Tuesday, 25 May 2010

INTERVIEW: CL WERNER

Authors have been described as many things but lets just say that in order to run Clint Werner to ground is more than a full time job for any Bounty Hunter (Brunner included.) In fact many would say that he's learned from the master with a certain Grey Seer's help.

Luckily for us we managed to find the hole that he'd bolted to and grab a word with this elusive author, so much so that we wanted to give you the chance to get to know him before he disappeared again for a number of months.

Here Clint chats to us about writing for a living, his inspirations and not having creatures who sparkle in sunlight...



Falcata Times: Writing is said to be something that people are afflicted with rather than gifted and that it's something you have to do rather than want. What is your opinion of this statement and how true is it to you?

Clint L Werner: I’d say that statement is pretty much spot on. For as far back as I can remember I’ve enjoyed telling stories. Writing is simply the natural expression of that drive. After all, you can reach more people with the printed page than just about any other way.


FT: When did you realise that you wanted to be a writer?

CLW: I think the moment I realised I’d like to be a writer was after reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles when I was in grade school. The book’s style impressed my young mind immeasurably and I think that it was then I first really tried my hand at writing, even doing a sixty page Sherlock Holmes story (which in hindsight was juvenile rubbish, but in my defence I was only ten). It was much later that I encountered Robert E Howard and H P Lovecraft, the two authors who really shaped my attempts at prose into something resembling professional material.


FT: It is often said that if you can write a short story you can write anything. How true do you think this is and what have you written that either proves or disproves this POV?

CLW: Short stories are an often underappreciated art form. They force a writer to be very economical in the way he tells his tale. You have to work with a more limited palate and bring out a single theme or capture a particular atmosphere with the story. Just take any of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories or Howard’s Solomon Kane tales. They are as rich and evocative as many larger works because of the way the authors managed to suggest far more than they actually told the reader in the story. From my recent experience with ‘Wolfshead’, a Brunner short story I wrote for Death and Dishonour, I think the attention to detail necessary to pull off a short story is far more exacting than the vast vistas a full novel lets you explore. It’s a case of localizing the narrative from the overweight epic to something more everyday and intimate.


FT: If someone were to enter a bookshop, how would you persuade them to try your novel over someone else's and how would you define it?

CLW: I think the best way to pitch Warhammer novels is to explain what makes the Old World such a different setting. There’s really no other fantasy world out there with the same mixture of gothic darkness and black humour as what you find with Warhammer. In many ways, it owes more to history and genuine mythology than the wand-toting uber-wizards who infest much of the stuff sitting on shelves these days. And, of course, the vampires are still monstrous creatures of the night, not maudlin twerps who sparkle in sunlight.


FT: How would you "sell" your book in 20 words or less?

CLW: It would probably depend on the book. If I was pushing Grey Seer, I’d point out the book’s wonderful title character. ‘If you read only one book about a paranoid, megalomanical ratman sorcerer this year, then you must read Grey Seer’


FT: Who is a must have on your bookshelf and whose latest release will find you on the bookshops doorstep waiting for it to open?

CLW: Must haves on my bookshelf would be Doyle, Lovecraft and Robert E Howard, followed by Tolkien, Sax Rohmer and Bram Stoker. Currently I snap up every reprint of Walter B. Gibson’s The Shadow as they are released, but stories written back in the 1930’s might not quite be what you mean by current. About the only current author I follow rabidly would be Larry Niven – and I’m quite anticipating this year’s release of Man-Kzin Wars XII in paperback to fill out my collection.


FT: When you sit down and write do you know how the story will end or do you just let the pen take you? ie Do you develop character profiles and outlines for your novels before writing them or do you let your idea's develop as you write?

CLW: Outlines. Always outlines. The more detailed the better. I also do character profiles for the main cast before I write. That isn’t to say that sometimes a character won’t try to rewrite the story while I’m working on it. Brunner and Grey Seer Thanquol are particularly guilty of trying to hijack the narrative. But with a firm outline, you can steer the story back where it needs to go.


