Please welcome Stephen Moore
to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge
is published on August 13th by Harper Voyager UK. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Stephen a Happy Publication Day!
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?
Stephen: Graynelore is my first adult fantasy novel, but I had my first children’s fantasy book, Spilling the Magic, published way back in 1996. (Was it THAT long ago?) Why did I start writing? I’ve got a photo of myself when I was eight years old. I’m dressed in ragamuffin hitched-up jeans complete with holes in the knees. That kid didn’t read many books. Looking back, I realised most of the classic children’s books I subsequently read (and loved) were all very prim and proper, and dare I say it, rather middle class. No one seemed to have written books for the eight year old boy I had been in that old photo. So I wrote him a book... Spilling the Magic.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Stephen: I guess I’m both in an odd way. When I begin a project I write longhand and piecemeal: not to a storyline. There’s no starting at the beginning. I let ideas tumble as they will. Whether its characters, or landscapes, conversations or plot. Nothing’s a mistake and there’s no writers block. I’m happy to surprise myself. Then, when I’m done scribbling the laptop comes out. That’s when I begin to shape the story – find the beginning, middle, end, and all that – and after ten drafts or so the book takes on its final form.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Stephen: I’m a slow writer... It can take me a year or even two to write a book depending on the story. So that’s sometimes frustrating. I’ve got so many book ideas and not enough time to write them! Choosing the right project to take forward, knowing what’s ahead, can be daunting. If it’s a nice problem to have! I would like to write faster (Believe me, I’ve tried). But I guess the writing method I use works for me – and that’s the key. (You can’t have everything.)
TQ: Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?
Stephen: My favourite reads are my influences. Charles Dickens for one: his character development is superb. Then there’s Tolkien for his storytelling and world building. And Mervyn Peake can’t be bettered for his descriptive powers, particularly in his novel Gormanghast. Then again, Robert Louis Stephenson’s Treasure Island is my all time favourite book. That’s the stuff of true adventures! If my favourite author is Robert Westall: best known for his wartime novel for older children, The Machine Gunners. He’s a writer whose stories have a ring of authenticity about them. An authenticity I strive to match.
TQ: Describe Graynelore in 140 characters or less.
Stephen: A story of divided loyalty. An epic fantasy. A grown-up faerie tale. A blood-soaked mystery. And, in its own twisted way, a love story.
TQ: Tell us something about Graynelore that is not found in the book description.
Stephen: Some of the atmosphere, characters and place names in Graynelore find their inspiration in the music of early rock bands, such as Genesis, Lindisfarne, Wishbone Ash and Pink Floyd. Though I’ll leave it up to my readers to discover the connections...
TQ: What inspired you to write Graynelore? What appealed to you about writing Fantasy?
Stephen: A few years ago I discovered a most amazing thing: my family history includes a link to the infamous Sixteenth Century Border Reivers. The Reivers were inhabitants of the English/Scottish Borderlands; family groups who considered theft, kidnap, blackmail, murder and deadly blood-feud as all part of their day job. I couldn’t resist writing about them! If I knew from the start, to do the idea justice, for the first time I was going to be writing for adults and not children. Of course, I’m an author of fantasy, not historical fiction... it was a long and winding path that eventually lead me to Graynelore.
Why fantasy? The genre has always appealed to me. I see no limits. I get to write about anything I want. I get to travel anywhere I want to go, real or imaginary, and I get to do pretty much anything I like when I get there. What could be better?
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Graynelore?
Stephen: The fantasy elements of Graynelore needed no research: just my imagination. As for Border Reivers, that’s different. They lived virtually on my doorstep. To follow their trail, I went out into rural Northumberland – their natural landscape – and up into the Scottish Borders. Scattered across the countryside you can still find architecture associated with them. In the form of bastle houses (literally fortified farm houses) and peel towers (tall fortified towers) where they both lived and found shelter against their reiving neighbours when under attack.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Stephen: The easiest has to be my narrator, Rogrig Wishard. I knew I wanted Graynelore to have its own distinctive voice. I was lucky. The very first fragment I wrote was a description of a bloody killing field he gave to me. It was immediately in his distinctive turn of phrase. And it was so unguardedly honest, it even shocked me! Of all my characters my blood-soaked reiver is a favourite.
The hardest...? From wyrms to elfwyches, from unifauns to shape-shifting crows, you know I don’t recall any of them being particularly difficult to write. However unusual, I don’t tend to have trouble getting to the heart of my characters.
TQ: Which question about Graynelore do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!
Stephen: Let me see... something like: With all the talk of Reivers, is Graynelore truly a faerie tale? And my answer is: Yes of course! This is fantasy – why ever not! Mind, if it is a faerie tale – believe me when I say – beware, you’ve never read one quite like this before.
TQ: Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Graynelore.
Stephen: I’ll let my narrator introduce himself to you in his own inimitable way (that’s a favourite of mine):
I am Rogrig, Rogrig Wishard by grayne. Though, I was always, Rogrig Stone Heart by desire. This is my memoir and my testimony. What can I tell you about myself that will be believed? Not much, I fear. I am a poor fell-stockman and a worse farmer (that much is true). I am a fighting-man. I am a killer, a soldier-thief, and a blood-soaked reiver. I am a sometime liar and a coward. I have a cruel tongue, a foul temper, not to be crossed. And, I am – reliably informed – a pitiful dagger’s arse when blathering, drunk.
You can see, my friend, I am not well blessed.
For all that, I am just an ordinary man of Graynelore. No different to any other man of my breed. (Ah, now we come to the nub of it. I must temper my words.)
Rogrig is mostly an ordinary man. The emphasis is important. For if a tale really can hang, then it is from this single thread mine is suspended...
TQ: What's next?
Stephen: Graynelore is a stand-alone novel. However I do have an idea for another book based in the same world... I have already begun to scribble, if it’s early days as yet.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Harper Voyager UK, August 13, 2015
eBook, 400 pages
(Debut - Adult)
Rodrig Wishard is a killer, a thief and a liar. He’s a fighting man who prefers to solve his problems with his sword.
In a world without government or law, where a man’s only loyalty is to his family and faerie tales are strictly for children, Rodrig Wishard is not happy to discover that he’s carrying faerie blood. Something his family neglected to tell him. Not only that but he’s started to see faeries for real.
If he’s going to make any sense of it he’s going to have to go right to the source – the faeries themselves. But that’s easier said than done when the only information he has to go on is from bards and myth.
Stephen Moore is the author of the fantasy novel, GRAYNELORE. (Published by, HarperVoyager. 13th August 2015.)
A published author since the mid 1990's he’s also written several well received fantasy books for older children (ages 9-14yrs/YA) including, TOOTH AND CLAW, SPILLING THE MAGIC and FAY. (Published by, Crossroad Press.)
Stephen hails from the North of England; a beautiful land he loves to explore; full of ancient Roman history, medieval castles and remnants of the infamous Border Reivers.
Long ago, before he discovered the magic of storytelling, he was an exhibition designer and he has fond memories of working in the strange old world of museums. Sometimes he can still be found in auction houses pawing over old relics!
He loves art and books, old and new. He’s into rock music, movies, history and RPG video games! But mostly, he likes to write, where he gets to create his own worlds.Website
@SMoore_Author ~ Goodreads