Please welcome Angus Watson to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Age of Iron will be published on September 2, 2014 by Orbit.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?
Angus: At school, because they made me. Then, at boarding school I used to spend a lot of time composing hilarious and brilliantly written (I thought) letters to friends at other schools (this was way before email). The first time I wrote something big for pleasure was backpacking round India for three months when I was nineteen. I wrote a book full of observations on India, travelling, travellers and my life so far. That book was stolen from a train between Varanasi and Delhi on my second last day in India.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Angus: I’m sort of a mix. I have a general overarching plot with an endpoint, but then I plot in chunks of maybe five chapters at a time as I go along. Then I don’t usually stick to that plot.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Angus: Probably that there’s so much of it. I’m about halfway through writing book three of the series now and it seems that I’ve been sitting at my desk writing for about ten lifetimes.
TQ: Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?
Angus: There are loads and they are varied, but since this is an American blog, I’ll give you my favourite Americans – Carl Hiaasen, John Irving, Kurt Vonnegut, Patrick De Witt, Stephen King and of course George R R Martin.
TQ: Describe Age of Iron in 140 characters or less.
Angus: Lazy ageing warrior, beautiful fierce archer and weird magical child unite to defend Britain from Caesar’s unstoppable dark legions
TQ: Tell us something about Age of Iron that is not in the book description.
Angus: The lazy ageing warrior has a very serious fight with a chimpanzee.
TQ: What inspired you to write Age of Iron? What is the Iron Age? What attracted you to the Iron Age as a period setting? Angus: I wrote an article on Iron Age hillforts for a British newspaper. There are loads of these gigantic forts – ditches and ramparts dug around the flattened top of a hill - all over Britain. The Iron Age was a busy, massive, but totally unknown part of British history despite being relatively recent (it runs from roughly 2800 to 2000 years ago. The pyramids in Cairo are 4500 years old). Walking on a hillfort with an expert called Peter Woodward, I asked him if the British Iron Age was like Conan the Barbarian, full of muscle-bound warriors rescuing virgins from snake temples. He said that as far as we know, yes. I decided to write a novel set in the period there and then.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Age of Iron?
Angus: Because the ancient Brits didn’t write, we know very little about the Iron Age and there are just a few books on it. I read all of them, and visited a load of hillforts. The next two books in the trilogy focus more on Rome and the Romans. There are tons of books written about that, so I was able to do a lot more book based research.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Angus: Dug was probably easiest, because he’s a naturally lazy man in his early forties who finds himself living a busy life and looking after others. That’s not miles away from me. The hardest are probably all the minor characters, because each of them has to actually be a character with loves, hates, a back story etc, so it slows down the writing a lot to have to stop and work them out every time a new one pops up.
TQ: Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Age of Iron.
Angus: ‘Dug fled’. Is my favourite line. Another one picked at random is: ‘Big badgers’ balls,’ said Dug. ‘I don’t like the look of this.’
TQ: What's next?
Angus: I’m finishing off the Age of Iron trilogy at the moment and should be done by February 2015. After that I’m thinking of sending some of the surviving characters to prehistoric north America, where there may be a war going on, possibly between humans and bigfoots. I’m not just saying this because you’re American, but I do love the States and would love an excuse to spend more time there. I already go there quite often with my wife to drive, hike, eat and take photos. We go less now we have baby, but he has already been to Las Vegas and hiking in the desert. He’ll be one next month.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Angus: You’re welcome, thanks for asking me along!
Age of Iron
Iron Age Trilogy 1
Orbit, September 2, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 576 pages
LEGENDS AREN'T BORN. THEY'RE MADE.
Dug Sealskinner is a down-on-his-luck mercenary traveling south to join up with King Zadar's army. But he keeps rescuing the wrong people.
First Spring, a child he finds scavenging on the battlefield, and then Lowa, one of Zadar's most fearsome warriors, who has vowed revenge on the king for her sister's execution.
Now Dug's on the wrong side of the thousands-strong army he hoped to join -- and worse, Zadar has bloodthirsty druid magic on his side. All Dug has is his war hammer, one small child, and one unpredictable, highly-trained warrior with a lust for revenge that might get them all killed . . .
ANGUS WATSON is an author and journalist living in London. He's written hundreds of features for many newspapers including the Times, Financial Times and the Telegraph, and the latter even sent him to look for Bigfoot. As a fan of both historical fiction and epic fantasy, Angus came up with the idea of writing a fantasy set in the Iron Age when exploring British hillforts for the Telegraph, and developed the story while walking Britain's ancient paths for further articles. You can find him on Twitter at @GusWatson or find his website at: www.guswatson.com.