Today I’m chatting to R.L King who writes the Alastair Stone books. This is one of my favourite series. It’s perfect for you if you’re into urban fantasy with great writing, interesting well-developed characters, unusual plots and pacing that twirls you up into a cortext at the end.
Tell me about your latest book
My latest book is called Flesh and Stone. It’s Book 8 in my urban fantasy series, The Alastair Stone Chronicles. It’s a bit of an “origin story,” describing the circumstances under which Dr. Stone decided to move halfway around the world from England to teach Occult Studies at Stanford University in California. And naturally, while he’s dealing with various upheavals in his life including being dumped by his almost-fiancee, the culture shock of moving abruptly to a new country, and settling in with a new job, he also ends up in the middle of a serial-killer spree involving cannibals. As you do. J
As an aside, this book was my project for the Stanford Online Certificate Program in Novel Writing, a 2-year program I participated in—I just graduated a couple of months ago with a straight-A average, so now I have a fancy certificate from Stanford saying I can write novels. That’s why the book is a standalone, because I wasn’t sure when I’d be finished with it, so it had to fit anywhere in the series.
I’ve read 5 of the series, and look forward to reading the rest. I’d love to know the reasons behind his shift to the states. As for the bit of paper, congratulations. For me, though, your books are the proof that you can write.
Tell us a bit about yourself and why you write
The second part’s easy: I write because I can’t not write. I’ve been doing it since I was a little kid, and I’m showing no signs of stopping now that I’m … a long way from being a little kid. I write because I want to read the stories in my head, and I hope other people might enjoy reading them too.
I’m like that too. I’ve actualy tried to stop, but as soon as I give up, I get a terrible urge to write again. What about your personal situation.
I live in San Jose, California, with my spouse, a small herd of cats (sadly grown smaller by two this past year), and a crested gecko. When I’m not writing, I like to play games (board and tabletop) and I do freelance writing for Catalyst Game Labs, who produces the roleplaying game Shadowrun. I’ve already had one novel (Borrowed Time) published by Catalyst, as well as a bunch of game-sourcebook fiction. My second novel, Veiled Extraction, will be released next year, and my first novella, Big Dreams, came out a couple of weeks ago.
What genres do you write in and why?
My primary genre is urban fantasy. I love the combination of modern-day settings and supernatural powers and creatures. I’m not a big fan of building my own world from scratch, so I use something that already exists and tweak it to my needs. It works out fairly well for me.
My Shadowrun novels are a combination of cyberpunk and urban fantasy.
All my stuff tends to dip a toe into horror—not fully, but there are some pretty horrific concepts and descriptions in them.
I don’t like horror, but I haven’t found the Alastair Stone Chronicles too much for me, so that can reasure any readers concerned about that.
Where do your ideas come from, or what inspires you to write?
Short answer: everything! I have a notebook I use to jot down any idea that occurs to me. I rarely know when (or if) I’ll use the idea, but when it’s time for the next novel, I pull out the notebook and go through them all, hoping to find a few that will fit. I get ideas from everywhere: TV shows, movies, conversations (both with friends and overheard), news stories, comic books, books, locations … I’m always open to interesting new ways to look at things, or ways to twist the mundane into something more supernatural or sinister.
I think that depth of observation shows in your books too.
What kind of person would like your books best?
Probably fans of the end of the urban-fantasy spectrum featuring thriller/mystery/action plots, rather than a more romantic focus. There’s some romance in my books, but it’s almost never the central part of the plot. My main character is a male college professor who’s popular with the ladies (due in part to his charm and his British accent) but most of the women aren’t there for romantic purposes (they’d rather be casting spells and kicking butt!). I’d say the violence is a strong PG-13 to mild R, the sex is mild PG-13, and the language can definitely veer into R territory at times. I was a little nervous when my spouse’s very conservative 80-year-old mother bought my first book! It was great that she was supportive of my work, but I don’t think it’d be her cup of tea. J
I think horror fans might enjoy my stuff too, as long as they don’t need their horror to be too hardcore.
Why did you choose the indie route to publication? Did you ever try the traditional route?
I never had a burning desire to pursue the traditional route. I’m a control freak, so I like to keep on top of every aspect of my production – finding my own editor and cover artist, setting my own schedule, and, best of all, keeping my own royalties! I knew it was going to be risky at first and I’d have to learn how to do my own marketing and promotion, but if it worked, I’d be in a better position for my own goals. I’m happy to say that, at least so far, my mad plan is working.
Well you do put out a good product on all levels and that’s the first step.
What’s the hardest part of being an author?
Marketing and promotion. There’s so many books out there, and getting your stuff in front of readers is tough. That’s especially true when you’re an introvert like me. The marketing has been a learning curve, but I’ve had some great teachers to help me out.
Same here, and I’m hearing this from all the authors I’ve interviewed.
What do you like most about being an author?
I really love the writing itself—I’d write even if I was just hiding my stuff in a drawer somewhere. But when I get emails from fans who love my work, that’s just about the coolest thing there is. One time I had a lady come up to my table when I was selling books and she told me that she’d read them all and loved them—and she was an anthropology professor! How cool is that?
That’s fabulous. Iknow from my experience too that there’s nothing quite like a fan contacting you to say how much they love your work.
If you could have one wish granted what would it be?
I’m going to keep this personal and writing-related, rather than veering into “peace on Earth and happy, prosperous, and stress-free lives for everyone” territory (even though I would totally wish for that if I could swing it): I’m embarking on a scary but exciting plan to become a full-time author and editor starting in January, so my wish is that this endeavour will be wildly successful so I can spend the rest of my life doing what I love as a job.
Good luck with it. I hope it works out for you. I live off my editing mostly – books sales are pocket money. It’s not a big income, but I’ve been an artist all my life so I’m used to living on a shoe string. If you can weather the times when there are no clients, you’ll be fine.
What is the most unusual object you possess?
A rubber, very lifelike bloody severed arm, signed by Alice Cooper and Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk. I got it at one of Chuck’s book talks (he tossed them into the audience and I caught one) so I asked him to sign it and then took it to an Alice Cooper concert and asked him to sign it too. I hope some day I can get Stephen King’s signature on it as well.
That’s awesome! Certainly unique.
If they were making a movie of your book, who would you cast as the lead?
I’ll answer this for my series rather than just Flesh and Stone. Stone would be David Tennant, although lately I’ve been thinking that Tom Ellis, who plays the lead on the Lucifer TV series, would make a great Stone as well. For my Shadowrun novels, I’d cast Robert Downey Jr. (his Sherlock Holmes incarnation) as Winterhawk.
David Tennant would be perfect. He’s a great actor, very endearing. I’d love to see it happen.
Thanks for talking to me today. I hope my readers check out your wonderful books. I suggest that you visit R’s website at http://www.alastairstonechronicles.com and join the mailing list there to receive the first book in the Stone Chronicles series free, as well as an exclusive Stone novella available nowhere else.
Check out all R’s books on her Amazon author page
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