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Tuesday, March 12, 2024

SPFBO FInalist Interview: E.C. Greaves, the author of Daughter of the Beast

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Solihull, UK, Ed Greaves now resides in Auckland, New Zealand.

Besides pouring his imagination out into the pages of his books, he also spends his time developing indie horror games, composing music, building and modifying old vehicles, and drawing.

And wasting too much time on Twitter.

Find E.C. online: Website

Daughter of the Beast links: AmazonGoodreads


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

Hi, I'm Ed (short for Edmund, like the naughty kid in Narnia). I was born in England, but moved to NZ when I was 5 or 6. I live in Christchurch, and mostly spend my time fiddling about with crappy old vehicles, writing, drawing, and growing free-range, cruelty-free, gluten-free, hypo-allergenic tobacco - when I'm not at work, that is.

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

What a segue! I work as a technical writer for a medical company, which kinda sucks if I'm honest. It makes it hard to find the motivation to write my own stuff when I'm at home. I'd rather be telling stories than writing stuff about how to treat anal fissures or gonorrhoea!

Who are some of your favorite writers, and why is their work important to you?

Truth be told, I don't actually do all that much reading anymore! I've picked it back up since joining SPFBO, but now I have so many books to read, it's a little overwhelming!

Of the stuff I read back when I had the time to, I'd say David Gemmell is my top pick. I think I most enjoy that despite what might be considered pretty grim world building and plotting, the majority of his stories I like are about fundamentally good people triumphing over evil.

A recent standout from this competition though, is E L Lyons - author of Starlight Jewel. I went into her book expecting romance, and got a really well-crafted exploration of duty and identity instead. That, and she's responsible for feeding my addiction to videos of raccoons doing stuff!

And then there's my older sister, Charlotte Greaves. She writes fantasy too, and has two books out already. (Darkness Turning, and Shattered Light). Buy 'em!

But everyone I've met through SPFBO has been so wonderful. It's mind-blowing!

What do you think characterizes your writing style?

I'd have to say I've never really given it much thought. It's been described as authentic to the character's voice, but as far as word-choice and sentence structure, I just sorta wing it! I genuinely just imagine I'm whoever I'm writing at the time, and use language they would!

What made you decide to self-publish Daughter of the Beast as opposed to traditional publishing?

I actually intended to see if I could get traditionally published, because I figured my book might fit the young girl against the world sorta ya/adult crossover genre you see cropping up a lot. But then I had people who don't actually write, but just sell products for faceless corporations and shareholding firms, tell me I had to gut the story to fit their algorithmically-dictated mould.

Needless to say, I didn't wanna. And being the kind of guy who fixes his own vehicles, only eats meat if he hunted it, and makes a single sweater last a decade, I figured I might try doing it myself.

I'm glad I did, because, like in music and whatnot, the indie scene is real people making connections with one another, not just unaccountable corporates turning art into commodity!

Man, I really never grew out of my anti-corpo punk phase, did I?

What’s your favorite and least favorite parts of self-publishing?

Beyond a doubt, my favourite is the aforementioned connection with real human beans!

My least favourite is that I have to actually market my books, and sell them. I prefer the social to the media in social media! If I could somehow live off banter, gifs, emojis, and too many exclamation marks, I'd give them away!

Why did you enter SPFBO?

I was in an indie Facebook group, and was seeing the same group of books getting a lot of genuine engagement. Then someone mentioned that they were in SPFBO, so I looked it up. Originally, I thought it might have been one of those exploitative paid contests. But when I saw Mark Lawrence's reasoning behind it, and that it had no monetary component at all (entry fee Or prize), I was sold!

Long story short, I saw those books' authors chatting with readers, and wished I could have an excuse to do the same! I just wanted to meet new people!

What would you do if you won the SPFBO?

I'd probably have a little cry. Then I'd update my twitter profile to say "winner" instead of "finalist". Then I'd get back to work on the latest WiP.

To be fair, I really do just like chatting to people instead of trying to market my books. So I'd kinda hope it just sorta works itself out!

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

It's a dark, but kinda manic coming of age story about a girl who is captured and raised by monsters, and who must embrace the monster within herself if she is to survive.

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

It stemmed from wondering why a "person" would hang out with "monsters" after playing dnd with some mates. You always see the bad guy with their cronies, and often the main villain will be someone of the same race the players will be. But then, why are they surrounded by monsters? Are they friends?

Well, I wanted to explore that. I wanted to get into the head of the child soldier who grows up to be part of the militia that pillages their former home.

