Author Interview: Isobel Starling

Author Interview: Isobel Starling

I am currently reading the MM romance, ‘As You Wish’, by Isobel Starling. This is number one in her series of ‘Shatterproof Bond’ novels. Thoroughly enjoying the read, I was delighted when Isobel offered to be the subject of an author interview. I shall be publishing more of these over time, but here are the questions I asked, and her replies.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background
I was born in Germany while my father was stationed there, and spent most of my childhood abroad moving around Germany every two years. During my teens, my family returned to the UK, but it felt completely alien to me. In my early twenties, my parents moved to Dublin, and I accompanied them. I studied for a degree in Fine Art, majoring in sculpture, and had a twenty-year career working as a freelance artist for public art commissions, festivals, and for theatre and film.

I moved to the UK during a long period of artist’s block, and I started writing in 2013. I love writing more than I did making art and so now I write M/M Romance, thrillers and comedies full-time.

Who, or what, first inspired you to write?
Author Robin Hobb first inspired me to write. I read her epic fantasy series “The Tawny Man” Trilogy and the ending just felt ‘wrong’ to me. I knew nothing of FanFiction, but when I left my review for the final book in the series, I saw one reviewer say that he wished he could find FanFic with an alternate ending. I thought it was an interesting idea. I had written poetry before, but I hadn’t written a story since doing my GCSE’s in 1988. So I sat at my laptop and, initially to please myself I wrote a fantasy story of what I’d wanted to happen with these characters I’d loved so much. The story became 30,000 words in the style of Robin Hobb. It came so easily, and I wanted to see what other fans thought. I uploaded the story to the fan fiction website ‘Archive of Our Own,’ where fans can share their stories, and was inundated with messages saying how much readers enjoyed it, and the writing. They thanked me for giving them the ending they’d dreamed of, which was very touching. I decided then to write a novel, and I haven’t looked back. I am just about to publish my thirteenth and fourteenth books over the next few months.

Where does your inspiration for a story come from?
I have a Gay Romance thriller series “Shatterproof Bond” which, once started, evolved on its own. The start of the story hinged on the catalyst effect of my characters Sam Aiken and Declan Ramsay meeting at a Scots wedding, and once these men found each other, their lives changed forever, and the real story began. Their world is contemporary, so many strands of things- political, societal that are going on at the moment are woven into the stories.

I also have an as yet unfinished fantasy series which is written in a completely different voice to that of my usual M/M work. The mainstream fantasy genre lacks diversity, and so the story has a whole host of diverse characters. There’s a lot of world building involved, layers of magic, past and present event story arcs, and individual character stories that weave into a bigger picture. Fantasy is a hard nut to crack, so I am reluctant to let the books out until I am completely happy with them.

What is your writing process?
I am part ‘pantser’ and part ‘planner.’ Initially, my stories come to me as scenes in dreams. I write them down and keep writing until the flow exhausts itself. Then I start planning and work out the jigsaw puzzle of the story. I like to research a lot and absorb as much information about the subject matter I am writing about. Then I write and also edit as I go, and it’s a back and forth process until the story is complete. It sounds messy, but it works for me!

Can you list your favourite books (by other authors) and say what attracts you to them?
My major book loves are fantasy:

I love nearly everything written by Terry Pratchett, his imagination, his humor, and the colorful casts of characters have given me so much joy over the years.

‘The Farseer Trilogy’ and ‘Tawny Man Trilogy’ by Robin Hobb, these books were quite an obsession. I adored the dynamic between bastard Prince Fitzchivalry Farseer and his best friend, known as ‘The Fool.’ Their love for one another really pulled on my heartstrings.

Other favorites are ‘The Name of the Wind’ By Patrick Rothfuss, and ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ by Scott Lynch, which are both exceptionally written, sharp, witty and mysterious.

What have been your experiences with publication, indie, self, traditional or otherwise?
I decided that the best strategy for me to gain a living wage from writing was to self-publish my English language work and then seek foreign translations with publishers. This strategy is currently working well for me. I am with Deadsoft Verlag in Germany, Juno Publications, and Reines- Beaux in France, and Quixote Edizioni in Italy for my translations. I have also moved into audiobooks, and this year I will have seven of my books in audio.

I would probably be termed as a hybrid author, as I self-publish and am with publishing houses. I enjoy Self-publishing. It’s a steep learning curve, but I don’t see it as any less worthy that being published by a traditional publisher. I can write what I love, get it to market quickly and then let the audience find it. There is no ‘wait a year for publication,’ which readers love because they know that when I have finished a book they only have to wait a month for it to be on sale. It keeps them engaged and is great for sales. I also like having control of all of my rights and being able to experiment with pricing and book covers.

