The Devil's Wave
Ever thought about writing a novel? dadzclub caught up with Andy Richards who has just self-published his first novel The Devil’s Wave.
Andrew (Andy) Richards is a writer, rugby coach, entrepreneur, and stay-at-home dad. Married with two young daughters and a son in college, Andy and his family live in Blacksburg, Virginia. He is a regular writer and contributor of rugby coaching columns for various publications and blogs. He was editor of his father’s non-fiction book Return to Aden (by Peter Richards, 2004). He and his wife, Melissa Farmer Richards, author a joint blog, Role-Reversal.com. The Devil's Wave is his first novel and is available from Amazon priced at £1.98
Read what Andy had to say about his experiences as a stay at home dad and author.
1. A recent report has highlighted a big increase in the number of stay at home dads.* Nearly half of those interviewed said they felt lucky to be able to spend time with their children. What did you find the best parts about your experience as a stay at home dad?
The best thing about being a stay at home dad is that you get to see first hand what an influence you can have on your kids’ lives. It’s not something you can quantify – you can’t give it a value figure or anything like that. It’s just a feeling you get that you are doing something that is really worthwhile.
My wife, Melissa, and I had a sharing routine that made a big difference. I would cook dinner, but she would take over the kids when she came home from work. This was a huge help and often different than how traditional families with working dads and stay-at-home-moms handle it.
2. On another note, 13% felt looking after the children was harder than going to work. What did you find the hardest parts of your experience?
Like it or not, it is in a man’s DNA to be the hunter-gatherer, and we all have to deal with this natural instinct. Whether there is still a public perception that men should go out and work, and women stay at home, I’m not sure. I certainly came across it several times. After 23 years in the British Army, I went from being responsible for people and lots of expensive equipment, to looking after a diaper bag and stroller. The secret is to always keep your sense of humour – sure it’s hard sometimes, but having a laugh about it -- and remembering why you are doing what you are doing -- will help.
You also have to find an outlet. For me it was rugby. My wife always supported me and made huge sacrifices so I could coach rugby. It was difficult because it took up a lot of time, but it helped me to concentrate on something else for a few hours most days.
I’m 50 years old this year and I have been a stay at home dad since I was 40. It was extremely hard, both physically and mentally at times. We never planned on me being a stay-at-home dad, it just worked out to be the best solution for our family. We had the added stress of our first daughter being born handicapped, which was hard on both counts. But the fact that you are on your feet all day running around after kids is tiring. Then when they are sleeping you have to catch up with everything you couldn’t do when they were awake.
3. You recently self-published your first novel, The Devil’s Wave. Is this a lifetime ambition achieved?
I have always wanted to write. Ten years ago I started writing several novels; it was more of a hobby and another outlet than anything else. Once the girls went to school, I tried writing as well as running my own business. But the writing got put on hold.
It’s only in the past 18 months that I considered myself a full time writer. Ten years of writing had left me with four uncompleted novels. I finally finished The Devil’s Wave in early 2011.
4. How would you best describe what the book is all about?
The book is an action packed thriller that involves a CIA agent, a scientist and terrorist’s hell bent on starting the biggest disaster the world has ever seen.
5. How did you come up with the idea for The Devil’s Wave?
About 10 years ago I watched a documentary about the island of La Palma. A scientist put forward a theory that volcanoes on the island will cause a large chunk of it to fall into the Atlantic Ocean. This displacement in the ocean would cause a huge wave, a mega-tsunami, which would destroy the east coast of the United States.
Most scientists are in agreement that it is going to happen. But it could be tens, if not hundreds of thousands of years from now. All I have done, is speed the timeline up a little, and added some bad guys.
6. For those people out there who don’t know could you talk through how you go about getting self-published?
Self-publishing, or vanity press as it used to be called was a dirty word in the publishing industry up until recently, is something most agents and publishing houses say you should never do if you want to be taken seriously as a writer. But all that has changed with the launch of e-book readers like Kindle and Nook.
You need to still go through the painstaking process of writing and editing your work. Don’t be in a rush – make it as perfect as you can. Once it is ready you need to format it so it can be converted to an e-book. The Amazon website walks you through the whole process once you have opened an account. Then you have to market it yourself. Receiving a portion of the proceeds of the sale is great. You are reaping the rewards of your hard work.
7. What were the best and worst bits about your experience of writing a novel?
There are many worst bits, really. It’s hard work -- make no doubts about it. The worst thing of all about writing a novel is finding the time. Not just five minutes while the kids are taking a nap, but two to three hours of peace and quiet with no interruptions. Being distracted by email and the Web while you are working on the computer does not help. My advice is to turn it off while you work. Also, concentrating one book at a time is crucial. Having four or five unfinished projects can stifle motivation because you feel overwhelmed. And of course, there is that age-old writer’s terror called the rejection letter.
The best thing about writing is that you get to set your own hours. No one is leaning over your shoulder and checking on you. The age-old cliché about, ‘getting out only what you put in,’ is so true with writing.
Also, it doesn’t matter what sort of day you have had. When you open your document and start writing, you get to just leave all that behind, even for just an hour or two.
8. Any advice for dads out there who have an ambition to write a novel.
Winston Churchill once said, “Never, never, never quit.” That’s my best advice. Also, the more writing you do, the better you will get. Experiment, get your style, don’t be frightened that you don’t sound like Stephen King or Tolkien. Everyone has a voice. If people like what you are offering then they will keep coming back for more.
9. What do you hope the future holds with regards your writing?
I hope that I sell a million copies of my book and it is made into an Oscar winning film. But the chance of that happening is very slim and out of my control. What I can control is that over the next two years I want to have another three or four novels published as e-books and know that I have done everything in my power to make the public aware of what I’m offering. And maybe a publisher or film-director will pick one of them up.
HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED WRITING A NOVEL? DOES ANDY’S STORY INSPIRE YOU TO WRITE? LET US KNOW BY LEAVING A COMMENT BELOW
*Research carried out by Aviva in September/October 2011.