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Getting To Know John Gwynne

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John Gwynne is the author of the epic fantasy series The Faithful and the Fallen The Faithful and the Fallen, which includes Malice, Valour, Ruin and Wrath. The series has earned several Gemmell Award nominations. John’s latest fantasy novel, Of Blood and Bone started earlier this year. It began with A Time of Dread.

John taught and studied for a while at Brighton University. He has been part of a rock and roll group, playing the double bass, traveled across the USA and resided for a time in Canada for a while. He’s married and has four children. He lives in Eastbourne with his family, running a small company that repurposes old furniture.

We appreciate your time with our show today John. Let’s begin by telling us about a fantastic novel you’ve just finished reading!

The most recent one I’ve ever read was The Whale Road by Robert Low. It’s a fantastic Viking adventure, which follows an unnamed young man who is a part of an mercenary group called the Oathsworn and who are entangled in the search for the burial site of Attila the Hun and the Spear of Destiny. It’s an entertaining read as well as a bloody and brutal page turner that I’d definitely recommend.

Okay, it’s time to get things going Reality shifts and you find yourself running a D&D-style group through a dungeon swarming with monsters. Which character type are you and what’s your weapons of choice?

Wow, I’m surprised that I didn’t know about the entire D&D trend So I’m looking into this article.

Okay, there are some amazingly cool alternatives there.

I’m going with Barbarian as they look nice when paired with a Dane-Axe. Also, being an Viking Re-enactor, it is of course the weapon I would choose.

Also, I grew-up in the world of the Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, so there’s more coolness. One of my favorite game on video was Severance and I was the Barbarian in the game.

If you’re not exploring the dungeons, do prefer to write by hand or type?

I wrote my first novel, Malice John Gwynne, by hand but then I did my first edit. This was between 2002 between 2002 and the year 2010. Since then, I’ve been typing everything else, except for my chapter notes and story.


Because, deadlines.

After I’d completed Malice my contract in conjunction with Pan Macmillan came along, and I didn’t have time to write the initial draft and write the book.

I thought it was high time I stopped being a stale stupid person and entered in the 21st Century.

What do you prefer working in silence, surrounded by music, or being enthralled by souls from a million dead shrimps?

Music, always.

My house is a beautiful area, constantly brimming with dogs, people and even noise. I prefer to imagine it as a beautiful chaos. But it’s not the best place to write in – at least not for me anyway. So headphones and a playlist are my primary tool for getting into the flow to write. Most playlists or soundtracks are put together from soundtracks like Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, Gladiator, The Last of the Mohicans, Dracula, Conan the Barbarian, Macbeth, a load more – and other obscure music such as Celtic as well as Norse traditional music. Take a look at Wardrunna as well as Danaheim for an intense Norse ambience.

You are an architect an expert in gardening? Are you a plotter or a pantser? Are you writing in your underwear or in a deep-sea diving costume? Do you have something unique about your writing style!

I’m somewhere between the two of a gardener and an architect. I like having an idea of where I’m going to start and the end of my novel and the key moments in between. And then I allow the characters out of their initial blocks to determine where they’ll arrive. For certain characters and their stories I have a pretty precise idea of the way it’s going to unfold, and while they stick to the plan, but others stray in ways that I’d never considered. Many even end up getting themselves killed, when I initially believed they would reach the finish line.

It’s a little similar to Bilbo’s famous words “It’s a very risky venture, Frodo my lad, when you step outside your front door. …’

Most of the time when I write, I’m spotted wearing an Viking Vambrace placed on my forearm. My sons and wife have walked up to me and saw me with a seax on my forearm which is basically a large Viking knife. What else can I say.

What are your biggest non-book influencers of fantasy?

Films are a common genre, however, they’re usually not fantasy, except for The Lord of the Rings movies that reminisced of my childhood being recorded and projected onto the large screen. It was a memorable experience when I heard the music and watching that Fellowship of the Ring title being projected on a screen in a cinema.

Sorry, I’m off from the topic.

Films that have non-book influences include Braveheart, Last of the Mohicans, Gladiator. More recently, The Revenant. I am a huge fan of that film. The opening battle sequence in The Revenant has the most similar representation I’ve seen of what I visualize the battles I imagine in my mind. I’m not certain if they are as chaotic and visceral like the Revenant and the Revenant, but it’s what I want to achieve.

What was the most recent item you watched while watching TV , and what made you decide to be a part of it?

I watched the final season I binge-watched the last series of Peaky Blinders. This was following a the most intense time working on the initial version of A Time of Blood, the second book in my new series, and I was feeling like I’d earned a few hours of couch-slabbing.

My wife and me are obsessed with Peaky Blinders. We’re into all things vintage and historical, and how can you not love a bit of Godfather-Gangsterism. (Okay I’m aware it’s not really a word.)

The world is changing and you’re left having an extra day on your hands, and you’re not permitted to write or do any type of work. What are you going to do? go about your day?

I’m not sure. I don’t recall the last time I was not overwhelmed with things to be doing. Have I ever taken my family to an castle? I was reminded one day that I’ve never visited London’s Tower of London. It would be awesome.

If I wanted I could just sit down. Read. Enjoy some cool music. Have ice-cream. Go on a game of Rome Total War.

