This week, I'm joined by Owen Quinn, a Northern Ireland based writer and author of the Zombie Blues and Time Warriors series of books. He also has big plans to be the first Irish Doctor Who, so keep an eye out!

Hey Owen, thanks for dropping by! How long have you been a writer?

 Forever it seems. Without sounding arrogant, it’s something I was born with, and life keeps getting in the way of that as a fulltime occupation reducing me to a daydreaming night owl creating new worlds while our world sleeps.

 If there’s a story in me then it literally will not me rest until it comes out on the page. No bloody wonder I have suitcases under my eyes. My first primary school teacher first saw it when she put a story about lambs in a field in the staffroom for all to see. I thought to my young self, I quite like being the centre of attention and telling stories, so I never really stopped.


Where did you get the inspiration for your books?

 I got really tired of seeing shit on television that was dressed as sci-fi. So, as I was a fan of Doctor Who, I knew if I wrote a story for them, they would take it straight away and hail me as a new talent on the rise. From there on I would be headhunted to write for other shows and movies and spend the rest of my days living the dream.

Oh, to be a naïve fifteen-year-old. I wrote my Doctor Who story all by hand and even drew the cover for the Target novelisation, but they sent it back as they didn’t take handwritten submissions. So, the Time Warriors was born thanks to Doctor Who.

 Zombie Blues came from a question I had about the Walking Dead. I wondered why Morgan’s wife came to her house and tried to open the door. She stared through the peep hole. I wondered what if the original person was still there trapped and helpless. Why would they be trapped I wondered? Then I figured it out and Zombie Blues, now in its third book, was born.



What is the biggest challenge you’ve experienced in your writing career, so far?

 Two things: time and cliques. How do you write a book when you have bills to pay? You can’t write while the kids need feeding and raising as well as giving enough attention to your spouse or partner. The house needs cleaning, you have to turn up to work but in your head is that dream that if your book hits the big time then you can have that time.

 There are too many people out there who think if you ask for advice/help with your writing that it will somehow impact their dreams of sipping champagne on a yacht with one hand and typing the new blockbuster with the other while their butler rubs suncream on their forehead. You’ll find these people are loners or surrounded by people that tell them what they want to hear even when the shit is running off the page. That’s why I was very isolationist for many years until I found people that weren’t so insular.


If you could go back and give your younger self a single piece of writing advice, what would it be?

 I’m still learning but click on these links to see what I would tell me:


Are you a plotter or a pantser?

 Aren’t all fiction writers a hybrid consisting of each? I get an idea and start writing but along the way plot points change or a character goes left instead of right when it wasn’t your intention. Book 4 of the Time Warriors Tempest delivered a plot twist that once it hit me seemed so obvious and was quite smug about it when I read the finished result lol.

 Remember that writing controls you. It tells you when to start and when to end. We are puppets dancing to its tune. Like Patrick Swayze tormenting Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost, we get the reviews and maybe the dosh but it makes our fingers do the walking.



What do you think the biggest challenges are for aspiring writers, right now?

 Fitting life around your writing and fucking sharks out to exploit you. Gone are the days of big advances from publishers. The world as it is has changed the playing field for us all years ago.

Look at any supermarket selection of books and it’s big names or celebrity autobiographies. The term celebrity sadly includes those wank sticks from reality television which has also impacted quality television drama. Yet we have the greatest resource for new and editing fiction right here in self-publishers which is tarnished by the ability to publish any old shit with a thousand typos and again those telling them how great their writing is when it really deserves to be used as toilet paper. Then you have these publishers that charge you to publish their book.

 Let that sink in.

 When you see bad singers pleading with Simon Cowell for a chance to go through to the following round, you cringe. But in the writing world you have exactly the same thing. People are desperate to get the JK Rowling level of success and will pay these publishers to publish their book. In their minds this gives them a credibility that is short-lived if it ever really lived at all. You get little in return. You need to have multiple social media platforms pushing your book.

