Saturday, October 17, 2015

Interview with Author William Stacey

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi, I’m a husband, a father, a martial artist, and a fitness enthusiast. I love most speculative fiction, but particularly enjoy stories of heroism and redemption. I like to believe that anybody can come back from some pretty dark places and do the right thing in the end. I was a former soldier in the Canadian army and served for 32 years before I retired to write full-time. I’ve done combat tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

Q ~ What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

As a writer, I’m particularly proud of my most recent novel, Starlight: Book 1 of the Dark Elf War. But I’m going to really knock it out of the park with books 2 and 3 in the trilogy.

Q ~ What is your biggest pet peve?

New writers thinking they need to publish the first things they write. Writing takes years and years before you can consider yourself even partially competent, yet new novelists pretty much publish their first, practice novels and expect readers to buy them. Readers don’t want to spend time with practice novels; they want exciting fresh and excellent stories, superbly told. It takes time to develop that kind of craft as a writer. New writers should put their practice novels in a drawer somewhere and work on something better. In the end, they’ll be happier that the first things they wrote never saw the light of day. I can’t even go back and look at some of my earlier stuff, just terrible.

Q ~ If you were stuck in a dingy floating in the middle of the ocean, who and what would you want with you and why?

Well, at first I was going to say my family, because I love them and want to be with them. But if I’m in a dingy at sea, then that’s probably not the place to put people I love. I’d rather they be safe somewhere else. I also don’t think I’d want a giant tiger on the boat with me; I don’t think that would end well.

Q ~ How do you think people perceive authors? How do you think Canadian authors hold up in the mix?

I imagine most people are intrigued by the author lifestyle and would like to ask questions about where the ideas come from. Everybody needs stories in their lives, and authors needs readers or their stories never come to life. I’m not sure nationality matters at all. Authors bring their life experiences and worldview to storytelling. Every life is valid no matter where it comes from. A storyteller from Toronto is just as compelling as a storyteller from Beijing. It’s the craft and skill that really matters, not nationality.

Q ~ Do you have a favourite author? Do they influence your writing?

I have tons of favourite authors; everybody does. If I were to just pick out one, I’ll go with one of my all-time favourites, Graham Masterton. I totally dig what he’s putting down: sex, violence, the macabre. Graham Masterton for the win! If you have any doubt, check out the Demons of D-Day—a haunted tank story, awesome.

Q ~ What is your favourite genre to read? To write?

I’d have to say fantasy, but not vanilla elves and dwarves fantasy. Give me something dark, maybe something with a twist like urban fantasy.

Q ~ How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but the moment I decided I was going to go for it was during my first tour in Kabul. I was smoking on the tent line and the idea of writing stories for a living just kind of smacked me in the face. Write kick-ass speculative fiction? Hell yes.

Q ~ Do you have any writing rituals that you follow? What is your go-to snack while writing?

I like to get up early, hit the creative part of writing first for a few hours, take my dog to the dog park for another hour, then back to the writing. In the afternoon, I’ll do marketing, or less creative-intensive activities, then meet my wife at the gym or go for a run.

Q ~ Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Definitely a plotter. I’ve tried pantsing, but it just didn’t go anywhere for me. If it works for others, great. Just not me. In fact, I’m going to up my game on plotting and start doing way more plotting, like months worth.

Q ~ Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release Starlight and what inspired you to write it?

Starlight is the first book in a trilogy about a war between humanity and the Fae Seelie, a race of dark elves from our distant past. The dark elves had been banished to another dimension by a mysterious race of protectors known as the Elder Ones, but have grown considerably in power since then. Their return to earth brings magic back with them, magic that a small percentage of humanity is able to harness and use to cast spells. The dark elves also return with creatures from myth and legend (wait for the Great Dragons). As far as inspiration goes, I’ve always wanted to tell a dungeons and dragons story that takes place in our world, where a magic-user can carry a dragunov sniper rifle and cast fireballs. To me that sounds like a blast. Book 2 is really going to up the intensity level.

Q ~ What is your favourite part or scene in the novel?

There’s a moment where Alex, Cassie, and Paco go after the basilisk on their own, intent to use drugs to put it to sleep. The moment when Alex realizes this is the dumbest thing he’s ever done but is committed to carrying through with such a dangerous, crazy act anyway really resonated with me. Seriously, who tries to hunt giant six-legged lizards that can turn you to stone with a gaze? That’s nuts.

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about the process that went behind the cover artwork for this novel?

The cover was created by the incredibly talented Scarlett Rugers, who also oversaw the production of the cover for Black Monastery. She has a great eye for detail and color and certainly brought those talents to this particular cover. I wanted Cassie on the cover, wearing the Brace, and looking bad-ass. The inclusion of Clyde the German shepherd was kind of a happy last-minute addition that I think worked out very well. We almost included a bit of the basilisk’s eye, but ultimately felt it crowded out the rest of the picture.

Q ~ Have you written an outline for the Dark Elf War series or do you make it up as you go?

I have a rough outline for the series, and I’ve started storyboarding the next book in the series, Gunz. The third book in the series is called Ranger.

Q ~ What is your process for choosing character names?

I start with nationality and then focus in on regional names. Sometimes I’ll consider tombstone names as inspiration for the families that have lived in a particular region for a long time. Also, the names can’t be too similar to one another or it confuses readers, and they need to have a certain zing to them without being ridiculous. How many heroes can there really be named Hawk Steele?

Q ~ What characters did you find yourself especially drawn to and why?

Damaged or flawed people trying to find their way in the world. Cassie is a flawed person, blaming herself for an accident that killed her parents; as a result it effects everything about her. In Black Monastery, the protagonist Asgrim is not a good man, at least not anymore, but he’s trying.

Q ~ Do you have anything in the works at the moment? Care to give us a hint about it?

Next up is a two-part fantasy tale about a group of warriors and nobles who accidentally release a very nasty vampire necromancer. The first book is currently in beta review now and is called, The Sword of Heaven: Book 1 of the Vampire Queen Saga. The next book (currently being rewritten), is called The Mouth of the Gods: Book 2 of the Vampire Queen Saga. I expect both will be out by December, probably at the same time. Then, I get to work on Gunz: Book 2 of the Dark Elf War.

Q ~ If you could give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?

This is a craft that takes decades of practice before you’re any good—if even then. If you can quit, quit. This is the worst possible way to make a living. If you can’t quit, then you’re blessed, because this is the best possible way to make a living.

About the author:

William Stacey is a former army intelligence officer who served his country for more than thirty years with operational tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan. He is a husband, father, and avid reader, with a love for the macabre. Black Monastery, an Amazon 2014 Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist, is his first novel. For those who want their dark fantasy laced with heroic adventure. Visit him at

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