Today I’m so excited to have author William Stacey on the blog answering a few questions about himself and his upcoming book Starlight (Book One of the Dark Elf Wars).
Lillian: Thank you for coming today William! Tell us a little about yourself 😀
William: I’m a husband, a father of a kick-ass teenage girl, and the proud owner of a German Shepherd named Thor. I spent 32 years in the Canadian Army with operational tours in Bosnia, Afghanistan. I’ve been posted up near the North Pole, Bermuda, all over Canada, and a three-year exchange posting with the U.S. Navy in San Diego. I love all sorts of nerdy stuff, Dungeons and Dragons, video-games, and reading. I’m also a fitness fanatic, a martial artist, and an avid fan of all thing medieval.
Lillian: What inspired you to become a writer?
William: I think I was always going to be a writer. Certainly many times in my life I can remember starting a book but never finishing it. I do remember the exact moment when I decided I was going to be a serious write, though. I was standing outside a tent that slept 10 other guys in Kabul’s Camp Julien, smoking a cigarette (yes, I know how unhealthy it is; I’m always been a field smoker), when the concept of writing for a living just kind of boinked me on the head—sort of an epiphany if you will. I don’t know, maybe I was unhappy on the tour (I don’t think I was), maybe I just kind of realized that soldiering was not something I wanted to do forever. When the tour was done, I started writing seriously and never looked back. I finished my first novel in 2005 and promptly put it in a locked box never to see the light of day again—trust me, it was really bad; I’ve never understood why new authors want to force their crappy first books on readers—and promptly started on the second book (which also went into the locked box).
Lillian: Is there a book or author that influenced you in anyway?
William: Well, yeah, everything. The best thing we can do is to immerse ourselves in great works of fiction; they can’t help but change who you are and how you look at the world. Reading really is its own reward, as corny as that sounds. Like most boys of my time, I was into the fantasy greats, Tolkien, Brooks, Moorcock. In fact, in preparation for the upcoming Chronicles of Shannara tv series, I just started re-reading the Elfstones of Shannara—happy times! When I got older I thought that Steven King’s The Stand was just about the most wonderful thing I had ever read. In particular, though, I remember reading John Morressy’s Ironbrand; loved it, loved it, loved it. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
Lillian: Thank you! I will *makes note* Where do your ideas come from?
William: Usually with a ‘what if’ concept? Often, I’ll sit down with a blank word document and power stream ‘what if’ ideas down onto the paper for about an hour with no break. When I’m done, there’s usually 2-3 good short story ideas and maybe one or two novel or novella ideas. These are never fully formed, of course, and need to be slowly developed over the course of months.
Lillian: ‘What if’s’ are great! Is there anything in your books from real life or is it all purely imagination?
William: Well, it’s all based on my life experiences. I’ve never been a Viking chieftain, but I’ve served with soldiers for decades, so I understand their humor, their moods, and how they act. Then, I can transfer that to my imaginary Vikings or other protagonists and write what I hope is much more believable tale. I can also inject moments of my memory of combat into my fight scenes to give them a sheer of believability. It’s the little things that bring a story to life. For example, don’t just write about a gunfight, put in the stark, acrid stench of burnt cordite, the feeling of a hot casing landing on the back of your hand and burning you. Put the reader in the moment and make them frightened. So, to answer your question: everything is make-believe but it’s all grounded in real moments that I have lived through—mostly. I’ve never actually been involved in a Great Dragon attack…but I’m still young.
Lillian: Admit it though….it would be pretty cool if you were a Viking chieftain or at least had seen a dragon 😉 What has been your favorite part to write?
William: In Starlight it was the scene where Cassie, Alex, and Paco move forward through the forest to hunt the basilisk on their own. It was very important that I get all the moments right in that scene, the terror, the silence, the sheer stupidity of what they were trying to do—the moment when intelligent people stop and say “what the hell are we doing here? This is crazy!” That was fun.
Lillian: If you could back and have a do over, is there anything you would change?
William: No. You always want to change something and write it just a little bit better, but at a certain point you have to tell yourself that you wrote the story as well as you could at this point in your journey as a writer and move on. I’m proud of my stories, but I’ll always try to do better and keep growing as a craftsman.
Lillian: Is there a character or maybe a theme you’d like to revisit?
William: Not just right now.
Lillian: What are you working on now?
William: So I have a two-book project called the Vampire Queen Saga. Book 1: The Sword of Heaven is out for beta readers right now, and I’m about to start on draft 2 of Book 2: The Mouth of the Gods. It’s a grown-up fantasy about a very nasty vampire queen and the heroes trying to stop her.
Lillian: That sounds amazing! Being published always comes with criticism. How have you handled it? And what was a favorite?
William: You know, I’ve actually read most of the criticism of Black Monastery and said, “yeah, fair-dinkum. I can see why that person would say that; I’ll have to do better next time.” Best compliment: [Black Monastery] “You may be overwhelmed by the level of “Bad-@ssery” in this book. Read the fight scenes while drinking beer and listening to Metal!”
Lillian: Any advice for aspiring writers out there?
William: Don’t publish the first thing or first book you write. Trust me, we all suck at first. Keep growing, keep reading. Readers don’t want to spend time with your practice books, they want good, fun books that are ready for publication. Put your first one or two books away and write something better.
Lillian: Anything you would like to share with your fans?
William: Just this: writers are storytellers, but we need an audience. Without readers, we can’t exist. Thank you for spending time in our story worlds.
Lillian: 😀 Now for a few fun questions…..favorite color?
William: Blue…no yel…arrgh!
Lillian: Favorite movie?
(Don’t judge me)
Lillian: No judgement from me. I like Schwarzenegger 😀 Favorite TV show?
(the new one)
Lillian: Man after my own heart….Favorite place to write?
Lillian: If you have to choose just one book, what would it be and why?
William: The Lord of the Rings Complete Trilogy (all three). Why?! I don’t understand the question…
Lillian: *shakes head* I’ll give you that one. Last question and possibly the most important….what brand of cereal best describes you and why?
William: Raisin Bran. I’m good for you.