BEST-SELLER Graham Minett gave an insight into life as an author to a group of his readers at Bognor Regis Library.
Graham spoke about his success as a published writer – GJ Minett – after 45 years working in the education sector.
He also portrayed the stages his thrillers go through before his first draft becomes an e-book and then a paperback to sell tens of thousands of copies.
His third book, Anything For Her, is due out next month and he read two excerpts to illustrate his writing style.
“As I have done every single time so far, I get the main character. I get to know that character really well,” he said. “Once I have done that, I know what their weaknesses are – their Achilles heel – and I come up with a situation where that Achilles heel is put to the test.
“I also plan everything in the book thoroughly. Authors fall into two categories – planners and ‘pantsers’, those who fly by the seat of their pants, and I’m one of the former.”
The publisher’s editor makes pages of suggestions, of which Graham said 60 per cent were sensible, 20 per cent were up for debate and the rest he resisted.
The publishing company devises the covers and arranges distribution of the paperbook versions. The book is the property of the firm for which Graham receives a lump sum followed by royalties once sales equal that sum.
Pagham resident Graham has been tied into two two-book deals and has to produce 30,000 words of his fourth book by the end of next month – and he has yet to start writing. But Graham has been writing all his life from primary school. He studied languages and became head of languages at Felpham Community College for 17 years and worked for ten years at Angmering School.
He was an assistant head and drew up the school’s timetables. But the writing bug lingered in spite of failing in his 20s to find an agent.
He eventually retired from education at 55 at the urging of his wife, Elaine, and enrolled on a two year creative writing MA course at the University of Chichester.
“I learnt I was not as clever as I thought I was, knew I had to change the way I operated and I also ended up with ten short stories which I could use to create my CV,” he said.
The first three of those stories gained competition successes and the opening chapter of one, inspired by the 1960s real-life case of child murderer Mary Bell, was instantly accepted by an agent.
A publisher was soon found and the e-book followed. “Nothing happened for a long time and then everything took place at once,” he said. “I am the most drawn out overnight sensation you have ever heard of.”
Among the 30-plus audience at the lunchtime talk was Felpham resident Alan Readman. He said: “It’s interesting to hear how authors develop their ideas. I’m impressed with the university’s creative writing course – a number of its students have been successful.”