#SPFBO4 Interview with Dave Woolliscroft, author of Kingshold

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Today I’m pleased to welcome to my blog Dave Woolliscroft author of Kingshold (No.1 in the Wildfire Cycle)

Hi Dave, welcome to my blog and thank you so much for agreeing to take part in an interview

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Firstly, Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and your book??

The short answer, and the one that avoids regurgitating my bio from my website (dpwoolliscroft.com, go take a look), is that I’m a long time reader, first time writer, and I reached the point in my life where I finally thought, “sod it”. I better give writing a good go before I have (more) regrets as I get (even) older.

I’ve read a varied bunch, in genre and out, but it all started something like this. Tolkien to Eddings, to Weiss & Hickman (dragonlance chronicles), to Feist, to Williams, to Pratchett. I had a bit of a fantasy lull for a while in the late nineties, early 2000’s, but then Steven Erikson caught my attention and I became embroiled in the Malazan Books of the Fallen. That led to Glenn Cook and Joe Abercrombie and a great swathe of excellent authors who are producing today (don’t you think we are so lucky to have so many great books being published today?) (Why yes, yes I do)

Anyway, so thirty years of reading has created ideas and stuff sloshing around in my mind that in quiet moments will preoccupy me. Sir Terry Pratchett has been an enormous influence on me (I still go back and reread the City Watch novels), and so one day, at the beginning of 2017, I was reflecting on the absolute chaotic results that democracy delivered in 2016 in the UK, the US and around the world. It occurred to me that it was a shame that Terry never wrote anything about democracy in Discworld. I thought about how democracy almost sounds like a portmanteau of demon and crazy; and so that how’s the initial idea of tiny pink demonic pixies as the means of voting came about. And then I realized I would have to write it if I wanted to read this story.

Demon-crazy, eventually became Kingshold, and the story expanded to envelop the odd idea I’d been kicking around for nearly ten years.

Kingshold is supposed to feel comfortable to readers of fantasy in many ways: there is an ancient wizard; the city has a euro feel to it (though it’s not medieval). But then I wanted to flip some of the tropes on their head. The king and queen are killed in the opening chapter. The ancient wizard has had enough of the endless grind of protecting the kingdom and wants to retire (to somewhere warm probably). The new ruler isn’t going to be some lost child heir to the throne (no coming of age here), instead the ruler is going to be chosen by the people with money. And though I wanted it to feel epic, the entire story takes place over just thirty days and in the one city.

But Kingshold is also really a story about people believing in themselves and trying to live up to their potential. It’s about families, fathers in particular, and communities coming together. All wrapped up in a package with magic, monsters, pirates, demons, assassins and good old fashioned action!

I also think it’s worth mentioning that Kingshold works well as a stand alone read. It has five POV characters so the opening part of the book is laying some of the groundwork for both this story and the rest of the series, but by the time you hit the 40% mark it’s non stop to the end.

Oh, and it has some laughs in it. Because, if you can’t laugh when the world is going to hell in a hand basket when can you laugh?

You mention that your world has a European feel – does that come as a result of being well travelled as well as well read?  Is there any place in particular where you feel you’ve drawn quite heavily upon the culture/characteristics of the place and can you tell me a little bit more about your own process in terms of world building?

I guess I’m fairly well traveled but there are so many places I would still love to go. When I still lived in England I really took advantage of how easy it was to get around to various places in Europe from London. And then, right before we moved to America we had a six week backpacking adventure through Eastern Europe: Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, Vienna and Berlin. We had such an amazing time; lots of very cool castles, museums and gorgeous scenery. So travels, and also history books, have definitely acted as a frame of reference as I started world building.

