Ahoy there me mateys! This be the conclusion to me tale of:
kings of the wilderness – the 700th arc book one (M.J.R. Parr)
And what better way to celebrate then with the addition of a new category on me blog? For those crew members who might have missed it, Day One was a Curiosity of the Deep when readers got to hear how this yarn came to me. Day Two was a review of the novel in me Captain’s Log. Day Three is where ye get an better introduction to the newest member of me crew, Matey Parr. Arrrr! So without further ado . . .
- How did ye find this Captain and what made ye choose to send a parley communiqué?
Having just launched my novel, I was in need of honest reviews to lend it some credibility, and also I wanted people to read it! A book without readers is of little more value than flotsam, after all. To have the words of a seasoned reviewer was an exciting prospect, so I went hunting for receptive bloggers. I found the Captain’s Quarters through bookbloggerlist.com, and was immediately entertained by your reviews and posts. I cast off a suitably piratical e-scroll in the hope that the trials of a like-minded seafarer adrift would garner your sympathy. Clearly fortune smiled upon me that day.
- When did ye start scrawlin’ yarns?
I’ve been a voracious reader as far back as I remember, and have always been fascinated by the characters, concepts and worlds portrayed by other authors. My vivid imagination may have been cause or consequence of this, but either way it was not long until the two facets of personality inevitably collided (and reality forever took a back seat). The first story I recall writing was about a lonely giant spider that naturally went on to grow to vast proportions and consume the planet. I like to think I’ve developed a little more nuance since then.
- How long did it take ye to write this yarn?
On and off, approximately five years from first page to final product. I have most of the series planned out, so I always knew where the book would end, but the story and setting changed a huge amount from conception to the final production. From research and experience I learned a great deal about the craft in the process, and returned multiple times to refine my earlier writing. The final third of the book was completely reworked from the ground up, but there isn’t a single part of it that hasn’t at least been rewritten 2-3 times.
- What was the hardest part of writing this yarn?
Editing. Going over and over the same ground and always finding something new to fix, or a mistake I somehow missed last time around. It’s a frustrating and time-consuming process, but entirely necessary, and ultimately very rewarding when you can finally sit back, cast your quill aside, and declare it ‘finished’.
- What did ye enjoy most about writing this yarn?
Constructing atmospheres and landscapes, building tension, and getting to know my characters. I like to place myself in their position, and see the world as they see it – feel the emotions they feel. Getting the reader to that same place is where the challenge lies. But it’s an interesting challenge. There’s something in the human psyche that thrives on the vicarious experience, and once you’ve chiselled away at your characters enough that the human cracks start to emerge, it’s usually enough to forge a sympathetic link between them and the audience. It’s surprising to see the various kinds of readers that get pulled along for the ride, and that’s part of the fun.
- Why did ye choose to sail the self-publishin’ route?
Since I began work on the book I’ve watched self-publishing take off, and as it matured so did my sense that that was the route I wanted to take. I’ve always enjoyed doing things myself and learning the mechanisms that underpin a given process, and having full control over every creative and technical aspect of the book was very appealing. It soon became clear just how valuable a skilled, objective editor is in putting a book together, however.
Overall, it has been daunting and overwhelming at times, but an incredible learning experience. And I’m always aware that there’s a great deal more to take onboard, especially when it comes to marketing!
- Are ye a full-time writer? If not, what be yer job that pays the bills?
Not yet, sadly! I work as a warden for a local Quaker group, looking after their building and letting it out to other organizations. I also do a little web development on the side.
- What be your ambitions for yer writin’ career and plans for the future?
Well, first in mind is to continue the 700th Arc series of books. I’d love to take my writing career full-time, but it’s hugely competitive, and I’d much rather write to my passions than tailor to market even if it means a lesser following. I’m looking at studying environmental management as a backup plan.
- Do ye have any favorite words in the English language?
Archaic. Draconian. Eldritch. Pacific. Aquaplane. Doggerel. Arcane. Ocean. Animatronic.
- Do ye have any hated words in the English language?
