In this latest post I’m talking to fantasy author Rick Haynes. Welcome, Rick!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I had no intention to write a short story let alone a novel but fate is, at times, a fickle mistress.
I could always write a good business letter but only clever people wrote books. I was a reader not a writer but joining a local writing group was one of my best moves. The company was great, the cakes excellent, and our teacher was inspirational. Without the help, the critique, and the encouragement, my life would have taken a very different path.
Writing my first novel wasn’t easy. No, I lied, it was much harder than that, as I was taking a huge leap into the unknown. When Evil Never Dies was published, I was constantly searching to see if anyone had bought it. Being compared to David Gemmell by several readers was unbelievable. No matter where my literary journey takes me now, I doubt anything could surpass those beautiful comments. Although a top blogger in the USA came close with his comment about my second novel, Heroes Never Fade. He posted on Amazon, ‘Game Of Thrones Fans must read this book.’
Writing has been my salvation, my friend and solely responsible for baggy sacks under my eyes and sometimes, sleepless nights.
The writing drug is strong in me and I’m always looking forward. I have already written the first chapter for Outcast 2 and who knows what will come next.
It sounds arrogant but I know my novels are good as my editor wouldn’t bother to help me if they were poor; she’s so picky. Promotion is the key but, alas, I’m still at infant school.
How many published books/stories do you have?
I’ve published three professionally edited heroic fantasy novels, one novella for all the family, a collection of crazy short stories based on the lives of the Cretan people, and finally, two collections of short stories and Drabbles. The two collections were fun to write and luckily for me, my readers loved them.
When did you start writing?
In late 2015, I was recovering from my fifth knee operation and climbing walls with the pain. I asked my wife what I should do. Her reply with a big smile – try the washing up – didn’t go down to well. But when she suggested I should write my feelings down a light bulb in my head flashed and has never dimmed since. A few months later in 2016, I joined a new writing group looking for members in my area. I was the only one never to have written anything previously so I gave my teacher-our leader- an apple and went back to school. Their support has been amazing over the last four years.
Which three authors have most inspired your writing and why?
At school, I loved reading, but writing was something clever people did. In my teens, Sci-Fi was my chosen genre and I loved the work of Issac Asimov and Frank Herbert’s Dune trilogy. I’d put these on a par with each other so I’d like to count them as one.
A year or so later I was shown a book written by J.R.R. Tolkien. I have no idea how much sleep I lost as I began reading one of the greatest books ever written. The Lord Of The Rings, was, and still is a masterpiece.
I never thought another author could surprise me by writing a fantasy tale as good as The Lord Of The Rings. But David Gemmell did. He sadly died at the age of 56. His works were gritty, fast paced, battle charged, full of love, regret, and most importantly, he never held back from showing how men and women in battle lived and, sadly perished. There were no pictures but his readers didn’t need them, for David Gemmell painted pictures in text allowing his readers to draw their own conclusions. I loved reading his books and still do.
Do you believe in writer’s block? What do you do when it strikes?
I didn’t, but I do now so perhaps I’d better explain. If you asked me to write a story in say, 10 minutes, I could do it. It wouldn’t be good, and it would be full of holes, have poor grammar, have more spelling mistakes than you’d ever believe and probably wouldn’t make a lot of sense. Yet, job done then.
P.S. I was involved in writing a tale – any genre – in ten minutes for anyone prepared to pay out £1. Now that was hard but I did it. Thus you can guess, I’m not a planner. Yet before I commenced writing any of my novels, I always drew a map of my chosen world and added to it as I went along.
I didn’t suffer from writer’s block for my brain would never let me down like that, would it?
Alas for me, it did.
My original ambition was to write a trilogy – Evil Never Dies, Heroes Never Fade and Magic Never Ends. The first two have been published – yippee! The last has not. Why? I wrote about 5000 words and on reading it back thought it was okay, but not particularly good. I asked my lovely wife for her opinion. She said, ‘Sorry love but it’s old words in new clothes.’ And she was right so I asked my wonderful teacher and she said, ‘Do something different.’
I did. I wrote Outcast in the first person and it was finished within four months, apart from all the checking and editing that is. I love it for it seems to flow like a gentle stream before raging like a torrent of water crashing over a cliff edge. To me the protagonists leap from the pages. Others have said, ‘Rick, it’s an easy read, full of love, sadness, betrayal and lovely giants.’
How do you select the names of your characters/locations?
Drawing a map is essential. I need to know how far a horse, wagons and those walking could travel in a day and what type of terrain are they walking/riding over. How often do they need to stop to eat and feed the animals? Weather conditions? Scouts? Etc.
I use many old Norse names but alter them slightly, thus, hopefully, they are unique. As an example, Grona, a character in my first two books, is an anagram of groan. Which fits, as Grona is a miserable b*****d. He hates everyone, including his son, Tarn.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?
Without a doubt I’d say, passion. Well, my wife thinks I’m passionate but that’s not quite what I mean. In four years my life has changed for the better. From so many operations to being self-isolated due to my medical conditions putting me into a high-risk category, I’d be going nuts inside our home without the love. It’s 50/50 between my wife and my writing. Just in case she might read my missive, I’d better say 51/49 in her favour. Ho!Ho!Ho!
What’s your favourite place (in the world) and why?
As long as I’m with my better half, I really don’t care. But, as you’ve asked, I’d say, holidaying on the wonderful island of Crete is my idea of bliss. The locals are loud, stubborn, make excellent local wine and their food is probably the most underrated in the world. And we have made so many Cretan friends over the years. In fact, Harry – real name Harris Halkadakis – asked me to write his tale down. As he’d just sat down with us holding a tray of free drinks, how could I say no, especially as his true tale was so funny. During the next weeks, I wrote down stories from two other families we knew well and I wrote about all the funny and unusual events we had experienced. My humorous collection – Chocolate Chunks From Crazy Crete – took three months to put together. With the front cover showing a girl surrounded by chocolate and the back cover showing a road sign full of bullet holes, you can guess how crazy they can be at times. But we love them.
What is the key theme/message in your most recent book?
Outcast is not about perfection. It is not about painting a picture of black and white as I show that all men and women are flawed. The hero is quick to anger, slow to apologise, has a massive heart and a passion for revenge and love. The love of his life has her own goal, her own beliefs and war keeps them apart. My world is pure fantasy. Men and women fight to survive as there is little grey when the fighting starts, yet I show the love between warriors in their own fight to survive the carnage.
But I mustn’t forget the Giants. Apart from their huge size they are gentle beings until roused. They lead a simple life hidden away from any other race. Slow to anger yet deadly when aroused, their thirst for revenge knows no bounds. Even so, they are similar to humans being both hasty and remorseful. Thus the key message is one of love, not war, hope not despair, and to never give in to evil.
Wow, I’m certainly sold! Thank you so much Rick for taking part, your books sound wonderful. Check out the blurb for Rick’s book OUTCAST, and his links below.
OUTCAST – a fantasy tale of love, betrayal, and giants.
The freedom of youth quickly disappears as a maelstrom of evil erupts. Torn between blind loyalty to his evil master and freedom, Sigbjorn chooses to escape from the clutches of Lord Uddi. With his two sword shields following, Sigbjorn leads them to Humli, a small peaceful town in the hills. Their hopes of finding a place to call home are soon dashed as a shadow grows in the east. With the vile Guths threatening to align themselves with the mysterious giants, only a tidal wave of hero’s blood can prevent the carnage.
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