Thursday, May 22, 2014

Philip Catshill - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Philip Catshill. He is an Artist, Poet and the author of the Mike Newman Mysteries series.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Short Stories, Biographies & Memoirs

Website: Philip Catshill - Author, artist & poet.
Blog: Facebook Author Page
Twitter: @PhilipCatshill
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Philip Catshill has reduced abilities and receives a support allowance from the United Kingdom Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). The conditions imposed by the DWP in respect of earnings and the amount of record keeping, checking and paperwork, and the stress all this involves, effectively means that it is no longer worth his while trying to escape the benefits system by becoming a full time writer. That said, rather than take his books out of the market place, Philip has been persuaded to self-publish the books and make them available at no cost to the reader.

Do not assume because the novels are self-published or free, they lack in quality. Despite having severe restrictions due to a brain damaged by stroke, Philip continues to produce excellent stories, amazing paintings, and incredible poetry. Everyone of those stunning five star reviews has come from a genuine and unrelated reader. Philip also provides continuous support to other writers through his web site at (which is where you can see some of those amazing paintings.)

Philip is a former British police officer and lives in England. He has had several unique life experiences, near death encounters, physical disabilities and emotional incidents that have combined to provide a firm foundation for his excellent stories.

At the age of 30, after combining an accidental blow to his head with a late night party, Philip survived his first massive stroke. To return to the job he loved proved to be a sometimes amusing, sometimes daunting struggle that took 18 months.

With great pride in this achievement, he survived another 11 years as a fully operational, uniformed police sergeant. During this time, he stretched his mind to the limit by studying for a degree.

Nine years after that first stroke, everything was put on hold when a younger man took interest in his family, his home but mostly, his wife. Within weeks, his 19 year marriage was at an end, his mind and life collapsed. His inability to cope with the changes left him homeless and estranged from all that he had loved and the daughters he cherished for 18 and 15 years respectively. Despite having no faith, he was encouraged to pray. Amazingly, he discovered that prayer works! Throughout the loneliness and despair of being homeless, prayer sustained him and brought him to a new life, new love, but most of all, a loving and welcoming family that was happy to love him as their own.

It was meant to be a happy ever after ending to the tragedies, but just four weeks after his last exam to give him his degree, and 16 days after his second marriage, a road accident caused a second major stroke, bringing his working life to an abrupt end, just a few years short of reaching his full pension.

Undaunted and determined to defy the paralysis, he took up music and art, achieving piano grade 3 and paintings that are quite simply breath-taking. (

As he approached his 60th birthday, Philip, who is still severely disabled, decided to write about that stroke from 30 years before. From that experience, there emerged the fictional character of Mike Newman.

Like this fictional hero, Philip Catshill is the type of guy who never says "I can't."

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Let’s start with what’s next. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I can’t predict the timeline or date of release, but I’m about half way towards a psychological mystery, which has the working title, “The Flower Angel.” A one line synopsis would be ‘A man becomes involved with the girl from the flower shop and has to face issues from his past.’

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Did you use forums, newsletters and methods like that?

Social media provides an excellent platform for spreading instant information on a global scale, but information should not include advertising. Too many writers use it to say: "Buy my book" which is simply ineffective as it turns people away. The secret of my success is by using social media to offer free support, help, advice or guidance to other writers and artists. I also publicly thank reviewers whether the review is 1 star or 5. I am a member of many online literary groups. With the exception of LinkedIn, I rarely participate in discussions. This is a failing, which soon I will rectify.

Participation=Publicity. Publicity=Sales.

Just a note here: I am constantly amazed by the number of writers who seem to derive macabre satisfaction in abusing or deriding others in these public forums. Most people enjoy a good read about a bad guy, but who wants to buy a book from a bad guy? Bad mouthing in public isn’t the best way to sell books!

Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

My third stroke left me with a tendency towards incomprehensible speech, so I avoid personal appearances and live interviews.

You have written several short stories. Can you tell us if they had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are shorty’s one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work?

