Welcome, Stuart. What is your book about?
Court of Dreams, which is due to be published by Pink Narcissus Press in January, is a comic fantasy novel that takes a lot of ideas that have become staples in modern fantasy (particularly the whole urban faerie genre) and makes fun of them horribly. My hero, Thomas Greene, quickly finds that being singled out for attention by a magical fairy kingdom is really not as much fun as it sounds.
Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?
I’ve got quite a few unusual ones, but my favourite is without doubt my forgetful fairy assassin Grave, who never seems to be able to find anything when he needs it and is the butt of a surprising number of jokes given that he’s eight feet tall and kills people for a living. Though likeable may be pushing it a little.
How long did it take you to write your book?
This one took me a couple of years off and on, including at least three different attempts. This version is in fact the version that came when I finally stopped trying to be serious about it, threw together elements from a couple of different novels, and hoped for the best.
How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?
My first drafts are generally the vague shape I want them to be, but I’ll usually revise right up to the day I send them out to a publisher, and occasionally beyond.
What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?
It probably didn’t help that I was writing this while also doing a PhD. On a more technical level, the big challenge with comic fantasy is always keeping things funny while still writing a real story.
What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?
In the time since finishing this one I have finished my university career, realised that I’m not going to be an academic, written a couple of drafts of a sequel, become a ghostwriter, produced eighteen novels with other people’s names on, and generally moved so quickly that I was actually at the point of thinking ‘why bother with my own writing’ when this was accepted.
What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
If I want to make a living, yes. My own writing has suffered a little as a result of the ghostwriting though, and I’m having to work hard now to try to get it back.
Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?
Definitely. Even here, there are a couple of characters I don’t kill as such, even though I do find ways to deal with them. My excuse is that killing people isn’t always that funny.
Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?
I’m glad this isn’t just me. Yes, I do this. Then every so often I look back at it and realise that the story I’m writing isn’t anywhere near as interesting, delete it, and generally ruin my day.
What writer influenced you the most?
I was going to say Terry Pratchett, but in a way the ‘other’ writer of comic fantasy, Tom Holt, was more of an inspiration to get started, because his books made me realise that you could still write this stuff if you didn’t happen to be the creator of the Discworld.
What advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Enjoy it. If you spend your life struggling towards success, then you might get a bit of enjoyment towards the end. If you spend your life enjoying the process of writing, then you are getting something out of it all the while, and you might still very well enjoy the same success.
Where can people learn more about your books?
Probably the easiest place for this novel is the website of my publisher http://www.pinknarc.com For my writing more generally, the best place to start is almost certainly my blog http://www.stu-stusplace.blogspot.com