A Day in the Life Presents, Fantasy Novelist Edward Cox

Edward Cox

Terrie Leigh Relf: What types and forms of writing do you do? 

Edward Cox: Mostly prose, though I have been known to dip a toe into poetry and more innovative forms of writing. But nearly all my success has come from the novels, short stories and novellas. I’ve had a little editorial experience with a couple of anthologies I helped put together, but I’d never consider myself an editor. I’ve seen what the editors at my publisher Gollancz have to do, and I’m not sure I have the stamina.

TLR:  What is your area of subject matter expertise? How did you discover this niche? What intrigues you about it?

EC: Hah! I’m not sure I could say that I have an area of expertise, but I’ve always been heavily drawn to fantasy. It started as a young kid, watching Harryhausen movies and Dr. Who, and discovering those early fantasy books. There’s just something inherently cool about monsters and magic, and I don’t think that will ever change for me.

Discovering the works of David Gemmell was an important moment in my development as a writer. He helped me understand a little more about plot and character development, along with teaching me that heroes don’t have to live or be likeable by the end of the story.

TLR: How do you balance your creative and work time?

EC: Not sure ‘balance’ is the right word for me. I write whenever I can, wherever I can. It’s what I enjoy doing most, outside of spending time with my family. 

TLR: What tips do you have for other writers?

EC: Write whenever you can, wherever you can. Only by writing will get better at what you do. Only by writing will your stories be written. Sounds trite, but it’s true. No one else is going to do it for you.

TLR: What are your thoughts on the creative process in general and your creative process in particular? Where do your ideas come from? What inspires and Intrigues you?

EC: Inspirations can come from anywhere, books, movies, overheard conversations – though, oddly, ideas and answers do seem to pop into my mind a lot when I’m in the bathroom. The creative process is something that I don’t think I’ll ever understand, and I’ve probably given up trying to. Ideas come, I feel compelled to write them down. I suspect that’s the natural chaos for most writers.

Mythology is probably the one constant companion that will forever intrigue me. That’s where the roots of modern fantasy are.

Photo courtesy of the author.

Photo courtesy of the author.

TLR:  Where have you been published? Upcoming publications? Awards and other accolades?

EC: The three novels I’ve written so far are published by Gollancz, the mighty sci-fi and fantasy imprint of Orion Books. They comprise The Relic Guild trilogy (The Relic Guild, The Cathedral of Known Things and The Watcher of Dead Time), and the last book is due for release August 2016.

Also, I’ve had a lot of short stories and reviews published in the magazines and webzines of the indie press over the years. A few novellas, along with one or two articles and poems, too. They’re all still out there, somewhere, including a new novella written with YOU! Wolves of Glastonbury has just been released by Alban Lake, and I’m looking forward to people reading it.

As for awards, last year The Relic Guild was shortlisted for the British Fantasy Awards, for best debut and best novel. Sadly, I didn’t win, but it was good feeling to be involved and receive acknowledgement for all the hard work I’d put in. This year, The Cathedral of Known Things (Book 2 of The Relic Guild) has been long-listed for a Gemmell Award. It’s an award set up in memory of David Gemmell, and seeing as he is such a big hero I’ve got my fingers crossed for that one.

TLR: What are you working on now?

EC: A new novel called Sycamore. I’m about 15,000 words into it now, and it’s just starting to feel like a real, proper story, but at this moment there’s not a lot I can say about it. It’s a fantasy book, though, and it has monsters and magic in it. What more do you need!

TLR: What challenges have you faced as a writer and/or with a particular project? How did you meet them? What did you learn from these challenges and how did it make you a better writer?

EC: I think overcoming personal demons is always the biggest challenge for writers. The discipline to write and dedication to your story can be so hard to find when you’re really not in the mood. But you have to find your own way to push through that. For example, The Relic Guild trilogy is split into two timeframes with multiple POVs. There were moments when the plotting and planning of information that connected the two related storylines drove me crazy, and I just wanted to stop, almost convincing myself that I wasn’t clever enough to tell a story in this way. But I kept at it. And now, seeing those novels in bookshops or in the hands of readers makes the perseverance 100% worthwhile.

