Author Interview 116 – A J Dalton – Fantasy

 

Welcome to A J Dalton

 

Where are you from and where do you live now? From Croydon, now living in Manchester, UK. I also live online a lot. My website is www.ajdalton.eu, which is a portal for those who like fantasy, and which gives plenty of advice and steer to aspiring authors. And I’m on facebook and twitter, blah blah.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I’m the UK’s leading author of metaphysical fantasy, mainly cos all the other writers are dead. It wasn’t me. I wrote the first new-wave zombie book back in 2008, called Necromancer’s Gambit. I then did a trilogy for Gollancz, starting with Empire of the Saviours, which sold very well in Germany for some reason (they either have good taste or no taste). Now, I’m doing a trilogy for Grimbold Books: The Book of Orm (2015), The Book of Angels (2016), and The Book of Dragons (2017).

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? My fantasy novels tend to be second-world and psychological, so I don’t need to do much research. Mind you, I’ve taught English all round the world, and other cultures definitely influence my writing. I’ve also learnt a number of martial arts – I’m one of your better authors when it comes to writing a bloody fight scene. But the only book I’ve ever done historical research for is ‘I Am a Small God’, because it’s about a minor Greek god who survives through different eras – so I had to get human historical details right. I don’t enjoy researching that much, as it slows down the writing. Unlike Hilary Mantel, I prefer the writing to the research.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? Yes, a number of philosophical themes, including the impossibility of true freedom. I actually coined the sub-genre of ‘metaphysical fantasy’, which is now a category of fiction within the Amazon website.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I self-edit because I’ve been an English language teacher for like 20 years. I have better grammar and punctuation than anyone my publishers can supply. BUT I do use a reading group to spot typos and continuity errors – and they give me emotional support too (very important during long winters).

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Yes. There is a (false) idea that self-published work is inferior to stuff published by the mainstream. This idea is wrong, and probably an idea put round by those with a commercial agenda. Basically, publishers reject commercial-standard manuscripts on a daily basis simply because the publishers (falsely) believe the market is only looking for certain things. Look at Marlon James (Booker Prize Winner) – his books were rejected by everyone. Charlaine Harris’s True Blood series was rejected by every single publisher until vampire fiction was suddenly fashionable again.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? I think authors should be able to comment on reviews, especially reviews that are unfair. BUT that’s not how things work, I’m afraid. Any author commenting on a review gets accused of silencing free speech, etc. It’s a shame.

What are your views on authors reviewing other authors? Ha. Authors are often very enthusiastic about the genre in which they write. They’re readers too. They often want to share their enthusiasm. BUT if the review isn’t entirely positive, the reviewing author will suddenly find their own books start getting reviews that aren’t entirely positive too. Tit for tat. It’s a shame.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? Well, F. R. Leavis said a book was ‘active entertainment’ but a movie was ‘passive entertainment’. I tend to agree. A book makes you work harder than a movie. But a book and a movie serve different functions. They both have their strengths.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?

  1. Develop your selling skills – cos writing it is far easier than selling it
  2. Ignore feedback unless you’re getting similar feedback from a range of readers
  3. Learn to master narrative perspective and avoid ‘intrusive author voice’ – if you’re not sure what that means, check my short essay and the cited examples in Art of the Novel, by Salt Publishing.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? My guilty pleasure is Gotrek and Felix, by the Black Library. Very strong characters, with well constructed moral dilemmas, and good fight scenes.

What are your views on authors offering free books? If an author has a range of titles, then giving one away for free can win you readers for your other titles. Look, authors make very little money as it is, so we’re not doing any of this to make money really. We’re doing this cos we have something we want to share with people. Giving away a few books never really hurt. And if the person who got the free copy passes it on, they’ll help recruit new readers for you and your other titles.

Do you have a favourite movie? Rollerball, James Caan. The individual fighting the world… and winning.

 

 

 

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Meet Author A.L. Butcher – Mercedes Fox ~ Author

Hello followers! Author A. L. Butcher is in the house to answer a few questions. Why do you write?   I write because I enjoy it, and it keeps me sane. I’ve always been a storyteller and poet, losin…

Source: Meet Author A.L. Butcher – Mercedes Fox ~ Author

Review – The Hogfather – Terry Pratchett

5 Stars

This is a re-read for me but as always Terry Pratchett hits the nail right on the head for wit, intelligence and humour wound tightly in this Christmas style fantasy.