World building for me is a combination of “develop it as it was needed” or “dredge up something from the depths of my brain that I have been noodling on in quiet moments over many years”. As an example of the former, I think I wrote the first four chapters and I already knew that the story wouldn’t really leave Kingshold, but I didn’t know enough about the place. So I stopped writing and drew maps of the city, named the neighborhoods, considered its place in the world and its institutions. And after that I needed to have the larger world setting in place too. I had actually hand drawn the map of the Jeweled Continent about three years ago, just for fun, and so I claimed that for these books, further developing their people, religions and political institutions even though they don’t really appear in Kingshold. But to me it was really important to think broadly early, as I knew that Edland (of which Kingshold is the capital) was an island nation that punched above its weight, largely off the back of it’s ships, both merchant and navy. And that meant that Edland would be connected to its neighbors – globalization isn’t a new thing, it really started with the age of sail.

The evolution of a map

Not all of the locations have that European feel as we move through the series. In fact, one of the things that is of increasing importance is the Wild Continent that is mentioned in the book. You could think of it as the Americas when discovered by the Spanish, with its own very different range of cultures and civilizations.

I have quite a few things figured out when it comes to the world inside or outside the walls of Kingshold but I’ve definitely left myself room to discover new things too (which for me is huge fun). That’s one reason why my next book to be released is a collection of novelettes and shorter stories (called Tales of Kingshold, and officially book 1.5 of the series) that enables me to explore the backstories of some characters, introduce new characters and add more color to the world. Chronologically I think about a third of the stories in that book are from before the events of Kingshold, about a third are concurrent and then a third bridge books 1 and 2. I know this is an odd approach to publishing but it’s something I plan to continue for the rest of the series.

I’d like to know more about your characters. Did you have a particularly strong character in mind when you started writing, how many POVs does your book have, do you find it difficult to make them all individual and do you have a strong favourite. 

Well, Kingshold has five POV characters. Maybe a little ambitious for a debut novel but I love to look at problems and situations from many angles. And I love to read a scene of a prominent character from a different perspective, I think that helps round out your view of them. I also really wanted to make this story diverse (in a good way) with prominent female characters and characters with different backgrounds, so multiple POV was the way for me to do that.

Hopefully, all of the POV characters feel distinct. They all have their own particular challenges and issues that they are dealing with as you meet them. We have some characters with a lack of confidence in themselves and their appreciation of their own self-worth. We have one character who is not living up to the potential that was identified early in his life. And there is definitely a common theme of characters who are struggling with the expectations of family and those who are close to them. Each of the characters have their own arcs and finish the book in quite a different place than they started, and it will be fun to see how the meat grinder of life treats them in the future.

And is it difficult?

Hell, yeah! Revisions, editors and beta readers really helped me with identifying where there were gaps that needed to be addressed to make the characters pop before I released Kingshold in to the world. One thing I was proud of from the feedback of my beta readers is that the most and least liked characters differed between them, and now too with actual reader reviews. I want readers to have the opportunity to latch on to the characters that most appeal to them.

I don’t think I can pick a favorite POV character. There’s a little bit of me in all of them. But of the supporting cast I really enjoyed writing Jyuth, the ancient wizard. He’s a cantankerous, foul-mouthed old guy who loves his food and the country that he helped found. You could think of him as a combination of the Danny Glover character from Lethal Weapon (“I’m too old for this s#!t” – one for the teenagers there) and Bayaz from the First Law trilogy. But unlike Bayaz, Jyuth is secretly a softy underneath, like a tough old teacher you might have had who wants you to learn for yourself but still very much cares.

Thanks for this.  Finally, can I ask a few random questions unrelated to the book?

If you could go back in time to your younger self what advice would you impart?  Embrace and be public with your inner geek! Don’t care what other people think. Be creative. Have confidence in yourself.

Can you tell readers 3 random snippets of information about yourself that isn’t available elsewhere on your social media?

  • My three deceased heroes are Terry Pratchett, Brian Clough and John Peel. Which rather neatly covers my three passions of fantasy, football and music.
  • I watched the sun rise from the top of my university dormitory on my 19th birthday. It was five floors up and required climbing up the outside of the building and through various other people’s dorm rooms to access parts of the roof. Yes, we had been out all night and I did find that I had suffered some injuries in the process after finally going to bed.
  • I love pork products. Pork pie and sausage rolls are the foods I miss most about home.

