Welcome to a new week, and a new interview. First of all, I must offer a huge congrats to Barbara Kloss for being the first official SPFBO finalist from Team Weatherwax! I’ve been really enjoying the chance for interviewing you guys. I’ve received a few more interviews this week which is great. For all those who are in doubt, I am always here to interview authors. This isn’t a time limit thing. If you would like a chance to talk about yourself, you will get a slot no matter how long it takes 🙂
December is going to be an important month for me. The first anniversary of The Thousand Scars is approaching on the 7th, and it’s been. . .an emotional first year in my debut as an author. Lots of ups and downs. I will be preparing a special article exploring my full journey from writing to publication, and all the roller coaster events that happened since. To be short, it’s been tough at times, to the point where I came very close to giving it all up. I’m happy to say that now I’m in quite a good place, and I have high hopes for 2019. More to come on that.
Secondly, I’m working on my annual gaming awards. Not fully related to SPFBO, but games are popular after all. I’ve had a relatively fun time with gaming this year, and I have a lot to say.
Now, today’s interview is with fellow Brit Christopher Percy, with his book Dark of Winter.
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
Hello, thanks for letting me introduce myself to your readers. I’m Christopher Percy from the south coast of England. I have a full time job working night shift, a busy family life and enjoy writing in what little spare time I have. I like to pick my guitar up then put it down again and swear at video games when they don’t respond to the buttons I press. I enjoy writing dark fantasy mainly because of the freedom it permits the writer. I mean anything goes, right? If I can imagine it then it becomes real. No research involved as I make everything up. If I decided that so and so has eight arms then he has eight arms and it doesn’t seem out of place or illogical. That’s what I love most about fantasy, the freedom to exercise imagination to the max.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
I think that perhaps I’ve jumped the gun here and that I’ve part answered the second question with the first. The part about exercising imagination. Also I must contradict myself slightly by saying that anything ‘almost’ goes. You can’t have a character that can do everything and face any challenge down as its simply not believable. Each character must live within the boundaries of their own individual skill sets, moralities and physical abilities. See what I mean about contradiction; for the scene of fantasy where I believe anything goes but the characters have to be semi inflexible. The main character in Dark of Winter will never put a dress on and do some needlepoint! Regarding plot I like to try and surprise the reader. There has to be a story arc, characters have to change somehow during their journeys but I don’t like too complicated a plot and try to keep my writing relatively simple yet surprising. Personal taste here but I found too many fantasy books too damn fat and unnecessarily bloated. I don’t need to know the lineage of a certain character to enjoy his journey.
Tell us about your current project.
Dark of Winter is a story of survival in a brutal world. My comment about keeping a plot simple applies here. I wanted to read a fantasy story short of lore and heritage and magic and all the other tropes a lot of fantasy books fall into. I wanted to read a book that I didn’t have to concentrate too hard just to keep up with the convoluted plot. This book just didn’t exist so I took it upon myself to write it. I think I’ve possibly done myself a misservice here as Dark of Winter does have lore and heritage but I don’t ramble on and force you to digest it all before moving the story on. There’s rich pickings to be had and depth. The reader can absorb all the details if they so choose or just enjoy the ride the story takes them on. Its ‘fantasy lite’ if you like but very deep. I am particularly proud of the ending.
Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
My main character is called Hidden and he is the former protector of the village of Sumner. He is a troubled warrior. Recently he has suffered the loss of his wife Dirra, and had the coveted title of warrior-one taken from him by a younger, more aggressive villager. He is getting older, physically he is changing and yet he must face down the biggest challenge of his life: the encroaching Dark of Winter. Hidden must protect his village, his friends, his whole way of life yet he doubts he now has the strength to do so.
What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Go for it! Exercise your imagination. Just start writing. Be yourself and write from the heart and not the head. We don’t want paint by numbers art, we want individuality. Well that’s what I want. If a book leaves you with a certain taste in the mouth or mental images then job done. I’d take that any day over technically well written. One outcome stays with you forever the other is almost instantly forgotten. I got bored a long time ago with identikit products. So and so sold a lot so every book has to be like that forever more. That’s not writing is it? That’s conveyor belt manufacturing!
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
Generally people are arseholes. Somethings never change regardless of whatever world they live in.
What inspires you to write?
Frustration that what I want to read doesn’t exist or I just can’t find it. Besides, if you are a writer then you just have to write. I’m at a stage in my life where selfish time is almost non existent so I have many ideas backed up ready to be used. I can’t wait to play with these ideas so I guess my ideas inspire me to write.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
I’ll start with the obvious, time, or rather lack of. As for actually sitting down and writing I guess its the re-reading of a re-reading to see if it makes sense and maintains the pace. I always get to the point where I have read a passage or chapter so many times I simply can’t tell if it makes sense or not. I have to walk away from the project then and not return to it for weeks, sometimes months then re-read it cold. I always knew the basics of the plot so that never changed its just that sometimes I can tie myself in knots trying to explain something. If it is becoming a chore then you’re just not in the mood. Shut everything down and come back another day.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Chapter 7 Ablaze. You finally get to see what the villagers are really up against. We follow the survivors as they run for their lives. One of my favourite characters, The Shape, proves that size isn’t everything……
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
Everytime I write I learn something new. I guess its finding your style, voice. In some circles its called finding your feet. When you write you’re learning about pace, about how to drip feed information to the reader rather than give them everything in one shot. How to expand on ideas yet remain concise and not waffle on. I like to think that with every iteration writers get better in some way, shape or form. We have to. The more you play with words the easier they become to wield. I hope.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
Every character, just as in real life, are motivated by something. The common two are probably lust or money or maybe both at the same time. Generally people are arseholes. I may have touched upon that fact somewhere else! I’m not being glib when I say that. Everybody wants something, even if its to help their brother they still want something. Hidden wants to protect his village, his way of life. He’s not being selfless, he wants to do this but he lacks the confidence.
What are your future project(s)?
My new book ‘Since Never’ is almost ready for uploading. It is book one of a trilogy so its the biggest project I have ever undertaken. It is dark fantasy again and set within the same world and timeline as Dark of Winter. Just a different part of that world.
The story follows the thief Flendin the Blade and what happens to him since leaving the city of Never. It is separate from Dark of Winter but references that book occasionally. Its a sort of salute to Christopher Percy fans, a couple of easter eggs for those that have read all my self published works. I think this trilogy will surprise, entertain and blow readers away. That’s why I love writing, to give the reader something they will remember forever more.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
Nothing really. Employment crushes creativity. I like plinking plonking on my guitar so a job playing with Iron Maiden would be pretty sweet. But seriously I don’t want to do anything other than write. The only time I can truly express myself is when I’m working for me and not somebody else.
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 way they like. Unlike some of my monsters, I don’t bite.
More details about my work can be found at: