Author interview Richard Ford

Author interview Richard Ford

Author bio:
Richard Ford hails from Leeds but now resides in Wiltshire, in the first town on the Thames. His first novel, Kultus, was published in 2011. Herald of the Storm is his epic fantasy debut. 

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Hi Richard, welcome over at The Book Plank and for taking your time to answer these few questions.

BP: First off, could you give us a short introduction as to who Richard Ford is? What are your hobbies, likes/dislikes?
RF: Richard Ford is a late thirty-something, occasionally beardy, always baldy writer of edgy yet amusing fantasy fiction. When I’m not gently weeping over a steaming laptop I can be found watching rugby of either code (Bath and Leeds are my teams of choice) or throwing heavy things around in the gym when my sciatica prone back allows.

BP: Kultus was your debut book and Steelhaven is your latest series, when and where did you decide that you wanted to start writing and become an author?
RF: I think I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was around 11. I had an excellent English teacher for a year back then who encouraged me no end. Unfortunately, after that one year I never really did any more creative writing at school and my enthusiasm waned somewhat. It wasn’t until I left university and had to have a serious think about where my life was going (nothing other than the career of an admin drudge beckoned at that point) that I decided to dust of the keyboard and started to do some words.

BP: What gave you the idea/inspiration to specifically write the story of Steelhaven?
RF: The Steelhaven trilogy is probably influenced as much by episodic TV as it is by any literature I’ve read in the past. HBO in particular has produced some excellent series over the past few years, much of it heavily focused on a broad ensemble cast of characters. No one was ever going to give me the cash to make my own TV show, so I thought writing a novel might be the next best thing. The fantasy genre also seems to have broadened its horizons in recent years with much more gritty and realistic plots and characters, and that appealed to me.

BP: The Shattered Crown is out this March, if you would have to sell your book with a single sentence, how would it go?
RF: I recently signed a copy of The Shattered Crown for a charity auction at this year’s BristolCon. I lined it with a quote from the book (that I may have borrowed from elsewhere), which I think sums up much of what goes on in it: “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight… it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” I hope that’s suitably ambiguous!

BP: If you look at other books in the same genre as Steelhaven, where do you think that it separates itself from amongst the others?
RF: The fantasy genre has never been more diverse than it is right now. There’s currently a wide array of novels that are hugely different in tone and theme. The Steelhaven series sits unashamedly at the grittier end of the genre (I’m trying very hard not to use the term ‘grimdark’ here). What I’ve tried to do differently is not have any one discernible ‘hero’, all my characters are capable of good and bad, heroism and evil. By setting it almost exclusively in one city, I’ve also dodged the traditional ‘quest’ theme that seems to afflict a lot of fantasy, old and new, so I can concentrate on character and plot without getting too bogged down in all that worldbuilding business.

BP: Kultus was steampunk, Steelhaven is Epic Fantasy, was it hard for you to switch themes writing wise?
RF: Not really. As I may have alluded to in my last answer, I’m not really into all that worldbuilding stuff and, for me, much of the difference between ‘steampunk’ and ‘epic fantasy’ is the setting, not the theme. It doesn’t matter what world you’re writing in, you’re still essentially writing about characters, first and foremost. I channel most of my energy into developing characters rather than worlds, so it doesn’t really matter what the setting’s all about for me – the hard bit is making your characters believable, consistent and honest.

BP: Had you gained valuable experience from writing your debut that you were able to use when writing the new series?
RF: I think every writer gains valuable experience with everything they write. Every novel teaches you something you didn’t know before. Not that this makes the process any easier!

BP: If you look at the story of Steelhaven itself, what was the hardest part to write?
RF: I guess it has to be a love scene from the POV of a teenage girl. I’ve never been a teenage girl in love, so that was pretty difficult to get right. Hopefully I got somewhere near.

BP: Besides the hardest part, which part or parts of the book did you enjoy writing the most?
RF: With every book there are always scenes you can’t wait to write, ones that will go around in your head a year or so before you ever get to put them down on paper. I can’t really go into specifics without making this a bit spoilery, but with The Shattered Crown there were scenes with Waylian and Nobul I’d been waiting an age to get to, and I took a lot of pleasure in transferring them from my head to the page.

BP: If you would be given the chance to retract your book and make an adjustment to the story, would you do it? And if yes, which part and why?
RF: Not at the moment, I’m pretty happy with the way they’ve all turned out so far. Ask me that question in five years though, and you may very well get a different answer.

BP: Steelhaven is a strong character driven fantasy, who is your favourite character?
RF: That’s like asking me to choose between my children (for the record, I don’t have any children). I’ve actually developed a liking for a couple of characters that don’t currently have POVs, and who may well become the focus of future novels beyond the Steelhaven trilogy. We’ll just have to wait and see.

BP: The Shattered Crown is the second book in the Steelhaven series, have you already mapped out how many volumes the series will run?
RF: The current story arc will conclude in the next volume and I have a clear idea of how that will turn out. Beyond that I’ve got a rough idea for another couple of semi-stand-alone novels in the same setting, which may or may not focus on characters already featured in the Steelhaven trilogy. We’ll just have to see.

BP: Do you have any other projects that you wish to pursue in the near future besides Steelhaven?
RF: I’d very much like to return to the Blaklok series and write a sequel to Kultus one day. I’d originally planned a five or six book arc for Blaklok but unfortunately things didn’t quite turn out as planned and I ended up telling the story of Steelhaven instead. I also quite fancy writing some kind of gritty, military-based space opera, but that’s just pipe-dream territory at the moment.

BP: Everyone enjoys fantasy in their own way, what do you like most about reading and writing fantasy?
RF: That’s quite a difficult one to answer. I think I was always a fan as a kid because of the element of escapism it brought. Since then I think I more enjoy the fact that it’s such a diverse genre with an infinite number of stories to tell. And swards… you can never have too many swards!

BP: And just lastly, if you would have to give your top 5 favourite books, which would they be?
RF: Another tough one! Okay, this list probably won’t be that definitive, and I reserve the right to change it on a whim, but here goes:

- Sword in the Storm by David Gemmell
- Best Served Cold by some bloke called Joe Abercrombie
- A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
- On Writing by Stephen King
- The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

BP: Thank you very much Richard and good luck with your future projects!!
RF: Thank you!

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