Today’s interview is with Pam Baddeley, author of The Reluctant Hero.
1) What is your author name and in what state do you live (or country if not in the US)?
My author names are Pam Baddeley and Ann Bradbury – I use the first one for fantasy/SF and the second for supernatural stories set in contemporary times. I live in the UK.
2) What is the title of your newest book and what is the genre?
The Reluctant Hero, which is a fantasy but with science fictional elements. It takes the form of epic fantasy, but includes aliens and alien technology. And a dragon – there had to be at least one of those!
3) What is the book about?
Faradon, a young man, has been raised as a servant despite his noble birth, and is now in grave danger of being murdered by his older brother. Just when he thinks his only hope of escape is to become a mercenary, he is drawn into a growing conflict, triggered by ancient races and technology from the stars. He is forced to become a leader and to shoulder huge responsibilities, despite feeling totally inadequate. So on the one hand, it is the personal account of how he matures and forms real friendships, some with unlikely people or creatures, and on the other hand is the story of the conflict which threatens his homeland and society.
4) Where did you come up with the idea?
I envisaged a scene of a young man riding to meet a strange character (who made it into the final novel but is somewhat changed) and then reporting back to his older brother with the information he had learned at that meeting. I started writing to find out what this was all about – I certainly did not know it was going to become such a huge novel. That scene did not survive for long, and the young man was only meant to be a bit part, but he soon insisted on being the hero of the book, and far from being friends with his brother they turned out to be deadly enemies!
5) How long did it take you to write it?
On and off, for more years than I care to remember, revising it hugely each time I came back to it. But this time around it took about four and a half years for a multiple set of passes including those to address my editor’s comments.
6) Did you learn anything from the project?
A lot. When I wrote the first draft, it was my first real novel. I had written short stories since childhood and some longer works, but those were no longer than a novella. Probably it wasn’t a good idea to start with something so ambitious and with so many characters. It has required a huge amount of self-editing, as well as the input of other people including a professional writer and an editor. But I’m pleased with the final result and I’m now applying the lessons learned to other stories. I have introduced some planning into my subsequent novels too, though I am still open to things changing as I actually write them.
7) Do you have an author website and/or blog? How about a book video?
8) Do you have any success tips to pass on to fellow authors? How about any great editors/cover artists?
When you are first trying to get something down from scratch, don’t try to critique it or wonder if it is any good. Leave aside all the detailed line editing/word choice and other things that would slow you down – those are for the second draft and beyond. When you are first getting something down, just write it and turn off the nit-picking critic we all have inside. If you need to, make a quick note that you must check a fact or whatever, but then push on with it. The initial creativity comes from the subconscious and it is essential to give that full rein.
I don’t talk much about a work in progress when it is at that crucial early stage. It’s fine to tell other people about a book once you are redrafting it, but if you talk about it at first draft you can convince your subconscious that it is ‘done’ and then you’ve killed the book. That’s my experience anyway.
I was lucky in finding a great cover artist at https://fantasiafrogdesigns.wordpress.com/ who produced exactly what I wanted – after I had taken good advice from online writing sites to study modern covers and not to be too literal to a particular scene, but just to include elements that give a flavour of the book.
9) What genres do you like to read? Are you open to reading new authors and reviewing their work?
As far as fiction goes, I probably read more fantasy than anything else, but also crime, science fiction, children’s/Young Adult fiction, the odd bit of horror and some straight historical fiction. I also read non-fiction, especially history.
I do read authors who are new to me, and I review everything I read, on Goodreads, but I’m mainly working through a huge backlog of books I bought years ago, either re-reading or finally getting round to reading them for the first time. But newer works I’ve enjoyed recently include Den Patrick’s series starting with ‘The Boy with the Porcelain Blade’, and Christopher Fowler’s quirky ‘Bryant and May’ crime series.
10) What is your favorite book of all time and why?
That is an impossible question for me because there are so many books I’ve loved and also some I loved at the time that I didn’t find stood up to my fond memories on re-reading them, probably due to my having a lot more experience of life! But books that influenced me a lot as a child when I first started to write include C S Lewis’ Narnia series, ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and ‘Jane Eyre’.
11) Fun Question: Do you have any pets? If so, what kind?
None at present sadly
12) Fun Question 2: Do you own an electronic reading device? If so, what kind and how do you like it?
I have a Kindle Keyboard which I use to read aloud my writing – it can highlight problems that your eyes somehow skip over so it’s a pity that the newer ones dropped that feature. I also have a newer Kindle which is smaller and lighter for travelling with. And I bought secondhand Nooks and Kobos so that I could check if the standard epub version (non Kindle) of my book was formatted OK for those readers. I don’t really read on those though. I love the Kindle(s) but still read a lot of paper books.