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Friday, September 30, 2016

Interview with S. C. Flynn (Interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website
Order Children Of The Different HERE

Stuart C. Flynn is a blogger who has done over 100 interviews with folks all over the blogosphere. He also recently released his debut novel CHILDREN OF THE DIFFERENT, which is a post-apocalyptic story set in Australia. Stuart was kind enough to stop by and answer a few questions about his writing debut and what drives him to write. So read ahead to know more about him & CHILDREN OF THE DIFFERENT & be sure to checkout all of his previous stops in his blog tour.

Q] Welcome to Fantasy Book Critic. To begin with, could you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

SCF: I am an Australian/British/Irish/Italian reader and obsessive reviser. I was born in a small town in South West Western Australia, but I have lived in Europe for more than twenty years. First the United Kingdom, then Italy and currently Ireland, the home of my ancestors. That has been a great experience, but also difficult and lonely at times.

My whole life has been fairly multicultural, I guess. The town I grew up in had lots of different nationalities. And there was the Australian Aboriginal culture. When I lived in London, there seemed to be just about every culture in the world! Then I met my Italian wife and lived in Italy, and now I speak fluent Italian. So you never really know what directions life will take you in!

Q] Can you tell us what inspired you to be a writer in the first place, & why you chose to go the self-publishing route?

SCF: I have made up stories as long as I can remember, and a long time ago I started focusing seriously on writing them down and trying to publish them.

In more than twenty years of writing fiction (including six other fantasy novels of various types), I have had two different professional literary agents for extended periods of time, but neither was able to sell my work, leaving me feeling blocked. Perhaps I was unlucky. But the choice I faced seemed to be the following: either give up on my writing dream, invest more years in the traditional publishing grind, or take charge of the situation myself.

I chose the last of those options. I would not have made that decision if I were not certain that CHILDREN OF THE DIFFERENT would be produced to the highest standards. That level of production is now possible for two principal reasons. Firstly, technology. Secondly, many of the best creative people no longer work exclusively for the big publishers. So I went out and hired them.

For a long time, I could not afford to. The Financial Crisis that started in 2008 left me broke for many dark years. My dream had to wait until I could put some money together. Now, although I am really tired because of my day job and a lot of hard work on the novel, I can start making CHILDREN OF THE DIFFERENT live again.

Q] Many writers have a muse, who directs their writing, and others do not seem to be affected the same way. Which group do you fall into? What is your main motivation and source of inspiration?

SCF: My muse is my wife, Claudia, who is my first reader and critic.

More generally, I have to write when I have the time and opportunity – like every writer with a day job, I suppose. Once I am well underway with a novel, I find that inspiration is there when I need it. It has to be, as I can’t afford to wait for it to turn up!

Having said that, I believe a lot in the importance of sub-conscious processes for creativity. While you are sleeping or concentrating on other things, that part of the mind is working. What the ultimate sources of inspiration are, I don’t know for sure. They must be a mixture of life experiences, reading, memories and other material that got into the writer’s mind in various ways.

Q] Please elaborate how the genesis of Children of the Different occurred. How long have you been working on it? Has it evolved from its original idea (if any)?

SCF: CHILDREN OF THE DIFFERENT leaped into my mind almost fully formed once I had the basic idea. Of all my novels, CHILDREN was by far the easiest and quickest to write, at least as far as the first draft was concerned.

I am an obsessive reviser, so that was four years ago, during which time there have been long pauses while I was revising other novels, or even – surprisingly enough – taking some time off from revision. Still, the first draft of CHILDREN virtually wrote itself – every day when I needed a scene, it was there ready-made.

Q] Could you tell us about the research which you undertook before attempting to write your debut and what were things which you focused upon and any fascinating things that you found amidst your research?

SCF: I grew up in country Western Australia and that landscape will always be part of my inner self, so not much new research was necessary. CHILDREN OF THE DIFFERENT features an American military base. That base not only actually exists, but I have been inside it – not for military or research purposes, but it was a good experience to be able to draw on.

