Fantasy author A. F. Stewart likes to combine history, legend and mythology in her writing, which include novels, short stories, and poetry. In this interview she talks about her current and future projects, handling negative criticism, her writing habits, and some of her favorite authors.
Thanks for the interview, Anita. Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?
I’m from Nova Scotia, Canada, I’m a woman (I mention this as I use my initials as a pen name and lately I’ve been mistaken for a man), and I’m fairly new to being a published author. I’ve been writing for most of my life, but only recently decided to get serious about pursuing writing as a career, jumping feet first into the independent publishing scene.
I write fantasy novels and poetry; a great deal of my prose is based on history, legends, and mythology. I have published three small books so far: a volume of poetry, a short story collection, and a goofy guide to action movie clichés.
I love action movies, good sci-fi and fantasy, I’m a bit of an amateur history buff, I’m into oil painting as a hobby, and have a slightly dark sense of humour.
What type of writer are you – the one who experiences before writing, like Hemingway, or the one who mostly daydreams and fantasizes?
I’m definitely not someone who writes about my experiences; most of my stuff is based on historical research and mythology. I’m, unfortunately, not hanging out with wizards or heroic figures. I have taken fencing lessons though, so I do know a little about swordplay, which helps with fantasy fight scenes.
They say authors have immensely fragile egos. How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?
After the hysterical breakdown, I would try to objectively dissect the criticism to find valid points and improve my writing.
When writing, what themes do you feel passionate about?
I tend to favour themes that deal with character struggles, the nature of good and evil, and loss. I tend to throw my heroes into the dark part of their world and watch them deal with the trauma. I like to ask myself "what would happen if?"
Are you a disciplined writer?
No, not really. I’ve always had a pattern of procrastinating, so I generally have to tame my bad writing habits. Plus, I like to work on more than one project at a time, so it’s fairly chaotic. My writing journals are a disjointed mess, but I always seem to make sense of it all in the end. It is only in research and editing I have any organizational skills.
What type of book promotion seems to work the best for you?
I seem to be getting the best response from social networking sites, and the online writer communities. I’ve gotten positive feedback, met other authors and found helpful resources. I’ve even generated a sale or two for my books.
Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Of course my very favourite books are fantasy novels, but I read mysteries, thrillers, sci-fi, historical romances, just about any book that I think looks interesting. My favourite authors are Neil Gaiman (his twisted take on things is remarkable), Guy Gavriel Kay (his books are beautiful, breathtaking and heartbreaking), and Morgan Llywelyn (I love the way she mixes history with mythology).
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
I have a blog where I posted a small excerpt from Chronicles of the Undead, and one of my short stories. My Web site has excerpts from my books, and links to other places where you can find me on the web.
I also have several pieces of my work posted on WritersCafe.org and Gather.com.
Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
I’m currently finishing a horror novella, Chronicles of the Undead. It is set in Georgian England, written as three, semi-voyeuristic diaries detailing the dark secrets of the Harrington Family, a seemingly perfect English family. Their lives start unraveling when Henri Forain and Eleanor de Burgh enter their social circle, and they suddenly have to deal with the realm of vampires. Hopefully the book will be out by next year.
Also, I’m working on a fantasy novel, Song of the Wind and Sea. This book tells the story of Diarmid, a member of the Order of the Song Mage. It is set in a world where magic and music intertwine, and narrates Diarmid’s early life as a wizard. Three of the stories in my short story collection, Inside Realms, are related to this book; in fact Diarmid is the main character in the story, "Song Rise."