Sam Gilmour, author of Golden Mane (The Adventures of Sarah Coppernick Book 1), has done me the honour of including me in his next fantasy book – I’m to be a wicked sorcerer.  I’m thrilled about that as I’ve never been a meanie before (though I’m sure these people out there who would disagree with that).    Anyway…..

On to the interview:

What genre would you like to write a book in (that you haven’t yet)?

Urban fantasy.  I’ve always been a classic epic fantasy fan, but lately I’ve read a few that have really got me thinking.

Where do your ideas come from?  Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole construct?

Oh wow.  Ideas just come.  I get them in the bathroom, on the couch, in the car with the music up loud…  I even had one in a dentist chair once while I was getting my teeth cleaned.  I had to ask the hygienist to stop so I could scribble a note down.  That was a bit embarrassing.  I think she paid me back by being extra savage with one of those sharp metal scrapy things.

The stories don’t often come to me as a whole, but for some reason, I usually get the big finale in my head before I get the beginning.  Then I have to just start writing until the story on my computer has caught up with the story in my head.  There’s no real formula.  If you could map my thought processes, they’d be a Jackson Pollock painting.

When you start a new story, do you have a title for it?  Does that trigger the story?

Usually I start out with the rough idea and the title just sort of comes from that.  So far I haven’t had any trouble coming up with titles.  Writing blurbs on the other hand…  Now that’s enough to make me break out in a rash.  Seriously.  I’m getting itchy just thinking about it.

Do you see the future of fantasy and science fiction as bright?  If so, which authors are driving it?

It’s so bright it’s blinding, and Indy authors are driving it.  In the traditional publishing world, sci-fi & fantasy have been the hardest genres to break into, but with the rise of self-pubbing, the gatekeepers can no longer keep all these wonderful new ideas and writers down.

What themes are being overused?

Oh, I’m not sure many really are.  I know a lot of people are going to say werewolves or vampires or steampunk or what not.  The only real thing I see being overused are impossibly ripped male models on covers, as well as sideways-standing heroines holding big weapons, also with six-packs.

Are movies of books ruining the book?

They can.  Take American Psycho, for example.  Or more recently, The Lovely Bones.  Both great books for completely different reasons; both truly shocking films.  On the other hand, the Harry Potter films were wonderful, as were The Lord Of The Rings films.  I think it all boils down to respect.  The filmmaker has to respect the book.  If that respect isn’t there, the film will be shit, no matter how much money is thrown at it.

Do you see ebooks threatening traditional publishing?

Ebooks aren’t.  They’re just a new medium.  Like when we went from vinyl to cd’s and then from cd’s to mp3’s.  What is a threat to traditional publishing is the rise of self-pubbing.  To that, I say it’s not a moment too soon.

The old formula just can’t (and isn’t) keep on working.  Why should writers pander, bow and scrape to agents first, then pander, bow and scrape a whole lot more to publishers, giving away control of their work and huge chunks of the income it generates when they can publish it themselves in an afternoon online with Amazon?

Do you prefer to read established authors or debut authors?  How do you choose which ones to read?

There are a few established authors I’m still reading, but mostly I prefer indy and debut writers.  Their ideas are fresh and their energy is real.  It’s as if their voices haven’t been auto-tuned into porridge by trad-pub houses.

What is it about fantasy that appeals to you?

Oh it’s escapism, pure and simple.  I grew up on it, a pale nerd with his head stuck in books.  JRR Tolkein and Robert E Howard and others were my rock stars.  Dungeons and Dragons rocked my world.

Can I get an autographed book? (lol)

Yep!  I just started up a Kindlegraph account.  So, if you have a Twitter account, you can sign on and request one.  I’ll try to think of something profound, even though I’ll secretly be lamenting that I can do book signings in my pyjamas at my desk instead of at a book shop, signing heaving bosoms of breathless fans.

At some stage in 2013 (hopefully) I’d like to get a run of Golden Mane printed up so I can actually sell paper books and sign some of them, and maybe even sign the odd heaving bosom, but for now, that’s just a vague plan.  If you’re really keen on me signing something, I could practice on you if you like.

Do you have a group of people that you show a new story to?  How much impact can they have on the whole story?

I’ve got a small group who help my pick up errors or flow problems.  Only my wife has any real say as to what goes or stays, which is a good thing, too.  Sometimes I can push the envelope a little too far.  Without her, I could get into all sorts of trouble.

Do you set yourself a word limit for each book?

Sort of.  For shorts, I want them to be 10,000- 15,000 words or so.  For full length novels, 80,000-110,000 is about right.  Of course I say that and it probably wont be long before I’ve turned something out that isn’t in either of those sets of parameters.

Do you have a target each day?

No.

Do you write constantly or have breaks between books?

Constantly.  There’s no such thing as writer’s block for me.  If I don’t write, I’ll go mad-crazy apeshit, collapse in a twitching heap and then die.

Do you have characters running around your head?  Do they dictate events and their histories to you?

All the time.  They even have their own soundtracks.

After so many books, how do you keep them unique?

I’ve only really done three, except for a few shorts.  I think the uniqueness comes from not being tethered to a trad house.  I can write my content, my way and I have total control over the artwork.

What is your biggest (self-imposed) time waster?

Social media.

Do you remember the first time you saw your book in a shop?

Well, it was online but I know what you mean.  I was exhilarated.  Completely thrilled and scared shitless at the same time.

Do you read other people’s writing?

I’ll beta read for friends for free sometimes, or for clients for a fee.  I have read a few pieces by some fans too.  One in particular was fantastic.  She’s just a kid but she’s put it out there through Smashwords.  I was over the moon when I saw it.

For enjoyment, and my own research, I’ll also look at quite a variety of work.  It pays to read outside your comfort zone too occasionally, so there is all kinds of stuff on my ereader apps.

The only time I don’t read much is when I’m in a heavy writing phase.  It’s like I can’t hear my own voice because there are too many other voices in the room.

Would you read mine?

Sure.

Sam (or SJB) Gilmour is available at all the usual outlets, like Twitter (@sjbgilmour), Goodreads, Facebook, Amazon Author Page and more sinister places like the back streets of Melbourne.

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