The comedian, Michael McIntyre, did (in my humble opinion a very funny) sketch on his June 2009 Comedy Road Show which I recently caught repeated on Sky taking the mickey out of the names of one of our local hospitals: ‘Hope Hospital’ in Salford, United Kingdom. There is a strong rivalry between the North and South of England and Southerners love to poke fun at the North, even the names of our hospitals. The name ‘Hope’ originally came from a medieval hall, Hope Hall. They have tried to rebrand it as Salford Royal and I guess that’s thanks to clever Southern wits like Michael McIntyre because I shook my fist at the TV screen, "No, no, Michael, you are so wrong. Hope is a great name for a hospital!" A lot of times in the tough North all you have is hope and you especially need hope if you are in hospital. But I thank Michael both for making me laugh and for helping me choose my pen name – it had to be Debbie Hope!
Hope hospital quite simply saved my life; 2005 a horse riding accident resulted in a, level 4 head injury, emergency surgery and coma, unable even to breathe for myself. The injury was so bad they automatically whipped my driving license away from me! I’m told that statistically I should have died but instead I recovered because of the wonderful care I received from the fantastic facilities and superior staff at Hope.
As an avid reader one of the hardest things for me in the months immediately after the accident was being unable to focus due to double vision. Reading gave me an instant migraine, but I could touch-type and I’ve always wanted to write a novel so I sat down and got busy writing. I wrote Lunar Regeneration, my Young Adult, Fantasy Novel, in the six months it took me to recover and get back to work. I was soon so busy working took all my time and energy. In May 2009 I was made redundant, so I picked the book up again and tried unsuccessfully to sell it to agents and publishers. Then I got myself back in work and left Lunar Regeneration gathering dust.
February 2012 and I was redundant again – oh the joys of the recession. But all change: the era of self-publishing was upon us. I no longer had to wait for someone else to decide to publish my work. I had also begun a part-time English degree with Liverpool Hope University. (Yes, Michael, Hope again, we love our Hope in the North - you Southerners have the mild weather and the booming economy, leave us Northerners; our Corrie, (Coronation Street Northern Soap opera) our meat pies, our Geordie Shore (Adult Northern Reality TV series) and our Hope). I’ve published my book and it’s available on Amazon.
Welcome Debbie Hope thanks for talking to us today and letting us have a little insight into you and your books.
Q: Tell us about Lunar Regeneration first book in the Immortal MacAbre Series.
It took me a long time to come up with the right title. I was going to call my novel “Boy 2 Bone and Back Again” as he regenerates from a skeleton until someone pointed out the other meaning of Bone when referring to boys!
Q: What’s your genre and why did you choose it?
YA Fantasy : love reading that genre. I know some people say fantasy is rubbish. I cross the street to avoid them. You can pick holes in any book, if you want to, work of complete literary genius or not. If you read some of the original reviews on my all time favourite book; Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte the critics of the time hated it – they said it was disjointed and confused! I’m doing an English degree so I read a lot of classics for that. But in my free time I read what I love, Fantasy/Romance and also Crime/Thrillers. But I feel only people with real technical experience of Crime should write that genre and that is so not me – so I will always read crime and write fantasy.
Q: What’s the biggest obstacle you faced with your writing journey?
I am trying get my books into book stores and can’t find a cost effective way to deal through their distributers and pay print/production costs and break even, never mind make a living! Which is why print on demand solutions like Amazon’s Createspace are fantastic.
Q: Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?
I was watching the Old Classic Movie, American Werewolf in London for the thousandth time and I suddenly thought what if I teenage boy could transform into something else. The idea was born and I had to sit down and write. I wanted to make the transitions, gritty and real and worked really hard on that. The idea was so good I had to do it justice with excellent writing.
Q: Who or what are your influences?
As a child, I read everything I could get my hands on and we had a lot of books! So quite early on; Lewis Carroll, CS Lewis, Anna Sewell, Robert Louis Stevenson and of course Tolkien. Modern writers I like so many; Lee Childs, Eoin Colfer, Phillip Pullman, Stephanie Meyer, Kathy Reichs, J K Rowling, etc. I used to queue outside bookshops at midnight when a new Harry Potter was released. I have a first edition of the Philosopher’s Stone. All these books are popular for a good reason. They take the reader into another world and that’s what I love about books.
Q: Are you self-published, legacy or a combination?
Self- published with Amazon Createspace
Q: What was the hardest part of your self-pub journey?
Getting the stupid file to upload onto Createspace to go for a final check and printing. A combination of free help from Createspace and help from my website designer Dave at Motion Web Design solved that problem but not without tears and much swearing from me. Createspace do provide a detailed help service for £70 which I couldn’t afford but is probably well worth it.
Q: What format are your books available in?
Paperback and ebook – from Amazon
Q: How many books have you published so far?
This is my first book - I intend to write a complete series.
Q: What things did you outsource, if any at all?
I had zero money to spend but I did pay for a Free Lance Editor, Anne Greenberg which was the best money, I couldn’t afford, I’ve ever spent. She did see plot flaws I was totally blind too – thanks Anne.
Q: What’s the best bit of advice you received when starting out?
Get a website. Because money was tight. I went to a fixed price company Motion Web Design and the results are brilliant. www.immortalmacabre.co.uk
Q: What advice would you offer to the future Debut Authors out there?
Finish the work, put it away for a few months, get it back out and ruthlessly edit it. Then get an editor and if you can afford it a copy editor (An English teacher friend or fellow writer is fine just avoid those howlers) – agree the price in advance, state what you can afford and find someone who likes your work to work with you. Same for the website which if you want to write YA you do need a website.
Q: What’s next for you? Any projects in the pipeline for us to look forward to?
I am already into the second book of the series so watch this space.
Q: Any favourite Author that you are a fan of and would recommend?
Stephanie Meyer’s other books are great reading too – don’t just stick with the vampires. If you want to self-publish John Locke’s ‘How I sold…’ book is a must.
Q: Give us one of your favourite quotes…………
Robert Louis Stevenson “Don’t write merely to be understood. Write so that you cannot possibly be misunderstood.”
So much harder than it sounds remember the character lives in your head and so you think everything is crystal clear on paper. Solution – always use an editor.
Q: And finally tell us something random about yourself to make us chuckle………………………….
I’m on Twitter and when I first joined I couldn’t understand why I was getting lots of random teenage girl foreign followers. Light dawned, they don’t know ‘Debbie’ is a female name and they think I am the teenage boy on the cover of my book!
Haha, hey whatever gets the following!!!
Thanks so much for joining us here Debbie, it was lovely chatting to you.
You can find Debbie Hope and her book Lunar Regenaration with the links below.....