The Writing Life of: Ian Roberts
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author Ian Roberts. Ian will be sharing with us details of his writing life, telling us all about his latest book ‘Deeper Realms‘, which was released on 4th December 2018 and answering a few fun questions too. This post contains affiliate links.
The elusive Ian Roberts is a writer, historian and former tutor of medieval history who has been making-up implausible adventures for as long as he can remember.
Often writing with a strong female lead, he uses the medium of time travel as a way of exploring the past, creating a world where the miraculous is possible – and his brand of quirky historical fiction will be sure to delight lovers of both fantasy adventure and classic science fiction.
1) As a child did you have a dream job in mind?
To be honest, not really. I was always creative though, from the word go – drawing things and making stuff out of cardboard boxes and Sellotape – and I guess I imagined I’d always do something creative/arts based, as drawing was my natural gift. So far in my career, I’ve taught history at Uni, done illustration work and turned the ‘making up stories’ I’d always done into writing books!
2) Who was your favourite childhood author (s)?
My favourite books were by CS Lewis and Rosemary Manning (Author of Green Smoke, a book about a little girl who finds a very well-heeled dragon in a cave on a Cornish Cove). I also loved the ‘Three Investigators Series,’ of teen mystery stories by Robert Arthur Jr. – though it was CS Lewis, who I returned to after having my own kids, which directly inspired my move to write fantasy.
3) Was there a particular point in your life that you realised you wanted to be a writer?
I really got into reading Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series (and other historical fiction) as a teenager and can distinctly remember thinking, “I’ll write a novel one day when I’m older.” I went on to start toying with historical fiction after university while teaching (almost getting a manuscript about Roman chariot racing picked up by a London agent), but let writing stall as my family came along, until inspired to work on getting some of my fantasy fiction out there, by a good friend about five years ago.
4) What is your average writing day like? Do you have any special routines, word count, etc?
I’m a complete writing anarchist! I run off inspiration, and with a busy family life, try to sit down in front of the laptop (or notepad) whenever I can, jotting things down when inspiration strikes and joining the dots later! A lot of my writing is done at my kitchen table, but both of my kids climb competitively, and so a good deal of Deeper Realms was written at the local climbing centre during training sessions!
5) How many books have you written? Any unpublished work?
Wow. I’ve been writing for fun (but with an eye to publication) for ages, so I’ve got a fair bit of work stashed away. So far I’ve published six novellas (collected as my Deeper Realms Volume 1 and the forthcoming volume 2 coming later this year) and am also working on a YA science fiction story called Elsewhere with The Golden Egg Academy. Beyond that I have a completed Middle Grade story and two unpublished YA/Adult novels set in the same ‘world’ as Deeper Realms, which I’m hoping to publish one day! There’s also a heap of half-finished historical stuff, and an epic of chariot racing sitting in a box in my loft!
6) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Ha! I just want to scream panster in massive, massive, bold letters! I’m inspiration led, piggy-backing off ideas for scenes and dialogue, before knitting them all into structure based on how the personalities I create react to events!
Concerning your latest book:
Pages – 455
Release Date – 4th December 2018
ISBN 13 – 978-1731325419
Format – ebook, paperback
A full-length compilation of Deeper Realms instalments 1 – 4 with two new stories!
From across the globe come tales of strange creatures and phenomena which science is hard pressed to explain, but when the mysterious Ravenna Friere walks into Dr Eve Wells’ life, the anxious young palaeontologist finds herself drawn into a world of terrifying answers.
From the frigid shores of Loch Ness, to the blazing deserts of Egypt, Ravenna leads Eve and fellow time traveller, curator Polly Nightingale, on the trail of troubling anomalies which threaten the very integrity of reality. Alone on the Cornish moors, Eve comes face to face with a fabled creature set loose from the depths of the past; while in Cold War Britain, the emergence of a long dead virus presages events of almost biblical impossibility, when she and Ravenna find themselves in a valley of fabled sea serpents, fighting for their lives.
Drawing together four of Dr Eve Wells’ most notable adventures – plus a preview of the forthcoming novel Dinosaur Girl – this single volume provides an exciting window into Ian Roberts’ eclectic time travelling world.
