** Author Bio **
A fifty-something lover of blues, rock and jazz, I have recently fulfilled a lifetime ambition by extending my bookcases until they fill an entire wall of my home office. I’m also often found walking on a high hilltop or hidden valley, frequently lost with the aid of a Satellite Navigation Device, and hunting for dragons in dark caves… haven’t found one yet, but it’s only a matter of time!
When not writing short stories, I am busy with my major comic fantasy series, The Banned Underground, released by Red Kite Publishing. Starting with The Amulet of Kings and The Mystic Accountants, then running on to The Vampire Mechanic, Bass Instinct, The SatNav of Doom, and Have Frog, Will Travel; the books are written as stand alone works and can be read in any order. Described by a reviewer for Awesome Indies as ‘like one long Monty Python skit’ they contain beer, pizza and an enviable joke count. Another reader called the collection: Lord of The Rings as written by a stand up comedian to a Led Zeppelin soundtrack.’
** Will Macmillan Jones’ Author Interview **
Hi Will, welcome to our Fantasy Sci-Fi Network electric chair…oops, make that interview couch. We are ready to probe your mind, so please assume the position and hold on tight. hehe
Tell us a little about yourself?
Hi, my name’s Will and I’m an authorholic, (a term coined by another writing friend, one M T McGuire. But she didn’t copyright it in time, so I’ve nicked it. There’s a lesson in there, somewhere). It means that I’m so addicted to writing that it would be dangerous to my health to stop me: a fact I frequently pointed out to my ex-wife whenever she wanted me to mow the lawn or take out the trash… Other than that I’m a fifty something single parent, who loves blues, rock, and jazz and watching International Rugby on the TV. I live in Wales, a lovely, green and verdant land full of mystery and magic. I do my best to support our local culture by drinking local beers and shouting loudly at the TV whenever the Rugby is on.
If not watching Rugby, or drinking beer, I’m out walking the hills and fells and peering into caves in the hope of meeting a dragon. Obviously not the ex, I’ve already met her.
Ouch, we’d better not go there.
What inspired you to write the hilarious-sounding Have Frog, Will Travel?
Primarily it was the contract to supply another installment in my Banned Underground collection of fantastically funny fantasy books. I’m supposed to write two of these a year, to keep both publisher and public happy. Oh, you meant the subject matter? You should have said so at first. Well, the main character is a witch: she’s supposed to be a good, or white witch, but has a bad temper, a bad attitude, and a bad habit of turning people into frogs for a short spell. (It could be for a longer spell, but she isn’t very tall.) For this book, I wanted to see how she would react to being tempted/blackmailed towards joining the Dark Side, and to start to understand what she really felt about being good. And what being ‘good’ in magic as opposed to being good at magic really meant to her. More importantly, I had a substantial collection of jokes left over from the previous book that I wanted to use up.
What does your heroine, Grizelda, yearn for?
To be really, really, honest I think she yearns for a better broomstick and a really high class pond for her collection of exotic frogs. Did you know that there’s actually a Wolverine frog, that can suddenly have claws appear from its joints? It’s true, that is; although sadly (for the girls) it looks nothing like Hugh Jackman. But mostly I think she yearns for me to give her an easier time in the books. That is so not going to happen, but don’t tell her I said that. A week in a pond doesn’t appeal to me.
Pass the tissues please, Will. I have tears of laughter rolling onto my laptop.
What’s the novel about and who would enjoy it?
Basically it’s about a moral dilemma. Or maybe an immoral dilemma? But it’s also about the setting of that dilemma, and the way the various other characters have interacted to set the circumstances for that particular piece of soul searching. After all, no one wakes up one morning and decides to go off for three days to think about their life, do they? Or maybe they do: I normally only do that after a late night snack of cheese and merlot. My rubbish is usually read by those who find that they have looked at life and seen the joke: and like to laugh at the passages where I am trying to point a finger at some of the ironies and idiocies of life around us. After all, when the whole point of living is to die, what else is there to do but laugh at the absurdities we’ve created for ourselves along the way? Like the scene where a council repair crew is holding a birthday party for a locally famous pothole in the road before it becomes a Tourist attraction. Not telling you what the strippergram they hired did at the party though…
What do you think makes for great fantasy fiction?
That’s a really simple answer: imagination. A good fantasy writer – and I know a few, and have read books by a lot more – has to have a vivid imagination and a skill with words to bring that imagination glowing white hot to the page. After that, anything is fair game, isn’t it? Imagination should have no limits.
Who are some of your biggest influences as a writer?
Hahahahaha! You thought I was going to say Tolkien, didn’t you? Oh, wait, I am, actually. But more immediate for me than JRRT come Alan Garner, Roger Zelazny, Robert Rankin, and Sir Terry Pratchett. Alan Garner, author of The Wierdstone of Brisingamen, The Moon of Gomrath, The Owl Service and many others wrote tales aimed first at children: but from such a background of celtic lore that I was blown away when I first read his books. In fact I’m citing him first because it was his work that made me want to start writing. Robert Rankin, owner of a seriously bizarre imagination which should really have a cultural preservation order slapped on it, showed me that fantasy could be about fun instead of just a bunch of seriously muscled blokes (possibly underendowed in other, important, areas and overcompensating) hitting at each other with improbably large swords: and finally Sir Terry has taught me that it is quite possible within a fantasy book to show a great deal of who you really are as a person, as a writer, as a human. I’m going to try that. Oh and Zelazny: what writer would not willingly give part of his/her/its soul to be able to write such stylish, classy and imaginative books?
How do you approach crafting a novel?
