"After studying literature, linguistics and Spanish at university, Karl Vadaszffy trained as an English teacher and an actor. He has edited magazines, taught English as a foreign language and is currently the Head of English at a school in Hertfordshire. As a freelance journalist, his articles regularly appear in seven magazines that cover the automotive, aerospace, technology and travel industries." You can follow Karl on Twitter, Facebook and his website Karlvad.
Book description from Amazon.com:
Born a mistake, Sean is taken from his drug-addicted prostitute mother at the tender age of eight, but after years of neglect and abuse all the tenderness has long been beaten out of him, leaving behind only a deformed soul. Foster families can't handle him, but he meets his match when he is taken in by the Andersons. Life seems normal, but when a passionate tryst with his foster sister ends in violence the comfortable life Sean has come to see as his own is over and he must learn to fend for himself.
Alone, desperate and fighting for survival, Sean's darkest urges become uncontrollable and his sins go too far. A broken individual, haunted by the darkest of dreams, he fi nds solace in the drug world. But it is in the arms of love that Sean unexpectedly starts to feel human, all the time unaware that his past is preparing to make a surprise reappearance.
How did you get published?
I submitted to agents and over the years (four!) got a lot of feedback. Ultimately, Full of Sin was deemed 'too shocking' for mainstream publishers. So I approached independent publishers and got an offer from Wild Wolf Publishing.
How many rejections did you receive?
At one time, I thought I'd been rejected by every agent in the UK (and a good number in the US too). But I now admit it was only about 99%. That said, the feedback I got from agents was invaluable, so rejections often came with benefits (I was fortunate to have contact with some agents through writers I've worked with, so I got feedback, which isn't particularly common unfortunately).
Timeline: start to finish. How long did it take between first draft and final publication?
Four years, give or take, from seriously working on it to publication. But I wrote a first draft of Full of Sin when I was about sixteen, put it in a cupboard and then reworked it when I was 22. It was published when I was 28.
How many revisions were required?
Repeated. In fact, non stop. I rewrote it so many times that I have memorised much of it. The same is true of my new novel, The Waiting Game. I write and rewrite and that's the only way I can produce something that works.
What challenges do creative writers face today? What opportunities?
Mainstream publishers generally don't want to take a chance on a debut author, so getting started is hard. Then a lot of them won't pay new writers much. Plus with such a focus on e-publishing now, the door has been opened to self-publishing. This can be an opportunity for new writers who can tell a good story well, but it also opens the door for a load of rubbish to become available, which makes getting your book noticed in the crowd much more difficult. Gosh, that was harsh, but it's ultimately the truth.
How did you promote FULL OF SIN?
As Wild Wolf was relatively new when Full of Sin was published, there wasn't much reach in terms of publicity. I worked very hard locally and got local press and a lot of help from local bookstores. That's where every writer should start. In addition, I approached larger newspapers, radio and TV, but with limited success. I had a positive response from the Times Educational Supplement as I'm also a teacher. That's a national paper in the UK, so it gave the book good exposure. Other than that, Facebook is helpful. I also used Authonomy, the Harper Collins website, to let previous readers of Full of Sin (from when it was on the site) that it was available. Amazon forums can have a good response, but then again some of the users can be vicious to what they term 'self-promoters', so be thick skinned if you use them.
What is your writing process?
I don't do outlines until I'm well into the story, and then I only use them to make sure I don't forget what's happened. Not the best memory, so I need them! I have an idea for the opening and then I write. I let the words take me where they do. I don't aim for perfection when writing a chapter; I prefer to get ideas on the page and redraft later. I don't always know the ending when I start. For The Waiting Game, I had a great opening but no idea where I would go with it. I finished the book and then after getting agent feedback I changed the last third of the book. A new ending completely. And I'm much happier with it. Full of Sin has remained pretty much the same since I first finished it. The only change was the order of the first three chapters - author Sophie Hannah, whom I've worked with, read it and made some structural suggestions, which I followed.
Is FULL OF SIN autobiographical in any way?
No, no, no. I'd even go as far as saying I can be quite a nice person, which Sean, at the beginning at least, isn't. Some of the place descriptions are places I have been to slightly altered, but that's it. Oh, one thing is true: I don't like naval rings, so you can understand why what happens happens.
Why did you feel it important that the story of FULL OF SIN be told?
Because there are sick people in society. By sick, I mean people who do bad things. And sometimes there are reasons. Sometimes it's society that lets people down, not the other way round. I don't want the reader to like Sean, but I do want him to be understood. I think that's a reflection of real life and I think books should, in some way, look at the lives we live, whether pleasant or not.
What writers inspire you?
Full of Sin was inspired by The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan. I read that novel and was amazed by how writing could make you feel disgusted yet compelled to read on - like a car crash. So that's what I tried to do with Full of Sin. The Waiting Game was inspired by Sophie Hannah's Little Face. How does somebody react when faced with the most unbelievable and unpredictable situation? In addition to McEwan and Hannah, I'm inspired by Wilkie Collins, Harlan Coben and John Harvey.
Any advice to creative writers?
Persevere and dive under a hard shell. Accept criticism of your work and listen to people already in the business. Make as many connections with those people that you can; they are invaluable. And grab the reader within the first page, or two, or three... go on too long and you'll never get published the traditional way (or, at least, that's the way the saying goes).
Do you have any new projects in the works?
I've mentioned The Waiting Game, which is currently with an agent who's been redrafting it with me. I'm waiting to hear... I've also started the next one (only one chapter though - again, I have no idea of the ending, but I think it's a decent opening). I've moved on to more commercial crime writing - one of the biggest markets in publishing. The Waiting Game introduces a female detective who, if published, will star in a series.
Read an excerpt of Full of Sin:
UPDATE: Vadaszffy's new crime novel, The Missing, is now available: