Originally from Newport, Rhode Island, Richard Writhen has also lived in Providence and New York City. He briefly attended college for music and video production, and began his first online serial six years ago. Richard has since been e-published on several notable blogs and websites and is now also the author of three independently published novellas and a novel on Amazon. He is currently working on several short stories and the second book in The Celestial Ways Saga, which is to be titled The Crack of the Whip.
1.What is it about your genre that speaks to you?
Well, fantasy allows for a lot of creativity, while allowing a degree of freedom from the level of detail that stories set in the real world require. Dark fantasy specifically appeals to me because I can work in elements of cosmic horror, weird fiction, victorian fiction, and gothic fiction and not have them seem out of place. And grimdark appeals to me because of the high level of realism.
2.Without giving any spoilers, what is your favorite thing about this book?
I tried to make it rounded, interconnecting the characters’ lives over time in such a way that the narratives go full circle. Hopefully I have succeeded, and readers will go, “Aha ! It’s that character again.” And, that way they’ll be able to see how the characters evolve, sometimes more than once over their narrative arcs.
3.When you are writing, tell me about the emotions that are running through you and what it takes to work alongside them.
I think a lot of horror and fantasy writers channel their demons into their work. Mine deals with very dark subject matter, and sometimes the characters come to some very horrific ends. I won’t say that I’m a literary sadist, but if that’s what the story calls for, it’s necessary. You know, don’t kill the messenger. Several other fantasy authors have said, “Look. I’m not my characters. It’s just a story.” And that’s true for me, as well. The work is dark, because that’s what I find interesting, and it’s a reflection of the world that I live in. I don’t advocate evil behavior, but I do seek to portray it in prose.
4.Everyone has at least one specific challenge that holds them back. What is that challenge in your work and how do you overcome it?
For me, it’s continuity and exposition. Remembering character names, place names, etcetera can become very difficult. Exposition and the urge to info dump as well. That’s a constant struggle. The details of place and history have to be suffused throughout the text in as natural and readable a fashion as possible. That’s one of the lessons I learned when I first went back and re-read A Kicked Cur, my first novella. It literally has like twenty pages of characters telling, not showing.
5.You’re going to go back and visit yourself when you first started writing, at whatever age it was, and you can give yourself one piece of advice. What would it be?
Absolutely the Harper Lee thick skin quote. If you’re too sensitive to criticism early on, you can do damage to your public image that you may not be able to repair later. I see things a lot differently nowadays, have more humility. But when you’re that green, you think you’re the chosen one, you’re Neo from The Matrix. The truth is that hundreds of millions of people write, many of them professionally. If you aim for success, you are a needle in a haystack, and it’s gonna be awhile. A marathon, not a sprint, as they say.
6.Let’s talk about tools. Do you have a word processor that you would tell us to use? Is there a certain computer that has become your favorite? What do you look for in a keyboard? What would you absolutely have to have if you were to sit down and write your next book?
Well, I’m kind of in this twilight zone here as where I live really doesn’t have a place to put a desktop. I did have one when writing my first three novellas. The Angel of the Grave was actually written at the libraries. I don’t like the mobile writing applications that I’ve tried out, they are much too unwieldy and confusing. Writing in public is hard because of the distractions, but it can be done.
7.Now that you have published your first novel, do you have any dreams you have not reached? Goals for new books, series beyond this publication, or anything else that can tantalize the fantasy public?
I am going to write the books of The Celestial Ways Saga first. It’s now set to be a hexalogy. Not sure yet, it constantly evolves. The Angel of the Grave was originally going to be book two of the series, but then I thought to myself, “That’s crazy. It takes place chronologically before book one.” So, I made it a book zero. Either way, there are twelve planned series books, and I also have a standalone set up but I don’t know yet whether it will be a novelette or a novella.
8.If we reach beyond the written word into visual media, and you could choose how your story is consumed, would you want a television show, a movie series, or anime to tell the story of the book and the world it takes place in?
Probably films. Though I guess there might eventually be enough material for a television series.
9.If you are casting your protagonist in a movie, what actor would you choose and why?
Rebecca actually looks kind of like Stephenie Meyer, though maybe Emma Watson could pull it off with dark hair. Sadine looks kind of like Mary Elizabeth Winstead. For Marissa, maybe Nina Dobrev, Emma Stone or Gal Gadot. Someone with light brown hair, though. I haven’t really given it much thought.
10.Do you have any regrets about the story you told? Would you make any changes to its telling or did you capture exactly what you were looking for?
It is exactly what I was looking for, but like The Hiss of the Blade, I was forced to remove approximately one narrative arc.
11.What element of this story can we expect in your future work?
Well, the upside is that very same arc is probably going to be the first standalone. Its timeframe is pretty much during the same period as The Angel of the Grave, but its main character is male, an artist and aspiring warlock named Salague Maletto. It just didn’t fit, and the novel would probably have become sloppy and overcomplicated if I’d left it in.
12.You are forced to pick a fist fight with one of the characters in your book. Who would you choose and why?
Definitely not Lester or Misty. The former’s a brute captain of the guard, and the latter an ice witch.
13.Do you have a celebration that you embark on when you finish a book, be it a release party, a trophy, or even a shot of whiskey?
I think that a few days or weeks of relative inactivity are pretty much their own reward. With that sense of completion, even though no work is ever perfect, you can feel a little fulfilled.
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