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Interview With Author - Ian Gough

Ever wanted to sink your teeth into a humorous fantasy? Meet multi genre author Ian Gough. Ian has always admired writers of many and varied genres. From the fantasy writing of J.R.R Tolkien, Brandon Sanderson, the comedy of Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams, to the more macabre talents of Stephen King.

Ian says he finally plucked up the courage and decided to let his imagination dance (or trip awkwardly) across the page, dabbling in various genres, from Fantasy, to Humour, to Horror.

Lets find out more

Tell me about yourself

Hello, my name is Ian Gough. I’m a UK-based author who writes a mixture of fantasy, comedy, and horror, or a combination of the three. Since getting serious (comedies aside) about writing, I’ve self-published three fantasy/humour novels based across the realms of my created fantasy continent, The Core Lands. In addition, I’ve written several short stories and had one of these titled 'Masterpiece', published in The Second Corona Book of Horror Stories.

I also co-host a monthly # game on Twitter called #7DayTale. There we encourage writers to create a story in 7 days, using just 7 linked tweets, one per day. We are lucky to have a really supportive group of writers who join us there. It's great fun.

How long have you been writing?

Beyond my scribblings of odd story ideas or silly limericks jotted hurriedly on random scraps of paper, I've been writing on a serious basis for about 5 years. After being made redundant from a long-term job it gave me the perfect opportunity to give writing a shot. I’d always wanted to write, so I started with a couple of short stories then not long after, the idea for 'Lotan the Librarian' arrived. Since then, the ideas have kept coming, and I can usually be found hunched over my laptop, with a glass of water, an unhealthy snack close at hand, and a demanding cat nuzzling against my shins.

Do you have a favourite book / author?

Choosing a favourite book is a tough one because there are lots I enjoy and my choice can change depending upon what Im reading. I’m a big fan of fantasy and horror, which is no surprise considering they're the main genres I write in. When it comes to a favourite author, my number one go-to is always Terry Pratchett. I’m also a fan of the books by Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams and Stephen King.

You write multiple genres. Can you tell me more about your fantasy comedies and what inspired them?

My fantasy comedies are all set in or around the fictional continent of the Core Lands. It’s part of a medieval-style world and is divided into nine realms, eight of which are ruled. The lands are filled with quirky characters, mythical creatures and it even has a reanimated skeletal butler named Calcium. I like to write strong stories and plotlines while having the freedom to poke fun at lots of current everyday situations in unusual environments. Having my own world lets me stretch reality as we know it, twist our understanding of history, play about with fairy tales, and mess with folklore.

Each novel is a standalone book, but I throw in references to my other novels and include the occasional character cameo. It adds to their character arcs, is a bit of extra fun for me, and I hope is fun for regular readers.

The original inspiration for the first novel crept up and grabbed me by the shoulders one day while I was channel surfing the T.V. I came upon the film Conan the Barbarian. In an instant, the creative part of my brain thought, wouldn’t it be fun if instead of a muscle-bound hero, the main character was a timid, reluctant librarian thrown by the scruff of the neck into perilous situations. From there 'Lotan the Librarian' was born.

Can you tell me about your latest release?

'Welcome to the Carnicus' is my third Core Lands novel. It’s a fantasy - mystery, with a smattering of humour, a supporting cast of unusual characters, and contains enough greasepaint to smother an army of clowns.

It follows Vannamir Scond, a slightly inept Private Investigator, with a unique dress code. A proud, overconfident character, Scond has the annoying habit of saying the exact wrong thing at the worst possible time.

The story begins with a chance meeting, between Scond and his new companion, Flotsan. Joining forces, they accept two separate investigative cases. The first, to recover a mystical amulet stolen from the tower of a wizard, and second, to track down the whereabouts of the kidnapped daughter of a lord. Along the way, they are set upon by a fierce rival desperate to stop them and claim the rewards. Throughout, they are forced to risk their lives until eventually, all the clues all lead to the same conclusion. The culprit is a member of the mysterious Carnicus, led by the sinister, yet enigmatic Ringmaster...

What comes first for you? The plot or the characters?

For the most part, they tend to arrive hand in hand. When a new idea strikes me, I picture

one or two characters walking through a scene of that story. It’s not unusual for me to know the general direction of the story, who my main character will be, and the ending, before I put pen to paper or my fingertips tickled the keyboard of my laptop.

While the character may only be a shell at that point, I develop them through each scene and piece together the story into the final plotline.

If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?

Take your time.

Writing is a long-term process and requires a lot of worthwhile time and investment. When I completed my first short story, I was so eager to share it that I snatched it off the printer, rushed downstairs, and thrust the paper into my mother’s hands, before she could say no. She’s always the first to endure an early draft. While she read, I hovered nearby buzzing with anticipation. I fully expected an enthusiastic response even to the point of applause (as you can probably tell, I get a bit carried away). Instead, I got a reasonable, if muted reply of ‘quite good’, which to be fair wasn’t bad for my first attempt. On re-reading my story I noticed it had a gaping plot hole in desperate need of repair. I ended up making two or three rounds of edits before it finally became a story worth reading.

What does literary success look like to you?

For me, success would be making writing a full-time career. I’d love to be able support myself through my stories so I can continue doing the thing I enjoy the most.

I can think of few other professions where we get to create something amazing out of nothing?

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I already have an avatar. I use the image of a silhouetted face wearing glasses, which appears on all my books, and social media pages. It looks quite a lot like me.

When it comes to a spirt animal, I’d choose a cat for a few reasons. They are curious, independent, and give the impression of being a little bit magical. Plus, I already have two cats and if I didn’t choose them as my spirit animal, they’d get annoyed at me.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I do believe in writer’s block, although I’ve been fortunate enough not to suffer from it very often. I’ve had the occasional day or even week or two where the words won’t come in the middle of a novel, and I take it as an indication I need a step back for a short time.

I’ve found by switching from my current project to a different story, reading, drawing, or taking a break for a couple of days, allows the writing part of my brain to kick-start again, and offer up a solution to my block. I'm a firm believer that if I have a challenge, letting the subconscious part of my mind dwell on it while I relax or do something different lets it come up with a possible solution or idea. It's usually why I get ideas at the oddest of moments.

What advice would you give a new author?

Two main pieces of advice. Most important of all, write for yourself. You write a story first because you believe in it no matter what anyone else thinks. Yes, we all want others to love our story as much as we do, and we will edit parts later based on feedback, but in the end it’s our story.

My other advice is to have fun and enjoy your writing. If you don’t enjoy it your stories will lack a creative spark or passion, you’ll struggle to be satisfied with the way it turned out, and it will show through on the page for else everyone to see.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

When not sitting in front of my laptop I enjoy drawing, baking, walking and watching movies or T.V. box sets and I can rustle up a pretty decent lemon-drizzle cake.

It takes me quite a few hours to complete a single drawing, but I like to draw fantasy style pencil and ink pictures such as mythical creatures. I’ve got a fair few I’m proud of.

I’m also a loyal butler to both of my cats.

Thanks to Ian for sharing with us. If you would ;like to check out his work, click on the links below.

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