Today i bring to you an interview with the awesome Steven A. McKay author of the brilliant Wolf’s Head which is book one of his Robin Hood series.
The series is currently made up of 3 novels and 2 novellas. If you’ve not had a look at them please click the images below to be directed to my reviews 🙂
Now on with the questions!!
1) For anyone who follows my blog I’m sure they will be aware of your work but for anyone who’s not read any of your books yet what would you say to them to get them to give them a go?
It’s historical fiction without the “gadzooks” or “prithee” bollocks. I wanted to write stories set in medieval times but with people you and I could relate to. Normal people, rather than high born knights and ladies. Of course, I’d like to think the tales are exciting and keep you on the edge of your seat but I’ll leave your reviews to deal with that…
2) After reading your Robin Hood series you’ve left me needing more, you’re going to fill that void with a Christmas novella staring Friar Tuck. What made you decide to give the good Friar his own story?
I wanted to write a Christmas tale because I love the season so, really, who else could star in it? It’s a Christian holiday, whether you celebrate it in that way or not, so it was obvious the bold friar should take the lead.
3) I personally love a good novella; I feel it can give a great insight to an author’s writing style while also giving the author a great chance to elaborate on characters or events touched on in other books. I know not all readers agree. What are your views?
Some stories aren’t made to be told in 100,000 words. One of my favourite writers is HP Lovecraft – can you imagine ANY of his stories stretched out to novel length? They’d be awful! They work perfectly as novellas, and I’d like to think my two shorts work as well.
In terms of writing them, they’re great fun, it’s almost like a holiday! You don’t have to worry about side-plots or extra characters, you can just concentrate on one storyline and keep it simple and I really enjoy that because my full length novels tend to have lots of other stuff going on.
Amazon clearly agree – they have the Kindle Singles Programme which is described as “Compelling ideas expressed at their natural length” and Friar Tuck and the Christmas Devil was accepted into that exclusive programme so that says it all for me.
4) Looking back at my reviews for your books so far I note a common theme. Namely you’re not afraid to kill off characters. Were you not worried your readers might not like the direction you took?
No, when I’m writing a book I don’t think about how readers will view it. Don’t get me wrong, once it’s done and it goes out I shit myself wondering if anyone will enjoy it! But in the writing process I do whatever I think will work. When it comes to killing off characters, I feel like if I DON’T kill characters it would be unrealistic and readers would see them as superheroes which is not what they are at all.
They are, as I said earlier, normal people, and normal people die.
5) One of the best things about your Robin Hood series is that you’ve put a new twist on the old tale. Why did you decide to move away from the well-known tale we all know and move away from Sherwood Forest?
The original, very first Robin Hood stories were set in Yorkshire. When I started to research the legend my idea was to make it as close to the first stories as possible so I was surprised – and pleased – to find that fact out. It gave me something new right from the off. Who else writes about Robin Hood the Yorkshireman?! That old story has been done to death and even now there’s new novels about him coming out every few months but as far as I know I’m the only one placing him where he was originally, in Barnsdale, in the time of Edward II.
6) Who have been your biggest influences within the writing community?
The two guys that inspired me to actually do it were SJA Turney and Gordon Doherty. I saw their books doing so well, even without the backing of a publisher, and it gave me the confidence to do it myself.
In terms of my actual writing, it’s hard to say. Bernard Cornwell is an obvious influence but I take bits from whatever I’m reading that strikes a chord in me, such as the aforementioned HP Lovecraft, or John Fowles whose The Magus I recently revisited. It all goes into the old brain box and comes back out in my writing in some way!
7) To give your readers an insight in to the writing process how long does it usually take to get from an idea to publication? Do you have many rewrites?
I couldn’t really give an answer to that for the simple reason I have an 8 year old daughter and a 2 year old son! When I wrote my debut novel, Wolf’s Head, and the follow up The Wolf and the Raven, I only had my wee girl and she would be in bed at 8pm every night so I could get to work. But now, my boy is up to all hours being wild hahaha! It’s meant I’ve not been able to work as much as I’d like on my new book and even the last one took longer than it should have.
In general a novel takes me about a year from start to finish. I don’t really rewrite anything much. I tend to ADD things rather than rewriting them.
I seem to be really lucky in that respect – a lot of writers can spend all day working on a chapter then bin the lot because it’s crap! If I write a chapter it ends up in the book pretty much as I wrote it in that first sitting.
8) How important is feedback from your readers?
It depends. I really appreciate constructive criticism that I can do something about – for example someone said in a review that my new Rise of the Wolf audiobook had a line that repeats. So I’ve been working with ACX and my narrator this weekend to get that sorted. That was invaluable feedback.
I do read EVERY review that appears on Amazon and I take in what’s being said. I’ve adjusted plots or even just character traits as a result so yes, I do take feedback on board. I’d be daft not to.
9) So far you’ve stuck with writing about Robin Hood and the other characters within the series. Do you ever think you’ll move away from them onto something new?
Oh aye! I’ll write one more Robin book to finish his story off, with perhaps another novella using those characters, but then I’ll move onto a completely new series. I’ve got loads of ideas for it – a main character, titles, plot lines, even the books I’ll need to research the period!
10) Linking in nicely with the previous question.. Future plans? I’d definitely like to know what you’ve got planned for us next
I’ll be sticking with Britain as the setting but going a few hundred years further back in time from my Robin Hood books…I plan on making the next series about a druid but he’s more like a cross between Little John and Friar Tuck than the old white-beard from the Asterix stories! This guy will be a hardman who’s a real product of his time, so possibly something of an anti-hero…
I can’t say more because I’ve not really planned anything out. I need to tie up the Robin Hood series
first so, next year, 2016, keep your eyes peeled!
Thanks for this Steven! Very much looking forward to reading more books from you in the near future 🙂
If you didn’t know Steven’s latest novella is available now! and it’s perfect for Christmas. Click the image below to head to Amazon where you can get your copy!