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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mini-Interview with Ben Galley (interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Written 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Pale Kings 

Ben Galley
is an author who popped on to my radar thanks to Mark Lawrence, with his debut series now complete with the release of the dual volumes of Dead Stars. I thought to welcome him to chat a bit about his debut series, his future plans & his diligent self-help tips...

Q: Welcome to Fantasy Book Critic. For starters, could you kindly introduce yourself to our readers?

BG: Hullo, I'm Ben Galley and I’m the author of the epic and dark fantasy series - The Emaneska Series. A trilogy of four parts, I liken the books to a gritty mix of Lord of The Rings and Sin City I also run a self-publishing advice site called Shelf Help, giving helpful advice and providing services to indie authors.

Q: Please tell us about your books, what is the Emaneska series about? 

BG: The Emaneska Series is set in a medieval, pseudo-Nordic world called Emaneska, in the grip of a long and freezing winter. The books follow the troubled path of a mage called Farden. He's an anti-hero - dutiful and powerful, yet a loner and drug addict. After accepting what he believes to be a simple mission, he soon finds himself at the centre of a vicious plot to release something called the Mouth of Darkness into the world, a creature banished from the world when the gods and demons took their war to the stars. But this creature is only the beginning. As the Series progresses, the plot grows deeper, darker, more intricate, and more personal too. Farden is forced to fight not only his own demons, but also those that threaten to bring all of Emaneska to its knees. It’s a wild mix of mystery, action, politics, emotion, myth, and war.

Q: What was your reasoning in going the self-publishing route for your Emaneska series, did you make an attempt for the traditional publishing route? 

BG: I self-published because for the first time in history, it’s a viable option. Gone are the days of Vanity Publishing, where authors have to rely solely on print books and bookshop to bookshop sales. Now we live in a time where, thanks to technology like eBooks, Print On Demand, and e-Retailers, we can publish with ease and sell to the world. For me it was a financially viable choice, one that meant I could keep my rights, a greater portion of my royalties, and control. Otherwise, The Emaneska Series might just be gathering dust in some drawer somewhere, useless and anonymous.

Q: Talking about the world of Emaneska, you mentioned that it’s a medieval, pseudo-Nordic world among other things. Why did you choose to mold the world that way? Why the medeival timeline and the Nordic influences? 

BG: That’s a good question. World-building is a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. The roots for worlds, for me, come from so many different places, they’re always hard to pin down.

Emaneska was heavily influenced by the fantasies and stories I read as a child - Tolkien and buckets of Norse and European mythology. As a world, Emaneska has always been there, in the back of my mind. My debut The Written and the rest of the Series was an excuse to put that world to good use. Emaneska is also based heavily on Europe, and more so than you might initially think when looking at the maps in my books. Mythology has always caused me to ponder whether a pre-historical world could have existed in between the ice ages, a world responsible for the myths that I read as a kid, a world where magic and dragons did exist. Emaneska is that world, in a strange way. Hence it shares a lot of similarities with the geography and history of modern-day Europe - Albion and England, Nelska and Iceland. Paraia and Saharan Africa.

As far as the medieval aspect is concerned, you might call me a traditionalist when it comes to some aspects of fantasy. Swords, armour, peasants, kings - all of these characteristics are found in medieval times, and therefore that era was quite an easy choice for me.

Q: Previously you had also gotten a kickstarter event for the Written graphic novel. Can you tell what’s happening with it since it was successfully funded? 

BG: Of course! I was so thrilled that the project to fund the first ever Emaneska graphic novel was successful. I raised almost £6,000, and that money is going straight into funding the artwork. Myself and artist Mike have been working hard on how exactly you fit a 422-page novel into a 100-page graphic novel. After several months of planning, we think we've cracked it. Now it’s just getting stuck into the drawing of the pages. The rest of the funds are going to rewarding my backers, and the actual publishing of the novel. It will hopefully be ready in December. I cannot wait.

Q: With the release of the two volumes of Dead Stars, your debut series is now complete. What will you be writing next? Can you give us any teasers/info? 

BG: I’ll be sticking with fantasy, but doing something very different from Emaneska. Instead of dabbling in the medieval and the Nordic, I’ll be going 19th century and frontier America. Quite a change, I know, but this particular concept has been clawing at me for the past year, and I had to give into it.

In the new book, I’ll be messing with history a little too, twisting a few facts and sneaking a lot of fantasy in, some dark, some intricate. There will be steam trains, gold mines, deserts, horses, guns, strange native American-esque creatures, a crumbling British Empire, and lots of magic - a very exciting magic concept that I’m looking forward to sharing. I can’t reveal the name of the book yet, but I’ll be starting to write it very, very soon.

Q: You have had a terrific online presence via your website and other social media feeds (Congrats on the new bookstore as well). Where do you find the time amid your busy writing schedule and what are your tips for upcoming indie writers who might want to follow your example? 

BG: Sometimes I wonder! My schedule is quite hectic, thanks to my insatiable desire to fill every minute of my day with various things. It does verge on the sadistic. Aside from writing and marketing my books, I give advice and write blogs for my self-publishing site Shelf Help, work as a Watchdog for the Alliance of Independent Authors, and have just launched an eBook store as well, called Libiro. Oh, and the graphic novel. I am my own worst enemy as far as projects and responsibilities are concerned, but I thoroughly enjoy the busyness. I've always been a hard-worker, so I don’t know any different. I feel weird just sat around. The trick is keeping track of everything with strict to-do lists, being very organised, and recognizing what my priorities are each day. It’s a balancing act, but I’m managing, so I’ll keep at it!

My tip for an upcoming indie author? Aim high. And then a little higher. Thanks to today’s technology, self-publishing is easier that its ever been. It’s also now financially viable too. What it isn't is an excuse to just publish everything and anything. Because of the competition out there, your book, its story, its editing, and its cover need to be absolutely top notch. You can achieve that by hiring professionals to do editing and cover design, and putting in that extra bit of effort. It’s a more expensive approach, but it will be worth it in the end when the good reviews come rolling in, and sales start climbing.

Q: In closing, thank you for taking the time. Do you have any last thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers? 

BG: I’d like to keep this short and sweet, and take this opportunity to simply say a big thank you for all the support and praise my readers have given me over the last four years. For indie authors, every bit of feedback, every review, every retweet helps a big deal. I've got some great fans, and they've been absolutely brilliant throughout Emaneska. Cheers guys and girls. Don’t worry, I won’t keep you waiting to long for this new book. Promise. :)

NOTE: Author picture courtesy of Peter Barkham & The Guardian.



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