Every piece of writing that you make free and public has an impact on your book sales, especially when it has reviews, because it gives you something different to talk about on social media. I also write poetry, which is usually humorous rhyming verse with a twist at the end.

Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, getting the book to your readers and the relationship with your readers and fans?

My novels and biographies have only been released as e-books. My strokes have rendered me dependent on the UK benefits system, which limits the amount I can earn from book sales. Rather than remove my books from sale, I try to avoid the complicated procedure should I exceed those limits by making the books free or for sale at the minimum possible price. ?

How do you start your book launch process for a new book? Give a brief outline of the steps you go through to get your book to market. What methods were the most successful?

I don’t adopt a launch strategy. I just write the book, edit it and hone it until I am satisfied it is the best I can achieve and then self-publish it. This is an area where I meet the most controversy with other writers and especially professional editors. Although I welcome advice or suggestions here and there, the most important aspect of my writing is the self that I put into it. I have had three major strokes. I have an inoperable heart condition and a number of other problems, which have rendered me with reduced abilities. I am driven by the constant need to meet the challenges of daily living. Putting the self into every aspect of my writing from the blank page to the final publication fulfils a challenge; having someone else edit my writing does not. When readers pick up a Philip Catshill novel, biography, poem or short story, what they see is my creation from start to finish. In respect of my creativity, that is more important to me than anything else.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?

I don’t have a day job! My dream, although unlikely to be fulfilled, is to derive sufficient income from writing to escape the UK benefits system.

Living in the UK creates a unique selling and marketing situation. Where is your biggest audience? Does marketing online help in this situation?

My entire marketing strategy is through my online presence. Until recently, every month my sales in the US have exceeded those in the UK by a huge margin, but for a reason I can’t explain, my sales in the US this month have remained in single figures, whereas my UK sales are better than ever.

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

With one notable exception, reviews for my writing have all originated from genuine readers. The exception arose in my early days of writing when I naively agreed to exchange reviews, but the experience taught me never to do it again. I couldn’t finish the novel let alone review it. The other writer reviewed my work, but referred to aspects of the novel that were not present. Fortunately that review is now lost in a myriad of others. I still write reviews but no longer review books in my author name. The only requests I make for a review is either on the book’s sell page or in its end pages.

You have published novels, short stories and poems. Does changing hats create any problems? Any tricks you can share with us? Which do you enjoy writing the most? Does moving from one to the other give you some breathing room?

The answer here is no, no and no. I enjoy writing but relish challenge, and it is facing challenge that constantly drives me to venture into new projects and different genre. My mantra, and the title of the account of my first stroke is never say I can’t. And really, never say I can’t sums up me in a sentence.

Author's Book List
Penny for Them
"No one should ever underestimate my stepfather or the extent that he would go to extract revenge." (Penelope Wilkes aka Josefa Fördern.)

Penelope is the privileged stepdaughter of a former Government Minister, Henry Kendall-Wilkes. News of his death brings her out of hiding, so for the first time she is able to recount the story of espionage and deceit that put her life in danger thirty years before.

A few days before the Falklands Conflict in 1982, Penelope witnessed murder and mayhem on the streets of Hartingham in central England as an armed diamond robbery left carnage in its wake. After her threat to expose her stepfather's involvement in this and other crimes, he orders her death. However, with the South Atlantic crisis looming, the British Government needs his expertise, which protects him from prosecution.

After being sworn to secrecy, Penelope or Penny is persuaded to leave aside her privileged upbringing and unconventional occupation as she is recruited into the world of espionage and intrigue. The secret mission to bring her real father’s murderer to justice leads her into an adventure, which culminates in Argentina at the outbreak of hostilities.

It is not only a killer she discovers. In this gripping adventure, Penny becomes involved in an intricate web of deception where, except for a favoured few, no one can be trusted.

At last, Penny can reveal how the pursuit of a killer led her to romance, danger, and a bag full of diamonds.

