I'm really pleased to welcome Graham Austin-King to the blog today. I recently had the chance to read his new novel, Faithless, and you'll get a full review tomorrow but it really is brilliant. I've also had the chance to chat with Graham a few times now and he's lovely as well as a great writer. If you're a fantasy fan (which I have to assume you are if you're hanging out here) then do yourself a favour and grab a copy of one of Graham's books!
1) To start with, could you introduce yourself and tell us about your current project?
I'm Graham Austin-King, a writer of dark fantasy. My latest book, which is out June 30th, is a darker than normal book about religion, betrayal and cowardice. The book is called Faithless and I'd say it's probably more human than the other books I've written. The book takes place almost entirely below ground and within the church of the Forgefather, a smithing and fire based religion.
2) Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us, or a favourite quote?
His steps were slow, tentative things and one of his hands still reached for the wall. The glowtube did little to light his path and Kharios moved less by sight and more by hope and faith. Twice, other miners passed him, casting looks his way with their expressions lost in the glow of their chemlamps. Each time Kharios had to wait until his eyes adjusted back to the near-blackness of the light of the glowtube. He took to avoiding them after that, shying away from the light as he ducked into side tunnels.
Loose coal crunched under his feet as he wandered. The passages all travelled downhill. Even in the darkness he could feel that much. Oddly enough, becoming lost was not among his worries. Instead he checked the glowtube frequently for any sign the light was fading.
Tunnel turned into passage, which turned into tunnel as Kharios wandered ever downward, the scrape of the sled grinding out a rasping melody as the echoes of picks provided a distant accompaniment. At last the crunch of the coal beneath his feet felt deep enough that there might be something he could work with. He knelt, scraping the fragments together between his cupped palms and shovelling them into the sled.
The first handfuls were slight and his splinted fingers caught and twisted against the fragments until he began to catch the trick of it. He worked in silence, each load into the sled marked a step towards getting out of the black.
The sensation of being watched grew gradually, as the cold seemed to seep from the rocks to suck the warmth from him. He stopped several times, pausing to peer into the darkness or to listen for the half-heard noises that tugged at his ears.
“Mine!” the whisper was the clearest yet and Kharios snatched up the glowtube, shaking it violently in an effort to coax extra light from it. The chemlight bloomed and he held it out before him, warding away the darkness as he twisted and spun, searching for the speaker.
“Who’s there!” he called, his own voice thin and reedy.
The heat came all at once. Chems reacting at an ever increasing rate until the glass of the tube seared his hand. “Shit!” He dropped the tube, flapping his hand uselessly as the glass crashed and splintered at his feet.
“Shit, shit, shit!” Kharios moaned, dropping to his knees as the fine, sand-like, chems drifted down through the air, scattering over the coal chips at his feet. The light ebbed away slowly from the small pile of chems surrounding the shards of glass, and Kharios froze in place. Rooted, as if that would somehow help as the darkness fell.
He reached for the wall, thrusting out an arm he couldn’t see through the darkness for a wall he hoped was still there. The blackness was total. Not the velvet night of above ground, when even the faintest of stars will provide some light. That darkness can even be a comfort. This was a darkness that held no warmth. It fell unopposed. And all unchallenged, it ruled.
3) What inspired you to write this story?
This was actually supposed to be a novella. I'd just finished my Riven Wyrde trilogy and was feeling pretty burnt out. This was supposed to be a nice short, fun, dungeon hack of a novella or short story. Clearly something has gone badly wrong somewhere.
4) Do you have any other projects on the sidelines?
I'm writing a Riven Wyrde novella which will slot into the first book in that trilogy.
5) What draws you to your genre? Have you always been drawn to it?
I've always read fantasy and science fiction. I did a fair about of D&D and roleplaying when I was younger too. I think running a game and writing novels is very similar, it's just gaming for one.
6) Who/what is your writing inspiration?
Anything and everything. Ideas come in the shower, or whilst walking the dog. You never can tell.
7) What do you do if inspiration just won't come?
I push through, which fails. Then I swear a lot and make my wife's life miserable. Then I end up going for a long walk and talking to myself to work my way through the problem. I usually end up doing what I knew had to be done in the first place, I just didn't want to.
8) Which part of the writing process is your favourite, and which part do you dread?
Definitely when it's flowing. I don't really plot so a lot of the time the story is as much as surprise to me as it is to the person reading it. When it's really going well, that's just excellent. I dread editing and doing read-throughs. This is where you realise that the excellent idea you had did not translate to the page and it's all crap.
9) What is your number one distraction?
I need to pick just one?? I can be very easily distracted.
10) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Pantser. I've tried plotting but I end up deviating from the plan anyway and wasting my time.
11) Tea or coffee?
Coffee every time. Unless I'm ill.
12) What are the most important three things you've learned about writing, editing or publishing (or all of the above) since you started your journey
Not to read back over my own work until the draft is finished.
Not to promise reciprocal reviews. This can get very uncomfortable when someone asks you to review and it turns out to be REALLY bad.
To be kind. This is not a competition. Readers don't just read one book and then stop.
13) What's your favourite quote on writing
"Writing is the most fun anyone can have my themself" - Terry Pratchett.
14) What is the best piece of advice you've received?
To just keep going.
15) Where else can we connect with you?
My website blog and mailing list can all be found via GrahamAustin-King.com
I'm on twitter at @Grayaustin
and on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/graham.austin.507