Sunday, December 18, 2011

The IAN Interview with David George Richards


 I am a self published, or indie author from the UK with twelve titles available as Kindle or e-book editions for around $2 each. Most of these stories are between five and ten years old, and have been edited constantly, so the latest Kindle and e-book editions differ slightly from the original drafts that are still available to read on my website. Ten of my books are also published and available as trade paperbacks. Although I started writing in earnest over ten years ago, my earliest paperback edition on Amazon was published in 2005.


I was born in Manchester in the North West of England in 1957. Although I have moved around a bit, Manchester is still both my physical and spiritual home. I am married to my wife Rosanna, and have been now for over twenty years. I have an imagination that began when I was very young and never waned. I also like reading and so it was no surprise I suppose when I started writing. 



IAN. Please tell us about your writing.

DGR. I write Science-Fiction, Fantasy and Romance. I like to mix my genres and I also feature female characters very prominently in all of my stories, many of them in strong and attractive leading roles. The reason for this is that I like writing about women. It gives my stories a female bias, but I think they are better for it. So expect Romance and Fantasy in my Science-Fiction with a multitude of leading ladies. It’s just the way I am. I also like every character, even the monsters and villains, to have a realistic reason for being and doing what they do.

Three of my Science-Fiction Fantasy books have a related 'universe' or can be considered a 'story arc,' in that they are set on the same planet called Ellerkan. The Lost Girls, The Return of the Sixpack and The Tale of the Comet all feature characters at different points in their lives and at different generations. Although there are common elements and some things are only fully understood if you have read them all, any one of them can be read independently without any loss. That can’t be said for the four part Friendly Ambassador series of books that introduces the Androktones, or Destroyers. These four books can be considered to be a prequel or back story to the three books set on Ellerkan, but the story arc is totally different. The Friendly Ambassador blends Greek Myth with traditional Science-Fiction, and of course the stories are in four chronological parts that are meant to be read that way. The Friendly Ambassador was too big to self-publish in one paperback at the time (over 1300 pages), so the split wasn’t my original choice. I guess that’s life. I do hope to re-combine them into one volume in the future.

My Romance books are, well, romantic. An Affair of the Heart and The Look of Love are mainly Contemporary Romance, but some are mixed with Suspense, such as Mind Games, or Science-Fiction, such as The Dreamer. And A Fine Woman is set in the South of France during and in the aftermath of WWII. Because I am in the UK, my Contemporary Romances are set in my home city of Manchester. I must get something right with my Romance novels as one of them is my most successful book so far.

IAN. How long does it take you to write a book?

DGR. This is a piece of string question. It can take me anything from a few months to a few years. Obviously long books take longer to write than short books, but the writing process is dictated by how much I know the story and plot development beforehand. As I mention below, the more developed the story is in my head, the quicker I can write it. But I don’t always write continuously either. I have been known to take very long writing breaks between books, or even during a book.

IAN. What inspired you to write?

DGR. I started writing because I loved to read. I also loved to play stories when I was young, with a room full of soldiers and figures who I would invent characters for. I read Gone with the Wind when I was still a kid, and practically all the classic Science-Fiction authors you could find. I love space, I love adventure, I love all those classic TV series, I love women, I love Romance, and I love women in stories. As a result women feature strongly in my stories. I suppose that goes back to Gone with the Wind. Blame it on Scarlet. Anyway, I write because, like many others have said, the stories are in my head. It’s a subconscious thing that forces it out whether you want it to or not. It’s in my blood and in my soul, it’s what makes me me. To stop thinking, to stop my imagination, is to stop being me.

IAN. Talk about the writing process. Do you write at night or in the morning?

DGR. When I write I tend to do it in the afternoon until well into the early hours. But it depends on when the urge takes me. Real life dictates when I write, and it also dictates when I can think about my writing, mulling it all over in my head, so I write less these days than I used to. That also might be related to my mind unloading many of the stored ideas I needed to get down on paper. I also write because I enjoy it, like a hobby. So if it becomes a chore, I stop.

IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

DGR. I tend to mull over an idea in my head for ages before I write. Often the overall story and plot will be clear in my mind even before I start. Having said that, none of the individual details or even all of the characters will be apparent at that stage, that comes later, and nothing will be written down. Once I have the general idea in my head I can start writing quite quickly and the characters that I populate the story with begin to contribute to the plot itself. If real life interferes with that mulling over process then I tend to write less or more slowly.

