10 questions with ‘Spooks’ author Joseph Delaney

Author Joseph Delaney
Joseph Delaney (not as scary as this pic might suggest)

He’s a Lancashire legend with multiple bestsellers under his belt and not to mention a Hollywood film starring Ben Barnes, Jeff Bridges, Alicia Vikander, Julianne Moore and Kit Harington – but admits he had 90 rejections before getting a foot in the door and he remains perfectly down to earth.

Best known for ‘The Spook’s Apprentice’ (Film: The Seventh Son) and the other Spooks stories (16 books in all), the lovely Joseph ‘Joe’ Delaney is also the author of ‘Arena 13’ series (three books), ‘Aberrations’ (two books) and ‘Brother Wulf’ (one book with two more to follow).

What’s more – he’s been a guest in the radio show I co-present with Gemma Ray on BBC Radio Lancashire – and Gemma has voted him the person she’d most like to read her a bedtime story. She obviously hasn’t thought that through as his books are scary! You can find out Joe’s work at www.josephdelaneyauthor.com So with no further ado…

Questions and Answers (Joseph Delaney)

  1. What’s your name and where do you come from? 

My name is Joseph Delaney and I was born in Preston, Lancashire. That county is also the place where most of my books are set.

  1. Do you write fact or fiction and in what genre?

I write fiction and my books are mainly fantasy with the associated genres of the Supernatural, Horror and Ghost Stories. They are aimed at young people, the target age being anything from 10 years to teenagers – but lots of adults read them too.

  1. Are you traditionally or self published and which route do you consider best? 

I am traditionally published. It took me many years and over 90 rejections before I was published by Random House. But it was worth it because they then promoted the books and made sure it got into bookshops. They also have a good Rights Team that has ensured that the Spooks Books have sold overseas and have been translated into thirty or so languages. However, if I were starting out now and had trouble getting a traditional contract, I would self-publish without a doubt.

  1. What is your work schedule like when you are writing? 

It varies but I prefer to write in a morning and, as a deadline approaches, I tend to work harder I hope to write between 500 and 1,000 words per day.

  1. What advice would you give to budding writers? 

My advice is to keep a notebook to record all your ideas as you get them (it is easy to be distracted and forget). Also read widely – as you read you are learning how to write. Thirdly make time to write (each day if possible). I used to get up early and worked from 6.30 am each morning for an hour before I went to my job as  a teacher.

  1. Who/what are YOUR favourite authors/ books? 

My favourite books are the ‘Lord Of the Rings’ books, by Tolkien and the ‘Dune’ series, written by Frank Herbert.

  1. Are you a plotter or a pantster? (i.e do you  plan out your work or fly by the seat of your pants?)

I am definitely a pantster! I discover my plots as I write and often begin without a clue as to how a book will end! I think it is more fun that way and can lead to unexpected plot developments. I let the story and characters unfold and force neither to follow the direction that I choose. 

  1. What helps you focus? 

I dream a lot (asleep and awake) and the ideas drift into my mind. Once the inspiration is there I have enough will power to make myself write – with help from the occasional cup of coffee!

  1. How long did it take you to write your book/books? 

‘The Spook’s Apprentice’ took me a couple of years to write but I was searching for a publisher and kept adding to the book and changing it. Now the process of writing a book takes about a year but that includes changing the first draft as I work with an editor. Often, I am working on more than one book in that year. For a while I was writing two books a year but it is more  comfortable (for me) to write two books in eighteen months

10. Where can we find your book/s? 

My books can be found in Waterstones and lots of other bookshops. You can also buy them from Amazon or directly from my publisher, Penguin Random Children’s Books.  But the best place to buy them is from Tony Higginson who will supply them signed by me (and dedicated if you want that too). Tony can be contacted by email at: tonythebook@live.co.uk


Brother Wulf; the latest Spooks Apprentice adventure by Joseph Delaney
Brother Wulf; the latest Spooks Apprentice adventure by Joseph Delaney


  1. July 16, 2020 / 8:25 am

    Great to see such a clear and friendly blog focusing on Northern talent itself, but I am sure visitors will be welcome too!

  2. Christopher Ringrose
    July 16, 2020 / 3:12 pm

    Nice interview — and books to look out for. . .

  3. DarkPotato99 1
    July 23, 2020 / 8:01 am

    Cool questions!
    These books are my favourite of all time and I never get tired even now that i’ve read each one over 5 times.

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