I’m delighted to invite Andrew Mullaney to chat about the inspiration behind his book, Didn’t Anyone Ever Tell You? It’s All a Game.
“The greatest privilege I had during my career came in the latter years where I was seconded to Business In The Community, one of the Prince of Wales charities, as a Business Connector for Dudley. This gave me a belief in and a passion for giving back and connecting others to improve the lives and well being of as many people as possible. I will always try to help anyone who asks.”
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
Known to most people as Andy, I live in Stourbridge in the heart of the West Midlands. I’m married to Catherine (35 years this year) who I met on my first day at work in the summer of 1982 and have 2 grown up children, Sarah and James.
I worked for Lloyds Bank for 35 years and, looking back, enjoyed a great career. I worked across Retail, Corporate, Commercial, International and Private Banking divisions and was in the management structure for over 26 years.
The last 18 months of my time with Lloyds was arguably the most memorable and special as I was fortunate to be seconded to the Prince Of Wales’ charity, Business In The Community as Dudley’s first Business Connector. This gave me, as a born and bred Black Country lad, the chance to help and better connect the public, private and third sectors in my local communities. It was a role that changed my life for the better and led me to truly understand how society works and what is needed from those who are able to help. It gave me an appetite to do more and that is a flame that still burns today. I am immensely proud that during my tenure I generated over £300k of new value for the area and some of the legacy projects/impact still exist today.
I have always enjoyed being able to frame propositions in writing and during my time at work had to do this on numerous occasions. Bankers lend money and need to be able to explain very clearly why they have done this, primarily for sanction and audit purposes. I was often criticised for giving too much ancillary detail but I will always say that the more detail you have the more you can tell someone’s character and understand the values that makes a business viable.
I was always curious as to whether I would one day be able to fulfil a life long ambition to write a book. On reflection I think part of my personal journey to become an author is steeped in some of those extensive files that I created during my career.
I am extremely fortunate to be now in charge of my own destiny and recognise and treasure this. Both my wife and myself have formally retired and enjoy walking in our wonderful countryside, especially around the waterways. We also like to travel, go to the theatre, the cinema and eat out, but sadly Covid has clipped our wings in these aspects as it has for many.
I really do feel a massive responsibility to give back and volunteer by supporting our local voluntary service, small groups, individuals and the lieutenancy with various mentoring and advisory schemes. I’ll always try to help anyone who asks. My LinkedIn profile tells more of my story and I regularly update this.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
Yes, Didn’t Anyone Ever Tell You? It’s All a Game! is my debut book and the realisation of my lifelong ambition to become a published author.
What genre is it, and what is it about?
My book is very much in the self-help and personal development category.
Part memoir part self-development guide, Didn’t Anyone Ever Tell You? It’s All A Game! is my personal and practical take on surviving and sometimes winning at life. Like a game of snakes and ladders, life is full of some quick wins and many avoidable traps and I try to put the rulebook back into the readers’ hands. I use a combination of anecdotes, interviews and pieces of advice to show how the game(s) can be played in their favour to get the most out of life. One for mentors, mentees and anyone of any age with a curiosity about how to become the best version of themselves that they can be.
What or who inspired you to write this book?
The book has, I guess, been many years in the writing, I just didn’t know it. So many people have inspired and influenced me ranging from family, colleagues, friends, acquaintances and some who are in the public eye. I feature six of these people through mini biographies and have been totally blown away that they trusted me to tell their personal and inspirational stories.
My big awakening however, came to me after a mentoring session with a young graduate called Ellie who was seeking her way into employment. I woke up at 4am the day after our discussion on the 13th August 2019 and realised that I had to write down everything I knew that could help others to become the very best version of themselves. By the end of that day I had the title, the chapter headings, the route-map as to how I wanted to write the book and also some of the introduction written.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
To write, write and keep writing. This was advice given to me by my daughter Sarah, who is a freelance writer herself. She said to me to just get it written down and not to worry about the edit until after I had finished the initial draft. She was right as I was able to capture all of my thoughts and ideas without worrying about the overall quality at that stage.
I would also say to get some ‘test readers’ who you trust and who will give you good honest feedback. They are very difficult to find as they often are people you know and who don’t want to offend or upset you. However, with the right agreements and safeguards in place they can be immensely valuable. They often spot errors, both factual and grammatical and can tell you whether what you say makes sense, is authentic and readable.
My final top tip would be to use the copy editor/proof readers from the publisher or independently if you able. Cost may prevent this for some, but I was determined that my book would be the very best version it could be and their input was worth every penny.
What do you enjoy most about writing and why?
Putting my thoughts down knowing that the knowledge I have will help others. I love painting pictures and scenes with my words that brings the points I am making come to life.
I also like to think of those who will be reading my work and what I can do to make it as interesting and less daunting as possible.
Many people do struggle with the discipline of reading and some find reading a book overwhelming. I like to try to make my words as interesting and accessible to them as possible.
List three interesting facts about yourself.
I’m a lifelong West Bromwich Albion supporter and season ticket holder with my son. It’s difficult to spot me as, like many of us at the Hawthorns, I’m forever holding my head in my hands.
I have a massive fear of heights yet was able to go to the top of the largest skyscrapers in New York without medication. Alcohol helped though, both on the way up and when I reached the bottom, shaking like a leaf and kissing the ground.
My parents entered me into a fancy dress competition when I was seven years old. I won, in a costume made up of pools coupons (kids, you’ll need to google the pools or ask those over 45 what this is all about) and eight rather large multi coloured ladies knickers on a washing line. I was called ‘eight draws on one line.’
What is your least favourite part of the publishing/writing process?
For someone who has been in financial sales all of my career it pains me to say but it’s the sales and marketing. I am really passionate about my book and how it will help others but have found that gaining interest has been hard. I’m also very anti most social media simply because I struggle with the instantaneous commentary and judgements that can be dispensed. This is very much a personal choice and one I know that this has held me back in this regard. I use LinkedIn which is a professional networking site, and that has been a great way to open new doors. My publishers Matador have helped and given some advice but overall the marketing has been and felt like a haul.
However, I think I may soon have to swallow hard, put my personal feelings to one side and jump into Facebook and Twitter.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
It would be great if everyone could review the book on the publisher Matador’s site and also on Amazon. I do put out a plea at the end of the book as only with feedback can you know whether you are hitting the right notes. People can also contact me via my own website and give me feedback that way.
Success for me though is not necessarily about five star reviews, masses of sales and accolades. I wrote the book to change the stars of one person and to know that I have done this would be the best measure of success I could ever have.
What is your next project?
I still have so much that I want to achieve with “Didn’t Anyone Ever Tell You?” that it is difficult to clear my mind to start the next book. I am also waiting for that “lightbulb” moment that will kickstart my writing. All that said, I do have a framework for book two written down and have some ideas as to what I want it to look like.
In the meantime I’m loving some of the interactions and discussions that I am having with people about the reach and impact of my book with people and organisations I would otherwise have never come to know.
Finally, Matador have asked me to be one of their two inaugural Author Ambassadors. I’m incredibly proud that they want me to represent their brand and help to guide prospective new authors find their way to publication.
Thanks Shelley, I have thoroughly enjoyed this Q and A and hope that we can meet at some stage soon. Coffees are on me.
Connect with Andrew here:
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