Thought I would get this up before I go on holiday to Keswick. Latest interview is with I. W. Ferguson, here with his rather pimping cover. Go check him out!
As always, I have a list of my current interviews for SPFBO(5) down below. Check out whichever you like!
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
I’m a night owl who is most comfortable in the company of cats, fire, strong coffee, dark chocolate, and interesting weather. I write noblebright epic fantasy for adults, although younger folks who don’t need fast paced constant peril have enjoyed my book also.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
Maybe someday I’ll have an actual process for this, but for now, it’s quite haphazard.
For Belief’s Horizon, I started with a few ideas: I wanted a character who had something different about them from their mainstream culture. I wanted to see if I could avoid killing the parents. My partner wanted a mentor character without a gray beard. I had a dream about the setting, enough to write page one. It took about 3 months for me to throw that page out, but the setting stuck.
The characters took it from there. Some appeared because an existing character needed a relative/accomplice/etc. Some, like Nora, just showed up with a knife and said, “You’ll just have to make room for me.”
Tell us about your current project.
I’m writing book two. It has a dragon, a drunk, and magical drugs.
Is this your first entry into SPFBO? If not, how many times have you entered?
Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
Happen Fell has lived in the Irelian forest all of his young life. Not by choice. Whether a broken wheel, a sick cousin, an injured hoof: something always keeps him from leaving. He tries to expand his world in other ways: making friends with creatures of the forest, and reading stories. It’s getting to be time for his coming-of-age ritual, which begins with a task, a journey to the big city, a walk of six days. What could go wrong?
What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
When you’re writing your first draft, don’t worry about making it perfect or even good. That’s what revisions are for. Sometimes I’d get stuck because I wasn’t sure where to go, and it helped to switch to a different document I called “could be”. It could be that our MC has horns, and feels self-conscious about them. Or, could be she doesn’t, but at least I’m writing.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
The Olympic Peninsula is a wild and magical place, with a national park in the middle and national forests all around that. I once hiked through an old-growth temperate rain forest up to the foot of a glacier. It feels like a likely home for mythical magical creatures.
What inspires you to write?
My children need good books to read. In addition to all the books written to market (which have a different sort of value), they need books written with a passion to teach, books borne from years of struggle and revision, books with characters who swim upstream against the cultural tides to find the sources of meaning so they can lead an honest life.
Saying such a thing, one risks sounding like a pompous buffoon, so it’s best to show it with a story, preferably one with dragons.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Living life as an unpublished author for three and a half years. Felt like living in limbo.
What is your routine when writing, if any? If you don’t follow a routine, why not?
Between the constant change of my children’s lives and my own intractable health challenges, I have not been able to follow a routine.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Chapter Fifteen: The Amazing Esmerlia. More than any other part of the book, this one was written by the characters. They simply pushed me aside and took over. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
I can do this!
Are you a plotter or a pantser? A gardener or an architect?
I don’t follow an outline when I’m writing, but once I have a draft, then I outline it to help me fix the structural problems. For Belief’s Horizon, I used multiple spreadsheets to make sure the character movements made sense in the timeline.
Pantsing is so much fun, because I’m as eager to find out what happens next as anyone. But it leaves a mess. Plotting is very satisfying because the end result feels like something good. I have a built-in urge to tidy up after myself, even though it’s not nearly as much fun as early drafting.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
I do have some characters who didn’t come to life and write themselves. With them I try to imagine what they want from life, and what they want for the current scene, and see if there’s any conflict there. Sometimes that process kicks them into gear, and sometimes not.
One thing I may have learned (it’s a small sample size, so this might not be a thing), The characters whose names I changed had a lower chance of writing themselves. For book two I’m not naming until I’m sure. Till then it’s ‘the captain’ and ‘the professor’ etc.
What are your future project(s)?
I’m working to finish the Lightfeeder Menace series. After that I’d like to write a prequel that explores the origin of the Gracarrai religion and life on pre-Eruption Grith. (Note: this is not a spoiler. The Eruption is in the past by the time we meet our MC.)
What is your favorite book ever written? Who are your favorite authors?
The first ones that come to mind are Lord of the Rings, Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey, and Dr. Suess’s Sleep Book.
I’ve enjoyed Naomi Novik’s work; also, Mark Twain. And some of the folks in my local writing group have written some amazing stuff, but it’s not published yet.
What makes a good villain?
Eye of newt, too much sugar, a dash of jealousy maybe, if you’re feeling sassy. Pour in one jar of live spiders, mix and grind in a mortar and pestle, season to taste, throw it in the oven turned up as high as it will go. Enjoy (er, I mean, run like hell).
What do you like to do in your spare time?
What is this spare-ness you speak of? I am old and time grows precious. As a parent and a writer, there is always more work to do. When I am trying to get to sleep, I enjoy fantasy-genre ASMR videos. When I run out of those: baseball analysis podcasts. It’s rare that I’m awake to hear the end of either, but they engage enough of my brain I guess so it doesn’t wander into that abandoned house where the ghosts live.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
I would like to build unique houses. It pains me to know how many houses are built every year without including secret passageways or dumbwaiters or rooftop observatories.
You can travel to any planet or moon in the Solar System. Where would you go, why and what would you do there?
I would travel to Pluto. Because it’s feeling sad and left out now. I would plant a flag that says, “Size matters not”. Then I’d scurry on home because Pluto’s atmosphere sucks rocks.
Pick any three characters from a fiction novel. These are now your roadtrip crew. Where do you go and what do you do?
That’s a tough one. Don’t want to limit myself by going one way with one sort of character, but also don’t want discord in the vehicle. I’ll take Agnieszka (from Uprooted) and Temeraire (the dragon from Novik’s series of the same name), and we’d go about Earth protecting a reasonable balance between humans and nature. For example, allowing forest management, but not old-growth clear-cutting. Temeraire could roast some heavy polluters for fun.
Finally, 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)?
Facebook is easiest for me to respond to at this point: http://www.facebook.com/iwferguson
I also post pictures on Instagram sometimes: https://www.instagram.com/i.w.ferguson/
My website is http://www.happen.net
I expect to break out of KU at some point, but haven’t had the time lately. Until then my book can found here:
The paperback can be ordered there, too, or better yet through your favorite indie bookstore via IngramSpark, or my favorite indie bookstore, here: