Thursday, February 2, 2017

An interview with best-selling author Andrew Paul Weston

Andy's a friend and fellow writer with Perseid Press. He has a keen sense of humor, has led a most interesting life, and is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. A true professional in every sense of the word, he has enough creativity, talent and energy for any three men. He's the best-selling author of The IX, Exordium of Tears, and Hell Bound . . . all published by Perseid Press, and highly recommended by yours truly. In his own words:


"Andrew P. Weston is an ex-military ex-police expat from the UK who now lives with a large amount of cats in a medium sized house on a small Greek Island. An astronomy and law graduate, he’s becoming rather skilled at making things up. So much so, that the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America allow him to rent a small cupboard in their basement.When not writing, Andrew can hold his breath for astonishingly long periods and devotes some of his spare time to turning strange dreams into reality. He can be seen most mornings speaking to no one in particular."

What and who are some of your influences and inspirations?

Wow, how to answer this succinctly?
I have always been influenced by the works of Edgar Allen Poe. His dark and macabre, often personal and gritty expos̩s and reflections portray a valuable lesson for authors Рnew and old Рto consider: put yourself in your writing. Feel it. Live it. Suffer and bleed for your craft. It will show in the work you produce and possess an edge that will draw likeminded hearts.
On a personal level, Stephen Hawking is a source of great inspiration. A brilliant mind trapped within a wasting husk. But did he just curl up and die? No! He’s gone on to become one of the most discerning thinkers and one of the greatest physicists of our time. Hats off to the guy, he’s a scientific superhero.
And finally, I have to say I’m both inspired and influenced by the power of the mind. What could be achieved if we took the opportunity to step back, put the rush on hold, and truly dips our toes into the ocean still waiting to be rediscovered?

How and why did you decide to start writing?

Long story short? I’d always wanted to write, but a busy lifestyle in specialized roles within the military and police force meant I just didn’t have the time. Then I was injured on duty. Two years and multiple operations later found me registered as disabled – (they said I wouldn’t walk properly again) – and medically retired.
Now I had twenty-four hours of doing nothing to kill every day. So I got busy. Firstly, I refused to give up and started working hard to regain what I felt was an acceptable level of fitness. Secondly, I also devoted much of the rest of that time to putting down on paper some of the ideas I’d accrued, working in some of the toughest environments on earth. (The Guardian concept).
Of course, I caught the bug…and haven’t stopped writing since. Novels, novellas, short stories, poetry. You name it, I’ve managed to get it published.

What genres and/or literary style do enjoy writing in the most?

Science Fiction & Fantasy and Paranormal.
Since before I attended school I was a science fiction and fantasy addict. I grew up with Supercar, Space Patrol, Fireball XL5, Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, (Boy, the list I could give you…) They are only a few of the regular shows I watched.
From an early age, I also lived in a haunted house – yes, a genuine haunted house – where weird things happened on a regular basis. My imaginary friend could – and did – move things about, freak my parents and the dog out, and scare the crap out of visitors.
It was inevitable my preferred genres would by influenced by my environment.

Tell us about your latest published book, short story or novella.

That would be Exordium of Tears, the second book of The IX Series detailing the exploits of the legendary lost 9th Legion of Rome and what really happened to them after they were snatched away from earth in 100 A.D.
Here’s a blurb that will review the story nicely:

Fight or die.
That simple yet brutal philosophy is the tenet by which the refugees from Earth – including the fabled lost 9th Legion of Rome; the 5th Company, 2nd Mounted Cavalry Unit; and the Special Forces Anti-Terrorist Team – have been forced to live while the Horde menace existed. Believing that the threat is over, the survivors now yearn to settle down, start families, and reclaim the lives stolen from them.
But such aspirations might remain beyond their reach, for a shadow looms on the rose-tinted horizon of new beginnings.
The release of the re-genesis matrix has done much to foster a restoration of exuberance across Arden. Along with resurgence in floral and faunal diversity, comes the results of splicing the Ardenese and human genomes: transmutation; a metamorphosis of stunning magnitude that not only affects the living, but those still is stasis as well.
Recognizing the emergence of a new hybrid species, the Architect – the arcane AI construct tasked with the preservation of the Ardenese race – responds by unlocking previously hidden and inaccessible areas of the city. It also releases an archive of sealed state records.
Those secrets are pounced on and eagerly perused, whereupon a shocking discovery is made.
Prior to the fall, it was common knowledge amongst the Senatum – the highest levels of Arden’s government – that not all the Horde had joined in the rabid exodus toward home world, and the belief persisted that their enemy survived amongst the outer colonies.
Realizing the peril might still exist, the newly reformed administration elects to respond. Accessible resources are utilized, suitable candidates are chosen, and a flotilla of ships is sent out to secure, quarantine, and reclaim the outer colonies. A mammoth and hazardous undertaking. And nowhere more so than at the planet from where the outbreak was known to have originated – Exordium – for there, the ancient Horde are not only supremely evolved and highly organized, but are capable of a level of lethal sophistication, the likes of which has never been witnessed before.
It is into this kiln of incendiary potential that the cream of Arden’s fighting force is deployed.
Worlds are torn asunder, suns destroyed, and star systems obliterated. Yes, tragedy is forged anew, in a universe spanning conflict which proves once again that…
Death is only the beginning of the adventure.

Besides the “entertainment factor,” what do you strive for in your writing?
I want my readers to lose themselves in the reality of the worlds I create. That’s why I give them such a multilayered depth and richness, and put so many facets of my own personality into the characters. I want my words to paint such a vivid picture in the reader’s mind’s-eye that they can envision themselves there, actually living the unreality of the adventure.
Have YOU heard the wishmaster’s call?

Would you say that your stories are more plot-driven or character-driven?

I would say plot-driven, though it isn’t as easy to answer as I imagined.
My regular readers will know I spend an awful lot of time in the world building stage of preparation before each story starts to go down in writing. As such, people might be forgiven for thinking my creations are purely plot driven.
However, world building isn’t just about dry facts and figures, or meticulously planning where the story will start – journey to – and end. It’s about the people who inhabit those worlds too. Who are they, as a society and individuals? What makes them tick? What’s their history and motivation? That requires in-depth characters.
As you know, I’ve completed two trilogies for Perseid Press now, The IX Series (The IX – Exordium of Tears – Prelude to Sorrow) and the novel length adventures involving Satan’s Reaper, Daemon Grim (Hell Bound – Hell Hounds – Hell Gate) as expounded within Janet Morris’s critically acclaimed, Heroes in Hell shared universe. Basically, this means I have that extra luxury of allowing my characters to grab you initially, and then infuse into your pores over time.

 What can you tell us about your latest work(s) in progress?

I’m currently completing the “Author’s Cut” edition of my debut novel, Guardian Angels. (This will lead on to the resurrection – and eventual completion – of the entire series).
When I originally wrote this adventure, I was but a babe in the big bad world of publishing and struggling to find my feet.
I’ve been around a little while now and have established my own unique voice. In turn, that seems to have blessed me with a loyal fan base, many of whom never got to read about the Guardians. I’m seeking to put that right, and with Janet Morris’ blessing we’ve been reshuffling the deck, as it were, to see if we can’t restructure things to suit my/Perseid’s distinctive style. I’m sure you’ll think our efforts have come up trumps.

What are some literary goals you’d like to achieve?

To be acknowledged by my peers as a respected novelist, and to be in a position where I could write fulltime and devote myself entirely to the business of my craft.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m so busy on a long list of projects that I tend to focus my energies toward completing what I’ve set out to do to the best of my ability. And I do always seek to improve. So, as long as I manage that, I know I’ll keep heading in the right direction. Who knows, one day my work might catch the attention of the right people…?

What genre of fiction have you not yet written for, but plan to in the future?

If I ever reach a position whereby I’ve got a spare year floating around, there might be a possibility of something semi-autobiographical down the line – covering aspects of my time within Special & Elite Forces. Might be fun?   (I would find that to be a really fascinating read, and I hope you get to that project soon, Andy. {JB})

Name a few of your favorite literary characters and tell us why they are your favorites?

Cool question…though I’m glad you kept it to a few, otherwise I’d be here all day.
I think I’ll answer this by gender:
Ladies first. I’ll start with the character of Vanessa Ives from the supernatural sleuth series, Penny Dreadful. Here is a woman with a troubled past striving to determine her future. The trouble is, there are more than malevolent secrets and inanimate skeletons in her cupboard. She spends her days fighting the dark forces that would see us overwhelmed, and though there’s a sense of feminine fragility about her, she possesses a spine of steel and an unerring determination to her hatred of all that is evil.
I often think of her as a female Sherlock Holmes. She’s sharp, educated, well-spoken, intelligent and sophisticatedly sexy. (And in the TV version of her adventures, she’s played by Eva Green) What more need I say? Sigh….
J

