A.F. Stewart was one of the first serious writer friends I ever had. Reading her work I can tell that words cascade thru her soul to spill onto paper rather than being forced. She rolls dark words around on her mind’s palate to savor their bitter taste. She is unafraid to describe the cut of a blade thru delicate skin or enter the mind of the maniac. A.F. Stewart is an author after my own heart… perhaps with a razor ;p
I’ve been looking forward to reading her book Ruined City for ages but unfortunately I got it right before the big move overseas plus. Now that things seem to be calming down a bit I am being able to catch up on my reading. I just reopened Ruined City. While I vanish into my favorite reading position (flopped on a bed with a hurricane strength fan) I’ll let you hear from the Authoress of Darkness herself.
Welcome Ms. Stewart! As I prepare to finally delve into Ruined City can you please tell everyone a little about it without giving too much away?
The book is a short novel (very short), written in the format of twelve
interconnecting short stories with a few extra bits thrown in for fun. The book tells the tale of the cursed city of Elowen from different points of view over a number of years.
It is set in fictional land of Immra, home of the Nine City Kingdoms,
Elowen being one of the nine cities. The story begins one winter when a stranger comes to town, bringing Elowen’s dark past and a curse with him. From there
the reader goes inside the blighted city to see how the people cope. Each story can stand alone, but they also overlap and build on each other until the final climax.
I can’t wait… what was the inspiration behind this book? It’s a different direction from some of your other work that I’ve read.
Ruined City started out as a short story I wrote called Winter’s Bane. The basic premise being a stranger enters a cursed city, stops at an inn one night, and has a conversation with the innkeeper. Originally, I never planned on expanding the story, but the idea of a cursed city and telling the stories of the people living inside of such a place kept nagging at me. So I thought about writing more stories set in that city, and slowly the premise of interconnecting those stories into a book developed. The result is Ruined City. I also wanted to get back to my fantasy roots and write a book set in a strange magical and medieval world.
I remember reading Winter’s Bane on Gather I think. It will be interesting to see another facet of your talent. Will I see any of your personality in the story? Who are you most like in the tales… and who are you least like?
I suppose I’m a bit like Eldren, as we both seem to have a love of books
and history and I think Mordren and Gellen got some of my practical nature. I certainly hope I’m least like the Night Wraith, being as they are so nasty. Also, I think very few of my traits went into Gailas; he turned out a bit more churlish than I planned.
I know it’s going to be an awesome read. Can we look forward to a continuation of this story arc beyond Ruined City? What are your plans for future projects?
I do plan to continue writing about Immra at least, having already penned another short story set in that world concerning another one of the Nine Kingdoms, Misthri.
The story, A Tale Told in Winter, is about crime and punishment, and was originally posted on my blog. [A Tale Told in Winter] I’d also like to write the story set before Ruined City, about The Sorcerer’s War, Thelpin and the founding of Elowen. And I may return to Elowen after Ruined City, just for a short visit.
As for other projects, I’m still working on my paranormal/horror
novella, Gothic Cavalcade; it got a bit stalled, but I’m getting back to it
now. Plus, I’m putting together the next book in my Incomplete series, The
Incomplete Guide to Monster Extermination, my third poetry collection and
another short story collection called, Fractured Fairy tales and Other Stories.
My main project though is my steampunkish, alternate history, vampire
novel series. I’m writing the first book now, called The Duke’s Assassin. The series is set in Halifax, Nova Scotia, during the Victorian Era, but in a history much altered from what we know. In this world, vampires not only exist, but also co-exist freely with humans in Canada (which extends over most of North America) and the Duke of Kent rules as Viceroy of the British North American territory. The main character in the books will be Gideon, a vampire who works as a bodyguard for the Royal Engineer of Halifax.
Wow! How do you find time to eat? What advice would you give to new writers?
My advice to new writers is not to worry about trends, or popular themes or “being original”, but write a great story, with well-rounded characters and believable dialogue. To know your craft (and that includes grammar), and to write without worrying that it’s perfect. First drafts are there to make mistakes; the errors, typos, and crappy prose get fixed in your edits.
Great advice. You have been a great support and source of knowledge for new writers since I’ve known you. My final question is about marketing. What are some successful strategies you’ve found? What didn’t work as well?
I like the tried and true: free sample marketing. I published two free stories for downloading, and they’ve done well on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Sony. Hopefully anyone who likes the stories will come back for more. Also, I’m involved in several groups on Goodreads, Gather.com and Facebook; I find the best marketing is simply interacting with people.
I find the least effective way, for me, is straight out announcements and promos. I’m sure they have some effect, but it is so easy to get lost in the shuffle of promos these days.
There is certainly a lot of buzz and promos going around these days. Thank you so much for agreeing to an interview on Dandilyon Fluff. Where can interested readers find more of your work around the ‘net?