Todays post is an interview with Keith C. Blackmore. Keith writes in the horror and epic fantasy genres, two genres that I enjoy reading. You can read more about the books Keith has written at www.keithcblackmore.com.
1. What are your influences and sources of inspiration?
I was an avid reader of comic books and later got into trade paperbacks. I read a lot of different stuff, from action adventure to horror, SF to fantasy. The first novel I read was Conan by Robert E Howard, and a few other pulp writers whose names I can’t recall right now (sorry). At some point later I remember picking up a copy of Terry Brook’s The Elfstones of Shannara. I also remember reading Dracula at around twelve or thirteen, and that lead to me picking up the Nightshift collection of short stories by Stephen King. Movies were hard to come by in my hometown, so I would read a lot of movie adaptations, and a lot of them were written by Alan Dean Foster, who quickly became a favourite of mine. Anything that was in comics, print, or on the screen was a source of inspiration.
I also played Dungeons and Dragons (yes, yes) [no complaints from me – I played it a lot myself 🙂 ] quite a bit and the idea of creating my own adventures was something I wanted to do, just like the movies Those were good times with good friends as well, but I realized that sometimes, the characters controlled by the players didn’t always do things I envisioned in gameplay, so, the next big step was writing my own adventure with characters of my own creation. In university, I majored in English literature but the course selections (the classics) were mostly pretty boring (there were some exceptions–Shakespeare was great, as was Charles Dickens). Classic mythology was a course I loved but didn’t do well on as, during the final exam, the professor insisted on making me answer questions I had no interest in. I also studied the classics in SF & Fantasy during university, as well as a little military history.
2. What genres do you read and why?
Mostly SF and Fantasy but I will go outside of that. I’ve read westerns (Larry McMurty’s Lonesome Dove) Annie Proulx (The Shipping News) as well as a bunch of others. Some nonfiction as well if it’s anything weird or different. I want to get a new book called The Decent which is about this group of people that explore the deepest known caves on Earth, and they go down in the earth for kilometres. Anything outside of SF & Fantasy is essentially research for me as I study how other authors do things.
3. Who are your favourite authors and why?
Robert E Howard, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Alan Dean Foster, Larry McMurty, Annie Proulx, John Steakley, and bunch of others. Steakley particular has a writing style that hooks me right from the get-go. I read most of these authors because they are or were the best at what they do, so studying them is important, and they tell great stories.
4. Have you met any famous writers and did they live up to your expectations?
Met Chris Clairemont at an SF Convention in Nova Scotia, Canada. Also met Guy Gavriel Kay. Both guys were very friendly although I do remember Chris and his wife just getting back from Australia and being jet-lagged. He did sign my limited series Wolverines though.
Kay awarded me first prize in a short story contest, and told me that I was good at capturing and developing “a voice.” It was a year before I knew what he meant.
5. Aside from writing, what other interests do you have?
Avid movie watcher–some great stories out there–although I don’t do musicals (unless it’s a Disney animation). Still a big PC gamer, and I’m currently enjoy playing Fallout 3. I enjoy exercising, mountain biking, and walking. The biking and walking in particular are great ways to work out writer’s block, and to just think.
6. Have you had anything traditionally published or adapted into a film?
Came close to traditionally publishing a long time ago with my first fantasy novel Not a Bard’s Song, which is probably as close to mainstream fantasy as I’ll get. The publisher (a small press) “loved” the book but went bankrupt. None of the big publishers wanted it. So, while still peddling it around, I wrote the sequel, a few more fantasy novels, and a horror book. I’ve had a few articles published in Korean newspapers (my first paid work!). Nowadays, I’ve all but given up on the traditional publishing industry as ebooks and ereaders are becoming more and more prevalent.
7. Can any of your work be viewed, if so where?
My website is www.keithcblackmore.com, where you can find news and reading samples. There are a couple of free horror stories there–Taste and Ye Olde Fishing Hole. There will be some short fantasy fiction there as well, which will be the lead in to a series of short stories under the title of 131 Days. Also, links Amazon.com, where whatever ebooks I have are currently selling. Reviews are coming in, and I’m pleased with them. I hope they continue.
8. What’s your current book about?
The Missing Boatman is a horror tale about the week where a lot of people start surviving terrible accidents and disasters all over the globe. It’s a modern day story about “what if” none of us could die anymore, and what might happen once the world populace discovered their newly found immortality. It’s fantasy, Death is a character in the book, and there are a lot of powers, both good and bad, that want to find him… or kept him missing.
I was a student of classical mythology in university, and came across one story which I found exceptionally interesting. It was about this man who had wished for immortality and got it, but later realized the gods had played a trick on him. They made him immortal, but they did not grant him eternal youth. As a result, he continued to age, until he was an incredibly old man. The Missing Boatman takes that myth a few steps further, and I hope people enjoy the story.
The Troll Hunter is a work of Heroic Fantasy. There is very little magic, monsters aren’t as commonplace, and it’s harsh. Gritty. Or so I tried to make it that way. It’s hard not to talk about the story without giving away too much of what I hope will be a surprise. I think fans of George RR Martin, David Gemmell, and Joe Abercrombie will enjoy it. It’s begins with a company of hard-nosed shock troops called Sujins, and they’re pulled back into duty one morning without any reason. They eventually find out that they are to protect a heavily armoured koch (coach) heading north, through a country on the verge of losing a very costly and drawn out war. They also learn that their leaders are harsh veterans of the war, and pretty much despise each other.
And once on the march, things do not go the way they are intended.
I’ve written the first forty or so pages (or six chapters) in such a way that, if a person can figure out what is about to happen, then my hat is off to them. But all is revealed soon enough, and by the end of the first few chapters, I hope the reader will be hooked.