To explain this mad affliction I have to go back to the very beginning. You see, I grew up with trolls goblins and such – Tolkien’s fault (oh, and Narnia – I lived in a world of magic from age 9 onwards, even a spell in the Guards couldn’t drive it away completely.)
But to create your own world? Pour life into wonderful and ghastly creatures – oh what sorcery is that! So a writer I had to be. Easy…? No.
That writing first started in ’93: back then I was travelling a lot. During evenings I’d wedge myself near a fire in some country pub and, armed with pint and malt, start scribbling stuff about a belligerent swordsman called Corin an Fol. Ansu (Corin’s world – a pseudo Dark Age tapestry sprinkled with Teutonic\ Celtic spice) evolved around him, as did its eccentric gods and other diverse beings.
During the late 90’s I hauled steel, spending many a night in Poole docks and, after fish and chips and real ale, Corin’s world would slowly take shape. Finnehalle (pronounced finny hally) his village became the setting for the stories start, shedding light on Corin’s murky and troubled past. A lost soul and orphan returning home after years away fighting.
Eventually a loose plot took shape based around treachery concerning the High King’s murder, his usurpation by the sorcerer Caswallon, and the breaking and loss of the monarch’s crystal crown. The crown’s destruction and loss plunges the four kingdoms into crises – its finding and re-forging, and Corin’s reluctant (and hectic) participation marrow the bones of this story.
In 2002 we moved to Cornwall. Rae taught and painted her watercolours, while I learned to operate Word, (I’ve always been blue-collar: soldier, scaffolder, trucker etc.) With 2 slow fingers The Shattered Crown took shape. I drafted 3 times, asked a pro to copy-edit. When Jan 2006 arrived the novel was finished – thank goodness! I was ready at last!
I had high hopes. This epic (214,000 words) was going to be a huge hit. The next great fantasy novel. I was Mr Aspiration – nothing could hold me back! Yeah – right.
I woke up to reality – plunk. This would take effort – work (that most offensive four letter word). I approached agents\publishers – got some very good feedback from both sides of the pond. Even some ‘almosts’ and ‘I’m tempted’ and ‘I really like this, buts’.
Unperturbed I started book 2 – The Glass Throne. Half way through first draft an agent in NYC picked up Shattered Crown. I was over the cow that was over the moon! Under advice I renamed the manuscript Legends of Ansu. I waited and waited – nothing. Three years passed…still nothing. We parted company – I realised it wasn’t about getting an agent but getting the right agent.
I trudged on – a bit like Corin bruised and lost in the desert, but stubbornly determined to yet find a way through to the hallowed shelves of Waterstones and WH Smith.
Late 2009 I changed tact, Rae constructed a website for Legends using all her artistic and design skills, and I approached Roger (Tolkien Illustrator) and Linda Garland who very kindly agreed to produce a stunning image for the front page. 2010 we launched Legends of Ansu as an eBook.
But the story around Ansu kept evolving. I felt something was missing: so before doing more work on The Glass Throne, decided to delve back 1000 years.(You can do that when you create your own planet). I wrote Fall of Gol – a dark and violent tale concerning Corin’s ancestors. I envisioned my second novel as a kind of Silmarillion to LOTR (no comparison of course!) Seeing the current trends I made F.O.G quite hard-hitting – more GRRM than JRRT, and Roger and Linda kindly designed a cover for the novel.
Now Fall of Gol is available on Kindle in two parts. I have withdrawn Legends of Ansu for some minor tweaks and will be re-launching it later this year under original title The Shattered Crown, complete with new image from the Garlands – again as 2 eBooks under advice from my publisher, Roy Kirk. SC will be followed shortly by The Glass Throne and later The Return of Old Night. The collective works titled Chronicles of Corin.
There are now 9 first-drafted Legends of Ansu (the story kind of grew a bit.) These future works are listed on my website and will materialise over the coming years. But next up now is my Cornish ghost story –The Haven which I have dedicated to Rae, my wife and soul mate who died of cancer two months back.
And so it goes my friends – this writing lark. I’ll be back in two weeks – so see you then. Please contact me via my email address – I love to talk (I’m sure you know by now). JW.