*The Student Advertiser website where this piece was first published has since been deactivated, as such the link at the bottom redirects to my portfolio where I have saved the interview for posterity.
Okay first off tell me about yourself?
I’m a fantasy and short story author from Glasgow. I’ve got a few stories in print, have won a few awards and have written for some video games too. My first novel is Anna Undreaming and it comes out on March 20th. It’s the first part of the Metiks Fade Trilogy, and since it’s been announced, everything has been a bit crazy. In a good way!
Why do you want to write?
I’ve always wanted to write, but for a long time I put it off. My teachers in school knew I was keen and encouraged me a lot, but I was a bit too lazy. Finally, I decided a few years ago that if I didn’t write a book now, I might never do it. So I better get started!
What made you pick a dark urban fantasy as your first book?
The blurb says, “Anna is a student surviving the city”, and that’s how it can feel sometimes. Just surviving in a busy city is an adventure in itself. In Anna Undreaming the city is a character, sometimes full of wonder, but always dangerous too. And I consciously chose to never name that city. My hope is that each reader feels like it’s based in their own home town. I don’t know if I succeeded or not, but I guess I’ll find out on March 20th!
Did you find it difficult to incorporate magic into a more real world setting, and did you take inspiration from anywhere?
I took inspiration from everywhere! The great thing about Metiks Fade is that it’s about reality being warped and reshaped by art. In Anna Undreaming, the Dreamers can paint, dance, sew or sing new realities, so I have a chance to write about monsters and demons, cyborgs and old, forgotten Gods and any other crazy thing I can imagine.
I thought the dedication was particularly sweet, if you don’t mind talking about it could you share the story behind it?
Oh thank you! A few years ago I wrote a story for my wife as a Christmas gift. I got it printed and bound, and it was about fifty pages. After those fifty pages were done, there was still more story to tell. She loved it so much that it encouraged me to write a little more. As I wrote chapter-after-chapter, I was so happy. Knowing even one person was going to read it – that I had one “fan” – was enough for me to write stories forever. One day I asked her if I could share those stories and try to write a book, and she told me I could, and I should. So I did.
As someone who will soon have his own published book, what advice can you give to people still trying to make it?
I met a great young writer recently called Holly, and I told her, don’t call yourself an “aspiring writer”. That was in her Twitter bio. If you are writing, you’re not “aspiring”, you’re doing it! A writer isn’t someone with a publishing deal or a best-selling series, a writer is someone who writes. If you manage to write a little each day, you’re a writer and you’re making it. All the other stuff – book deals, prizes, publication – that might come or it might not, but If you work hard and keep writing every day and keep trying to get better, you have a shot.
Did you follow any typical conventions/blueprints for writing Anna Undreaming?
Not really! I had fun seeing where the story took me. Afterwards, a lot of rewriting helped give the story a better shape and structure. I’m currently writing a dark fantasy novel called “Hope is Coming to Eat Your Heart” where I’m trying to adopt a more structured approach, planning everything out before I write. I won’t know if that’s better or not, but I guess I’ll find out soon!
How long did it take you to write?
Two years, but in that time I wrote most of book 2 of Metiks Fade, and also wrote some short stories and wrote for some video games too.
Was there any part of it you were/are unsure about?
Good question! I guess I was unsure about the sections with Peter. He is an important character, but he goes through terrible trauma in the story. Most of the book follows Anna, so it’s quite a contrast when focus switches to him. I was really unsure whether those sections “fit” as they dip into sci-fi and body horror, but my editor absolutely loved them! That gave me the affirmation I needed to stick with his story.
Following on from that would you change any part of it if you could?
Hmm, I am not sure. I guess if I felt very strongly about anything, even at this late stage I could still make changes. I am sure I’ll see things I want to fix after it’s been released!
Who is your favourite and least favourite characters?
Oh, I love this question! I hope people hate Drowden as much as I do. He is a mean-spirited, petty, violent bully, and he’s the kind of antagonist we can all recognise in 2018.
For favourite, I normally say Elise in interviews like this, but I’ll try to mix it up and say Garret this time. He’s an old, charming anachronism. He often says the wrong thing, but he laughs a lot, especially at himself. And he’s kind. For me, heroes aren’t people who are righteous or uncompromising; they are people who are kind.
What else have you had published and where can potential readers find it?
I have links on my website to everything I have in print on my website. I won the Elbow Room short story compilation 2016, so people can pick that collection up. Elbow Room are fantastic and gave me my first big break. I’m in The Leicester Writes compilation too, and I’m in the 404 Ink F Word Collection. 404 Ink are the most exciting publisher in Scotland by miles, and I love their commitment to diversity. I’ve written for some major video games coming out this year too, but for the moment I’m NDA’d so can’t talk about them.
And lastly, a little fun. In a tweet length (280 characters) pitch sell me and the readers your book?
When Anna learns that she’s an Undreamer with powers she cannot yet comprehend, she realizes that there’s as much beauty in life as there is darkness. As she explores one impossible reality after another, Anna must face her past trauma to save her old world as well as her new one.
First Published on: The Student Advertiser