Announcement: Posting on Mondays and Thursdays except when real life interrupts

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Interview: Sebastian Peters

Sebastian Peters is a young, independent author from Ipswich, England, whose first book came out in recent months, with aspirations for much more to come in the near future. We Might Be Writers managed to acquire an interview with Peters over Facebook instant messages, conducted by Reece Bridger. Contains sparse cursing.

Reece: Thanks for making the time to answer our questions, Sebastian :)

Sebastian: That is not a problem, I'm always looking for ways to procrastinate!

Reece: Aren't we all? So, I guess the first question would be, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Sebastian: I can give you an answer in two flavours - brief and succinct or slightly less brief with a strong meaty aftertaste. Your call.

Reece: Let's go with the meaty one; the more detail, the better.

Sebastian: Mmm.... So I'm Sebastian Peters (I'll cut my three middle names for brevity!), a young man with a taste for doing things his own way. I'm primarily a musician, but this here interview is aimed towards my other outlet - writing. I'm a self-published fantasy author whose first book (Where Darkened Clouds Roll) came out earlier this year. I like my tea sweet and strong, thank you very much.

Reece: So you pretty much run the creative gamut, don't you? Do you find it hard to juggle music, writing and the rest of your life?

Sebastian: I don't think I've ever run a gamut before... Is that like a relay? *Is handed note* Ignore my previous statement. I would love to say that I find it easy to put time aside for each of my endeavours, but that'd make a liar. Music tends to take the lead, as I'm studying music technology and I play in fairly active band. Writing is still very close to my heart though.

Reece: We may come back to your music soon, but we'd like to know a little more about your writing. Can you tell us a little about 'Where Darkened Clouds Roll'? First, another meaty serving, then a ten-word after dinner mint, please.

Sebastian: ‘Where Darkened Clouds Roll’ is, primarily, a story about an ancient war between Dawn & Dusk, while a civil rages across the sea. It features myriad characters (Most of which are bastards) and some hopefully thought provoking undertones about how we see the world, and how we trade people's lives so carelessly.

Reece: So if you could sum up 'Where Darkened Clouds Roll' in ten words, how would you describe it?

Sebastian: Ten words? RIGHT: Skyrim meets ASOIAF without the dragons. Or as much sex. /end More of a pitch than anything else, I guess.

Reece: Sounds like something a lot of people could enjoy! I guess that was the idea though, right?

Sebastian: To be honest, when I first started writing it I was aiming for normal, run of the mill fantasy - but the further I got with it (And then with each rewrite - there were 6) it became darker and darker. I think I matured a lot with it - but I've still got a ways to go.

Reece: Sounds like a lot of hard work was involved. Six rewrites seems pretty grueling.

Sebastian: They were. It could do with another, I suppose. I wrote the first draft while I was on study leave for my GCSE exams, and I rewrote during my first year of college.

Reece: That's good dedication! One major challenge that a lot of epic fantasy authors have is trying to design and build the world in which their story is set; did you share that problem while writing 'Where Darkened Clouds Roll'?

Sebastian: The world of Aros, in which Where Darkened Clouds Roll is set, has been a territory within my mind for a good few years, but I polished it and made it feel more authentic in the book. I haven't reinvented the wheel or discovered a more efficient format of bread-slicing, you know? Aerna is split into two halves - North & South. The North is cold, glacial & mountainous while the South is made up mostly of plains. There's also a relatively hilly island nation and a dead continent as well to the east.

Reece: Sounds like there's something for everyone there! Any interesting wildlife wandering around?

Sebastian: Not that you see directly - there is a dream sequence that involves a beast of my own creation. I want you to imagine that a dragon and a particularly brave bear had a baby. BAM - a monstrous winged bear with an equal measure of fur and strategically placed scales on its underside, to protect its vulnerable areas. It's thought to be extinct, it's not seen directly in WDCR. But in the sequel? Who knows…

Reece: Wow, that's pretty clever and original :) A lot of people notice a particular writer by their style; maybe it's the lucidity in their prose or the imagination of their works. What do you think your 'style' is when it comes to your writing?

Sebastian: The first word that comes to mind would be 'dark'. I also like oceanic; there are currents on the surface touched by the light of the sun but there are also currents and hidden deep in the midnight depths. On another note, I've often been told I write like Tarantino. I'm still unsure as to whether that's a compliment or not.

Reece: I'd take it as a compliment, given the popularity of his films! One thing we've noticed about 'Where Darkened Clouds Roll' is that it's very multifaceted; there are quite a few different aspects of the story running in tandem. Do you find it difficult to keep track of them all?

Sebastian: I don't, actually. I see the story of Where Darkened Clouds Roll as a rope. And as we all know, a rope is made up of strands. I simply see each different character POV simply as another strand of of the larger story. That way, you see the situation - the story - from every angle. It just kinda makes sense when I think about it.

Reece: Sounds like you have it all sorted out and organised! But does it feel satisfying when two or more of those strands finally cross into one? I assume that some strands will meet at some point in your rope.

