Here's a direct link to a podcast(Websphinx says: right click and save) that includes an interview I did with scholar, gent and all-round lovely bloke Shaun Farrell at the World Fantasy Convention 2006 in Austin, Texas. I had a fine time chatting away: I guess Shaun did too, as (Warning!) this interview turned out quite long! ;)
I was thrilled and delighted to be interviewed about The Black Tattoo for Fresh Dawgs' Book Blog, a new site written and produced by young readers in the USA. My thanks and best wishes to MG for his questions, and for kindly describing the book as 'so exciting you can't put it down.'
How long did it take you to write The Black Tattoo?
Five years. Yep: a long time! I spent something like two and a half years writing the first draft. The rest of the time I spent cutting, refining and polishing the book until it was as fast and thrilling as I could possibly make it.
Where do you get your inspiration for writing?
What keeps me coming back to the desk is excitement about the story I'm telling. I think a writer has to be passionate about what they're writing. More on this later.
How did you come up with the idea for The Black Tattoo?
Up until The Black Tattoo I'd been trying to write books that I thought 'would sell.' That seemed like a sensible approach, but it had got me (or 'gotten me' I should say for American readers!) nothing but a big stack of rejection letters. So, when I sat down to start thinking about what would become The Black Tattoo, I tried a different approach. I asked myself a question that went something like this:
Imagine if you, personally, were to come across a book in a bookshop or library that had /everything you want in a book/ - a book so thrilling that you wouldn't want to stop reading it even to eat or sleep. What would the elements be?
For me, at that moment, the elements were: swordfights, demonic possession, flying kung fu, vomiting bats, the end of the universe, a seven-way gladiatorial monster fight to the death set in Hell… stuff like that! The Black Tattoo started out as a wish-list. Then I set about thinking of ways to put it all together.
Think about what you would most love to read. I think that's the best way to start writing a book. For every person it's different. For every story it's different. But if you've got that central passion and enthusiasm and commitment to your project then not only will that keep you going through the tough bits of creating it, but that excitement should - if you work hard enough - come across to the reader.
What authors or books do you like to read?
All sorts. I love all kinds of storytelling: games, movies, comics, animation, you name it, but I sometimes think that books are as important as food, or breathing, to me. From first thing in the morning to last thing at night, I read every chance I get. There's too much to list here, but I've put up a bunch of my favourite things at my LibaryThing profile. Feel free to take a look.
What other books have you written?
There's Tim, Defender of the Earth: that's basically a giant monster smackdown in which most of London's landmarks get gleefully destroyed. There's Crawlers, a survival horror story about eight teenagers trapped and menaced by mind-controlling alien parasites. There's also a novella that should be coming out here in the UK next year(2011), about a heist on the Bank of England. There are plenty more where those came from. I've just got to keep pedalling. ;D
Are you working on any books right now?
Definitely. Right now I'm deep into my latest full-length novel, but the next one – and the one after that – are already fermenting and bubbling in the depths of my soupy brain. Writing fantastical action thrillers for young people is my dream job: I aim to keep doing it for as long as I possibly can. To keep up with the latest on what I'm up to, check my homepage: www.samenthoven.com
Thanks for interviewing me. And my thanks and best wishes to everyone who reads this.
–Sam (8th June 2010)