I just want to thank Ed McDonald for taking the time to do this interview. And now on to the questions!
- If you could do it all over again, would you change anything in Blackwing?
In all honesty, no. It’s easy to look back at something you made and think “Ah, I hate how the word ‘number’ appears twice in that line, or ‘I wish I’d given that character another few lines of character development’ but I don’t like to look back. I’m very happy with where it ended up and I’m only moving forward.
(Not that it matters but I was very happy with it as well. It was a great read that I highly recommend in my review here.)
- Have you ever judged a book by its cover?
I am terrible for doing this, but I do it often. A good cover will get me to pick the book up from the shelf. Whether I keep on reading it then depends on the writing.
- Who designed your cover/covers? Were you able to work with the artist or is it all the publisher/artist?
I provided a brief for my publishers on what I wanted. It was very detailed, several pages. Then they ignored it completely and their art departments or sub-contracted artists came up with something pretty much completely different. Dan Smith did the UK cover but the US one I’m genuinely not sure. I take the approach that I’m good at words, and other people are good at art, and I need to just leave them to do their own thing. It’s healthier that way and I’m really pleased with what they came up with.
- Have you ever had a side character Try to steal the show? Would you like to go back and make a spin off series or something for them? Or is there a theme or idea you’d love to be able to explore in more depth?
In a sense, I think that they do a little. Nenn and Tnota have been so often mentioned as being the favourite characters in Blackwing and they really aren’t central to the story! Additionally, the more I wrote, the more the story became about Ezabeth. I may have fallen in love with her myself a bit, even though that’s weird to say.
I like to imagine that after The Raven’s Mark books I’ll be able to explore the world I’ve imagined further, but I wouldn’t want to go backwards – I’d be interested in following the children of one of the characters perhaps. Assuming they live long enough to have them.
- If you could read any book again for the first-time, what book would it be?
Legend, by David Gemmell. I’ve read if seven times. It’s a book that genuinely influences my moral compass and my way of living.
- How much for this car stereo? Oh wait, wrong kind of fencing. I meant to ask, How did you get into fencing? Do you compete or just do it for fun?
I did sport fencing at university, and then picked it up again later but I was always frustrated by how much of a sport it was, and how little genuine swordsmanship was involved. From there I started doing HEMA and never looked back. I love learning the technical aspects, but I’m also hyper competitive and love to compete.
- How many books have you written, how many have you tried to publish, and how many are in print?
Written – eight
Tried to publish – three
In print – one, with the eighth now in the hands of my editors
- Have you found any occupational hazards to being a novelist?
I do most of my writing with a beer in the pub, I guess that’s not great for my health…
- What is your favorite word? Least Favorite?
Favourite word – there was a note in the margin of Blackwing’s edits by one of my editors, Gillian, saying “Arsehole is your favourite word. Maybe change a few?” I do like arsehole. Don’t quote me on that.
Least favourite – “literally,” used when people mean “very” and what they’re discussing is figurative.
- How many people have you killed over the course of your career? Real people first, then fictional.
Three, but you’ll never find them. Fictional, we’re talking millions. I have a short story in the forthcoming The Art of War charity anthology run by Booknest.Eu which features an Armageddon event.
- What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? Did it end up helping? Or did we just count that person in question 10?
I don’t think that I’ve ever really had criticism, but the best piece of advice was given to me by an agent was that my sixth book, at 280,000 words, was simply way too long to be published and that no agent/publisher would pick it up. As a result I abandoned it and wrote Blackwing, at an easy 117,000 words and never looked back.
- What has been the best compliment?
I’ve had one reviewer say it was their all time favourite book, but I’m going to give it to Anthony Ryan, author of Bloodsong, who said: “Upon starting Blackwing it quickly gained the rare distinction of being one of those books that felt as if it had been written especially for me.” Now that’s a compliment and a half.
- Do you have any advice to give a new writer?
Love what you write. If you’re enjoying writing a scene, it’s probably a fun scene. If it’s a struggle or boring, then change something up: a total location change, gender flip a character, start a fire. When it’s fun to write, it usually comes out fun to read.
- What was the last book you read? Was it any good?
Behind Her Eyes, by Sarah Pinborough. I wanted to read something far out of my usual reading zone, and it was great.
- What one question do you think I should have asked you, but didn’t?
What two questions do you think I should have asked you, but didn’t?
(That is cheating!)
- Do you have any questions for me?
Are you aware that copies of Blackwing make excellent Christmas presents? They can also be used to prop up wonky tables, to insulate wall cavities and if you bind enough of them together, can make a handy life raft in an emergency. It’s worth stocking up.
Well if you are in need of a good book or ….um .. a life raft or anything else I guess you can pick up a copy at the links below.
Get a copy of Blackwing
- Barnes & Noble
- Apple iBooks
- Google Play
- Book Depository