IAN. How are your books different from others in your genre?

DGR. I suppose the answer to this question is that I wrote them! But on a more serious note, I would like to think that The Friendly Ambassador is a little different. This four part story mixes Greek Myth with traditional Science-Fiction, taking a different approach to the legend of Atlantis, the origination of the Amazons, and the true nature of mythical creatures such as the Cyclops and Centaurs as aliens from other worlds.

In general I like to write both Science-Fiction and Fantasy with a more realistic basis. So I need to have a realistic and logical reason for why my dragons exist. But as I like to include some Fantasy elements in my stories, and I don’t regard my Science-Fiction writing as being either hard or soft Science-Fiction, some things are still left deliberately unanswered.

With regard to my Romance stories, well, romance is part of life, and by nature it is people focused. I like to explore relationships and so I like to include Romance in all my stories. It is often the interaction and relationships between the characters that dictate the flow of the story. Does that make all my stories character driven? Maybe. But although characters can often dictate events, they also have to react to other events that overtake them.

IAN. Are your books published in print, e-book or both?

DGR. The answer is both. I like to publish in print whenever I can. I think that is because, like most people, I grew up with real paperbacks or hardbacks to read, and if you dream of publishing a book, you need to see and feel it in your hands to fulfill that dream. That I should also publish e-books is a modern practicality. As a self-published author it is essential to use digital publishing as this levels the playing field with the mainstream traditional publishers. It is also difficult to get paperbacks on bookshelves in brick and mortar stores, and pricing can also be an issue. I see digital publishing as the future.

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your books?

DGR. First of all I want my readers to enjoy my books for what they are, fiction for entertainment. I don’t want to preach or have a hidden morality to bring out. But I do want my readers to believe and feel for the characters in my books. I want them to be engaged with them and to care about what happens to them. I hope I write well enough to do that. So even in my science-fiction stories where there are many visual action sequences, it is still the relationships between the principal characters and their understanding of each other that is the main focus of my writing. And that includes the aliens and villains. If I have any message in my writing it is that nobody is really an out and out villain, or at least not often. All my characters have different viewpoints and agendas, there are no blind killers, and the borders between the good guys and the bad guys are deliberately blurred. Real life is like that, after all.

IAN. Where can we go to buy your books?

DGR. All my books are available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel and Google. I am also looking into publishing via Smashwords to Nook, Sony and various other handheld devices.

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

DG. The book I am working on at the moment is another Science-Fiction Fantasy story set on Ellerkan. Although it belongs to that same overall universe, it is a standalone story that fits at the very end of the story arc so to speak, and so it features all new characters. I am about 30,000 words in, but I am taking my time and the current draft is the fourth edit.

IAN. Any other links or info you'd like to share?

DG. Apart from here on IAN you can find me on Goodreads at
http://www.goodreads.com/dgr2, or on Facebook at

And finally there is always my website at http://www.booksandstories.com.



Excerpt from The Tale of the Comet
Science-Fiction, 754 Pages.
Published by Booksandstories.com via BookSurge, 2008.

The farm wasn’t new. It had been established on the outskirts of Jasanta for over fifteen years. It was further out than the other farms, beyond the main areas of cultivation and closer to the edge of the forest. There were other farms nearby, but none this close to the forest. It hadn’t mattered at the time and the land was unclaimed and had been fallow for a generation. The farmer and his wife had toiled hard, but progress came with the toil and the years. There were now three fields filled with wheat that grew waist high. The spacious farmhouse was supported by a large barn and two more outhouses. The farm was now the home of a family, with children, a dog, and horses in the barn. And every morning men from Jasanta would journey out to work on the farm that was now too much for a man and his young son. In this it was the same as any other farm.

But there was a difference with this farm.

There was a reason why land this close to the forest remained fallow and unclaimed. It was a reason that many in Jasanta had forgotten or no longer worried about. The land was crossed by a path. It was an unmarked path or trail that stretched from the mountains in the east, across the fields of Halafalon and deep into the forest. It was an ancient path and not often used. And because it was unmarked on any map, it was not remembered. On any day in any year, and for nearly a generation, none of that had mattered.

