Everyone Please Welcome
Welcome a fellow writer, blogger and Wordplayer from our Facebook group. Check out Ian’s blog over at The Town’s End Tribune .
Let the games begin
“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” -Mark Twain
* Were you born and raised in Texas?
I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Despite not living in the state since I graduated high school (minus a 9 month period when I was stationed in Corpus Christi), it is still home to me. Hopefully, in the near future I will be moving back!
Awesome, I love Texas!
*What did you read in your early years?
When I moved past children’s books, I started out reading the things that my parents had on the bookshelves. It was mostly sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, mysteries, and horror. Some of the authors stuck with me, but I eventually branched out and found authors and stories that I liked. I read as often as I could, and I loved going to the used book stores to search for hidden or gently used treasures.
I always enjoy learning how others got started loving reading.
*Any particular stories that had a major impact on you?
The Bazil Broketail series by Christopher Rowley is, hands down, my favorite series of all time. It wasn’t all that popular during its time, and you can’t find it anywhere except in paperback, but no other story influenced my imagination as much as that one. There is also the Fuzzy Papers by H. Beam Piper. The simplicity of the story showed me that you don’t have to beat people over the head with details to tell a great story.
It’s fascinating how certain stories resonate with certain individuals and not with others. The other mystery is how these stories seem to ignite, inspire and influence our imagination.
*Who are your favorite characters?
Bazil Broketail is #1 for me, because he is not only the namesake of my favorite series, but he is the heart and soul of everything great about the book. There would still be a good story without him, but he makes it extraordinary. Harry Dresden of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher really got me interested in using magic in my stories. I also loved the humor and “Hard Luck Harry” feel about him. Aspar Whyte from the Kingdom of Thorn and Bone Series by Greg Keyes is a great everyman character. All he wants is to do is protect his forest and be left alone, but with the world going crazy all around him, he has to leave his comfort zone to protect people he has come to care about, and to try and help ease the madness that has gripped the world. He’s not a superhero, and he’s not your prototypical protagonist, but he will do anything to protect what he loves, and that makes him a hero in his own right.
Nice. It’s amazing how one character can make an impact on us. Now it’s our turn!
*Name your top 3-5 favorite authors.
I’ll start off with John Scalzi, who has written a lot of great sci-fi. His Star Trek spoof novel Redshirts was highly entertaining. Jim Butcher’s works influenced me to begin writing again, via his connection to Deborah Chester. When I got my hands on her writing book, I began seeking out other writing advice, and here I am now. Jim’s urban fantasy and new steampunk work are very good reads, and they are so immersive. I can always see exactly what the book is saying in my head. Then, of course, there is Christopher Rowley. I wish that he had written more of the stories in the world he created, but after the seventh book in the Broketail series, he moved to a different genre. That fantasy world is the one that I can’t help but return to for inspiration.
Inspiration is great isn’t it? Its contagious nature is powerful.
*In your opinion who are some of the top authors of the century?
To me, being a top author doesn’t have to correlate with the most successful one. Jim Butcher and John Scalzi are recognized in their fields, but they are not giants in the writing world. I still think they are top authors of the 21 st century, in my humblest of opinions. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child always put out compelling stories together in the mystery/thriller department that are far better than most of the well-known writers in the genre. There are so many more I could point out, but those four are the ones I have read most regularly over the past 16 years.
This is great. I’ve been asking different writers this question and enjoyed every answer. There’s definitely no shortage of talent among authors.
Summary of A Mage’s Fire (working title)
When the discovery of his extraordinary magical powers puts his family in danger, Cade embarks on an improbable journey to rescue them. Silas, an outcast mage, has set a trap to lure Cade in so that he may exact revenge and gain favor and glory he so desperately seeks. Cade must learn to control the potent magic flowing through him in time to save his loved ones and himself from the vicious enemies that lurk beyond the borders of the Ferrovathi Empire.
Cool! Sounds intriguing.
There is no friend as loyal as a book ~Ernest Hemingway
*You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?
When I was younger, I did a lot of reading. I would always imagine what if scenarios associated with the books I was reading, and my imagination was always full of ideas and stories. It was never really anything substantial or interesting until I learned how to harness my ability to write in college. I was talked in to joining the school newspaper and it took off from there. What was just an imaginary world in my head began to take shape on paper. Before I learned how to properly write, I had a lot of great ideas, but no understanding in how to expand upon those premises. I would get a fantastic thought, and it would die after the initial burst of creativity. In college, I learned about “going down the rabbit hole” to see where the story led. Journalism is a different world than fiction writing, but there are many similarities that I was able to apply to my desire to pursue being a fiction novelist.
