An Interview with Vance Huxley, author of The Forest and the Farm
I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?
No, because the one that sparked the Fall of the Cities I and being published isn’t ready for release yet. It is one of the Cities series, written as a one-off but needed a back story. One particular character in that is my favourite up to now.
I both love and hate novels that don’t leave a discrete ending for the reader. Have you ever felt the need to write sequels?
Most of my stories grow from one idea into a book, then continue. I find difficulty in cutting them into book lengths with a sensible end-point. I don’t deliberately write cliff-hangers, but sometimes that’s the best place to stop.
There’s always another novel in the pipeline to write… Tell me about it! Does it have even a working title?
Up, Up and Away, about a reclusive young scientist who discovers a way to redirect gravity over a small area. His group of friends want to give everyone the freedom of space, without governments regulating them. Government disagrees.
Fall of the Cities IV, Shattered Stars II and Forest and Farm II are all part-written and will follow in due course.
Some advice other writers have given is that your first novel is best sitting in a drawer for a while, because then you feel stronger about chopping up ‘your baby’. Do you still have a copy of your first novel? Whether this was published or unpublished, I need to know!
My first attempt, an alternate history of Celtic Wales, ran to 600,000 words. It should be six books, but really isn’t fit to print. Once it has three or four rewrites, maybe, one day.
Do you have a dedicated writing space? How does it meet your writing needs?
Because my mobility is impaired I sit on an electric reclining chair by my front window most of the time. My computer is on a table with wheels and I pull it across and write when my hands, eyes, and the cats permit.
What is your writing process? Have you ever thought about changing it? Other authors I have interviewed talk about having an outline – post-it notes in an office, or writing in paper journals. Is there something like that in your writing technique? Or is it all digital for you?
My hands can handle typing, but writing hurts so I’m all digital. My stories come from a small snippet on the news or in a conversation, and grow in my head. If I like the way the idea develops I type a hundred words or so with a vague outline and maybe a couple of characters. Then I write something else entirely, another book. Meanwhile the characters grow and the world fills in around them, inside my head. Eventually I have enough pivotal scenes imagined to string them together.
Once I’ve actually written the first full version, the fun part is over . Then I turn it into readable English with the help of Betas and my editor (and her hatchet).
How do you know when a novel or short story is finished? How do you know to step away and let the story speak for itself?
I often don’t, which is why I end up with a series, and why at least one short story is a book. 🙂
Do you have a preference for ebook or paperback format? This is for both your own reading and your novels.
I love reading paperbacks, probably because I grew up that way. My eyes now insist on e-books much of the time. Sometimes I buy a novel in both formats so I can switch.
I have no preference for publishing though I like seeing my work in physical print. I’m really happy if anyone reads what I’ve written. I’m frustrated by the KENP page counts, because I don’t know how many people put the book down part-finished.
Social media is becoming a big thing. How does managing media outlets come into marketing your brand and your books?
I’m hopeless with social media because I find it all both intrusive and time-consuming. I’d rather spend the time cuddling cats, or writing if I’m up to it. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter, and have no web site of my own.
I am happy to let my publisher, Entrada, deal with that side.
You have answered other sets of interview questions, is there something you wish someone would have asked you? Or conversely, something you wish they hadn’t asked?
Not really. This is still all a complete novelty to me. Thank you for giving me an interview.