1) Why young adult? Did you choose
this genre or were you ‘chosen’
In writing high fantasy, epic fantasy, heroic fantasy,
almost any sort of fantasy that involves magic and
heroes in an entirely made-up world, I think the lines
between what is "YA" and what isn't
are especially blurred.
There's a lot of fantasy coming out nowadays that's
very grim or dark or adult-themed (and arguably in my
Memory of Flames series I follow this trend);
but in tradition, the young adult hero and the coming-of-age
story are bread and butter to high fantasy. I've written fantasy
that's been marketed as "mainstream" fantasy and I've written
fantasy that's been marketed as YA but I don't see a great deal
of difference and I do see a lot of overlap. I think fantasy
has always had a strong audience among young adults as well as old ones.
So I suppose, as I've always been primarily drawn to fantasy stories, it must have chosen me :-) 2) Is there an author, living or dead, who inspired you particularly? Several, probably. I could suggest George RR Martin for his characters, Robert E Howard for visceral immediacy of his prose, Neal Stephenson for his attention to how things work, Michael Moorcock for the sense of alien wonder some of his work inspires in me, even Jane Austen for dialogue that still works hundreds of years after it was written. 3) Please, tell us about your last book and, if you can, about your future projects. The last YA book to come out was The Warlock's Shadow, the second book in the Thief-Taker trilogy. In the first book, The Thief-Taker's Apprentice, our young hero Berren found himself taken on as the apprentice to a thief-taker and learned a thing or two about life and how to stand up for himself. In the first book, Berren was been desperately trying to get his new master to teach him how to fight with a sword and at the same time there were a few hints that the thief-taker himself - a refugee from a foreign kingdom - might have more than a few dark secrets in his past. In The Warlock's Shadow, Berren finds himself getting some proper sword-fighting lessons at last, although much to his dismay they come from a girl almost his own age. The thief-taker's past, meanwhile, comes back with a vengeance (literally) and Berren is forced to step out from his master's shadow and take matters into his own hands. The thief-taker, it turns out, has some pretty nasty enemies but some pretty nasty friends too. The third book that completes the trilogy comes out later this year and deals with the consequences of how The Warlock's Shadow ends when a somewhat older and wiser Berren is dragged back into the machinations of his former master. I also write an almost entirely separate series of fantasy full of dragons too called A Memory of Flames and starting with The Adamantine Palace: the last book in the first trilogy (The Order of the Scales) came out in the UK last year and in the US in February. I like to think of them as a bit like Rome with Dragons – sex and murder and politics, big fiery monsters and some awesome battles. A subsequent story, The Black Mausoleum, is due out in August in the UK. I think there's a bit of Joe Abercrombie in that one – on the surface it's a straightforward quest, but here the characters have every reason why they can't stand each other and then there's a bit of a twist come the end. There will be more books to come in this series – back to sex and murder and politics and big fiery monsters, only now with flying castles and teleporting assassins. Dragons rock! 4) How was your writing journey? Was it difficult to find an
agent and get published? I found both took a lot of time and a lot of hard work. I probably wrote about six novels over the course of some fifteen years before I found an agent and had many, many rejections over that time – and rightly so because I simply wasn't writing to a good enough standard at that time. Even after I had an agent willing to take me on, he was never able to sell the book that inspired him to work with me and I wrote another four or five novels for him before my current publisher invited me to submit a proposal and a sample for what became The Adamantine Palace. Something like twenty years, and it took me that long to get good enough as a writer to be worth it. I guess I must be a slow learner? 5) What’s your opinion about this E-book revolution? Would you consider
the indie route? Absolutely yes but as an adjunct to the conventional route, or else I would borrow a lot of what I've learned from traditional publishing now I've been on the inside of it. What I mean is, I will rewrite my material many, many times before I send it out for anyone to see (far more times than I used to before I was first published), I will find a good editor to read what I've done and pay them for their services, and for a good copy-editor and proof-reader too. I'm not interested in putting out something thoroughly mediocre that's riddled with errors (and my manuscripts ARE riddled with errors when they're first completed – that's what rewrites are for). It's something I'm actively considering right now but I want to make sure that whatever goes out that way is comparable in quality to book that's been properly edited. If you can't get or afford a professional editor, there are a lot of writers' groups and online forums where you can get feedback – but do be prepared for a rough ride.
6) Nowadays many publishers expect their authors to use social media a
lot to promote their books. Many authors, on the other hand, would prefer
to write only, without being distracted by digital trivialities:
what are your thoughts? Over the course of answering all these questions I could have written a chapter. Personally I'd rather spend my time writing stories than promoting them and I dislike the idea of heavily pushing myself online at people I've never met. I've come to think it's probably quite a turn-off to others to do that and rarely works (although the exceptions are the ones we hear about, right?) However . . . Yes, I do think it's become a necessary evil, and it doesn't have to be all bad. A blog, a presence on several social media sites, they're probably important these days, but don't use them just to push your books at people. Use them to be interesting. Use them to share things you've enjoyed or that have inspired a sense of wonder. Be fun, be funny, give a bit of yourself and talk about things that you actively enjoy talking about. I think those who are successful online almost entirely fall into two categories – people who had a huge fan-base anyway (and thus don't need to go online to promote themselves) and people who are consistently interesting to read. Let the promotion of your books be a small and modest part of that. But DO let it be a part!
Info about the author:
Stephen Deas is the author of the acclaimed fantasy series,
Memory of Flames, of which his first book,The Adamantine Palace,
got sparkling praise from critics and other writers. A thrilling and
fast-paced read, he followed it up with the trumping King of the Crags,
a book which people reflected was even better than the first. The third book,
The Order of the Scales, is due Spring 2011 in the United Kingdom. He currently
lives in Southern England with his family, and has an obsession with kung-fu,
mathematics, and classical piano.
To know more, please visit his website: http://www.stephendeas.com/
To buy his latest book, simply click on the cover below: