Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Interview with author Chris Thorndycroft

Author interviews are one of my favorite things to post which is why I am super excited to welcome author Chris Thorndycroft to Flashlight Commentary.

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Welcome to Flashlight Commentary Chris. It’s great to have you with us. To start things off, I’d like to know a little bit about you. Where are you from? What is your background? 
Hi! Thanks for having me. I’m from England, Portsmouth to be exact but I’ve travelled about a bit. I now live in Norway with my wife and daughter. I’m 32, studied Psychology at the University of Wales, Bangor and have always enjoyed writing.  

Historic fiction is obviously a favorite genre of mine, but why do you think it holds so much appeal for modern readers? 
It’s the appeal of dropping out of the here and now for a bit and experiencing a different time and place. I firmly believe that the appeal of historical fiction is the same as the appeal of fantasy or science fiction. We all want to experience the ‘other’ once in a while. Our history is such a massive sandbox with limitless stories to be told. Even people who didn’t like history in school can find joy in historical fiction if a human connection can be established. History isn’t facts. It’s stories.  

How would you describe your writing process? Where do you start and how do you get into the right mindset?
With novels I actually start at the end. People always ask how you start a story, but I always have a destination in mind before I figure out how the story starts. The ending is the goal, the journey to it is something that can take many forms and have many possible beginnings. 

Do you struggle with dialogue, research, plotting, character development, etc.? If so, how do you overcome it? 
I used to struggle with dialogue and it took a lot of writing to get over that hurdle. It’s all about finding the balance between ‘realistic’ dialogue and ‘poetic’ dialogue. Too much of the former doesn’t read well and too much of the latter can sound silly. Finding the right voice only comes with practice. Historical fiction adds another layer of difficulty as the way we speak is constantly changing. People don’t want to wade through passages of dialogue that are 100% authentic to the medieval era but if you have knights and ladies speaking like a modern soap opera then you risk losing some of the period feel. 

Many people, myself included, dream of publishing their stories. How and when did you know it was time to start writing professionally?
It was a gradual process. It started as a hobby and then, after I got a couple of short stories published, I felt like I should try and get a novel out. This was about ten years ago. I spent many years going the traditional route with little success. I got fed up jumping through hoops to satisfy the submission criteria of publishers just to make it into the ‘slush pile’. That was just about the time that the whole ebook thing was really taking off, so it was perfect timing. That’s not to say that I just threw my stuff on Amazon immediately. I’ve spent the last few years figuring the whole business out and getting my novels as perfect as they can be, treating the whole thing as a private business. The more momentum I gain the closer I come to my dream of living off my writing.  

Those of us in the book world understand writing the novel is only the tip of the iceberg. What tool or tools have you found to be the most beneficial in terms of advertising and promoting your work?
Facebook groups work well. Sometimes you can find a readymade audience in the groups that share your interests. It’s no good tossing your work to the wind and hoping it lands in the right hands. Seek out groups or even individuals who might like your book. But you have to be clever about it. Don’t bombard people with your novel or you’ll just come across as a spammer. Try and give a little in exchange for exposure. Blog posts connected to your novel will be read by people with an interest in the topic. All you have to do is find them. 

In looking ahead to possible future projects, what subjects or historic characters interest you the most? 
I can make myself comfortable in just about any historical period as long as I can see a story in it. I’ve mainly focused on Dark Age Britain so far and still have plans for books set in that era, but I’m excited to start exploring other periods. I have written a story about smugglers in 18th century England which will be my next release but after that, who knows? That’s the joy of history. The possibilities are limitless. 

What advice, if any, do you have for aspiring authors?
Don’t be an aspiring author. Be an author. Find some platform for your work and go for it. Traditional publishing has its advantages but I don’t regret going indie at all. The creative control is wonderful. The important thing is the writing. You can worry about selling your book afterwards. As most successful authors always say; the only way to get good at writing is to keep writing. It’s a muscle. Train it. 

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Chris Thorndycroft is a British writer of historical fiction, horror and fantasy. His early short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies such as Dark Moon Digest and American Nightmare. History has long been his passion and he began thinking about a series set in Arthurian Britain when he was a student. Ten years later, A Brother’s Oath is his first novel under his own name and the beginning of a trilogy concerning Hengest and Horsa. He also writes Steampunk and Retropulp under the pseudonym P. J. Thorndyke.

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