Pack/package! So overused – there are always more appropriate words that have become tragically neglected. Pamper. Soup (especially when people over-pronounce it). All words with strong p sounds, strangely. It seems I have some kind of complex. Hmm.
- Name yer top five favorite authors.
George R.R. Martin – delving blind into the ASoIaF world (before the arrival of the excellent T.V. series) was an adventure like nothing else I’d ever encountered. Unforgiving, intelligent and completely unpredictable.
Cormac McCarthy – relentless brutality wrapped in incredible poetic imagery.
Iain Banks – full of strange and fascinating ideas, with a huge catalogue of gripping books to boot.
Arthur C. Clarke – his oft-mysterious stories fuelled my childhood imagination.
Stephen King – great characters, wild tales and an unparalleled ability to deliver both outlandish horror and haunting melancholia with everyday accessibility.
- Name yer top three recent favorite reads.
The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie – grimdark cliché-busting fantasy, with exhausting battles and fantastically flawed characters.
Beacon 23, by Hugh Howey – breezy, thoughtful and interesting. To say much more would spoil it, but he has a captivating narrative voice and I look forward to reading more of his work.
The Mote in God’s Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle – poignant, funny and frightening in equal measure. But intelligent every step of the way.
- What are yer other hobbies outside of writin’?
Reading, anything involving music, hiking with my dog Ziggy, cycling (at the moment – my fitness routines vacillate wildly), and PC gaming.
- Who is yer most favorite pirate? (outside of this Captain of course!)
Arrr! Ye’re castin’ some tough questions Captain, but this is without a doubt the meanest of ’em all. You’re making me choose between such salty sea dogs as Jack Sparrow, Long John Silver, and Guybrush Threepwood here. But after much consideration, I’ve saved myself the torment and gone left field: for the simple reason that no other pirate collective has made me laugh quite so much, I’m choosing the elderly, bowler-hatted Crimson Permanent Assurance, from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. Another fine example (this blog of course being the foremost) of how buccaneering can seamlessly integrate with modern life.
- What is yer favorite memory involving the sea?
I reside in a coastal town, so there are many days where the briny deep occupies my spyglass. Generally any warm day roaming the sand with my furry shipmate and music collection is a splendid one, although there is also something to be said for the ruinous post-apocalyptic landscapes of low tide (which seem to be present 98% of the time here).
- Have ye ever gone off the edge of the map? And if so, what happened?
Every time I go hiking! I consider myself a somewhat competent navigator, but as soon as I step out onto a trail my map and any associated instructions cease their relation to the surrounding landscape. Usually I stagger around in bewilderment for a few hours before somehow arriving back on course, meaning walks often end up twice the intended length. Must be me sea legs tryin’ ter lead me back towards water. I suppose all adventures happen by accident; one day I’m bound to stumble upon a portal to another world (although hopefully not one of my own creation).
Many thanks for your questions Captain – it’s been a pleasure answering them – and for taking the time to review my book.
So much thanks to Matey Parr for the glorious scroll exchanges, the chance to review his book, and this parley. I was especially entertained at how I be found as I have never heard of the bookbloggerlist before. I am grateful for it putting me in contact with such an amusing and lovely author. I hope it does not take 5 years for the next installment of this yarn. But I shall certainly read it once it be out.
Thus ends our parley an’ this adventure. I be sad that this adventure be over. But a new adventure can’t start until the last one ends. I do encourage the crew to take a journey to visit the world of 700th arc and share ye tales of the experience with yer Captain . . .
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
The volatile moon of Scion is beset by spectacular eclipses, violent storms and powerful oceanic shifts. For those crushed beneath the technological might of the Erodyian Empire, these are merely the backdrop to a life of brutal hardship.
The kingdom of Symeria is collapsing, strangled in the all-powerful grip of the empire’s enigmatic – and inhuman – dictator. Commanding a platoon of seasoned rangers, disgraced Lieutenant Leo Janus is dispatched to Erodyia’s untamed jungle on a mysterious reconnaissance mission.
But a young refugee named Luther Kelly also wanders this hostile wilderness, trying to unravel secrets more personal. As their paths threaten to collide, both men face dangers and revelations far greater than either could have imagined…
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