Welcome to Francis H Powell
Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born in a “dormitory town” called Reading, not famous for much, apart from a huge Rock festival, and for the fact that Oscar Wilde was sent to prison there and wrote “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”. My family then moved to a farm in the country, in Sussex, not too far from London. I have lived in Austria, but presently I live in St Maurice, in the Parisian suburbs.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I would not like to be considered a horror writer…so maybe dark fiction with elements of wit.
Where do you find inspiration? To some extent my stories are indirectly autobiographical; my life has not been a smooth journey, with many setbacks along the way. I don’t think I consciously draw a line between real events and the fiction I write. I doubtlessly draw from my experiences, good or bad.
Some ideas come from nowhere. Once traveling on the Paris metro, a name suddenly came to me…Little Mite…I then thought about, who would possess such a name…concluding it seemed like a young adolescent, rather wicked. The story is about two families: one old aristocracy on the wane, the other nouveau riche. Little Mite’s sister is about to be married, a match made in heaven and beneficial to both families. There is a party on a lawn, all the final details are being made for the wedding. Little Mite entices the groom’s younger brother to her father’s workshop and glues the innocent boy to a coffee table, a work in progress. Not content with this, she goes and picks some stinging nettles and thrashes the boys legs. This idea came from a newspaper about the author and writer Vita Sackville West, who had a similar fate awaiting children who visited the Sackville estate when she was a child. The story gets very dark, at the end when Little Mite decides to play a trick on her family, to try towing back her parent’s good favor. Unfortunately her father mistakes her for a burglar and shoots her with a hunting rifle. This idea came to me after reading a newspaper article about a similar mishap. Ideas seem to plant themselves in my head and I feel a need to expand on them and develop them. Sometimes newspapers provide excellent sources. I read obscure stories about people stealing other people’s identities, a person who pretends he is a Duke, but in reality he is a fraud.
Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I guess “Bugeyes” for me stands out. He is born into an aristocratic family, with a genetic fault (over-large enormous eyes) and immediately rejected by his mother and sent to live with a servant on the estate. He is mocked cruelly due to his physical defect, as well as being denied his natural inheritance. He gets revenge in the end.
Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? I write about cruel despicable characters, there is not one I particularly dislike.
Are your characters based on real people? Not directly, but as I have said, I think there is a lot of my past experiences intermingled, with my stories.
Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? If I am writing about a subject I don’t know much about, then I trawl the internet for information. For example I have recently written a story called “The Orchid Wars” and I know nothing about orchids or growing flowers. It can be interesting and a good learning experience doing research.
Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Do you feel this is important in a book? I write about outsiders, freaks, oddballs, the oppressed of this world, the cruelty and injustices of this world, as well as those responsible for such situations, the oppressors.
The message, is rise up, you can win through in the end.
Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) From my point of view, write short stories so great characters is very important. Secondly each sentence has to be powerful, the language rich. I would like to be technically perfect, maybe I have a long way to go.
In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? Softback, at the moment.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I worked with two editors. It was hard. I live in France, they live in the US, so all the work was done by e mail. Also my stories are British in character. I must say the stories evolved and my writing at the same time.
What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? You have to rely a lot on other authors concerning publicity…to do a lot of exchanges…author helping author. Whether reviews under these circumstances are objective, I am not sure. A good review can help a lot…people can do a lot of research before they decide to buy a book on Amazon, a good review might swing a sale for an author.
When buying a book do you read the reviews? Not really.
What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? As above I wonder how objective they can be…
What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? With a book, a writer can leave things incomplete and ambiguous. Films (made in Hollywood at least) tend to formularized, meaning the cinema goer has to leave with a happy conclusion, even if whatever has happened before is tragic. A book does not have to end in a happy way. Films revolve around how actors interpret a character or how a director envisages a story. Some films stay in your head a long time after you have seen them…others you can’t even recall the title of the film. Books leave a deeper impression. However films can give so much visual stimulus which can influence your writing. I was once advised by an art tutor, try to go to see a film once a week, even if it’s not a great film, it will offer so much stimulus. I have never really been into video games.
What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?
Stick at it, don’t fall by the wayside.
Find a format of writing that really suits you.
Let inspiration come from many sources, newspapers, film, TV, or even just eavesdropping some people’s conversations on public transport. Keep your eyes and ears open all the time.
What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst? It is hard to say, how much the social media helps to sell books. I have a book trailer for Flight of Destiny. I tweet on a regular daily basis. I am on Linkedin and I pin stuff on Pinterest. I am a disciple of Goodreads. I do author to author interview exchanges. I have a youtube channel dedicated to my book. I collaborate with musicians. There are lots of new social media sites that are emerging, some of which are not good to be involved with, because maybe they are there for the youth market…one I joined to my regret seemed to be filled with middle aged lonely hearts…who looked not really the types to engage with.
Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I read “This party’s got to stop” by Rupert Thompson, a person I met while I was at my first Art College. It is a memoir of when his father died, it is moving but funny at the same time.
Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? As above Rupert Thompson, who is of the traditional published variety. I am not sure about the indie variety.
Do you have a favourite movie? I love films…and I am sure a lot have indirectly influenced my writing…A couple of my favourite films would be “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest” and “Amadeus”. I like films that are historical, psychological, unusual, films that make me think, films that educate me. Films that are witty
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I was once on AustrianTV, wearing a kilt, pretending to toss a caber. They were looking for Scots, I am a part Scottish. I was and still am a bit scrawny and I don’t look anything like somebody who would participate in a Highland Games. I could barely hold up this “caber” and it was lucky I did,’t drop it on somebody’s head. I was also once in Pigbag video, wearing a Guerrilla suit, pretending to play a trumpet. ..
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