It’s that time again! I’ve been a bit inactive lately but hoping to return to the steady interviews. To everyone who has submitted, I thank you all for your patience. I will interview you all!
This latest SPFBO interview is with Vincent Bobbe, with his awesome looking book Immortal’s Requiem. Go check out his novel down below:
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’ve always loved fantasy novels, and fantasy is what I love to write, but I am interested in the idea of magical characters being dropped into the ‘real’ world. I grew up reading authors like Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E Howard. Then I discovered David Eddings before moving on to David Gemmell, Robert Jordan, and Raymond E. Feist. I loved their work. David Gemmell ticked all the boxes for me, because his characters were flawed … something I think his peers only really touched on in that era. And then I read A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. This was back in the late 90s, long before the TV series. I remember, even then, reading the first books, and finding myself mixed up about who the good guys were, and who were the villains. It was an epiphany moment – I hadn’t realized that you were actually allowed to do that! To make the characters … human. So, I started writing Immortals’. I wanted a large cast of characters, all flawed, all working against each other, but with realistic motivations. I honestly thought I was writing an urban fantasy. My proof readers all complemented me on the horror aspect! My brother pointed out that Immortals’ was actually a Grimdark fantasy, and after looking into it, I realized that he was right: It’s dark, and gritty, and the characters are just like everybody else – confused, petty, frightened but with the capacity for humor and great heroism. So that’s what I write – Grimdark.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
I just let them have their head. Immortals’ was an organic process spanning ten years. There was no pressure – it was a hobby and I was doing it for myself. I wanted to write the book that I wanted to read. So, I kept a notepad (later Apple Notes on my phone) with me and when an event or character occurred to me (usually the middle of the night!) I’d just fit it into wherever I was up to and the story would evolve from there.
Health Warning: That is not an easy way to write! The amount of time I spent going back and tweaking stuff because it was not planned out in advance was ridiculous!
Now, I follow the same process, but rather than just jumping in and writing it, I create a very detailed plan. That way, it’s easier to go back and change what needs changing at the inception stage. Once the story is ready, I start typing.
Tell us about your current project.
It’s a sequel to Immortals’. I’ve not decided on the title yet. I say sequel, but I probably mean spiritual sequel … it’s set in the same universe and it has a couple of the same characters in it, but it can be read on its own alone. I’ve planned for five books in this series, but I don’t want to play that game where it is essential to read the whole series … I always used to find it annoying when I was reading a book, enjoying it, then got to the end and found a cliff hanger! So, I don’t want to do that. That being said, if I make it to the last two, they will probably have to be read in a series … it was supposed to be one book, but it got too big! I’ll try and release them at the same time though ☺
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!
The main character in Immortals’ was probably a chap called Cam. In short, he’s an alcoholic elf living in Manchester, England because he’s in self-exile from the Seelie Court. He’s a drunk, and a thief, and a bit of a nihilist really. But, as is wont to happen in a story, he gets dragged into something much bigger than himself.
I say he’s the main character, but he’s on an equal footing with several others. I suppose Cam is just my favorite ☺
What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Don’t feel like you’ve got to follow the tropes. If they’re in there, fair enough, but if you want to try something different; something new … have at it!
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
I live in Manchester in England. That is the setting of my first book – they say, “write what you know” and I know Manchester. I get inspiration from people I meet and things I see. But I’d say a good eighty percent of it is all me. It is fiction, after all. What that says about my state of mind … who knows?!
What inspires you to write?
I think, for me, that it serves as a cathartic release. It’s therapy. If I didn’t write, all the shitty stuff I see every day would overwhelm me. I know that the world is a pretty dire place, and part of me just wants to go out there and sort it all out; to make sure the baddies get their comeuppance. But, since I’m not a street-ninja, and never will be, writing gives me the chance to purge some of those negative feelings in a positive way.
That’s part of it. Another part is that I enjoy telling stories – I enjoy crafting something that is as real as it can be without actually being real. Just like a painting, or a sculpture – it’s an art form.