 You are doing all the work and you are being asked to give sums between £4000 to £8000 to them. They didn’t sit up all night writing. They didn’t do your editing. They don’t push your social media. They didn’t pay someone to design your cover. They didn’t help you format or learn how to format Kindles. But this desperation to be JK Rowling makes people do dumb things. I’ve been tempted several times with contracts on the table, but I like my testicles where they are and not having them ripped off by my wife for plunging us in debt. 


Do you believe that having a strong social media presence leads to more book sales?

 No, not at all. It is so much more but again without networking and reaching out for help, they are paths most aspiring writers miss. It’s about networking. It’s about learning how to format. It’s about learning what platform to publish on. What happens to that platform if a publisher suddenly comes along?

 You need friends that can draw, design, and help edit leaving you to write the story. You do edit along the way, but you need more than one pair of eyes to get where you want to be. You on the other hand have to develop a thick skin.

 Listen to criticism, take, and learn from the feedback. Pass your knowledge on as every day there are writers of all ages starting their first book with no idea what’s in store. Put visuals and videos on your social media but remember the work behind a simple post to Facebook or Instagram. Listen to your in inner voice. If something doesn’t sit right with you, sort it. And never ever publish until you’re very sure there are no typos, and everything is as you want it to be. Why would you buy a mistake riddled book when you wouldn’t buy a faulty kettle? It won’t be perfect, you might still miss things but with technology today, it is resolved literally over night with no real impart to anything else.


How do you deal with writer’s block?

 Click here for that answer


What is your favourite part of the writing process?

 It’s when you get feedback from someone who would not normally read e.g. sci-fi books and they tell you they loved your work. I don’t tell people my work is good. I need them to tell me it struck a chord with them. Then I know I’ve done something right. Someone totally bored of the sci-fi genre read the first Time Warriors and it reignited their love of sci-fi which is humbling. The Time Warriors One school teacher read Vegetarian Zombie to her class of primary school children, and they got so aminated about zombies, I was, and still am delighted. Similarly, I got lovely feedback on No Dentures Zombie making people laugh out loud.



If you could collaborate with any other author on a project, who would it be and why?

 I don’t do collaborations because I’m such a control freak. Only I know the story and I can be very reactive to someone interfering. Although I would like to hear the late Manny Coto, Harlan Ellison, and Garth Ennis’ take on a Time Warriors story. Ellison and Coto especially wrote sci-fi with a heart that the audience could identify with. That’s how I’ve always pitched the Time Warriors.


What are you working on now?

 Two new Time Warriors books, a new children’s anthology, and comedy book which I hope will work. Verbal and visual comedy is easier than written ones from a character people have never heard of.


Where do you see your writing career in 5 years?

 I want it to be a career rather than a constant struggle to put new books out for little return. I have a quality product but it’s always trying to break that mainstream barrier.



Have you ever considered writing in another genre?

 I’m writing a children’s book or novella, whatever the word count is will determine that and a comedy which I’ve never done before. I have made people cry with the beginning of Experiment 4 in the first Time Warriors book First Footsteps so time to laugh too.


Pen names – yay or nay?

 HELL NO! For the work you put in and the struggle to publish a book, you want people to know it is you. On a selfish and probably petty note, I want to show all those fuckers who ran me down and bullied me for my love of sci-fi that what they belittled me over for years is a world that is no longer for geeks and nerds but inspires children of all ages to be artists and writers and movie makers, not drunks and wasting life for fear of social ridicule.


What marketing tips would you give to someone starting out in their career?

 Buy my books and see what sci-fi with humanity is. See life through the eyes of a zombie wracked with love, regret, fear, inspiration, and a belief that together humanity can overcome anything in Zombie Blues. Other than that, write your book and if it doesn’t make an impact, do another and another until your writing is done. If by chance you make it big with your twentieth book, your other nineteen, which inwardly you considered failures, are now a marketable product that can hopefully touch peoples’ lives. You’re not just writing for yourself even though you think you are; you’re writing for the people out there too afraid of a blank screen with a story burning inside of them.

 I am a resident of Northern Ireland and have been a life long science fiction and horror fan.  I am the creator of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues books. I infamously fell and broke his shoulder at his first Walker Stalker convention. I am a keen photographer and also have a secret desire to be the first Irish Doctor Who.