Friday, 9 May 2014

In The Spotlight - Craig Williams


I am very excited to have Craig Williams in my Author Spotlight page today.

I have been a fan of his work for a good few years now, really ever since I discovered a website called The Dibb which is devoted to all things Orlando, Craig loves a Florida Holiday and has single handedly made donut burgers popular!  His reports are legendary and even his rucksack is famous!  

He has three books currently available (links below on the pics) two are devoted to his trip reports - Mkingdon's Tales of Family, Food and Florida along with MKingdon's Going Limp Tour and the third which I reviewed yesterday is his first venture in to the fiction market and is called All This and More.

Born and Bred in Bolton, he still lives there with his wife Louise and two daughters Emily and Rebecca along with their sheepdog Oli.  He can be found tweeting @mkingdon and he has his own blog at mkingdon.com

He very kindly answered my nosey questions!



You have been travelling to Orlando for a long time now, can you tell me a bit about when you first went there?

It was back in 1980. Yes, I know I don't look old enough!! My family were regular holiday makers to the Med, and I remember going to the travel agents in Bolton town centre with my Mum and Dad as we did every year to book something. Whilst going through the usual options in Spain, the travel agent said that as the dollar rate was so good (it was over $2.20 to the £) he could get us to Miami for less than Majorca. I don't know what made my parents decide to go for it but they did.

So many aspects of that trip are still so vivid. Small details of the flight, such as my Mum drinking Miami Whammies (don't ask me what was in them, I was ten), and the incredible beach at Miami. We only drove up to Orlando for a couple of days, staying in a Howard Johnson in Kissimmee, but from that moment I was hooked. There was only one Disney park then, the Magic Kingdom, but it just blew me away.

Somewhere in my parent's house is a menu from a restaurant called Pumpernickels in Miami. We asked to bring one home as we simply could not believe the variety, portion size and prices. My parents have a lot to answer for.

What made you decide to start writing your awesome trip reports?

The main reason was and is to record the holidays for my own benefit really. It is priceless to be able to go back and read about them in such detail. Every parent will appreciate how quickly time passes, and before you know it, your kids are driving, having boyfriends and living their own lives. My trip reports are a way of preserving some elements of the girls forever, and it is just lovely.

I'll also admit to using them as an outlet for my creative juices too. Once they started to get such a good reaction of course, it was nice to get the ego boost of all the lovely comments too, and it made them all the more enjoyable to do, knowing that others were enjoying them.

I love how you have Rebecca and Emily photographed at the front door at the start of each holiday, this is a tradition I have started now with my two daughters who are 5 and 7, do your girls still appreciate Disney as much as they did all those years ago?

Absolutely. They both still hold it very dear but I'd say Emily (my eldest, now 18) is the more obsessed. She has inherited my infatuation the most of the two. Disney plays a huge part in her life every day. Emily and I are the hard core Disney fans, with Louise (my wife) and Rebecca (my youngest,now 17) being slightly less obsessive. I'm pretty sure that whatever age the girls are, if we are doing a trip to Florida they will want to tag along.

Will we ever see you venture out west to Disneyland? I prefer Orlando I think California will be totally different and a lot busier, maybe Louise might not manage this long a flight!

It's definitely on the to-do list. We'd be very keen to see the original Disneyland of course, but we'd also like to explore the wider area including Vegas too. The flight would be a definite challenge for Louise, but that is why red wine and sedatives were invented.

How do the girls and Louise feel about having their entire holiday documented?

I think they have mixed feelings. Some times I include a little too much detail for their liking, or a photo that they don't feel is too flattering, but overall I think they are fine with it. As the girls are getting older they too are starting to enjoy going back to earlier holidays and reading about things they have little or no memory of.

It has been a little surreal at times when we have been in Florida and we have been approached by strangers who have recognised us from reading the trip reports. It is probably the closest I'm going to get to being famous!

The bottom line for the girls is that if I'm paying, they are in the trip report. It's an easy choice really.

The question on everyone lips, when are you going next?

The easy answer is, as soon as possible. I know for sure, barring a lottery win, that it won't be this year. Louise is back at University studying to be a nurse, so until she qualifies we have to concentrate on funding things like food, heat and clothes. As soon as she is employed again, and funds allow we will be there. We all miss it and can't wait to get back.

How is Ryan (regular trip reports readers will know who he is!! - he is Craig's rucksack which has it's own celebrity status)?

Yes he's fine. He sits poised in the wardrobe until his time comes again!

All This and More is brilliant, is writing something you have always wanted to do from a young age or has it been a case of writing the trip reports fuelling your writing passion?

Thank you. It is a bit of both really.

