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Without further delay, I give you A. F. Stewart!
A. F. Stewart
Some thoughts on writing and publishing
I have always loved books and have been scribbling stories and poems since I could pick up a crayon to write. I gained an interest in fantasy and sci-fi young, when I found short stories by Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison in Scholastic (a Canadian publishing company for children) magazines. My love of all things fantastic was firmly established when I saw Star Wars at age ten and then discovered comic book writers like Frank Miller and Neil Gaiman; there was no turning back after that. What intrigues me most about writing fantasy is the whole “what if” factor. I like to ask and answer the questions of a supernatural world existing just beyond our own. Who, or what, would live there and what would their lives be like? And since I’ve always thought tragedy makes a more memorable story, I gravitate to the darker aspects of fantasy in my writing.
The idea of writing as a career came slowly. I dabbled with the notion, writing my first book (as yet unpublished) and sending a few stories in to contests and magazines, but life got in the way of writing as a serious pursuit. Then I found the concept of self-publishing. I thought “why not?” I could see if readers would be interested in my work and test the waters of the writing world. I self-published a book or two of poetry and story collections and began marketing the books. That’s when I discovered the whole “traditional vs. self published" controversy.
Now, I think the whole debate is silly. The fact is there are advantages to being traditionally published, but it is an exclusive club, hard to break into to, even if you are talented. And some well-written books just have little or no chance of being accepted by a publisher because they are not that commercially viable. Self-publishing is not a rival for the traditionally published; it is just another option for some authors.
The worst argument against self-publishing is the “all self-published books are bad” nonsense. Of course bad books get self-published, but so do good books. And you can say the same thing about traditionally published books. One advantage with self-published books is that it is easier to find online excerpts to weed out the bad from the good. I’ve reviewed several excellent independently published books on my blog (http://afstewartblog.blogspot.com/).
I’ve also found the independent writing community very supportive and they’ve received my writing efforts positively. Their encouraging feedback was one of the reasons I decided to publish my vampire horror novella, Chronicles of the Undead.
The book came about one day when the thought occurred to me, “what would happen if someone found out their neighbors weren’t what they seemed?” My mind went straight to the paranormal and I thought, “what if they were vampires, what would happen?”
I played with those ideas, setting the whole story in Georgian England (between the years 1795 and 1825) in the city of London. Then I got my brilliant (or ill-advised, depending on how you look at it) idea of writing the book as diary entries, from the point of view of three different members of the same family. It sounded good at the time, but I had no idea how complex it would be to write a novella length book of journal entries without a word of dialogue.
I started with the research, studying the historical facts, lifestyle, and calendar dates of both eighteenth century Georgian England and Regency England, and examining the folklore of vampires. Then I had to find the voices and motivation of three characters (including one intractable character) and work out the intricacies of the linked plotline that spanned decades. And all that before I even started trying to write enough diary entries to create a 168 page book. It was a challenge, but I think it turned out well.
Here’s the book blurb:
Chronicles of the Undead
Three generations of one family share their intimacies with the world of the vampire. Inside the personal journals of the Harrington family, a dark and dangerous odyssey unfolds. Three members of this tormented family, Samuel, his son Edmund, and Edmund’s daughter Charlotte, struggle during the 18th and 19th century in London, England, as the lives of this family intersects with supernatural forces. Two intriguing vampires befriend, manipulate and play with all three souls, altering their lives forever.
Their fears, private confidences and weaknesses are revealed as one selfish act ends in horrific tragedy, with far-reaching consequences.
Who succumbs to the seduction and danger of the vampire? Who grapples to combat the evil influence that permeates their lives?
You can find all my books (and some free excerpts) on my website: