Today we're talking with Ian Thompson, author of thrillers, fantasy, horror, and more.
Ian Thompson was born in Liverpool, England, but has lived most of his life in a small town in Cheshire. Throughout his life, he has loved good tales. He likes fast-paced adventures, strong and unusual characters, gritty action and unexpected twists. Being taken away into the realm of someone's imagination has always appealed to him and has driven him to create realms of his own.
The answer has to be: Hawaiian shirts. From the start of my working life, I always wore plain, nondescript clothing--probably a result of my somewhat introverted nature. About four years ago, for some reason, I decided to try something new. Now I wear Hawaiian shirts every day of the year--in Britain, where the weather is never Hawaiian! Crazy, perhaps, but I've grown to love them.
Please tell us a bit about your latest book.
My last release was an action-fantasy novella entitled Survival I: Slaughter At Ghastar. It's the first in a spin-off series from Era of Darkness. In Era of Darkness, there is a whole fantasy world at war and a lot of the narrative tends to be on a huge-scale--armies of tens of thousands fighting, for example. The Survival Series tells the story of a handful of simple villagers. These aren't people who will change the destiny of the world, they're flung into the middle of a conflict and just want to get through the next day alive. Slaughter of Ghastar begins with a sudden, overwhelming attack upon a village by the demon armies. Amidst the chaos, many of the villagers try to flee. A small group decide to warn a nearby hermit of the danger; and this act of kindness has an unexpected result. When the demons quickly catch up to them, the villagers' courage is tested to the limits.
On this rare occasion, I gained the initial inspiration from myself, which is weird. In Era of Darkness, there is a scene where characters are looking through a telescope-apparatus and see the village of Ghastar. They are horrified at the aftermath of a demon attack... When I was polishing the final draft, I couldn't help but think, 'Wouldn't it be great to tell the story of that place?' Months later, I decided to embark on a novella series and it just clearly had to start at Ghastar. That led to the whole concept of the series: simple survival. I hope that this enables me to tell some strong, character-based tales. Each one can have a straightforward premise--such as "get from A to B without getting killed"--and then things can go horribly wrong!
What made you want to be a writer?
Thinking back as far as I can, I was drawn to telling stories. I can remember being the only one in school who loved English homework, because I got to write a story of some kind. When I started work, I always spent my lunch breaks writing or editing--I always felt that I was a writer first and that the job I was getting paid for wasn't my career.
I think the major attraction is that writing is one of the few activities where you can totally exercise your imagination: you create a world, from the depths of the oceans to the stars in the sky, and, most importantly, to the people inhabiting it. I find the process very immersive and probably addictive.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I almost always work in a "writing den" I have set up at home. It could easily be the world's most distracting place--I'm surrounded by shelves filled with fantasy ornaments (from dragons to sword-wielding fighters); sci-fi memorabilia; Star Trek models I've made; and all other kinds of "stuff". Maybe this surreal atmosphere helps me write. I don't think I'm the kind of writer who could work on a laptop in a busy location like a park--I need a familiar comfort zone.
Do you have a favorite among books you've written?
For me, there are a whole bunch of things I love about every story. In Paradise Exhumed, it's the camaraderie between the main characters most of all. In Era of Darkness Vol I, the overpowering thing was the scale of the tale--I'd never developed so many characters before for one story or told a story across an entire continent. For the novella, Survival I, it was taking some very normal people and making them react to extreme circumstances. Each one is unique and special to me, so I can't really determine a favorite.
Paradise Exhumed, though, will always have an extra special place for another reason. It was my first release and the first title I got to hold in my hands as a printed book. Those are magical memories.
What can you tell us about your next release?
I'm polishing the final draft of my horror novel, God of War. My editor has green-lit the book, but I always like to have a last careful read-through before I release a story. This is my third book release and also my third genre, the previous novels being a mystery-thriller and a fantasy. God of War is built around the concept of cause and effect. The effect is set during modern day, in an underground cave network--in which, a small group of friends encounter a strange and vicious predator. The cause is set during the Roman occupation of Britain, featuring an ambitious Roman who seeks to create "something special" for Nero's gladiatorial arenas. These tales are tightly interwoven. One is a desperate hunt-and-chase, the other is in the style of a twisted Edgar Allan Poe story. On top of that, I think readers will find the creature of the novel is quite special and unique.
This week I will be releasing a free short story volume entitled "Into the Hole". This forms a prelude to God of War, and will include the first two chapters of the novel as a bonus.
What is your favorite genre to write and why?
Years ago, I would have answered, "Either fantasy or science fiction." Nowadays, I think in terms of characters, plot and action. I feel just as much at home writing a thriller as a fantasy, sci-fi or horror story.
Each genre has its own comforts and challenges. Here's an example. Paradise Exhumed is set in and around a modern-day city, so the "world-building" is simpler than creating a land of Emeran for Era of Darkness. This allowed me to focus more on the twists of the narrative for "Paradise". On the other hand, for "Era", the extensive world-building was a fantastic experience for me. In God of War, I had the pleasure of creating two worlds: the cave environment and the Roman-occupied Britain of the AD 60's. I love it all.
What has been your most surprising experience since becoming an Indie Author?
Definitely other authors. Indie authors certainly don't inhabit a "dog eat dog" community. Each one hopes for the success of the others and contributes to the community as a whole. Everyone I've encountered has been polite, friendly and supportive. I'm very grateful for all I've learned through blogs, author's websites and e-conversations, and I try to give something back myself. The experience of connecting with other writers has been truly and unexpectedly great.
Speaking of other authors, what are your favorite books to read?
In fantasy, I enjoy many of the classic "pulp" authors, such as Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard--who were real pioneers of the genre. I'm drawn to hard-boiled private eye stories, with their fast, tough and action-packed tales--favorites including Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. In Sci-fi, I've read a lot of the Star Trek and Dr. Who novels (which range from excellent to mind-numbingly dull), and authors such as Harry Harrison and H.G. Wells (a writer well ahead of his time). For more modern reads, my go-to author is Stephen King--I just love the richness of his characters and plots. I'm currently savoring King's "Finder's Keepers".
Once I've depleted my current stack of "books to read", I've made a promise to myself to try some new authors...ones to take me out of the comfort-zone of "old favorites". Looking forward to that... Must read faster!
How can readers connect with you?
In order of most to least up-to-date:
- My Author Website: http://ianthompson1701.wix.com/authorsite
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/ianthompson1701
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ian-Thompson/995938977100104
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13830038.Ian_Thompson
Where can we buy your books?
My thriller novel, Paradise Exhumed, is available at:
- Amazon: http://amzn.to/16YH3FZ
- Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1BzYHZk
- Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1JoqSlN
- Amazon: http://amzn.to/1GIas6N
- Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1FOqvOM
- Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1RngPyv
- Amazon: http://amzn.to/1PwFy1F
- Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1MTl4kG
- Barnes & Noble: http://buff.ly/1NznlmD
You have given us plenty to dig into and think about! Thanks for taking the time to share with us. I'm looking forward to getting lost in the worlds you've created!