And, of course, when you create a world and have absolute power over everything that happens within it, only limited by laws you set down yourself … well that can be an enormous rush. I think I’m a bit of a control freak ☺
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Re-writes. It’s always the re-writes. You’ve finished it, it’s been a great experience, and you’re going back through looking for spelling mistake and … boom! … you see a massive plot flaw. That’s hell, because altering one bit causes ripple effects throughout the whole novel. Then, you think you’ve got it sorted and your proof-readers, or your copy editor notice something and you’re back to square one!
With Immortals’, the early feedback I was getting was that the ending wasn’t up to much. They were absolutely right. I went back in and completely re-wrote it – 20,000 words. That caused some serious structural tremors right back to the beginning of the book. I’m talking the bloody prologue! And I’m having to mess with dialogue in the prologue … yeah. I hate re-writes.
What is your routine when writing, if any? If you don’t follow a routine, why not?
No routine – whenever I get five minutes between my day job, keeping on top of whatever chores I’ve got to get done around the house, and spending time with my family, I’ll write a few sections.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Not a chapter really: I think it was some of Cam’s dialogue. He channeled my sense of humor, and I enjoyed just being allowed to let rip taking the micky out of everything. The book’s pretty dark so it needs a shot of comedy, and that’s where Cam’s snipes and one-liners come in.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
Plan ahead! I tried planning a book once before, and the characters took on a life of their own. I’d find myself in a position where the plan said the character did one thing and I could practically see them, looking back at me from the page, saying ‘why would I do that? It’s like running upstairs when there’s a murderous psychopath in the house!’ So, I gave up on that and went back to allowing them their own pace.
I carried that philosophy on into Immortals’ … then came the re-writes …
So, as I explained before, I now let that organic process flow but only so far as an incredibly detailed plan. Then, when the story is complete and whole in my mind, I write.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? A gardener or an architect?
Do you know, I’ve never heard those phrases before? I had to look them up. Both and both. As I said, I have the plan set out ahead of time, but when it comes to the actual writing, I’m throwing things in there to make the story as realistic as possible. And occasionally, something better occurs to you as you’re writing. At that point, you’ve got to trust your instincts and if it means going back and ret-conning a load of stuff then so be it.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
I don’t. It’s a mystery. I know they come from me, but they aren’t me. I know what they will say, what they will do, and why they will do it … but I can’t claim to understand them. They’re all just in here with me, and I let them out onto the page. I know that sounds wishy-washy, but it’s the way it is.
What are your future project(s)?
I’ve got more than enough on my plate just trying to finish the series. I’ve sub-headed Immortals’ ‘An Alternative Earth Novel’ for two reasons; firstly, because it is clearly based in an alternate timeline. Secondly, because at some point in the future, I would like to take some of the characters’ and explore their alter-egos in our reality. Maybe write some straight fiction about them. That’s a long way off though. And then, I’ve got all sorts of other ideas rattling around in my head which I’d love to one day make the page … so who know?
What is your favorite book ever written? Who are your favorite authors?
American Tabloid by James Ellroy. I love that book – I can always dip back into it. However, my favorite authors are … wow, there are so many! At a pinch I’d say David Gemmell, George R. R. Martin, Clive Barker … oh, and what about Neil Gaiman? I’d have to put American Gods up against American Tabloid as my favorite book. There’s just so much talent out there at the moment.
What makes a good villain?
Believability. They have to be believable. They have to have a purpose and a motive. And, of course, they need to do some really awful stuff because you’ve got to really get your audience wanting their comeuppance.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
I’ve got a day job – if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to pay the mortgage! My ambition is to be a full-time author!
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 definitely go to Europa. Firstly, I’d just like to get that close to Jupiter. The view would be awesome! Secondly, if there is life anywhere else in the solar system, Europa’s a fairly decent bet. Who knows what might be down in those oceans …
Pick any three characters from a fiction novel. These are now your roadtrip crew. Where do you go and what do you do?
Repairman Jack, Druss the Legend, and Logen Ninefingers. I’d go wherever they god-damn well told me to, and I imagine there would be a lot of drinking ☺
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)?
However they like – Facebook’s probably a good bet ☺