Today Toad welcomes fantasy author Greg Hamerton to her corner. If you enjoy epic fantasy, Greg is an author you need to keep an eye out for. His lively imagination and command of the English language provide passports to a world where almost anything is possible.
Tell us about your setting of your novels.
The Tale of the Lifesong is set in Oldenworld, a parallel world where magic has been coaxed out of the essence a little more than we have managed to achieve so far. In that way, it could be set in our future, or our forgotten past. The series is a meditation on magic, music and life. In the first tale, The Riddler’s Gift, we enter a sheltered realm in which the lead character, Tabitha Serannon, completes her apprenticeship and begins to sing the song that will echo through all worlds and all time. In the second tale, Second Sight, we learn how Oldenworld reached a pinnacle of order, but in so doing created the seeds of chaos among the dispossessed. A mighty sorcerer is intent on destroying every trace of civilisation. Although Tabitha is being groomed by the wizards, she sees beyond their order as her second sight develops. She gives voice to the beauty that can change the violence, chaos and ugliness in the world.
When did you know you had it in you to be a writer?
Many, many years ago, I wrote a letter to Richard Bach, praising his work but also insisting that his ideas seemed to come from my head. He wrote back, full of wise understanding, telling me that only I could write the stories I needed to write to my people and my time.
What’s the most difficult aspect of your craft?
Not owning that villa overlooking the sea with all those minions and endless celebrations in champagne-Jacuzzis. If I worked at any other profession for this long I’d have earned all that, by now. They tell us we get royalties, so if it’s any consolation to aspiring writers, it’s a noble profession. No really, I’m not that shallow, I’m happy with my cosy life. What’s really hard, with writing, is holding on to the singular vision of your story world, as the demands of the real world try to intrude. Hold on, I’ve got to go make a cup of coffee…
Who is the one author you keep returning to, and why?
Greg Hamerton. I know, I know, I’m not that vain, my point is that I’ve been doing this for more than ten years and have spent way more time reading my own writing, editing it, trying to improve it, than any time spent reading other authors. I don’t generally read any fantasy while I’m working on a novel, because I don’t want interference or distraction. But there are authors whose work I love, and Richard Bach is probably my strongest influence… he was the first one to change my world, and one day I aspire to writing something with as much power as Jonathan Livingstone Seagull in so few words.
What are some of the trends you’re seeing in fantasy writing at the moment?
Trends? I have no idea. A literary agent criticised me for this recently, but if I was a literary agent or big publisher I’d need to be obsessed by trends. As an author who takes a very long time to write long fantasy novels, the trends seem rather irrelevant because if I wrote to hit the current trend I would always miss the band wagon. All I can hope is that the trend is for my kind of writing when it is released. If anything, I’d say there seem to be many fantasy titles on the shelf right now that are 500 pages or more, part of a series, feature young lead characters, lots of action and would appeal to a broad audience including young adult. So my books fit right in. Lucky, that.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Are you mad? Because if you aren’t, you’ll study the writing profession before committing to it, and you’ll come to the conclusion that it is probably not a good career move, at least not until you’ve made pots of money elsewhere. But if you are mad, then you’ll stop reading articles “about writing” round about now, dive into the art headlong, write manuscripts, collect rejection letters, and eventually reach the nirvana of seeing your own book in print. Then you’ll find out: that is the first stage of being an author, and the real work has just begun. You have a career to build. Good luck!