The Writing Life of: SC Gowland
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author SC Gowland, who will be sharing with us details of his writing life, telling us all about his new book ‘Darkness Falls‘, which was released on 10th February 2022, and answering a few fun questions. This post contains affiliate links.
SC Gowland is an international selling author and double self-finalist of the Self Publishing Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO6) and Book Blogger Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA – 2021) with his debut novel, THE DARK CROWN – first book in THE SOULS’ ABYSS fantasy series. It was followed in spring 2021 by book 2 – COVEN OF SHADOWS and book 3 – DARKNESS FALLS, released in February 2022. His first standalone novel, IMAGINE THE FIRE, will be released in May 2022.
His first memory is of holding a light sabre. He misspent much of his youth playing video-games and daydreaming that he was a Jedi or Buck Rogers. Always an enormous fan of fantasy novels, his favourite authors include Joe Abercrombie, David Eddings, George RR Martin and David Gemmell.
He lives by the sea with his family, still daydreaming about imaginary worlds, doing limited housework, and reading far less that he should.
1) Did you enjoy writing when you were a child?
I did, but I enjoyed reading far more. My tastes changed as I grew up from Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, and then really moved to fantasy – Terry Pratchett, David Gemmell and David Eddings. The writing part of me took a good break of about 25 years.
2) Which author shaped your childhood?
Roald Dahl was the first to really capture my imagination; funny, clever and twisty. Then David Gemmell and David Eddings, they created worlds that I completely fell into and loved. Each time I opened one of their books, it was like I was going through the wardrobe entering a completely different world. I met characters I loved (for various reasons – Druss for his heroic efforts, Kalten – his sense of humour). Magic stuff…
3) What motivated you to begin your first novel?
I had stories in me I wanted to tell and at the time perhaps a desire to do better than some books I was reading and left feeling disappointed by. Being introduced to the work of Joe Abercrombie was THE game changer. I had read nothing so vivid and deep.
After I fell out of reading for such a long time – video games and films filled the gaps in my appetite for stories – getting back into it was a struggle. Joe Abercrombie showed me what could be done. I also wanted to be able to say that I was part of the 2% who’d written (more than one book), rather than part of the 98% who talk about it but never go beyond that. It was also to prove a point to some people.
4) Do you plot your book, or are you a pantser?
I work on the 80/20 rule. 20% plotting – 2 or 3 bullet points per chapter – then off I go the 80% comes after that. I think about my book each day, even if I don’t get many words down. Thinking time is just as important as getting words down, the major benefit of this being I can do it anywhere (in the car, walking to work, collecting the kids), the challenge is remembering it before it dissolves from my brain.
5) What is your average writing day?
I’ve found that getting up early (5 or 6am is my best time) I can get 2-3k words down and then it’s done for the day, and I don’t have to worry about life stuff or being tired from stopping me doing it later in the day. You can also be slightly smug that it’s done before the household wakes up too.
I also find avoiding social media first thing helps (I love Twitter) or I can disappear down a rabbit hole for ages. That and noise cancelling headphones linked to Spotify really helps. Dustin O’Halloran, Hans Zimmer and John Barry are my preferred soundtracks.
6) What is the best thing about being an author?
I get to write the stories I want to read. Also, I get to tell stories and let my imagination run wild. My job can be hard and having something that means I can blow off some steam by disappearing into a world I control is a good thing.
The Souls’ Abyss Book Three
Pages – 357
Release Date – 10th February 2022
ISBN 13 – 979-8723617315
Format – ebook, Paperback, Hardcover
THE WORLD IS SHROUDED IN DARKNESS.
The end is near. Souls and kingdoms fall into darkness. Three heroes must fight off the shadows and restore light to the world.
Within the walls of Zapomniane prison, Kaoldan schemes to escape. He has a promise to fulfil, and nothing will stop him.
Meanwhile, Romina battles to survive against Otan forces. When a stranger offers her a way out, she must decide whether to save herself or stand against the evil that threatens the world.