I like both of them.

If you could pick one punctuation symbol to be declared illegal, what would it be, and why?

I’ll point my fingers at the two. Semicolons and ellipsis. Evidently, I had a semicolon and the ellipsis habit in my initial manuscript of Malice. I had to get them all out and then I had to go through withdrawal each occasion I wanted to make use of the characters.

I use them regularly however, in moderation because I’ve learned to control my urges.

In less than three words In no more than three sentences, share information about your work that is in progress!

I’m getting ready to begin the third and final novel of my new trilogy Of Blood and Bone. It’s the BIG ENDING which means it will likely contain a lot of things that make it epic: battles, shieldwalls, gigantic bears, angels’ armies and Revenants that suck blood, leg-splitting Ferals and demonic experiments the snake-woman, and warriors who are bound by love, friendship and vows. Did I mention that they are insanely skilled archers riding horses.

and shieldwalls.

If you were able to co-write or co-create a book series (like The Expanse, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen) whom would you prefer to collaborate with and what would be the reason?

Bernard Cornwell, because I’ve enjoyed everything he’s written. What better way to master the subject than working with a master. Also, it would be awe-inspiring when I could overcome the fear of not being able to speak.

Most (and/or least) useful tip for writing you’ve received?

So far, I’ve not received an entire barrage of writing tips. When I began working on Malice I wasn’t even on Facebook, Twitter didn’t exist and there wasn’t much comparable to the large friendly, online community is available in the present. I had not taken a class in writing or creative expression and wasn’t a part of an author’s group or any type of support group. At the time, writing was pretty exclusive for me.

There was a piece of advice I took on to my board, however. It wasn’t from someone speaking especially about how to write a novel but it was a good one.

When I first decided to try having an attempt at writing for an activity, I quickly realized that I didn’t know how to create a book. I resorted to the only way I could know how to write – the way I had been instructed at University. I had a wonderful tutor and teacher named Udo Merkel. He always told me that in order to complete my course, I had to read thoroughly, then read, and read more. It was about researching and something I took very seriously. It was perhaps too serious, considering that I spent the majority time studying an assortment of fascinating things that I discovered – Celtic, Norse, Greco-Roman mythologies, ancient histories, Wolf-pack behavior and how they created swords a millennia ago, the moon cycles, Gaelic, all kinds of fascinating things, and each time something caught my interest or enthralled me, I took note of it. Then it all went in the pot which became The Faithful and the Fallen.

If you were able to travel to every country in the world at any time in time, when and where would you travel and why?

Dark-Ages Briton, fifth/sixth century. Because…Arthur. Did he really exist? What happened during the Battle of Badon? I’d like to know.

I don’t think I’d want to stay long, however – no central heating and no antibiotics. No Haagen-Daz.

Every writer faces obstacles, whether it’s an uneasy chapter, a challenging topics or simply starting the next project. How do you keep yourself motivated in times that you do not want to write?

I’m not really afflicted by difficulties and lack of enthusiasm. I am a writer who loves writing. In fact, my main issue is finding space to sit down and write. Even when I’m in work mode emails, messages and social media “stuff” can be a major time-waster for me. I also have a tendency to frequent bouts of procrastination. Turning the internet off can help in this. When I’m at my desk with my listening to music, writing doesn’t seem to be an issue. I may be slower in the beginning of a novel and gain momentum through the book but I never encounter stumbling blocks, or feel demotivated.

We’d love to hear about a book that you think is great and yet under-appreciated or unnoticed.

The Edinburgh Dead by Brian Ruckley. I’ve been a fan of the work of Brian Ruckley since his debut novel, Winterbirth. I wouldn’t say that he’s not popular however, I am awed by his writing, and don’t believe his work has received the recognition is due to him.

The Edinburgh Dead is a kind of Gothic/horror/fantasy mash-up. The story is located within Edinburgh (surprise) around the time of the 1820’s, and draws on that Burke and Hare body-snatching drama however, it also includes necromancers, reanimated and dead people as well as other elements. It’s an intense atmosphere piece with certain truly scary moments. It’s like the first and greatest sequence of Penny Dreadful. Brian draws well-drawn characters who I sympathized with. He is a master of details, tension and tension. I’d recommend this to anyone who is a person who enjoys fantasy.

Do you think you’d consider to impress us with what we call”shark elevator pitches”? (It’s identical to an elevator pitch, only using sharks.) (Well there’s one shark. It, in fact is currently moving between its teeth in order to attempt to snare the remains of its last author to step onto it’s elevator.)

Ahem. What is the reason readers should go to your site? An elevator pitch for you own book(s) with no more than three words – – go!

Okay, I’m terrible in this. I’m able to write books but don’t expect you to publish a piece about the books I’ve written. Let’s go.

The epic Fantasy I create is in which I refer to an expansive world filled with breathtaking scenery and fantastical, a bit unsettling and often dangerous creatures. I aim to make characters the central focus in my tales, no matter if they are villains or heroes but they usually do not know which class they are in at the start of my novels. The two books in my series are tales of friendship, love families, betrayal and family and shields. Intimate and epic is my writing style my goal, which is what I strive to achieve.

What was the problem? Sorry, it’s only four words however it’s my job to write epic fantasies,, so what was your expectation?