Ensure volume is turned on and click image to play....
Mal Foster talks about his new novel 'Fluke's Cradle'
KEEPING HIS FEET FIRMLY ON THE GROUND
Mal Foster, talks to Kathy Kelso, about his publishing journey so far, and a little about his superb new psychological thriller, ‘Fluke’s Cradle’…
Mal Foster, an author of the ordinary man? “Too bloody well right I am”, he says, grinning widely from behind his raised pint of rapidly disappearing Hells lager. Mal and I have known each other since we were teenagers. We used to indulge ourselves in contemporary poetry, Leonard Cohen, Hart Crane, Douglas Dunn, Jack Kerouac, Robert Service and the Mersey Poets, et al etc., whilst sipping long-lasting cappuccinos in an upstairs coffee lounge at the top of Camberley High Street. I’m delighted to say Galinis as it was known, has miraculously crept into Mal’s intriguing new book, ‘Fluke’s Cradle’ as part of its storyline. In those hurdy-gurdy days of the 1970s, a cappuccino was simply called frothy coffee and we both knew how to make it last, and for those of us who didn’t have two 5p pieces to rub together, it was a godsend.
While I gazed down onto the street outside, Mal would concentrate on scribbling fragments of poems in a little green notebook he always carried around in the inside pocket of a well-worn fake leather jacket. Often, he’d be found at his usual table, with three other budding writers, Alan Guest, Jez Goodwin, and Sean Duffy… all four poor misguided souls had their own ideas on how their writing could change the world. Fortunately, naivete eventually gave way to reality and they all moved on to negotiate the rest of their lives quite differently from one another. Mal though is still in contact with Jez, who is now, a successful TV chef and food resource expert who resides in Houston, Texas in the U.S.
Fast-forward 50 years and Mal prides himself on his independent author status…“If I’d sent any of my manuscripts to a traditional publisher, they would still be gathering dust and would never have seen the light of day. Thousands of fiction books are published each year in this country alone. I soon realised that the self-publishing option was probably the best way of getting my books out there.
What, if any, are the benefits of self-publishing? "Firstly, the author is in complete control of the whole process, including the book's promotion. The key thing is, is not to let your expectations be too high. Any self-published indie author who exceeds sales of 200+ copies in all formats will probably celebrate even though they will never get their initial investment back – that sadly is commonplace with self-publishing, but it’s a small price to pay for something that is so rewarding. If you treat writing as a hobby, you have nothing to lose."
Keeping his feet firmly on the ground, Mal adds, "I’ve always written for my own pleasure, not the money, if I did, I would be bitterly disappointed. That said, when a book is published, there’s nothing more pleasing than someone stopping me in the street and asking about one of my characters. It proves that people really can immerse themselves in what I write.”
Are there any downsides? “Yes, of course. Whilst I enjoy researching and writing my books. I find the editing process quite arduous. It can also be a potential minefield. It's where the manuscript is most vulnerable. For instance, there is nothing more annoying than when something gets missed during the final proofreading phase. Although errors can easily be fixed, through a quick Amazon edit, a missing question mark or a stray apostrophe can bug the hell out of you... something I know all honest authors will admit they go through. Also, after publication, the first few weeks can be quite nerve-wracking until the first pieces of feedback filter through. Luckily, most reviews I've received have always been quite positive.”
This all brings me nicely back to Mal’s exciting new novel 'Fluke’s Cradle’, a paranormal/psychological thriller that (as you will have seen above) has already been heralded by some early reviewers as his best writing yet...
This item originally appeared on the Woking Writere' Collective book blog in April 2022
The Bookshelf Interview - 27 September 2022
At what point do you think someone should call themselves a writer?
I believe writing is partly about seeking an identity. I think, the moment someone puts a pen to paper, they are a writer. Upon publication, people will consider you an author anyway. There’s no looking back after that!
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
People usually ask, “When’s the next book out?” or simply mention certain characters they can identify with from one of my novels. Many can also identify with the locations I mention, particularly if it’s local, and that always provides me with positive feedback.
Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym, and why or why not?
For a number of years, I wrote poetry using a pseudonym. At the time, I wanted to keep my personal life, and writing separate. I was a little shy and didn’t want friends or family, apart from the odd girlfriend, to know that I wrote and had some published. In hindsight, this was a shame as getting my poems published eventually proved to be among my finest personal achievements. One day in the late 1990s, I woke up and recognised that it would be great to republish and share the poetry online under my own name. You know, shout it from the rooftops! In recent years, yes, I’ve regretted using the pseudonym when I was younger. All my books now are published under my birth name of Foster.
Have you ever killed off a character your readers loved?
My first novel is set in a Surrey lunatic asylum in 1929. It’s called The Asylum Soul. One of the characters, is called Maisie who falls in love with the book’s protagonist, Tommy Compton. Such a relationship was forbidden in those days, and, in the end, Maisie killed herself by jumping in front of a train at nearby Brookwood railway station. Some of my readers were incensed with what I had done. In the book, I had built her into such a loving and beautiful character. In my second novel, Fly Back and Purify, which wasn’t a sequel, I brought her back as a ghost.
Have you ever travelled as research for your book?
Yes, my third novel, An Invisible Nemesis is partially set on the Maltese island of Gozo. Other chapters were set in Venice, and Sicily. Researching and writing the book was a great excuse to travel to both Italy and Malta!
How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
With an air of apprehension. Sometimes, with a tear in my eye and a sense of relief. Always with a glass of wine or something stronger, even if its four in the morning.
How do you use social media as an author?
I have a website at www.malfoster.co.uk and use Twitter almost daily. I also have a Facebook page which is also updated at least once a week.
How long does it take you to write a book?
My first novel, The Asylum Soul, took about 18 months. Others slightly less. My latest book, Fluke’s Cradle, took around only six months.
What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
It’s the final editing and proofreading process. I feel it’s where the manuscript is at its most vulnerable. Nothing is worse than spotting an error after publication, even if it is just a stray apostrophe!
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I was fifty-nine when I published my first novel, The Asylum Soul in 2015. If someone had told me just a few years earlier that I would write a novel, I would have seriously questioned their sanity. Now, I would thank them for the prophecy!
Interview by DV Stone LINK