Marc Watson - A Well-Conceived Blend of Mythology, Fantasy and Sci-Fi
Marc Watson is an author of genre fiction of all lengths and styles. He began writing at the age of 15 and continues to be a part-time writing student at Athabasca University. He has been published on flash fiction site www.101words.org as well as comedy site www.thecorrectness.com. Marc lives in Calagary, Alberta. He is a husband and proud father of two. he is an avid outdoors-man, martial artist, baseball player, and lover of all Mexican foods. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his book, Between Conversations.
Please give us a short introduction to what Between Conversations is about.
I'd love to! Between Conversations is a short story anthology set entirely within my Ryuujin world, the setting for my previous epic science-fantasy release the Catching Hell Journey & Destination duology. The nine stories in this book are told chronologically, from the year 1600 AD to thousands of years into the future. Each story focuses on places and situations that seem to fall through the cracks of standard epic storytelling, allowing smaller or one-off characters a chance to shine.
What inspired the creation of the world of Ryuujin?
This world came to be when I was 15. I had a long walk to and from high school, which I usually used to listen to music and just get lost in my own mind. The popular culture I was taking in at the time (books, movies, and especially anime) helped birth this world and adventures within it.
Inspired, I started writing the first story in this world with a pen and paper, and ended up writing a whole trilogy (albeit a horrible one. It really is…just…terrible). From there I just kinda lived in that world on and off until many years later I started writing Catching Hell, and now here we are.
Why did you decide to write 9 stories in one book?
The number was mostly arbitrary, though what my focus was, became clear as I went along. In this world there are some massive, planet-wide events that shape mankind, called the Falls of Man. Each era between them is unique, and I thought that they would have great stories to tell. I laid out the idea and just started writing. That said, I certainly didn’t write these in any particular order. My process was totally scattershot.
Why did you title this book "Between Conversations"?
Once I had my general idea, my ‘hook’ for the story if you will, I wanted to set it up as taking place between three incredibly important conversations. The first between the phoenix-man Nixon Ash in Alive Again, the intense faceoff between the original Ryuujin and a very snarky Death in Fireside Sunshine, and a final story between two characters I won’t detail much here as it’s a bit of a Catching Hell spoiler. Not every great battle in history needs to be physical and violent. Some are just two people talking. That’s what I wanted to focus on.
Also, the action-packed stories all happen “between conversations”, letting those stories I mentioned give you a bit of a breather as you read, while also setting the tone for what’s to come.
Have you always known you wanted to be a writer? What inspired your very first book?
Have I always known? No, not at all. I always knew that I had a particular skill set that led to accessible, creative writing that people seemed to enjoy, but being an actual writer was never part on my plans. Heck, even today it’s not. I’m not a writer. I’m a husband, father, worker, and friend, and a million other things, as well as being someone who also writes, and that’s the way I like it.
I touched on my actual first works and where they came from, however, I can say that my first book, my first actual published novel Death Dresses Poorly came from my brain having to break free of the Ryuujin world after living in it for five years while I worked on Catching Hell. Once I officially washed my hands of it, I launched into DDP and just pounded it out in record time. It was the squeegee I needed for my consciousness at the time.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Ha, I’d argue ‘writing’ is even pushing it a bit…but a bunch! I have multiple martial arts black belts, an encyclopedic memory for useless information and pop culture, I can cook and take pride in making fun and exciting meals for my family, I have an extreme tolerance for spicy food, I can live in the woods for extended periods of time with nothing more than a multitool, and I’m the only person I’ve ever met who can whistle with a hotdog tongue.
Readers say your writing is almost poetic. Why do you take this approach?
Well, first of all, I thank them for that. I have heard it myself and I’m always humbled by it.
I try to write the way I think and talk. I want to write the way that I feel is the most accessible. I’ve also had it described as ‘elegantly uneducated’ which I think nails it perfectly, though is somewhat insulting to my Athabasca University writing grades that are very respectable. If someone likes the way my words flow, then that is mission accomplished.
Which of the 9 stories is your personal favorite?
Ask me to pick my children why don’t you! Seriously though, it’s difficult to say. Each of them is so unique (at least to me). Alive Again was a story I wanted to tell ever since I dreamed up Nixon Ash, A Church in the 3 Valleys was so much fun to write because I just went off the rails with the horror elements, and Six Shotguns and a Suicide Slide was pure indulgence in writing a Tarentino-esque scene.
However, I think my heart lay mostly with the first story I wrote in this collection, Low Level Buzz. It introduces a character I am still excited about in sassy-but-serious military sniper Youngjin Ra. Writing her story is what inspired this collection because as I wrote it I realized that these side-stories in this world could be a lot of fun.
Do you have a set of rules for your world? Is there a process you go through that helps define these?
The biggest rule that I have is that although I write in both science fiction as well as fantasy and magic, everything needs to be somewhat grounded. There is no magic for magic’s sake or technology that’s simply unbelievable. There is an explanation to these things, and although those reasons can really be pushing believability, there is still a tangible nature to it all. It makes us feel as though the fantastical elements in the stories are actually achievable someday.
Tell us more about the cover and how it came about.
I have been very lucky with my covers, I admit. Between Conversations has a cover I found on a pre-made cover website that I frequent. It hit like a bolt of lightning when I saw it, because the scene and image was almost identical to one in one of the stories. The colors captured the mood, the fonts and layout were perfect, and I was able to work with any aspects that I felt didn’t jive until they finally did. People in this world are far more creative than I am when it comes to these kinds of things, and I’m very thankful for that.
Between Conversations is a blend of mythology, fantasy and sci-fi. What drew you to the genre?
The ability to destroy the world! It’s hacky but it’s true. We genre fiction authors love to break things on a global scale. It allows us to write and create in a world similar to our own, but make up our own rules and start fresh. In this Ryuujin world, I do it no less than three times. Every time we think we’ve learned our lesson, a new set of mistakes shows up. That’s very human. As I said: a base in reality. Utopia is a pipe dream!
Also, my writing has always been fantastical and I am absolutely the most comfortable with myself as a writer when I write in these genres. If I’m not comfortable writing, what I write suffers. I’ll let others craft their romances and historical fictions.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
Only that I don’t actually write very much, and when I do it’s at work. I can’t write at home at all. I need the low thrum of office life around me to help me write. But of course, I have a job to do! Which is why I only write during lunchtime. 40-50 minutes maybe two or three times a week is all I give to this art, and I think that’s enough.
In a pinch, I can write in a coffee shop or public space and it turns out alright, but you will never catch me hunched over my laptop at a writing table in my home any time soon.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I still slowly and painfully am crawling my way through a paranormal thriller I’ve been stewing on for far too long. I’ve convinced myself that I can’t write the ending properly so here we are, three-quarters of the way to the finish line and dragging my heels. Once I (eventually) finish that, I’m pretty sure it’s time to launch back into the proper Ryuujin stories. There so much to explore in that world and I really want to have a chance to tell it.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Interaction is my favorite! I love it when readers reach out and want to talk or ask questions. You can find me on Twitter (my most active social media site) and Insta at @WriteWatson, on Facebook at facebook.com/marcwroteabook, and always at my website www.marcwatson.ca