#Authorinterviews #fantasy #dirtydozen
For the first of the new format of interviews, I’m pleased to welcome back Andrew Weston.
Please tell us about your publications. I’m very happy to be with Perseid Press. In my relatively short time with them, I’ve managed to produce two trilogies. (Yes, I’m a bit of a workhorse driven by an unquenchable fire).
The first is a science-fiction saga – The IX series – detailing what really happened to the legendary lost 9th Legion of Rome who marched into the mists of Caledonia in circa 100AD and were never seen again.
That trilogy is comprised of, The IX – Exordium of Tears – Prelude of Sorrow.
The other trio form a fantasy adventure following the exploits of Satan’s Reaper, Daemon Grim, and are incorporated within Janet Morris’ critically acclaimed Heroes in Hell universe.
So far, I’ve completed Hell Bound – Hell Hounds – Hell Gate.
In addition to the main novels, I also contribute short stories to that same Heroes in Hell universe. (Grim – Doctors in Hell, & Pieces of Hate – Pirates in Hell).
Although each short story is a complete tale within itself, they form part of – and actually leapfrog – the novels to ensure a level of continuity that adds a spicy tang to the characters and plot.
Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’? I’m a bit of an anomaly.
People familiar with my working process know I plan meticulously before I start writing. I’m a detailed world builder, moulding a depth of history and culture into the places I create so I have them at my fingertips, ready to call on when the need arises. I usually plan out where I’d like my story to start, and the route the plot will follow in order to reach my goal.
However, I have a vivid imagination. When I’m writing, I have all sorts of things bubbling away inside my head along with the actual work in progress. Sometimes, this triggers fresh ideas. I’ve learned to let those new eruptions take me where they will with delightful results. (Some major characters have lived or died on the basis of “going with the flow”).
That’s why I’m glad of my world building stage. I use it like a bank vault of plot points and extra details I can turn to if things need to change…with interest J
If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat? Good question. I had to think long and hard on this.
If you’re going to spend time with a “familiar stranger” you’d want it to be someone who is as appealing as they are refreshing. Someone you could instantly relate to and have fun with, yet still be blown away by their quirkiness. That narrows the field down quite a bit.
So, I’d choose “Hatter,” from Alice’s Adventures Through the Looking Glass.
As for food, that’s easy.
We’d have to wet our appetites with an aperitif of tea,
Lots of it, strong and hot, both for Hatter and for me.
Then for starters, I think, Wonderland mushrooms would have to follow,
Though the risk involved, as you know, would be rather hard to swallow.
The main course would be simple, yet crafted to entice,
Poached Rabbit stuffed in its waistcoat, upon a bed of rice.
Extravagance would follow, for then we’d greet our sweet,
Unbirthday cake in layers bright, the perfect festive treat.
And what finer way to end this, very important date,
Than by sharing a final cup of tea with my crazy madcap mate.
How do you deal with bad reviews? I read them whilst medicated in the off chance they might contain something constructive – as sometimes, they do – and then I use those little snippets to improve my writing.
Sadly, I usually end up having to drink gin until I’m intoxicated and morbidly depressed before crying myself to sleep on an absorbent pillow.
Sort these into order of importance: Good plot – Great characters – Awesome world-building – Technically perfect.
I would approach this exercise as if I intended to construct a wall.
My foundations would have to be in place first. That means the world building phase kicks everything off. Once you have something on which to work, you need a picture in your mind – or on paper – of the dimensions of the wall. I think that nicely describes your plot. Then you need the right materials. Queue your characters.
As for technical perfection? I know I’ll probably knock a few noses out of joint when I say this, but …I’ve read hardback copies by current world-renown – megabucks – authors from all 4 of the “big” houses and found them sprinkled with spelling, and in a few cases grammatical and constructive errors.
But, that’s just part and parcel of the editing process. Nobody will ever produce a perfect manuscript.
On a similar point, I’ve read some self published works that lacked proper editing. (And clearly so). In many cases, it made me grind my teeth. HOWEVER, there have been one or two instances where I’ve enjoyed the world, the plot and its characters so much I didn’t let the technical glitches spoil my enjoyment of a great story.
