Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Author Interview ~ Adrian G Hilder


I’ve been waiting what seems a long time to have today’s interview…

In fact, regular readers may be surprised there’s no re-blog today.

Well, there won’t be a re-blog tomorrow either—I must leave this interview up both days…

It was in January of this year that Adrian and I “met”—when we followed each other on Wattpad.

Then, about three months later, after quite a bit of conversation, I began reading his book…

From my experience with this man, I can say, with gusto, pay attention to what he says :-)

{Also, Adrian has something special to reveal, for the first time, in this interview…}

~~~~~~~~~

Adrian, let’s begin with when you first knew you wanted to write and why you began. Adrian G Hilder - Author

I read and loved many fantasy novels in my teens and early twenties.  My favorite authors at the time were David Gemmel, David Eddings, Raymond E Fiest, Terry Brooks and of course, Tolkien. When I was seventeen (we are talking 1988), I promised myself I would write a fantasy story one day.  I had the urge to create a tale that would be dramatic and gripping the way my favorite movies and books were. I wanted to give the reader a sense of excitement as they read a story I created.

What has the writer’s journey been like for you?

Very long! In some respects it started in 1988 when I first invented a character—a young man with tumbling black hair falling to his shoulders, sitting on a rock and holding a magic sword of some kind.  He had a grave look on his face, and I knew he had an immense challenge to overcome—one that his mentor never resolved.  I even gave him a name: Corylus or “Cory” as he would be called—the Latin name for the Hazel tree, because he would be a tough nut to crack.  That’s all I knew.  Lacking the life experience to create the kind of story I wanted to tell, and then being busy with starting a career in IT and getting married, it remained one of those things I would do “one day”.

In 2009 I had just finished reading Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy. It was brilliant, but slow paced and exhausting for me to read because I wanted to extract the story faster than the dense narrative would allow. I yearned for something faster paced—so hard to find in the fantasy genre. The following day, scrap printer paper and pen in hand, I began writing about Prince Cory on the train to work. Cory had a famous grandfather—a general—who was also his mentor and the war he could not end was the challenge never resolved. I wrote about Cory at his grandfather’s funeral, but soon gave up because I didn’t feel the quality of the writing measured up to published works.  Sadly, I didn’t understand at the time that first drafts are always bad, and you need to take a leap of faith spending time (months or more) writing to develop your “author’s voice”.

Fast forward to October 2013 when the movie Enders Game was released. It caught my attention because Harrison Ford was in it.  I decided to read the book first and then see the movie.  I loved the story and the ending I didn’t see coming.  Orson Scott Card tells us in the forward that he had the idea for the story concept when he was eighteen but did not write it until his mid-thirties.  I was forty-three when I read this, and it struck me that the time for writing Cory’s story was long overdue.  I started to write again and didn’t stop for the two years it took me to finish a first draft of The General’s Legacy.

How do you find the time for writing alongside family and work commitments?

I move work location every once in awhile (I’m a freelance IT consultant) and often work in London (UK).  Commuting there means spending over two hours a day on the train—so there is ten hours a week of writing time.  I listen to music, there are no internet distractions, and I find it a productive place to write.  On the London Underground, sitting at the station waiting for a late train, or in the car while one of my boys is busy with an activity such as cricket practice at the weekend, are all places I can be found writing.  I’m working close to home right now. Fortunately, my wife understands when I spend the same amount of time at the office before and after work keeping up my writing routine.  It can be an inefficient way to write. When time is short, I might only get a hundred words down, but this is better than nothing.

Adrian, you said you wanted to write a story that was dramatic and exciting, the way some movies are. How did you go about doing this?

I felt early on in writing The General’s Legacy that I needed a way to pace the story and have some structure or plan to guide me. By the time I had written the prologue and first two chapters, I was daunted by the prospect of creating a whole story, with all its complexity to manage, without some form of plan. I felt the same way I did when I first started computer programming—you can sit down and just write a small computer program by the seat of your pants, but how do you build a large and complex IT system? At college, I learned how to design software. I was convinced I needed to learn how to design a story. It only took minutes of searching online for me to find Story Engineering by Larry Brooks.  This book taught me how screenwriters and many novelists plan their stories, define their characters, and more. This approach to planning a story forces me to come up with plot twists, conflicts, and dramatic moments that I might not otherwise have thought of. Knowing that these “plot points” are coming, and what the goal of each of the four story phases are, I have plenty of page time to spin the story in their direction.

So, would you describe yourself as a “plotter” rather than a “panster”?

For me, a bit of “seat of the pants writing” is an essential part of discovering character and story, but I need a plan before I go too far. Sometimes the story goes off plan for the better—so the plan is updated. I believe the method and the plan must serve the story and not the other way around… but, as Larry would say, structure is story (a ton of authors might disagree). However much I might stretch the structure rules, all the essential points are there by the end.

Where does the inspiration for what goes into your stories come from?

Mostly, what’s going on in the world around us right now and in recent history.  I’ve avoided creating a fantasy story that draws too heavily on medieval history for storylines and setting. The General’s Legacy is set in a fictional world partly inspired by 18th and 19th century Europe—there is even orchestral music. I’ve used differing fictional religious beliefs, divisions within religions and characters with no religious beliefs for inspiration—without preaching or disrespecting any particular point of view. This also applies to future stories in the planning process.

For some elements of the story, I’ve used my own experiences. Every so often, life can throw many of us a curve ball that we’re not equipped to catch. These can be stressful times—sometimes too stressful for us to cope. I wanted to make something positive out of such hard times. Anxiety and stress come into play in The General’s Legacy, mainly in connection with the use of magic in the story and one character in particular. All great heroes need an inner weakness to triumph over as they try to overcome the antagonists in a story.

Adrian, since we connected on Wattpad, I’d like you to share what your experience there has been like…

At first, it felt like I was publishing story parts into the void.  Hardly anyone took notice of what I was doing. When I had twenty or so story parts up, and I had gone mad following other fantasy and science fiction readers and authors, I managed to secure a few regular readers. Shortly before I published the last parts of the story, the Wattpad Community Team approached me about having The General’s Legacy Featured in fantasy. Many more readers arrived after this and continue to trickle in today. I had been on Wattpad for about eight months by this point. Wattpad has given me many readers, some have commented and voted on the story throughout; and, a few have agreed to review The General’s Legacy Part 1: Inheritance on Amazon and similar sites when it’s published in November this year.

It has been exciting to have someone other than one of my closest friends read and respond to the story.

The highlights of my Wattpad experience have been the day I saw one reader spend sixteen out of twenty-four hours of his Easter Sunday reading and voting on the story, plus the period of time when you were reading and commenting on it—it was a lot of fun!

Well, I was completely taken away by the story, Adrian…

You mentioned there are more stories in the planning process. What does the future have in store for your writing?

The General’s Legacy will be published in two parts – Inheritance (by November 2016) followed a few months later by Whiteland King. The editing process has been consuming much of my writing time since October 2015, but I am planning and “world building” for a series of four more stories to follow on from The General’s Legacy. There are characters, little snippets of information, and bits of history dropped into The General’s Legacy that set some things up for the future stories.

The last thing I would like to share with you and your blog readers is the “cover reveal” for The General’s Legacy Part 1: Inheritance. It has never been shown anywhere else before.

The General's Legacy

And, Alexander, thank you, so much, for inviting me to interview.

It was great having you share your story about your stories with my readers, Adrian! :-)