And for the gentlemen, I’d pick Thomas Covenant, first introduced in Stephan Donaldson’s, Lord Foul’s Bane. A superb character devised by Donaldson from his own father’s work with lepers in India. Covenant is a soul who once knew great love and possessed a depth of imagination to make the heart sing. Then he loses everything – his wife, his son, his friends, his livelihood, even simple everyday contact with fellow human beings – by contracting leprosy. Reduced to a shell of his former self, he becomes a single-minded, self-disciplined, self-motivated automaton of a man. Then he’s transported to “The Land” – a magical haven of men, giants and mythical creatures, a place possessed of eldritch vitality where the air itself brings healing. Covenant can’t accept anything about it as real, and although he’s called on to save that world, he becomes “The Unbeliever” someone who doggedly refuses to lift a finger to help. He’s difficult and infuriating, he’s complicated and irritating, and one of the best antiheroes I’ve ever read, for he dare not relax the restraint that keeps his affliction from killing him in the real world...

What are some of your all-time favorite films and TV shows?

Good grief, this is another topic I’ll have to be vicious with. Okay…In no particular order:
Films: Forbidden Planet – Cool Hand Luke – The Ten Commandments (Charlton Heston’s version) – The King & I – Aliens – Blade Runner – Despicable Me, 1 & 2 – Forrest Gump – Pulp Fiction – The Devil Wears Prada.
TV shows: Lost in Space – The Tomorrow People (original) – Star Trek (all of them) – Tom & Jerry (originals) – Monty Python’s Flying Circus – Sherlock Holmes – Frasier – Babylon 5 – Stargate SG1/Atlantis – Battlestar Galactica/Blood & Chrome – Game of thrones – Lucifer – Marvel’s Daredevil – The Expanse – Outcast.

Tell us about your writing habits, such as: Do you outline extensively? Do you create your characters first, or your plot? 

I’m something of a world builder, (as I’ve discussed at great length on a number of occasions), so I won’t bore your readers with details they might have read elsewhere. Instead, I’ll tap into some of the other aspects you’ve mentioned.
For example, the serialized novels I’ve written have all come about by diverse means.
The Guardians evolved over many years spent in combat and harsh environments where I recognized the need for a more proactive response to the troubles afflicting mankind. (Think Thunderbirds meets the X Men). In that case, the concept came first and the story built from there.
The Cambion Journals (Stay tuned to Perseid Press) developed from a vivid dream regarding the main character. So, I created the persona of Augustus Thorne – and his history – in its entirety, then constructed the adventure around him.
With the IX Series, it was a combination of both. I thought of the concept (The lost 9th Legion of Rome combined to the idea behind the sci-fi film, Millennium), and wove the premise around how each kind of warrior – Roman legionary, US cavalry soldier, British Special Forces commando – might react to being snatched away from their natural surroundings and dumped into someone else’s war. So there, the plot was integral to specific mindsets.

Finally, we have Daemon Grim, an entirely different kettle of fish. Grim appears in the Heroes in Hell shared universe and is a character devised to fit into and evolve within a milieu that has predetermined rules and goals. In this instance, I have to mold both plot and characters around the Heroes in Hell philosophy. It certainly keeps me on my toes.



Do you listen to music while writing, and if so, what kind of music do you enjoy?

When it comes to actually writing or text-editing, I need silence. The only entertainment I can rely on that won’t cause a distraction is what’s taking in place inside my head. I have a five dimensional surround-sound holo-suite in there, you see, and I don’t need anything else.
However, when I’m driving to or from work, (invariably running over various aspects of the plot/character development) or micromanaging other aspects of the editing process, I have mood specific music in the background. This helps me adopt and maintain a disposition most suited to what I intend to create.
Dependent upon what series I’m working on, my choices can be as widely distinctive as classical pieces or albums by Enya, right down to tracks by Disturbed, Linkin Park, and Nightwish – with the whole gamut of the music industry in between (My website often shows my most prevalent weekly inspiration.)  
I also carry notebooks so if I get a sudden flash of inspiration – be it from a simple phrase or idea – I can jot it down and transfer it into reality later. 

Thank you very much for such a wonderful and insight interview, Andy! 

You can visit Andrew Paul Weston at these locations:


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andrewpaul.weston

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Andrew-P.-Weston/e/B00F3BL6GS

If you'd like to read a couple of the reviews I wrote for Andy's books, you can find them right here: