Q:The title of this new book, In the Region of the Summer Stars …. I already have a book by that name, and it’s about King Arthur.What gives?

A: Actually, I think maybe your book is called Taliessin Through Logres and The Region of the Summer Stars. I have it, too. (As well as an old LP by an Irish group called The Enid.) These are two brilliant epic poems by the genius writer Charles Williams. For me, that phrase conjured up the sort of Otherworld feel I wanted for Eirlandia and, fortunately, there is no copyright or trademarking of book titles, so I felt free to use simply because it’s such a beautiful and evocative phrase.

 

Q:It’s been a long time since you published your last book, The Fatal Tree.This is really hard on your fans!I can only re-read SONG OF ALBION so many times. 

A:Writing books isn’t getting any easier, and neither is publishing.It all seems to take a little longer these days.Thanks for sticking around.I have pretty much completed the writing all three EIRLANDIA books, even though the first one is just now being published (15 May 2018).With any luck, they’ll be released in fairly quick succession but that’s not a decision I make.

  

Q:What do you think of Game of Thrones?

A:I congratulate George R. R. Martin on his success!I have actually only read the first book in the series, and haven’t watched any of the TV series.I think many authors, and other creative people, try to avoid exposure to works that might inadvertently influence their own efforts.When I’m writing epic fantasy, I’m going to be more likely to read history, thrillers, science, and philosophy than another author’s epic fantasy.It’s safer.

 

Q:What, specifically, are you reading right now?

A:This past year I’ve made a vow not to buy any more books, but rather to read what I’ve already got in the house, or what other people pass my way.I’ve recently finished The Fools of God by Morris West (thanks, Tony!); Rose Tremain’s The Colour; Robert Harris’s Conclave.My son, who recently moved to Texas, got me James Michener’s book by the same title and I’m slowly ploughing my way through that.Also continuing to chip away at Dermaid McCullough’s mammoth tome Christianity:The First Two Thousand Years.  

I keep a lot of books on the go (guess I’m not a ‘completer-finisher’), so there are bookmarks in Skyfaring by Mark Vanhoenacker; The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz; The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro; Magnus by George Mackay Brown.When I want a nice short read, I dip into Chesterton’s The Complete Father Brown or Richmal Crompton’s ‘Just William’ stories.Next serious book to crack:The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene, but I should probably finish a few of the ones already started, right?

  

Q:I know you are from Nebraska.What is it like living in England?

A:I’ve been in the UK so long now that this feels like home, so in many ways it’s just ordinary life.However, I am constantly aware that by living here I have all kinds of access to things that are helpful in my writing, things I just couldn’t get when living in the States (I also lived in the Chicago area, in Memphis, Austria, and on an island north of Seattle).I can experience the climate, the landscape, the ancient monuments of the events I tend to write about. Historical resources are plentiful, it’s easy to travel abroad from here, and somehow just breathing the air in ancient locations is both inspiring and informing.

On a personal level, I enjoy living in a relatively small country that has strong institutions (such as the BBC and National Health Service), generally responsible governmental agencies, and a high level of public discourse.‘Nuff said.

 

Q:What do you do when you’re not writing?Do you have hobbies?

A:My hobbies have had to take a back seat to getting this new series written, so I haven’t had as much time as I would like to do extra things.When I have time I like to paint—I do big, splashy, abstract oil paintings—and I am hoping to get back into sculpture.I’m sourcing some wood now for a summer project.I like to play guitar, and I have a little home recording studio so I can lay down tracks; when my sons were younger and in the house, we’d all play and record together which was a lot of fun.I like to tinker around the house and the garden is an endless source of amusement and obligation; I’ve got some grape vines that I take care of and a lawn to groom.I like woodworking projects, and I really like to fix things (believe it or not, my summer job in college was at ‘Bob’s Fix-It Shop and Bike Repair’).

My wife and I enjoy dinner parties and entertaining, whether we’re on the giving or receiving end.We travel a lot, both for business and pleasure, and do long walking trips in Europe.As of this year, I have a new grandson and when I think of travel now I think of visiting him. 

 

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