Zahara has left her loved ones behind. She bears a secret that might destroy her – and the realm. The enemy relentlessly hunts her, determined to take back what she stole. If they succeed, all is lost.
Fates collide and the light shines anew in the epic conclusion to the first SOULS’ ABYSS trilogy.
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7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
I didn’t research it as much as spend time world building and deciding what had to happen. The hardest part is how the series was going to progress after this book. I am doing a standalone next to draw a line under part one of the series, and provide some context to the origins of the world and also hint at some factors which will return in part two which will be released in late 2022.
8) How long did it take to go from the ideas stage to writing the last word?
6 months – give or take a week or three. World building and thinking about it beforehand was time well spent. The main delay was having to completely change the ending following the advice from a fellow writer who I really respect and trust.
I was going to end part one of The Souls’ Abyss a certain way; they convinced me to do it very differently. Initially I dismissed their suggestion straight away, but after some thinking time and re-reading what I’d done so far, it made complete sense. The weird thing was that it seemed I’d been building to this new ending without intending to. You need someone you can trust to tell you the truth about your work; the good, the bad and the ugly.
9) What made you choose the genre you write in?
I like the escapism of it. I like to read stories about heroes and about people who do the right thing (from their point of view). Integrity is a quality that seems to be lacking in various parts of life sometimes. Besides, who doesn’t love a story of good v evil with magic swords and dragons?
10) How did you come up with the name(s) for your lead character(s)?
I create some myself, but I also use some random name generator websites, they take the pressure off and I’ve found some cracking ones using them, including the name of the series – The Souls’ Abyss.
11) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
Kaoldan is the gateway character into the world of The Souls’ Abyss. He’s imperfect, but with a strong sense of right and wrong, he’s made his fare share of mistakes and they are coming back to haunt and torture him. As the story progresses we meet his daughters after a considerable period of time apart, this presents him with challenges and issues he has been hiding from. The flip side is that it also presents his daughters with similar challenges.
The main thing I wanted to get across was that people make mistakes, whilst thinking they are doing the right thing. Kaoldan was partly based on myself and an amalgamation of various characters from other books and films. I enjoyed writing him very much as the series progressed the focus pans out to include other people that are part of his life and the challenges and issues they face.
12) How did you feel when you had completed your book?
Proud. The sense of accomplishment is huge. It reaffirmed my belief that my writing voice is now my own, rather than me trying to be like another writer. I have plans for twelve books and each one completed is another step towards that goal. By the end of the year, I should be almost halfway there.
1) Do you have a favourite quote?
I wouldn’t say that I live by famous quotes, but I do like two in particular.
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” – Socrates
“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” – Marcus Aurelius
2) Do you have any pets?
I love dogs, and my best furry friend is our schnauzer Darcy. My dream is to have a house and garden big enough to accommodate her and a giant schnauzer called Merlin – just like Dref from The Souls‘ Abyss.
3) What are you currently reading?
A fair few books, but my Audible list is big too. In full:
– Dune, Frank Herbert.
– The Shadow Saint, Gareth Hanrahan.
– The Witcher, Andrzej Sapkowski
– The Maleficent Seven, Cameron Johnston.
– Half A King & Half A War, Joe Abercrombie.
– The Coven, Lizzie Fry
– Valour, John Gwynne,
– The Ninth Rain, Jen Williams
– The Waking Fire, Anthony Ryan
– Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
– Malice, John Gwynne
– The Dragonbone Chair, Tad Williams
– Relic of the Gods, Philip C Quaintrell
4) Your book has been made into a movie, you’ve been offered a cameo role, what will you be doing?
Either in the pub as a local or as a Walker training with other soldiers in the chapter house.
5) If you could travel to a fictional world from any book for the day, which would you choose?
I found this question the hardest to answer, and I concluded somewhere fun would be best, so send me to Terry Pratchett’s world and to Ankh-Morpork, please.
6) There’s a penguin sitting in your chair, what’s the first thing he says to you?
Cuppa would be nice; milk, two sugars please…
A big thank you to SC Gowland for sharing his writing life with us and a wonderful interview.