Hello followers! Author A. L. Butcher is in the house to answer a few questions.
Why do you write? I write because I enjoy it, and it keeps me sane. I’ve always been a storyteller and poet, losing myself in worlds and characters. For me it’s a good way of forgetting about reality for a while, escapism, you might say. That’s often why I read too. The poetry (only a bit of which is published) is a stress release. It’s very evocative, emotional and often introspective. I get depression and writing helps deal with that. I like creating things; I’ve tried jewelry making, candle making and painting, but I’m not very good at any of them but writing allows my muse to sing her song. I have so many stories and ideas rattling about I need to write them down.
When did you decide to become a writer? I don’t think there was a ‘when’. I just am a writer. As I said even at school I was always writing stories, poems and making up worlds and people. If you mean when did I decide to publish that would be 2012? I’d been working on a couple of things, mainly for a fantasy role play game, and it spiralled from there. I got into gaming big time at university, and that allowed my creative side to flourish. I’d written a few pieces published on blogs before that but nothing on the same scale.
What genre are your books? Fantasy, fantasy/romance and erotica for the novels, fantasy and horror for the short stories.
What draws you to this genre? Fantasy is so versatile. It allows so much creativity and scope. Anything is possible, anywhere and any when. I think a writer can get away with more in fantasy than in any other genre. I’m keen on mythology, I love the classic stories of Homer, of the Greek and Roman Gods, the old legends and tales. I love good world building, and heroes fighting wicked foes. It’s not just that, there is a lot of cultural influence in fantasy. Fantasy heroes are what ordinary people want to be. Fantasy permeates our society – think about it. I’m a Brit and who are our legendary heroes? King Arthur, St George, Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes (who may or may not have actually existed) and to an extent Blackbeard, Dick Turpin, Nelson, Wellington and many others. Of course people like Turpin weren’t heroes but there is a mythology around them. The bad guys get fan clubs too and the heroes become legends. Pretty much any town or village which has been around more than, say 100 years here has some myth about fairies, monsters, heroes, magic or brave antiheroes such as pirates and highwaymen. It’s everywhere. I think my work reflects a lot of the mythology that too. I remember as a child being taken to see C. S. Lewis’Voyage of the Dawn Treader, on stage and I was captivated. That trip began a lifelong love of theatre and fantasy. Most of what I read now is fantasy. I also like historical fiction, science fiction, crime and true crime, I’ll usually return to fantasy though.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I don’t have a special time. Usually when I’m awake enough and energetic enough to actually come up with something decent. I don’t work to a structure. I work full time so I have to fit the writing around that.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? Having read some of my really old stuff I have definitely evolved. I’ve studied writing courses, world building and done quite a bit of research over the last few years. I think I can spot when something really sucks now too. Getting a manuscript back from an editor is a teaching tool as well. I am more adventurous now as well. I’ve branched out a bit more into horror again and my reading has widened too.
How do you market your books? I have to say I don’t like marketing, and I’m not very good at it. Personally I don’t like pushy sales people and spam annoys the hell out of me. That said I can now see it from the other side. Marketing a book is hard, far harder than writing the damn thing. How much promotion is too much? Too little? What is an appropriate time? One person’s promotion is another’s spam. I tend to use Facebook and I have a blog, but the blog mostly promotes other authors. I like doing interviews as they tend to be a bit more interesting than just ‘buy my book’ but of course that requires finding blogs to feature on, and then answering the questions. I’ve used Thunderclap – with mixed results. Pros – it’s free for the basic package so costs nothing to set up and you can vary the dates etc. There’s a good support network for Thurderclap on FB and that’s quite useful. Cons – it’s quite time consuming to promote the Thunderclap and of course it’s not guaranteed it will actually help. I’m on Goodreads, but mostly as a reader. Goodreads has a lot of readers with…let’s say strong opinions on indie writers and marketing, and it can be a bit of a minefield. Advice for dealing with GR – read the group rules carefully, don’t spam in the wrong place and don’t get into arguments. Really just don’t. It’s not worth it. Goodreads is, firstly, a reader’s site and so pushy authors often have a hard time there. That said it has its uses for marketing. I have far more reviews there than Amazon; they also have read and review and book of the month clubs, both of which are a good marketing tool. Networking is the key. Don’t just talk out your book, promote others, write articles or blog posts and chat with people. Even if they don’t buy your book they might tell their friends, or feature you on their blog. Honestly I don’t know what really works. Usually I get a bump after a Facebook blitz or an interview but not always and it tends to be short lived and it might be coincidence. I haven’t found anything that works every time. Some strategies work for some people, and not for others. I have tried various strategies and have done quite a bit of research into options. Twitter I use, but not just for the books and I don’t think it has much impact – at least not for me. I get a few hits on the blog from it but not the books directly.That said I know people who swear by Twitter. Mistakes – don’t join every group/forum going. I did that in the beginning and I simply don’t have the time to manage and promote on all of them. There are a few where the members aren’t very nice or get quite scornful of newbies. Look around – what suits your style the most? What do the various forums and strategies actually require? Pick maybe a dozen and be active on those. Mercedes comment: I actually don’t use groups so much for marketing. I offer interviews, promote in a couple with other writers, but I love the games the different groups have. That’s what I spend time doing on Goodreads, games.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? Dii is a slave, or at least was. In Erana elves are enslaved – basically the elves were blamed for the rise of a deadly plague and its aftermath decades ago and as the world descended into war and chaos martial law was introduced by the human Order of Witch-Hunters who now rule with an iron hand, enslaving many, committing genocide, and outlawing magic. Dii is an elven sorceress so she is doubly cursed as it were. If she’s captured she could well be executed just for being a mage. During the adventures she learns she actually possesses great power, and despite her terrible past she is kind, brave and resourceful. Dii meets Lord Archos, a human (also a mage) and they work together in secret to help others, including trying to rescue an elven child kidnapped from an elven village. Dii really flourishes, when she is not beaten, starved and worse she can become who she was meant to be. She doesn’t start off as a strong woman, but she certainly becomes one. Archos too is interesting, he is not what he appears and both the mages risk much in order to help in the fight against the ruling Order of Witch-Hunters. He is a lot of fun as he’s a bit of an anti-hero – he kills, he and his friend Olek steal and lie. He is behind much of the outlawry going on.
What one person from history would you like to meet and why? Only one? That’s hard. Probably Leonardo Da Vinci – why because he was a bloody genius. His mind didn’t work in the same way as other people’s brains. He had amazing insight, extraordinary talent and he lived during a fascinating period of European history. Others – Darwin, Marie Curie, Homer, Julius Caesar, Sappho, Galileo, Florence Nightingale, Gaston Leroux, Tolkien, Brunel, Francis Drake, Elizabeth I, Victor Hugo, Heron of Alexandria, Ramesses, King Suppiluliumas I….
Tell us something unique about you When I was a child I wanted to be a squirrel when I grew up. That didn’t really work out…. Mercedes comment: That’s hilarious! Never heard a goal like that before. Bravo!
Thank you for stopping by and chatting with me for the fans!
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