What elements of fantasy make you like reading and writing in the genre?
The sense of wonder, adventure, and creation. It’s great to be able to take something and just tweak it slightly to make it fantastical, and then see what that does to a world in which that is true; or, at the other end of the spectrum, to fully indulge your imagination and create something bizarre.
Why do we [fantasy readers] find ourselves connecting so deeply to narratives set in the past, whether they are in a secondary world or the real one?
I think it links in to the feeling of discovery of what’s come before, the same thing that interests us in history, archaeology, paleontology, even genealogy. Humans are often fascinated by what happened to get us to where we are today, and that carries over to a fantasy world, even if we know it’s fiction and not directly related to us.
What makes you connect with a character?
Very difficult to say! I have to like them, or find something about them interesting or with which I can empathise. As to what that would be, it can vary wildly between characters.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
I’ll usually start off by going for a walk at about 9am, assuming the weather isn’t awful. That will take me about an hour, and then I’ll be settled down to write by about 10.30. I don’t usually get a great deal done in the morning, but I’ll have lunch about 12, then do most of my words in the afternoon. I’ll knock off somewhere around 5pm, but that could be earlier or later depending on when I get to a natural stopping point.
When did you start reading? And what books/series did you read over and over again?
I read from a very early age, I distinctly remember having read Winnie-The-Pooh and The House At Pooh Corner when I was in reception class at primary school, so about five years old. I regularly read The Hobbit, and Terry Pratchett’s Bromeliad trilogy, and then when I got older I would be re-reading The Lord of the Rings, and Discworld. These days I rarely re-read stuff, because there are so many new things to be reading (being involved in the author part of the internet is wonderful, but also leaves you feeling permanently behind because you hear about all the cool books coming out all the time)!
What are some of your favourite recent reads?
Tasha Suri’s Burning Kingdoms series has been brilliant so far, and I very much enjoyed CSE Cooney’s St Death’s Daughter and Foz Meadows’ A Strange & Stubborn Endurance. I should also give a shout out to Aaron Demski-Bowden’s Echoes Of Eternity, which is a Games Workshop novel. It’s part of the Siege of Terra series, which is technically sci-fi I guess, but the whole thing by that point is so steeped in myth and magic that it’s more like techno-fantasy than anything else. It would be hard to appreciate that book without having a picture of the overall series, but it was a sensational read.
What do you enjoy doing outside of writing and reading?
I go for walks, I go to gigs and clubs, I play guitar and sing in a punk band, I play Games Workshop games (mainly Necromunda) and Marvel Crisis Protocol, and I DJ wherever anyone will tolerate me. So I keep busy!
If you only had one piece of advice to give to an aspiring author, what would it be?
I don’t have much to offer in the way of craft advice, because what works for one person won’t work for another, and I know that how I write is different to the processes for a lot of other authors I know. But if that aspiring author was intending to get published, I think my advice would be “Don’t believe anything anyone says until you see the proof of it.” Offers, contracts, release dates, marketing campaigns; anything like that always has the potential to change or disappear until you actually get it in your hands, no matter what you’ve been told.
Are you working on any new books or other projects at the moment?
I am! I’m currently working on some sort of weird, not-entirely-serious fantasy novel where the future is broken and diviners track down destinies to sell them to the highest bidder.