I'm happy to have Will Macmillan Jones here today to talk about his soon-to-be-released fantasy novel, Bass Instinct, the fourth outing for The Banned Underground series.
The Dark Lord has found some Thugs to help him in his latest plan to invade the Dwarf Mansion, but they have other things on their minds. Like looting and pillaging the locals, and it’s all going wrong again.
Will record-producing Adam set his Ants on The Banned? Or will it all come good in the end? Time is Tight on this one for The Banned Underground.
Interview with WillHow long have you been writing, and how did you start, Will?
I’ve always been interested in writing, I think. I was lucky enough to have an English teacher at school who encouraged all of his class to write, and I enjoyed it at school. Then I wrote my first book in my twenties. And awful rubbish it was as well. But it formed the basis (after a lot of reworking!) of the first book I had published, The Amulet Of Kings - the first in The Banned Underground series. I’ve been lucky enough to be signed by Safkhet Publishing to write a series of eight of these comic fantasy books for them. Which I think means that they like the books.
I'd say so! That's great. How do you come up with the titles?
Titles are a treat to play with for me. I love messing around with ideas centered on the story I’m creating, and then finding a suitable short title. Two or three words work best for me, and are easier to repeat when marketing!
Tell me about it. What was I thinking when I titled my book Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction? But I digress. Do you have another job besides writing?
I’ve been self-employed in tax and accounting for thirty years now. And horribly dull it is too. But it has provided me with a huge base of characters to use in my books...
How do you create your plots?
I fall between the two stools of ‘plotting’ and ‘pantsing,’ really. I start by imagining the basis of the story, and then build that into a series of checkpoints. I insist my characters meet the checkpoints, but a lot of the time I leave it entirely up to them to get there on their own. And sometimes, they all fly away on a tangent, and I have to alter my careful plan to accommodate what they want to do.
Some characters do have that annoying talent of ruining a writer's plans sometimes. How do you market your book?
My favourite way is actually to sell the books inside bookshops at signings. Some authors hate doing that, but I love engaging with the readers. As signings inside Waterstones are much less easy to come by these days, I do a lot of online marketing too.
How do you get to know your characters?
They muscle in on my dreams and daydreams, and force their way into whatever I’m writing. Freya, for example, the ‘bad girl/rock chick’ in Bass Instinct first appeared in the previous book in a bit part, and we got on so well that she got a much bigger role in book four. Can I leave her out in the future? I’m not sure, but I would certainly not rule out another appearance. The same for Ricky Vander. I’ll say little about him, so as not to spoil the surprise. But I think he’s coming back, too.
Which character do you most enjoy writing?
That just has to be Grizelda the witch. I’m not brave enough to tell you who she is based on...but she only has to appear and the scenes take off. Many of the other characters take off too. They can run away, of course, whilst I can’t.
You can run, but you can't hide, right? What would your characters say about you?
Oh dear. Grizelda threatened to turn me into a frog.
The Banned Underground took me out drinking, then dropped me back home insensible and naked.
I hate when that happens!
The Dark Coven came past one evening and magically bricked up my front door.
Now, that was just mean-spirited.
The only one who isn’t consistently rude to me is Freya. So if I get to go to a desert island, she’s my choice. Just don’t tell the others...
Mum's the word. Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
They all are. I’ve met everyone of them in real life, although some of course are composites. But an attitude here, a mannerism there, a behavioural trait...and some of the minor characters are actually friends of mine who have begged for a cameo, suitably disguised of course!
Your favourite scene?
It comes down to a choice of two:
In the first scene, The Banned Underground are playing on stage, when –to Jumping Jack Flash – their guitarist is blown across the stage by some feedback, and smashes apart the mystical Throne of The King Under The Mountain.
The other scene is also in The Mystic Accountants. The Banned have just recruited their fist bass player, a drunken welsh dragon called Dai. Dai has been to fetch his Fender Bass guitar, and on the way back, he meets the RAF…
“Pen-bre Firing Range, this is Victor Kilo One Six, inbound from RAF Valley.”
“Victor Kilo, this is Pen-bre range. Go ahead.”
“Pen-bre Range, Victor Kilo is a training flight, inbound for a strike mission, five minutes to run from the east, height 800 feet.”
“Victor Kilo, Pen-bre Range. Radar contact acquired. Your strike clearance is approved. Be aware of local traffic in your 10 oclock, same height.”
“Pen-brE Range, stricke clearance copied. Looking for the traffic..AND WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? ARMING WEAPONS SYSTEMS!”
“Victor Kilo, are you visual on the traffic? Can you identify?”
“IT’S A RED DRAGON, CARRYING A BASS GUITAR!”
“Victor Kilo One Six, Pen-bre Range. Your strike clearance is cancelled. Disarm weapons systems and return to base immediately.”
What song would you pick to go with your book?
Music runs throughout my books. Well, writing about a blues and rock n roll band, that’s a given, isn’t it? Every scene has its own theme or music, and it’s always rock and blues.
Who are your favourite authors?
Well, obviously I’m going to say Tolkein, as a fantasy writer. But I do read quite widely, and like a lot of different things. I’ve been reading The Dresden Files recently, by Jim Butcher, and inevitably I read the comic writers: Pratchett, Holt, Rankin. One of my favourite authors is Richard Bach, who writes about flying and life. Jonathon Livingston Seagull and Illusions will always be on my bookcase. As will Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light.
What are you reading right now?
One of the greats: Ray Bradbury. Something Wicked This Way Comes. It’s a paperback, because I don’t think I could afford a hardback copy, which is what I’d prefer. I don’t own an e-reader of any sort.
How do you handle criticism of your work?
With silence, as far as the writer of the comments is concerned. That, for me is the only proper response. Then I think about what has been said, and take what I can from it for the future.
Do you have a routine for writing?
No, I don’t really. I’m lucky, because I work from home and so my laptop – and the current WIP - are always available to me. I can just write whenever the mood takes me.
About the author:Will Macmillan Jones live in Wales, a lovely green, verdant land with a rich cultural heritage. He does his best to support this heritage by drinking the local beer and shouting loud encouragement whenever International Rugby is on the TV. A fifty-something lover of blues, rock and jazz he has just fulfilled a lifetime ambition by filling an entire wall of his home office with (full) bookcases.
His major comic fantasy series, released by Safkhet Publishing, can be found at:
www.thebannedunderground.com and information on his other work and stuff in general at:
www.willmacmillanjones.com and www.willmacmillanjones.wordpress.com
Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon