And so the wheel of interview turns, and in another age, called about tea time by some people, A J Dalton answered me thusly:
1. Adam, your books (Empire of the Saviours, Gateway of the Saviours, etc) are pretty hefty. How much does size matter in fantasy, do you think?
Well, when I started reading fantasy (a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away) the ‘big fat’ 1000-page epic fantasy was the norm. I loved it – cos I find such books so ‘immersive’. You never want them to end. However, tastes are changing – life is too short, time is money, blah, blah. The ‘big fat fantasy’ isn’t selling like it used to. My publisher is asking me to go shorter. So, my most recent release (Tithe of the Saviours, April 2014) is a mere 145K words, the shortest book I’ve written in my ‘career’ (if I may use such a grandiose term for it!) so far.
2. Of all your books, do you have a favorite, or do you love all your children equally?
For some weird reason, I always enjoy writing the third/last book in a series, cos I know it’s only the true fans who will be reading as far as that book. I find I have more permission to ‘go for it’ with that book. And my publishing editor is far less fussy/nit-picky about that book too. So, I’ve enjoyed Necromancer’s Fall and Tithe of the Saviours most. I’m (probably) getting better with practice, so my most recent is probably the best – Tithe of the Saviours.
3. Readers always ask authors where they get their ideas or inspiration. Do you have a muse? What’s your secret?
The problem is too many ideas really – and deciding which should be left out. I read a lot of fantasy and will sometimes read something and think, ‘Hmm. I wouldn’t have written it like that. I’d have written it like this. Oo. That’s a good idea. Maybe I will write it like that!’ It’s like writing a photonegative really. So, that’s my muse and secret in one – reading other fantasy authors. One of the UK’s leading fantasy author (in terms of sales anyway) often says he doesn’t read fantasy very much. I just don’t get that. Doesn’t he enjoy the genre he writes in?
4. Who is your favorite fantasy author now deceased? Why them?
David Gemmell. I grew up reading a lot of his stuff – you don’t get better fight scenes – and they’ve helped me with my own stuff.
5. Who is your favorite living fantasy author and why (apart from Tom Lloyd or A J Dalton)?
Oh. Easy. Michael Moorcock. ‘
6. What’s the best thing about being an author?
The best thing about the writing is… the writing. I enjoy the process, creativity and discipline of it. You’ve got to. Otherwise, you just couldn’t stay motivated and inspired for the year or so it takes to write a book.
7. And the worst?
Worst thing – never having enough time for the writing. The writing doesn’t pay enough to cover your bills, you see, so you have to go out and get a day-job. Finding time to write is tricky, and the stress of that (especially when you have a deadline) really reduces the pleasure of the writing.
8. What are you currently working on that you can tell us about without then having to kill us?
A standalone ‘science fantasy’ called Lifer. Just 90,000 words, so a snip for the likes of you and me! It’s going well, and I’m enjoying it – cos there’s no deadline or anything (I haven’t looked into getting a publishing contract for it yet). In fact, it’s probably the best thing I’ve written to date (getting better with practice maybe). It’ll be the book I’m remembered for when I’m long gone, I suspect.
9. If people want to find out more about you, what sites do you maintain and what’s your handle on Twitter?
My site is www.ajdalton.eu. I’m on facebook. Twitter: @AJDalton1. Beyond that, I tend to haunt the Fantasy Faction fan forum.
10. What question have I not asked you that I should have done? And what’s the answer?
Maybe ‘What’s the trick to life as a writer and reader of fantasy?’ Well, write what you enjoy reading, and don’t be upset if it isn’t published immediately. You’re probably born ahead of your time. You have to wait till the world catches up. Or your stuff isn’t currently ‘in fashion’ with publishers. Rejection should never be the same as dejection. Books get rejected for loads of reasons – and ‘quality of prose’ is really one of the rarer reasons. If you want to get published, focus on what the more common reasons are and address them.