Author Interview: S.D. Howarth

S.D. Howarth

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.

I’m working on the follow up to my debut novel provisionally titled Gambit of Faith which will bring in my second story arc and like my first book will be pretty much a standalone novel in its own right. Recovering alcoholic High Priest Mexli starts his day discovering his principal underling is exceeding his authority, bullying and spying on him, before attempting to seize control of The Temple of the Sun God. It gets worse for Mexli from there…

  1. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

My debut novel is The Tryphon Odyssey, book 1 in The Voyage trilogy and set within The World of Sanctuary in what would be considered a medieval setting. My twist is a ‘what if in combining elements from ancient myth and the PC games Civilisation and Warcraft, while retaining a practical amount of realism and archaeology/history. It’s allowed to pick cultures from around 1000BC, and evolve them in a different environment, with different races and throw in conflict, magic, religion, expansion and balance it against a delicate ecology.

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!) Editing seemed a painful and protracted learning curve, which I hope I can spend less time on in the future.

4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning? Worldbuilding and setting. It seems to write itself at initial concept, and evolve in depth as it becomes workable and realistic.

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.). It would have to be two.

Pratchett had a knack of picking up a feel of the world, weave it into a clever story and make you cry with laughter while appreciating how deep his one liners went.

Michael Marshall Smith is the second, his style and fluidity with an offbeat idea is unreal. Our first Cat was named Spangle for a reason.

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? Quote Metallica “What don’t kill ya make ya more strong.”

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? Me, or more likely Reichsfuhrer Wagner. I know my character(s) – they haven’t levelled up yet, but the Nazi bugger can tweak ti—(no spoilers, sorry. Blood Red Sand’s just came out).

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.). Just do the worldbuilding you need for the characters. If you bloat it up, you’ll spend time (painfully) removing it to stop things bogging down. If you are researching something based on actual history, consider your sources and any limitations they create with intended or unintentional bias. In my case, if I avoided accounts post Roman & Christian, it didn’t leave much that wasn’t archaeology based and that could be further limiting in its own right. The flip side is that’s great for fiction, and throwing in the escapism of fantasy that is even more wiggle room to play with.

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. I’ve Civ 6 for escapist empire building… and other things are a work in progress at the moment while I pretend I know what I’m doing. Cake is evil and the diabetic nurse told me to behave myself last week…

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