SPFBO Entry Interview: Richard Writhen “A Host of Ills!

I’m back again! I’ll be continuing to post these interviews as I get them in, but I will probably reduce them to twice a week. I’m back at the editing of Counterbalance’s second in the series, which will be taking up the majority of my time.

Today, I bring you an interview I held with Richard Writhen, who entered SPFBO4 with his book A Host of Ills. Down below is the Amazon link. Nothing witty from me today (Still waking up and I’m out of coffee), so let’s just get right down to it!


A Sample of Past Interviews:

SPFBO Semi Finalist Interview: Steven McKinnon

SPFBO Entry Interview: David Mullin “The Tempest Guild”

SPFBO Entry Interview: AJ VanOrden “To Walk a Ruin”

SPFBO Entry Interview: Justin. L. Anderson “Carpet Diem”


First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?  


I’m terribly uninteresting, lawl. But what I write is an odd amalgam of grimdark, gothic fiction, weird fiction and horror that I call “gothdark.” It’s essentially as dark as fantasy can get without being Earth-based.


How do you develop your plots and characters?


I’m a pantser, basically. The majority of the piece is usually written out of sequence as it comes to me, but is later correlated and edited into something approximating a narrative. Yet, I’m more about overall immersion rather than specific plot points. I want reading my work to be an “experience” more than anything else.


Tell us about your current project.


I’m working on a fourth novella called The Angel of the Grave, after writing three that were essentially a blueprint for the overarching narrative; each was to be the first in a trilogy but it’s looking that the fourth will now essentially be a “book zero,” or prequel book in the third series.


Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!


I don’t have any one pivotal  character, and the plot is pretty much driven organically by the full ensemble. But yeah, I guess you could say that the the focal characters of the first three books are Lucylis Sontire the tailor in A Host of Ills, Renita Blane the student in A Kicked Cur, Nicholat Khavel the thief in The Hiss of the Blade, and the baroness Marissa Wallins in the new one, The Angel of the Grave. I’m shooting for a september release now, but it’s gonna be a grind.


What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?


The mind is a sieve. Basically every book and movie you’ve seen over the course of your life can fuel creativity. The hard part is composing prose, but I worked as a copy-editor for a long time and it gave me that discipline to an extent. Day in, day out constantly writing and correcting text.


What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the world-building within your book?


The cities that I’ve lived in over the course of my life pop up in my fantasy world in weird little ways. The Bronx, Providence, Manhattan, Newport … they’re all there and they’re not. It’s almost like designing electronic games, except you have to describe textures rather than having the program visually render a file.


What inspires you to write?


I try to satirize reality, yet also create art. I think a lot of modern dark speculative fiction does. Aside from dark fantasy,  I’d actually like to get into writing SF and horror eventually as well.


What was the hardest part of writing this book?


The current WIP? Making the time and opportunity to write. I’ve been experiencing a few of what I like to call “life issues” and if I could just focus on it fully, it would come. My SPFBO entrant, A Host of Ills ? That was written originally as a free serial, and that’s a lot easier than trying to tackle seven chapters at once or whatever. But the magic system is complicated, and of course fight scenes are always kind of a bother to keep straight. But overall, it’s internal continuity and exposition … those are always the toughest elements to pull off effectively, IMO.


What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?


That would be difficult to relate without giving away spoilers, but let’s just say that I got a kick out of trying to give a non-human character something of a personality.


Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?


The exposition in my first novella was basically clumsy, so I tried to give it a bit more polish this time. I think I succeeded. Other than that, the discovery process told me a lot more about the planet of Cedron, where the novella is set. In a way, the book isn’t about the main human characters at all, as they are kind of there to illuminate the world itself.


It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?


Well, you have to understand that just as in real life, characters don’t even always understand themselves. Free will is involved in the creative process, and if you let the characters live and breathe they will probably surprise you, the author, more than anyone else, lawl.


What are your future project(s)?


The first two novellas are still scheduled to be the first in trilogies. But the third series may now be any number of books, now that I’ve kind of opened it up in scope. So, in a sense, the first two trilogies will be prequels. How very SW, rite?


If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?


Serial killer or assassin. Just kidding. I want to pick up the guitar again, actually … so musician. I never really had the blind self-confidence required to act professionally. I also want to begin painting eventually. I think that must be really epic.


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)?


Any of those are fine. I don’t have a newsletter yet, but I’m at richardwrithen.wordpress.com, I have a Facebook author page, I’m on Goodreads, Twitter, all are good support. Thanks very much!



4 thoughts on “SPFBO Entry Interview: Richard Writhen “A Host of Ills!

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