t really write about my life as such.  Some parts are slightly drawn from it and I guess these are the young adult or adult periods.

It tends to be more fiction driven with my work though and I try to go to great lengths to keep it and real life separate.

Romelia: HAVE YOU READ ANYTHING THAT MADE YOU THINK DIFFERENTLY ABOUT FICTION?

C P Sennett: Like many, Game Of Thrones really showed me that you can go with a big cast of characters that readers will embrace it.

Romelia: WHAT ARE THE ETHICS OF WRITING ABOUT HISTORICAL FIGURES?

C P Sennett: I’ve tended to keep this as light as possible as it could be a real risk.  I think it’s important if you do it to judge them from their time and to be fair and factual. 

It’s not my bag but I think these would be the key points to it if I was to do it.

Romelia: HOW DO YOU SELECT THE NAMES OF YOUR CHARACTERS?

C P Sennett: Now this is a bit of a process and the Writers Vault software helps with this as you can see other character names and ensure they fit, are pronounceable and that they belong with the book.

A name has a lot to it so it’s important to get them right.  I know it’s strange but to me a name says a lot about a character.

Romelia: DO YOU READ YOUR BOOK REVIEWS? HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH BAD OR GOOD ONES?

C P Sennett: I do read them but I try to keep them in perspective.  Some people leave reviews which are of little use or unbalanced and some leave nice ones which is great.  I think it’s a mechanism which exists and it’s perhaps an imperfect one but it’s all we’ve got so far.

It’s a tricky subject but they help authors, so I think we need to be grateful that the majority are good or at least constructive.

I had one recently giving me only 2* because they felt the book was too short.  This sort of one annoys me a bit more than most as it tells you the length before you buy it, and it was written as a series so of course it won’t be complete in book 1. 

Then again, people have a right to put what they want and you just need to take things on the chin I guess and be grateful for the sale.

Romelia: DO YOU HIDE ANY SECRETS IN YOUR BOOKS THAT ONLY A FEW PEOPLE WILL FIND?

C P Sennett: I think there are some easter eggs in my books which people will remember as they progress through the series.  Hopefully I’ve not been too obvious and made things stick out too much. 

It’s always good to surprise a reader but there are no secrets as such, it’s just a story unfolding as you progress through it with a good measure of twists and turns.

Romelia: WHAT WAS YOUR HARDEST SCENE TO WRITE?

C P Sennett: A good question and for different reasons.  I’m a stickler for decent, realistic combat.  I have an extensive martial arts background and this helps to try to keep combat risky, fast and realistic which becomes trickier as you throw in vampires and werewolves. 

The reason being is you need to balance things as I really dislike (personal dislike) when someone battles something once it nearly kills them, then 2 chapters later they take on 3 easily and then still deal with the baddy.  It was like in the latest Star Wars movies.  The red suited royal guard were cut down like wheat far too easily.

So for me, it’s about balancing the powers of a vampire with something that doesn’t turn them into indestructible juggernauts.  You need some genuine peril for heroes and villains alike.

Romelia: DO YOU GOOLE YOURSELF?

C P Sennett: Nah, I’m not really bothered about this sort of thing.  If anything, I am confident in life but unusually meek in the pride I take from my writing.  This I truly understand and it’s something that I need to get over and to tell more people about my work.  It is fault I am now all too aware of.

Romelia: WHAT ONE THING WOULD YOU GIVE UP TO BECOME A BETTER WRITER?

C P Sennett: My day job but reality is I make a lot more out of my day job than I do currently out of writing.  I put in the hours and for me it will come but I expect it will be a bit later in life.

Romelia: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE LITERARY JOURNALS?

C P Sennett: I’ll be honest, I am not terribly well read.  A cardinal sin many say and I don’t get much time reading about the industry as I tend to enjoy my time in it.  I tend to look online for hints but usually I know my subject matter well enough that I don’t have to look for long, just that pep of confidence you need to reassure you that you do remember what you know correctly. 

Perhaps this is something else I need to improve upon for 2021.

Romelia: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CHILDHOOD BOOK?

C P Sennett: I have to say for this is was the Dragonlance books. One in particular, The Legend of Huma, I loved it as a kid, epic dragon riding at its finest.

Romelia: TELL US SOMETHING FUNNY FROM YOUR ADULT LIFE.

C P Sennett: I spent many years doing LARP, Live Action Role Play and I still play RPG’s now but the pen and paper type.  So yes, I was one of those latex wielding hippie looking people running around the woods claiming to be a dark elf whilst accidently scaring dogs and children alike.

Romelia: describe yourself in a few sentences. Tell us something we do not know about you and something you hate about the world.

C P Sennett: I am a pretty simple person, I stand up for people when others don’t and I feel I kindly tell people the truth to stop others hurting themselves more.

I consider myself a pretty easy-going person who really does value all the time he gets on this earth and I want to enjoy it, we all should.

One thing I don’t like about the world is how fractious the media/social media has made us.  How people have been told you are left or right when in fact there is more that unites us all than divides us and in fact most of us are really centre left or right.  We need to not react so much and to listen and chill out.

My website is www.cpsennett.co.uk and I wish to promote the set of books called The Suffolk Sentinel.  Book 1 is called Wizard Of Our Time.

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