Saturday, September 3, 2011

free ebook for review - Interview with Alan Parr - Author of "Renewal"

Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Liverpool, England and I live in Lake Elmo, MN.

What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 30 or less words, what would you say?
My book is called Renewal, and it is about a technology-addicted world starting over after a singularity, as witnessed by a boy called Stig and the last gadget on Earth, iFriend.

Do you have plans for a new book?   Is this book part of a series?
Renewal is the first book in a series looking at humanity’s slippery relationship with technology, with itself, and our beliefs about the way in which the world works. I’m writing the second book right now, and it’s about the revival of technology among humans and how quickly events can escalate, particularly when you have an evil piece of gadgetry pushing the buttons (so to speak). I'm also working on a book of short stories in between drafts.

What or who inspired you to write?  And how long have you been writing?
I actually started out writing non-fiction for business a few years ago. Seth Godin, marketing guru, wrote a blog post titled “You Should Write An eBook”, and I thought why not? I wrote a couple of short eBooks with my business partner through and then a couple more through Scribd. My foray into fiction was simply because I wanted to write a story for my kids, something that I would really enjoy writing, and that’s why Renewal is a humorous piece of science fiction and fantasy, and has a six-legged dog called Barf in it. It’s just fun, pure blue sky fun that I couldn’t find in the world of business writing.

Would you like to giveaway a copy of your book on this blog?
I would be happy to give away a copy, and would ask for a review in return. Seems fair?

How did you come up with the title and cover design?
Titles generally suggest themselves during writing, in fact it’s that kind of word play that gets my mind working on story lines. I designed the cover for Renewal myself (I’m an artist in my spare time).

Have you based any of your characters on someone you know, or real events in your own life?
I think every character is the author in part, and an amalgamation of real people, character traits observed in others, and any necessary ingredients to suit the plot and to add a touch of verisimilitude. We all write from experience to some extent, and that includes people, places and events. I’ve never taken an actual event and put it directly into my writing, although I’m quite willing to take an event and twist it to make it more interesting. That's one of the joys of writing fiction, creating your own worlds and events.

What books have most influenced your writing most and why?
Stephen King’s “On Writing” has been a huge influence in terms of helping me to form good writing habits, and I would recommend it for any writer. In terms of authors I have read who have bowled me over and made me green with envy, definitely Douglas Adams, and also Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.  Gaiman has a dark humorous side I love, and Pratchett is incredibly witty.

Is there an Author that you would really like to meet?
Stephen King. I would dearly love to meet the man and say thank you.

Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?
I'm a big proponent of the e-book revolution.  As Seth Godin said, "ideas that spread win" and ebooks (along with social media) breakdown the barriers between writer and reader.  I like paperbacks for casual reading and to throw in a suitcase, and while it is not great for the environment I do buy hardbacks for those special books that I want to collect and keep in my library.

Where do you prefer to buy your books?
Smashwords (shameless plug), Barnes and Noble for my Nook, Amazon, and

Have you ever read a book more than once?
Most definitely, it's a bad habit especially considering the number of new books out there and that life really is short.  But there are some books that capture a particular time and place, or perhaps the experience of reading a new idea or of being swept away by a writing style. I re-read books to experience these things over and over again. "The Hobbit" obviously, but also Nelson DeMille's "Gold Coast", and Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere" are good examples. I just love these books, that's all.

Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version?
I can’t think of a movie that was better than the original book. You could look at that as a sign that I don't watch enough movies, but I'd prefer to think of it as an indication that I read the right books.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (ebook/paperback/hardcover)?
I'm always on the lookout for great books to read - I'm reading Susanna Clarke's "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" in hardback after hearing Lev Grossman give it a huge recommendation on Minnesota Public Radio. If you have a suggestion, drop me a line at one of the sites listed below.

Is there anything you would change in your last book and why?
I actually started writing the second book while taking a rest between drafts of the first book, with the intention of ensuring I had sufficient character development and had run out plot lines neatly enough in the first book to support where I wanted to go in the second. Kind of a pre-emptive strike on post-publishing regrets.

