Saturday, April 28, 2012
Interview with Fantasy Author A. S. Warwick
A. S., would you tell use when did you start writing? What did you first write?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember, and probably earlier. The first story I can remember writing was when I was 5, about a trip to visit Never Never Land. It was during High School that I really became serious about writing, though the less said about those early, clichéd attempts the better.
Tell us about the fantasy world(s) you make up. What are they like?
I have come up with many fantasy worlds over the years, though one in particular has been the main focus. The origins of it began over twenty years ago. It has morphed and changed a lot since then to an almost unrecognisable state from the original. It did start out as fairly generic fantasy, with elves and dwarves and what-not, but at some stage I decided I wanted to do something different, and they were among the first to go. Sharael is a world that is largely deserts in the interior, with civilisation existing along the fertile margins besides the seas and oceans. It is also a low magic world mostly of humans. One of the major differences is that it is a more technologically advanced world than most fantasy, having reached the age of gunpowder and big ships - the Napoleonic War era of technology. As something of a history nerd, one thing that does bother me about a lot of fantasy is the technological stasis that it seems to exist in, with nothing changing over hundreds or thousands of years. That is part of the reason I have written short fiction across the length of Sharael's history, from the stone age and bronze age all the way to the gunpowder age.
How do you work out a magic system for your world? Do you prefer a lot of magic? Light magic? And why?
My preference is for low magic settings - if magic is too powerful then it can quickly take over and remove all challenge. Meet an obstacle? Wave your hand and it is overcome. That said I wanted magic to still be flavourful and have a meaningful role in the world. With those guidelines in place, I did a lot of brainstorming over a number of iterations until I settled onto the current one, a system of magic that is fundamental to the nature of the world. From there, knowing what it was capable of - mostly things like healing, control of animals and influencing emotions and perceptions - I tried to work out how it would affect the world, notably in matters such as wars. Then there is the other type of magic, rare and unusable by humans...
What is the hardest thing about making up a fantasy world? Why?
For me it is avoiding all the clichéd elements of fantasy - grumpy, Scottish speaking dwarves, pointy-eared elves, big bad evil sorcerers, farm-boy heroes fulfilling prophecies - without making it seem like I am avoiding them and also replacing it with something that is not only unique but also enjoyable by the reader. Fantasy is only limited by our imaginations.
Tell us about your most recent main character. Would we want to share a meal with them? Why?
The one who stole the limelight initially (though who is going into the background for a bit) would be Professor Halir Ashford, and would be fun to share a meal with. A former Hussar turned explorer, adventurer, historian and professor, he would never be short of unusual and exciting tales to recount of things he has seen or heard. The problem would be to stop him when he gets started.
What about the villain of your most recent novel. How did you make them up? Would we be scared to meet them in a dark alley?
I try to avoid villains who are evil for the sake of being evil. While the main characters run into opposition, those people have their own motivations that they believe are right. In the most recent novel, Winter Wolves, the main characters are opposed to a man, Inkhumetekh, who went through a crisis of faith during a disastrous battle, further compounded by being on the side slowly loosing a war. He simply seeks a means to reverse that, and the main characters are out to stop him. As to meeting him in a dark alley, well, he is utterly driven, so if you got in his way you may have a problem.
What is your next project?
I've actually, like normal, got a number of projects in the air. The first, set in Sharael, is a collection of short stories and novellas, each stand alone stories but go to tell an overall story of the progress of a war. The second is a sword & sorcery collection of short fiction, the second such collection. And once they are done it is time to delve into a large list of ideas and stories I've got floating around but haven't had the time to get to yet.
You can find A. S. Warwick's Tears of the Mountain and Winter Wolves on Amazon and Smashwords. Please check them out.