Author Series: A. S. Chambers
Please introduce yourself to our readers
I am A.S.Chambers, an author of quirky urban fantasy and horror. I was born somewhere off the A45 in the wild, bad lands of the East Midlands where the world is so flat that you can almost see as far as the end of your street. Then in the early Nineties I was bitten by the studying bug and the feeling that I wanted to live as far from my parents as was financially viable so headed up north into the wilds of Lancashire where I studied ancient mythology and religions at Lancaster University before falling under the curse of the Pendle Witches and never leaving.
What initially got you into writing?
I’ve always been into making up stories. When I was five it would be, “Austin, who ate the last chocolate biscuit?” to which I would reply: “Well my imaginary friend Bob was very hungry after fighting off space aliens.” Then when I was a teenager it would be, “Austin, do you fancy a snog behind the bike shed?” to which I would reply: “Sure, once I’ve beaten off this rampaging battalion of space aliens with the help of my imaginary friend, Bob.” Looking back on it, I was probably a late developer and never got many snogs. Ah well.
Due to the lack of romantic attachments, I instead spent a lot of time reading and one thing led to another really and the writing just developed from that. Occasionally, when he’s not defending the planet from space aliens, Bob proofreads for me a bit.
Who are your biggest influences and why?
When I was a teenager, I was into two main things: black clothes and horror novels. I grew up on a diet of Stephen King, Peter Straub, Anne Rice, John Saul, all that crew. So, naturally, my early work up until my mid-twenties was very much in a similar vein. It was then that I woke up to the fact that I wasn’t creating anything different; I was just writing glorified fan fiction.
So I started to diversify my reading material and picked up things that I never thought would ever interest me. They ranged from historical war novels, to crime fiction, to romance novels – all sorts of stuff. The impact on my writing style was immense. It changed in a matter of months as I really started to draw things from lots of different genres, rather than just one. I have never looked back and, to this day, I read absolutely anything. I’m a total book whore.
Are you traditionally published or self-published?
Self-published all the way. When I first started out back in 2011, I thought that perhaps I would start out as self-published, make a bit of a name for myself then get an agent and then a decent book deal.
As I’ve gotten to know other authors and seen what book deals involve, I’ve become more and more set against that idea. Authors that I’ve met on the circuit who have publishers seem to be doing just as much promoting for their work and receiving just as little amount of royalties as I do. At least, as a self-published author, I am completely in control of my works, plus the stress-inducedstomach ulcers and crippling anxiety that come along for the ride are of my own making, not passed onto me by some mindless corporate machine that is only chasing the latest, greatest fad.
It seems to work for me. My latest book Sam Spallucci: Troubled Souls which came out on 12th July is my twelfth book. If self-publishing hadn’t worked for me, I would not still be producing books on a regular basis.
How important is writing as an art form in the world, today?
Crucial. Absolutely crucial. The world in which we live is becoming increasingly sterile and homogenised. It is the job of the author to fight back against this. When you look back through history, there have always been authors crying like lone voices in the wild against those who are trying to squash individuality and things which are considered “different”.
The more people read, the more that they think.
Books are an intellectually interactive medium. Every word, every piece of punctuation should have a purpose and should be a tool to help the reader question things around them.
Do you have a set process when starting a new project?
I am a complete techno-junkie. My phone is set up with Dropbox so I can constantly make notes for future works as soon as they come into my head. When I start my next work, I pull these up on my desktop computer and see which ones work best and which are relevant. Then I write down in Excel scenes that I feel have to be included in the book. A spreadsheet is great for this, as you can just pick them up and rearrange them.
As I’m working on this outline, I start to play around with the writing of certain important scenes and making sure that they work. I almost always write the last scene first so I know where I am going with the book, then I work on the first. After that, it is a case of writing the scenes that are bouncing hardest in my head. When I have all that written down, it really is a case of “join the dots” and weaving all the different parts of the book together.
