JW Webb grew up in the worlds of Narnia and Middle Earth, fully immersed in the fantasy setting and interesting stories. Today, he writes fantasy that is just as intriguing and immersive - where readers never know what is going to happen next. As our Author of the Day, Webb tells us how he uses props to prepare for his fight scenes, talks about fantasy as a genre and introduces us to the other books in this series.
Please give us a short introduction to what Gol: A Legends of Ansu Fantasy is about
It’s a complex fantasy opening doors on my Legends of Ansu series. There are several threads running at once. Gol is a troubled continent ruled by squabbling barons on the brink of civil war. Lissane’s the headstrong daughter to one of them. She plans to flee her father’s harsh rule with her lover, Erun Cade. But fate has other plans for these two. Meanwhile, half a world away, a vengeful sorcerer has freed a fire demon destroying all in its path. Closer to home the Sea God starts claiming back the continent He once ruled. Caught between, fire, water, sorcery, ambition, treachery and war, Gol’s days are numbered. It’s up to Lissane and her poet lover to steer a course to safety.
What inspired you to make a doomed continent the backdrop for your book?
I wanted to pen something powerful and evocative with hints of mythology and shades of Atlantis. I’d originally written The Shattered Crown as Book 1 but decided it needed a prequel, much in the way that Aragorn in LOTR looks back at the fall of Numenor. Gol is darker than the other books; it taps the subconscious and sinks deep within.
Your book includes a lot of political intrigue. Why did you take this approach?
Politics is everywhere if you take its original Greek meaning. People are complicated, and I make my characters interact with many layers, even the alien ones :) The Fantasy genre can be quite two dimensional, whereas strong complex characters will fit in any plot. Conflict and intrigue form part of what we are.
Can Gol be read as a standalone?
Absolutely –– works great as a standalone and also as an introduction to the series. Events in Gol take place 1000 years before the next book so everyone is pretty much dead! Slate clean, move on, haha.
Tell us more about the cover and how it came about.
It’s by Ravven an American artist/designer living in the UK. She’s terrific. I came across her website and loved her covers. Ravven has designed 9 book cover images for me so far, including the 3 books I’m working on now. Her covers capture the mood of the content within. A good cover is crucial. I’ll add that Gol and all the other books (except The Haven, a Cornish Ghost story) are illustrated by Tolkien artist Roger Garland who has also created images, logos and maps for the series. Lucky to know him. Great bloke!
Readers report that your books are very unpredictable. How do you pull this off?
Ha –– that’s because I never know what my characters will do next! They take the rudder some times. I have a lot of fun with them and I like to throw spanners at things. We live on a spinning rock hurtling through space. Define normal? Part of the massive attraction of Game of Thrones is the sudden shocks & surprises. Gol has quite a few jaw-droppers, and the later books are stuffed with them.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I’ve worked in construction, served in the British Army and hauled steel, milk, lumber etc, and even once sailed a brigantine where I met my wife Joanne 30 years ago. I’m designing a new writer website now –– there’s always things to learn. I like techi stuff, though at 56 I’m slow & dim compared to the wizzkids and occasionally want to hit PC with hammer. I’m not big on patience really.
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
For me it’s all the shenanigans surrounding it. Writing is the easy part. If you want to publish mainstream you've got to whistle their tune, be prepared for a lot of rejections and plan well ahead. As an indie you need to multi-task and be more business orientated. Big learning curve. I think both roads have pros and cons –– writing the story is the fun part.
Do you have a set of rules for your world? Is there a process you go through that helps define these?
Not for me –– I’ve lived in most of them, haha. I grew up in Narnia and Middle-earth. I like the flexibility of creating your own tapestry. But you can’t just throw anything out there, tales need grounding and have to make sense. I describe my books as ‘myth and magic greet cold hard steel.’ The characters are relatable: the women strong and forthright, their men mostly scared. (I just made that last bit up:)
How do the other books in this series tie in with this one?
Legends’ is a planned 9 book series, although I will probably top that and keep going as the ideas keep hitting me. The next 4 books star Corin an For a descendent of Lissane. He’s a likable rogue with his own set of problems. Those books should be read sequentially or in the Boxed Set called Legends of Corin an Fol. The following books will all work as standalone’s as well as being part of the series.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? Favorite writing spot, best time of day to write etc.
I’m all or nothing –– break the rules. Get story down, edit, edit, curse, and edit again. Drink wine. Send to editor, argue, curse and edit. I don’t even bother with word count –– I just write. I’m a story teller first and foremost. It’s an affliction but I like to think I’m good at it. Favorite place? Yep, got a swanky new office. Moving in next month. I’m spoilt, but it wasn’t always so. I wrote Gol in a tiny caravan while working 60+ hours a week. My late wife Rae had cancer and we were renting out our house as a holiday let in Cornwall. Anything to survive. Gol reflects the darkness of that time. It’s not for the faint hearted but I think that’s part of its magic. Apropos I use props –– I have 3 broadswords, 4 trad bows including a longbow, 2 axes and some daggers. I wield these before fight scenes, hat and several years practicing martial arts help get me in the mood. Live the dream :)
What are you working on right now?
Number 7 in series. Journeyman –– probably the most complex book so far. It stars two characters from the other books and takes place in a different realm. I’m really excited about this one, throwing in a lot of new threads and themes. Playing with dimensions. It’s mostly a love story comprising survival and the indomitable spirit of mankind. I like to leave positive echoes, Gol perhaps being the exception –– as you can’t be jolly hockey sticks writing about a doomed continent, though there is a lot of banter in it too. Next up it’s The Giant’s Dance a pseudo Norse saga again featuring one of the gang from the series.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I write a weekly newsletter I call the VIP Lounge. It’s fun. There’s an ongoing short serial starring the aforementioned Corin an Fol. I add, mythological, Dark Age, and mystery snippets with links to other books, articles etc, plus there are giveaways and folklore snippets. I keep it light and breezy. Anyone joining gets a free copy of Gray Wolf (now book 2) https://www.instafreebie.com/free/ZFyVT I also blog, mostly about fantasy and myth –– though haven't had time lately. I’m on twitter as @legendsofansu, Facebook Page fb.com/jameswebb61, both easy to find via my newsletter or current website www.legendsofansu.com.