Monday, 3 March 2014

Interrogating Tony James Slater

Here's a guy I don't think I'd like to hang out with.  I don't fancy rock climbing, 1,000km strolls,  or sleeping in a campervan.

How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?

Well, I don’t have much choice at the moment – being a memoirist can be tough on the creativity! Luckily, there are people out there who want to read about the crazy sh*t I get up to, so I’m writing about that. I have to admit though, I’m yearning to write a bit of fiction – something where I don’t have to tell the truth all the time! And of course, writing fiction probably won’t require me to injure myself quite as much…

What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.

I love that I’m writing the stories of my life – people reading my books aren’t discovering new worlds I’ve visualised, they’re reading directly about me! That can be a little nerve-wracking, as any negative impressions they get are also directed at me – and I have to admit to every short-coming, every embarrassing action or habit… Sometimes my readers know more about me than my closest family and friends. And more than they’d ever want to know… This is the only genre that legitimately allows me write about my testicles. I’m told I take advantage of this fact way too much.

Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them?

Because I’m always traveling, I have drawers full of notebooks on both sides of the world. Sod’s Law works well here; the ones I need most always tend to be the furthest away…
I quite often get a flash of inspiration while I’m out and about, so I make urgent notes on whatever comes to hand. I never transfer them, and often completely forget about them, which leads to me discovering bus tickets with cryptic messages and snatches of dialogue on them in jackets I haven’t worn since last winter… Yeah. I should probably get a better system!

How do you manage plot bunnies (ideas that invade your mind that aren’t usually helpful to the story you’re writing but breed

Rather than plot bunnies, I get story bunnies – ideas for fiction stories I’d love to write, but can’t until I’m done with my memoirs. I haven’t the time to devote to them, but I have a sneaky habit – I indulge them at night, when I’m laying awake, my mind racing. I’m an insomniac, and often get only three or four hours sleep, but my wife hates it if I don’t come to bed – so I lay there, staring at the ceiling, constructing plots for epic sci-fi novels – most of which vanish with the first light of morning. I still feel a bit guilty though, about wasting all that precious writing time! But I draw the line at bringing the laptop into the bedroom. Well, my wife does…

How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with ?

My characters ARE me! Well, except the ones that aren’t. I wouldn’t want to be anyone else… because then, someone else would have to be me. And that’s not fair on anyone!

Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters?

I DO get wrapped up in my writing – to the point where my wife often has to send me text messages reminding me to eat! She does this roughly three times a day – otherwise, I wouldn’t. As for being married to my characters… conveniently enough, I am! The downside of this is, after I reveal a particularly intimate or embarrassing part of our journey together, I have to a) let her proofread the offending chapter, and b) live with the fall-out…
I still suffer daily for writing that she ‘gave a snotty burble’ – according to her, this is completely untrue and was ‘accidentally’ deleted from my manuscript several times before I managed to publish it…

What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?

No, not at all. I love reading sci-fi and fantasy, something with lots of ass-kicking and noble sacrifices! I DO read a lot of memoirs, however, mostly out of loyalty to other authors in a similar position to me – and I also read them for, ah, comparison purposes… Of course, if someone else’s new book is better than mine, I have to know about it! I’m only human J

What lengths do you go to to convince us readers that your book has the X factor?

Normally, I try to let people discover that for themselves. I’m a terrible publicist – I hate pushing my work on other people and trying to convince them to read it. More often than not, I direct people to the free samples on Amazon, in the hope they’ll read those, and suddenly become addicted – and so far, that seems to work quite well. I think it’s the ‘idiot factor’, rather than the x-factor, that appeals to people – everyone loves to laugh at other people, whether they admit it or not!

How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?

I decapitate them. No! Joke! I love that readers pay enough attention to my work that they spot mistakes. I thank them profusely, and correct the mistake right away, often uploading a new version within the hour. I want my work to look as professional as possible, and readers are helping me to do that – it’s invaluable, really. Several of my keenest readers are now my beta-readers, as well as becoming close friends.

What do you like most about visiting KUF/GR/forums?

It’s weird, really – I never have any idea what to say on forums! I don’t want to plug my book, because that’s rude, and I don’t feel like I’ve earned the right to give people critique. So, I mostly just read what everyone else writes, and try to pick up tips for marketing and promotion. What I love most though, is when people get in touch with me through the messages, to let me know they’ve enjoyed my books. It gives me a nice warm glow, and it’s cheaper than buying wine…

What is on your near horizon?

A big-assed metal fence! I’m house-sitting in Perth, Australia, looking after three gigantic dogs. So I’m kind of glad of that fence, or neighbourhood children would start going missing… After this, I’m planning another epic adventure – this time to the States! I have a Secret Plan about what I’ll be doing when I get there… but suffice to say, there’ll be a book about it! In the meantime, I’m writing about my six-month trip around Asia – where I got kidnapped by a mafia taxi-driver, received death-threats from a tour company boss, and nearly blew up a hotel in Mongolia. NOT MY FAULT!

Where can we find you for more information?

You can find me in all the usual places – often with a glass of wine in my hand! I hang out on Facebook ( and Twitter ( most of all.
Oh, and I blog occasionally, about the crazy stuff that keeps happening to me – that’s over at


  1. What an idiotic interviewer! "How much of you is in your characters?", this is after you talked about writing memoirs. And plot bunnies...they're memoirs fer crissakes! Anyway the subject, Tony, was a great sport for not walking away or decapitating the nterviewer.

  2. I think you'll find that this interviewer is NOT idiotic as I ask the same questions to all my interviewees (all 77 of them). That's my USP. Which makes Tony's answers to those particular questions particularly funny for followers of my blog.

    But thank you for reading and making (idiotic) comments :)