Having interviewed Giles a while back on his original release Raven: Blood Eye, we thought that it was high time (or tide) to catch up with him to see how things have changed. Now with his third book Raven: Odin's Wolves about to be released we chatted to him about Procrastination, finding his zone and the writers best friend, coffee...
Falcata Times: How would you say that your perspective has changed about selling your own work with multiple novels under your belt?
Giles Kristian: More than ever I’m aware that you have to spend a great deal of time on self-promotion, as crass as that sounds. Your publisher does not have the resources to do it all and, let’s be honest, they have plenty of other authors. This is your career so don’t sit around waiting for someone else to get you noticed. Get yourself, your ‘message’ and your books out there. It’s exhausting and time-consuming and you’d rather just be writing, but these days you’ve just got to do it.
FT: How would you sell yourself as an author?
GK: I simply write the kind of books that excite me, the sort that I’d like to read myself. Each of my books is a journey, the destination unknown even to me, until the end. Many people have told me they’ve read one of my books in a day. I don’t know how you do that but I take it as a good sign. I want my stories to leave you breathless. I want them to linger in your subconcious, to weave themselves into your imagination.
FT: How would you say that your experience of writing and publishing has changed your methods of writing?
GK: I’m contracted to deliver a new novel every year, so you could say I’m rather more focussed these days. But I still write in the same way. I tend not to plan much. That’s just not me. I’d rather dive in to the water than submerge myself a piece at a time. It’s more exciting for me that way and I like to think that spontenaity comes across in the stories.
FT: With the experience that you've gained now, what do you wish you could have told yourself when you were starting out that you now know?
GK: Even now I still get sidetracked by trying to create the perfect writing environment, an atmosphere in which I believe the creativity will gush forth. Really it’s just another form of procrastination. The only way of writing a book is to sit down for long periods of time and get the words out. Writing a novel seems such an enormous task that you subconsciously avoid doing it, letting distractions come between you and the work. Just write. Simple.
FT: What characteristics of your protagonists do you wish that you had yourself and why?
GK: My characters are a pretty savage lot, at least those in the RAVEN series are. But I guess I admire their wanderlust, their ‘pack your sea chest and go’ attitude to life. These days life is a treadmill you just can’t get off. It’s all routine and habit and responsibility. I envy the life of the viking warrior who was able to cast off and go raiding and take what he wanted when he wanted. I suspect I’m being politically incorrect saying so, but I reckon the raiding life must have been great.
FT: Which of your characters are most like you and why?
GK: In a first person narrative like the RAVEN series there’s bound to be quite a bit of me in my principal character Raven, but also elements in the other characters too. On the other hand, part of the joy of writing these novels is the freedom I have to create characters entirely different, protagonists whose experiences fly far outside my own reality. Though, if I had lived back then I’d like to have been like Sigurd.
FT: What of life’s little addictions could you not live without and why?
GK: The obvious one; coffee. A full day’s writing slog is punctuated by moments of renewal and reinvigoration in the form of tea and coffee. Then, after work, a cold ale or a glass of wine. Small things but vital all the same. I also have to exercise most days. Expending energy renews energy, re-invigorates me for the next day. And works as penance for the beers the previous night!
FT: With regular trips for book tours around the country as well as to various Conventions, what is an absolute travel essential that you couldn't do without?
GK: My ipad. And a dashed fine pen. Not that it helps my handwriting.
FT: Previously you've had some problems when others have critised your work, how do you think you've changed to adapt to it or would you say that you're just the same?
GK: I’ve been lucky and the reviews have been very kind. The RAVEN series is critically acclaimed, which I’m thrilled about. I haven’t felt the need to blood-eagle anyone yet. Well, there was this one guy on Amazon…but he’ll keep.
FT: On long journeys, reading is often the pleasure of choice, who's work will you grab at the airport to ensure a good journey?
GK: On my last holiday I read and enjoyed 21 Hours by Lee Child. Thrillers are good when you’re travelling or in a different environment – I’m not sure why. Same with Stephen King’s thrillers, though I don’t read his horrors. Otherwise anything of Bernard Cornwell’s will keep me very happy thank you.
FT: Out of all your novels, which is your favourite and why?
GK: Odin’s Wolves, the third in the RAVEN series. I know that’s a bit obvious seeing as it’s the next one to come out, but I really felt I knew the characters and their world intimately by then. I could read their every thought. And it has the best fight scenes I’ve ever written.
FT: With everyone having thier own personal view as to who should be cast in a film version of thier work, who do you think should play your principle protaganists and why?
GK: We just made a short film to celebrate the unleashing of Odin’s Wolves. It has a cast of about thirty-five and David Clayton, the actor who plays the old warrior Raven telling his saga by the hearth, was incredible. Absolutely captivating. The rest of us sat there in the meadhall completely spellbound by him. You’ll find the film on my website. www.gileskristian.com when the book comes out.
FT: Authors are generally a superstitious lot and upon completion of novels follow a certain ritual, what is yours and how has it changed from the original?
GK: I like the idea of pouring a stiff brandy and lighting a cigar on the completion of a novel, but it doesn’t really happen like that. At least not for me. Because you ‘finish’ a novel several times. With re-writes, editorial notes, copy-editor’s notes, proof-readers queries, page-proof readings etc. It’s only finished when it’s in the factory being printed. Celebrating before that feels premature. So, sad to say there’s never that big moment.
FT: What was your impression of an author’s lifestyle and status and how has that interpretation changed since you've published a number of books?
GK: Before I was published I had never met an author and had no pre-conceived ideas about what they are like. Now I’ve met many of this strange spiecies and count a number as good friends. They’re some of the very best people I know and are always interesting to spend time with.
FT: What are the best words of wisdom or tip that you'd give to a new or soon to be published author?
GK: Get to know other authors. Writing is a strange, intense, lonely business. It’s good to know others who are out there tapping away doing the same thing. They will gladly help and advise you and their experience will arm you.