Well it’s been over a month, and the UK still has its heatwave. Yippie. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not a huge fan of sweltering summer where people tend to smell like musky water buffalo. We all look like we’ve been swimming, but without all the fun.
But I’m here to bring you guys the latest of my SPFBO author interviews. My latest victim is Phil Williams! Everyone aggressively clap for his arrival:
I promise you, everyone who joins my hideout will be returned almost as good as new within twenty four hours. All jokes aside, I greatly appreciate the chance to interview him. His book Under Ordshaw is his entry into this year’s contest, and it looks like a blast to read. Here is the link down below:
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
I’m a UK coastal dweller (now) and an author of dystopian and contemporary fantasy fiction, typically concerned with reluctant heroes, ambiguous morals and fantastic creatures/machines. I’ve written in a ton of other fields, thanks to an eclectic background in education, copy-editing and business writing. I’ve also produced some rather popular grammar guides for foreign learners of English.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
To be brief: through a lot of daydreaming. I rehearse scenes in my mind, playing them out over and over, and use a similar process when I write. I spew words onto the page and see where that takes me (with an idea of the overall end game), then rinse and repeat until the specifics click.
Tell us about your current project.
Under Ordshaw introduces the Ordshaw universe, focusing on a UK city with a terrible secret. A whole diorama of unusual goings on, in fact. It’s an urban fantasy thriller, taking a host of ordinary (kind of) people on an extraordinary ride. There’s dark humour, a lot of mystery and something bordering on horror all in the mix.
Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
At the centre of the story is Pax Kuranes, a professional poker player with few responsibilities, or friends. She’s a sharp talker who would rather be left alone. Pax mostly comes out at night, which puts her in the wrong place when the forces of the Ordshaw underworld collide. Thankfully, she’s got a quick wit and a good sense for solving mysteries.
What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Write as much as you can, whenever you can, in the form that comes easiest. Don’t question what you should be writing – if you’re happy writing it, that’s where you belong. When you’ve nailed all that, do whatever it takes to keep improving – educate yourself and work with other writers and readers to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Most of all, though, read as much as you’re physically able.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
Ordshaw holds a candle to many cities, particularly those that vie to rival London. I’ve lived in a lot of great cities and there’s a bit of all of them in there. The elements of the unreal, however, are inspired by the moments when you have a flash of fear and your ‘worst case scenario’ takes you to unnatural places. For a split second you believe that pipe groan or that shadow darting across the road is something else. What if…
What inspires you to write?
I look for moments of heightened emotion –a piece of music that touches me, a piece of art, something in the news, anything that for a moment conjures a feeling of something more than you see on the surface. Those feelings conjure scenes and interactions that I strive to play out in writing.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Letting go. I could’ve edited Under Ordshaw on a loop for decades.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Without giving too much away, a large part of this story is about Pax forming an unlikely friendship, and the way they play off each other made every scene when they’re together great fun for me. Besides that (and the pleasure of unleashing unusual creatures), I particularly enjoy Holly Barton’s scenes – she’s a conservative suburban mum, with some very dry responses to the insanity of the Sunken City.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
One of the things I’m continually realising as I expand on the Ordshaw stories is how complex this story is, and how careful I have to be to reveal it to the reader. There’s a great degree of puzzle-solving that goes into creating a puzzle, after all. My editor’s done a great job on helping me draw out the essential information for this stage of the journey, and a lot got pushed back; parts of this story aren’t likely to surface until the third book, now. And it’s happening again as I write the second book.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
Writing and rewriting, putting them in situations and revising the way they play out until something really rings true to their character. Then I whittle that down to only the details that seem necessary to the story. There’s a huge amount of content that goes into my novels that gets cut. For each page of conversation Pax holds in Under Ordshaw, there were probably ten pages of additional dialogue; for every throwaway comment about her background, paragraphs of ideas about where she comes from.
What are your future project(s)?
The sequel to Under Ordshaw is on the cusp of completion, which is great because I think most readers will want more ASAP. Following that, I’ve got about half a dozen follow up novels and short stories to expand on the series, so there’s a few years’ work in that. I’ve got at least one more entry in the Estalia series coming, too – potentially an explosive finale. And there’s a 5-book near-future dystopian series in the works (2 books are more or less written…but it’s the editing that takes time!).
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
Something outlandish, I imagine. I’d probably end up dying prematurely doing something I thought would make a good story. Scuba explorer, maybe?
What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
My mailing list is my main point of contact for readers – I love receiving emails from readers and (being a writer) tend to spend more time than I should writing back. You can get on the list from my site: www.phil-williams.co.uk (with a free book offer).
You can also find me here:
Or you can stop reading about me and just check out Under Ordshaw: https://www.amazon.com/Under-Ordshaw-Phil-Williams-ebook/dp/B07CXYSZVN
Many thanks for the great interview, Phil! I’m really liking this system. I will continue to put out the interviews at least twice a week. To all those who would like an interview, don’t hesitate to drop me a message.