Leeds-born Raymond Ross began writing and self-publishing his own novels after a holiday in Eilat 16 years ago. JLife chatted to him about how he caught the writing bug and to discover top tips for aspiring wordsmiths…
What is your background?
I was born in Leeds before being whisked away to Israel where my family resided for 10 years. We then moved to Prestwich in North Manchester. I was educated at King David High School and then at University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.
Roz and I met at one of the many popular Jewish dances, and in 1973, we settled in Liverpool. I formed Rayross Print Factory in 1976 and I am pleased to say the business is still active. We brought up our children in Liverpool and had 41 wonderful years there.
Two years ago we decided to move to Leeds to be closer to our children, Jonathan and Rochelle, and our seven grandchildren. Our other child, Olivia, recently relocated to Australia with her husband and their daughter.
How did you get started in writing?
Because of work schedules I tended to only read during holidays. In 2000, I was looking forward to a peaceful read by the hotel’s swimming pool in Eilat. I opened the book and after about a couple of hours reached page 50. I don’t profess to be the fastest of readers, but I do know a good book and this one was just dull, lacked speed and enjoyment. I turned to my son, Jonathan and said to him: “The three books I brought on holiday are awful. I could do better.”
I discussed with him the idea of Eilat being a perfect setting for a rags to riches story. We lived in Liverpool at that time, so I decided I would create a young Scouser called Sam and opened the book with him being chased by police through the streets of Liverpool. I borrowed my son’s word processor and by the time we had reached home, I had written three chapters of Destiny Dawns.
Now 16 years later, I have completed two novels, three children’s books and I’m currently working on a third novel.
What has the response been like?
The response from friends and family was amazing. Even strangers showed admiration. Generally the comment has been “Oh I wish I could write”.
I also wrote The Baltic Jewel while living in Liverpool. The Jewish community was very generous in purchasing copies, and their contributions rose over £1,000 for the Liverpool Jewish Stapley Care Home.
Who are your writing inspirations?
My main inspiration for writing has come from reading all the novels of Robin Cook. These titles include Coma, Foreign Body, Invasion, Outbreak and Terminal. Other authors who give me great creativeness are Harold Robbins, Sidney Sheldon, James Patterson and Jeffrey Archer. Generally I like speed and being left at an end of a chapter wanting to read on.
What are the benefits of self-publishing?
Prior to the internet it was very difficult to self-publish. An author was expected to proceed via a literary agent who would examine the work before approaching a publisher. This process is still in place but with the internet authors can create a website, list the work on Amazon and the Kindle.
The main benefit of self-publishing is that the author has complete control of their work, as well as being able to market more extensively and have closer control of expenses. And there are rogue publishers too, who will delight authors with an acceptance of their work and then demand all sorts of payments towards marketing, printing and administration.
What tips would you offer to someone thinking of writing fiction for the first time?
It is easier to write about something you have experienced and to have the background in geographical places you are familiar with. But whichever subject you decide to write about, you will need to plan it out. Try to establish a beginning, middle and an ending to your story.
Discover the magic of writing: as you put pen to paper, ideas will begin to flow into your head, similar to real life when you encounter different situations and conditions. Your mind is constantly drawing on its experience to move forward.
Don’t worry too much about the ending. It will find itself. Your goal is to finish the book and then enjoy your achievement. Remember it is not about being the next JK Rowling or Frederick Forsyth, but the journey of doing something new. Start now!
What are you working on next?
I am halfway through writing my third adult fiction. This one is about revenge and the title is 72 Hours, which as the title suggests, is very pacey. I hope to complete the book early next year.