Interview with Ian Ford on Smaswords

Below is a copy of an interview conducted with author Ian Ford that can be found at the Smashwords website by clicking here

When did you first start writing?

I’ve been writing pretty much all my life since I was at primary school and wrote my own version of The Little Shop of Horrors, disturbing my 6th grade teacher in the process (If I remember correctly the plant ate all the other characters (including Seymour) quite graphically and was ruling the world by the end).
Life kind of got in the way in adulthood and although I kept starting stories I never seemed to have the time to finish them, with teaching giving me so little spare time (for those who think that all teachers do is holiday then you are WRONG).
Now I am a full time author I have the time required to go back and finish those stories and I look forward to you getting a chance to read them.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
My latest book, The Inspection: Part One, draws heavily on my own terrifying experiences working as a teacher during one of the most stressful events known to man – a government inspection. In creating the book I wanted to install in the reader the sort of terror and constant tension that goes hand in hand with one of these inspections but also highlight the gallows humour it brings out of people. The majority of the story is based on real events, although highly exaggerated, and my won observations.
It follows two characters during an inspection day: Sam an honest teacher in the process of being unfairly sacked by the school and Millie the girl who helped create the lie that led to this. Throw in a blood thirsty inspection team; an immortal Lead Inspector and a faculty of misfits and you have a violent, dark comedy that will leave you guessing who will survive right to the very end.
Part one of the four part story follows Sam as he prepares for his disciplinary with the corrupt leadership team of King Henry’s School in the small Derbyshire village of Redlock. Millie, having being drawn into the web of lies that have led to Sam’s current situation, is having a morality crisis and is on the verge of confessing all.
Both their days, however, are about to take a much darker turn as Mr Amarande and his team of immortal government inspectors arrive with one clear purpose – destroy everyone and everything deemed unacceptable.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My little boy and my partner. As someone who has suffered with mental health problems for many years, family means a lot to me and I couldn’t imagine living my life without them. The thought of seeing them, talking to them and holding them makes my life worthwhile and drives everything I do.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love to read, obviously and, when I can get my lovely partner to go with me, visit the cinema. Movies have always been a big part of my life and no matter what genre, actor or story is taking place the escapism they provide is priceless. My dream job would have been to be a director but events never conspired to let that happen.
I’m a big football fan and support Sheffield Wednesday, so most Saturdays come rain or shine you will find me on the kop at Hilsborough with my 11 year old boy.
I also run a resource web site for maths teachers with my partner and create the best selling Learning Ladders worksheets.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
As I stated on a previous question, I think the first ever story I wrote was a reworking of The Little Shop of Horrors. I don’t think it bore much of a resemblance with the original story and had more of a War of the Worlds vibe. I wrote it in year 6 or 7 I think and handed it in as homework to my English teacher. It was about 6 A4 pages long and was full of violence and gore. The teacher was a bit worried and I remember being asked to visit my head of year to discuss it. To my surprise she thought the story was really good and tried to persuade me to speak to the careers adviser about becoming a journalist. I don’t have the story anymore unfortunately.

Who are your favorite authors?
I grew up constantly looking forward to the next Stephen King book and must have read The Stand from cover to cover at least a dozen times. Mr King had a way of making lead characters interesting by casting them as not your typical good or bad guy archetypes. They were flawed and at times morally ambiguous but normally just average joe’s thrust into bad situations. I think this made them easy to identify with and root for, even though they didn’t normally survive to the end and sometimes acted questionably.
Clive Barker was another author I greatly admired. His books are always a jump into a dark, fantastical and deeply disturbing world that I find gripping. He’s another author who creates colourful and ambiguous characters and then places them in such wonderfully bizarre stories.
My final choice has to be Thomas Harris for two reason: Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon. These books took the serial killer genre to new heights of tension whilst grounding them in a reality that felt so authentic. Plus, of course, he created one of literatures greatest monsters, Hannibal Lecter.

What are your four favorite books, and why?
The Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I don’t think you will find this on many top five lists but as a closet archeologist in my youth I loved the wonderfully atmospheric, albeit fictionalised, description of New York’s Natural History Museum. It’s a cheesy B movie throwback with larger than life characters and an unstoppable monster that keeps the pace high to the final page. Like Silence of the Lambs crossed with The Blob.

Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris: Speaking of Silence of the Lambs, this book had to make it into my top five list. Hannibal Lecter is one of literatures greatest ever villains and the gripping atmosphere and attention to every realistic detail creates a tension that is rare.

Hot Zone by Richard Preston: Bit of a rarity on the list, a real life book highlighting the first outbreaks of the Ebola virus in Africa in the 70’s and 80’s. This book scared the shit out of me when I first read it due to it’s graphic depiction of the virus. The second part of the book flags a little but the first half reads like a tightly written thriller that is all the more terrifying because it is based on a true story.

The Stand by Stephen King: Randall Flag. Need I say more. A brilliantly written page turner that I read in a day I think first time around. The heroes are relatable. The villain is charismatic. And the story rips along. My favourite book of all time.

How do you approach cover design?
With great trepidation. Covers are so important in the visual world we live in and can be life or death to any book. It took me a long time to get a cover for the Inspection that not only effectively portrays the story but is visually pleasing too.
Getting the right cover can be an expensive task too. My suggestion is to start thinking about this as early as possible so you have enough time to source, create the right one without having to rely on last minute decisions. Plus it’s best to have a striking image ready for the all important pre-orders.

What are you working on next?
I’m currently putting the finishing touches to the second part of the Inspection series of books. After that I have a first draft already finished for a book about a serial killer called Redlock as well as an office based comedy that doesn’t have a name yet.

Describe your desk Messy.
Very messy. But I know where everything is so it’s an organised mess. Published 2017-06-08.

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