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Tuesday, February 9, 2021

SPFBO: Interview with Shaun Paul Stevens




AUTHOR INFORMATION: Born in London in 1972, Shaun spent his formative years in the shadows of the dreaming spires of Oxford, before moving to Nottingham where he graduated with a degree in English and Media.

Shaun lives in Brighton, on the south coast of England, where he splits his time between fiction, geekdom, and garlic bread.

Find out more at shaunpaulstevens.com

INTERVIEW

Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Before we start, tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a 40-something guy from Brighton, England. I grew up in Oxford, studied English Lit in Nottingham. I have a background in music and art.

Do you have a day job? If so, what is it? 

I am a book cover designer and graphic artist.

Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influencers?

I love the classics, in lots of different genres, although I prefer fantasy and sci-fi. I love so many writers, but Neil Gaiman and John Scalzi are some recent authors I admire, influencers would be luminaries like Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.

Serious writing takes not only a story to tell, but the craft of writing to tell it well—can you comment on your journey as a writer? 

I fell in love with writing from the get-go, but it has taken several years to get as proficient as I am [not very], although I wrongly assumed I was great from the start… until I met my Beta readers :)

What do you think characterizes your writing style? 

That’s difficult to answer about your own work, if I had to say, perhaps it’s the characterisation and minimalist prose style – that may be complete BS though.

What made you decide to self-publish Nether Light as opposed to traditional publishing? 

I couldn’t bear the timescales involved in traditional and didn’t see any particular advantage over self-publishing.

What do you think the greatest advantage of self-publishing is? 

You are much nimbler as an indie author, and you can literally write what you want, when you want to.

On the other hand, is there anything you feel self-published authors may miss out on?

Cross-promotion… although it makes me groan when I see trad pubbed authors plugging the latest book their editor or publishing house has requested them to recommend, I understand why that would be a good idea.

One of the big challenges with self-publishing is finding readers. Was that your experience? 

I do have a small band of loyal and brilliant readers, but I think that’s a struggle whether you’re trad or indie.

Why did you enter SPFBO? 

It looked like fun and a good chance to meet other authors and get eyes on my scribblings.

What would you do if you won the SPFBO? 

A very silly dance.

How would you describe the plot of Nether Light if you had to do so in just one or two sentences? 

Refugee Guyen washes up in the land of his enemy, ready to fight, but soon finds himself drowning in a well of wonder and improbability. And when his brother falls into a dark, unnatural sleep, only a dangerous old magic and new friends can save him.

What was your initial inspiration for Nether Light? How long have you been working on it? Has it evolved from its original idea? 

It grew organically from a discovery write four years ago, and the idea to explore a refugee’s perspective came from current events. It’s unrecognisable from the original idea, which grew slowly over time.

If you had to describe Nether Light in 3 adjectives, which would you choose?

Luxurious. Fiery. Brooding.

How many books have you planned for the series? 

3, not including the companion series and side stories.

Who are the key players in this story? Could you introduce us to Nether Light’s protagonists/antagonists?

Guyen is the protagonist. The story is told from his viewpoint. He is an angry young man with a heart of gold, but very battle weary. His twin brother plays a big role, as does a girl he meets called Mist, who’s a bit handy with a blade. The antagonists… well, there are several who exert their power as the ruling elite, which he gets involved with, and they have henchmen, and the henchmen have henchmen… In particular, there is an older woman who takes an interest in him, and her husband, and there is a particular cadet who proves a very thorny companion.

Does your book feature a magic/magic system? If yes, can you describe it?

It took me about 600 pages to describe properly, but I’ll have a go. It is long-lost, probability based, and organic, and relies on an energy in the world called Faze. You don’t need a wand, just imagination.



Cover art is always an important factor in book sales. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of Nether Light? 

The cover art is a scene from the book, towards the end where they visit a sacred place called the Domes of Karonac. The idea was to show the tone of the story and the conflict between two of the major characters.

Which question about the series do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it! 

Q: Why does the magic freak me out so much?
A: Don’t know, I probably got lucky…

What are you most excited for readers to discover in this book?

That friends can be found in the most unlikely places.

Can you, please, offer us a taste of your book, via one completely out-of-context sentence.

With a resolve to shake mountains, he willed the blade be gone, but the steel shimmered stronger, a million versions, all spiteful, determined to stay.

What’s your publishing Schedule for 2020/2021? 

I’m hoping to put out a prequel novel around Christmas (following another character from Nether Light), then I hope to get book two out in my other ‘Rankers’ series next year, and make a good start on the Nether Light sequel.

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

Yes. Be kind to one another.

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