Interview: Adrian Faulkner, author of The Four Realms

Adrian Faulkner’s brand new book, The Four Realms, just came out from Anarchy Books, and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. Please welcome Adrian to the blog!

Adrian, your first book, The Four Realms, came out in December from Anarchy Books! Will you tell us a bit about it?
It’s a bit of everything really: Vampire genocide, shape-shifting cephalopods, 82 year old kick ass heroines, centaurs with shotguns.

It starts with half-vampire, Darwin, finding a notebook on a corpse in the streets of London. It’s written in a strange language so he pockets it, not knowing that the sinister Mr West and his colleagues are after the book and will stop at nothing to get it.

Meanwhile, Maureen Summerglass, an elderly gatekeeper between worlds is informed of the death of a friend. Feeling as if there is a cover-up, Maureen breaks a lifetime of protocol and sneaks into the city of New Salisbury trying to find answers but only finding trouble. And along the way she discovers she just might be the first human female able to do magic.

Before he knows it, Darwin is on the run, trying to save the survivors of a vampire genocide he may have inadvertently caused. That’s if he can get them through a gateway into the sanctuary of New Salisbury and if they want to be saved by one they don’t consider one of their own.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
For as long as I can remember I was writing. I remember being 8 or 9 and writing this hundred page fantasy story in school after reading The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. My teacher liked it so much he typed it up and put it into the school library.

During my teenage years I was plotting and writing a massive space opera that I may one day go back to. I got it up to 80,000 words before exams took over but I was still just scratching the surface.

When a girlfriend and I moved in together we decided to do a night class each. I chose creative writing and remember little of it other than the fact that one week we went over how to write and submit non-fiction. I decided to give it a go and ended up with my first publishing credit in a magazine on pop culture collectibles.

From there I went on to write for a decade on cool pop culture merchandise. I ran my own website and over the decade it grew into this mammoth market leader, doing as much as 300,000 page impressions a day. It was crazy and wonderfully geeky. I got to interview major film stars, I even had pop stars write for the site.

You might ask, if it was so good, why I gave it all up? I can tell you it wasn’t an easy decision. The site wasn’t making much money (a site that size is expensive to host!), I was working a day job then working another seven hours a day on the site, 18 at weekends, and I got to a stage where I thought I’d taken it as far as I could. I’d always wanted to do fiction and came to the conclusion that if I didn’t do it now, I never would. It was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make and for a long, long time afterwards I thought it was worst decision as well.

Thankfully it ultimately turned out to be the right decision as I’m now talking to you about my published book.

What inspired you to write The Four Realms?
The Four Realms is envisaged as the first of four books. It came about after I realized that the idea from my teens was a Science Fiction novel and my true love was Fantasy. So I wanted to write a big imaginative fantasy novel that was a little different.

I tend to let ideas grow into stories over time in my mind, so once I had the central idea for the series it was a case of mixing a couple of those together and adding in more cool elements.

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
I’m a huge fan of Tolkien. There’s something about the depth of his imagination, the way a character will cross a bridge and he’ll tell you the history like a villager who has lived next to it all their life. I keep looking but have yet to find any other writer who engages me the way Tolkien does.

I’m also a big fan of horror writer Clive Barker, not so much for his horror but his fantasy elements. Reading Weaveworld in my teens showed me just how wide ranging fantasy was and how it was only limited by your imagination.

There’s also a comics writer called Larry Hama who had a big influence on me. He was writing this toy tie-in called GI Joe and could have really just phoned it in, but instead he wrote this incredible fun comic that’s still a joy to read. I learned so much about writing from that comic.

And my final influence, although not literary, is George Lucas. Star Wars was something that shaped me as a child and I remain a huge fan to this day. I even flew all the way to Texas from the UK just so I could see Episode 1 on opening night.

Is there an author that, if you were to meet them for the first time, your inner fanboy would come out?
Well Tolkien is dead and I’ve met Barker a couple of times (the last at San Diego Comic Con where we ended up talking about house prices). It takes a lot for me to go fanboy on anyone given my past (the only notable exception was Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons) but I reckon I’d have to fight really, really hard not to gush at Jim Butcher. I’d avoided his books for years. I’m a slow reader and I wanted to keep up with trends in the genre which meant reading widely and avoiding long series. I started reading them after I got the deal, am up to the 5th book and absolutely loving them.

What do you like to see in a good book?
I love that warm feeling you get when you are reading a book and enjoying it. It’s like nothing else. Somehow the author has done something either through their writing or worldbuilding or character development to convince you that you are in safe hands and you’ve submitted to the book, happy to let it take you where it will. You want to close the curtains, forget the outside world and just curl up, wanting to read more but at the same time worried it might end all too soon.

I don’t think there’s a formula for books like that other than the right book for the right person.

What’s one thing that will make you put a book aside, unfinished?
I will generally stick with a book once I start it. However, it has to keep me interested, and if it doesn’t other things such as TV, writing or videogames lure me away from reading long enough for me to forget what I’ve read so far.

On your website, it says that in your free time, you’re a geocacher. Will you tell us more about that?
Basically it involves using a handheld GPS to go out into the countryside and find hidden boxes. Geocaching is as fun as it sounds crazy but with over a million caches hidden worldwide it’s something you can do anywhere in the world. I just started it as motivation to get out and go for a walk. Whilst last year saw me find my 10,000th cache, all the work getting the book ready for publication ate into my caching time so I’m hoping to have a better year than last and push my finds up a lot higher in 2013.

What’s next for you?
I’m working on the follow up to The Four Realms, which is currently called The Thieving King. It picks up right where The Four Realms left off and answers some of the questions the first book posed. I’m really excited about this book, if only because I write these books with myself as the reader in mind and I can’t wait to read the last chapter. It pushes a lot of my buttons and is going to be so much fun to write.
Keep up with Adrian: Website