You’re all invited to join in the fun of the Massive Autumn Book Launch Event (#MABLE) organised by my publisher, Fantastic Books Publishing. The books in the event are hugely discounted, so it’s a great opportunity to try some new and exciting fiction. It began on 17th September and runs to 31st October. And you can sign up to join in the fun here.
I’m posting interviews with the authors here during the event. This is with Drew Wagar:
Drew Wagar is a science fiction and fantasy author. He lives in Kent with his wife, two sons, a dog and a cat. His favourite colour is dark green. He drives a small convertible car which occasionally works. He doesn’t require a conservatory or any double-glazing.
1. Did some specific event trigger the creation of The Shadeward Saga or, alternatively, was this a project you’d been considering for some time?
I was keen to write my own science fiction saga after having spent a bit of time writing in other folks’ universes. I wanted the creative control over the whole lore background and the world-building, but it took me a while to come up with the premise. It was, as is often the case for me, during a dog walk that the idea for Shadeward struck me. I spent a bit of time playing around with maps, characters and situations and then pulled it all together into a detailed plot that would unfurl over the course of 4 to 5 books.
2. Most works of fiction have themes either at their heart or subtly roving beneath the surface for the more analytical reader; what were your themes here, and why do they matter to you?
Shadeward has a post-apocalyptic background, but it not based in the near aftermath of catastrophe, but almost two thousand years later. Thus the events of the earlier time are consigned to myth and legend. I’ve always enjoyed stripping away the layers of technology we depend on to see what happens to humanity without it. Are we worse or better off?
Shadeward is in equal parts a coming of age story, an old fashioned adventure, a mix of fantasy and technology, exploration and romance. It has themes of conflict, friendship, misunderstanding, affection, vengeance, hatred, love and death – essentially the human condition. My characters are ordinary flawed individuals in unusual situations.
I’m not a fan of allegory and preaching in story-telling, thus my stories are simply that, stories – if you read anything more into them that’s your own agenda speaking to you. I aim for memorable characters, tense nail-biting chapters, an entertaining plot, but without resorting to overwrought complexity or literary flourishes to try to impress. My books are designed to be accessible and take you away from the dreariness of reality to enjoy a few wonderful hours … somewhere else. There is no particular “message” embedded in them… at least, not consciously!
3. Is Shadeward your first created series or do you have others both published and/or awaiting publication?
Shadeward is a series of four books published between 2010 and 2020, but I’ve written a bunch of other stuff too. I’m currently working on another series in the same fictional universe as Shadeward. This is called Hegira and will also be a series of four books, the first one is due out this year and will be called Hegira: Contravention. It will widen the viewpoint and reveals a bit more backstory about the worlds I’ve created.
4. When did you start writing and what prompted you to choose words as your creative medium?
I started writing in around 1983 or so, scribbling stories down on pen and paper and then later on a typewriter. I can’t draw for toffee, so writing was always my primary creative outlet, though I’m a passable pianist and photographer! I was inspired by familiar names such as Tolkien, Clarke and McCaffrey and just enjoyed the process of writing of a story. Haven’t stopped yet!
5. To what extent does genre guide your treatment of story/subject?
I totally ignore genre to be honest. I don’t like it as a concept and consider it merely a construct for the purposes of categorisation. I find it all rather limiting. If someone asks me if Shadeward is a romance, a SciFi novel or a fantasy I always answer “Yes.” I write the story as it comes to me with no preconceptions as to what genre it might fit into, thus I hope to avoid the straightjacket of genre expectations. This does make it a bit harder to fit with traditional publishers, but that’s their loss, not mine!
6. How do you feel about ‘experimental’ literature? Have you ever employed an approach that might be seen as experimental?
I’ve no objection to anyone else doing this, but I’m not a fan. I like long, traditional chapters, story-telling that advances chronologically and doesn’t involve flash-backs or alternative viewpoints of the same event. If I’m reading something and the writer slaps in something poetic or weird for effect… I’m afraid I tend to skip it to get back to the story – or put the book down and roll my eyes. For myself, I almost exclusively write in 3rd person and the past tense. I don’t like writing in any other way.