But this year was different.

One by one, the Androktones heading towards the forest for the coming of the ship had met on the path they always trod from their dens. At first there were only one or two, but as they neared the edge of the forest their numbers slowly increased, and by the time they neared the forest on this warm summer night, nearly all of them had gathered together. As they met they had talked and greeted one another like sisters and spoken of the deeds and events that had passed since their last meeting. There was joy at the sight of others not seen for many years, and sadness for those who had not returned. Some walked arm in arm, and many talked while others just nodded. There was no sign of animosity, only anticipation as they walked slowly and casually towards the forest.

Then they came to the farm.

It sprawled across their path where none had been there before. The lights twinkled in the windows of the farmhouse and it reeked of the incorrect. The character of the Androktones changed instantly; their expressions hardened, and they fanned out.

****

On a warm summer night a farmhouse burned. Figures ran from the house to the barn and other buildings, their figures silhouetted against the flames. Each carried a flash of silver.
For a short time the farmer and his son had fought to defend their land and their lives, but it had been a short resistance. All had been butchered, even the dog. But one still lived.
Chen-Soo ran into the barn, her bloodstained sword in her hands. There were two horses in a stall on the far side. They were already beginning to panic as smoke swirled around. Sparks from the roof of the burning farmhouse had drifted to the barn roof. It was already on fire and the crackle of the flames could be heard. But the smoke couldn’t disguise the stink that had brought her here.

The incorrect one is here! Do not let it escape! Find it! Find it and kill it!

Chen-Soo moved forward purposefully, her sword held in both hands. She kept it raised before her, ready to strike or defend. Her eyes darted from side to side, searching, scanning. But it was her nose that found the object of her search. She stopped and her eyes darted to a box resting against the far wall, just next to the stalls. Straw was heaped around it, but there was none on top.

The disgusting one is inside! Kill it! Kill it! Kill it!

Silently, Chen-Soo moved quickly towards the box. As she came closer she saw that it was an old chest, probably one that was used to bring clothes and other belongings. It was old and battered.

Sparks and burning embers began to fall from the roof as the flames took hold. The horses began to prance and rear, kicking at the wooden stalls that hemmed them in. One broke free and bolted for the barn door. As it galloped away behind her, Chen-Soo shifted her sword to one hand, holding it point downward like a long dagger as she stood over the chest. Bracing herself she reached down with her other hand and threw open the chest lid.

The young girl screamed a high-pitched scream and cowered down, holding her hands over her face.

Chen-Soo froze, her sword still held poised to strike.

Why do you hold back? Kill it! Kill the abomination! Stab it! Stab it now!

It looks like me.

You always dwell on this dream! She is not you! She is not one of your siblings! Nor is she your seed! She is incorrect! Vile! Disgusting! She must die like the others! Kill her!

I don’t want to. I can’t.

Can’t? Won’t? Where were these feelings when the man and the woman fell to our swords? You did not hang back as the others struck! Your sword bit the incorrect as theirs did! You followed the Purpose then, but now you deny it!

I don’t follow the Purpose! I kill when I decide!

Then kill her!

I decide!

You are mutated! Disgusting! You should die as the incorrect must die!

I decide! Now shut up or I will cut you off!

Anger! Silence!

Chen-Soo slammed the lid down on the chest and turned away. As she turned she swung her sword and brought it down on the wooden gate that trapped the remaining horse. The wood splintered and the horse burst out and gleefully galloped for freedom. As it shot out the door, another figure appeared.

The straw was catching fire in one corner and some of the beams that supported the roof were now burning. Smoke was everywhere and getting thicker. Hai-Fam ignored it all as she stared at Chen-Soo. Her expression was filled with anger.

Now you will die for your hesitation! She will know where the small one hides!

Shut up!

Chen-Soo lowered her sword and waited. Hai-Fam’s eyes darted to the chest near the wall and her anger increased. She immediately strode forward and held her sword dagger-fashion as Chen-Soo had done before. But she didn’t hesitate when she reached the chest. She threw open the lid and stabbed down in a sudden frenzy. Then she stopped and stared. Chen-Soo stepped forward and looked in the chest.

It was empty.

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