If you could choose from any superpower what would you go for and why.  Super speed. I could travel to anywhere in the world without having to get on a plane (and I’ve spent a lot of time waiting in airports). I would also be able to make more use of the time I carve out every day for writing.

If you could travel to a fictional world anywhere in the universe where would you go.  Ankh Morpork. This city feels very real to me from Pratchett’s writing. It’s so colorful and diverse, and with a capacity for constant change. I’d try to wangle a meeting with Vetinari and see if Dibbler’s pies really are that bad.

Dave, thank you so much for taking part.  I wish you all the best in the SPFBO.

FYI: Dave can be found at:

Goodread’s : author’s page

Website: http://dpwoolliscroft.com

Twitter: @dpwoolliscroft

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#SPFBO4 Interview with Jacob Sannox, author of Dark Oak

Posted On 11 August 2018

Filed under Book Reviews
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The SPFBO has got off to a great start already with plenty of attention on the authors and their work.  You can follow the comings and goings on Twitter using the #SPFBO hashtag or by checking into Mark Lawrence’s blog.  Last week I posted an interview with Phil Parker which can be found here and today I’m really pleased to welcome to my blog another of my SPFBO authors, Jacob Sannox.

Jacob is the author of Dark Oak, the first in a series which takes us to a world after the war has concluded and the Dark Lord has been defeated.  We discussed inspiration, conflicted characters, challenges and favourite quotes.

Hi Jacob, thanks for agreeing to take part in an interview.

So, When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? 

It sounds cheesy, but I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, probably thanks to my parents. They were both big readers and both journalists. My mum worked freelance while my sister and I were little, so the last thing I’d hear before falling asleep each night was the sound of her typing in her little study down the hall.  Mum taught me to touch-type, and she’d let me use her word processor to write. The earliest things I remember writing were three-sentence stories and, a little later, an attempt at turning one of my favourite books into a play. I seem to remember my teacher cast the rest of the class, and we acted it out. It wasn’t good!

Not cheesy. I love that. My dad very strongly influenced my reading. What were your early reads. Did they lure you into fantasy?? Anything that still stands out for you?  

Early reads. I don’t think there are many curve balls. My Mum read me The Hobbit, and it left a massive impression on me. So much so, in fact, that I dismissed The Lord of the Rings as just ‘a sequel’ for a long time, refusing to read it until I was seventeen, when I bunked off school and read it Neverending Story style. I can remember being fascinated by Tolkien’s initials and wondering what he was like as a person. Mum also read me the Narnia books, but whereas the obsession with Tolkien and Middle-Earth has endured, I left Narnia in childhood and could never go back.

What else? I loved Robin Hood (cue a surprise trip to Sherwood Forest) and King Arthur too.  Another huge book from my childhood was Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell, a non-fiction book about a man living with otters on the west coast of Scotland.

I think most of my early favourites are still favourites – I still can’t walk through the countryside without imagining something from those books. Reading all of them definitely inspired me to create my own characters and stories, both in how I played (every action figure had a back story) and how I wrote as a kid.

One does not simply dismiss LotR as a sequel – it is folly!

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Without any spoilers can you give readers an idea of your spfbo book and what to expect and would you say those early influences have played a part?  

The early influences definitely played a part in the sense that I decided that Dark Oak would begin at the point where traditional fantasy stories would end.

I wanted the Dark Lord to be killed immediately, and to tell the story from the perspective of a man who fought on the wrong side against his will, faced with having to prove his true loyalties while trying to get back to his family.

I wanted to explore how all those classic, heroic characters would act when faced with making uncomfortable choices in a world that has gone from being very black & white, where there was a readily identifiable evil, to a place where everything is grey and morally ambiguous.

Dark Oak is pretty grim at times. it’s told from the perspective of those high and low in human society, but also of the Dryads who emerge in the aftermath of the book’s opening sequence. I like the Dryads. I worked hard at trying to get inside their minds, as creatures with a different psychology, a different physiology and few limitations. I won’t say much about them, but they have some, I think, unique abilities and features which really set them apart.

