My journey as a writer began a long, long time ago. When I was very small my mother, who was a classic romantic and fantasist, would take me into the garden or to parks and tell me wonderful stories about elves and fairies and flowers that talked. Even now, at forty, she remains my greatest inspiration and I’ve missed her terribly since her death three years ago. It’s difficult to say without it seeming like bragging but I was quite a gifted child, I walked and talked very early and by the time I was seven I was reading the complete works of William Shakespeare and I utterly fell in love with words. Nothing in my life has ever even come close to my passionate love of the written word and my desire to be a story-teller like my mum.
I was writing my own, original, albeit not very good, stories before I was ten years old. I wrote anything and everything, poetry, short stories, novel attempts and, as I discovered after her death, my beloved mum kept everything I wrote – no matter how trashy and bad it was. I sent more requests to publishers than I can honestly remember and received enough rejection slips to sink the Titanic. I would cry over my rejection slips for a day or two then get on and write something else and begin the whole process again.
My childhood fantasy world led me naturally to the fantasy realm, mainly through role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. Ironically enough, though, I fought this natural progression and tried to write crime thrillers. My research had told me that they were the most popular genre next to romance novels [something I could never write] so I felt that was where I should try my hand first. Many, many rejections followed, although I received some good feedback regarding my writing style, no one in the traditional publishing world wanted to know. Most of those early novels I still have, although whether or not they will ever see the light of day is another story. Perhaps, one day.
When I finally turned my hand to writing the fantasy that I’d always loved I was surprised at how easily it came to me. The storyline for Erich’s Plea appeared almost whole in my mind and nagged at me for quite some time before I finally put pen to paper. In some respects it was almost as if I knew, right from the start, that this would be the one. The basic idea for Erich’s Plea and the Witchcraft Wars was the question of human emotion. At the time I was going through a painful broken engagement and had also recently been diagnosed as bi-polar. Those real life experiences of pain and the wonderful people around me who assisted me on my road to ‘sanity’ led me to ask the question of ‘how far would you actually go for someone/thing you loved?’ Thus was born the initial concept of Erich’s Plea.
My main character, Slade, is a deeply flawed individual at our first meeting. He threw away his birthright as the Crown Prince and future heir of Vestland because he was rejected by his lover. He found a new love in a spiritual way of life as a druid but when he is imprisoned in Zeaburg, a notorious and hellish place, on trumped up charges he begins his slow evolution. In dreams his father, High King Erich, pleads with Slade for his help. Despite the impossibility of the situation it is Slade’s love of his father that drives him to try and escape the inescapable Zeaburg prison and rescue his father.
The cast of characters in the novels are all, in one form or another, driven by powerful human emotions; love, greed, envy, lust for power, revenge and pain. So while The Witchcraft Wars fits easily into the classic fantasy adventure genre it is also, at its heart, a very deep and very real examination of the basest of human emotion. Given the basic premise of the novels all of my characters tend to change and evolve throughout the course of the books. I pushed my characters into uncomfortable situations and thoroughly enjoyed their differing reactions. I tend to be a very character driven writer, one reason I like to write in the ‘all seeing eye’ third person, so my characters are very real to me, as is the world I created. I wanted to create a world that would be utterly believable to the reader and in doing so I used a lot of real world ancient civilizations and mythologies to assist in that task.
My own real world journey is reflected very heavily in the trilogy of novels. It is probably because it was so close to home, emotionally, that it actually took me a very long time to write Erich’s Plea, almost two years. The second - Ursula's Quest - and third - Slade's Destiny - novels didn’t take as long to write; probably because I was personally more emotionally and mentally stable but also because the storyline had been virtually written in my head by that stage.
I’m not the most disciplined or organised of writers but I try to write at least four thousand words a day. The great difficulty lies in writing four thousand good words. For every paragraph that I write I probably discard at least three or four and rework it several times before it is polished enough for my standards. I also now use an editor to help with the task of making my work as professional as possible. It is not enough to simply write a good story, it must also be well written technically or you will lose your potential readers as errors throw them out of your fantasy world and back into the real world.
Other than that there’s little I can tell you about me as a writer or my books – well I could talk all day but there’s limited room ;) I still love words, still love writing and feel incredibly blessed to be able to do so. I’ve enjoyed being your guest Tim, thank you for the opportunity to tell people a little bit more about me and about The Witchcraft Wars. Cheers, Trace. Contact: Smashwords, Facebook, Blog.