How long have you been writing?
When I was a spotty unappealing adolescent (as opposed to spotty and
unappealing adult) I was majorly into Role Playing Games, of all
genres. Part of that involved creating scenarios and adventures, which
I suppose was my first ‘writing.’ It held me in good stead when, a few
years ago, I thought I’d start some proper writing. The first thing I
did was based around characters in the DnD adventures me and a bunch
of mates played. When that wrapped up, a friend sort of challenged me
to write something fresh—which is where Darkness Rising came from.
I happen to know you have a VERY busy life at the moment, how do you
fit writing in?
Unlike most authors I know I don’t really have a writing schedule. I
sort of fit it in when I can, usually on an evening later on when the
kids are tucked up. One of the key aspects of writing for me is the
planning and plotting and I do a great deal of that when driving to
work, sitting around eating breakfast etc. That saves a huge amount of
time when I actually write, as I have the framework firmly in my
brain. Also, having been working at my books for three years now, I
have a good amount written in draft and in need of tightening and
editing. That’s easier to dip in and out of in spare moments.
You’ve written a lot of epic fantasy fiction, why the change in genre?
I love epic fantasy beyond all other genres, but my reading tastes are
fairly wide and incorporate other media like comics. My kids were very
into the fact I was writing, but the material for Darkness Rising is a
little intricate (and grisly) for them. So I wanted to write for them,
and thought about another genre that appeals to me: contemporary
sci-fi. As a lad I was massively into Dr Who (and Trek, and Star Wars)
and wanted to create something as broadly appealing. The Steampunk
aspects came in later as the plot evolved, but the premise of the
novel allows a good degree of versatility for future books.
I also have some literary fiction short stories tucked away, which I
might pop onto Wattpad to see how they are received.
While reading Infinity Bridge, I was reminded of Aussie author Traci
Harding and her Ancient Future series. Is the concept of alternative
histories and realities a new passion for you?
Not really. The alternate reality idea is a major theme in a lot of
the comics I read as a kid (X-men, Spiderman, Fantastic Four,
Avengers, and latterly Watchmen and Luther Arkwright). The concept
always fascinated me, both on a personal level (the implications of
key decisions in life, whether it is pre-destined or not) and on a
wider level (what if Kennedy wasn’t shot, what if Hitler won WW2 etc).
The greatest work for me in comics was Bryan Talbot’s Luther Arkwright
series wherein the hero is able to traverse alternates at will. The
key part of the story is in an alternate where the English Civil War
continues to the modern day with the descendants of Cromwell and the
Stuarts. It was one of the first ‘mature readers’ comics I read and
had a huge impact on my love of the medium. Through that I read some
Moorcock, who has written so much ground breaking speculative fiction
over the last fifty years it’s untrue.
Can you tell me a little about your Darkness Rising series?
Absolutely! Darkness Rising is a trilogy now split into a six book
series. Books 1-3 are out at the moment… so half-way there now. It’s
set in a fantasy world where magic is practiced under tight
regulations by elemental schools, in the wake of a magical civil war.
A few hundred years before an Empire came to an abrupt end during
internal conflict wherein artefacts of vast power, Prisms, were used.
Following this a new breed of magician arose, Wild-mages, and they are
unregulated and hence despised by the strict traditional orders.
The story follows the adventures of a girl, Emelia, who develops
Wild-magic whilst she serves a haughty bunch of nobles. She’s
liberated from this service by two thieves, one of whom is a
Wild-mage, and they take her under their wings. The trio get drawn
into a race to acquire crystals that are components of a Prism, which
a Vampyr-lord requires to effect his master plan.
Although a grand old epic fantasy with quests and so forth, the book
is very character-driven. All Wild-mages have psychiatric problems,
and Emelia has to learn to control those as much as her magic. The
rather complex relationships that form between her, her mentor,
another adventurer and the big baddie are the major plot-lines of the
The tone of the book is adventurous accessible epic fantasy with
punchy dialogue and a world that feels ‘lived in.’ I have had people
read it that have never tackled big fantasy before that have really
enjoyed the characters.
So, what are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading White Mountain by Sophie Tallis. It’s a high fantasy book
by an author I met during a brief period on Authonomy, and is
published by Safhket Publishing (who rejected my book, LOL!!!). She’s
got a lovely style, a nice mix of humour and action and plot.
I’m also reading the graphic novel Next Men 1 by John Byrne, who is an
artist and writer I loved when younger. I tend to run a comic and book
at the same time.
If you could interview any author (dead or alive) who would it be?
That’s such a toughie! I would say the writer Alan Moore, who is
probably the greatest comic writer of the last thirty years. There’s
something about what he does that is consistently pushing the
boundaries, both from his earlier work on 2000AD, through the
dystopian V for Vendetta, the seminal Watchmen, all the way to The
League of Extra-ordinary Gentlemen. I read his work and think ‘How the
heck did he think of that?’ and feel despondent about what I write
being derivative and ‘samey’ – LOL.
And, finally, what are you writing about at the moment?
I’m editing Darkness Rising Four- Loss at present, before it goes off
to an editor I know. DR 5 is written in draft, but needs a trim as its
got rather indulgent. I’m aiming to write Darkness Rising 6 this year,
probably beginning around Easter whilst buzzing on chocolate. That was
I’ll have completed the series in draft at least.
After that I’ve three more Nu-Knights books planned, the second of
which (The Spectral Assassin) is plotted out already. Its tricky to
chop and change between series, so I want to complete Darkness Rising
and then focus on my YA sci-fi adventures for the next few years.
Make sure you check out all his books on his Amazon Author Page!
- Latest Author Interview: The Roaring Mouse (racheltsoumbakos.wordpress.com)