Awesome. This also seems to be the ultimate fascination. How to translate what we see in our heads into stories on the page.
*What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?
I want to make a living as a fiction novelist. I want to do something with my life that I can put my heart and soul in to, and this is my brass ring. Writing is a love that I have always had, and after college, it was a pursuit that has been who I am. I had to set it aside for a long time, but now I am going after it again harder than ever before.
Go after your dreams! I’m doing the same myself.
*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)
The biggest hindrance for me has been my job in the military. After college, I was working for 2 newspapers and I was also working a part time job in retail. I loved my writing jobs, but I wasn’t making ends meet. I joined the Navy to follow family military tradition and to pay the bills. This didn’t really leave me time to write. I put it on the back burner to focus on the military, and I would take stabs at it when I could. Another thing that has hindered me is myself. I doubted my abilities to actually write something worth sharing with others. You are your biggest critic, and if you tell yourself you can’t do it, you won’t. The third thing that has hindered me from being productive is creative atrophy. If you don’t work your creative muscles, they will stop working. When I would try to work on things, I would hit walls because my creativity wasn’t in shape. I would get frustrated and give up, and my creativity would atrophy even farther.
I can totally relate to this. Trying to keep the drive alive so to speak, is difficult.
*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)
When I decided to really give writing another shot, it came with the realization that I didn’t want to spend 20 years in the military. My wife has been working on her Bachelor’s degree in music performance, and we always talked about her achieving her dreams of playing viola in a big time orchestra. She had times where she wanted to quit, but I always talked her through it, and told her to never give up on her dreams. I realized that it was time for me to start focusing on what I wanted. The military wasn’t it. My sports days were long over, and I was not going back to journalism. It was time for me to really focus on being a fiction writer. So I began working on it. Right now, I am just getting my skills back in shape and doing what I can to keep it in my life on a constant basis. Being a part of my wife’s pursuit of her dream has kick-started my chase. Setting my future goals is also helping my motivation, because now I have something to shoot for.
Seeing others go after their dreams is so invigorating and encouraging.
If you can dream it
You can do it
*What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?
The biggest antagonist I have is myself. I control what time I set aside to write and how much effort I put in to it. I am my own worst enemy, and the only way to beat me is to keep doing things in small doses. I have been taking my process in small increments, which has helped me space out the work. By doing this, I have been able to create a stable platform to work on and I keep myself from overloading. I also keep myself from creative starvation, because I am not doing everything all at once, and leaving nothing in the tank. You will constantly fight battles in your own head, and the only way to win is to find a way to work with yourself. (I realize I sound like someone with multiple personality disorder, but don’t all novelists suffer from this?)
I know this all to well. By the time the day is over whatever fuel writing is on fumes.
*Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?
There are so many answers to this question. You could ask 100 different authors and get 100 different answers. I think the ultimate REASON is the writer. Whatever factor plays in, the writer is the common denominator. If the writer wants to get the book done, they will. If there is a will, there is a way. It can sometimes take years, but if they persevere, it will get done. If someone gives up, then ultimately, the writer is the reason that the book failed. Life is fluid and ever changing, so for a writer to completely give up on a project is for the writer to fail. I am guilty of this. I have thrown several projects in the trash, and that was a failure by myself as a writer. No idea is unsalvageable. Never give up on an idea. One day, many years later, you may finally be able to complete it, but not if you throw it out.
I believe writers are pretty resilient. You have to be in order to complete something like a novel. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for stopping by Ian! Glad to have you on the Train!
No one can stop a dreamer with wings ~ Benjamin Thomas
3 thoughts on “Story of the Writer: Interview with Ian Townsend”
Benjamin and Ian, thanks for the wonderful words of inspiration! It’s a constant battle keeping the self-doubt monster in his cage. You’ve provided me with another day of belief that we can do whatever we set our minds to. Thank you!
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That’s right, Sherrie. You give that doubt a solid stiff-arm and take it all the way to the endzone. Keep your gameface on sister!
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Reblogged this on The Town's End Tribune and commented:
This amazing interview comes to you via Benjamin Thomas and his blog, The Writing Train! Enjoy!