All This And More comes from an idea I had years and years ago, and the first page or two lay gathering dust on my hard disk for probably close to a decade or so. It sat there mainly as I knew at that time how hard it was to get published, but as the self publishing route came about then eventually that became an avenue to get it read by more than my family.

English was my strongest subject back at school, and I have always enjoyed writing in all sorts of different forms. In the past I've written lyrics, a musical with my brother which is in a drawer somewhere and of course lots of trip reports. The trip reports I suppose were a nice way to flex my creative muscles again, with a waiting audience on a Disney forum and they led onto a blog that I have been writing for a few years now. Over that time the audience grew and were incredibly loyal, so it came to the point where I thought I should finally get off my backside and write something "proper" and see if I had it in me, now that I had an audience of sorts via the blog.

As I said in my review the book reminded me a lot of my teenage years in the nineties reading the Melody Maker and listening to some god awful depressing bands, where did you get the inspiration to write about the music industry and do you go to gigs these days?

One of the oldest writing clichés is to write about what you know. Many thousands of years ago I was in a number of bands, and so the topic of struggling bands with not that much talent was something I felt fairly qualified on.

I have always had and still have a keen interest in how the music industry is changing. Writing the book did bring back some lovely memories of the bands I was in. There is a real buzz from playing music with a group of friends, and a kind of euphoria when doing so all comes together into one of those magic moments when it all goes well, the audience enjoy it, and you think you sound great.

The music is a big part of the book but really it is also just a vehicle for the relationships and complexities that arise as the story progresses.

As for going to gigs, yes, I do a few each year. In fact last night Emily and I went to see Panic! At The Disco, and absolutely loved it. When you haven't seen a live band for a while, doing so can really ignite your enthusiasm and passion for music again. Tonight, we are being slightly less cool, as we are off to see McBusted. This is a trip filled with nostalgia, as Busted were the first band my daughters ever saw live, and they have always loved McFly, so we're looking forward to that.

Later in the year, my brother and I will take a trip back to our youth and muso roots by watching Level 42. An eclectic selection of gigs then!

Now I have already complained about the end of All This and More!, will we hear more from Vaseline or are you working on something new.

I'm a little ashamed to say that I haven't started writing anything else since finishing All This And More. Deep down, I'm sort of frightened to do so. What if getting that book done was a fluke??!! Is that common fear for writers?

I have had a few ideas bubbling away on the back burner recently, and it is coming to the time when I just have to bite the bullet, open the laptop and start typing. It is very likely that the next project will be related to All This And More, but I just need to decide which way to go with it, whether it is a straight sequel, a prequel or taking some of the characters from it on their own journey.

I resolve to start this weekend...OK??? :-)

I believe you also participated in NaNoWriMo, are you doing it this year (I am!) and how did you find your experience of it.

This was perfect timing for me last year. Just as I resolved to get on and write my first novel, this project was launching. The structure, regimented approach and support from NaNo really helped me to get most of the book written in just one month. I cannot recommend it highly enough. The fact that you have to do a set amount of words each day really drives you to get things down on paper so to speak. The correcting, refining and improving comes later, but 50,000 imperfect words are better than none!

I'm not sure if the timing will work for me this year, but whenever and whatever I write next, I will definitely use the same approach.

With the rise of ebooks and self publishing, the world seems to have a book out, how easy did you find the whole experience from start to finish.

When I released the collection of trip reports as an eBook, one of the reasons for doing so was to get to understand the mechanics of producing a self published eBook. Choosing to do so with a 350,000 word anthology with hundreds of photographs was perhaps a baptism of fire, but I learnt a lot.

That process of trial and (lots of) error was a great learning curve, and I'm so glad I did that before writing All This And More. So when I came to write and publish a simple novel, with no photos, well that was easy by comparison! I have only mastered the KDP Amazon platform to date but I may explore others in the future.

I have produced All This And More in hard copy via Feed Read, which again was pretty simple to do, having done the Amazon thing, but price wise it is hard to justify. I really just did that to have a copy sat on my bookshelf!

The biggest challenge I found since self publishing is actually calling myself a writer. Technically now anyone can get their book published, without the seal of approval of an agent or publisher telling you what you did was good enough. Having the audacity to claim to be a writer is a bit of a leap of faith to be honest, and that is harder to get over than how to work the mechanics of Amazon's publishing platform.

Now for some quick questions to finish off!!

Favourite Park
Magic Kingdom

Favourite Ride
Splash Mountain

Favourite Place to Eat
Applebees

Favourite Character
Ariel ;-)

Last Book
Carra - Jamie Carragher's Autobiography

Last TV Series
Homeland

Last Film
Transcendence

Last Music Bought
It was actually a CD for all the music for the WDW parks!

Thank you so much Craig for taking the time to answer my questions and I look forward to seeing the end results of the book you are starting this weekend!!

  
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