Author Spotlight: R.S. Ford
R.S. Ford originally hails from Leeds in the heartland of Yorkshire but now resides in the wild fens of Cambridgeshire. His previous works include the raucous steampunk adventure, Kultus, and the grimdark fantasy trilogy, Steelhaven.
You can find out more about what he’s up to, and download free stuff, here.
Thanks for joining us today, Richard. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
I’ve just devoured Dunstan by Conn Iggulden, which was a change for me since I don’t usually read historical fiction and I’m not a huge fan of first person POVs. However, it was one of those books I started reading and immediately thought, ‘Crikey, I’m never going to be this good’. Curse you, Iggulden!
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
Definitely a ranger, in much the same vein as Tanis Half-Elven in the Dragonlance novels, but I’d look less like Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees. As for weapons, I’m led to believe that Vorpal Swords are pretty cushty, but to be honest I don’t want to get close enough to my enemies to use it. A bow please – a big magic one with unlimited arrows and a very long range.
As you can probably tell, no D&D party would ever want me leading it!
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Why?
Interesting you should ask. I type, but unfortunately I’m no typist, so hacking out a first draft usually sees me smashing at the keys like a caveman for hours on end. Subsequently I just bought myself a copy of Dragon (a speech-to-text program) which I’m about to start experimenting with. I’m hoping it will increase my productivity exponentially, but that remains to be seen. Watch this space…
And how do you like to work – in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps?
Mmm, shrimps. I do enjoy a bit of background music but because I’m so easily distracted I find it much more productive to work in silence.
Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit? Tell us something unusual about your writing method!
I am most definitely a plotter/architect. I’ll work out a full chapter breakdown of between one and two thousand words per novel. Then from that I’ll hack away a chapter at a time, often breaking each one down into further bullet points (sometimes as many as twenty for a 2,000 word chapter). And of course I wear chainmail and a bellows face sallet just to get in the mood.
What are your most significant non-book fantasy influences?
If comics count, then most definitely 2000AD. I was a huge fan in my pre-teen years, most significantly the tales of Sláine MacRoth, but I loved most of the strips. In fact my first novel, Kultus, was something of a love letter to 2000AD featuring the same kind of hard-bitten anti-hero stuck in a batshit crazy, ultra-violent world that you’d find in the comic’s heyday.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
I’m currently binge-watching season 3 of Narcos, because it’s really quite brilliant.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write or otherwise do any work. How do you choose to spend the day?
Ooh, well let’s assume the weather’s nice! It goes something like this: decent breakfast with the paper and maybe do the crossword, cinema trip (ice cream not popcorn), lunch out, afternoon in the beer garden, home and put the feet up in front of something binge-worthy. I am a man of simple pleasures!
If you could choose one punctuation mark to be made illegal, which would it be and why?
Actually I’m happy with all punctuation marks – even the semi-colon and oxford comma. I know a lot of people get nit-picky about this kind of thing, but you know what: life’s too short. Be who you wanna be and do what you wanna do, I say.
In no more than three sentences, tell us a little something about your current work in progress!
I’m currently writing the sequel to A Demon in Silver – The Hangman’s Gate. Other than that, I’m not sure I’m allowed to say anything, since book one has only just come out. Needless to say, it features more mayhem and betrayal as the War of the Archons hots up!
If you could co-write or co-create a series (like The Expanse, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen), who would you choose to work with and why?
I have actually floated the possibility of working with a couple of other authors on a shared-world project before, but the timing wasn’t right, unfortunately. I’d probably want to work with a young up-and-comer, rather than a big name writer, nowadays. There’s so much juicy and original stuff being produced by new writers all the time, and I’d love to work with someone young and unsullied.*
*I’ve just realised how wrong that sounds.
Ha! What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
I read Stephen King’s On Writing years ago, which has bags of invaluable info in it for writers of every stripe. The thing is, you’ll receive bits of advice from here and there throughout your career, but in the end you’ve got to find out what works for you. ‘Write, write, write. Read, read, read,’ is the one that’s stuck with me the most.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
I’m currently thinking about branching into historical fiction, and have an idea for a novel set just after the Norman Conquest. It would be very handy if I could go back to 1066 and take a look at the Battle of Hastings, purely from a spectator’s point of view – I wouldn’t want to get caught up in any of the actual violence, that would definitely ruin my day.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
Impending deadlines always help. There’s nothing like the prospect of annoying your editor to spur you into a writing frenzy. I take quite a systematic approach to writing, so sticking to a schedule whether you’re feeling the muse or not is a must for me.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
I remember reading Galactic Warlord by Douglas Hill when I was just a wee lad and loving it. I think his whole Last Legionary series is a classic, but very few people have read it, as far as I can tell. I think it deserves much more recognition than it received considering it was first published in the 70s and I can’t think of much YA sci-fi adventure to match it.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with what we like to call a ‘shark elevator pitch’? (It’s exactly the same as an elevator pitch, but with sharks.) (Well, one shark. Which, by the way, is currently picking between its rows of teeth to try and dislodge the remains of the last author who stepped onto its elevator.)
Ahem. So: why should readers check out your work? A shark elevator pitch of your own book(s) in no more than three sentences – go!
Wait, what? Er… okay here goes…
Livia Harrow is minding her own business on her uncle’s farm, when out of nowhere she suddenly manifests magical powers, something that’s been unheard of for a hundred years. Naturally, a lot of nefarious individuals want a piece of this action, and don’t care how they get it. Will Livia be kidnapped, murdered or otherwise consumed by a sorcerous conflagration? You’ll just have to read A Demon in Silver to find out!
Okay, so that was four sentences, but rules are made to be bro- HOLY SHIT. SHARK!!
Haha! Great pitch. Thanks so much for joining us, Richard, and good luck with the new series!
R.S. Ford is the author of Kultus, the Steelhaven trilogy, and A Demon in Silver, available NOW.