The Hogfather – basically the Discworld’s equivalent of Santa Claus – an ‘old god doing a new job’. But he’s disappeared, and belief is waning so Death himself dons the beard and red suit to ensure Hogswatch goes as planned and, more importantly, the sun continues to rise. The humans need to believe in the ‘little lies’ so that they may believe in the bigger ones, such as morality, justice and right. This is what, says Death, makes them human. Yet there are places even Death cannot go. Susan Sto-Helit, technically human but on the Discworld technicalities are a little looser, nobility, governess and Death’s granddaughter seeks to go where none should go and defeat an assassin even the mighty Assassin’s guild fear.

As always the story has many layers – the nature of belief, the fluidic line between right and wrong, human nature and of course a damn good adventure.

Pratchett is a master of touching on the reality of things – humanity and it’s many strange ideas and ways, human behaviour and all it’s quirks and I find there’s an element of Discworld in us all. We can relate to this mad, wonderful, complex world in so many ways.

Two of my favourite quotes lie within the pages:
“The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head.”

“Where life can live life will, where life can’t it takes a little longer.”

Review – The Shepherd’s Crown – Terry Pratchett

Review The Shepherd’s Crown

5 Stars

Not perfect but extraordinary.

The last book in the Discworld Fantasy series was always going to be a book which made the reader emotional. Sir Terry Pratchett was, perhaps, one of the greatest British Fantasy writers and his books are funny, intelligent, witty, evocative and adventurous. The Discworld series has brought me many happy hours, and I am sure will continue to do so. I can happily read them over and over and always find something new, always chuckle at the rapier wit and always loose myself in the pages.

The first Pratchett book I read was Reaper Man, lent to me by my boyfriend for a long train journey. I was laughing so much I had tears streaming down my face. I am sure everyone on the train thought I was mad. I think the Discworld got me into fantasy big time.

Since then I have enjoyed every book in the series, watched the screenplays, animated plays, directed an amateur production of Maskerade, and even collected the diaries (even the clown one and I hate clowns). Discworld was a big part of my reading life. I was terribly sad to learn of Mr Pratchett’s death far too young from such a terrible illness. That said he has left a great legacy, and maybe his public fight against the disease which took his life but not his creativity, or his spirit, may bring the disease and its research to the fore.

The Shepherd’s Crown is a book of endings, of uncertainty and then determined inevitability towards the future. Many of the other reviews of this book speak of an air of frustration, the sense of things being left unfinished and I agree. All of those are there, and yet there is also the sharpness, the wit and the sense of adventure one would expect from a Pratchett book.  Characters die – and the Discworld is left rather emptier without them. Just as the literary world is left rather emptier with the death of Terry Pratchett. I must confess I had a bit of a cry over this one.

So enough of the eulogy, what about the book? Firstly it isn’t perfect. It isn’t QUITE as polished as some, but it doesn’t matter. After all very few authors can write quite so many books, and certainly not pen a book in the last few months of a terminal illness. The book is still complete enough to be enjoyable and it’s a fitting final book. A path travelled with familiarity and fondness but still a few rough patches is still a worthy path to take.

The story picks up after Wintersmith and the banishing of the elves – the elder witches return, and sacrifice is there. The fight is not without cost. It is more for the younger audience but death, duty, life and love are all covered. The Witches again do battle and the MacFeegles are, as always, mischievous and crafty in a very lovable way.  Tiffany is character with many qualities, and they are all tested. Granny Weatherwax’s conversation with Death is poignant one can’t help thinking of the Reaper Man waiting at the door, and bowing his head to the author as well as the greatest witch.

It’s not Pratchett’s greatest work, but despite the rather rushed ending, the not quite perfect character of Geoffrey and his intriguing goat who isn’t explained, it’s still a Discworld novel. It’s still a damn good read, a bit darker, a bit starker, a bit less full of life and a whole lot sadder, but yes it’s still a great read. I think the circumstances of the book’s very being give an air of the extraordinary.

Mind how you go, Sir Terry. You’ll be missed.

Character Interview Number Twenty Seven – Ephany

Tell Us About Yourself

Name (s): People call me Ephany, just Ephany.

Age: *shrugs. I do not know. It is not important.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Wouldn’t you like to know….?