As I do this, I am constantly editing and re-editing. I’m a firm believer that editing should not be left until after the book is finished. That would be so laborious and an utter facer. So, when I sit down to write, I go over what I wrote the day previous to refresh my memory but also to make sure that the scene worked.
Then, as the book progresses, I revisit whole chapters to make sure that they fit in with what I have written later and start to perform deeper edits. Then, when the book is finished I sit down and read through as critically as possible. Sometimes you have to be totally ruthless.
As for word counts, a story is as long as it needs to be. There seems to be a modern fascination that bigger is better. That really is not the case. If you try to aim to write a 600 page or more novel, then all you are doing is just throwing words at a page and hoping that they stick.
Concentrate on the story and the characters. It will take on a natural pace and rhythm until it brings itself to an end. Huge monstrous novels are a modern phenomenon designed to make the most of rising publishing costs and justify a higher price tag to the reader. If you look back at the fifties through to the seventies, novels were so much shorter. You could devour one in a day and grab yourself another fix straight afterwards.
What has been your favourite book to write and why?
I think my latest one, Sam Spallucci: Troubled Souls, has probably been my favourite to date. It is the fifth book in the series concerning Lancaster’s beleaguered investigator of the paranormal and the style and the characters really fit like a comfortable pair of socks now. I pull them on and the journey is completely pleasurable.
I have Sam dealing with a ghost dressed as a Cherokee chieftain and an entity that has possessed a troubled teenager before dumping him in Victorian Morecambe on the trail of a serial killer. Then, even before he has a chance to catch his breath, he is whisked off by a dabbling angel who wants him to confront his destiny. It’s a true romp with a blend of dark humour, urban fantasy and horror. There are some real fan favourite scenes in there which I know my readers will love.
Which genre do you enjoy writing in?
The Sam Spallucci books are the bulk of my work and they are a blend of urban fantasy, humour and modern noir. I love looking at the world around me and just turning it ninety degrees, so that things don’t line up perfectly.
I also write horror. As a side-line, I’m constantly knocking out short horror stories every week and the best ones end up in my annual anthologies which come out just before Christmas – a nice stocking-filler for your death-metal, loving Nan.
Is writing your primary source of income?
*picks myself up off floor after laughing myself into a spasmodic fit, then dries eyes*
No. Definitely not. I write because I enjoy writing and also because, if I didn’t, the ideas in my head would probably take on their own personas and tell me to do terrible, terrible things.
I’m actually a genealogist and a personal tutor as well as writing copy for adverts and promotional bits and bobs. The writing might be my nine to five, but no way could I make a living from it.
What advice can you give our readers, should they wish to pursue writing?
Don’t stop. Seriously, if you want to write anything half decent, you have to let the subject consume you. If you have an idea, scribble it down then really research it. And, by research, I don’t mean just look it upon the internet! Get out there and read books on subjects that interest you. Read authors that you love as well as those that you hate. Always challenge your own ideals and push your personal style.
Get out there and love the whole process.
What does success mean to you?
Finishing writing a book and being relatively sane to enjoy the finished product.
What projects are you currently working on?
So, as I mentioned before, I have just finished Sam Spallucci: Troubled Souls which can currently be purchased over on Amazon. There is a link on my website http://www.aschambers.co.uk.
I also have my next, short horror anthology Hide Not Thou Thy Face coming out later on this year.
If you want the most up-to-date details on my works then you are best joining my Facebook group The World of A.S.Chambers and/or dropping me line via the contact form on my website to subscribe to my monthly newsletter.
I also have a Patreon profile which will start to provide people with nice monthly treats from August.
What are your hopes for the future?
Hopefully finish all my books before I kick the bucket. My Sam Spallucci books are all part of a large universe which is already populated with Sam’s stories and other novellas and shorts. I already know how everything is going to end and there are a lot of novels and series of books to write before I can sit down and feel truly content. I hope that my readers will stay with me for the ride. It’s going to be fun.
Lastly where can people find you?
Facebook Page: A.S.Chambers
Blog: Dizzy Deviant
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