Featured Member – Andy McDermott
Interview with Andy McDermott
This started out as a normal Member of the Month interview. However, Andy proved to be a mine of information and very entertaining so here it is in his own voice for everyone’s pleasure.
Q. Where were you born?
A. I was born in Nottingham in the UK. Nottingham as I’m sure you already know is famous for the legend of Robin Hood. It’s a beautiful city, lots of history: Nottingham Castle, Sherwood Forest, the Trip To Jerusalem (the oldest pub in Britain, est. 1189), the home of Lord Byron and of course the birthplace of one of the greatest writers…no not me…DH Lawrence.
Q. How did you go at school?
A. ‘When I was at school they didn’t have ADHD, thick was the term they used for me!’ Robbie Williams.
I look back on school with mixed emotions. I enjoyed art and English, and most sports, but I can’t say I was particularly good at any of them. I do remember going through a stage when I was writing poetry, and even got one published in the school magazine.
Q. What about writing – when did you start getting into it?
A. I’d always had ideas and stories in my head but never did anything with them. I played in a band in the eighties and somewhere still have a book of about 100 songs that I wrote. Later for a living I wrote Computer Aided Design programmes for a furniture company. In those days (gosh that makes me sound old) we used to write the code in long hand then have to type it into a CNC machine.
I also used to read to my kids every night at bedtime and when we didn’t have a book I used to make up stories for them. This practice soon became more popular than The Famous Five, and my daughter, now 27, still remembers many of the stories.
In 1999 the protagonist of The Tiger Chase appeared from nowhere and pestered me to write the book. I finally gave in, sat down and wrote 150,000 words in six months.
The story began its life with a single character who for some reason hated cats. Perhaps it was payback for him hassling me, but there was a need to make this guy pay, big time. The story evolved into him having to travel 2000 miles across America in a station wagon with a fully-grown tiger in the back. Grrr!
Q. What were the highs and lows of ‘Tiger Chase’?
A. Highs: finishing it, getting a publisher, doing the American book tour, inspecting an animal sanctuary in Pasadena, finishing the book tour in Las Vegas.
Lows: working with an editor for the first time and realising just how hard this writing gig is: self-publishing a revised edition and not having it edited professionally was Bad! Bad! Bad! (Something that I have since rectified and will never let happen again!)
Q. What was your mission whilst GCWA president?
A. I was president of the GCWA for two years from 2005 – 2007. I took over when, I feel, the club was at a low point. It needed a new direction. My philosophy was simple, give the club back to the members and see what happens. I was fortunate to attract a like-minded committee made up of writers who shared the motivation and belief that we could create a great place for writers.
Some of the things we did during those two years were:
- Taking control of the GCWA website for the first time. We did a complete overhaul of the site and arranged for hosting by a Bond Uni professor at no cost.
- Introducing the eWriteabout with the idea of gradually phasing out the old print version that was very expensive to produce.
- We overhauled and updated the club rules for the first time in thirteen years and created new positions on the sub-committee to ease the burden on the committee and encourage member involvement.
- We introduced ‘Members Time’ at the monthly meetings: members were invited to tell us about their projects and gain the experience of speaking in front of a group.
- Quality speakers were sourced from QWC as well as elsewhere. We successfully applied for government grants, which allowed us to stage regular full day workshops with well-known authors such as Simon Higgins and Louise Cusack etc. All at a subsidised price of $25.00 to members.
- We also used council grants to purchase a new computer, a projector; a photocopier, and software.
- Paint and Prose: we teamed up with the Australian Royal Arts Society and paired off members of each club to create joint works of writing and art, culminating in a gala evening at the Broadbeach gallery with prizes and a celebrity speaker.
- We ran the children’s writing competition in conjunction with Austar, who donated prizes and $2000 for the winning entires two years running. Judges were sourced from Griffith Uni, Bond and local high schools.
- The Editing scheme: we formed a manuscript submission group and invited members to send in their manuscripts. Each month the group would select an ms, which would then be professionally edited free of charge.
- We ran bus trips to Byron Bay Writers’ Festival first year and the Brisbane Writers’ Festival the second year: we hired a bus and supplied members with free transport and subsidised tickets to the festivals.
- We implemented The Annual Achievement award and lifetime members shield.
- We introduced the Suggestions Box.
- We filled the room to capacity every month and increased membership, which increased the coffers and allowed us to offer all the above.
Q. How did you start your company Publicious, and why?
A. During my time as the GCWA president I realised that there were many writers with great stories who would probably never get published because they’d either been rejected by agents or publishers in the past, or would have liked to self-publish but didn’t know where to start. As a self-published author myself, I’m well aware of all the pitfalls out there that many self-published authors can fall into. And it saddens me to hear some of the horror stories about authors being ripped-off.
I’ve learned my trade the hard way and perfected it so that I’m now in a position where I can help my fellow writers to achieve their dreams of publishing a good quality book. I’m proud to say that the quality of the books we produce are way better than any of the other publishing providers out there, are more affordable, and all our services come with that good old-fashioned service.
We also distribute books worldwide and have clients in the USA, Brazil, UK and New Zealand as well as all over Australia.