It’s fair to say that Dark Oak is very pro-nature!

I like the idea of looking at what comes next after the ‘big events’ have taken place. It almost feels like we still have a ‘happily ever after’ feeling when reading stories and yet history teaches us that the period after a war can be devastating. How did taking the ‘dark lord’ out of the picture affect your story. We all love a good ‘baddie’ so how difficult was it to come up with somebody or something to act as an antagonist? 

Oh he walks forward to stand front and centre practically straight away, and that’s because I believe, as you said, the aftermath is often as interesting as the war.

A simplistic way of looking at it could be that in Middle-Earth, the evil things are quite definitively evil – we rarely mourn an orc or a balrog, whereas in A Song of Ice and Fire, evil is a little more pernicious and harder to identify. My fantasy world switches from one sort of world to the other overnight, and while humanity is made up of humans, there will never be a lack of an antagonist! For a thousand years everyone was united to fight the Dark Lord, and the minute he’s killed, they’re all shooting each other sidelong glances and getting twitchy.

I try not to have bad guys who couldn’t look in a mirror every morning and think, ‘Sure, they don’t like you, but you’re fundamentally misunderstood’ as I feel not many people would ever consider themselves the bad guy.

True.  Did you find that some of your bad guys were maybe not so bad and that some of your good guys were sometimes not so good?  In terms of your characters did you really lean heavily on people from your own experience?  

That duality is something I definitely wanted to explore. I wanted to write characters that readers would root for, but who would also make them frown or gasp on occasion. I also wanted to have ‘villains’ whose motivations make sense on some level and who are acting on a desire to do good as they see it…even if objectively, it really doesn’t look that way.

I think it’s difficult not to inject your life experience and influences into your characters, but hopefully what you create is something unique, even if an individual trait or the way a character thinks is reminiscent of someone you’ve known. It’d be fair to say that some figures from recent history have informed a few of the characters, for sure.

I’d say that Dark Oak, being the first in the series, is not the most cheery! I feel a little sorry for the characters as you are mostly seeing them work through strife, but book 2 is a rather different animal.

What led you to self publish and can you give any tips to others out there wishing to take this route?

I’ve always geared up for traditional publishing, and I received some good feedback about my first novel from agents, although no takers. While writing Dark Oak I got to know a few friends who were supporting themselves through self-publishing, and I started watching Joanna Penn’s, Creative Penn videos on Youtube. I found many of the arguments for self-publishing persuasive, so thought I would give it a go.

As for tips, I’m really only starting out myself, but the main thing that has been invaluable is interacting with the the self-publishing community. People have so much knowledge and are willing to help newbies out with learning what sort of advertising works, when to release, what is selling at the moment and so much more; there are lots of little points of wisdom that I just would not even have thought about as ‘a thing’ until somebody mentioned them, for example the pros and cons of indicating that a book is the first in a series on the cover.

I didn’t take all the advice for Dark Oak, and I spent more on the wrong advertising than was wise in the first few months. I know better for next time!

The main arguments for self-publishing are chiefly that the author retains complete control of the content of the book, the cover, the marketing and the price. Making these decisions is fun and it is a nice feeling have control of the reins.

Do you have a favourite character in the book?  And, if so, why??

My favourite character is Lachlan, the Lord of the Isles. He’s got responsibilities on his shoulders, living a life he would not have chosen for himself in the shadow of his wife and is suffering something of a personal crisis. I enjoyed writing his journey as he tries to balance his own needs with his duties. I also imagine him with a truly fantastic beard.

What aspect of the story did you find the most challenging to write??

The first chapter was challenging because although I wanted it to convey the chaos and confusion of the dying minutes of a battle, it had to be understandable, and I also had to get across the history so you knew what the battle was about and why Morrick, the main character, is in such a dangerous situation. It’s told from the perspective of the Dark Lord’s troops.

