Reading

Author Interview – Richie Billing

Author Interview - Richie Billing Banner

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. 

If you just want more book and writing chat, there’s plenty to be had on my site, www.richiebilling.com. And I also have a writing group you may be interested in joining. Click here to do just that. 

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.

Tweeting

To Tweet Or Not To Tweet

As a writer, I feel I should like Twitter. Of all the platforms, Twitter seems the most suited for writers.

I’ve just never been much of a social media user. I don’t always know what to say or share, especially online. Sometimes I think about sharing something but then stop myself for some reason.

In a way, tweeting is similar to blogging. I guess I’d rather spend more time writing or reading.

Also, there aren’t enough hours in the day to be everywhere and to do everything.

Perhaps I need to tweet about something unrelated to me. I’m not one to share personal details about myself in real life or on social media.

I’m better at writing than I am at posting. I have no problem drafting a tweet. But sending it out into the world is a different story.

It’s not easy to create content on a consistent basis. It’s even harder when these days almost anyone can criticize you.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get into Twitter. Don’t get me started on Instagram. I suck at social media. Big surprise, I know. So kudos to everyone who doesn’t.

Some days, I wonder if I was born in the wrong era. I need a time machine. Take me back to the days before social media existed.

Writing

When Writing Hurts More Than It Helps

Writing is hard. On one hand, it helps. On the other, writing hurts. It’s therapeutic at times. But some days when I pick up a pen, I return to a difficult past.

On bad writing days, I wonder why I’m wasting my time. On better ones, I tell myself there is nothing else I’d rather be doing.

Over the summer, I actually took a break from creative writing. I thought it was much needed.

I fell in love with writing because it allowed me to reclaim my happiness. Then again, writing can be painful too.

I recall the past when I write, only to realize it’s gone. I don’t have yesterday anymore. I only have today.

For better or worse, I will write. I’m never going to let anyone stop me.

Writing gives me the chance to start again. I have to make a conscious effort to start anew. Easier said than done but it must be done. Even if I spend the rest of my life trying, at least I can die knowing that I tried. I made an effort. I didn’t quit, give up. I won’t take the easy way out. That’s not fair to myself. Easy isn’t always better.

Writing

How Writers Deal With Haters

  • Put them in a story and kill their character.
  • Subtweet him or her.
  • Publish a viral blog post.
  • Reaffirm how right you are as well as how wrong they are in your mind.
  • Roll your eyes like a YA character.
  • Walk away and write a bestseller instead.
  • Fall so in love with fictional characters you forget about your real life haters.
  • Silently correct their speech or grammar errors.
  • Build a fort using books to keep people out.
  • Realize having haters means you’re doing something right.
Writing

I’ve Always Seen Myself As A Writer

Growing up, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write. I loved creative writing. I still do.

Over the years, I’ve seen my work change before my eyes. I’ve come so far. Of course, there’s so much further for me to go.

No matter what I do or don’t do in the years to come, I’ll still make writing a priority. I have no reason to rush the creative process. I can stop and smell the roses. I should enjoy this seemingly endless rollercoaster ride. I have to appreciate the highs as well as the lows.

I don’t know much. I do know that when I don’t write, I don’t feel right.

I wonder what kind of writing I’ll pursue further. Creative or professional? Something in between? Something else entirely? We’ll see.

I don’t want to regret not taking a risk, so I have to try at the very least. I don’t want to ask what if for the rest of my life.

I wish I could do everything, but I can’t. I just try to prioritize writing when possible. I don’t mind sacrificing other things. I’m even fine studying less if that means writing more. I suppose I’ve always seen myself as a writer.

Writing

All The Things A Writer Wants For Christmas

Happy December! As a writer, there are many things I want for Christmas.

  • A finished manuscript. I seriously need to stop abandoning stories.
  • Some new ideas. Sometimes I have too many. Sometimes I don’t have any.
  • More time. 25 hours in a day would be nice.
  • Small acts of kindness. Is that too much to ask for?
  • Peace and quiet. A baby crying nonstop is the complete opposite.
  • Someone to retrieve my sanity and bring it back to me. I don’t have any monetary reward, but I’ll dedicate my first book to you.
  • More money in my bank account. So I can buy stuff I don’t need.
  • A lifetime supply of books. I’m running out of space so…
  • Another bookshelf. Too bad my room is too small for that.
  • A house with a library in it. And on office.
  • The imposter syndrome to go away. Does it ever?
  • I’d love for my muse to come back to me. I’m not sure where it’s gone. Probably somewhere nicer and warmer.
  • Procrastination can leave me alone. The door is that way. I hope it bites you in the head, you big pest.
  • A strong dose of inspiration. The stronger the better.
  • I need motivation. Desperately.
  • Good sleep. Restful nights where I don’t wake up at an ungodly hour and start to contemplate all of my life choices.
  • A better sense of humour. Or someone who gets my sarcasm.
  • To see people I want to see and not see people I don’t want to. Knowing my luck however, the exact opposite will happen. I see someone who is a stranger to me more than I see my best friend. The universe clearly enjoys toying with my emotions.
  • Patience. Current status: non-existent. I have no idea how people keep calm and collected all the time. I can’t control myself. I’m out of control. Send help.
  • I really want to get over my fear of operating a motor vehicle, so I can drive myself far, far away and write for days. That’s my goal in life.
Writing

How To Inspire Yourself To Write 

Because sometimes we all need to be inspired before writing.

Exercise.

Dance. Play baseball. Shoot some hoops. Whatever you like. Move your body, and maybe your mind will too.

Write.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is write, even when you’re slumping. If nothing else, start another project. Try to write when you aren’t inspired or motivated. Who knows what might happen.

Read.

If you don’t feel like reading, watch a movie or TV show. Perhaps other stories will inspire you to tell your own.

Game.

Play. Have fun. Video games are great. You have a new world to discover. You get to see a storyline unfold. You can study dialogue between different characters.

Blog.

Bloggers are some of the most inspiring people you’ll ever meet. Enough said.

Rest.

At times, you just need a break. That’s okay. Eat. Sleep. Take care of your body. Return to your story when you’re ready.

Explore.

Go outside. Take a walk. Travel somewhere you’ve never been before. That could get the creative juices flowing again.

Happy writing!

Writing

I Want To Write Full-Time

For the longest time, I imagined I’d have a regular 9-to-5 job, unrelated to writing while I wrote on the side during my own time. But these days I want to write full-time.

I’ve never considered myself to be a journalist. Despite some people seeing me as one, I don’t. I haven’t dabbled in journalism. I feel like I’m not that passionate about it. Even though I considered doing an undergraduate degree in journalism, I’m glad I didn’t. I love making up stories too much.

I’ve been thinking that instead of chasing a perfect career, I’d choose a preferred lifestyle. Rather than aiming to be an author, I should strive to create a life where I can write.

I need to be flexible and open-minded. Having an all or nothing mindset isn’t ideal. Besides if I never become an author, it’s not the end of the world. I’d be happy having a career that enables me to write.

I’ve also been thinking that a lot of people obsess over the highlights of a career, yet overlook the less glamorous aspects of a job.

Pursuing writing as a profession means dealing with criticism and rejection. Half the battle is being able to endure the bad.

All this to say, I still have no idea what I’ll be doing after I graduate. I just want to write.