You think what I do is crafted? Really? The only craft I employ is in convincing my publisher that hidden inside the insane number of gags in each of the books is a plot line. He actually proposed once when we were down the pub together that we should have a competition amongst the readers, with a prize for the first one to spot the plot. Ha ha ha, I told him. I’m the one who’s supposed to be the comedian, not you. Actually, I can remember the first time I was told I was a comedian. It was my Bank manager when he was looking at my application for a loan but I think it still counts. (Whisper it quietly since I don’t admit this to just anyone, but some of the horror books are actually quite carefully planned. That’s scary. As well as the books, obviously. Hopefully.)
What’s ahead for you?!
The next Banned Underground book, due next month and called Working Title (no, really, that’s not the working title, it is called Working Title) is going to touch on another subject that’s quite close to my heart. But I’m not going to tell you what it is, I’d rather you all went out and bought the book and found out that way. I can promise the usual crowd of jokes, puns, slapstick and wit though, as two competing rock n roll bands made up of my fantasy characters go out on tour. Cue for another poor review on Librarything I expect, like the last one for The Mystic Accountants – ‘I could not find it funny or believable that the bass player was a dragon. His claws would just get in the way on the frets, I know this because I’m a bass player’… Oh dear. And I’d been worried about stereotyping. Working Title will be on release in September 2016.
In addition, I’ve produced four books now in a six book series of Gothic Horror/paranormal books, releasing the dark side of my imagination. The series starts with a somewhat fanciful description of events in my grandfather’s house, in a novel called The Showing. A house that terrified me a child (and incidentally terrified my father and my sister too). It is based on my experiences there, and with a bit of Dark Fantasy thrown into the mix… it’s actually my most successful novel to date.
Looks like there’s a whole lot more madness to come. And why not? The readers love it.
Thank you to Will Macmillan Jones for sharing the lighter side of fantasy writing with us all today. We wait with bated (or should that be baited) breath to discover if you really do call your next book ‘Working Title.’
** Will’s Links **
An extract to whet your appetite
In this scene from Chapter One, Henry (an employee of The Dark Lord) has been sent to sound out Grizelda, the off-white witch, to see if she can be tempted to leave the White Coven and join the Dark Side. After escaping her cottage Henry returns to the offices to report to his boss.
Half an hour later Henry walked into the reception of the offices of
TGM Accountants and Taxation Advisors
Gloria, the disguised dragon receptionist,* looked up from her desk. She had been cleaning her nails, which were a fetching grey colour to match her dress and skin tone.
*[She was disguised as a human, of course. Business clients can be alarmed by a receptionist who looks like a fire-breathing dragon, whilst being quite accustomed to receptionists who behave that way. You never have a second chance to make a first incineration, she believed.]
“You look like you’ve had a near-death experience, Henry,” she told him.
“I should have been so lucky,” he replied. “Is the Boss in?”
“Yes, he’s free. I’ll let him know you’re on your way.”
Gloria pressed the black button on her intercom and said loudly “Henry’s back, Boss. He’s on his way in to report.”
“Is he all right?” asked The Grey Mage through the intercom.
“Just a bit pale, Boss.”
“Send him in, then.”
Gloria nodded at Henry, who smiled back and walked down the corridor. Henry knocked on the office door, and entered the inner sanctum of The Grey Mage: Accountant and Dark Lord of Keswick.
“Ah, Henry,” said that worthy from behind his large desk. “Sit down, and tell me how it went!”
“Thanks, Boss.” Henry sat down gratefully. Gloria appeared moments later with coffee for the Boss, and a mineral water for Henry.
“So how did it go, Henry? You got out alive, anyway.”
“I did take that all purpose generic poison antidote you gave me first, Boss.”
“Sensible man. I always drink some before trying my wife’s cooking. I’m convinced it’s saved my life a few times.”
“Well, she took me into her kitchen.”
The Grey Mage shuddered. “I’ve not been in there myself, but Ned has been inside her cottage before.”
“It was dreadful, Boss. That fridge is something out of a nightmare. It moves around on its own, you know.”
“Really? I had heard rumours.”
“But I am sure that you are right, Boss. She is not firmly wedded to being Good. In fact…” Henry paused and shuddered violently.
The Grey Mage pushed a wastepaper basket closer to him, just in case Henry was about to be sick. Henry shook his head, and gulped some more water. “No, it’s too horrible to contemplate.”
The Grey Mage looked intrigued. “Henry, she didn’t….did… you didn’t…?”
“No, Boss. Can you imagine how many incarnations as a frog I’d have to suffer to work off that karmic burden? But she came close to considering your offer, Boss. I reckon if you keep some pressure on, she’ll crack and come over.”
The Grey Mage nodded thoughtfully. Then he opened the drawer of his desk, took out an envelope and gave it to Henry.
“Just a bit of a bonus. You’ve earned it, without any doubt. Take the rest of this week off too, on full pay.”
“It’s Friday afternoon, Boss.”
“Then don’t hang about. I’ll have something interesting for you to do next week.”
“Thanks, Boss!” Henry left, walking on air.
“And stop levitating in the office! It unsettles the clients.” The Grey Mage yelled after his retreating employee. He leant forward and pushed the red button on his desk intercom. “Gloria? Just ask Ned to come in, would you? But first, get me Councillor Davies on the phone. Yes, him on the Planning Committee.”
“Right, Boss. Is this going to be another cunning plan, Boss?”
“I expect so, Gloria. Why?”
“I’ve got some leave coming, Boss.”
“Don’t worry, there’s time for this book to end before that.”
Read on at: http://amzn.to/2cm8gWJ
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