Who designed the cover of your book?
I did. I had the picture of the wave in my mind as I wrote about the wave of Renewal, and I turned that image into a wave about to wash over the Earth (it also looks a little like a hand, on purpose) because I thought it would be easier for the reader to interpret without having opened the book. You can checkout some of my other work here:

Do you have a book trailer?
No I don't.

What are your thoughts on book trailers?
I’m not a fan of book trailers, and here’s why. Firstly, I believe the magic in books has to do with the connection created between the writer and the reader, and it is a magic created by words. Not pictures. Also, a lot of the trailers I have seen are not done well and they don’t present the book or the author in the best possible light. If you're going to create a book trailer, remember that this is marketing: put that thought front and center and throw yourself into selling your book. Move me, make me want to open your book. I don't think you need a trailer for that - a good description and a favorable review will do nicely. My opinion is probably old-fashioned, but it's what I believe.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read. Read as much as you can, and as widely as you can. That's hardly a painful task, now is it?

What is the best advice that you have ever been given when it comes to writing?
There is a piece in Stephen King's "On Writing" that I love: "Now comes the big question: What are you going to write about? And the equally big answer: Anything you damn well want. Anything at all ... so long as you tell the truth." That opened up the world of writing for me, gave me the creative freedom I was looking for, and reminded me to ground my fiction in reality.

Do you write under a pen name?
No. It's hard enough as it is without having to be someone else.

Do you ever write in your PJ’s?
I have never tried. Another one for the bucket list?

Cats or dogs?
Cats – I have a character-reformed feral cat, Cookie, the scourge of anything small, furry and squeaky, who graces us with his presence.

White wine or red?
Depends on what I’m eating, but red usually.

Coffee or tea?
Coffee in the morning, tea at any other time.

Vanilla or chocolate icecream?
I'd actually prefer chocolate over either of them.

What do you normally eat for breakfast?
Granola, fruit and yogurt.  Disgustingly healthy.

What are 4 things you never leave home without?
Keys, wallet, glasses and pants – had one too many of those dreams to take a chance on the latter.

Laptop or desktop for writing?
Laptop – I’m a MacBook Pro user. I haven't had a desktop for a number of years now and don't miss it, particularly when I kick back in my writing chair each morning with my trusty MacBook Pro firing up.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I write early in the morning before I go to work (I'm an IT pro) with the goal of 1000 words or more, and I sit in the little library in my house - this routine is carved in stone. I like early mornings best as my mind is clear, there are no distractions, and my imagination is free to roam. Usually the words come easily, but if not I can work late at night too, although I prefer to read in the evenings.

If you were deserted on an island, who are 3 famous people you would want with you?
John Lennon for entertainment, Julia Child to provide the food and drink, and Tom Baker as Doctor Who - that Tardis would really come in handy once the food and drink ran out.

One of your favorite quotes -
My mother said to me, “If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.” Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.
-Pablo Picasso

List 3 of your all time favorite books?
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Red Dwarf (All of the books, even though this is cheating) by Grant Naylor

List 3 of your all time favorite movies?
The Godfather
Play It Again, Sam
Star Wars (Part IV)

Where can your readers stalk you?
My Goodreads author page:
Twitter: @Parr_Alan and!/Parr_Alan

Is your book in Print, ebook or both?
E-book (Smashwords currently).


The Earth's technology-addicted culture is wiped out during a singularity in which time is outstripped by events. The planet is recreated from scratch by the process of Renewal. Stig is the lone survivor in a new world where gods and magic have returned, where time does not yet exist, and a single piece of technology survives despite being reduced to the intellectual capacity of a hair dryer.

Extended Description

In a time born of technology so advanced it runs the planet, in a place that smells of melting plastic and weapons-grade coffee, there emerges a boy. Stig defies the iFriend technology culture and becomes the only survivor of a singularity in which time is outstripped by events and the Earth disappears in an embarrassingly small flash of light around dinnertime (but doesn't make the news). Fortunately there is a divine plan B, known as Renewal. Humanity is given the chance to start over, and Stig finds himself living in a place where gods and magic have returned, where time does not exist, and a single iFriend unit survives despite being reduced to the intellectual capacity of a hair dryer. Pursued by gods, hunted by a six-legged dog with a stick obsession, and guided by Old Father Time, Stig must stay one heart-pounding step ahead while learning to survive in a beautiful but primitive new world.

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