In general I have a tendency to disperse my characters all over the map so it can be a real challenge bringing them all back together again with credible reasoning! It’s such a relief when I get the main characters in a room together.

Do you have a particular quote or a couple of quotes that you would like to share here?

‘He came upon a spot deep in the midst of the forest where the light splatter of blood-spray coloured the grass. As he walked, he found crimson pools in which scraps of leather armour now floated like barren islands.’  

‘Riark thought of death and he became it. He felt the living pulse of the Mother Tree and turned its sap to poison even as it flowed. He decayed the bark, rotted the wood and caused the branches to break.

Finally (you may be pleased to hear). Can you tell me three random things about yourself that I can share with readers??

Not at all! It’s fun.

Random thing #1: I get terrible vertigo. I once went to see Patrick Stewart in The Tempest, and we were sitting in the upper circle. I had to crawl out at the interval. I then sold my tickets to see Ian McKellen in King Lear because I couldn’t face the same seats. I recently failed to climb a mountain for charity and started to get dizzy whilst standing on the floor at the O2 Arena in London while watching Tim McGraw and Faith Hill because the ceiling was so high.

Random thing #2: I have a Tolkien tattoo. There will be more.

Random thing #3: I used to run a business writing personalised letters from Santa. You could order ones for kids who had been good and ones to hand out during the year as a reminder that Santa is watching and would not approve of certain behaviours. We used to write with green ink, include confetti shapes of Christmas trees and seal the envelopes with wax.

Jacob, thank you so much for taking part.  I wish you every success in the SPFBO contest and I’m really looking forward to reading Dark Oak – I’m really interested in the ‘what came after’ – it’s something that has intrigued me for a while so I’m keen to see what you’ve come up with.

Details of Jacob’s book can be found here.

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#SPFBO4 Interview with Phil Parker, author of The Knights’ Protocol Trilogy

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Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing by William Blake, c. 1786

Okay, the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off just started, my first books are all lined up and I have a number of interviews and guest posts scheduled from some of the authors of the books from my list.  Excitement am I.  So, my first interview :

Today, I’m really pleased to welcome Phil Parker (yes – P, Parker – who I so want to call Peter).  Phil is the author of The Bastard from Fairyland (The Knights’ Protocol Trilogy #1)

Hi Phil, welcome and thanks for agreeing to take part in an interview.  To begin with could you tell readers a little bit about yourself and also a quick summary of your book

I live in beautiful Worcestershire with my wife, daughter and our labrador, Maddie. I’ve been a teacher for most of my career but now I write full-time, from online learning resources, marketing copy as well as my books. When I taught, I wrote three non-fiction books for other teachers, I enjoyed doing that a lot. I wrote plays which I produced at my school and for a youth theatre I ran. Writing has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. 

Writing The Knights’ Protocol trilogy has been a real labour of love. It’s been eight years since I seriously started work on it, when I stopped teaching. That story has had so many versions! Like a dog with a bone, I couldn’t leave it alone. But I could never get it to feel quite right. Then I did a three month writing course and my tutor gave me the confidence I needed to bring it all together. Getting it published felt marvellous, I never thought I’d ever get to that point!

The Knights’ Protocol is a dark fantasy. It’s the story of a cruel and ruthless Fae race declaring war on Humanity that’s on the edge of survival after ecological catastrophe has flooded the world. Caught in the middle is Robin Goodfellow, an exiled member of the Fae nobody likes. He’s a bitter, lonely ex-soldier with a psychotic alter-ego called Puck. He has no interest in either race killing each other until events drag him into the conflict and he becomes a crucial factor in its resolution. 

I’ve been enjoying SFF stories since I was a child and I’m sure you have too.  It would be great to hear what books you love to read – I’m always fascinated to know what books authors love and if they feel like their reading experiences have had an influence on their writing.  I guess, like most readers, I’m nosey (or curious) and I’m also always on the look out for recommendations.

