Thirteen Questions with ROB EDWARDS
Ah, now that is a complicated question. The glib answer, assuming you mean “What’s the thing that stops the writing process dead for you?” is simply “The Internet”. It’s a wonderful research tool, and I’m delighted to be writing in an age where it’s available, but if I make the mistake of going to the wrong web page at the wrong time and starting to read articles or watching You Tube videos… that’s all chances of writing that day gone.
But there are different types of kryptonite in the comics, and they all have slightly different powers. So Green K is what we’re talking about in this case. Red K can have all sorts of weird and unpredictable effects and—that’s the internet too, isn’t it? And Gold K… hmm. Okay, this wasn’t a complicated question after all. The internet. Just the internet.
- What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I wouldn’t be writing today if it weren’t for the guys from Inklings Press. Stephen Hunt (writing as Leo McBride), Brent A. Harris and Ricardo Victoria, they critique, beta and improve almost everything I write, though their strongest contribution is probably to kick me when my first instinct is to stick a story in a drawer instead of sending it out. They support every aspect of my writing, and I’m grateful for them.
I have to say, though, that the writing community is a supportive one. I met (in an internet way) Maria Haskins through one of our Inklings books, and she put me on to the Word Count Podcast. And there are writers like E M Swift-Hook, Claire Buss and Erin Grey from the Sci Fi Roundtable Facebook group who have encouraged, beta’ed and supported me at various points of my process.
- Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
So far almost everything I’ve written is completely unconnected. There are a few exceptions, the story Treeson (from episode 86 of WCP) is something of a companion piece to The Lords of Negative Space, my story in Tales from the Underground. And I have a short story on my podcast which tells some background for one of the supporting cast in a novel I’m in the process of finding a home for. But those are exceptions.
It was Shakespeare. I know, I know, but it was. I was 12 and we were studying Julius Caesar in class and Mark Antony’s speech at Caesar’s funeral blew my 12-year-old mind. He got to say all these nice things about Brutus, and the rest, for Brutus is an honourable man, so are they all, all honourable men… but he was actually telling people the opposite of what his words said? Crazy. It’s not a startling insight that will shock the readers of this interview, I know, but for me, then, it was a revelation.
- What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
There are a few I could pick, some of them by authors who may well be better known in the States than in the UK. Let me choose… Memory Blank by John E Stith. The amnesia plot may be a bit cliché, but I read it at an age when I hadn’t quite clicked that sci fi didn’t always have to be ray guns and space battles. This was a murder mystery, but in a sci-fi setting! Wild. I was easily impressed as a child, obviously. But I love that book, so there.
- How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Two. Three if you include my active WIP. I have a sci-fi superhero novel aimed at a YA market that I desperately want to call “So you want to be a space alien superhero?”, but there are several problems with that title (not least being the complex copyright associated with the word “superhero”). That book’s finished and I’m looking for a home for it now. And then I have an Urban Fantasy novel set in London in 1999 about demons on the London Underground. I’ve read 12 chapters of that on my podcast, with the plan to finish it while I was recording the year’s worth of episodes. But I forgot to do the writing bit, so it’s still unfinished. That one’s called “Writ in Blood and Silver”. And I’m currently working on a sci-fi adventure novella called “Improbable Cause”.
- How do you select the names of your characters?
There’s no art to it really. I’ll steal friends’ names for minor characters from time to time, but main characters are usually a fusion of rolling it around my brain, saying it aloud a few times, googling it to make sure it’s not the name of a famous actor. Very occasionally I’ll look up meanings on baby names websites, but since that involves using the internet, there’s always an associated risk.
- Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I do read them; I don’t know that I really “deal” with them. One thing I’ve learned from being in so many anthologies… different stories will work for different readers. I’ve had stories in some of the books described as a highlight, and the same story in the same book described as the disappointment. You’ve got to let them go. But at the same time, I’m always really grateful when anyone takes the time to comment, even if they didn’t connect with my story.
- Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Not really. Since moving to Finland most of my stories have a Finland reference tucked away in them, if I can work it in without breaking the fourth wall. There’s a character in that superhero novel who has a Finnish name that sets up a really obscure joke that nobody will notice without reading the author’s notes or using Google Translate.
- What was your hardest scene to write?
It’s the kitchen sink drama moments, the more real and grounded the tougher it gets. Emotional moments about bonding with your arch-enemy’s girlfriend after he ascended to a higher plane of consciousness? No worries. A relationship ending only because the couple have drifted apart over time? I stuck a manuscript in a drawer for (literally (and I do mean literallyliterally)) years rather than having to write that scene. I did write it in the end, and I’m happy with how it turned out, so it’s not that I can’t write them, just, yeah.
- What is your favorite childhood book?
Rebecca’s World by Terry Nation (creator of the Daleks for Doctor Who). It’s been out of print forever, alas, but it’s a wonderful goofy absurdist romp about a girl who looks through her father’s telescope and gets transported to the world she’s looking at.
- Does your family support your career as a writer?
Let me turn that question on its head, if I may. I’m a storyteller because my dad’s one. He made up endless bedtime stories for me and my sisters when we were kids, he’s put me on to books and comics that he loved and now I do, and I’ve seen him struggle with his own attempts to be a writer over the years. Once I became a regular contributor to Inklings Press, I badgered him several times to submit a story for one of our books. Eventually he did, and I didn’t read it, I wanted to get him accepted into the book not on my say so, but on the other Inklings guys. The first story he submitted didn’t quite fit in the book we were doing, but next time around he submitted a story for Tales from the Underground. The other Inklings liked it and I was thrilled that as a result that book contains stories from both of us. So, from a certain point of view, it would be more accurate to say I’ve supported my family’s career as a writer. Do give his story in Underground a read, it’s called Grandad’s Bunker and it’s a really atmospheric tale.
- How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Well, “Writ in Blood and Silver” isn’t finished yet, and I started that in 1999. My superhero novel started life and a NaNoWriMo project. Somewhere between 30 days and 20+ years? The superhero novel in reality took a year to write, then I hid from it for a year, then another six months to edit it to the point where I had to stop myself editing it more. It’s ready to go now. Basically, I’m far too slow to make this my full time career, yet. But I’m getting faster!
Rob Edwards is a British born writer and podcaster, currently living in Finland. His podcast, StorycastRob, features readings from his short stories and chapters from his novel Writ in Blood and Silver. His work can also be found in anthologies from Inklings Press, the Sci-fi Roundtable and in the superhero anthology Somebody, Save Me!
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StorycastRob/
Amazon page: https://author.to/StorycastRob