Meet my guest this week; E.J. Parry. This writer knows how to scare! He's written two books so far as part of The Bellualis Chronicles. Golem was released last year and I'm excited to say that the sinister book Smile is out today!
I was delighted that Parry (www.ejparry.com) asked me to create the covers for his books. I loved doing them! His books are right up my street; dark and chilling, so I thought I'd ask Parry to do an interview about his page-turners and to share with you his life as a writer. Enjoy!
1. Had you always intended to write books?
Not at all. I’ve always written, ever since I was little at school, but it was usually songs, music or short poems. When I was teaching I wrote some (very) short little stories for the kids in my class. These were usually silly little rhyming stories. I had long held the ambition to write a “proper” book one day but, like most people, never got round to doing it. However, I had an accident in late 2016 which unfortunately meant I was no longer able to teach and I suddenly found myself unable to work and unable to do a lot of the things I’d previously taken for granted. I fell into a severe depression and spent a lot of time thinking about all of the things I could no longer do. Then one day I had an epiphany of sorts and was inspired by, of all people, Rocky Balboa, and I began to focus on what I could do. So, I started to write poems and music again and several silly little rhyming stories, which helped give me focus and helped me out of my depression. Golem was the first book I wrote, and even it started life as something very different.
2. Describe your writing space.
I write in what used to be our garage until it was converted, and it is my favourite room in the house. It’s a bit of a mix between a small home recording studio, a fitness area and a dark, quiet writing area. We have some basic home gym equipment, which I use for my physiotherapy exercises, that takes up half of the room, whilst my desk and office equipment sit in the other half. I have several guitars hanging up on one wall, and a banjo, and also a piano which is linked up to my computer. The dog has a bed next to my desk and regularly spends her days sleeping there whilst I’m writing, although I don’t think she’s too keen on my rather bad piano playing. There are also loads of family photos all over the walls.
3. What comes first, the plot or the characters?
That’s a tough question as it’s a bit of both. You need the plot to sit the characters in however you need the characters to shape the plot. When the plot starts to take form, then characters will inevitably be created to help carry it but when you’re starting out, maybe the main characters will be there first so you can mould something around them. In conclusion my honest answer has to be I don’t know…it’s a bit chicken and egg.
4. Describe a typical writing day.
I have a few long term health conditions which leave me in a lot of pain, so I’m not always able to write, and every day is a focus on pain management whether I’m writing or not, so I do it as and when I can.
I have a plan of what I’m going to write, although I never really stick to it. I see the plan as a very fluid guide open to constant changes and amendments. The first thing I do is reread the previous chapter, and edit anything I think needs editing. I then hand write the next chapter before I start typing it up. Sometimes I use a microphone to dictate directly into the computer as I’m not always able to type. I change and edit as I’m typing and then, when I’m finished, I reread it all again editing as I go. This is probably a slow way of doing it but it works for me.
5. What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Just do it. There’s nothing as daunting as an empty piece of paper waiting to be filled and it is very very easy to talk yourself out of doing it before you’ve even started. So, whether you’re writing music or poetry or a huge novel, the first step is to just get on with it and get something down, then build upon it. Then edit it. This is so important, and sometimes it can be scary to change what you’ve written, but it usually improves your work. Editing is a key part in any form of writing.
I would also advise a new writer not to be put off if they write something that isn’t very good. Because they will. Don’t give up because the good stuff might often be hidden behind the not so good.
The Bellualis Chronicles
1. What inspired you to write the Bellualis Chronicles?
Golem, which is the first book in the series, started its life as something very different. I had written a few silly little stories and had intended to write another one about a teacher friend of mine having a bad day, where everything was going wrong for him. It was supposed to be a funny little story for him, but when I came to write it, I found that it was becoming less funny and much darker. I added characters to act as catalysts for his bad day, but they were turning much nastier than I’d wanted and the more I wrote it, the more it morphed into something I didn’t intend. So, I stopped trying to write his story and let the story go where it seemed to want to go. This sounds cheesy but it was almost as if it was writing itself as times. Once I knew where the story was headed I realised that it would be difficult to keep it to one book and knew that it might take a few more to fully develop and explore the world that was created.
2. What is the theme of these books?
Without giving it all away, it’s about a small group of teenage children who discover a secret within their school which they then have to stop.
3. What do your family think of these books?
They really like them and couldn’t put them down once they’d started them. The reaction and feedback has been amazing, people seem to really enjoy them, even though some said they couldn’t read them at night because it frightened them.
4. Are any of the characters based on people you know?
Yes, although loosely and I have twisted some of their characteristics. Several of the events in Golem where actually inspired by real events but I have exaggerated them for the story, I’ll let the reader try and decide which. I’m also rubbish at coming up with character names so I cheat and mix up the names of real people I know including a cheeky nod, in Golem, to the three teachers that have scared me the most.
They both just seemed to fit naturally. I was using those titles in my head and by the time I’d finished the books I couldn’t see them as anything other.
6. Can you share a snippet from Smile that isn’t in the blurb?
It’s one of my favourite lines that Janus Pulchre (she is a vile, sadistic woman)
says whilst she’s with Jack;
Jack heard the door slam shut and stared at Miss Pulchre, whose broad smile and greedy eyes were fixed on him. She licked her lips.
“I think it’s time for supper.”
7. Can you describe the character that appears on the cover in three words?
Golem – Innocent, concealing, mysterious
Smile - Inviting, Sinister, Confident
The feedback from the readers. The worst comment I’ve had was that it was too scary, which as I’d intended it to be scary was a good comment. It feels very exposing putting something you’ve created out in public but the positive comments
make it all very worthwhile. I also like the fact that I can call myself a published writer, I’m quite proud of that.
9. I assume there will be a third book in this series. Do you already have ideas in place for it?
Yes, I’ve already made a start on it, although I did give up writing during lockdown as I found having the family around me too distracting. I’d rather be doing fun things with them than sitting on my own writing. I like to write in silence as I find I can be distracted very easily. I’m getting back on with it now though.
10. If your book was made into a movie which celebrities would you choose to star in it?
Funnily enough, as I was writing I pictured Eve Green as Veronica Malignus, Natalie Dormer as Janus Pulchre and Diana Rigg as Lady Pulchre.
1. Who is your favourite author?
2. What are you reading at the moment?
3. What was your favourite book as a child?
4. Do you listen to audiobooks? If so, can you recommend any?
I’m afraid I don’t listen to them.
Lastly, is there anything else you’d really like to share with our readers about you or the work you do? It can be anything.
I’d love it if some of your readers tried my books and then let me know their opinions. I’ve got a comments page on my website www.ejparry.com and enjoy engaging with and getting feedback from my readers.
Many thanks, E.J. PARRY, for sharing a slice of your life as a writer. I've no doubt you will inspire many other writers, authors and other creative people out there.
If you are connected to books and art in anyway and have something you'd like to share please get in touch and have a guest spot on my blog. Contact me either via this website or email me; firstname.lastname@example.org
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