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By Patrick (2007-06-26)
Q: Since THE WANDERER'S TALE is your fantasy debut, could you tell us a little of the road that saw this one go from manuscript to published novel?
I finished the entire 441,000-word book - originally entitled "The Saga of Bolldhe the Great" (don't laugh) - in 2005. I started submitting synopses/samples to agents in July of that year, and after many rejections I thought I might as well have a go at submitting direct to publishers. By February 2006 I had received a grand total of 130 rejections from agents, and 60 from publishers. I gave up trying, quit my factory job (inspecting 1000's of little plastic tubes - boy was that fun) and decided to head back to Indonesia, where I'd taught in the 90's, to try to get my old job back.
Two weeks before flying, I got a letter from Peter Lavery at Pan Macmillan - one of the first publishers I'd approached -apologising for the four-month delay in replying, and asking me to send in more sample chapters. The 'slush-pile' had worked! But at that stage I was cynical about my chances, so sent in the entire MS. The day the 9kg package arrived at Pan Mac, Peter was afraid to open it, thinking it was a bomb. Luckily, a month later (St. Patrick's Day) he offered me a contract. The Guinness did flow...
It was decided to split it into two volumes. Peter and I worked together on editing Book#1 in time for the Frankfurt Book Fair. There we got the US deal as well as the French and German translation deals. (Russia and Greece have recently been added.) The second volume was then edited, and checked by me here in Java, where I moved to in March.
Q: Will you be touring to promote the book this summer? If so, are there any specific dates that have been confirmed as of yet?
No, the only holiday of any reasonable length I get is during Idul Fitri. (Bilsborough teaches English in Java)
Q: What do you feel is your strength as a writer/storyteller?
Descriptive writing is my real passion; it's what I've been doing since I was ten. It's important for the reader to be 'transported' into the story-world. So I go for ambience, be it sylvan beauty, shantytown seaminess, ghostly chill, or horrific aberration.
Q: Do you have any plans to create a website or a blog where potential readers will have the opportunity to read sample chapters and learn more about you?
Absolutely not. I loathe the internet beyond all loathing and everything it stands for. Seriously. I sometimes feel I'm the only sane person left in the world, everyone else having become bedazzled by that mindless, flashing, bleeping box of electric trickery, wizardly lies, pseudo-values, and misinformation that is as laughably inaccurate as its readers are gullible. Thanks to the internet the entire human race is now walking around with that sappy, inane smile on their faces, praising the wonders of this new god that has come into their empty, gadget-driven lives, and spouting the most risible cobblers I've ever heard this side of Bedlam. Especially those with enough brains that they should know better. Grrr...
Sorry about that. I just had to get that off my chest. I feel better now. Next question?
Q: What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write The Annals of Lindormyn series in the first place?
Sorry to be so unoriginal, but it has to be Tolkien. At the age of 15 I just had to write my own version of LOTR (as one does at that age) but came up with the idea of writing it in the style of Chaucer's Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, which we were studying at the time. I combined this with a not-too-serious idea my fellow nerds and I had been discussing all year, that of going on our own real-life D&D quest to Cheddar Gorge, complete with pseudonyms, costume armour and bicycles instead of horses. (Oh Lordy, am I really telling you this?) Seven years later it had turned into a 375-page epic poem, all in rhyme, and all of it the most unoriginal tripe imaginable.
But I'd grown so fond of this tale and its quirky characters that I started rewriting it as a novel. I always tried to be as innovative as possible this time round, wiping out as many of the clichés as possible, but obviously being tied to the original poem I'd written, with its UNoriginal framework, the basic premise of "Wanderer/Fire..." is, I admit, somewhat 'traditional'.