The Wolf’s Call by Anthony Ryan
What led you into writing?
It’s something I’ve always done, at least ever since I understood it was a thing people did. I spent much of my childhood and adolescence lost in books so writing my own stories felt like a natural progression in many ways.
How does a typical day look?
I don’t usually bother with breakfast and will start the day with a cup of tea, something that will be repeated several times over the coming hours. Mornings are usually taken up with correspondence and various admin tasks whilst I do most of my actual writing in the afternoons. I usually knock off round about 5.30 pm and spend the evenings either satisfying my current video game addiction (Subnautica at the time of writing) or bingeing Netflix/Amazon Prime. These days I do most of my reading at bedtime.
In what ways do your characters test your abilities?
They have a tendency to do things I didn’t plan and don’t always turn out to be the kind of people I expected them to be. Some I like to begin with and end up hating whilst others grow on me over time. Writing characters is always a bit of a balancing act between crafting the story you first envisaged and doing justice to who your pretend people turn into in the course of writing.
What’s your setup?
These days I write mostly on an iMac using Scrivener, though I’ll occasionally write on my iPad-pro when travelling. I use a fairly old Samsung monochrome printer for when I need to kill some trees. I have antique style (i.e. not really an antique) mahogany desk which is usually cluttered with post-it notes I rarely look at and executive toys I keep getting for Christmas. Also, pens. When you’re a writer people keep buying you pens.
What lasting effects have your favourite authors had on your writing and style?
I’m most often compared to David Gemmell and his influence is pretty obvious in my work, mainly in the themes and the pacing. I also learned a lot about writing a book with multiple plot lines and a large cast of characters from Tad Williams, Robin Hobb and Dan Simmons, amongst many others.
What do you do for inspiration?
I read a lot and watch of great deal of TV and movies. It’s not always easy to identify the point of inspiration for a story but I think most of my ideas tend to come out of reading non-fiction or watching documentaries. Also, although I deal in words for a living, I tend to think visually and have a large and growing collection of art books by various illustrators and concept artists.
What repeating themes do you find yourself pulling into your stories?
I try to reflect the true cost of heroism in my work, which is often high and doesn’t involve much in the way of rewards. Religion, specifically religious conflict, crops up a lot in my books, as does the nature of warfare generally. My Draconis Memoria series was underpinned by my reading of politics and economics. Basically, if people come up with a reason to kill each other I can probably find a story in it.
How do you wind down?
I like to cook and find it kind of relaxing. I’ve also been trying to get back into drawing and painting which I find absorbing and meditative. As I writer I spend a lot of time in my own head so it’s good to engage with something where I can switch off the endless story factory that is my imagination.
What sort of challenges do you regularly overcome while world-building?
Studying real world history leaves you with an inescapable quandary as a writer, which is that everything has a context. If you’re going to have two nations going to war then there has to be reasons for it beyond the fact that I just need it to happen to write the story I want to write. I usually come up with a chronology that precedes the events at the start of the story so I have something to draw on when writing. It’s never particularly elaborate and I will change it as necessary, but I find it a necessary part of the process. It’s always difficult to know how far back into fake history you need to go, though. However, the world only really comes to life when I have a firm idea of who my characters are. I only start writing when I can hear the characters talking to each other and I know how it all ends.
What’s the most useful advice you could give to an aspiring author?
Read a lot, write a lot and don’t give up. To be honest, it really isn’t any more complicated than that. Reading books on writing craft and doing courses certainly won’t do you any harm as a writer, but in the end it really boils down to finding inspiration, honing your craft and persistence.
Tell us about the book you’re promoting.
My next book is The Wolf’s Call, book one in a duology exploring the further adventures of Vaelin Al Sorna, the main character from my Raven’s Shadow trilogy.