Sebastian: That's always a good feeling, for writer *and* reader. You have assumed right - various strands cross over one another at various points in time. Sometimes they brush against each other and move along, barely aware of the other's existence, while sometimes they knot themselves together. There's one non-POV character that moves from one strand to another gradually, and in the sequel splits away completely and is fully fleshed out in his own right.

Reece: Sounds like there's a lot more to come! What else can we expect to see from you in the next few years?

Sebastian: Lots, hopefully! I've made headway into WDCR's sequel - for now titled 'A Voice On The Wind', and you should see that towards the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015. I've nearly polished off a novella that follows the lives of a band during a revolution (That should drop some point next year), and my main focus is a full length genre-bending romp across post-apocalyptic europe. Hopefully that will be around next year too.

Reece: Wow, you really do have a checklist to work through! What sort of word-counts are you aiming for those?

Sebastian: The novella will land around 25-30,000 I imagine. A Voice On The Wind will probably match its predecessor somewhere between 80-90,000, and CODENAME BIOPUNK is aiming for 100k. There's a good 200k there.

Reece: That's a lot to get through in such a short time! How's it progressing so far?

Sebastian: AVOTW has a good 7k, so that when I get back to it I'm not starting from a blank page. The novella is sitting around 17k, and CODENAME BIOPUNK is only at around 4k.

Reece: Ah, so you're already about an eighth through, then?

Sebastian: Around there. I'm not the fastest writer in the world, but I'm faster than some.

Reece: Good to hear! I personally hate when some authors, (not mentioning any names,) continually postpone on every book. Now, you mentioned earlier that you're also in a band. Can you tell us about that?

Sebastian: I can indeed! I play bass and compose/engineer for a genre defying alternative/funk/soul/jazz/indie band known as 'In The Firelight'. We're in the process of recording our debut EP at the moment. I also lay down the low end on various projects that are headed by a friend of mine, but I can't really say much about that just yet. JUST YOU WAIT.

Reece: And I'm assuming you write the lyrics as well?

Sebastian: Myself and Emily (Who sings and plays piano for In The Firelight) both write lyrics. We have ever-so-slightly different styles, so they work together while keeping things sounding varied, and each song unique.

Reece: So do you find it easier to write lyrics or prose?

Sebastian: I'm much better at writing long form. As much as I enjoy writing lyrics, I like words. LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF WORDS. Lyric writing is just another string to my bow, I guess.

Reece: Always good to have spare strings in case one snaps! Now, we have just a few more questions that are a little more general. What do you think is the biggest challenge you've faced in prose writing?

Sebastian: Now that's a tough one. There are a few things I find harder than others, but I think my biggest enemy is balancing description with action. I often find that I enjoy setting the scene as much as I enjoy writing a good fight or bit of dialogue. Those two (fighting/dialogue), I treat almost as the same thing.

Reece: Do you have any tips or advice for other writers who may suffer the same problem?

Sebastian: I do - You don't get the sweeping camera or million dollar CGI that movies get. You need to capture the reader's attention with as few words as possible. Avoid "The trees were green/The sky was blue/His face was square/etc...". Instead you should comment on the shades of emerald in the leaves - the murky, oceanic depths of sapphire - the fact that his face looked like a brick fallen from a church's tower, cracked yet sturdy.

Reece: That's very poetic and sound advice! Now to contrast that, what do you think is the strongest aspect of your writing?

Sebastian: Something I touched on earlier - the fact that I treat action and dialogue as the same thing, or near enough that it doesn't matter. A fight scene, whether up close and personal or at long range, it is simply opposing sides trying to one up each other. Dialogue isn't far from that. You should write a physical strike - a punch to the throat, an arrow to the shoulder, a bullet to the heart - the same way you'd treat the effect that strong words could have on someone. There are phrases that can strike as much fear and do nearly as much damage as action can. The numbness from "He died" - the revelation of "I'm pregnant" - or the fear and surprise of "Daddy?" can leave just as much of an impact upon the reader.

Reece: That's a very powerful tool to have in your arsenal, I bet, especially when it involves two of the most prominent parts of creative prose. One final question before I quit bothering you: To any budding and aspiring writers who may be reading this, what advice would you give them?

Sebastian: The advice I will give is a piece of advice I was given, and, for the most part, that I ignored. Here goes: CHILL. THE. FUCK. OUT. Write your book. Rewrite your book. Pitch it to agents and to publishers. Patience is key. Also, check out Chuck's writing advice helped me more than you could imagine.

Reece: Thank you very much, Sebastian :) I'm sure that your advice will help a number of people. And thanks once again for taking the time to answer our questions; it's been very interesting and informative.

Sebastian: Not a problem at all - cheers for having me! If you like what you see (wink wink) you can find plenty more of me at, or follow me on twitter (@SebThePeters) to remind me to think before I speak.

Reece: Thank you once again!


Sebastian Peters (in his own words):

A young writer & musician, studying music tech & sound design. When not writing you can find him playing bass or flirting with nature. His first book, Where Darkened Clouds Roll, is a dark & epic fantasy novel that's filled to the brim with dark humour and darker thoughts.
'Where Darkened Clouds Roll' (Link in Image)