SPFBO Interview: Sean Cunningham “Ghost Electricity”

Hey guys! I return from the pits of Cuthulu with another SPFBO interview. I’ve had a rough week, but my weekend vacation to Keswick seriously helped me recharge.

Now, today’s interview is with Sean Cunningham, author of Ghost Electricity. I still have a fair few left to post, but I will always be available to you guys. If you’d like one or would like a book review, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me!

Before I go into today’s interview, a little update on my end. I’ve finally started my first edits of THE AEGIS MORA, which is the second book in my Counterbalance series. My tentative goal is to finish at least general edits on the book by the end of 2018, with a possible Q1 2019. As for the release, I honestly have no idea what’s happening on that. Juggling health and financial problems, it may just be a long wait for the next in the series. There are several developments in place for some of my writing future, but I cannot go into much detail just yet. Once I find out more, I will likely make a blog post on this. I will also take the chance to give you a link to my SPFBO entry The Thousand Scars. Apparently it’s good according to most of my reviewers!

 

Now, onto the main course!

 

Check out some of my previous SPFBO interviews down below:

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

SPFBO Semi Finalist Interview: Steven McKinnon

SPFBO Entry Interview: David Mullin “The Tempest Guild”

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

 

 

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

 

Hi Michael. Thanks for having me here. My name is Sean Cunningham and I’m an Australian living in London. I moved here to do a bit of travelling and then never got around to leaving. I write urban fantasy set in modern-day London.

 

How do you develop your plots and characters?

 

Plots come to me in bits and pieces. I think of it like the way planets form: lots of rocks big and small drifting around, then two collide and stick together. Their gravity starts pulling in other chunks of rock. Eventually you have enough critical mass to get started. My characters tend to be silhouettes until they start speaking on the page. That’s when I really get to know them.

 

Tell us about your current project.

 

I’m currently in the editing stage of Immortal Make, book 3 of the Hawthorn House series, of which Ghost Electricity is the first book. It’ll be up on Amazon soon.

 

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

 

The Hawthorn House series has an ensemble cast, but limiting it to the big four:

 

Rob: A werewolf trying to make a go of life in London. The London packs want nothing to do with him, though they won’t explain why. He really just wants a few friends to go to the pub with after work. Instead he keeps getting into adventures.

 

Julian: A warlock, of the oldest English magician family. Julian has resurfaced after vanishing without a trace four years ago. Also just trying to make a go of things in London, he keeps getting into adventures with Rob.

 

Fiona: Unaware of the world of magic and monsters, until that world takes an interest in her. She has a monster in her shadow, but she doesn’t know how it got there. The more Fiona learns, the more the mysteries and secrets around her grow.

 

Jessica: The ten year old sister of Fiona. Jessica is a genius inventor whose insatiable curiosity leads her to leap fearlessly into trouble. She is accompanied by two automatons, a brass-shelled tortoise named Mr Shell and a glass-feathered raven named Mr Beak.

 

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

 

First, read a lot. Read everything. Read your favourite genres and the ones you’re less interested in. You’ll learn from them all. Start writing. You will not be good when you start. Like anything, it takes time and practice to develop writing skills. Give yourself permission to be terrible at the start. Finish. Get to the end of that first draft. Don’t stop. You’ll be tempted to go back and tinker with things. You can do that once you’ve got to the end. Pretend you’ve already done that tinkering, if that’s what it takes to make you keep moving towards the finish. Show someone your writing. This is an absolutely necessary step. Friends, fellow writers, editors, you need to hear what they have to tell you. Finally, keep writing.

 

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

 

London’s history is long and fascinating. Did you know that the original Roman settlement still shapes some parts of the city? That it was abandoned entirely for a while? That the Great Fire of London took days to cross the city? There is a map of an area of London where I used to live, as it was in 1777. It was villages and allotments back then. But the roads between the villages are the main roads of the suburbs there today. Some of them even have the same names.

 

What inspires you to write?

 

I’ve filled my head up with so many words by reading books that they can’t help but come back out through my fingers.

 

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

 

Editing it, I think. It was my first real go at properly editing my work. I worked with an excellent editor and I learned a lot from the process.

 

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

 

There’s no part of the story that I dislike, or was a chore to get through, but my favourite part was Rob and Julian’s cross-country race from Birmingham to Paris. I got to throw absolutely everything at them. It was a blast.

 

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

 

That there needs to be a human story at the core. The characters and the setting sat in my head for a while before I started writing Ghost Electricity. Nothing much happened. Then my brother announced he was moving back to Australia permanently. It had been good to have that family connection close and I knew I’d miss him when he left. That’s when I had my core story: four isolated young people finding each other. While fighting vampires and such.

 

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

 

As I said earlier, my characters reveal a lot of themselves to me when they start speaking on the page. But I have a few things in mind about them beforehand. One of the most important things to know about your characters is what they want. Even minor characters should want something. It will inform everything they do and give them a purpose in the story. I’ve also been trialling Libbie Hawker’s outlining method from her book Take Off Your Pants! I’ve found it a useful way of thinking about how the main characters and the plot fit together.

 

What are your future project(s)?

 

My plan at the moment is to publish the third book in my series, Immortal Make. I also have a novella called The Clock Strikes with my editor, which will go out to my newsletter subscribers for free once it’s published. I have three more books planned in the Hawthorn House series after that. I have little doubt that I’ll eventually start publishing an epic fantasy series as well. But that’s a bit down the road.

 

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

 

I think I’m doing it: software development. It’s a creative profession, one that challenges you constantly with new technologies, complex business domains and the need to continuously improve your skills. It makes you think about systems as well, which I find useful in world-building.

 

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 website: https://seancunningham.co.uk/contact/

 

Facebook: https://fb.me/seancunningham.author

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/seanacron

 

You can buy Ghost Electricity on Amazon at https://viewbook.at/GhostElectricity

 

Many thanks for your time, Sean! I hope to get back on schedule soon.

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