Author Spotlight: John Gwynne

John Gwynne is the author of the epic fantasy series The Faithful and the Fallen The Faithful and the Fallen, which includes Malice, Valour, Ruin and Wrath. The series has earned numerous Gemmell Award nominations. John’s latest fantasy novel, Of Blood and Bone was released earlier in the year. It began with A Time of Dread.

John taught and studied for a while at Brighton University. He has been part of a rock and roll band, playing double bass, traveled through the USA and resided within Canada for a while. He’s married and has four children. He lives in Eastbourne operating a small family company that repurposes old furniture.

We appreciate your time with our show today John. Let’s begin by telling us about a book you’ve recently read!

The most recent novel I’ve read is The Whale Road by Robert Low. It’s a fantastic Viking adventure, which follows the story of a young man joining an mercenary group called the Oathsworn that are involved in the search for the tomb of Attila the Hun and the Spear of Destiny. It’s a thrilling read as well as a bloody and brutal page turner that I’d definitely recommend.

Okay, now is the time to make things more intense Reality shifts and you find yourself in charge of a D&D-inspired party through a dungeon swarming with monsters. Which character type are you and what’s the weapons of choice?

It’s a shame that I’ve missed the entire D&D phenomenon and I’m now looking up this topic.

There are some amazingly amazing options here.

I’m going to pick Barbarian as they look nice when paired with a Dane-Axe. Also, being an Viking Re-enactor, it will be my preferred weapon.

Additionally, I grew up in the world of the Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, so I’m sure that’s cool too. Another of my most-loved game on video was Severance and I was the Barbarian in Severance.

If you’re not exploring dark dungeons, would you rather writing with a pen or a pencil?

I wrote my first novel, Malice, by hand but then I wrote it in my first edit. This was between 2002 to the year 2010. Since then, I’ve switched to typing everything else, except for my chapter notes and story.


Because, deadlines.

After I’d completed Malice my contract together with Pan Macmillan came along, and I simply didn’t have time to write the initial draft and edit the manuscript.

I decided it was about time I got over being an old-fashioned stupid person and entered into the 21st Century.

What do you prefer to work in silence, listening to music, or surrounded with the souls of million dead shrimps?

Music, always.

My home is a lovely area, constantly brimming with dogs, people and even noise. I prefer to imagine it as a delightful chaos. But it’s not the best place to write in, not for me anyway. So headphones and playlists are my preferred method of being in the right mindset to write. Most playlists or soundtracks are put together from soundtracks like Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, Gladiator, The Last of the Mohicans, Dracula, Conan the Barbarian, Macbeth, a load more, as well as some obscure ones such as Celtic or Norse traditional music. Take a look at Wardrunna and Danaheim for an intense Norse music.

Do you consider yourself an architect, or an expert in gardening? Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you write in your underwear or in a deep-sea diving costume? Do you have something unique about your writing style!

I’m somewhere between the two of gardener and architect. I like having an idea of the start and ending of my book along with an array of important events that occur in between, and then I allow the POVs go out of their initial blocks to determine where they’ll get to. For certain characters and their adventures I have a pretty certain idea of how the story is going to unfold, and while they adhere to the outline, while others alter it from the plan in ways I’ve never thought of. Some even get themselves killed, when I initially believed they would reach the finish line.

It could be like Bilbo’s famous quips – “It’s a very risky venture, Frodo my lad, walking out of your front door …’

Most of the time when I write, I’m spotted wearing an Viking helmet in my right forearm. My children and my wife have sometimes walked into me and saw me with a seax on my forearm which is basically a large Viking knife. What do I have to say.

What are your biggest non-book influences on your fantasy?

Films are mostly films, but they’re usually not in the genre of fantasy, with the exception of those Lord of the Rings movies that reminisced of my childhood being recorded and projected onto the large screen. It was a memorable experience listening to the music and watching that Fellowship of the Ring title being projected on a screen in a cinema.

Sorry, I’m off from the topic.

Films with non-book inspirations: Braveheart, Last of the Mohicans, Gladiator. More recently, The Revenant. I love the film. The opening battle sequence in Revenant is my favorite. Revenant will be the nearest representation I’ve seen of the way I envision myself fighting scenes inside my mind. I’m not certain if they are as chaotic and visceral like the Revenant however it’s what I want to achieve.

What was the most recent that you saw on television and the reason you chose to go to the show?

I watched the final season on Peaky Blinders. It came after I’d had the most intense time working on the initial version of A Time of Blood, the second installment in my brand new series, and I felt as if I’d earned a few hours of couch-slabbing.

My wife and I are obsessed with Peaky Blinders. We’re into all things vintage and historical, and how can you not love a bit of Godfather-Gangsterism. (Okay I’m aware it’s not really a word.)

The world is changing and you’re left having an extra day on your hands. You’re not permitted to write or do any type of work. What are you going to do? go about your day?

I’m not sure. I’m not able to recall when I last was overwhelmed with things to be doing. Take my family on a trip to the castle? I realized this morning that I’ve never visited London’s Tower of London. It would be awesome.

Alternately I could simply sit in a quiet place. Read. Enjoy some cool music. Enjoy ice cream. Game Rome Total War.

I’m in love with both choices.