“…you won’t want to stop reading until the last word…”

Order the Book From: Amazon
Suffer Little Children - Mike Newman Mysteries
This novel is one in a series. It is preceded by "Who Else is There?" and followed by "Penalty for Murder".

While he is back in hospital after a shooting, Mike's daughters are abducted on their way to school. Every policeman in Hartingham wants to gets involved in the search, but not every policeman has the same motive. Some, a handful of corrupt officers have evil in mind.

A murder in the hospital is quickly followed by the death of a policeman. Mike finds an ally in the daughter of an MP when she reminds him that their paths have crossed before. Not able to assist in the search for his daughters Mike and his new friend focus their attention on the hospital murder.

This is a serious crime novel set around the fictitious city of Hartingham and is strictly for adult reading only.

Order the Book From: Amazon
For all eternity - The Mike Newman Mysteries
In short stories and cameo roles, this novel introduces some of the people who appear in the acclaimed Mike Newman Mysteries.

First among them is fellow police officer and rugby player, John Collett. Save for Mike, who he has known since childhood, John is friendless. He is secretive and never shares his problems. Despite his passion of open spaces, within weeks of knowing her, John marries the agoraphobic, shy and stammering Susan. In order to illicit Mike's help, John finds he needs to share one of his guarded secrets.

Without having had a single date in her teenage years, the newly recruited policewoman Sandra Taylor falls head over heels in love with her appointed mentor, the gentle talking policeman Mike Newman, but Mike is already trapped in a loveless marriage. Sandra soon learns that Mike has steadfast, even old-fashioned morality. He cares about people and doesn’t walk away from anyone, let alone his adulterous wife. On their last day of working together, Mike introduces her to two women at opposite ends of the social scale, yet they have something in common. Both believe corrupt police officers have let them down.

When Mike discovers that police themselves are turning to serious crime, he tries for promotion to fight the corruption, but promotion means transfer. In the short time she has left, the inexperienced Sandra must prove her determination to love him, or lose him for all eternity, and not a single day less, but Mike's adulterous wife has other ideas.

Sandra and Mike's relationship is explored further in: Who Else is There?

This edition contains an extra chapter, and the first two chapters of Who Else is There?

This book is for adult reading only.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Penalty for Murder - Mike Newman Mysteries
Having lost his home and wife to gambling debts, Detective Sergeant "Flash" Foster is blackmailed into the joining the Brethren, a corrupt band of police officers. The death of a childhood friend gives him an unexpected opportunity to escape and leave his worries behind, but first, he intends to extract revenge on his tormentors.

Meanwhile, with the local member of parliament scheming to have Mike locked away, a mysterious woman determined to kill him and the threat of arrest for his wife's murder, in this gripping adventure, Mike Newman once again fights against the odds as he tries to discover who killed the mysterious woman in green.

Recommended for adult reading only.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Who Else is There? - Mike Newman mysteries
Detective Superintendent Malcolm Willoughby could retire with a clean sheet if only he could get a conviction for a ten year old unsolved murder. A fresh appeal for witnesses coincides with an almost identical attack, but this time, detectives see a connection – Could the killer be one of their own?

Ask yourself, if you can’t trust the police, Who Else is There?

John Collett is angrier than ever when lifelong friend and fellow policeman Mike Newman decides to call an end to his disastrous marriage, especially as Mike intends to move in with an attractive policewoman, Sandra. Mike survives an attempt to kill him but the blow has caused a stroke and left him with brain damage. Within days, his life is thrown into turmoil as his wife disappears and he loses contact with his children.

In his absence, corruption and evil sweeps through Mike’s former police station like a plague. Police officers have become the criminals.

Ask yourself, if you can’t trust the police, Who Else is There?

And who is left to stop them?

Could it be the half-bodied, half-brained Mike Newman? But Mike has another problem to deal with – his damaged brain obscures the clues by presenting him with images of the dead. Some might say he sees ghosts. Mike has more than one reason to say - Who Else is There?

Order the Book From: Amazon
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner and
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

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