Monday, 1 September 2014

Interview with Rich Hawkins

I first met Rich at Cardiff ComicCon, on Crowded Quarantine Publications' ticket. I was over the moon to find Rich's first novel, The Last Plague, had been picked up. Happy to have him on here to talk about the without further ado, here's the interview:

First up, you've a new book out - The Last Plague. Your debut novel, right? Can you say a little about it? 

Thanks for inviting me over, Craig! Yes, it is indeed my debut novel. The Last Plague is about four old friends who, after a stag weekend, have to travel across the country and return home while Britain is ravaged by a viral epidemic, running and hiding from the infected mutations along the way. I know similar storylines have been done many times, but hopefully I’ve brought something new to it, and those infected by the mysterious plague have a very ‘The Thing’-like quality to them (the John Carpenter film, not the Fantastic Four character!). Lots of tentacles, tendrils and squirming, glistening appendages…

How long did it take you to write? 

About two years overall, as I took a long break from it because of sheer laziness. My work ethic has improved since then, I’d like to think!

Can you say a bit about your writing process? Are you a planner, do you go with the flow, do you wear slippers? 

I plan a little bit and try to think of some scenes and ideas. I have a notepad in which I jot down ideas, rough chapter outlines and plot-points. But if I plan too much it sort of takes away the fun of writing, I’ve found.

Do you have any advice for writers chasing that first book deal?

Just keep writing and work hard. Ignore the negative voices and the self-doubt. Write what you want to write.

What about the future? Is there a second novel in the offing?

I’ve no plans for a sequel to The Last Plague, but I have a novella titled ‘Black Star, Black Sun’ currently under consideration with some publishers, so hopefully something will come of that.

Do you have any favourite writers, or writers who have proved an inspiration for you?

Crikey, too many! Writers like David Moody, Wayne Simmons and Adam Millard have been great inspirations to me, and have given me some priceless advice and encouragement. Also, I’m a massive fan of Adam Nevill, Gary McMahon, Conrad Williams, Tim Curran, Laird Barron, MR James and HP Lovecraft. Is that enough?

People always talk about publication, and forget the actual bones beneath a good story. What, for you, is the important stuff about telling a good story?

Boobs and guns? Nah, just kidding. For me, complex, well-written characters will keep a meandering plot interesting. But there has to be some meat on a plot’s bones, too. Something for the readers to get their teeth into. It’s about finding a balance between characters and story, and if you can do that it’s a great skill.

Thanks Rich!

Rich Hawkins' Blog

Back Cover Copy from Amazon for The Last Plague:

A pestilence has fallen across the land. Run and hide. Seek shelter. Do not panic. The infected WILL find you.

When Great Britain is hit by a devastating epidemic, four old friends must cross a chaotic, war-torn England to reach their families. But between them and home, the country is teeming with those afflicted by the virus - cannibalistic, mutated monsters whose only desires are to infect and feed.

***Buy at a retailer of your choice...but here's a link to Amazon US and UK, just in case... ;)***

The Last Plague on Amazon US
The Last Plague on Amazon UK

Also available direct from the source, Crowded Quarantine Publications, who produce a fine looking book...

Crowded Quarantine Publications

And, finally, thanks Rich...and love you! x

Friday, 15 August 2014

On Not Writing.

I like my job. I'm very lucky to be able to do what I love, what I was built to do. That said, it's become kind of an obsession, something I need to do for my mental wellbeing. If I don't do this, I get low, I get bored. I don't like not writing at all.

But it's the summer. My wife works, I stay at home. You just can't write all day (or, many evenings) when you've got young kids at home. So I've been trying to throw myself into other things. Mine's the kind of brain that works best when it's busy.

But being busy all day is...hard. And expensive. I'm not a famous writer, and certainly not a rich one. I can't buy a ton of movies, or games. Can't/won't go to amusement parks, or abroad to sit on a distant beach.

Quite honestly, writing's the most fun I have. It's cheap to do (only need a PC, which I have). Basic running costs are electricity and an internet connection. And it's better than movies because I can make up the stories that I want. I can make things turn out the way that suits me.

So, I threw myself into getting fit instead. I still smoke, still drink. Just less than I used to. It's my new hobby. Not quite the obsession that writing is, but in my downtime, it's probably healthier. When I'm working, I still exercise. But this summer I've been exercising six times a week (weights - hips shot and I'm too heavy to run anyway). I ate tuna lettuce wraps for lunch yesterday, and I'll probably eat the same today. I've been eating rice instead of bread, potatoes instead of pasta.

Watching what I eat, drinking water instead of coffee. Exercise, trying to sleep (I'm a sporadic sleeper at best) and you know what? I feel better. I actually feel like I imagine a normal person does - an active one, not one who sits on his arse all day. I'm a little stronger and carrying a little less fat. I don't wheeze walking up the stairs.

Been doing this for about a year and a half. When I got royalties, I didn't spend them on drink, but on weights and equipment. I built a home gym, inside and out. Since then I've had a few lay-offs for injuries (hip, elbow, back, knee) but alway continued to train, if at all able, around the injured part.

This isn't a 'how-to' exercise post, or even an advice column on living well. Like I said, I smoke, I drink. I eat shit food from time to time. I'm largely writing this because I haven't updated the blog for a while, and haven't done much else of interest. But it is interesting, to me. Maybe it's about balance - spending time with the family, getting enough rest, moving around, eating sensible food, AND using your brain, too.

For a long time, I just did the brain bit. All in all, it's better this way. All work and no play really does make Jack a dull lad.

Anyway, a few years back I was 18st. Now I'm 15st7lb or there abouts. Everything, since taking up exercise again, has been easier. Fat's a lot harder to shift around than muscle. So, anyway, this is by and large just me rambling, but that's the trick, I think. Or, certainly, a trick. Life is easier if you put some effort in.

I put a ton of effort into getting somewhere with the writing. The rest of life might be a struggle, too, but it needs work if you're going to get anywhere. You listen to inspirational speeches and they all tell you the same thing. You might have talent, you might have looks, a great voice. But plenty of people have that. The people who reach the top? They work at it.

So I'm off to eat some boring tuna and lettuce.

Tonight I'll probably have a beer, though. Because all work and no play...

Thursday, 17 July 2014

New covers/New release

I'm gradually working toward improving and updating the self-published stuff, which is by and large anything which doesn't neatly fit 'Dark Fiction'.

Thanks to the wonderful David Conyers, I have shiny covers for four of my self-published novels. The new cover for The Evolution War was on a previous post, so here's the new three, and a little news at the end...

These are wonderful. Unfortunately, the following release (Rythe Falls), and will continue to languish behind a dreadful cover until the entire batch of covers for the fantasy work are done, which will take some time. It'll take a while because I'm paying for artwork for the entire series. More when they're done, hence a kind of muted release of Rythe Falls, the third in the Rythe Quadrilogy...available here. Book's good, cover's god-damned awful. ;)

If you want to see what Renir and the gang have been up to, click the link. Otherwise, love you anyway. x