Read Part One here.
Read Part Two here.
Airship Ambassador: Every author I’ve talked with has a different journey to seeing their works in print. What was your publishing experience like?
H.G. Howell: Very exciting. The proof copy required a few adjustments but overall it has been an enlightening experience. I really enjoy the idea of being in absolute control over the entire process, its just time consuming which, if not balanced well, can burn out the desire of maintaining that desire to stay in control.
AA: If someone likes “X”, then they’ll like The Spark. What is “X”?
HGH: Of the books I have read the easiest comparison would be the Game of Thrones series by George R. R. Martin in terms of both maturity and story delivery.
AA: What do you think puts this story on someone’s must read/have list?
HGH: The concept. From what I have seen of Steampunk literature there is a lot of standard adventure/action plots out there whereas The Spark is a more diverse plot with more focus on character and how the events of the story impacts the individual.
AA: If The Spark were made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?
HGH: I haven’t really given much thought to this. Sir Ian Mackellen would make a great choice for Julien. As curious as he is Shia Labuff would make an excellent Marcus.
AA: If The Spark had a soundtrack, what would it be like?
HGH: Any classical music. Writing the book I listened to all sorts of different orchestral music which really helped guide my pen. Although, Flight of the Valkyries is a must when reading the final action packed moments of the prologue.
AA: How are new readers finding you – conventions, website, word of mouth, etc?
HGH: Right now through Facebook and Goodreads. I had the book in a local Chapters store where I also did a successful signing event.
AA: Have you been on book tours and to conventions? What has that been like, and the fan reaction?
HGH: This hasn’t happened yet but I am planning on doing a small tour across Ontario in support of The Searing.
AA: What do you do to keep a balance between writing and the rest of your life?
HGH: I keep my writing to my alone time as it offers the least amount of distraction.
AA: Do you get to talk much with other writers and artists to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?
HGH: Not usually. There was a gentleman a while back I was speaking with due to an idea he had. It was a great concept and I hope he finishes the story one day.
AA: Some people might say that writers need to be readers, too. What do you think about that and what would you say your ratio of reading to writing is/was?
HGH: I completely agree. To a point. When I first started writing the book I was heavy into my umpteenth read through of A Feast for Crows. I soon realized that my writing style was becoming too much like Martin’s and not so much of my own. As a new writer this is a terrible thing to have happen because it means you don’t have a voice of your own. Upon this realization I promptly stopped reading while I wrote. Once I moved into the revision stages I picked my books back up. These days I will only read on days I either haven’t written or have already accomplished the day’s writing target.
AA: As a reader, what has made you stop reading something before finishing it? How do you try to avoid that issue in your own writing?
HGH: This has only happened to me with two books. The first was The Dreaming Void by Peter Hamilton. It was just an incoherent mess of a book with no real semblance of a plot, deus ex machinas everywhere and inconsistent characters – amongst other things. The other was A Dance of Dragons by George R. R. Martin. I have read all of his Ice and Fire books at least a dozen times each, if not more, except for that one. I had to force myself to finish the first read through. Once again, inconsistent characterizations, but in this case of already well established and defined characters, and a lot of unnecessary repeated phrases. For myself, I try to be as mindful as possible about which character I am writing and what their individual plot line is and where they are as a person – which has been developed in subsequent chapters. If that fails I will catch it during the revision process and make the changes as needed.
AA: What do you consider your first real writing experience? Was it the back-to-school exercise of “What I did this Summer” or something you just did on your own?
HGH: Spending an afternoon at the funeral home my Dad worked at writing a piece of short fiction inspired by a choose your own adventure Goosebumbs story.
AA: How have you and your work grown and changed over time?
HGH: Yes and no. My work has always been on the darker side and has always been known for pushing boundaries. It has changed as I have gone from writing abstract prose [which may one day get published] to fully fledged novels.
AA: In your experience as a writer, what have been the hardest and most useful skills to learn?
HGH: Formatting. I am still not perfect with it and am planning to reformat the eBook version of The Spark when I roll out the second edition.
We’ll pause here in chatting with H.G. Howell, Join us next time when he talks about challenges and interests.
You can support H.G. and our community by getting your copy of The Spark here.