If you could pick one punctuation mark that you would like to see declared illegal, what would it be and for what reason?

I’ll point the fingers at the two. A semicolon as well as an ellipsis. It appears that I had a semi-colon as well as an the ellipsis habit in my initial manuscript of Malice. I had to clear them all out and then I had to go through withdrawal each time I needed to utilize the characters.

I do take them in the present however, in moderation because I’ve learned to control my urges.

In less than three words In no more than three sentences, share information about your work that is in progress!

I’m getting ready to begin the third book of my trilogy, Of Blood and Bone. It’s the BIG ENDING which means it will likely include a lot of things that makes it epic . battles, shieldwalls and giant bears, angels’ armies and Revenants that suck blood, cutting limbs Ferals as well as demonic experiments the snake-woman, and warriors who are bound by love, friendship and swearing. Did I mention that they are insanely skilled archers riding horses.

and shieldwalls.

If you had the chance to write or co-create a book series (like The Expanse, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen) Who would you prefer to collaborate with and what would be the reason?

Bernard Cornwell, because I’ve enjoyed everything he’s written. What better way to acquire knowledge than to work with a master. Also, it would be amazing when I could overcome the fear of not being able to talk.

Most (and/or least) beneficial tip for writing that you’ve received?

So far, I’ve not received any writing tips. When I began working on Malice I wasn’t even on Facebook, Twitter didn’t exist and there was nothing comparable to the large friendly, online community is available in the present. I had not taken a class in writing or creative expression and did not belong to an author’s group or any type of support group. At the time, writing was pretty isolated for me.

There was one piece advice I took the chin, but. It wasn’t from someone speaking especially about how to write a novel however, it was applicable.

When I first decided to try having an attempt at writing for an activity, I quickly realized that I did not know how to write a novel. I resorted to the only method I had of knowing how to write: the way I was instructed at University. I had a great tutor and teacher named Udo Merkel. He always advised me that to get my university degree, I needed to read first, read, and then continue reading. It was about researching and something I took very seriously. It was perhaps too serious, considering that I spent the greater part time studying many interesting things that I discovered – Celtic, Norse, Greco-Roman mythologies, ancient history Wolf-pack behavior as well as how they constructed swords a millennia ago, the moon cycles, Gaelic, all kinds of amazing stuff. Every time something caught my interest or intrigued me, I recorded it in my notebook. Then it all went to the pot, which produced The Faithful and the Fallen.

If you were able to travel to anywhere at any time in time, when and where would you travel and why?

Dark-Ages Briton, fifth/sixth century. Because…Arthur. Did he really exist? What happened during the Battle of Badon? I’d love to find out.

I wouldn’t like to stay long, but there’s no central heating and no antibiotics. No Haagen-Daz.

Every writer has to face blockages, whether it’s an uneasy chapter, a challenging topic or even just beginning the next project. How do you keep yourself motivated in times that you do not want to write?

I’m not really afflicted by the stumbling blocks or lack of energy. I enjoy writing. My biggest difficulty is finding the enough time. Even when I’m working messages, emails and other social media stuff can really eat up my time for me. I also have a tendency to a serious case of procrastination. Keeping off the internet can help to reduce this. If I’m at my desk with my headphones in, writing shouldn’t be an issue. I may be slower in the beginning of a novel and pick up speed in the process however, I rarely encounter stumbling blocks, or lose motivation.

We’d love to hear about a book you think is excellent and yet under-appreciated or unnoticed.

The Edinburgh Dead by Brian Ruckley. I’ve been a admirer of Brian Ruckley’s work since his debut novel, Winterbirth. I wouldn’t say that he’s not popular but I do love his writing style and don’t believe that he’s received the respect is due to him.

The Edinburgh Dead is a kind of Gothic/horror/fantasy mash-up. The story is situated within Edinburgh (surprise) around the time of the 1820’s, and draws on that Burke and Hare body-snatching drama and includes necromancers, reanimated and dead people as well as other elements. It’s a suspenseful atmosphere piece with several truly frightening moments. It’s reminiscent of the very first and most memorable sequence of Penny Dreadful. Brian draws well-drawn characters who I could identify with. He is a master of details, tension and tension. I would recommend this book to any reader who loves fantasy.

And lastly, would you be willing to amaze us with something we call”shark elevator pitches”? (It’s identical to elevator pitches, but using sharks.) (Well there’s a shark. It, in fact is currently sifting through its teeth in order in an attempt to remove the remains of its last author to step onto it’s elevator.)

Ahem. Why should people go to your site? An elevator pitch for the author’s book(s) not more than three paragraphs Go!

Okay, I’m not good in this. I’m able to write books but don’t expect for me to create a blog about what I wrote. Let’s go.

My work is epic in nature which is to refer to an expansive world filled with breathtaking scenery and fantastical, a bit unsettling and often dangerous creatures. I aim to make characters at the center in my tales, regardless of whether they’re villains or heroes however, most aren’t sure of the kind of camp they’re in when they first start my novels. My two series are stories of friendship, love families, betrayal and family and shields. Intimate and epic is my writing style and the aim I strive to achieve.

What was the problem? Sorry, it’s only four words But it’s my job to write epic fantasies,, so what were you expecting?