The most difficult part of being an author is marketing. It doesn’t matter if you are with a publisher or self-publishing, we all have to jump into marketing these days. I wish I had a marketing team who would do it for me, as its time consuming, but its part of the business.

What are you working on now and what’s coming out next?
I am currently finishing a contemporary M/M Romance called “Sweet Thing,” which will be released in September. It has already been signed for translation into French by the publisher Reines-Beaux, and will be published by them in 2018. Then I am back to working on book #5 in the ‘Shatterproof Bond’ series, titled “Powder Burns.” I also have a Christmas short story that will be published in November. American readers of Gay Romance are very keen on their holiday stories and love a happy seasonal ending!
And back to me: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I am totally absorbed in ‘As You Wish’ and am looking forward to the others in the series. If you want to follow Isobel and find out more about her books, here are the links you need.

And back to me: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I am totally absorbed in ‘As You Wish’ and am looking forward to the others in the series. If you want to follow Isobel and find out more about her books, here are the links you need.

Isobel Starling:  Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon



My latest novella, ‘Honestly is out there and doing well. Actually, it’s my first novella and it’s a pre- ‘Remotely, Miss P comedy story. Here’s the cover and the link. It’s only £0.99 on Kindle only.

I also have good news about ‘The 13th‘ the script that I wrote that was filmed on the Greek island of Symi in 2013. It has now won 17 awards in the film festival circuit and has been entered for many more.


On top of that, a British book club is to read ‘The Saddling’ for its monthly book and I am looking forward to hearing what the readers say about it.

It’s been a busy month as I am also putting the finishing touches to a new book of travel tales, to be called ‘Symi, Stuff & Nonsense’ which I hope to have out in November. And on top of that, I am now working on draft two of ‘the Witchling’ which is the follow-up to ‘The Saddling.’

More awards for ‘The 13th’

Meanwhile, over in Denmark, a couple of my Symi books are being translated into Danish for the book reading market there.

A writer’s life for me!


It’s been a while since I have put up a post on this blog. If you want to follow my day to day life, bookmark my island blog,

Here’s the catch-up on my news.

One of the reasons I’ve not had much time to blog here is that I have been writing. I have just finished the first draft of a follow up to The Saddling, and I am in the process of preparing Honestly for Kindle publication. Honestly is a Miss P novella. If you have read Remotely, then you will have met Miss P, the slightly magical, timeless protagonist who does a couple of unusual things. She is sent by unseen higher powers to places where there is a problem. She identifies the issue and places a cigar-smoke-based spell on those who need to sort this problem out. In Remotely it was the feud between two ex-best friends, and she swapped their bodies, so they learned what it was like to be each other and that leads to… Well, you should read it. In Honestly there is an issue of writer’s block. Having sorted out William Shakespeare’s writer’s block, she finds herself in a small fishing village where an incoming family have not been made welcome. This is set in the present day. So, she places a spell that makes the villagers speak honestly to each other until the situation is resolved.

RemotelyI am hoping the book will be ready within a couple of weeks. It’s a 24,000-word novella and, like Remotely, is fun and a bit bawdy.

By the way, my fabulous cover artist at Red Raven Book Design has redone the Remotely cover and is working on the Honestly cover. The new Remotely cover will be there when Honestly goes on sale.

The Witchling
Meanwhile, my first draft of The Witchling is complete. This is the follow up to The Saddling, and you’re advised to read Saddling before Witchling. This title won’t be out for several months yet, probably next year. The first draft took me four weeks, it was a bit of an outpouring of story and needs lots of work, but at least it’s out of my system now that I have told myself the story. I now need to improve it by 100%, and I will do that when I have the next book published, and that is…

Symi, Stuff & Nonsense
This is going to be my fourth book about living on Symi, in Greece. It will contain some writing about Symi and life here, plus some other travel stuff (stories from previous travel adventures of mine) and some nonsense (mainly observations of daily life, meaning of words and other… well, nonsense.) I am aiming to have that ready for November 2017 in time for Christmas gift buying.

The 13th
Meanwhile… The film I wrote, ‘The 13th‘, is going through the rounds of film festivals and has picked up 14 or 15 laurels now. These are awards for best actors, editors, music, etc. I attended part of the Cyprus International Film Festival where ‘The 13th‘ was being shown, and had a great time there. The Greek premiere of the film will be here on Symi this coming Monday (24th July) in front of the mayor and islanders.

That’s the news for now, but just a reminder: please remember to leave reviews of my books on Amazon if you can, and if that’s where you bought it from. They are very helpful to me as they are to all authors.

Thank you and there will be more posts here when I have more news.