7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
Weirdly, the content of Deeper Realms is a bit of a reaction to the over-research I did as a newby writer, when my desire to write ultra-accurate historical fiction drew me further into the details of the world than was good for the reader! I’ve always been captivated by natural history, passionate about the past and intrigued by the unexplained, and Deeper Realms was an attempt to use my own knowledge, interests and the books I own to explore weird stuff I find fascinating – supplemented by the world wide web of course! I also love the outdoors, which permeates a lot of my adventures!
8) How long did it take to go from ideas stage to writing the last word?
Deeper Realms came out of ‘Dinosaur Girl,’ (a novel I’m yet to publish) which begins Dr Eve Wells’ relationship with palaeontologist Ravenna Friere; and so, some of the ideas, scenes and dialogue had been knocking around for a while before I put my first novella instalment (‘A Most Extraordinary Form of Animal’) together. I began publishing the novellas separately, but it took about a year and a bit’s work to get all four stories collated into The Complete Deeper Realms Volume 1.
9) How did you come up with the title of your book?
My time travelling character Ravenna Friere has the gift to manipulate time and space and is drawn from a past where darkness and light are in very real conflict, so I wanted a title which reflected the idea of there being other levels of reality beyond the tangible world. At first Darker Realms came to me, but the intention of the stories is to be intriguing, not Gothic and somehow I hit on Deeper Realms as there are greater truths to be discovered.
10) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
In Deeper Realms, I really wanted to create engaging female characters who were ‘flesh and blood’ people with lots of foibles – not just typical action/fantasy stereotypes (and I really hope I’ve managed this). I wanted Ravenna to be enigmatic, confident and very martially capable – but not some 1 dimensional Hollywood ‘woman warrior.’ She’s very complicated; filled with joy and despair. Broken yet stoic … and though she looks, “a blisteringly hot twenty five,’ she’s ancient and world weary.
Eve wells is my obvious foil to Ravenna. A very ‘normal’ (though talented) person thrown into an incredible situation – on one level she can seem a little too vulnerable, but as the stories progress, her bravery as an anxious person thrown into a life threatening situation becomes apparent. Polly Nightingale just has to crack-on and put up with them both!
11) What process did you go through to get your book published?
My first Deeper Realms Novella was an exercise in getting some work out there, while another of my stories was being considered by an Indie publisher (watch this space) and with some encouragement from a friend, I began to explore Amazon’s KDP publication options. With the help of two very capable proofreading/editing friends, a graphics guy I know and my own illustration skills, the eBook and print-on-demand versions of Deeper Realms were born!
12) What’s next for you writing wise?
As mentioned above, I’m working with The Golden Egg Academy North, who help equip and mentor writers of children’s and YA fiction, and though I’d always intended my stories (with their 20 something characters) to be crossover tales, that any age could read, I’m working on an unashamedly YA novel about a girl who is dragged to the surface of Mars after witnessing an ancient phenomena in a Museum. It’s kind of like Narnia meets The Martian – a real genre fusion! In addition, I’m writing instalments of a teen monster thriller called Carboniferous, available free on Wattpad: adding new chapters weekly!
1) If you could have any super power for the day which would you choose?
Time travel, undoubtedly.
2) Do you have any pets?
A shoal of various tropical fish of which only two have been named (by my son) – Shy and Guy, whichever one you see first is Shy!
3) If you decided to write an autobiography of your life, what would you call it?
4) Your book has been made into a feature film and you’ve been offered a cameo role, which part would you choose, or what would you be doing?
I’d love to be an extra anywhere near one of Eve and Ravenna’s banter-filled conversations! I’d probably be someone dancing lamely at the works do they crash in 1997 or an unnamed Egyptian archaeologist at the end of the book.
5) Where is your favourite holiday destination?
To be honest I’m in love with Cornwall (particularly Constantine Bay, the setting of the above mentioned Green Smoke) – though I love Keswick in the lakes and do lots of outdoorsy stuff in the Peak District.
6) A baseball cap wearing, talking duck casually wanders into your room, what is the first thing he says to you?
“What the duck?” (sorry)!
I would like to say a big thank you to Ian Roberts for sharing with us details of his writing life and for a wonderful interview.