TLR: Are you currently a writing mentor? If so, what are your thoughts on mentoring?

EC: Until recently I was lecturing in creative writing (I stopped when my book deal came along and I decided to focus on that). I found the students effusive and inspirational. Having a mentor can be a good thing. I’ve certainly been smart enough to learn from the more experienced writers who I’ve met along the way, writers like the ever brilliant Joanne Harris. But I think everyone’s eyes need to be open when it comes to mentoring or lecturing creating writing. In the end, the only person who can teach you how to write is you, and the only way you can do that is by sitting down and writing. Be open enough to ask the questions you need to ask; be humble enough to listen to the advice you need to hear, but take responsibility for learning your craft.

TLR: Who are your favorite characters? How did they come into being, and what do you love – or loathe – about them?

EC: If I had to choose right now, I’d go for a couple of characters in The Relic Guild trilogy. First would be Hamir. He’s an elderly necromancer with a secret history, quite apathetic in his ways, and who carries a genial manner even when the most terrifying things are happening around him. I love him because his incongruous reactions and dialogue were so much fun to write. I loathe him because the secrets in his history make him infinitely unlikeable and actually make him something of a problem character. But I can’t tell you why because that would spoil the story.

The second would be Clara. There are a few character POVs in The Relic Guild trilogy, but I’ve always felt that it’s Clara who carries the torch through all three books. She’s young, had a hard life, and has one or two magical secrets of her own. I think she appeals to me because I drew from experience to write her, and she made me realize just how angry I had been at her age.

TLR: Are you currently, or have you ever, been in a writing group? Your thoughts?

EC: I know a lot of writers who gain immense benefit from writing groups, but I haven’t been in one since I finished university about ten years ago. I looked into a couple in my area, but their write-ups didn’t make me feel comfortable or confident, and you need to feel confident with those things. But the truth is, I’m not sure I’d be good with sharing work in a writing group. I prefer to write on my own, in solitude, until I feel the story is absolutely as good as I can make it at that moment. Then I feel confident enough to show others, and by that time it’s usually an editor who’s reading it. I guess I’m just a little protective like that. I’m not comfortable sharing work in progress. Writers groups can be a great thing, and should be checked out, but it comes down to a personal decision in the end.

TLR:  I know our readers would love to hear about your networking, marketing, and promotional experiences – including tips.

EC: Social media is a great free way to build up a following and share your publishing news, but you have to find a balance between advertising and socializing. Posting nothing but BUY MY STORIES will quickly turn people off. Blog posts and reviews of other authors’ books and engaging with readers is just as important. And I love engaging with readers, so many of whom are fellow writers.

Conventions are great places to network. All kinds of fans and writers and agents and editors turn out for them, and most people are there to engage. I think, whether in person or online, it’s important to share ideas and doubts and wins, and to be humble and giving whatever level of success you have achieved. Despite the odd bit of bad press it gets, the genre community is mostly filled with great and welcoming people.

TLR: What would you like to see more of in your specific genre? In the publishing field?

EC: An Ewoks Vs Aliens mashup. That’d be awesome!

TLR: Now THAT would be quite the book. . .Thank you for creating the time to participate in this interview series. Be  sure to check out Edward’s bio below, and yes. . .buy his books! I know you won’t be disappointed.

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Edward Cox is the award nominated author of The Relic Guild trilogy (The Relic Guild, The Cathedral of Known Thingsand The Watcher of Dead Time).  He has had two novellas published, along with a host of short stories, reviews, articles and poems, and has lectured in creative writing at the University of Bedfordshire, where he also studied in the same subject.

Edward currently lives in the English countryside, where his wife and daughter defend him from the daily attacks of giant spiders. When he’s not sleeping or eating, he likes to pretend to be a ghost, but has, as yet, failed to convince anyone. His favourite pastimes include reading, punching clocks, and dining out on winning the 1987 national roly-poly championship.

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