~~~

And, folks, here are some places you can find Adrian and his books online:

Adrian’s WebSite

Adrian’s Space on Wattpadwhere you can read The General’s Legacy, Free…

Adrian’s Facebook Presence

Also, please, do, ask Adrian any questions you may have in the Comments…
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17 responses to “Author Interview ~ Adrian G Hilder

  1. Pingback: Author Interview ~ Adrian G Hilder | Author Adrian G Hilder

  2. Jane Watson October 8, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    Thanks for such a fascinating interview, Adrian! I found your Writer’s Journey inspiring. I took a look at ‘Story Engineering’ and it looks very interesting but I was wondering if you have had any experience using software to help you plot out your ideas for writing?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adrian G Hilder October 9, 2016 at 6:12 am

      Hi Jane,
      I don’t use any specific software to help plot the story. I do have some templates I use for defining characters (in their three dimensions), defining the nine structural parts of a story (four of which are the main phases) headed by my definition of the dramatic concept, premise, and themes. These come from Larry’s book.
      Inside this structure template, I also copy in a template for scenes and sequences (http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/writing-the-perfect-scene/) together with headings for scene writing in six layers (http://blog.janicehardy.com/2014/10/using-layers-to-pre-write-your-scenes.html). Some scenes work well using the four main phases of the main story in miniature for their structure.
      You can get yourself tied up in knots trying to tick all the boxes this gives you. Sometimes I know what a scene needs to do to move the story along in the right way.
      If executed perfectly each of the main story phases would be 25% of the whole story. In practice +/- 5% seems to be OK. Harry Potter and the Sorcerers (or Philosopher’s) Stone is 25%, 25%, 30%, 20%. The General’s Legacy (both parts) is roughly 24%, 22%, 24%, 30%.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alexander M Zoltai October 9, 2016 at 11:06 am

        Amazing, Adrian…

        I had a scene-by-scene outline for my novel; but, by chapter four, the Pantser in me had caused massive bleeding on the outline’s pages :-)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Adrian G Hilder October 9, 2016 at 11:49 am

          Ah yes, I know what you mean. I had a bullet point outline of all chapters by the time I was writing chapter 4 (we’re talking the whole story, not just part one), but there were many times the characters had their own, and better ideas, about what was going to happen so the chapter outline sometimes fell by the wayside. A few additional scenes popped in too at times.
          Creating a story may be part engineering, but it’s undoubtedly part “the magic of art” too.

          Like

          • Alexander M Zoltai October 9, 2016 at 12:27 pm

            I Absolutely agree, Adrian :-)

            Liked by 1 person

      • Jane Watson October 9, 2016 at 11:45 pm

        Thanks for that :-) Yes I doubt I could ever execute that perfectly. I have looked at some software but always thought it lacked the ability to let the story develop its own magic :-) I loved your suggestions about using Google Images on your blog. I look forward to reading your books.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. dgkaye October 11, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    A wonderful interview Alex. It was so nice getting to know about Adrian and his writing. I too am a pantser who begins with a story outline, but goes wild from there. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alexander M Zoltai October 11, 2016 at 11:33 pm

      I’m very glad you like it—I certainly feel Great in having Adrian’s interview here :-)

      Liked by 2 people

      • dgkaye October 11, 2016 at 11:44 pm

        As you should. :)

        Like

        • Alexander M Zoltai October 12, 2016 at 1:19 am

          :-)

          Liked by 1 person

  4. D. Wallace Peach October 20, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    Wonderful interview. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alexander M Zoltai October 21, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      Yes, Adrian did a wonderful job :-)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Adrian G Hilder October 24, 2016 at 3:46 am

      Thanks!
      The article on your blog about moving from traditional publishing to independent publishing and the effect on earnings is very interesting. Well worth a read for any author.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Why I wrote a fantasy story and my writer’s journey | Author Adrian G Hilder

  6. Pingback: Why I wrote a fantasy story and my writer’s journey | Notes from An Alien

  7. Pingback: Free Fantasy | Notes from An Alien

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