FT: What do you do to relax and what have you read recently?

CLW: For relaxation I watch old movies, particularly Spaghetti Westerns and old horror and sci-fi films. The last book I read was The Sky Walker, an adventure of The Avenger written by Paul Ernst back in 1939.


FT: What is your guiltiest pleasure that few know about?

CLW: Probably watching Ghost Hunters way too much.


FT: Lots of writers tend to have pets. What do you have and what are their key traits (and do they appear in your novel in certain character attributes?)

CLW: Currently I have an Asian House Gecko named The Shadow (after his penchant for escapes – the pet store was thrilled when I took him off their hands). His key traits are pretty much scrambling around on the underside of his cage screen, wagging his tail when he gets mad, and sitting in the feeding dish when he wants me to buy more crickets. Some of his qualities show up in the various habits of the lizardmen in Temple of the Serpent.


FT: Which character within your latest book was the most fun to write and why?

CLW: Oh, certainly Grey Seer Thanquol. It’s so fun to get inside his greedy, paranoid mind.


FT: How similar to your principle protagonist are you?

CLW: Probably more than is healthy.


FT: What hobbies do you have and how do they influence your work?

CLW: I read a lot of history, so I bring anything useful from that into my writing when I can.


FT: Where do you get your idea's from?

CLW: Anything I read, watch or listen to (I listen to a lot of old time radio programs) is liable to spur an idea. Often I’ll be watching something and think ‘hey, if they just did this different, what would happen?’


FT: Do you ever encounter writers block and if so how do you overcome it?

CLW: Absolutely. I usually get around it by skipping past the trouble scene and coming back to it later.


FT: Certain authors are renowned for writing at what many would call uncivilised times. When do you write and how do the others in your household feel about it?

CLW: I usually write very late at night. Typically everyone else is asleep anyway, so no harm done.


FT: Sometimes pieces of music seem to influence certain scenes within novels, do you have a soundtrack for your tale or is it a case of writing in silence with perhaps the odd musical break in-between scenes?

CLW: It depends on the book. When I write Brunner, I listen to Morricone’s western music scores. When I do Thulmann, I listen to soundtracks from Hammer horror films. The various Chaos novels I’ve written usually are done with Amon Amarth and other Viking Metal bands playing in the background.


FT: What misconceptions, if any, did you have about the writing and publishing field when you were first getting started?

CLW: Probably the fame and fortune bit…


FT: If music be the food of love, what do you think writing is and please explain your answer?

CLW: Writing would be the fuel for escape, the ability to slip out of the humdrum world and for a little while vanish into another.


FT: What can you tell us about the next novel?

CLW: The novel I am currently working on is about Wulfrik the Wanderer, a hero of the Chaos worshipping Norscans. It is a tale of violence and treachery as Wulfrik tries to escape his curse before it is too late.


FT: What are the last five internet sites that you've visited?

CLW: Let’s see here: Kaijuphile, DVD Drive-In, Amazon, Coast to Coast AM, and Rogue Blades Entertainment


FT: Did you ever take any writing classes or specific instructions to learn the craft? If so please let us know which ones.

CLW: No, I can’t say I ever took any classes. I think the best instruction sheet for a writer is to read and learn from what he reads. Don’t just enjoy the story, but pick it apart, see what makes it tick, find the tools the author has used to put it together. That’s, I think, the best way to learn. Practice rather than theory.


FT: How did you get past the initial barriers of criticism and rejection?

CLW: I just kept trying. Keep sending stuff out and keep improving your style. It’s the only way to persevere.


FT: In your opinion, what are the best and worst aspects of writing for a living?

CLW: The worst aspect is certainly maintaining a day job until you can write for a living. The best thing about being an author is hearing somebody who enjoyed your book. That’s a mighty proud feeling.

1 comment:

von Darkmoor said...

Fun interview Clint! Thanks for getting a RBE reference slipped in :)