Author Interview: Seb Jenkins
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About Seb Jenkins
Seb Jenkins grew up in Bedfordshire in the UK, and read books religiously from an early age. A strong interest in Horror and Action Young Adult novels such as Darren Shan and Cherub later carved a desire to write his own material, pitched towards his younger teen self.
Fast forward to age 21, Seb is just finishing up his zombie survival series Life After Death, with the third and final instalment now underway. You can find all of his material on his Wattpad account, and on Amazon.
Where and when did you first know that you wanted to become a writer?
I was quite late to the game of actually writing my own content. Obviously, I was really into books as a kid growing up, and I had always had a good imagination, but it never occurred to me to write my own stuff. As I was finishing my last couple of years at school, I started to jot down odd ideas for stories, characters, and plot twists, and after a year or so, I found myself with a detailed plan for Life After Death. It was at that point I decided to give writing a real go.
Who is your favourite author, and can you give us their best quote (in your opinion)?
Stephen King is obviously a huge inspiration as a wannabe Horror writer—what he has done for both page and screen is simply astounding. I think my favourite quote has to be:
'Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.'
How long did it take you to write your first novel?
The actual writing stage of my first novel took just over a year, but I haven't yet come back around to the editing stage yet. I had to juggle my writing with full-time education, and then a uni degree, so things moved a little slower than I would have liked. But finishing that first novel is an amazing feeling.
Do you plan out your novels or just start writing?
For novels, I think it is key to plan before writing. I believe that without a long and thought-out planning stage, you end up with mistakes and work that probably isn't your best. My favourite stories are those with intricate plots, twists that make you think and scream inside—you don't get those without planning. If we're talking about short stories, though, it can sometimes be fun to just start writing and see where it takes you. Freestyling can lead to some very interesting shorts.
Description or dialogue?
I would say that my dialogue is far better than my description, and I love creating a sense of humour for my characters through their speech...but I would still have to go for description. It allows you to paint a whole picture for your novel, as well as inner thoughts and feelings for your characters. There's something fun about really setting a scene, and describing every single nook and cranny, so that it almost becomes a photograph in your reader's mind.
Have you ever read your book reviews/comments, and if yes, what did you think of them?
I mainly use Wattpad, so the reviews and comments ping straight to my phone. I would like to say that I don't read them, but I read and often reply to every one. The Wattpad community is generally there to offer praise, point out mistakes, and hand out constructive criticism. I can honestly say that I am a far better writer after reading these comments.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
One hundred percent. Anyone who says they don't is either a liar, or has never written a long-form story. Writer's block is natural. You can't expect plot details, and descriptions, and metaphors to roll continuously from your head like an unlimited loo roll. Sometimes you just need to take a break, or even a day or two, then come back to a scene, and suddenly, it all flows again.
What has been the most difficult challenge you’ve had to face as a writer?
I think establishing a loyal readership is the most challenging thing for any author. Setting up my profile on Wattpad for the first time ever, I had no content, no followers, and no author friends. It's an incredibly drawn-out slog to get from that point to a steady number of reads and dependable fellow authors, but it's definitely worth it.
What is the best purchase you’ve ever made as a writer?
I recently decided to pay someone far more qualified to design my covers for me, and it already looks like a great investment. People always say, 'Don't judge a book by its cover,' but we all do it, everyone does. Having a set of cool, eye-catching covers instantly draws people in, and I'm very glad that I did it.
Which software or platform do you use to write your books?
I use Wattpad, and cannot urge people enough to come and join. It offers the chance to both share your own work, and to view other talented authors'. Some of my favourite ever books have been written by indie Wattpad writers. It is also just one big community—these aren't selfish robots at the other end of another computer screen, they are like-minded people with like-minded goals, and I have made many friends off the back of this. If you want to become a better writer, Wattpad is the place to go.
What does literary success mean to you?
That's difficult to answer. In one sense of the word, I would deem myself successful on a personal note if I continued to write and improve, as it's my passion and I enjoy it. But I suppose when the term success is used, you think of commercial success, and I would only ever think of myself as a 'successful author' if I managed to get my work published and read by a large number of people.
What’s your favourite self-editing technique?
I like to complete a novel or piece of work before I even think about editing. This way, by the time I go back to chapter one, it was written about a year ago and seems completely new and fresh. This makes it easier for me to distance myself from my own writing.
Are you working on a novel right now? If yes, can you tell us a little about it?
I am in the early planning stages of a new novel, Fate or Fortune. It is based around a low-level journalist, who is struggling to make a name for himself, constantly sent out on these wishy-washy features that don't really challenge him. One day he is sent out to a local psychic community to interview one of their members. After she predicts a grave danger for the man and his family, he puts it down to the eccentric nature of fortune tellers. But when his family are brutally murdered, he has to find out whether she had anything to do with it, or whether she really is psychic.
Where is your favourite place to write?
I'm a big fan of typing at my desk, in silence. Anything else and I just get too distracted.
Has a reader's opinion ever impacted on your plans for a novel/series?
I wouldn't say that a reader's opinion has ever changed what I was originally going to do. Generally, with novels, I plan them out as detailed as I can, and stick to that plan quite tightly. Havi