In today’s Indie Spotlight, I want to introduce you to a British Author whose works I have become fascinated with over the past year. Her name is May Jackie Panayi and as the title indicates she has written books across a number of genres, both fiction and non-fiction.
May first came to my attention when I read an “how to book” of hers about witchcraft. For a writer, this book struck me as an incredibly invaluable resource; as it detailed everything you ever wanted to know about “Wica”, but were afraid to ask – from a personal experience perspective.
I have since gone on to read two more of May’s books; Four to Dawn and Malbed Mews, both of which have intrigued me for totally different reasons.
Malbed Mews is out and out horror/paranormal. It is filled with delightful characters, plenty of suspense, action and oddball scenes. I thoroughly enjoyed May’s style and would highly recommend this book.
Four to Dawn was fascinating, for other reasons completely, which I won’t elucidate on here, as it might spoil the surprise. Needless to say, I was well satisfied when I turned the last page on this book.
I am thrilled today to have the opportunity to interview May and get some inkling of what goes on inside this eclectic indie writer’s brain. Please join me as we explore the intricacies of the world that is May Jackie Panayi!
1/ When and how did you first realise you wanted to be an author?
I wrote a poem when I was five and my Mum sent it to the local paper, who printed it. That kicked things off I guess. At seven I started writing a little magazine for a friend, but her Dad who was a Councilor used to look forward to reading it instead. My Uncle worked at Reuters News Agency. I thought for a while I wanted to be a journalist. Then I started writing poems and short stories for competitions. It just always stayed with me, I suppose.
2/ What authors have influenced you the most and who are your favourite authors?
Well I could try and be really highbrow here and list the literary greats; but when I curl up with a good book, my favourites are; Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Clive Barker. I really enjoy a good Joanne Harris too. Stephen King is my writing guru; he’s so prolific so readable, and so popular. His book, On Writing, is something I would recommend for all authors. Other influences include J.G. Ballard, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, Clifford D. Simak… too many to list really. I read prolifically and constantly, so favourites change a lot. But I always enjoy settling down with something new by a core favourite.
3/ What excites you most about writing?
Excites? Writing doesn’t really excite me. Selling books does! I feel inspired by writing. It’s something I have to work through and get out of my system, like a virus. A book irritates me like a stone in my shoe until I get it written. I’ve currently got seven stones in my shoe; which is pretty annoying as I don’t write that fast!
4/ What is the best book you’ve read in 2015?
One best book- really? Just A Drop In The Ocean by Grant Leishman was pretty darn brilliant. Blind Faith by Ben Elton stuck with me big time too, as did The Embroiderer by Kathryn Gauci.
5/ Your books seem to cover no discernible genre. I described you as an eclectic author. What motivates the direction of your stories?
It’s just whichever idea needs to come out first. I don’t really have much control over it. I’d like to say I’ve covered all the genres I’m going to, but that’s just not true. I’m currently writing Return to Aegos which is the second book in the Sun series, set in Greece. Then I have The Intensity of Movement, which is a very dark book about immigration and the dark side of people. Then I have a second collection of short stories coming up; Tales from the Library of a Twisted Mind. I also have an adult comedy about a group of Hippies in Space, an erotic story called Magenta, an adventure about Climate Change, and the third and final in the Sun series, In Search of Small Treasures. So, I’m staying with the eclectic I suppose.
6/ You have some awesome characters in your books – which one is your favourite and why?
I really like Guy from Malbed Mews; he’s the animus to my anima maybe. But my favourite has to be Ella Hudson [Ella Zacharoulis in Return to Aegos] from Sun, Sea and Secrets. She is everything I’d love to be; confident, optimistic, gregarious, and she eats and eats, and stays slim and gorgeous!
7/ At the end of Four to Dawn you made a very personal disclosure; no spoilers. What was it like opening yourself up to such public scrutiny by doing that?
Oh God! It still makes me cringe thinking about people reading it. It’s like walking on stage naked. I try not to think about it too much, but I’m glad I did it. It did purge a lot of stuff for me and allow me to move on.
8/ Is your writing cathartic for you? Please describe how your life experiences make your writing more potent.
Yes, as mentioned previously, it is cathartic. All life experiences are grist to the writer’s mill. Something happens in my life, I file it away for use in a book. For example, a couple of months ago, I watched a woman jump from a fifth floor balcony, committing suicide. It’s going in a book. Recently I had the experience of being a victim of racial abuse and had to go to the police. That experience and the feelings it brought, are going in a book. My life is a series of mental notes for books.
