Interview with Author Remington Blackstaff
I am thrilled to have interviewed author Remington Blackstaff, who shared with us details of his writing life, his book ‘The Durbar’s Apprentice‘, which was released on 25th May 2022, and answered a few fun questions. This post contains affiliate links.
Remington Blackstaff was born in Nigeria and moved to the United Kingdom with his family at a young age. He was bitten by the martial arts bug in childhood and studied several disciplines into adulthood. Despite his obsession with fight choreography, he set aside any dreams of becoming a stuntman to study medicine at Royal Free and University College Medical School.
Remington currently practices medicine in London, where he lives with his wife and son. He remains obsessed with martial arts, rugby, and cinema. The Durbar’s Apprentice is his debut novel.
1) Where did the inspiration for your book come from?
The book was inspired by a huge painting of Durbar horsemen, from Kano in northern Nigeria, on my living room wall. I bought the canvas about 10 years ago in a market on a trip back to Nigeria. When my son was an infant he was a terrible sleeper. While I held him in one hand and wrote on my iPhone with my other one, my son stared at this painting of these magnificent horsemen. He couldn’t take his eyes off it.
This went on for several mornings in a row. I was writing a crime fiction story at the time and thought to myself “How cool would it be to write an adventure story about those horsemen, that maybe my son could read when he’s older?” I texted a friend In Amsterdam for his opinion before I completely dismissed the idea. He said “Why not? Write it.”
The Durbar’s Apprentice is a love letter to both my son and to our Nigerian heritage.
The rest, as they say, is history.
2) How did you plan out the plot?
I wrote an outline on my phone, with the main characters listed and divided the book into three parts. I wrote brief bullet points under chapter headings so I had a rough outline before starting each chapter as I went along. Whenever inspiration came along, it got added to the plan.
From the get go, I knew how the book would end and who the main characters were. That was my starting point. To simplify things massively, it was a case of fleshing out the skeleton after that.
Sorry for the naff anatomical analogy and systematic approach. Years of medical training/practice will do that to you.
3) When did you choose the title for your book?
I had the title from the beginning before I wrote a word.
4) How did you come up with the names for your characters?
A couple were inspired by friends, family and important places in their lives. Others I had to research and make sure they were culturally appropriate.
I won’t give away who inspired what but those in the know will know. It’ll be our secret.
5) Can you give us a hint to any sections that you removed?
Believe it or not, none.
6) What made you choose this genre?
I think once I was inspired to write the story, the genre took care of itself. I never imagined I’d write historical fiction but I couldn’t tell this story without this genre.
7) How long did it take you to complete your book?
About a year.
8) Can you describe your book in three words?
Nigerian historical epic.
9) What’s the hardest part of being a writer?
Having a day job that invariably takes up considerably more of your time than writing.
On the flip-side, a passion doesn’t always pay bills. At least not in its infancy. Having a day job alleviates the anxiety of reading sales reports and wondering how to survive and provide for your family in an industry where you’re guaranteed absolutely nothing and the marketing/publicity often feels like a fruitless hustle.
10) Why should our readers pick your book up?
They’ll experience a page-turning adventure in a place, time and culture they know little to nothing about.
My beautiful and generous wife describes The Durbar’s Apprentice as The Woman King meets Knights of the Round Table.
It’s eye-opening. I promise.
Publisher – RIZE
Pages – 318
Release Date – 25th may 2022
ISBN 13 – 978-1947041868
Format – ebook, paperback, audio
17th century northern Nigeria. A royal messenger has died under suspicious circumstances. Tasked with investigating the death, a Durbar warrior and his young apprentice must endure trials of loyalty, betrayal, and sacrifice to solve the mystery and prevent the bitter rivalry between two kingdoms from descending into a bloody war.
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1) Do you have a writing buddy (i.e. a pet)?
Nope. Just me, myself and I.
2) Do you have any writing quirks?
None exactly but I can’t write and listen to music. I just can’t focus on both things at once. For example, I could be listening to a really dramatic motion picture score by Hans Zimmer for The Dark Knight Rises and getting into Batman’s theme while writing. When I then look back at what I’ve just written, it pales in comparison to what I thought I’d written. Music has a contagious grandiosity.
I also can’t watch tv lying down. Same concentration thing. I do get the majority of my inspiration while looking in the mirror shaving. Unfortunately it’s not on an on-demand basis, otherwise I’d lather up my face and stare at the mirror for hours every day.
3) Where do you write?
Anywhere and everywhere. Sitting, lying on the sofa, in bed or standing waiting for a train to come, as long as I have my iPhone on me. I must confess that my wife, who proofreads everything I write, can usually tell when I’ve written something just before falling asleep in bed. Her analysis is usually preceded by a frown and a chin scratch before choosing her words diplomatically.
All my writing for all of my manuscripts is done on my phone. Rarely I’ll use an iPad with a magnetic keyboard if I’m on holiday abroad and I only use a laptop once a draft is done and the manuscript is being sent out.
4) Your book has been made into a movie, you’ve been offered a cameo role, what will you be doing?
Either overseeing warriors preparing for combat and nodding sagely or blending into the background of an Emir’s palace watching tension escalate, gleefully rubbing my hands together.
5) A talking owl has just finished reading your book, what’s the first thing he says to you?
The owl nods and blinks emphatically for thirty seconds.
Everyone knows owls can’t speak.
A big thank you to Remington Blackstaff for sharing his writing life with us and for a wonderful interview.