Recently I had a chance to interview Seb Jenkins, author of Life After Death–a story about a man in his late 30s who is “plunged into an apocalyptic world of the undead” (quote taken from Life After Death description).
Let’s start with a little background.
(Photo courtesy of Seb Jenkins)
Seb Jenkins is a 20 year old student from Bedfordshire, England. His recent works are described as dark, gritty, and atmospheric which he attributes to a lifetime of immersing himself in endless horror books and gore-fuelled tv shows/films. When he isn’t writing, you can find him banging his head slowly against a brick wall, or desperately trying to think of that best-selling idea he came up with at 3am last night.
As of 2015, Seb is currently attending the University of Kent to study journalism and hopes to carve a career out of his passion for writing.
Why did you start writing?
It kind of just happened after time. I grew up reading series like The Maze Runner, Cherub, Darren Shan, and young teen books like these. I’d always wanted to have a go myself. After reading/watching a load of zombie type stuff, I just made some random notes and ideas, kept adding to them over a few months and eventually had this really detailed idea for a book.
Do you consider yourself a writer or an author? Why?
I consider myself a writer rather than an author as most of my work is unpublished. I think you make that step between the two once someone picks you up and/or you start making some money off your work. At the moment I just do it because I thoroughly enjoy it.
Who’s your favourite author? What’s your favourite genre? What’s your favourite story/book?
It’s impossible to choose one favourite author or book, but studying Brighton Rock by Graham Greene is something that leaps to mind. Usually picking a book apart and writing essays on it kind of kills the enjoyment side of things, but I loved that book from start to finish. My favourite genres are horror/thriller, so obviously anything by Stephen King is always a good shout. At the moment I’m reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
I’m not a big fan of “picking a book apart” either. I like to keep the enjoyment alive too.
How did you get people to know about your stories/books?
I pretty much just upload my work to Wattpad and talk to other authors on there. Eventually you find people who want to read your work, or they just stumble across it.
How do you judge if you are successful?
Personally, I would consider myself successful writing-wise if I could ever make a career out of it, but different people have different goals.
How did you find Wattpad? Why Wattpad over other sites? Are you on other writing sites?
Wattpad is the only writing site I use really, after a friend recommended it to me. I love it just because there are so many similar writers, in similar positions, with similar problems, all in one place. It’s a great tool to swap tips, improve your writing and read some other great work.
Have you been published, such as self-published or through a publishing house? If so where can people find you books?
I have self-published my first book Life After Death, however it is currently going through an extra stage of editing before I re-launch it. People can find all my work by following the links on my website, or checking out my Wattpad account.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
Sometimes I have to just put my laptop away and go do something else for a few hours. I find that torturing yourself over details that just aren’t coming to your mind in that moment is extremely annoying. Usually I’ll just go watch some Netflix, or hang out with some mates and often the idea I was looking for kind of pops into my head eventually. Forcing writing never works.
What is your proudest moment as a writer?
I would say finishing Life After Death was probably my proudest moment. After a couple of years of writing and editing, finally finishing the final chapter was so satisfying. Then once started getting amazing feedback on Wattpad, it just amplified this even further.
What book/story has been the most fun to write? Which was the least fun to write?
So far, Death After Death (book two of Life After Death) has been the most fun to write. I’ve kind of found my groove with the story now, and added some really cool, fun characters to the second book. I’m really happy with where it’s going so far, and there’s so much less stress after the first book in a series is done. My least favourite would probably be There’s Been Another One, purely because sticking to a maximum word limit was so incredibly difficult.
What character would you want to be and/or what world would you want to live in?
I’d love to have a crack at the apocalyptic world in Life After Death, and I’d probably choose JJ from book two as the character I’d most like to be. I think he’s the one I modelled on myself most.
Imagine you could do anything you wanted—“in the real world” (you had enough money, time, etc), what would you do?
Unlimited food would be nice. If I had enough time and money I would love to create a huge immersive world like George R R Martin has done so beautifully with Game of Thrones.
What advice do you have for other (or new) writers?
Don’t be put off by negative comments, or bad reviews. Just take what they say on board, go back and edit your work, often they will be making good and honest points. Your writing is always going to be a bit crap to start with, you just have to improve as you go to be honest.
What advice do you have for other (or new) writers on Wattpad?
Join some kind of group or book club to get you started. You’ll meet new people straight away, and find readers for your work. It’s the best way to get involved in a variety of circles on there. Don’t be afraid to message someone and say hi, or ask for help, or whatever. Most of the time they will be friendly and helpful.
Thank you for your time Seb Jenkins. Good luck in your future endeavors.