Q] You have set your story in Australia specifically the western half of Australia (wherein most of the big deserts are located). What was your reasoning for basing your story in this specific region?

SCF: There is a lot of desert there, as you say, but the state is so big that it includes many different climates and types of landscapes. I don’t mention them in the novel, but to give an idea of the variety, there are penguins and seals in the temperate south and crocodiles in the tropical north! That great variety of environments and creatures was very attractive for a story in which the main characters – physically and mentally – travel a lot, and gave plenty of opportunities for inventing fantasy scenes.

The south-west corner, where I come from, contains huge forests with some of the tallest trees in the world. That is where the two main characters – psychic twins Arika and Narrah (a girl and a boy, respectively) grew up. The giant trees have always sheltered them and the small, isolated non-industrial community they were born into.

When the twins are forced by circumstances to leave that protected place, they encounter other communities and environments that are threatening in various ways. The great trees were usually seen as benign, but these other worlds often feature different kinds of tall structures: termite mounds three metres, tall, military towers, skyscrapers, stromatolites (communities of microscopic algae that form domed shapes). Western Australia provided all of these and much more as background, as well as lots of strange animals, of course!

Q] With regards to the plot, you have mixed in some Aboriginal mythos within your world and come up with some refreshing concepts. How did you come up with the concept of “The Changing” and were you worried that you might face some criticism for appropriating myths from a different people?

SCF: Yes, the Changing was in part inspired by the traditional Aboriginal concept of the Walkabout, in which a young person would go off completely on their own for weeks. The kind of spiritual experience they must have gone through, out there in the desert alone, is impossible to know precisely.

I grew up in the country and had quite a lot of contact with Aboriginal people at school and in sports. I am a descendant of white people, so I cannot hope to understand the complexities of Aboriginal culture, but it has always intrigued me and I have great respect for it. In CHILDREN OF THE DIFFERENT, the Walkabout and Dreamtime (creation mythology) are suggested lightly and generally, so I do not think there is a question of “appropriating” them.

As it appears in the novel, the Changing concept is influenced by other, completely different, thought-streams. Most important of these is the science fiction idea of applying insect behavior to humans, in this case the cocoon transformation phase. The adolescents undergo their Changings in a comatose state and eventually emerge transformed. This was the central idea that led to the novel: a natural state for many insects, but a very strange and eerie one for human beings.

Q] With the story ending the way it does, will there be a sequel? If yes would it be possible for you to offer any details about the sequel?

SCF: I have some good ideas for a sequel, in which the main characters encounter a community that has become unusually advanced technologically. For now, I am waiting to see how things go with CHILDREN and if there might be sufficient interest.

Q] Please tell us about the books and authors who have captured your imagination and inspired you to become a wordsmith in your own right. Similarly, are there any current authors you would like to give a shout out to?

SCF: When I was very young I read lots of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Doc Savage, Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. People in other countries are often surprised when I say that in school in Australia, we studied quite a bit of classic science fiction and fantasy: Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Ray Bradbury, John Wyndham. I am very grateful for that now.

Other than the writers I have already mentioned, my favourites would include James Tiptree Jr, Ursula Le Guin, Philip K. Dick, Jack Vance, Gene Wolfe and Guy Gavriel Kay.

I would like to give a shout out to the contemporary authors who have most influenced me in my approach to self-publishing. My main model was Michael J. Sullivan, who took a similar approach many years ago to get his own writing dream back on track. Mark Lawrence has inspired me with his approach to maintaining an active blogging profile combined with an interest in independent publishing. Kameron Hurley has set new levels as regards blog tours and work ethic.

Q] Thank you for taking the time to answer all the questions. In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?

SCF: Thanks for hosting me here! This is one of the stops on the CHILDREN OF THE DIFFERENT blog tour; I hope to see your readers somewhere else on the internet.


S. C. Flynn said...

Thanks for hosting me!

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