I am a female half-elf, I work for the House of Thieves, and answer to the Thiefmaster, who in turn answers to the Oncoming Storm and the Shadowdancer. Have a problem with that? Hard luck to you. We are everywhere, we watch from the rooftops and the alleys. We are the Shadows.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. That depends what I am doing…

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? *Laughs loudly.

I do. It is not the same as yours, I dare say.

Would you kill for those you love? *Laughs even louder.

What do you think? I have. I do. I will.

Would you die for those you love? Yes.

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths – I have been taught swordplay and shadowplay by the best there is. I do what is necessary to further the aims of the House of Thieves.

Weaknesses – why should I tell of something that can be used against me? That is just foolish.

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Why? The Thiefmaster, of course. There is a young man I care for too – Gregori. At least for now. My life is dangerous and it is difficult and risky to get too attached to others. We die, we disappear and so love is at best snatched where it can be. There is affection, let’s put it that way. If I wish for a lover I take one. Why should I not – men do..

Do you like animals? Do you have any pets/animal companions? I do like animals, but aside from my pony I have no pets. I move around a good deal and often have to hide. The pony belongs to the thieves, really. Animals do not judge, they have no prejudice. They are not wicked, that is the territory of people.

I do not like people who mistreat animals, they are slightly higher up the ladder of scum than the Order of Witch-Hunters, but not by much.

Do you have a family? Tell us about them.

My mother was a courtesan, my father is a thief and an assassin. I have skills from both parents. I may have siblings – I do not know. The House of Thieves is my family.

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? How do you think it influences you? I was raised in a whorehouse, one of the higher class ones, but a whorehouse nonetheless. I know how to pleasure a man, and for that matter a woman, and sometimes this is a better form of persuasion than a knife. It is certainly a more enjoyable one, and usually longer lasting.  Do not get me wrong. It is my body and I use it as and when I wish, with whom I wish. My mother taught me diplomacy in the bedroom, my father taught me the… persuasion of the shadows. The skill set from my father is a little more direct.

Do you have any phobias? Phobias are a weakness. Why should I be afraid of the dark, when the darkness is my friend? I have no illusions and thus no fear. I am the shadows, I am the nightmare, I am the fear.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. I once emasculated a man who liked to rape elves. He did not enjoy eating his own balls nearly as much as I enjoyed feeding them to him.

 

Tell Us About Your World

The world of Erana is dark, deadly and dangerous. We are ruled by martial law which is both corrupt and pervasive. Elves and half elves are not free. We have no rights, no protection under law, we are property. We are nothing. That at least is what the Order of Witch-Hunters propound. It is, of course, bullshit. One day they will find this out.

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where? I go where the Thiefmaster commands. However recently I have escorted Lady Mirandra of the trolls to the Emerald Valley. Trolls know little of traps and ruins.

Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world? Erana is a world of magic, but magic is forbidden. Magic persists, it cannot be imprisoned, despite the best efforts of the Order. The Society of Hidden Secrets is proof of that. I am proof of that as an adept. I have magic in my blood which….enhances my abilities. The Order are fools, but they are powerful fools, with the law, such as it is, on their side.

Most humans fear magic, they do not understand it and they are too ignorant to learn. The Witch-Hunters keep it so.

Does your world have any supernatural/mystical beings? Please tell us about some. *Shrugs. I have fought with monsters which do should not exist but do. I do not know exactly what they were, except bad news.

That is a very strange word – supernatural A being beyond the laws of nature? Nature has many laws and many creations, that we are too ignorant to understand them is not nature’s fault – it is ours. Nothing is beyond nature – it is merely beyond our comprehension. If you are asking whether my world has magical beings then yes, of course. Does not yours?

Within your civilisation what do you think is the most important discovery/invention? The bow. Many have fallen to it. I think it is the ultimate weapon of war.

 

Author notes:

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links:

The Stolen Tower

http://www.amazon.com/Stolen-Tower-Light-Beyond-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00U8A9044/

The Shining Citadel (briefly).

http://www.amazon.com/The-Shining-Citadel-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00D4CF6W8

Author name: A.L. Butcher

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.

 

Author Bio: A. L. Butcher is the British author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles series and several short stories in the fantasy and fantasy romance genre.  She is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet and a dreamer. When she is grounded in the real world she likes science, natural history, history and monkeys. Her work has been described as ‘dark and gritty’.

Blog: https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6430414.A_L_Butcher

Amazon. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alexandra-Butcher/e/B008BQFCC6/

Twitter:@libraryoferana

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarkFantasyBeyondTheStorm

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