Graham Austin-King Interview
Graham Austin-King is the author of the The Riven Wyrde Saga. This trilogy follows the fates of a people whose land is invaded by two forces. One they have known about for a long while, but never before has such a large scale invasion been launched, and another they have no knowledge of except for children’s rhymes and old stories.
Faeries… The fae… The stuff of bedtime stories and fables.
But sometimes the faerie tales are true. Sometimes they are a warning…
For a hundred generations the fae have been locked away from the world, in the cold, the Outside. They have faded out of sight and mind, into myth and folklore. But now the barriers are weakening and they push against the tattered remnants of the Wyrde as they seek a way to return.
As a new religion spreads across the world, sweeping the old ways and beliefs away before it, a warlike people look across the frozen ocean towards the shores of Anlan, hungry for new lands. War is coming, even as the Wyrde of the Droos is fading.
As the fae begin to force their way through the shreds of the Wyrde, will mankind be able to accept the truth concealed in the tales of children in time to prepare for the Wild Hunt?
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Hello and welcome to Fantasy-Faction, Graham. You’ve had some great shout-outs on the Facebook group, and a wider audience obviously, for your Fae Trilogy. If you’re not adverse to a few questions, I’ll jump straight in.
When did you actually start writing the Fae books? I mean, was there an initial idea and years of procrastinating or was it a bolt from the blue that melted your bottom to a chair and fingers to a keyboard?
A bit of both really. I’ve had the idea of doing something about the Fae and faeries for years. There’s a book called Faerie Tale by Raymond E. Feist, and although I’ve never read it, the title and the basic concept always appealed. It’s something about the notion of evil and malevolent faeries. After all, before Disney got their hands on them, nobody ever said faeries were nice.
I think I started writing Fae – The Wild Hunt, in the summer of 2013 and the book came out in March of 2014. To some extent it was an exercise in seeing if I could actually produce a novel. I’d tried to write something before, a horror/thriller I tapped away at when I was nineteen. It was bad. The less said the better. Anyway, I started writing Fae – The Wild Hunt, hitting about 1500 words a day and slowly ramping up from there. I remember being genuinely surprised at hitting the 30,000 word mark.
And all the cultures in the trilogy? Was your world fully formed before you started writing or did you make it up as you went along?
No, I’m very much a pantser when it comes to writing. I don’t plot enough, which has caused more than its fair share of trouble in my writing when I’ve painted myself into a corner. My best writing is always stuff that comes off the cuff – that just flows. When I plot out thoroughly, I invariably find myself diverting from the plan anyway which just makes it time wasted. I’ll probably try it again at some point, but I don’t imagine I’ll change my method very much.
The cultures grew organically. I knew I wanted Anlan to be a much more peaceful, agricultural, society than that of the Barren Isles but the political structures of both were things that just came to me. Similarly, the world of the Fae, the Realm of Twilight, was something that came completely out of the blue. I did have to go back several times and make sure things all made sense and meshed together but it worked out rather well as far as I’m concerned.
The two worlds the story takes place in are both distinct and interesting. Was it easy/fun to marry the story and plotlines between them?
Actually it was a complete nightmare. I had the brilliant idea of having time pass differently in the Realm of Twilight to that of Haven, the human world. It’s a fairly well established concept and I wanted it to play its part. It’s not so much of a big deal in the first book but by the time we get to the second book where we have characters in both worlds then matching up the timeframes became a real pain in the backside.
You created some memorable characters and each reader has a different favourite. What was/is your favourite and why?
I have a few. I think Selena is my overall favourite, even though she isn’t a major character in the first book. She is probably the character that grows the most in the three books and she has some great, snarky, lines. She was definitely the easiest character to write, with the possible exception of Aervern, and certainly the most fun.
You went self-published to published and back to self-published. What can you tell us about that journey?
It wasn’t fun. I’ll be honest, I published these books to make money. I wrote them because I enjoy writing and wanted to see if I could do it, but that’s not the same thing as publishing them. Self-publishing is expensive. Sure, you can upload a file to Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, or what have you, for free. By the time you do that though, you’ve already incurred the costs of book covers, editing, formatting etc.
I signed with a small press because the production of a book, no matter how good a job you do, is only half the battle. I wanted help with marketing and I wanted to get my paperback into bookshops. Those things are full-time jobs in their own right and I wanted to focus on writing.
Things didn’t work out, and for a number of reasons really. Marc has already done a piece on here about small presses adding value and I think it hits the nail on the head.
The hardest part, apart from the actual writing and editing, is marketing a book. This is something you’re pretty good at, at least from my perspective, and something that many authors struggle with. How do you go about getting your book into a reader’s hands?
Honestly, I wish I knew. It’s not the actual marketing I hate. It’s not being able to tell what works. Marketing is a really easy way to lose lots of money really quickly, and it’s almost always a gamble. I’ve had some successes with Bookbub but the rest of my marketing efforts have been hit or miss and I often have no idea where readers have found me.
I think the internet is pretty much flooded with self-published authors screaming “buy my book” at this point. I’ve more or less resolved not to be that guy, though I’ll admit I’ve been guilty of it in the past. There are some great blogs out there, happy to review new authors, which have helped me get the ball rolling. I was also on the Grim-Tidings Podcast which was great. I think it’s just about doing whatever you can to get your name out there. Having a completed series helps. I’ve definitely found things a little easier since Fae – The Sins of the Wyrde came out.
What does the future hold for the world you created in the Fae Trilogy? Any chance you’ll revisit and tell more stories within it?
Yes, I think so. There are a lot of things left to explore. I’d like to go back and maybe explore the purge of the druids. The Thieves of Hesk could be fun too. There are whole nations I’ve only mentioned in passing that could be fun. For that matter, there is the world of the Fae as well. The rebellion and the war with the Fae would be great to revisit. I’ll see how thing go.
My vote goes to the Thieves of Hesk. I like a good underworld novel (it’s not a bad title either!). And what’s next? A new novel on the horizon? What can you tell us about that?
This is kind of funny actually. When I finished the Riven Wyrde Saga I had plans for a series of novellas but before I started on those I wanted to do something light and easy. The plot of the last trilogy got so involved and convoluted at times that I just wanted a break, whilst still being able to write something. I had rough plans for something, a bit like a dungeon hack computer game but in a book.
Well I screwed up. It started easily enough, but somehow it’s developed layers. It has sub-plots, even an Easter egg or two. This isn’t a novella anymore. I’m not even sure it’s a standalone novel.
My working title is Faithless; exploring the concept of a smithing and fire-based religion. The story is set mostly underground in the temple mines. Hopefully it should be complete this year.