Author Interview with Steven Poore

Today I’m interviewing Steven Poore about his newly published Fantasy book and more! Here is a bit about him before we get started.

HTTN cover

Steven Poore is an Epic Fantasist and SF Socialist. He lives in Sheffield with a crafty partner and a three-legged cat, and cannot move for towers of books. Heir to the North is published by Grimbold Books; the sequel, High King’s Vengeance, is currently being edited for a scheduled release in late 2016. You can also read some of Steven’s short fiction in the Fox Pockets series of anthologies by Fox Spirit Books. Steven hosts the semi-regular SFSF Social events in Sheffield, supported by the BSFA and BFS.

Follow him on Twitter: @stevenjpoore & @SFSFSocial

Nathan:

First off Steven, welcome to my Author Interview series. I’ve had a SciFi author, a horror author, and now a fantasy author, so I’m rounding the bases. I recently read your new book The Heir to the North, and I really, really liked it. It had a bunch of elements to it that reminded me of fantasy from the eighties and nineties, and I mean that in a good way. How did this story come about?

Steven:

Hi and thank you! It’s very definitely meant to have that sort of feel – I cut my teeth on the likes of David Eddings, Weis and Hickman, and Raymond E Feist, and one of my all-time favourites is The Barbed Coil by JV Jones (originally published in 1997). I have to admit that I’m not completely convinced by all the Grimdark shenanigans of the last few years, and I wanted to play about with some of the standard Epic Quest tropes but still keep the more – optimistic, I think – feel of the stuff I loved while growing up. Story-wise, there were a lot of things all coming together at once: the last chapter was already in my head when I went to Marrakech for my sister’s wedding celebrations, and from there the storyline almost wrote itself.

Nathan:

The book centres around an adolescent girl, Cassia, which you did a great job of giving us her character. Did you have any complications getting into the mindset of a young woman?

Steven:

Actually, I had less trouble writing her as she is than I did when I tried to write her as a young man instead – she just wasn’t interesting as a boy! (And that’s odd when you consider that she spends part of the book disguising herself as a young man!) Cassia’s inquisitive, determined, and lives for her dreams, just as I think we all do. The fact that half of her dreams are about Meredith is something else entirely! Importantly, she’s fallible too, and I reckon that combination is what makes her character so easily relatable.

Nathan:

From your social media posts, it seems you do a lot of local conventions and workshops. Can you tell us a bit about your involvement in them?

Steven:

I’ve only really started going to conventions in the last few years, and it’s only this year that I’ve been asked to sit on panels – in the space of the last couple of months I’ve gone from never having done one to moderating one! That swing is partly due to having spent the year running a series of events here in Sheffield, inspired by the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club that Jen Williams and Den Patrick run down in London. I started by “accidentally” hosting readings by Adrian Tchaikovsky and Jo Thomas (25 Ways to Kill a Werewolf, Fox Spirit Books) and now the events are going into a second year! The contacts and friends I’ve made at conventions and smaller pubmeets over the last couple of years have convinced me that cons are worth their weight in gold and I’d wholeheartedly recommend any SFF fan or writer to attend or get involved with them.

Nathan:

Many of my readers are aspiring authors. Can you tell us a bit about the process you went through in getting your latest book published?

Steven:

I’m a member of the Sheffield SF Writers’ Group, so Heir To The North got thoroughly road-tested before I was happy with it. I was convinced it was worthy of being traditionally published, so despite all the rejections I was piling up from literary agents I sent it in to an Angry Robot Open Door submissions period – and to my absolute shock they decided to request the full manuscript. Eventually they did say no, but it took them so long to do so (because they really couldn’t quite make their minds up on it) that it was actually the most inspiring rejection ever. 99% of this process has been subbing and waiting, and using the time to keep writing and researching. Don’t hang your hat on one peg – keep looking, keep enquiring, keep yourself out there, because when you do find that person who says “I want this for our imprint”, (which is what happened at Fantasycon in 2014), it’s the best feeling ever.

Nathan:

The Heir to the North is the first of a duology, correct? How did you find writing the sequel compared to writing the first one? Did you always plan on making it more than a single volume?

Steven:

Yes, and the second volume, The High King’s Vengeance, should be out in late 2016, schedules permitting! I think it was easier to write the second book, but only because I’d been thinking about how to wrap up the story ever since making notes for the last scenes of HTTN. I’d realised that I couldn’t leave Cassia just like that, but at the same time I knew I couldn’t have a traditional happy ending. Oh, spoilers…. Anyway, the second book kind of wrote itself as I had so many characters returning, each with stakes in the plot or in Cassia’s journey.

Nathan:

So you are a writer, but we are all fans of books and reading. Can you tell us who are some of your favorite authors, and what the last book you read was or what you’re currently reading?

Steven:

Last book: A Darker Shade of Magic, by VE Schwab. A fast and entertaining romp through multiple Londons. Titan Books have a real star there.
Latest books: I juggle several books at the same time. At the moment I’m partway through Goblin Moon, by Teresa Edgerton, and I’ve just started – finally! – Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky.
I’ve already mentioned The Barbed Coil as a stone-cold classic from the 90s; I also love going back to Paul Kearney’s Monarchies of God series and Juliet E McKenna’s Tales of Einarin.

Nathan:

Thank you so much for stopping by! One last question before I let you out of the dungeon. You are held captive by a lonely wizard. He wants to watch the best Fantasy movie ever made before he will let you go. Do you show him Legend, The Fellowship of the Ring, or Dragonheart? (not all of those should be contenders) Or do you have your own selection?

Steven:

Definitely Fellowship, though for the sake of my freedom I’d probably have to make sure there is no available evidence that the vaguely disappointing Hobbit movies actually exist… And to cheer him up after I’ve skedaddled into the long night, let’s leave a copy of The Princess Bride on the table next to his tear-stained grimoire.

Check out his publisher at http://www.grimboldbooks.com

Amazon UK – The Heir to the North

Amazon US – The Heir to the North 

Epic Fantasist & SFSF Socialist
@stevenjpoore
@SFSFSocial
http://stevenpoore.wordpress.com
http://sfsfsocial.wordpress.com

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