Interview with J.W. Webb

What inspired you to write your book?

A crazy imagination and restless roving mind! I’ve always loved stories and have always been a storyteller, ever since I was a kid in the playground I enthused in tales that could carry the imagination far and wide, roaming free without any harness to rein it in. I was a fan of The Lord of the Rings as a teen and that led me on to read dozens of fantasy books during the 70’s and 80’s resulting in fantasy becoming my favorite genre and greatest influence. I also have a fascination for Celtic and Norse mythology which led me to delve deep in that area too. Then about twenty years ago I put pen to paper and my ongoing series, Legends of Ansu was born. An epic fantasy series with echoes of myth.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t know, but reviewers have written that I write with a ‘rare literary flow’ uncommon for most modern fantasy authors. I just write and the words spill out, like an artist I like to paint vivid scenes and take my reader far away, give them a break from reality for a while. As far as fantasy is concerned I pitch my writing to a Tolkien-esque tapestry but with characters just as compelling and three dimensional as those found in game of Thrones, (though I do try and keep most of my crew alive.)

Titles?

I have 4 books on sale and I’m working on number 5. Most the titles are typical fantasy, The Shattered Crown, The Lost Prince, The Glass Throne etc. (Does what it says on the tin.) ‘Gol’ one word I thought gave a certain punch. This is the prequel to my series actually written after The Shattered Crown but set a 1000 years earlier, thus now offered out as the first book. It was originally titled Fall of Gol, but I shortened it to Gol a couple of years back. Don’t know why, just like it better.

What books have influenced my life most?

A lot! Lord of the Rings mainly when I was young I lived inside those pages, but also Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson, Tigana, by Guy Kay, Lyonesse, Jack Vance, Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword (I actually think perhaps the best small fantasy novel ever written) and Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion series – to name but a few. I was also influenced by the Mabinogi, especially the version adapted by Evangeline Walton, these tales from Welsh mythology just blew me away. Other genres? I like Historical Fiction and some of Bernard Cornwell’s novels have influenced my writing too.

What genre(s) do you focus on?

Fantasy, mostly. I’m comfortable with the genre. That said, I enjoyed writing my ghost story novella(The Haven) set in Cornwall, England, past and present. I do intend to write in other genres. I have plans to pen a tale about Hereward the Wake (a very underrated Saxon hero around at the time of the Norman Conquest) and several of the early Scottish kings fascinate me. I also want to pen more suspense, spooky supernatural creepy stuff – though not horror. Never horror. But mainly fantasy, my ‘Legends’ series is due to run for another 5 books! My goal – 1 book every year until I snuff it or they come to take me away, haha!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Check in at the clinic? Only joking. Read, read and read again, I don’t read nearly enough as I should, never seem to get the time. Take criticism/rejections on the chin and move on (I have had shed loads of rejections from agents over the years – ain’t no big thing.) Enjoy what you do and stick at it, one word will lead to the next. Write it. DON’T GIVE UP! As Kate Bush once sang in that brilliant Peter Gabriel song. That’s it!

Have you had writers block and if so, what did you do to get rid of it?

Not yet! I’ve got so much crazy stuff between my ears my main problem is getting it out without it resembling spaghetti! If I do get WB I shall go outside feed the chickens and maybe have a cold beer or two in the sunshine. Or else I’ll walk the dogs in the rain and sip claret by the fireside.

Have you hated anything you’ve written?

No. I’ve looked at early stuff and thought it was crap but I’ve never hated it. Everything has a purpose. All part of the learning curve.

Favorite theme, Genre?

Explained above.

Where did your love of writing come from?

As I said I’m a storyteller first and writer second. A lot of folk reverse these priorities and that’s fine for them. I do enjoy writing, but probably like a conductor in an orchestra, I cannot settle until the story is down and the concert audience clapping. At some point I had to get those tales into words on paper, and later on laptop and tablet. Writing is just the conduit, the sword in the warrior’s hand. I had to learn the craft of writing and I still am, always will be. Yes, I enjoy it, but the stories are my true love. I like to create something unique and inspiring, then hammer it out in words that make sense! Writing’s a job, but it sure beats driving a big rig like I did for 25 years!

What’s the hardest part of writing?

For me it’s editing, going over and over in finite detail before sending off to my editor, and then after she’s butchered it, more work. Also the first draft kinda wears me out, it’s always a relief to get that done, the main structure and framework of the story down on paper – phew…. I enjoy the following drafts, which are fine-tuning and polishing. That’s where the real satisfaction comes – knowing that it’s starting to look great. Then it’s time for editing – ugh.

What do you enjoy the most?

I love creating evocative scenes that tug the imagination; it’s what I’m good at. I like to take my reader somewhere very special. I also get a buzz from writing high speed action scenes and witty dialogue – my characters are often lively and argumentative, I think it makes a nice balance to have gritty three-dimensional banter set to a mystical alien backdrop.

Do you write every day?

Not yet, I’m still working on that and have to spend a deal of time on all the myriad other facets indie authors have to master. For me at 55 years old, these prove a challenge, as my fingers have spent more years wielding sledgehammers than tapping keyboards. Suffice to say, I’m learning new tricks J. I also have other unrelated projects, which demand attention. I go in spurts, write for six weeks full pelt then leave it alone for a month, let it percolate – works for me.

Which writers inspire you?

Stephen King comes to mind, because he’s achieved so much. Of course many of the classics by: Shakespeare, Austin, Dickens, Hardy, and Elliot. And then there are fantasy writers from the 20th century: Tolkien, CS Lewis, Richard Adams, Raymond Feist, David Eddings, E.R.R Eddison, Lord Dunsany etc etc. But any talented wordsmith is a joy to read.

What are you working on at the moment?

The Glass Throne. Book 4 in my Legends series, I just finished second draft and will resume in June. It’s taking shape nicely and follows on directly after the conclusion of the last book – The Lost Prince. It’s big and I’m contemplating splitting it in two, maybe I’ll ask you, my reader, about that?


Disclaimer: Questions were edited into my own words as originals were in short form.
Interview done by BookBear.

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