1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.
Answer: I’m currently working on my second novel in The Wayward Series, titled The Four Revenants. Keeping in tradition with my first novel, the sequel continues the story and centres on ghosts, hauntings, war, tragic pasts, and star-crossed lovers. It’s a YA dark fantasy with elements of horror. I’m having a blast writing the story. I’m very structured with my writing and have the entire plot listed from scenes and chapters, but sometimes new ideas just pop in my head as I’m writing. Incredibly, they seem to work with this novel. I’m able to weave the new idea right into the scene I’m writing, enhancing the mystery and adventure. It’s like its meant to be and it’s very exciting. I’m about half way through The Four Revenants. So far, I’m on schedule to have the first draft completed by April 2021.
2. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.
Answer: My first book in The Wayward Series, titled The Wayward Haunt, was published on June 20th, 2020. It’s set in a war-torn world where teenage prisoner, Zaya Wayward, is conscripted into the Haxsan Guard. When malevolent forces start to haunt her, she suspects her ability to see the dead is the key in a sinister plot to annihilate human existence. Throughout the story, she is drawn to Captain Jad Arden. Together the pair are propelled into a breakneck chase across haunted wastelands, desolate ruins, and ravaged cities. But Jad has secrets, and Zaya’s feelings for him could be her undoing. My second novel, The Four Revenants, is the sequel to The Wayward Haunt. There will be four books in the series altogether, but I won’t be revealing book three’s and four’s titles just yet.
3. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)
Answer: At this stage, marketing is my least favourite part. As a new self-published author, it is difficult to get a name for yourself out there. Writing a novel is hard work. I’ve found marketing to be triple the work. You have to make people want to read your book and constantly find creative ways to get their interest and ensure them reading your novel is going to be worth their time. Building this trust with potential readers is something that I am still learning to do. I am trying to make the process fun, but I’ve accepted this is something that may take years to accomplish. I believe it will be an ongoing learning experience.
4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?
Answer: Sometimes I do become self-conscious about my writing. I wonder if it good enough or if it needs more work. Of course, first drafts always need more work. The thing that makes me realise I am onto something good in my writing, that gets my brain all wired up to continue, is sharing scenes or chapters with other authors in my writing group. If there is something wrong with the work, they point it out. If they love what I have written, they tell me. If there is something that I may be stuck on or can’t work out, it’s their feedback and ideas that resolve the issue. Discussing your work with other writers, and sharing your own feedback and opinions on their writing, is a rewarding experience. It gives you the confidence you need to continue on your writing marathon.
5. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)
Answer: I have learnt so many writing techniques from reading great authors’ works. One thing I am absolutely hopeless at though is poetry. I do not possess that talent, so if I could steal an author’s ability to write poetry and adapt it into my own work, I would. I’d also steal Terry Pratchett’s humour, because that would just be an awesome talent to have. I write dark fantasy and horror, but a little bit of comic relief would help take the edge off.
6. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?
Answer: That is truly a frightening scenario. My main character, Zaya Wayward, is sarcastic, impulsive, afraid, and angry most of the time, which is understandable. I’ve put her in through some very frightening ordeals. When she kidnaps me, she wouldn’t be thinking about what she’s doing or how it would pan out. She’d only want to know the reason why I’m putting her through such a nightmare. Honestly, I don’t think I’d be able to answer her. I could assure Zaya it’s all for a greater cause. But letting her know that what I’m doing is for own best interest, well, I can’t guarantee that. I guess we’d end up stuck in the same room, broody and irritated at each other.
7. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?
Answer: So, I am playing, Zaya Wayward is playing, and McKenna Brady from Zoe Aarsen’s novel Light as a Feather is playing. McKenna and I are definitely screwed. Zaya will have all the right cards. She’ll win. She’s too damned determined to lose. And she’s clever. She’s had to be to survive this long.
8. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)
Answer: I’ve met writers delving into the horror genre for the first time. They put too much emphasis on explaining everything, afraid that the reader will not understand if they don’t elaborate on what is going on, how things work in the supernatural world, etc. They toss a large information dump about their main characters as their introduced. These are all common traps writers fall into. I did too when I first started. My advice is to do the opposite. Horror is scary because of the unknown—because nothing is explained and nothing makes sense. I try to give clues every so often in my chapters, just enough to entice the reader to continue. I keep my characters mysterious, even my main character. Their motivation is not always clear.
Nothing in horror is what it seems. I think the key to writing a good horror novel is to keep your reader wanting to know more, even if makes them afraid. They’re on this journey now, and the only way they will feel safe again is to finish the story and learn the truth. Tiny details and small clues are one way to set up the intrigue, followed by shocking plot twists that tap into common human fears of death, loneliness, and abandonment. That’s what I try to achieve in my writing.
9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.
The Four Revenants expected release – early 2022.