Do you have a favorite book/author?
Today’s Huntober author interview features Maurice J. Gallagher of Glasgow, Scotland, author of Axtelera Ray: The Chronicles of Astrone.
Growing up, it was Sphere by Michael Crichton. His blend of paranormal sci-fi with complex mathematics is something that really grabbed my attention, particularly the concept that any attempted communication with aliens would have to be via maths as it is the only universal language. In recent years, however, George R. R. Martin’s masterpiece of A Song of Ice and Fire has been my benchmark on fantasy. His work is an inspiration and an education for any writer.
Where do you do most of your writing?
Until recently, it was done at home in my study, but the room has been converted into a nursery for my newborn son. I need peace and quite to work effectively, and I’m generally most productive at night, though for the foreseeable future that will be limited to whatever time I can squeeze in between being a dad.
When did you start writing?
I started as a hobby when I was around fifteen, taking up the task of novelising the popular video game Final Fantasy VII. It was a private endeavour until I was in my early twenties and realised that there was a huge fan-fiction community online. After sharing my work, the response was pretty encouraging, and I’ve continued with the project ever since to amass a substantial following on social media and even be featured on prominent sites such as Kotaku. Through related projects, I met the creator of Axtelera Ray (Alroy Jovi) who was in the market for a fantasy writer to bring his idea to life. Once he explained the core concept to me, I was sold (that was two years ago). I’ve also worked professionally as a travel writer with New Zealand-based tourism company Citywalksz Ltd as well as contributed various articles to certain fan websites.
What’s your favorite type of writing to write? To read?
That has definitely got to be fantasy. As a kid, I loved horror stories, but grew to prefer fantasy and sci-fi. Crichton’s Jurassic Park and Sphere,Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Rowling’s Harry Potter and now Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire are among my favourites, but Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy also holds a special place in my heart. These have all influenced me in some way, though it was unquestionably the storytelling of Final Fantasy VII that sent me down the path of epic fantasy. I’ve dabbled in amateur journalism, screenwriting, blogging, travel writing, analytical articles, and comedic non-fiction, but authoring novels is what I desire most. I have quite a detailed imagination so it’s a medium that allows me to explore that in a way that (hopefully) others can enjoy.
Do you write to background noise?
I find anything other than silence to be quite distracting when it comes to writing, which is why I prefer to work late into the night when most people have settled down to sleep.
Do you scribble your ideas on paper? outline?
While I don’t use pen and paper to scribble down thoughts, I always have my iPhone to hand because I’ve learned that some of the best ideas come when you least expect them, and to let them slip back into the aether is a tragedy. My technique is usually to make short notes for myself on the phone and later add them into a designated chapter-by-chapter notes document on my laptop, accessing them when the time comes to write the applicable chapter. It may sound a bit messy, but I often find an organic approach to ideas (ie letting them blossom themselves) gets the best results. I also keep all the core information in a 200-page bible that I use for referencing.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I suppose for my Final Fantasy VII novelisation, the obvious answer would be its original writing team of Sakaguchi, Nojima and Kitase. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration for me to say that without those guys, I would probably have chosen a very different career path. As for Axtelera Ray, it is a superhero-fantasy series but its setting and characters are deeply rooted in global mythology. As such, so much of my time is spent researching old legends, and there is one simple reason these tales have survived the ages: they are awesome! Due to the nature of the books, I’m not influenced by mythology so much as actively seeking to incorporate a lot of it, and the first novel (Axtelera Ray: The Chronicles of Astrone) focuses primarily on Norse lore. When it comes to the style of my writing, it would be fair to say that my biggest inspirations are Tolkien, Martin and Rowling. Tolkien was a master at creating fantasy worlds and characters (themselves drawn from Norse, Saxon and Celtic legends) full of detail and history, and captivating the reader with epic plots. However, in my opinion, there are times where his inclusion of songs or runic languages can be overkill, and the story can drag which is something I would look to avoid. Martin refined Tolkien’s style and turned it into fluent prose that can only be described as genius, without compromising too heavily on the historical aspects of his kingdoms, though I’d imagine that his numerous – and often unrelated – story arcs might confuse some readers. Rowling, on the other hand, wrote for a much younger audience in her Harry Potter saga, and proved that dynamic plots and less depth in your fantasy world can be just as engaging as the epics of Tolkien and Martin. Another thing I love about Rowling is her own rags-to-riches experience as an author, and how she strove to retain ownership of her beloved creations when the movie industry came calling.
Who is your favorite character that you have created?
Wow, that’s a good question. The answer will have to relate to Axtelera Ray as the Final Fantasy VII ones are not my own. My project partner,Alroy Jovi, established most of the main characters in the story and left me to flesh them out, so there are a couple that I can’t claim all the credit for. One of these is Kzarine the Dragon Assassin (I’ve attached her 3D character art, created by Alroy, above). She is a military commander who is loyal to the realm, irrespective of what dark tasks are being asked of her, for she sees the world very much in black and white. She is blessed/cursed by a supernatural power which allows her to understand the thoughts of animals and monsters, meaning she can anticipate their movement. This makes her a dangerous hunter whose duty it is to track and slay any creature that poses a threat to the kingdom, specialising in dragons like the one who burned her hometown the the ground. Other than Kzarine, the favourite of my own creations is probably Kilsiid, a transforming trickster based on Native American myth. He is a devil’s advocate sort of character whose allegiances are never clear. He can shape shift between human form and that of a raven, making him a perfect spy, but the select information he chooses to relay to protagonists and antagonists alike makes it difficult to determine what cunning game he is really playing. I hope his actions can throw up a few twists throughout the book.
Congratulations, Maurice, on becoming a father and your soon to be published Axtelera Ray: The Chronicles of Astrone .
If you would like a 40-page preview edition of Axtelera Ray: The Chronicles of Astrone which is available to download absolutely free, Links to the PDF, ePub and Kindle files can be found on our website at http://axteleraray.org/novels/story/axtelera-ray-the-chronicles-of-astrone/preview/ as can loads of different information and artwork for the project.
For those interested in my peer-acclaimed Final Fantasy VII novelisation, the books can also be downloaded for free from http://axteleraray.org/about-axtelera-ray/creators/author/finalfantasyviinovels/