7. Do you plot, or are you a ‘pantster’ writing without a definite plan, and why do you use this method of construction?
I’m an absolute plotter! I have to have all the detail laid out or otherwise I find I write myself into a corner and have to resort to various deus ex machina contrivances to get myself out of trouble. For me, at least, having a complex but decipherable plot requires working out the nuances of the plot in advance to ensure it makes sense. I want to eradicate plot-holes as much as possible prior to writing. I spend a lot of time working on the story to make sure that there are real and firm motivations for all my characters doing what they do at any point in the story, in line with their goals and aims. Shadeward’s various story arcs were planned end to end for the course of 4 books. I knew “what was going to happen” at the end prior to writing the first book. I can’t do what I do any other way. I have great admiration for pantsters who can create complex and well-rounded stories out of thin air – it’s not my gift at all.
8. What, if any, input did you have in the design of the book cover, and is such collaboration important to you?
I’m not an artist, but I am strongly motivated by visuals, so the “essence” of the story has to be captured adequately by the cover, so it’s good to have a say in what that cover looks like. For Shadeward, the key aspect is the colour, each book has a shade that evokes the key aspects of that book: orange, purple, green and red. To add more mystery a strange series of symbols was included by FBP to invoke an otherworldly feeling, an excellent choice.
9. English is a temperamental language; how important is it for an author to understand its rules?
I think you need a basic ability to form a sentence, spell reasonably well and know how to use basic punctuation. Beyond that, rules might be interesting to academics but that’s about it. You don’t need much in the way of qualifications to become a writer (I merely have a C-Grade in O-Level English Literature) and I’d venture to say that you’re better off without all that nonsense about relative clauses, coordinating conjunctions and fronted adverbials the powers at be seem obsessed with inflicting on school children nowadays. I’ve written ten books and wouldn’t know what a fronted adverbial was if it leapt up and smacked me in the face!
10. Finally, bearing in mind the wide choice of self-publishing platforms now available, what made you choose Fantastic Books Publishing as your route to the reading public?
I’ve used a variety of different channels for my books and will continue to do so. FBP allowed me access to various talents I don’t possess myself, chief amongst those… a good editor! This was and is an invaluable part of the publishing process. I also like the way they give a decent chunk of revenue to charity, though of course, you can do that yourself if you wish. FBP’s royalty structure is more generous than most, so that’s a bonus too!
My review of Emanation
My review of Expiation
My review of Enervation
My review of Exoneration
Reviews of Emanation on Goodreads
Reviews of Expiation on Goodreads
Reviews of Enervation on Goodreads
Reviews of Exoneration on Goodreads
Reviews of Emanation on Amazon
Reviews of Expiation on Amazon
Reviews of Enervation on Amazon
Reviews of Exoneration on Amazon
Melodie’s Musings – A view from Melodie Trudeaux
Penny Ponders – A view from Penny Grubb
6 thoughts on “#MABLE: Author Interview with Drew Wagar”
I’m 100% with Drew on the matter of plotting, and on the primacy of character in writing. None of my work is sci-fi, but the principles are the same… and as Drew says, who gives a monkey’s about genre?
Excellent interview as always, Stuart. Thanks.
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Thanks for your comment, mph26. Genre – a device created by major publishers to ensure ‘best-selling’ authors continue to tell the same story over and over again!
Excellent interview of an excellent author of an excellent series. I very much enjoyed these books myself and would underline the author’s statement above: “Shadeward is in equal parts a coming of age story, an old fashioned adventure, a mix of fantasy and technology, exploration and romance. It has themes of conflict, friendship, misunderstanding, affection, vengeance, hatred, love and death – essentially the human condition. My characters are ordinary flawed individuals in unusual situations.” All adding up to a very good read indeed.
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Thanks, Walt. I agree the series is a good read; something I really enjoyed.
Thank you very much for informing us of the Massive Autumn Book Launch Event (#MABLE), and for featuring this informative interview of Drew Wagar, a science fiction and fantasy author.
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Thank you, SoundEagle. You’re very welcome.
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