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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Author Interview: Thaddeus White

Today I am pleased to present to you all the thirty-seventh in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with a pretender to the throne of England, Thaddeus White, and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Thaddeus:  It's not so much a ritual but I generally find that writing's easier (and better) if I spend the night before thinking about the chapter/scene. Not specific lines or anything like that, just the general mood, the characters, what sort of impression I want to create.

Paul:  What type of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Thaddeus:  I almost always read fantasy and classical history, although occasionally I'll go off-piste. My favorite author for fantasy is probably Joe Abercrombie. I like moral ambiguity and gritty realism, and things don't get more morally grey and grim than Mr. Abercrombie's work. I couldn't pick a single favorite classical historian from the likes of Polybius, Livy, Thucydides etc.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Thaddeus:  They'd probably feel like they'd fallen into Two-Face's mind. A lot of my world-building ideas (especially regarding history/mythology) are half-formed and fuzzy, whereas other ideas are extremely (maybe excessively) detailed. If it were a room, half would be cleaned and tidied thrice hourly and the other half would be as well-organized as an anarchist AGM.

Paul:  Do you have a favorite character in each of your series, except for the lead? If so, which one and why?
Thaddeus:  In Bane of Souls there are quite a few characters that were very fun to write but Captain Urquhart, the leader of the City Watch, was probably my favorite. He was a nice mixture of corruption, drunkenness, lust, and (occasionally) competence, and had some of the best lines.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Thaddeus:  I don't have a schedule or anything like that. It's usually when I get a chance and feel relaxed enough. It's hard to write well if I know I only have 15 minutes free or if I'm stressed out. First thing in the morning and late at night are usually the best times for first drafts, because it's nice and quiet.

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Thaddeus:  My secret ambition to become King of England.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Thaddeus:  I plot the main story fairly strictly but lots of minor aspects develop organically as I write. It's important to maintain a balance between dreadfully serious business and character development/light relief, I think, and getting the flow of a story right is something that I can only do when it's mostly done. I find it easy to plan a plotline, but the balance takes editing.

Paul:  Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Thaddeus:  Oh, I always have to do a ton of editing. First drafts tend to be concise (and riddled with continuity errors, although I've gotten a bit better on those) and need expanding simply to make the narrative cohesive. I'd guess this is unusual for an author, but I'm very inclined to brevity. So the book starts off smallish, then grows, and then the final redrafts are trimming off the bits that aren't needed or don't add much, and polishing off typos and the like.

Paul:  Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Thaddeus:  I write fantasy, so research is almost an optional extra, but I do some to try and get the character of a place right. Knowing the right names for pieces of armor, for example, or what kind of plants live in what kind of climate. It can also be pretty interesting and fun to do research. I found out the other day, whilst researching what dragon eggs might look like, that Komodo dragons are capable of parthenogenesis (meaning a lady dragon can produce viable eggs without needing a male dragon's involvement).

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
Thaddeus:  It's called Bane of Souls and follows a young man called Horst. He's visiting the city of Highford with his uncle, and ends up getting conscripted by the city's mages (which is particularly unpleasant as his race considers magic to be abominable). At the same time, Highford is subject to a string of bloody murders, and the murderer has a penchant for killing off mages. Horst finds himself entangled in the killer's murderous plan, and… you'll have to read the book to find out what happens next.

Paul:  Do you enter competitions? Are there any you would recommend?
Thaddeus:  Not often, and I'm focused on my present project so I don't really have time right now. However, for speculative fiction writers without agents there is a Harper Voyager Open Door scheme, which runs until the 14th of this month which is well worth checking out:

Paul:  What's your favorite/least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Thaddeus:  My favorite part is easy; it's when the book gets published and after months or years of hard work it's there for people to buy and (hopefully) enjoy. Least favorite is harder, because there are lots of things I'd rather not do but one doesn't especially stand out. Probably the final check to make sure there aren't any typos and that the text is properly formatted.

Paul:  What do you do when you're not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Thaddeus:  I'm quite into F1 and offer tips on it regularly. As for party tricks, I can do the lotus position without using my hands and I used to be able to watch someone cut a deck of cards and then cut it in exactly the same place (not tried that for years though).

Paul:  Thank you, Thaddeus. I wish you every success for the future.

About Thaddeus White: Thaddeus White is a twenty-something Yorkshireman who is versed in the arts of writing, gambling and morris dancing. As well as writing fantasy such as Bane of Souls, he's also an avid reader of history and F1 fan.

Thaddeus's Website: Thaddeus White
Thaddeus on Twitter: @MorrisF1
Thaddeus on Facebook: Unknown!
Thaddeus's latest book: Bane Of Souls (Amazon)

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