Oh gosh, it took me a while to get this interview ready, but thanks to Michael’s patience here it is!
I know I went in a different direction you’ve expected with my questions, but I hope it wasn’t much of a bother :).
You’re from Scotland, right? (I bet you have this amazing Scottish accent…). Did the local folklore and legends influence your writing?
Amazing accent to some, incomprehensible to others! Yes, I am Scottish. I grew up on the west coast by the sea with a mountain island across the water. I was spoiled for scenery. Scotland has influenced my writing, especially the history and the landscape. Although in saying that a lot of Scotland’s history is wrapped up in myth or legend or romanticised history. I do hope one day to write some historical fiction based on some of my favourites periods.
Your book “The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King” has dragons but they are in human form. Can you describe how they looked as mighty creatures?
Before the Transformation, the dragons looked much like you’d expect: scales, wings, teeth, fire, the works! Definitely two hind legs though, not four as is sometimes used. Four legs on a dragon doesn’t feel right to me. I don’t want to reveal much more about them as a lot of this is weaved into the legends of my world. Not even the dragons in the story are completely sure how things used to be and much of what they believe has been influenced over millennia by their religion, creating an idealised form of their past selves.
How did you come up with the reincarnation idea?
Reincarnation is hardly a brand new idea but I felt it was the right path to take for Darnuir and exploring nature vs nurture a little. I’ve said it elsewhere but there have been two major influences on how I decided to approach the trope.
The first was the old rpg game called Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Kotor) in which you play as a character who has had his memories wiped and is essentially starting fresh. I won’t ruin for anyone who hasn’t yet played it. Suffice to say I loved that game and but I wanted Darnuir to be a more morally grey character and not a complete knight in shining armour.
The second was a philosophy question brought up in a basic first year module at university along the lines of ‘what would happen if you took person X and transferred their memories into person Y?’ It was a question without an answer. Something that could only be explored in fiction. And I reckoned it would be a great extra layer to Darnuir.
Did any of your characters give you a hard time while writing? Did you have this moment of “I’ll kill you”?
Sometimes I worry that there are too many side or tertiary characters and they should get the chop but then it’s a world that needs to be populated. Of the main POV characters it was Darnuir who gave me the most trouble in book 1 because his arc is a subtle one. It would have been easy to make him go from jerk-off to halo ringed angel but that wouldn’t have been as interesting. He was especially tricky to write at times because he has a duality to him that is just shy of being a split personality. I can understand why some readers find it hard to figure him out and that’s largely because he is trying to figure himself out as well. I hope this isn’t so much of an issue going into book 2.
OK, I’ve got to ask… who designed your cover? I really like it, it’s one of the reasons I bought the book (the other one was dragons)
So the cover was designed by Rachel Lawston. She did an absolutely incredible job and deserves the win for the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off 2016 cover contest. My mum also helped. She’s an artist and sketched the original images of the sword that were really helpful to Rachel in creating the final design. I got to my say through the drafts, my editor had her say, the beta readers chipped in with their opinions – it took time and care and I think it shows in the final result. If anyone reading this is looking for a cover designer I cannot recommend Rachel enough. You can find here at http://www.lawstondesign.com/book-design.html
Do you have any peculiar writing habits?
Peculiar? I’m not sure what counts as ‘peculiar’ but I do need to make sure there is little else to do that day before starting. Any odd jobs still to be done have to be completed before I start otherwise I will feel distracted or I’ll get sucked into writing and those other tasks won’t get done. I can edit anywhere but writing is another matter. I’ll be most productive when I am in a preferred haunt or at home. So I can find new places to write but very rarely will anywhere feel right. Right now the Costa down the road is my go to if I want to leave my flat. It’s large, fresh built, quiet and has air con for any hot, muggy days in London.
How about reading? Is there anything unusual you like to do while reading?
When reading a physical book or on my kindle I’ll be sitting getting lost in the book. Audiobooks are another matter. I really love listening to books and have done since Stephen Fry narrated Harry Potter. I will always be reading one book and listening to another at any given time. When listening I can be doing anything; cooking, shopping, working out at the gym, playing Pokémon Go… I actually pair up listening to an audio book with playing a game quite frequently. Something like an MMO or an RTS game where the audio for the game isn’t as important and I can sink into the grind on those whilst listening. That’s weirdly the most relaxing thing in the world for me.
Do you have any latest obsession? Something you can’t get out of your head?
Pokémon Go! But seriously I have had an idea brewing for a future book for some months now and it won’t go away. I won’t stop work on Dragon’s Blade for it but a part of me is itching to explore it more. All I’ll say is I was heavily influenced while in Japan earlier this year.
You can choose two superpowers, what would they be?
As a writer I’d love to be able to take what’s in my head and have it appear perfectly in words upon a page. You get speech to text apps now, well I’d like an imagination to text app/super power. For the second I think I’d want teleportation the most. How amazing would it be to never have to ride the underground again? Or just taking an afternoon off in the sun somewhere before popping instantly back.
Anything you’d like to share with your future readers?
Dwna shine upon you all – that will make sense if you read the book!