Scarberryfields: Can you tell us a little about your nationality?
Richard: English, specifically the industrial North East of England, once full of 1960’s optimism and potential. It’s now a place where dreams come to die. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the region, specifically the people and their down to earth humor; I just wish it didn’t seem to be in perpetual decline. On a more positive note, most of my characters were shaped by the environment, so without it they wouldn’t exist.
Scarberryfields: When you finish writing a story, do you miss the characters?
Richard: It’s amazing but yes, I do miss them. All my characters are based on real people or more often combinations of two or three people. Some of them are from my past, others I still know. I distort the personalities, exaggerating certain aspects to suit my purpose. I think it’s this power over the characters’ that is one of the things that attracts me to writing. The end result of all this is that the characters I create become very real to me and even killing one off feels like betrayal. So, despite my love of the power, I'd never make a successful despot. The cure for this pining, so it seems, is to write another book using the same people. In my mind's eye, I glance to the left and receive an approving nod from one of them.
Scarberryfields: While writing, if you need help with punctuation, grammar, etcetera, where do you turn?
Richard: I have this love, hate relationship with Microsoft Word. Sometimes I agree with its corrections, specifically comma to semicolon and spelling, but often I don’t agree and will rephrase an entire paragraph to avoid its opinion on my work. After that, it's my daughter who provides me with sound advice.
Scarberryfields: With the number of hours spent writing, do family members support you or complain about the time spent away from them?
Richard: Often it seems that I spend a couple of hours thrashing about trying to find the correct plot line, only to be asked, if I'm going to be writing all day, just as I've latched onto something. This generally means that I don’t have time to write the thoughts down and I have to try to remember them. So the answer is that they are tolerant up to a point. Sometimes this is good, as the interruption means that the thoughts can develop, and sometimes it's not good as I tend forget the delicate intricacies of the thread.
Scarberryfields: Do you travel to places you mention in your stories for research sake?
Richard: Yes, but more often I incorporate places that I'm visiting into the fabric of the story. Sometimes the place would fit a setting I'm working on, and other times I may generate an entire plot line from a place. I'd just be walking along and I would suddenly see something; the reflection in a window, the way the land falls past some ancient walls into a valley; and an entire race of beings would be born. This is generally followed by some frantic photography as I try to capture the thought on my phone. In my book 'Amantarra' I created a city called Valheel, which is built on the inside of a sphere in its own set of dimensions. I have no idea where the concept came from, one day I just found that I'd written it. To help with the descriptions of the city, I modeled Valheel in 3D using Google SketchUp, so in essence I did travel there eventually; I just had to build the place first. The resultant images are all on my website (see link below).
Scarberryfields: When you’re writing, do you shut-off all social networks?
Richard: I have to; there are too many other distractions; D.I.Y. (which I hate), work, eating, shopping and life in general. When I write, I immerse myself in the worlds that I create, the hours fly by and it's only when the light begins to fade and I can't see the keyboard that I realize that the day has gone. Maybe my wife has a point when she asks if I'm going to be writing all day.
Scarberryfields: Did you use any family members as Beta readers for your stories?
Richard: Mainly my wife and daughter who are always keen to read my work even if they don’t agree with the time taken to produce it. My daughter is better at grammar grappling than I am, and I always run my manuscripts past her. Often she will pick out sentences that made perfect sense when I wrote them, but don't actually convey the meaning I intended when read by someone else. I usually know what I was trying to say and can rephrase successfully, but there have been occasions when I've even thrown myself. My wife will often query some of the concepts in my work, which generally means that I need to expand or simplify the descriptions to make them more understandable.
Scarberryfields: Do you feel social networking as a marketing tool, is beneficial?
Richard: I feel as though I've achieved more with it than I would have without it, but I don't feel as though it has fulfilled all that it promised. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, or perhaps I'm just impatient. Nevertheless, I'm sort of committed to it now, so I'll try some new things and see what time delivers.
Scarberryfields: What is the last book called that you completed and published?
Richard: The book is called 'Amantarra' and it's the first in the 'Ascension of Valheel' series. It's basically about a war that has lasted 100,000 years longer than the human species has existed and the accidental involvement of a teenager who suddenly finds that he is a weapon of unimaginable power. Mainly fantasy, the book has mystery, science fiction and coming of age aspects that are grounded in the humor of an English industrial town. I'm currently working on the second book, which is to be titled 'Saranythia'.
Scarberryfields: Where can readers go to find your book?
Richard: My website which contains my bio, my blog, the images of Valheel, a description of, and the first 5 chapters of Amantarra, is on:
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Amantarra-The-Ascension-Valheel-ebook/dp/B008X8SKYE