Dickson Telfer, author

Q & A with Dickson Telfer

Dickson Telfer, authorWith less than a month until the launch of his debut novel The Red Man Turns to Green, writer, performer and all round nice guy Dickson Telfer has taken 5 minutes out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for us. Here’s the questions asked and answers that were given.
  What is the book’s genre/category?
Literary fiction.  Slice of life. Short story collection.
Please describe what the book is about
The craziness, loveliness and absurdities of life, brought to you by spiders, gloss paint, shopping and a little green pill.
Where do you do your writing?
At home on a recliner, at lunchtime in the office, on the train using the good old-fashioned biro/moleskin combo.
What led you to write this book?
I did martial arts for ten years, which I had to quit after badly hurting my back.  After I was back on my feet, I had lots of energy but nothing to channel it into.  I had always fancied writing short stories so decided to give it a bash and found it incredibly cathartic.  All the energy, passion and frustration I expelled at martial arts came out on the page and stage, making me keen to climb through the writing/performing equivalent of the belt divisions.
How long did it take you to write this book?
All in, a couple of years.  The last quarter was done in about a month but a lot of the older stories went through several drafts as I applied new knowledge and experience to make them sharper/leaner/tighter. The Red Man Turns to Green by Dickson Telfer
How did you find/choose your publisher?
Alan Bissett offered me a support slot for an event he was doing in Dunfermline as part of the Fife Book Festival in October 2012.  Moira McPartlin was also on the bill and did a reading from her excellent novel The Incomers.  At the break, I picked up her book to read the blurb and took a note of the publisher.  The next day, I went onto the Fledgling website and was pleased to see they accepted unsolicited manuscripts.  Dr Pepper style, I thought ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ picked three stories and sent them in with a synopsis.  I got a reply after three days asking for more material.  Involuntary air-punching occurred to shoulder pain proportions.
What did you learn/surprised you most about the publishing process?
I learned that I work well when given a deadline.  Fledgling gave me three weeks to get a draft to them and although I had all my ideas jotted down, I still had several stories to write.  It was manic but it got me really focussed, which I found enjoyable and rewarding; I think the material I wrote in that short period is some of my best. I was a little surprised at how accommodating and relaxed the process was.  The staff at Fledgling are a great laugh and are very supportive of other commitments I have, like, oh yeah, the F/T job.  This was only surprising in contrast to things I had read online about certain publishers suffocating authors with demands and being inflexible during the editing process.
What would you have done differently given the chance?
Hmm, nothing to be honest.  It’s been a smooth process and a great experience.
Do you have a writer platform setup? Eg: Facebook, Twitter, blog etc
I have a general Facebook account where I just blether and comment on the zaniness of the world, but I do use it to promote events too.  Twitter, I use for writer/book stuff but I rarely get time to make best use of it.  I don’t have a blog at the moment, again due to lack of time, but it is something I’d like to give a bash in the future.
What do you like to share on this platform?
News about events I’m performing at; books/writers/music/films I like; gripes about rubbish music, litter and Scotrail apologies.
What’s your best piece of advice for authors trying to break through?
Write about what you know.  There’s no point in writing about business executives in New York if you live in Cowdenbeath and work in a carpet shop. Write about what you love. Write about what you fear. Consider your reader. Avoid clichés, double adjectives and drawn-out descriptions. And don’t worry if you write a lot of rubbish. We’ve all done it.  It’s an important part of honing your craft. You’ll look back and laugh one day. Honest. The best thing about writing is that you are totally in control.  In bands, there are other musicians.  In martial arts, there are opponents.  With writing, there’s just you and word after word after word after word.  You have the power to create whatever you like.
Something personal about you that people may be surprised to know?
I’m notoriously tidy.  I like Midori.  I use a spirit level more than is necessary.
Favourite movie?
Taxi Driver
Website(s) www.dicksontelfer.co.uk   The Red Man Turns to Green will be available to buy from 6 June 2013 directly from Fledgling Press and all good bookshops.

One thought on “Q & A with Dickson Telfer

  1. Pingback: Book Launches at Waterstone’s – The Red Man Turns to Green | dicksontelfer

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