DGLA: How would you "sell" your novel in 20 words or less?
AR: Kell’s Legend is a speedball of high-octane heroic fantasy packed with complex heroes, psychopathic villains, dark magick and clockwork vampires!
DGLA: What does it mean to you to be nominated for the David Gemmell Legend Award?
AR: With hand on heart, it’s a very great honour for me to be nominated for the DGLA as David Gemmell was a personal hero. His novels helped me through some very bad times, and when I was finally published the man himself gave me some superb advice on the whole writing and publishing “arena”. If it wasn’t for David Gemmell, I wouldn’t be writing fantasy!!
DGLA: What is your favourite David Gemmell book and Why?
AR: Can I pick two? First is Lion of Macedon, which I think is the most perfect fantasy novel ever written. The characters, especially Parmenion and Phillip, as so well crafted they do not exist as written word, but as real people warring on the Greek battlefields of your imagination. The landscape is beautifully woven, the historical background meshed perfectly with the fantastical, and the plot so cleverly constructed it makes me green with envy. Then there’s Legend, gritty, grim, violent, realistic, good versus evil, order versus chaos. And of course, it introduces Dros Delnoch and Druss the Legend! Perfect.
DGLA: Who was an inspiration for your writing and why?
AR: David Gemmell, obviously, because I fell in love with Legend when I was 15 years old, and bought every book since. I love Gemmell’s gritty realism, grim tough guys, and the idea of the redemptive anti-hero. I was also inspired by Tolkien, Moorcock, Iain Banks, Terry Pratchett, George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway. All of these writers have placed ingredients in my writer’s cauldron, and I mixed it up well, added a few slices of mad Remic and a bucketful of chilli powder to give my writing that extra acceleration and zing.
DGLA: Out of the others nominated for the award, who, aside from yourself, would you vote for and why?
AR: The best new fantasy I’ve experienced in the past ten years is, without a shadow of a doubt, Joe Abercrombie’s work. So I’d vote for Best Served Cold. Joe now owes me a flagon of frothing ale J.
DGLA: What key attributes do you bring to the table with your writing?
AR: First, there’s interesting characterisation, because without this any plot falls flat. I bring plenty of conflict, because with violent conflict comes action and my books are brimming full of action and madcap adventure, usually involving axes and swords and bad guys being cut from crown to crotch. All my books are a non-stop rollercoaster of action and adventure, woven around tight, twisting, turning plots, mainly because I, personally, have a very low boredom threshold – so I write the sort of kick-ass high octane stuff I like to read. If I wanted to read 300 pages of politics, then I’d read a book on, er, politics. I also include plenty of black humour in the pot, which would be the Pratchett (and Blackadder) influences spilling over.
DGLA: Which character within your nominated book was the most fun to write and why do you think that readers will like them?
AR: That would be Saark from Kell’s Legend. Saark is a womaniser, a dandy, a King’s Champion swordsman and out-and-out hedonist. He hates peasants, dirt, work and any woman who does not immediately want to sleep with him. He is crass, egocentric, narcissistic, inconsiderate, a perfection of sartorial elegance, and grooms himself with oil, perfume, creams and silks. However. There is a underlying iron streak, a backbone of strength and his personal honour and sense of ethics always seems him do the right thing.
Kell and Saark hate one another, but are forced through events into an unholy alliance. They are polar opposites, Kell a gruff old axe-man intent on staying alive and killing his enemies, Saark in love with 1) himself, and 2) every buxom serving wench they come across. It makes for some sparkling arguments.
DGLA: Which of your characters are most like you and why?
AR: Haha. That would be Franco, from my Combat K books (War Machine, Biohell and the upcoming Hardcore). He’s mad and bad and trick and slick, and maybe just a little bit insane. He consistently tries to do the right thing – tries so hard to do the right thing – but people always mess with him, and provoke him, and he ends up getting into trouble. All. The. Time. Franco also loves sausage and beer. And nurses. He adores nurses.
DGLA: What of life’s little addictions could you not live without and why?
AR: Whiskey and writing. Why? Remove both, and I would be a bitter empty shell. Writing has motivated me, driven me forward from a very young age. It’s all I ever wanted to do. I wrote my first novel when I was 14, and I’ll share a secret with you now... it was called The Land of Falanor, and when I came to write Kell’s Legend at the age of *cough* thirty-£$£^% then I borrowed some of those names I created years earlier. It was quite fun, to be truthful - to use ideas devised as a kid. That’s the sort of thing that makes life interesting and entertaining.
DGLA: On long journeys, reading is often the pleasure of choice, whose work will you grab at the airport to ensure a good journey?
AR: David Gemmell, Joe Abercrombie, James Lovegrove, Iain Banks, Ian Graham (finish that next book, damn you Graham!!, damn you I say!!), Dan Abnett, Eric Brown, Raymond Feist, Robert Holdstock, Mark Charan Newton, Philip K. Dick, Cormac McCarthy, Colin Harvey and Richard Morgan. To name but a few J
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