by Michael Gruneir
MG: At what point did you know you wanted to write full time?
GK: I think I’ve always wanted to write. When I was younger it had that unrealistic feel to it though. A bit like wanting to be a movie star or and astronaut. Authors were special people. As it turns out we’re not that special. I started writing full-time when my kids were still home with me. Until they began school it made financial sense, things have just carried on from there.
MG: And you decided to self publish as well..was this a conscious choice from the beginning ?
GK: Not entirely. I finished my first book back in 2013. If I’m honest I sent it out to agents way before it was ready, which probably happens more often than you’d think. After a round of rejections it was obvious that the book needed more edits and I think it was around this time that I decided to self-publish. As it turned out the book was quite well received, enough to attract the attention of a small-press publisher anyway. Things didn’t work out there but I don’t have any regrets. the thing with self-publishing is that there is a momentum to it. I’d love to have a series out with a traditional publisher too, but to do so I’d have to neglect my s/p work, and if you publish something reasonably regularly then you may well be forgotten
MG: Your Fae series was a rather ambitious debut and it dealt with some very dark and mature themes, domestic abuse being one of them. What was your inspiration for the series, and did you have any concerns about how it would be received by Fantasy fans?
GK: Firstly, I don’t plot, at all. So an awful lot of the twists and turns in the book were as much as surprise to me as they were to anyone reading it. Things like the true nature of the ritual of the Wyrde, or the origin of mankind, just came off the cuff. So I didn’t really have the opportunity to worry about these themes as I didn’t know about them beforehand. I’d always wanted to play around with the notion of faeries and the fae, especially in a morally grey, self-interested, sense. I think most fantasy fans have moved beyond the epic pitting of good vs evil. Fantasy has evolved a lot in the last twenty years or so and I think a lot of readers are more interested in seeing characters they can relate to rather than paragons of virtue. We (and I include myself in this) want to see conflicted characters, people who fail, people who make bad decisions, or the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons. Because of this I wasn’t worried about how the books would be received. I just worried I’d managed to pull it off as well as I hoped.
MG: Faithless was a huge critical success. Really a wonderful dark, claustrophobic nightmare of a novel. Did you know you had written something special once you hit publish? Did you expect such a response?
GK: I don’t think anyone really knows what to expect when you publish a book. I had done more rounds of editing than I usually do with this and had a HUGE crowd beta reading it. I knew the twists worked, but beyond that I had no idea it was going to get the response it did.
MG:What were some of your main influences specifically when in case to Faithless, and it’s subterranean world and the society that inhabited it?
GK: Back in the early 90s there was a computer game called Dungeon Master. It was when computer graphics were first starting to move beyond blocky blobs and the sound effects began to be more realistic. Dungeon Master was groundbreaking, the monsters roamed about on their own and would often hunt you down when you slept. That’s where the initial idea for Faithless came from. I had just finished the Riven Wyrde trilogy and felt a bit burnt out. Faithless was supposed to be a fun little novella, a literary dungeon hack. Somewhere along the line things got more complex.
MG: From out conversations in the past you mentioned that a sequel for Faithless was not always in the cards. What’s the status on that now?
GK: My latest book comes out on November 30th and the real work on the Faithless sequel will begin after that but it’s definitely happening.
MG: So tell us a bit about the new one..which by the way I’m really enjoying and I suspect will be massive.
GK: The Lore of Prometheus is a massive departure from my usual style. It’s set in this world, present day, and tells the story of John Carver, a British SRR (special forces) veteran who struggles with PTSD and a gambling addiction. During his time in Afghanistan his team was ambushed and captured. Whilst being interrogated, and watching his men being killed one by one, Carver manages to stop a bullet in mid-air, by force of will, or by magic – he has no idea.
MG: Yea it’s quite different, and incredibly fast paced I’ve been reading it any chance I’ve had to read and it’s pacing is fantastic. Do you have bigger plans for this as a series or are we looking at a Standalone?
GK: There might be a sequel, or possibly a serial.
MG: What’s your writing schedule like? And when you aren’t writing what takes up most of your time?
GK: I write every weekday. Writing, editing and marketing take up a full eight hour day really. I tend to write in sprints of thirty minutes or so, unless I can get into a good zone. I have a small horde of children that ravage the surrounding towns and villages. If I don’t keep them in check then people tend to complain. You only answer the door to an angry mob brandishing torches and pitchforks so many times before you get the hint.
MG: So between writing and domestic duties have you had any time to read anything and if so , any recommendations?
GK: The last book I read was written by one of my editors, Alicia Wanstall-Burke. Blood of Heirs is her debut novel, an epic fantasy with worldbuilding that has been heavily influenced by her native Australia. Easily the best debut I’ve read in years.
MG: It’s been on my TBR for a while. Heard great things. So aside from the fantastic book you have coming out , can you talk in a bit more detail about your next year of writing and when we can expect more from you..maybe a bit of a Faithless sequel teaser?
GK: I expect to have The Godless (working title) out in 2019. The book will see the return of Kharios and Leesha as the ramification of what Ossan has done begin to hit home. I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into it, particularly the world-building which impacts on a number of books. Depending on how things go with The Godless I should also break ground on the first of the books in the Riven Wyrde Legacy. We’ll just have to see.
MG: How important is a great cover to you? I notice you’ve worked with Pen Astridge who I am a huge fan of.
GK: A cover can be hugely important. I’ve been self-publishing for almost five years now and it’s something that simply can’t be under-stated – find talented professional and hire them. Editors, proofreaders, formatters, and cover artists. It’s a very rare person that can write and also do any of these things, and in my experience 9 times out of 10 any expenditure will be paid back in short order.
MG: And on that note, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?
GK: Slow down. I’ve made most of the mistakes it’s possible to make when writing. Most of them have been caused by impatience or a perceived need to get things finished. Just about every book will be improved by tossing it into a drawer for a couple of months while you work on something else, and then returning to it with fresh eyes.