Push come to shove? Give me a choice between a good, technically perfect story and one I know is great – though littered with errors – I’d choose the one I’d enjoy most. I don’t get the chance to simply read for fun all that often, so I wouldn’t want to waste the opportunity.
How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? As my readers will be aware, I complete an absolute shedload of research before putting pen to paper. And it’s all topic-specific.
(Hot off the press. I’m already researching certain factual, scientific and esoteric aspects to a story I won’t be writing for another four years yet. What is it? Aha…you’ll see…)
And to the wildest subjects? That’s difficult to define, as it will be dependent on each person’s perspective. I’m not easily shocked, so it might be better just to list some of the subject I’ve dipped into for storylines:
I have delved into the rituals involved in demon possession and exorcism; sex rites of Incubi and Succubae worshipers; psychic, sexual and physical appetites of supernatural half-breeds such as Cambions.
I’ve also researched some of the world’s most notorious serial killers. By comparing their backgrounds, home environments and the external stimuli they were subjected to over time, I’ve learned something about the behavioural triggers that motivated them to act in the way they did, and how each one evolved their own respective modus operandi.
Not particularly wild, but diverting nonetheless.
How influential is storytelling to our culture? Sadly, I think it’s becoming less and less influential as the techno-age advances. Too many modern-day parents tend to leave things to gadgets when they should be giving their kids the most important, most essential thing required for their development: time.
That’s a great pity. I could read and write before I went to school, but that was down to Mom and Dad spending time with me.
Mom was the reader, she’d get my favourite books down off the shelf and we’d go through them together. But Dad was the master storyteller.
I grew up in a haunted house, and my parents soon realized that the spooky goings on didn’t faze me all that much. So, my Dad would make up the darkest, most macabre and twisted bedtime stories imaginable. I loved them!
The only downside to that is…I can’t watch horror films. They’re just too darn boring. I’ve only ever seen one thing that sent a little tingle along my spine.
If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? The Silver Surfer.
When I’m awake, I try and turn strange dreams into reality, and my thoughts are often floating through the vastness of space, imagining what’s out there. When I’m asleep, I’m fishing for fresh ideas that come to me in a kaleidoscopic rush of warped details. But to be able to experience all that – and more – for real? To be able to roam the cosmos at will and witness every aspect of its grandeur in minute detail?
Yes please…I’ll be there, a fellow traveller cresting the next intergalactic wave on his journey into…?
What is your writing space like? Think chaos space meets the results of an antimatter explosion, and you’ll be getting close. It sounds messy, and it is…But I know where everything is, so I don’t let my wife touch a thing.
What’s your next writing adventure? My next venture involves the completion of an “Author’s Cut” version of my debut novel and related works. I cringe when I look at them now, as my method has developed and matured into quite a distinctive writing style. I much prefer being able to express myself using rich and descriptive prose that paints a vivid tapestry of the world in which each story is set. Injecting my true voice into the Guardian and Cambion series will hopefully make these stories shine in the way I know they can.
What is the last book you’ve read? American Gods by Neil Gaiman,
I’m really taking to Gaiman’s writing. He’s so obviously quintessentially English that I can guarantee a good helping of afternoon tea and cucumber sandwiches with every portion of his work. And yet, he has a universal appeal that will engage just about anyone at every level of reading.
American Gods is superb, a road trip across the bridge spanning old world and new; a place where myth, legend, nightmares and dreams come together on a smorgasbord of dark and dreadful delight that will leave you as disturbed as you are fascinated. You think you know all there is to know about gods? Think again.
And how better to expose their double-dealing ways than by revealing the never-ending cycle that keeps them in power?
As I say, a great story into which Gaiman manages to inject his morbid, warped sense of humour. (My kinda guy).
How important is writing to you? I can honestly say, I get twitchy if I don’t write or do something creative every day. It’s the same when I go to bed, as I invariably start making up new stories and plotlines, only to go to sleep living them out.
Andrew P. Weston is Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.
An astronomy and law graduate, he is the creator of the international number one bestselling IX Series and Hell Bound, (A novel forming part of Janet Morris’ critically acclaimed Heroes in Hell shared universe). Andrew also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society, the British Science Fiction Association and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.
When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.