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Author Alan Campbell - An Interview
بواسطة: charley_polston
أرسلت في: 05-27-2009 @ 06:34 am

Alan Campbell is the author of "Scar Night", an urban fantasy novel and the first volume of the Deepgate Codex. His debut novel was published by Bantam Books in the USA and Tor in the UK. Alan is Scottish born and raised, currently living in South Lanarkshire. He worked for a while developing video games before leaving to focus on photography and writing. I enjoyed the opportunity to interview him about his writing and publishing experience.On WritingMary: What is your writing background, and when did you first consider yourself a writer?Alan: My writing background isn't very impressive. English was my worst subject at high school. Apart from a couple of game design documents, Scar Night was the only prose I'd written since leaving school. Actually, that's not entirely true. I did write one other sentence: a sentence so awful it would make you want to stick pencils up your nose and head-butt the computer screen. This won the Detective Fiction Category of the Bulwer-Lytton fiction competition (http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/), a contest for bad writing. Not the most auspicious start for a would-be novelist.
I'm not really selling myself here, am I?Anyway, despite my lack of credentials I did consider myself to be a writer before the book sold, but only secretly. Members of various writing forums had always told me, with what seemed like gleeful malice, how difficult it was to find an agent and a publisher. So I didn't hold out much hope of selling my own first novel. Rather, I just plugged away at the story for the love of it, and avoided embarrassing conversations by claiming to be a dolphin trainer, or a photographer, which was at least partly true because I'd been earning a small wage from picture sales to magazines and newspapers and so on.Mary: Who or what has influenced your writing, and how?Alan: If I've read a book more than once, then I've enjoyed it immensely, and so the author has probably influenced my own writing. A few of the more likely candidates are Mervyn Peake, M John Harrison, George R R Martin, Steven Erickson, and Clark Ashton Smith. I love the prose of Peake and Harrison, GRRM's characters, Erickson's complex worlds, and the rich gothic weirdness of Clark Ashton Smith's tales.Mary: I know you are currently working on the second book of the Deepgate Codex. Do you have any other projects you are working on?Alan: I'm also working on a novella for another US publisher, and I have a growing pile of other projects -- short stories, comics, screenplays, all sorts of things -- which I'll finish one day.About Scar Night and the Deepgate CodexMary: What is the target audience for your book?Alan: It's really for mature readers. I didn't have a target audience in mind when I wrote it; I was just writing the sort of story I like to read.Mary: What makes your story unique?Alan: Hmm... All stories are unique, but then I suppose a lot of them are similar. I decided not to write the "peasant lad with a hidden past gets whisked away by a kindly wizard on a quest to find a magic stone which will defeat the Dark Lord who threatens the green and pleasant land of wherever" story, because I've already read that one. I wanted to write about airships and explosions and chains.Mary: How did you come up with the setting of Deepgate, a city hung by giant chains over an abyss? What was the hardest part of world creation?Alan: Honestly, I don't know where the idea of Deepgate came from. It just popped into my head and stayed there. The hardest part of world creation was, I think, trying to find reasonable solutions to the many problems inherent in maintaining a large army, cavalry included, in such an unlikely place.On PublishingMary: Why did you choose a traditional publisher for your book?Alan: Choose isn't really the right word. I certainly wanted to try for a traditional publisher for several reasons. Traditional publishers can get your book into bookshops throughout the country, and market it extensively. So you have a sales team behind you, press releases, advance review copies printed and distributed, advertising, a book launch. All this, I imagined, would make a huge difference. And of course you are paid an advance against royalties.Fortunately I was lucky enough to find a wonderful agent: Simon Kavanagh of the Mic Cheetham Literary Agency, who has helped me more than I can say. Thanks to him my book was picked up by Tor in the UK, and Bantam in the US.Mary: What was the publishing process like? Was it what you expected?Alan: I didn't know what to expect, to tell you the truth, but I was pleasantly surprised. It all happened rapidly. The book found publishers in the UK and US, and then the list of foreign sales began to grow. Page proofs and cover art whizzed back and forth between myself and editors on both sides of the Atlantic. Blurbs came in from authors I respect and admire. Several film production companies expressed an interest (I'm still keeping my fingers crossed). The advances from each publisher were much higher than I had imagined they'd be. It's been a wonderful, albeit daunting and slightly scary, experience.Mary: What steps have you taken to publicize your book?Alan: I have a blog at: http://anurbanfantasy.blogspot.com
a website at: http://www.alanmcampbell.co.uk
and a myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/scarnight.
MacMillan also made a nice flash site for me: http://www.panmacmillan.com/scarnight/OtherMary: Do you think you would be published now if you hadn't stopped your work as a video game developer?Alan: I can't say. Leaving my old job gave me more time to write, but then I ended up spending just as much time faffing around taking pictures of churches and fountains as I had coding games. I would have finished the book if I'd stayed on as a programmer, although it might have taken a bit longer.Mary: Are you a member of any writing groups or websites?Alan: I'm a member of a writers' group in Edinburgh.Reader SubmittedMary: The following is a question submitted by one of my newsletter readers.amalthea: When you have a slew of ideas floating around and all of them are equally strong in your mind, do you focus on one until completion? Or do you go back and forth?Alan: I shuttle between them all the time -- a bit of work on this one, a bit on another. But I suppose it's different for everyone. Whichever way works best for you.ConclusionMary: What advice do you have for other writers?Alan: For newcomers to fiction writing, I'd recommend that you read a lot and try to look at the stories you enjoy with a critical eye. This isn't new advice, but I do think it's important. You can learn a great deal by studying books on writing (active and passive prose, the importance of conflict and character development, etc), yet I find that it is just as helpful to examine the books you love and ask yourself what it is about them you find so appealing. Why is a particular character fascinating or why does a certain sentence resonate with you? Similarly, if you don't like a book, try to understand exactly why, so you don't make the same mistakes yourself.Also, remember what Ernest Hemingway said:“The first draft of anything is shit.”Mary: Anything else you'd like to say?Alan: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to blether away.Mary: Take an opportunity to plug your book.Alan: Well, if anyone is interested in gambling on a new fantasy author, then there's a shameful amount of plugging going on here:http://www.alanmcampbell.co.uk/And if you have any thoughts on what I should put in that empty box to the left of my picture, please do let me know.Mary: Thank you so much for your time.filipina hostage taker

اخر تحديث في 05-27-2009 @ 06:34 am


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