The sun rises over the campsite on this cool October day and from the trees emerges our latest campfire visitor, fantasy author Anita Stewart. We get the fire going and delve into what makes this author tick.
- Hi A. F. Stewart, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write? I’m a geek, a writer of fantasy and horror, and also a bit of an artist; I like to paint and play around on Photoshop. My hobbies include reading, watching movies (I love action movies and sci-fi films), and studying history. As for writing inspirations, reading would be number one. I’ve always loved books and loved telling stories. That’s never gone away.
- What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre? I love the “what if” at its core and the fantastic nature of the worlds and characters. The idea there’s something magical beyond the everyday routine has a captivating allure.
- Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together? My latest project is The Camelot Immortals series. There are five books planned with a prequel collection of two short stories. The prequel, Eternal Myths, is published, and book one, Past Legends, is currently on pre-order with a release date for October 28th. The series is based on Arthurian legend, set in modern-day England, and follows the adventures of Nimue and other women of Camelot as they work save the world from impending magical doom.
The premise of the novels is magic can make you immortal, so most of the Arthurian characters are living among us, but they’re still dealing with their emotional baggage and past sins. And woven in among this modern fantasy are more traditional fantasy elements as the characters encounter gods, elves, other wizards and creatures. Plus there’s swearing and drinking, and wizard vs. witch action battles.
The greatest challenges in putting this series together were keeping the timeline and interwoven elements straight, and researching modern Britain. I needed to get the details right, and I know a lot more about historic Britain than its current culture.
- What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them? Honestly, I enjoy writing the villains best, and even my heroes tend to be a little ambiguous in their morals. And I certainly hope there’s not much of me in those characters; they’re quite awful at times. Villains are more fun to write though, as they’re not as constrained or conflicted to the right thing. Need to destroy a village for a plot point? The villain will do it happily.
- For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned? Recently, it’s scene outlining. I’ve had a much easier time writing a book by creating the outlines scene by scene as opposed to chapters, as it allows me to see how the plot points flow into each other. I can change things up, move scenes around, add scenes in, and take things out that aren’t working. And I can quick check the outline to see what a character did earlier to write in consequences later. Scene outlining has helped my plots.
- What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track? I try to plan out enough time to work on things; I really don’t like being late with anything. Writing sprints are another excellent motivator. But If I’m stuck, I take a break or maybe go for a drive in the car. That generally helps clear my head. But the weirdest thing that helps my thought process is washing dishes. I’ve worked through several plot issues over soapy china and glass.
- Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)? For books, I’m a plotter. I base many of my stories on or in history with mythological elements, and interweave arcs through a series or a plot. It’s easier for me to write if I outline timelines, characters, and scenes, and keep all the elements straight. However, for short stories, I usually pants those plots. I start with a beginning and an ending and fill in a few thousand words for the middle part.
- What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres? I have to finish writing/editing the Camelot Immortals series by early next year, and then I want to get back to my Obsidian Blade series. That series is set in 15th century Venice and follows the assignments of an immortal assassin and troubleshooter who works for the city’s government.
- With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach? All my books take a darker approach, even before the current state of things. I mix in a little horror with my fantasy (or write straight up horror stories) and not everything ends happily. As a reader, though, I like both styles.
- What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars? I’m a long time Star Wars fan, so if you’re talking about the original trilogy, then that’s my pick, no question. It does lose major points for the prequels/sequels, though. So maybe it’s a tie with Lord of the Rings if they’re included. Poor Harry Potter doesn’t even make the top three cut for me.
Her new book Past Legends is due for release October 28th. Get it here