Yeah, I have always loved reading. I loved how I could lose myself in a story as a kid. I’m going to give my age away now when I tell you that I first got into fantasy by reading Astounding Stories comics in the 1960s. They evolved into superhero comics which a bunch of my friends collected and swapped. True nerdy behaviour! I was a massive fanboy of The Avengers, X-Men and Fantastic Four. I could relate to Spiderman too, not just because he was a nerdy kid as well but also because his name was P. Parker – like mine! I was so proud of that!! (Years later, kids at my school nicknamed me Spiderman!)

Who to recommend? Oh wow! The list is endless. If I limit it to the authors who’ve influenced my own writing the most? Top of that list is Richard Morgan, I loved Altered Carbon (the TV show too) and his Land Fit For Heroes trilogy. It was my route into all things Grimdark so then I discovered Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence and at the moment I’m fascinated by the Grimdark-with-Heart stories of Ed McDonald. 

You mentioned your love of Celtic Mythology and Arthurian legend.  Do these play a leading role in your book?  How did you go about incorporating them, did you have a plot and then work those elements in or did you know from the beginning that they would play a role and they were actually a part of the story’s development?

Oh I wish you hadn’t asked me that Lynn!  You’re going to get a lecture on my 10 year journey of research if I’m not careful. 

OK, the quick summary version. About 12 years ago I read Faerie Tale by Raymond E Feist and I got fascinated by how he wove his story around myths and made them sound like they could be based on real history. I decided to do the same thing. I became fascinated by the Green Man legend and how it stretched around the world. That became the central focus of my research but I went off in so many different directions, I was like a firework! My research took me into Celtic mythology and from there to Arthurian legend, which landed me in Glastonbury and that’s when the Knights’ Trilogy really took shape. My first novel in it, The Bastard from Fairyland, takes place in and around this mystical town. When the Somerset Levels were badly flooded in 2014 that gave me the setting of a world suffering from the impact of  global warming. I think the myths and the plot met and shook hands, that’s the only way I can describe how the books formed.

Let’s talk about research.  To what lengths would you say you’re prepared to go to?  Are you obsessive about the detail?  Have you found that when researching some of your discoveries have resulted in changes to your story?  – that leads me on to a slightly different question which is when you started your series – did you have a full plan, did you know the beginning and the end or was it a very fluid process that changed as you went along?

Dyrk Ashton (he of the wonderful Paternus stories) and I agree that we’re obsessive about research. We get so carried away with it, the difficulty comes in deciding what NOT to include! But to answer your question, I certainly didn’t plan anything. I can’t. This was a discussion Dave Woolliscroft (he’s written the brilliant Kingshold) and I had recently. He plans really carefully. I think it’s my drama training that means I write with my characters in my head. Once I’d found Robin, the books wrote themselves. It just took ages to find him. So I had a fair idea of how The Bastard from Fairyland would end but that vision got significantly dimmer as the trilogy progressed! It was an organic process. As each event took place it left me thinking how Robin would react. By the time I’d finished I knew that guy inside and out. He’s had a very positive effect on the people who’ve read all three books – they’ve all said how they hope it’s not the last we’ll hear of my dark warrior. I hadn’t thought about doing anything else but, I’ve got to say now, I miss him. That probably makes me sound very weird.

(Nope – it, doesn’t sound weird at all – of course you’re going to miss a character who has been in your headspace for such a long time).

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the only Shakespeare that I’ve read, although I’ve watched a number of adaptations.  I love the idea of the fae and particularly their meddling in mortal lives.  Does your book use any of the characters from A Midsummer Night’s Dream?  Do you have any particular favourites?

It’s my favourite Shakespeare play, can’t understand why I never produced it at school! I’ve seen it performed more than any other too. I got fascinated by the Elizabethan perspective of the Fae. They believed in their existence completely. They were seen as cruel, ruthless, a race who hated human beings and did everything they could to make their lives a misery. It’s from this time that the idea of the Fae being sterile comes, which was why they were supposed to steal human babies and replace them with Changelings. This issue is a huge factor in my novels. If you’ve ever made a daisy chain, you might not know they were originally placed around sleeping babies to stop fairies from stealing them, fairies hate daisies!