I had random idea documents kicking about for ages, but started actually writing it way back in 2013 or 14, during long train rides to work at a job I hated. But I shelved it and forgot all about writing until on a whim in 2021, I opened the document and just finished it in one go.

It hasn't actually changed much at all from the very first draft. I rearranged some stuff, and regrettably cut a little out after some early feedback.

I edit as I go, so I try to really polish a chapter up before writing the next, then only need to go back and sprinkle some foreshadowing in after the fact!

And, if you'd believe it, the ENTIRE thing is done on my phone, with autocorrect turned off!

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

They're describing words, right? ;)

Wild, folkloric, gritty.

Is it part of the series or a standalone? If series, how many books have you planned for it?

It's book one in a trilogy, which is all already out. Protip: don't release a whole trilogy back to back! Actually get people to read book 1 first!

Who are the key players in this story? Could you introduce us to Daughter of the Beast’s protagonists/antagonists?

The whole series is written from the first-person perspective of a girl called Zyntael. She is a Kimora, which is the Kikimora from Russian folklore, but a touch less weird chicken-legged, beaked critter, and just a little more humanlike. She's a bit of a lazy brat to begin with, but through the power of brutal hardship (or as my old man would call it, character-building) becomes a wild and remorseless raider.

She's kidnapped by Vulkari, who are bipedal houndfolk. Kinda part dnd Gnoll, part the actual Psoglav of Balkan myth. They're matriarchal, and amongst their young she makes some friends.

There are also Domovoi (usually called Hobgoblins), and other Kimori. And then there's a Pixie/Gnome/Ratling who is pretty rad.

The main antagonist of the book is actually more the pressure Zyntael is put under, than a character. Whether that be enslavement, servitude, growing up, finding her place amongst the monsters who stole her, or the threat of an empire that's encroaching on the lands that the Vulkari roam. It's kinda unorthodox in that regard.

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

Not a system, per se. Magick (with a K, bekause it's kooler!) is mostly experienced through dreams and the like. The Vulkari also consume a lot of… "special" mushrooms and do rituals that hold genuine power.

There's also some necromancy. But of the speaking to the dead as opposed the raising them kind.

I mostly keep it all kinda mysterious, so if you want a periodic table of the 5 elements or any kinda "rules" then sorry!

Have you written Daughter of the Beast with a particular audience in mind?

No, not really. I just told the story as it came to me. I expect it might be off-putting to a lot of dudes though, given that it's about a girl growing up. But then, people are people - even if they're weird brownie things with bat-like ears and huge eyes.

What was your proofreading/editing process?

I did the vast majority of it as I went. But I also bounce my work off my older sister, and so she gave it a once-over as well.

There are always little things that slip through, so I try to catch them by ordering a print copy and going through it with a ballpoint pen, and using text to speech to hear the story too. It's way easier to catch stuff if you change how you're engaging with it. Even changing the font can help!

Cover art is always an important factor in book sales. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of Daughter of the Beast and the artist?

I wanted something to capture the vibe of the book, and represent the thematic struggle that our heroine faces throughout. When I realised the story would work best as a trilogy, and had chopped it up to suit, I decided that each book should match. And that Zyntael should level up on each one!the artist is a pretty cool guy. He's handsome and clever, and he cooks a great mushroom medley…

I did my own covers!

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

Why isn't there a map?

Well, first, because I kinda imagined the whole world from Zyntael's perspective, so I've no clue what it'd actually look like from above, and second, because most of the story takes place in a couple of locations. Zyntael travels a lot, but mostly in a big loop!

I do actually plan to sit down and draw one, and then maybe chuck it on my website and in a special hardcover edition, alongside some new art.

What’s your publishing Schedule for 2023/2024?

I'm working on a follow up to the trilogy, but this story is broader in scope, and follows a larger cast (from third person). It won't be ready for a release this year, but hopefully around halfway through next year.

Aside from that, I have a short story (featuring pirates and living skellingtons!) that I intend to flesh out into a wee novella to get out before the next full novel. Hopefully in December, otherwise early 2024.

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?

Thank you for having me!

I'd say, please remember that, whether a writer, reader, reviewer, or combination of the three, we all just want to find a way to connect with all the other wonderful humans we share the planet with - through the medium of books.

My writing journey so far has introduced me to some absolutely amazing people, and I am always so happy to hear from you. I welcome any and all discourse, and would be thrilled if you drop in and say hi on social media!

Also, please don't think that, just cause it was picked for finalist, my book is better than any other. It's all down to taste, so have a wee nibble on every other Indie book you can, SPFBO entrant or otherwise. And build yourself a tasty buffet!

Okay, I realise that if I'm making food analogies, it's time to go have dinner!

Take care; stay rad!




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