1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m from a city called Liverpool, well-known around the world for birthing The Beatles and Liverpool Football Club (and Everton too, though typically as the team I support they’re neither as good nor well known).
In past years I’ve worked as a lawyer—a job I gave up to pursue writing—and managed an Irish community centre. Now I manage a digital marketing company.
I’m a big NBA fan and follow the Boston Celtics. So most nights you can either find me watching hoops or tapping away at my keyboard.
2. When and why did you start writing?
I think I started writing properly when I was about 23. I’d finished uni at 21, dipped in and out of semi-serious jobs, wrote a sitcom with a friend, and then just felt a bit lost.
I wasn’t fulfilled in the things I was doing. And around the same time I rekindled my love of reading. I suppose in an effort to escape the void I turned to books—fantasy mostly—and in them found a bit of purpose.
People have always said to me that they enjoyed my writing. Even law essays, which I found weird. And after we finished the sitcom I had no projects to do. So I decided to write something new, and given my renewed love for fantasy books, I began to think of ideas for my own.
Around the same time I kept seeing magpies. Literally everywhere I turned I saw a magpie. Which got me thinking. And then came the idea for my first novel. The rest is history.
3. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No. In my younger days I flitted through desires of fantastical careers before settling on law. It didn’t turn out as I imagined and my life has since pivoted. But I’m so much happier doing what I love. Writing is a part of my life now. I can’t imagine what it would be like without it.
4. Where do you draw inspiration from?
Mostly the world around me. The people I meet and see in the street. The things I read in the news and in books. Sometimes ideas just come to me while daydreaming.
Most times they’ll come in fragments and you’ll either need to look for the other parts or wait patiently for them to come. Then it’s a matter of putting them together.
I seek to instill a bit of purpose in my stories, particularly drawing upon real world issues. With Pariah’s Lament, I drew on issues to do with the migration and refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East, illustrating the inhumanities, helplessness and desperation.
I also comment upon nuclear weapons—the unnecessary threat that hangs over us all, the foolishness of keeping them, and the temptation to wield them for ill purposes.
5. What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most?
A lot of the time, writing almost feels like a problem solving exercise. A literary game, like a jigsaw. As an editor, I’m forever toying around with words, sentences and paragraphs, trying to find the perfect sequence. Weirdly I’ve come to enjoy this, mostly because of the tremendous satisfaction I feel when readers tell me they enjoyed the story.
6. Can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel?
Let me give you the blurb:
“So often it’s the forgotten who possess the power to change the world.”
When an attempt is made on the life of Ashara, Keeper of Yurr, his young, hapless advisor Edvar must uncover and stop those behind it. With enemies in the capital city and the belligerent Tesh, Keeper of neighboring kingdom Karrabar stirring trouble in the Borderlands, can Edvar hold together Ashara’s brittle reign?
The troubles ripple throughout Yurr, affecting an ancient race of people known as the Amast, who in their time of utmost need, turn to pariah Isy for salvation. Rejected by society, kith and kin, can Isy guide the Amast to safety during the greatest turmoil Yurr has known since the War of the Damned?
I’ve invested an awful lot of time and effort into this book and the only thing I want is for people to read and hopefully enjoy it. The reviews have so far blown me away, so if you love an underdog, action-packed stories and a touch of romance told in the style of GRRM and Joe Abercrombie, give Pariah’s Lament a glance.
7. What’s one thing you wish you knew about writing or publishing before you started?
How important marketing is. When I began I appreciated that I wasn’t that good a writer so set out to improve. I didn’t understand that while I was doing that I could have been doing some simple things to build a following and readership.
That said, if I hadn’t invested all that time I may not be where I am today.
8. Who is your favourite author and why?
George RR Martin. Maybe an obvious choice, but I don’t care. Nobody has ever enraptured me so much. One night, struggling to sleep, I decided to read a bit of Storm of Swords. When next I checked the time it was 7am. It was like the best joint in the world and I couldn’t stop smoking it.
So he may be a slow writer, but he’s a true master of the craft that possesses an insightful understanding of humanity.
9. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Persevere. Never ever give up, even when it feels more appealing than rolling around with a bunch of puppies. The difference between writers and everyone else is that the writers didn’t give up. They stayed in the chair and worked through their problems and kept on going until they finished.
10. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
If you would like to check out Pariah’s Lament, please do go on and explore! Over on my website you can find the first chapter in both text and in 3D audio format. Plus when you join my community of readers, you can get the first 4 chapters delivered right to your inbox.
Thanks for listening to my rambles!
About Richie Billing
Richie Billing writes fantasy fiction, historical fiction and stories of a darker nature. His short fiction has been published by, amongst others, Kzine, TANSTAAFL Press, Bewildering Stories, Liquid Imagination, The Magazine of History & Fiction, Aether and Ichor, and Far Horizons.
His debut novel, Pariah’s Lament, will be published by Of Metal and Magic Publishing on 17th March 2021. He co-hosts the podcast The Fantasy Writers’ Toolshed, a venture inspired by the requests of readers of his critically-acclaimed book, A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook.
Most nights you can find him up into the wee hours scribbling away or watching the NBA. Find out more at www.richiebilling.com.