Raised on legends, myths, tales and fairy stories by her father, who collected them from across the world, R B Watkinson adores many genres, but fantasy is undeniably her favourite. Any and all types, be it epic, adventuresome, mysterious, grim and dark.
1.Why storytelling? What made you yearn to tell a good story, and how long was this story within you before it came out?
I love telling stories, adore reading to other people – I used to do all the different voices for my children when they were little, and now I read to the guests in an old people’s home, and I even use different voices. Over the years, I’ve read so many books, and they’ve fed my imagination so that I couldn’t help but grow stories of my own in my head, stories I had to write down or my brain would explode. There were duffers at first, naturally, but I kept on at it. Then, one fine day, I stumbled upon this character, Katleya, and she showed me the world she lived in, so I wrote about her world and her adventures, and the adventures of others, until The Wefan Weaves trilogy came into being.
2.What is it about your genre that speaks to you?
Fantasy is freeing. It is impossible for the story to be wrong, unlike books set in our world. The whole world you create, the religions, politics, races and characters you populate it with come from pure imagination. Yet, you can have the stories reflect or comment on our world – its past or present conditions – if you want.
3.Without giving any spoilers, what is your favorite thing about this book?
In The Cracked Amulet, as my protagonists travel the world of Dumnon they learn about their world and themselves, and so does the reader. I love all the different settings I could write as the characters journeyed: mountains and forests where spirits roamed, grotty cities full of refugees and desperation, pirate ships on the high seas full of danger, slavery, battles, exotic cities, deserts with ifrits and wyverns, megaliths that are doorways to other places, the list goes on…
4.What character from your book fills you with hope?
Both Coryn and Katleya learn so much about themselves and the powers they hold. They are good people, I see them developing and growing to such an extent they can have a real impact on saving their world. The only problem is – will they get the chance to do so?
5.What character from your work frightens you, makes you feel dirty to write?
High-priest Dracil is horrible, powerful, manipulative and downright bloody dangerous to anyone who might get in his way. He is a user and abuser with no guilt for his abhorrent actions, nor empathy for anyone who isn’t him. Beware this man.
6.Your main character walks into a bar. What happens?
Katleya is one of my main characters. If anyone – ANYONE – tries to touch her inappropriately, they’ll end up with a knife pricking their bollocks and in danger of losing all their dangly bits.
7.What is the most fascinating thing about your main character?
Coryn, another of my main characters, is a driven man. He barely survived an attack on his farm as a boy, was captured and sold into slavery. Years later, once freed, he worked as a soldier till he could afford a horse, just so that he could fulfil an oath he gave when he was that boy. He is also focused on finding his sister. Then, when he discovers those people, trapped in the desert, he must choose between his oath and saving them. What do you think he chooses to do?
8.If I were stuck in a room with your main character, what would we be doing?
Katleya would be showing you how to throw knives effectively so you can kill every rat in any place you end up. A skill she found very useful in the stinking pit that is Black Rock. Then she’d teach you how to swear in the most creative ways so folk know exactly how you feel about them – ‘Rats piss on the lot of them!’.
9.You have unlimited money to buy a gift for your main character. What would you buy?
They don’t need me to buy them anything. They’ll get every bloody thing they need for themselves. Katleya might steal it, Coryn will earn it.
10.When you are writing, tell me about the emotions that are running through you and what it takes to work alongside them.
It’s an emotional roller-coaster. If I’m excited with/for them – I type faster, if I’m scared with/for them – I slow down, speed up, write erratically, hunch my shoulders and bite my lip. If there’s a battle and death looms, I sometimes need to get up and move about as the adrenaline is too much to contain, then back I go and pound out the words. It’s only when they’re talking that I mellow out and listen in on their conversations.
11.How do you police your production? Do you have a word quota, or a page goal, maybe you work for a set amount of time? Do you place demands on yourself when you’re working? How do you meet those demands?
Sorry, but I’m rubbish at that malarkey. I couldn’t police myself to save my life. I write, I don’t write, when I have time, when the muse is with me, when my editor is breathing down my neck. There are times when the words pour out like Niagara Falls, and times when it’s like the Gobi Desert in my brain.
12.How did you find the time to write this book with your busy life? What ideas do you have on how others can make time in their lives?
I really want to write, I really LOVE writing. I squeeze it in whenever I can: before the sun rises, in the early hours of the night when I can’t sleep anyway, on the bus, the train, while I’m on the phone listening to that ghastly music when I’ve been put on hold…
13.Everyone has at least one specific challenge that holds them back. What is that challenge in your work and how do you overcome it?
I do have frequent bouts of absolute self-doubt. To overcome them, I might read the reviews I’ve already received and figure out that there are people out there that do like my writing, ad that I can tell a story. Sometimes it works.
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