Author interview with Andy Coffey

Author interview with Andy Coffey

Author bio: 
After a brief foray into music journalism, and an attempt at rock superstardom in the late eighties, Andy eventually carved out a successful career in something called 'IT' for the best part of twenty years, attaining a Senior Management position in a company dealing with software production and IT service management. He tells me that he was a bit of a guru, by all accounts. 

However, the music bug never really left him, and in fact he recorded two albums with his band, 'The Quest', in the nineties (he tells me that the second one was really good). Oh, he plays drums, and apparently his drum kit is nearly as big as Agnar's.
He also developed an interest in music technology and composition. This initially caused him some confusion as he had to learn to play keyboards, discovering that hitting them with drumsticks didn't really achieve the desired results… and was more expensive. 

He lives with his partner, Jo, and their cat (Theo) in a little town called Frodsham, in the UK. Apparently they can fart whenever and wherever they like. He has a son, Adam; a step-daughter, Zoë, and a step-son, Johnny.


Hi Andy, welcome over at The Book Plank and for taking your time to answer these few questions for us

BP: First off, could you give us a short introduction as to who Andy Coffey is? What are your hobbies, likes and dislikes?
AC: Andy Coffey – he’s an odd character! Drummer, ex-music journalist, former Senior Manager in IT, radio presenter, crumpet-lover, songwriter, and a person who has far too many wacky ideas for his own good! But seriously, I love music – both listening to and creating, books (obviously), metaphysics and the universe, playing drums, my family, cats, football, TV dramas (!), the odd glass of whiskey, and creating from ideas.

BP: The Sacred Wind comic book / music album is your debut into the fantasy fiction, when and where did you decide that you wanted to become an author?
AC: Well, although the Sacred Wind books have some artwork, they are actually fully-fledged books (nearly 125,000 words across the three volumes!). If I could draw they probably would be comic books, but I’m completely hopeless! As for becoming an author, it was never an intention of mine until the idea for Sacred Wind popped into my head a few years back.  I would write the odd funny story or sketch from time to time, but I never thought I had the discipline or drive to write a complete novel. That was a surprise, I can tell you!

BP: Writing a debut is daunting task, how did you went about it and plan it?
AC: Interestingly, the idea for the story and characters came pretty quickly, so I started writing notes; ideas for scenes, plot, characters, anything that could be relevant. As I had lots of ideas for the Sacred Wind songs too, I tended to move between book planning and songwriting in the early stages. Then I wrote about 10,000 words of the book before leaving it to one side to finish the songwriting and recording. Once I was happy that the songs were in a mature enough state, I went back to the book in earnest and wrote for at least one hour a day, six days a week for eight months. I knew that if I didn’t discipline myself in this way, then I’d never finish it! But, and this is a key point, after the music was finished I probably spent as much time editing as I had spent writing. I had some kind people helping me with proof-reading, but I conducted at least six full edits of the book before I was satisfied with it. The first draft was 140,000 words but the released complete trilogy is about 123,000 words. Although it wasn’t just a case of ‘delete, delete, delete’, I was re-writing and adding at the same time. It was interesting that, by the end of the book, I was a completely different writer to the person who started it! So, the last two full edits early in 2014 were crucial, not just for grammar and typos, but for things like changes in sentence construction etc. It was like a massive polishing exercise, and absolutely necessary.

BP: What gave you the idea behind the story of Sacred Wind?
AC: To this day, I honestly don’t know where it came from. The idea for this Welsh Viking Flatulence Rock band, that live in an alternative reality in Llangollen, just popped into my head… to be followed by a torrent of other ideas. And the ideas just kept coming, but the main plot about them having to play in a music tournament to defeat an evil Baron appeared very early on!

BP: You also introduce a music album to the Sacred Wind comics, what gave you the idea of also using a music experience for Sacred Wind next to the story?
AC: That came straight away. Right from the outset I decided to write an album of music that wasn’t a soundtrack but was the debut album by the fictitious band in the book, Sacred Wind. I even came up with most of the song titles in the first hour or so! Mind you, I knew I’d have to find a singer, because although I was sure that I could write the music, lyrics and even the vocal melodies, my singing scares cats! So, Bernard DeSeck (vocals) and Dennis Cupp (who recorded the vocals and mixed the album) did a fantastic job. It was also a bit of a transatlantic venture, as they are both based in Memphis, in the US. Kevin Nix (from L Nix Mastering, also in Memphis) did a brilliant job with the mastering, too. The album sounds enormous! I also think that Sacred Wind may be unique in this sense, i.e. a book with an accompanying music album by characters in the book!