It was the Victorians who made us think fairies were ‘painty-winged’ creatures that looked like flowers – artists like Arthur Rackham. The Victorian writer Rudyard Kipling wrote Puck of Pook Hill – it’s a lovely child’s fantasy story of two kids who meet Robin Goodfellow. That got me interested in the character and reminded me of his cruel behaviour in Dream. The conflict in the play describes how the human world is turned upside down environmentally by Oberon and Titania and their two Courts. Then there was one more factor – but I won’t mention that! It is the denouement of The Bastard from Fairyland – so no spoilers!

In terms of self publishing, can you share with us a little bit about the process that led you to choose this path.  It would be great to hear about your experience and what were the highs and the lows.

I’ve tried the conventional route. There are so few agents who appear really interested in fantasy so finding representation hasn’t been easy. Those who did show interest got bogged down with the Grimdark features. My treatment of a minor character – a kid – right at the start got a thumbs down. I was told to avoid certain words and terms, one agent didn’t like swear words, another said it was ‘too English’ so it wouldn’t work with the US market. That last one I’ve disproved by my sales already. So I decided to do my own thing with Amazon. It was so easy it astonished me. KDP take you through the process step-by-step so you can’t go wrong. They provide loads of sales data for you to analyse too. Getting my first royalties payment was a big moment of satisfaction, after the 8 years of commitment to Robin and his world.

It takes time to get established, you have to be patient I’ve realised. Dyrk Ashton pointed that one out to me! But my reviews so far have all been 4 and 5 star (fingers crossed they continue that way!) and it’s brilliant to get people telling you how much they enjoyed the stories. Having done so much social media marketing in my career in the last 3 years, that’s helped me as a writer! And I’m looking forward to attending SFF events from now on too. All in all, I’m pleased I went down the Indie Writer route. 

Being part of SPFBO has made that even better! I’m getting to meet (in reality and online) so many great people in the fantasy writing community.

What is your favourite/least favourite part of writing.

I love all aspects of writing. Even editing. I love the challenge it presents. I need to be creative and I find every aspect of what I’m doing (even the marketing) feeds that need. It had been a rather lonely business but now I spend a couple of hours a day on Twitter (sometimes when I should be doing other things) because I love catching up with other writers and bloggers all over the world. How good is it when you get to chat about the thing you love most – all the time eh? 

(Yep, I can relate – that’s why so many of us readers blog after all)

How do you switch off – or do you not switch off at all?

Switch off?? What’s that?  It’s a standing joke in my family that I never venture out of my study, unless it’s to take our dog for a walk. She pesters me until I give up the battle. But I get most of my best ideas when we’re tramping across fields anyway. I think Nature is a wonderful muse. But when I’m not writing (or thinking about it) then I watch TV and films. Always SFF stuff of course!

What’s on your radar next??

I’m working on my next novel. The Boy Who Wanted to be Normal. It’s a YA fantasy. I started work on it when I took a break from Robin’s adventures. I’ve had a couple of attempts at writing it, again without feeling like I’d nailed it. Now I’m there. At least with the first draft. It’s a story I’m enjoying now, since I separated from Robin! I’ve realised I’ve reverted back to my love of superhero stories. Some of my characters have certain abilities but they’ve suffered genetic modifications by an unscrupulous and powerful organisation, treated like lab animals. You can see the ethical implications I’m exploring. The biggest challenge is balancing that with my marketing work and the daytime job too. But I wouldn’t swap any of it. I’m enjoying myself far too much!

Phil, thank you so much for taking part and for sharing your thoughts – also thanks for bearing with me, you’re probably gathered I’m a bit of a newbie when it comes to interviews so I can ramble a little.  I love your answers and particularly finding out random snippets of information – such as the daisy chain – I’d never heard of that before.

I’m really looking forward to reading your book and wish you all the best with the SPFBO.

Details of Phil’s book can be found here.

thebastard