9/ Tell us one oddball thing (only one May!) about yourself and one mundane thing.
Okay, oddball…When I’m relaxing in the evening in front of the TV I do a collection of strange sofa dances and animal impressions, randomly, like a kind of controlled tourettes. It amuses my hubby no end. We both generally end up laughing. I don’t know why I do it, it’s just fun. Or maybe it lets the madness vent out a bit! I have considered filming it for YouTube and seeing if it goes viral, but I’m not ready yet for that kind of exposure.
Mundane…I love to cook. I like following recipes in books, and I like inventing my own stuff too.
10/ Who edits your books and how do you handle quality control?
I do first and third edit. Hubby reads and edits the second time. How much can you ever do as an Indie?
11/ How do you handle criticism of your work?
I don’t like it, who does? People say they want honest criticism and feedback, but when you give it they get defensive. Most people aren’t honest with themselves or don’t know themselves truly. I don’t mind helpful comments, if I can use them I will. I have learnt to ignore trolls, I do get a bit upset when I load an xls report and see a couple of returns; but out of hundreds, nay thousands, it’s nothing really. Even Stephen King gets trollish bad reviews. It only annoys me, because one bad review on top, can stop sales dead for a few days. That the trolls have that power in the indie system, makes me want to spit bricks.
12/ What advice would you have for aspiring authors?
Write, write and keep writing. Don’t stop. If you get blocked write something else, even a blog. I recently have been forming a new habit; it takes 21 days to form a habit apparently. I’m on day 18. It is, to write in the morning before I do anything else like turn my internet on, or go out in the world. It means nothing has a chance to affect my mood before I write. Less likelihood of block. My mind and then life, has thrown a lot at me in this 18 days, but I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now, I’m going to make it. It seems to be working.
13/ What is your favourite and least favourite thing about being a writer?
The independence from a workplace and a boss is my favourite thing. Least favourite thing is having to do my own promotion. It’s a whole other job that I didn’t sign up for. Sadly it’s the way the writing world works these days. Hopefully I’m over the hardest part of the learning curve.
14/ What makes you laugh?
Stuff that’s a bit out there I suppose. I laughed till I cried recently at a picture of a cat dressed in a white head dress and bomb belt. The cats freaking out at cucumbers video made me howl too. But it’s not just cats. I’m currently re-watching the series, Absolutely Fabulous, that makes me laugh lots. The alcoholic downstairs shouting something that for all the world sounded like “furry white women” made tears roll down my face, I laughed so hard. Lots of things really, but the world being crazy weird is the funniest.
15/ If you could have six people (living or dead) around for dinner, who would they be and why?
Johnny Depp, and not just because he would look pretty at the table! I’d like to talk to him about mental illness, as he has a thing for picking roles with disturbed characters. Also I’d like to talk to him about one of his more obscure films that is really great; called The Brave, and related to that, about his Native American heritage.
Stephen King because I’d want to chat lots about writing, his dark and twisted ideas, and his recovery from his near death experience.
Joanna Lumley because she has had a really interesting life, and although she clearly came from a privileged beginning, is really down to earth and seems genuinely nice.
Eddie Izzard because not only would he have everyone in stitches with his surreal humour, but he is an inspired and dedicated human of amazing stamina too. I’d love to talk about the things he pushes himself to do, like running.
Prince Charles, I think would be really interesting. He has interest in environment, architecture and organic gardening, I’d like to talk to him about all those things. Also he seems to have spent all his life waiting, which has to make him interesting to talk to. He has seen a different side of the world than the rest of us.
Can I invite God? Now that would make for some interesting dinner conversation! What to feed him though? Too stressful to cook, I’d have to get caterers. What a thing to put on your CV… caterers to God!
16/ Final question – Why should our readers buy a May Jackie Panayi book?
Because they want a good read!
Well, that, in a nutshell is the mind and thoughts of eclectic indie writer May Jackie Panayi.
Please do check out what she has to offer.
Her selection is varied and interesting. I have no doubt there is something there for everyone.
Thank you May, for your thoughts and your candidness,
Check out her books here:
http://tinyurl.com/q5tyyv8 (Amazon UK) or here:
I’m sure you will be satisfied that you did.
Until next week; thanks for reading and have a wonderful peace-filled day!
Interview was first published by Grant Leishman at: http://www.grantleishman.com/my-blog/may-jackie-panayi-the-eclectic-indie
For more information about Grant Leishman, visit: http://www.grantleishman.com/