The Cyprus International Film Festival

My news at the moment is that the film I co-wrote, ‘The 13th’ on which is based my novel, ‘The Judas Inheritance has been selected for The Cyprus International Film Festival which opens next week. I am going to the festival for its first weekend, leaving home next Thursday to arrive in Cyprus on Friday, see the screening on Saturday and perhaps introduce it, and then returning to Rhodes on Monday and home on Tuesday. The film already has six laurels, each one representing an acceptance to a festival, or an award at a festival, so we are all very pleased about that.

My other news is that my novel, ‘The Saddling’ has taken off and already has nine five-star reviews on Amazon. I have started on the next one in the series, ‘The Witching’ while, at the same time, working on a short novella in the ‘Remotely’ series. So, a mystery thriller in one hand and a comedy in the other; I just hope I don’t get them mixed up. I also hope I have enough time to write them both. Saddling took me several years to complete, from original idea to finished book, but as ‘The Witchling’ is set in the same place, I already have many of the characters and the settings, plus more of an understanding of the dialect. So, hopefully, those components will flow smoothly; I just have to figure out the plot details and write in the words.

The Saddling

One of the problems I have now is that more people are investigating my earlier novels and, to be honest, they are not as good as the last four. One of the reasons for this is that they were self-published before I found an editor, so could do with tidying up. Another problem is that they were not professionally laid out and I can’t afford to have the edited and laid out by someone else, so, do I delete the older ones from my lists? Or do I leave them as they are until I have time to re-edit and re-design the interiors? It’s a dilemma, and one I am still debating with myself.

Meanwhile, I have some travelling to do and lots of writing to do, two of the reasons my blog here is not as up to date as my daily day-to-day blog which you might also like to read. You can find Symi Dream here.

News from my desk

Screenplay and film news

Here we are heading into another weekend and what’s the news from my desk? As readers of my day-to-day blog about my life on the Greek island of Symi ( may already know, I’ve been a bit involved with the London Greek Film Festival. The recent news there is that our film, ‘The 13th’ won three awards. Best Actress for the wonderful Rebecca Grant, Best Music for the very talented Michael Bishop, and a Special Award for the whole film itself. Basically, as far as I can make out, it came second in the Best Film category. All great news for the film. There is also a distribution deal in the offing which will see it released to the public in time. My novel, The Judas Inheritance, is the original story based on my original script for the film. The film is now being considered for the New York Greek Film Festival; fingers crossed.

My ‘Without a box’ bio; this site is where films are put when they are being submitted to film festivals.

Novel writing

As for the next novel… Where do I start? Since finishing The Saddling, (seven five-star reviews now, the latest one being: “A real page turner. From start to finish a great read. Right up to the last page the ending couldn’t have been predicted”) I have plotted out two new novels, started work on an adaptation, and written a few first draft chapters for two others. As you can see, I am not sure where to go next. The one I started talking about in a recent post has been put aside as another idea crowds in, and I think what’s happening is this: I’ve finished one major work, 100,000 words (The Saddling) and so my mind is free to create more worlds and characters, situations and plots. Trouble is, there are so many to get out. I am aiming for 2,000 to 3,000 words per day on something, but need to focus on one idea at a time. That’s always been my problem, knowing what to leave for now and what to work on next. Maybe next week I will settle down to just one thing.

The Saddling


I have also been trying to get to grips with publicity and have put out a few feelers for someone to do this for me. It’s not because I am lazy, though I can be, it’s more to do with not understanding the process. Every time I look at a site that says it will publicise your books, I start to switch off. It’s not the cost, though I don’t have a budget for publicity, it’s all the fiddly bits and pieces you need to understand. So many sites, all with their own rules, so much advice, and so many ways to do things, I’d rather be writing than worrying about keywords at Amazon, freebies, Insta-something this, and book-blurb that, weekly deals and giveaways and all those other marketing tools. It’s a nightmare without a team and budget behind you, but we press on.

The Judas Inheritance


I have also commissioned a new cover for Lonely House, one of my more gory horror stories, and I am again using Red Raven Book Design in Portugal for this. I highly recommend Diogo and his work and am looking forward to seeing what he comes up with over the next week or so. He’s also pretty quick and asks in-depth questions about your book and your vision before giving five mock-ups. He also builds into his price some extra work for edits and changes, and still the cost comes in at under €200.00 (depending on how many changes you want.) Check out his website and see what he can do for you.

Lonely House, James Collins
Original cover – looking forward to seeing the new one soon.

 And onwards

So, it’s the weekend now, and I have 101 things I want to write and so little time to do them in. I’ll leave this post here and go back to my notebooks and maybe roll a die. I have six project ideas, some started, some plotted, and maybe I should number them and then roll the die and settle on that one.