When did you decide to become a writer?
I have been writing stories ever since I can remember, since a very young age. It was around the age of 12 or 13 I decided that being an author would be a great job to have. Of course the less said about the early attempts at writing novels the better. It took me a while to find my own voice and finally reach a level I felt was worth sharing.
If you are not a full time writer what do you do to pay the bills?
Right at the moment I am between jobs. After 8 years working in IT I became slightly burnt out and decided to use the ensuing time working hard on trying to finish some novels. I guess I am a full time author, but not one that can pay the bills by it yet.
There were numerous inspirations for the book, ranging from various fantasy authors and novels, through to non-fantasy ones like King Solomon's Mines and the Sharpe Series by Bernard Cornwell. A lot of the inspiration came from pondering why most fantasy seems to be stuck in a medieval stasis and what would happen if technology advanced like it did on Earth. Tears of the Mountain was written to explore a world like that. It initially started as a bit of archaeological style hunt for a lost city and the treasure it contained story, but further elements added themselves as I wrote it.
What other work do you have available?
I have a collection of short stories available, 16 or 17 of them, ranging across a variety of styles. There are some sci-fi ones, and a host of fantasy ranging from stone age mythological tales all the way through to gunpowder fantasy like Tears of the Mountain is. A number of them form series of short stories that are slowly being expanded on.
What sites is your work available on?
All of my works are available on Smashwords, while Tears of the Mountain is also available on Amazon.
Are you currently working on anything new and if so when can we expect to see it?
I have a novel, Winter Wolves*, getting close to completion, and a novel, Dawn of Wolves, about twenty percent done. Both are related to Tears of the Mountain without being sequels. I hope to have them done in the next month or two and available shortly after.
Are there any authors that you really look up to?
I have a few that really got me interested in writing, or various styles of writing. Tolkien was the first one, hardly surprising for a fantasy writer. Two of the other ones were Terry Pratchett and Bernard Cornwell, both rather different, but successful, authors.
What do you see the biggest challenge in being an Indie author as?
Getting noticed. Writing the book is easy compared to self marketing, and you have to self market. You can't just sit back and let others do it for you like a more traditional published author has the option of. That takes a lot of hard work, getting out there and networking, talking with people and the like, all without trying to be too pushy. It is all rather new to me and I'm still learning the ropes.
Have you ever been published in any magazines or any national publication?
No. Whatever I've written I've always released myself.
Do you have a homepage/blog/twitter/facebook etc... that fans can follow your progress or contact you at?
I have a homepage/blog at http://mistandshadows.com where I post about writing progress as well as various other things that interest me. I always want to blog more on it but can never seem to find the time.
What is your favorite book/series?
Favourite book ever since reading it many years ago is The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien. I know some people find it dry but its epic sweep of history and events that shaped Middle Earth is just the type of style I enjoy. one of these days I'd like to write my world's version of The Silmarillion, though that is a project a long way off. Series wise I have always been partial to the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett,especially the Watch series within it.
Are there any specific sites that you visit for advice or inspiration?
I am a big fan of tvtropes.org, a site far too easy to get lost in. It is a good source of inspiration, as well as pitfalls to avoid.
What exactly is a gunpowder fantasy?
Gunpowder fantasy is the term by which I label a certain time period of the world of my writing, to differentiate it from the more typical medieval style fantasy settings. Most, though not all, fantasy is set in periods of knights and castles and princess. Originally I wrote that style as well, but one day I got thinking about what would happen if technology continued to develop as it did on Earth. Being a fan of a number of authors (Bernard Cornwell, Patrick O'Brian & C. S. Forester) who wrote of the time around the Napoleonic Wars, I wondered how a fantasy world would look with that level of technology. I experimented with a couple of short stories first, found I liked it, and so moved on to attempting novels. Basically, it is fantasy where swords and bows have been replaced by flintlock muskets and cannons, the world is being colonised and they are on the verge of entering the industrial revolution.
In your book there are A LOT of countries and most of those countries seem to be made up of multiple tribes. How did you keep them all straight while writing?
I do have a rough map of a lot of it, but most of the nations have been in my head for a dozen years now, some longer. There is a lot of detail still not fully fleshed out, but by now they have become very real places, with their own cultures and identities, as real to me in some regards as anywhere in Europe that I've never physically visited. As to why there are a lot of them, it is beacuse in our history it has always been the case - rarely do you see only a handful of monolithic nations. At times I worry I don't have enough nations.
Where did you get the names for all of the countries and tribes that you used in your book?
Some of them have been around for so long that I've forgotten where they came from. For other, more recently created names, I generally start with a theme for the language of the nation, based around some Earth language, quite a few of which are no longer spoken, and work from there, coming up with names that sound similar. For example, the Empire of Hakset has a language similar to ancient Egyptian, though they and their culture aren't based on it.
I see scenes rather vividly in my head. My artistic talent is pretty average, otherwise I'd paint them, so it falls to try and convey those images with written words instead. I want my readers to be able to see the scenes, the landscapes, as clearly as I do, and colours are an integral part of how we view things.
Which character do you identify with the most?
Of all of them it would be Halir Ashford, the professor and historian. He has that inquisitive, always needs to find the answers, nature that I in part have. On the other hand he is a bit more adventurous than I am.
Did you use anyone you know to get a personality for any of your characters?
Not that I'm aware of, though as with all characters they have to have a basis somewhere and it may have been that I pulled parts from people I know without being aware of it.
Your fight scenes with the muzzle loaders and the old style naval battles were very well written. Did you do a lot of research on those kinds of weapons to add realism?
I had an interest in the period of history that the story is modelled on long before I wrote it, and had read quite a few books and seen a number of movies and TV shows that helped bring it to life. I did do some research for some of the more technical details, but for the most it came from what I already knew, and from trying to figure out how non-historical elements, like magic and non-humans would fit in with it.
Do you have any other books involving these characters planned?
Certainly. Professor Halir features in two short stories I wrote initially, The Tomb of the Tagosa Kings, and Gifts and Sacrifices. I have another novel nearing completion, called Winter Wolves, and a novella about a quarter done, that he features in. The other characters I hadn't initially planned to reuse but I do want to find out what happens to Logawa and Marassi given they are ideally placed to further explore the evolving storyline of the setting.
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview with us Andrew and best of luck with your career in the future.
*In the time between doing this interview and its posting Andrew has actually finished and released Winter Wolves available on Amazon and Smashwords. In a blog post he has said that all proceeds from the book are going to help his sister on a humanitarian quest so please check the books out. His profile on Smashwords is also filled with free short stories some of which deal with the same world and characters as Tears of the Mountain and Winter Wolves.