BP: if you would have to sell Sacred Wind with a single sentence how would it go?
AC: Can it be a long one! Here goes:
So, if you want to delve into a book where curries will make you laugh, where sheep will make you cry, where no-one sniggers when your first name is ‘Oldfart’, where you’ll cheer quite a lot at the bits that have obviously been written to incite cheering, where you’ll think about faeries in ways you really shouldn’t, where you’ll be even more scared of Traffic Wardens than you ever thought possible, where vacuum cleaners get possessed, where Welsh Vikings can have platonic relationships with English sheep, where you’ll finish reading the story with a smile on your face and warmth in your heart, and where you’ll want to read more as soon as you’ve finished, then Sacred Wind is the book for you…

BP: Did you encounter any specific problems in writing Sacred Wind?
AC: Strangely enough, no. Other than making sure I was disciplined in my writing schedule. The whole process was like some odd kind of creative osmosis. I always seemed to have ideas, which I’m very thankful for.

BP: What has been the hardest part in writing Sacred Wind?
AC: Keeping at it when you really don’t feel motivated. I suffered quite an extended period of ill-health during the whole creation process, but I always kept in my mind something that Terry Pratchett had once said, ‘always write at least 300 words a day’. So I did. And on many occasions, when I really had to force myself to write, I’d produce some really good stuff, from out of nowhere.

BP: Besides the hardest part, which chapter/scene did you enjoy writing about the most?
AC: Ooh, that’s a tough one. But, there’s quite a sad section in the book when one of the most-loved characters passes away. Just for a short moment the emotion shifts from adventure and fun to something quite serious, and I really enjoyed the challenge of creating that flow. There’s also a lot of nice imagery, but not too overblown or sentimental (at least I hope not). It’s chapter 34 in Book 3 (and in the Complete Trilogy).

BP: If you would be given the chance to retract Sacred Wind and make one final adjustment, would you do so? If yes, which parts and why?
AC: Actually, and I hope this doesn’t come across wrong (!), I went through that many edits during the final phase that I’m really happy with it as it stands. I would have liked more artwork (as there are only five illustrations in the book, not counting the cover), but Joe (Latham – Artist) did so much for free and I only had a limited budget. Perhaps in the future.

BP: Sacred Wind will features four books so far, do you have any other plans or projects that you wish to pursue in the near future?
AC: As well as the three main volumes (also available as The Complete Trilogy), there’s also a small book of appendices (that is also available as part of The Complete Trilogy). In the short term I’m planning another book of appendices, which will hopefully provide some more humorous history of Sacred Wind world. I’ve also invented quite a few new characters via the radio show I present (in the guise of Oldfart Olafson, Sacred Wind’s manager), with my friend Joey Rennot, on Halton Community Radio 92.3FM. These include DJ Brap (music and rapping) and the village of Crumpeton (like Downton Abbey… but populated by crumpets!). Although these characters didn’t appear in the first book, it’s very likely that they’ll in the sequel, although ‘Crumpeton Tales’ may get released separately, and we’re planning to record some episodes for audio book or radio. And I’m also in the process of recording Sacred Wind the Audio Book, so that’ll be quite a challenge.

BP: Everyone enjoys science fiction and fantasy in their own way, what do you like most about it?
AC: As a writer, that it can be whatever you want it to be. The only limits are your imagination. As a reader, I love the whole concept of escapism, and science fiction and fantasy capture that like no other genre, in my opinion.

BP: If you would have to give your top 5 favorite books, which would they be?
AC: For fiction? Well, if I can include a series as one book (…please?!), and in no particular order: Lord of the Rings, The Belgariad (by David Eddings), The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Series, The Stand (Stephen King) and Ghost Story (Peter Straub).

BP: And just lastly, can you give us a sneak peak as to what will be in store for the readers of Sacred?
AC: A lively adventure story, with many comical moments and some very endearing characters. It’s filled with conscious curries, magic cheese, sexy faeries, telepathic cats, headbanging sheep, protesting pigs, an evil Baron, a rather surprising troll, incompetent pirates, a failed wizard who is an excellent chef, two spies disguised as Vagrant Vacuum Cleaner Exorcists, and a Welsh Viking Flatulence Rock band…

BP: Thank you for your time Andy and good luck with your future writing!
AC: Thank you!


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