Sunday, 27 December 2015

Interview with William Stacey

My guest today is William Stacey, author of Black Monastery and Starlight

Hi William, would you like to start by telling us a little about yourself and your background, please?
Hi, I’m William. I’m a proud father of a kick-ass 13-year-old daughter, the husband of a wonderful woman who is also my best friend, and the best buds of a 3-year-old German shepherd named Thor who hangs with me when I write each day. Usually, quietly sneaking in behind me in my office and lying down right behind the wheels of my office chair. I’m a former soldier (I retired last year after 32 years in uniform). I love fitness and martial arts and have a special place in my heart for all things medieval.

How did your journey as a writer begin?
I think I’ve always been a writer, even when I wasn’t writing. I kind of had my epiphany moment while standing outside a tent in Kabul, Afghanistan, when I realized that I should be writing not soldiering. Since then (2005), I’ve been writing pretty much every day.

How did you choose the genres you write in?
I write in genres that I love to read. If you’re going to spend months or years inside a story, you’d better be in love with that story. You can’t fake excitement. Readers can tell when you’re only after a paycheck. I love all speculative fiction, particularly dark fantasy.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
Outline, always an outline. Pantsing works for some people (Steven King swears by it), but it just doesn’t work for me. I’m the kind of guy who needs to know where I’m going with a story. I still deviate from the outline all the time, but I find for myself I need to plan. It’s been said that writing is pre-writing, writing, and re-writing. I believe that.

Do you listen to music while you write?
Not a sound. I don’t want the distractions.

Tell us about your favourite memory related to reading or writing?
Once, when I was about 13, I stayed up all night reading The Hobbit in one sitting. It’s a small book but also a big book (if you know what I mean). At any rate, I was pretty proud of myself, and I loved the experience. For some reason, that memory has stuck with me as one of my best ever times. Writers are first and foremost book lovers. I just can’t imagine why someone would write who doesn’t also read like crazy.

What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

        Starlight is the army radio call sign (codeword) for
        medical services. When you need ‘Starlight’ at your
        location immediately, it’s because someone’s hurt and
        needs help. In my book, the main character, Cassie
        Rogan, discovers she’s one of only a handful of humans
        who can suddenly wield magical powers—powers that
        they don’t at all understand. Cassie’s particular strength
        with magic is in the healing arts, hence the nickname
        Starlight that she’s given by a group of Special Forces             operators she’s helping to hunt down a monster with.

Tell us about the cover and how it came about.
So the cover is a product of the amazingly talented Scarlett Rugers Book Design Agency. I went with Scarlett because she makes the most beautiful book covers, simply breathtaking. She also worked on the cover for Black Monastery, my first novel. In Starlight, I wanted a cover that promised action, while highlighting the magical aspects of the book. I also wanted a tough, but vulnerable hero, one who isn’t quite yet the person she’s going to be. I think Scarlett nailed it.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Two books, a number of short stories, and a novella. Of them all, Starlight is by far my best. But… much better books are yet to come.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
Yes, and yes. Names are critical, but you need to be careful. You can’t have characters named Max Power or Jessica Beauty and expect to be taken seriously. Names must always do a subtle job, remind readers of something—even if only subconsciously. In Starlight, Cassie Rogan is Mag-Sens, one of only a handful of people who can suddenly wield magic. Cassie is short for Cassandra, and, in mythology, Cassandra was the daughter of King Priam of Troy who had the power of prophecy. Right away, I want the readers to subconsciously make the connection between Cassie and magic.

What is your favourite part or scene in the novel?
The moment when one of the key protagonists, Alex, realizes that going after the Basilisk armed with only a high-powered dart gun was a crazy stupid thing to do that is almost certainly going to get himself and Cassie and Paco killed. But he keeps going because it’s his duty. I’ve always believed that you can’t be brave unless you’re also frightened. I think I nailed Alex’s fear in this scene—as well as his sense of duty that keeps him going. I always felt it was a quiet but powerful moment.

What are your thoughts on good and bad reviews?
Hey, we all want good reviews; authors thrive on reader feedback. We’re very needy that way. But, if you ask for honest reviews, you have to accept that many people are not going to love your baby. And why should they? We’re all different. We all have different likes. I don’t particularly like vampires that sparkle in the daylight, but Stephanie Meyer seems to be doing really well, and her fans love her books. Truth is, most times I receive criticism, I look back and realize that the reader was probably right and I need to do better next time. But some people just don’t like your books and never will. You can’t please everybody, and you’re much better off focusing on those fans you can make happy.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Reading, movies, way too many video games. I also love exercising and martial arts. Pretty much the same stuff everybody else loves.

What does your family think of your writing?
My wife is very supportive—although she wasn’t when I first told her I wanted to retire from the army and be a full-time writer. That took some getting used to for her.

Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
Steven King, G.R.R. Martin, H.P. Lovecraft, Graham Masterton, Robert E. Howard, and many, many others.

Which fictional character, book or film, would you like to meet and why?
I think Indiana Jones would be pretty cool. Can’t imagine that meeting being boring.

And finally… What is your biggest fear?
Looking back on my life when it’s almost over and regretting not ‘going for it’ when I had the chance. Don’t die with regrets. Kiss your loved ones often, be a good person, and chase after your dreams. Failure isn’t the opposite of success; it’s an essential part of it.

Thank you ever so much for joining us, William. Best wishes for 2016.

Connect with William: 

Buy Links for Black Monastery:
Amazon | Kobo | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

  Buy Links for Starlight:

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