Indie Author: 10 Quick Questions with T O Munro
For the second 10 Quick Questions we have the inimitable T O Munro, author of The Lady of the Helm and it is two sequels. He has also just released the first in a new Trilogy, The Medusa's Daughter. So, without further ado, let's welcome T O Munro and get on with the questions.
GRM: Tell us about your book.
TOM: Lady of the Helm is the first book in an epic fantasy trilogy. The story blends traditional and new elements of the genre in a story that surprises with its twist and turns.There is a resurgent evil, some powerful magic artefacts and a sprinkling of elves, but the tale follows many leading female characters including the eponymous Niarmit – Lady of the Helm, the bad guys aren’t all that bad, good guys who… well you get the idea, while a great weapon is … different.
Like many authors, I’m not very comfortable at pushing my own work. I guess that goes with the enforced introversion of being locked in a room with only a laptop and my imagination for company.So perhaps a few review quotes might help.
Just finished the trilogy. Wonderful stuff! Great characters ("Dema" is one of my favorite characters from 40+ years of reading), great conflicts, fights, friends, foes.. it's all there!
I read this thinking it would be predictable, but was really surprised. The story lines twist and turn and always kept me guessing
If you're like me, and you enjoy a good epic fantasy in which female characters (characters, plural, not just one token Smurfette) occupy a central place, here's one for you.
GRM: Where did your inspiration come from?
TOM: At the start it was a mixture of having loved Lord of The Rings but wanting to address some of the things I wished there had been more of in that story (female leads, a big bad who was more than a distant malevolent influence, a great weapon whose operation was explained and made sense).There was also a desire to recall and celebrate my youthful enthusiasm for Dungeons and Dragons, so much so that in one early draft you could all but hear the d20s being rolled.But along the way there are many other influences that have been stirred into the mix.
I have heavily mined British History to a degree that no reader seems to have noticed yet.The great set piece battles were all inspired by real historical events. There were other micro-influences that shaped details in the story. In one development I was thinking of Alec Guinness in Bridge over the River Kwai. Another inspiration for the nature of the key artefact was shaped by a Dr Who story “Kinda.”
I guess though the real seed of the story was a creative writing exercise at school long ago, where we wrote a piece inspired by three pieces of music that the teacher made us listen to.That scene resurfaced in a storm tossed sea journey in the middle of Lady of the Helm.
GRM: Why did you choose to go Self-Published?
TOM: Impatience. As a teenager I had written books and sent off a few synopses.It seemed a dreadfully slow and uncertain process.Some years ago I was convinced technology would offer authors the same kind of opportunities to self-market as it was offering musicians. When that expectation became a reality, I leapt at it.
GRM: What was the hardest part about taking this route?
TOM: I guess the greatest difficulty always is in making yourself known with literally millions of self-published books filling amazon’s infinite shelves. Despite the nay-sayers I am sure the quality of self-published work is rising and a number of authors are operating in a hybrid mode – self-publishing some work, traditionally publishing other pieces.
The time to market is always in short supply as is the chutzpah to continuously say BUY MY BOOK (some are better at that than others).We rely so much on word of mouth and reviews.Admiral Nelson once said when vainly searching for a French fleet while desperately short of scouting vessels Want of Frigates
GRM: Morning, afternoon or evening writer?
TOM: Whenever I can get the time and (almost more difficult these days) avoid distractions.On working days that makes me an evening writer, but weekends and holidays it could be anytime.
GRM: Architect or Gardener? Planner or Pantser?
TOM: Architect and planner – overall story arc identified, subdivided into major parts, individual scenes identified to be slung onto the story thread.As the story develops the scenes may be re-ordered, merged or split, but all with a purpose of advancing the plot. One other genre I tried my hand at in my twenties was murder mysteries.There the plot is everything – and the second book in the trilogy has its own crime to be solved woven in amongst some more epic threads,
GRM: Silence, music or what when writing?
TOM: Silence – utter silence apart from the tapping of keyboard keys.Also copious amounts of tea and ideally a non-functioning wifi to remove facebook distractions.
GRM: What’s the weirdest fact or piece of information you had to research in order to write the book?
TOM: So many to choose from – I have got a number of pieces pasted into the research document for my current Work in Progress (A steampunk novel) around altitude sickness symptoms, what chloroform smells like, and the names of some radioactive minerals. I hate to think what the CIA would make of my search history.
GRM: To steal (paraphrase) from Rod Stewart, what do you wish that you know now, you knew when you started the journey to a finished and published book?
TOM: Probably the fact that – no matter how literate you might think you are, no matter how much words might be the everyday currency of your working life – you still need an editor, an external set of eyes to help refine and fine tune your story.
GRM: You’re on a deserted island with enough food and water to survive. There no building materials around so you must wait for rescue. What three books would you have with you, to help you pass the time?
TOM: Lord of the Rings obviously – I’m not a great re-reader of books. I only just made the effort to re-read the Hobbit and found it not just better than I expected a re-read to be, but better than I remembered the first read being.I have dipped into LotR from time to time but fell far short of the Christopher Lee ideal of a complete reread every year.I think that sometimes I read like I drive, driven by the plot – focused on the destination and the road ahead – unable to appreciate the scenery.The times when I get driven by someone else along familiar routes I notice so much more.I think the same is true perhaps of re-reading books (and of life in general) where our hunger always for something fresh and new blinds us to the appeal of revisiting the old and familiar.So LotR is definitely the book most due a re-read.
The complete works of William Shakespeare – OK that’s a bit of a cheat – but he has explored so many of the great story themes – and his work is lovely to read aloud just so I can hear a human voice without having to go mad(der) and talk to myself.
Mystery Choice: I am making a conscious effort to read more self-published and small-press work myself and to write some kind of review of all books I read. I’m also setting out to read more female authors as well. At the moment I am particularly struck with the writing of Mercedes M Yardley and Laura M Hughes. So Book number three would be the next release (as yet unread by me) of either of those two.
Find out more:
Thanks to T O Munro for taking part in this, and aren't those covers fantastic! Anyway, I have few more of these lined up and have dipped my toe in the pool of creation that is #SPFBO 2 - so look out for those and to finding out about a brand new crop of authors!