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IRDA Winner AK Faulkner on the best part of being indie: “Being able to tell the stories that I want to, about the characters I love.”

Jack of Thorns (Inheritance, book 1) was the winner in the Fantasy category of the 2020 IndieReader Discovery Awards, where undiscovered talent meets people with the power to make a difference.

Following find an interview with author AK Faulkner.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

Jack of Thorns (Inheritance, book 1), 3rd September 2019.

What’s the book’s first line?

Laurence was dying.

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

Two damaged men have to learn to control their supernatural powers if they’re to stand a chance of saving San Diego from the desperate machinations of a dying god.

If you ever thought the Percy Jackson books needed an adult makeover, this is for you.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

It was the characters. I like to sit around doing the most random research and fall down library or internet rabbit-holes for days on end, and the information pours into my brain then begins to spark connections. I let this percolate – usually while throwing more data in on top – and finally characters begin to coalesce.

The ideas which began to layer on top of each other to form Quentin (and I can’t even mention what they were, because just about every one is a spoiler) built up to create this conflicted person who wasn’t capable of truly fulfilling his potential alone.

That’s where Laurence came in. It’s also where my best friend Jen came in, and we bounced ideas back and forth which refined both Laurence and Quentin, until I was ready to start telling their story.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main characters? Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

Laurence is a bisexual Pagan heroin addict florist who can see the future, and is desperately trying to fill a void in his life which he doesn’t yet understand.

Quentin is a demisexual alcoholic psychokinetic British earl who is running from a traumatic past he doesn’t remember.

Laurence (sometimes) reminds me of a less jaded Eliot Waugh from The Magicians, and Quentin (sometimes) is more like Wylan Van Eck from the Grishaverse. It’s hard to compare them to other characters. They’re quite distinctive in and of themselves.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

Compelling and complex characters, multi-layered, textured storytelling, and a story which unfolds languorously until it’s too late for you to put it down.

Is this the first you’ve written?

No, but it’s the first book of this length I’ve written which wasn’t consigned to the eternal hard drive in the sky!

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

I write full time, just perhaps not to a traditional full time schedule. I average about eight hours a day, but will frequently work weekends and take random days off during the week instead.

I include time spent researching and daydreaming as time spent writing, because both things are essential to the process.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why? 

Potentially. It would have to be the right publisher, but traditional publishers are much better at reaching a wider audience than indies can be, and I wouldn’t have to spend so much time sourcing my own editors, proofreaders, and cover artists.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?   

The best part is absolutely being able to tell the stories that I want to, about the characters I love. I don’t have anyone above me telling me that I have to chip away at pieces of who my characters are to make them more palatable to executives.

For me, I think the hardest part is learning the business side as well as actually writing, editing, revising, and proofing books. There are so many little pieces to the publishing puzzle that you have to learn and put into practice, and they all take time away from what you want to be doing: the actual writing.

What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?

You do you. Be yourself, write what you want, and make no apology for either. Never stop working hard on your craft. Every single day is an opportunity to improve your writing, your characterization, your pacing, or your understanding of your genre. Never rest on your laurels.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

Telling stories. I’ve always done it, and I always will. I can’t stop doing it, so why try? I’ve done office jobs and they all made me miserable as hell sooner or later, but writing is what I’m meant to do.

Which book do you wish you could have written?

I would gladly have written Sarah Gailey’s River of Teeth. Fortunately, Sarah did it far better than I possibly could have!