"The universe of the imagination knows no boundaries."
Brian R. Hill
AWB: Tell us about your family. Do you have any brothers or sisters?
BRIAN: I'm retired, divorced with a grown-up son and daughter and three teenage grandchildren, one studying Drama and Theatre Studies at Canterbury University, one studying Guitar and Composition at Leeds College of Music and the youngest still at school - who seems to be studying phone apps and XBox whenever I see him. I have one sister.
AWB: What about you? What interests do you have?
BRIAN: I was born in 1951 in Horsforth, Leeds and grew up in Yeadon, a small Mill Town, in West Yorkshire. My Yorkshire grandparents were both weavers, also my mother for a while, later a nurse. My father came from a small seaside village in Lincolnshire and was a craftsman joiner. On the Lincolnshire side of the family, my grandmother wrote poetry and my grandfather was a coastguard during WW2. I worked in various aspects of the wool trade for many years, a hand knitting manufacturer, a clothing manufacturer and a chain of clothing retailers until, after redundancy, I started work for a lighting manufacturer. After a last redundancy, I retired in 2012. Over the years, I married, brought up two children and then went through a divorce. From an early age I was a prodigious reader, my earliest recollections are of Enid Blyton's Famous Five adventures and the adventures of Biggles. Now, I tend to read a variety of authors such as David Baldacci, Stephen Booth, Joy Ellis, Jussi Adler Olsen, Lars Keplar, LJ Sellars, Robert Bryndza's Detective Erika Foster novels and Patricia Perry to name but a few. Apart from writing, I enjoy walking in the Yorkshire Dales, which provides much of my inspiration for writing. On my strolls, I take a camera for company, which I use often, some might say too often, to photograph the beautiful rolling landscape. Some of my photographs, I upload onto my images' website, Yorkshire Images - www.yorkshireimages.com. A gentle breeze through the grass and heather, the sun on my back, bird song and open moorland provides me with peace and solitude, which clears my mind and lifts my spirit. I also play the violin in two amateur orchestras, one of which I lead, and I also lead a string quartet. Occasionally, I have been known to compose the odd piece of music, anything from popular to light orchestral and a String Quartet. In between, I very much enjoy the company of my grandchildren and have done a large amount of work on my Family Tree.
AWB: You're from Yorkshire, England. What do you like most about your country?
BRIAN: Compared to the USA, England is tiny in area, but, with a population a fifth of the US, it can appear a little crowded. I love its compactness. The furthest away you can be from the sea is less than a three hour drive, east or west. Where I live, I can be in the centre of a major city - Leeds - in 30 minutes, or out in open countryside in 20. The scenery is gentle, rolling countryside, green valleys, bleak moorland and a rugged coastline. Within no time, I can be on Haworth Moors where the Bronte Sisters lived and wrote their novels. Yorkshire is known as 'God's Own County' and although I enjoy other areas of the UK, this is my home and where I love to be. The people are friendly, and the arts are well represented.
AWB: You started to write in the most unusual way -by dusting off a typewriter. Tell us the story?
BRIAN: Many years ago, recently married but BC (before children) we added a working sheepdog/spaniel cross to the family. One sunny Saturday afternoon, I came home from dog walking in Spring Woods to find my wife was out on a shopping trip. Alone and with nothing to do, I discovered her old manual typewriter on a coffee table, which for some reason, I cannot now remember, she had taken out of storage. A sheet of blank paper stared back at me. I sat down and typed 'Chapter I' at the top of the page, scrolled down a couple of lines and then typed the first paragraph of what was to become The Shintae. My original intention was to write a short story, but, over the next few days and weeks, I realised I had the start of something much longer. In time I transferred the manuscript to Word Processor and have used various versions of this program for writing since then. The Shintae was out of print for a number of years. Twelve months ago, I decided to re-edit. I released it as a 2nd edition earlier this year.
AWB: How did you decide what genre to write your first book in?
BRIAN: Then, as now, I read books across a wide range of genres, but the walk in the woods and the first few paragraphs lent themselves to a fantasy. Had I been walking in town, it might have been different. Although I had read and enjoyed Tolkien, I decided that Dwarves, Elves, Goblins and Dragons were not what I wanted to write about. There are many writers who do a tremendous job of bringing tales about these to life, and I wanted to do something a little different. I decided to concentrate on writing an adventure story about ordinary people, using their own strengths and weaknesses, with the help of a magical object, to survive and defeat the aims of those who would subjugate their people.
AWB: Tell us aboutThe Shintae.
BRIAN: The Shintae is a historical fantasy, set in a period c600-c900AD, taking a few liberties here and there that are not strictly Anglo/Saxon - but it's my world, my fantasy. I once read a piece by a reviewer who castigated a writer for not following the rules of fantasy, and I thought how strange. The only rules and limits of a fantasy should be the author's imagination. The Shintae revolves around the adventures of three heroes, Kaer and Angharad from the forestlands of Marae and Hap the sole survivor of the people of Ritue. Ranged against them are the forces of the mountain people from the land of Cantae, ruled over by Sartae and, later, his joint-leader Cerdic. Sartae's aim is to destroy the Maraens as a nation and enslave any who survive the onslaught. To this end, the Cantaens obtain The Shintae - a stone with magical powers. Our heroic trio have to retrieve the stone, before their enemies learn how to use it to its full effect, then defeat their aims. The trio encounter blizzards, a volcanic eruption, spirits, and face a race against time to prevent the total destruction of their homeland.
AWB: How do you promote your books?
BRIAN: I use Authors Den and social media (Facebook and Twitter), mainly.
AWB: What advice would you give to a new writer?
BRIAN: Be yourself and write your own story. If you go online, you'll find hundreds, if not thousands, of websites that tell you that theirs is the only way to write a best seller - each one different to the other - many offering an eBook, at a price, that will put you on the path to success. Brilliant marketing, but if they all worked, everyone would be a best seller. Online you'll find a vast array of free, good advice, don't ignore it. Incorporate whatever works for you, but don't be a slave to someone else’s ideas. If planning every chapter in minute detail works for you, then do so. If looking at a blank page with an idea and starting typing works for you, then do that. The most important thing is to write something. You can edit, rewrite, correct later, but if you have a story that wants to come out, then do that first. I start with an idea and a very basic storyline, written out as a page or two of notes that I leave at the end of my Word file. This I can add to as I go along when something occurs to me. I then write, with an occasional look at the notes. I find characters come to life as I write them and, as a result, they dictate to me how they behave and the direction of the story at times. If I stuck to a rigid detailed storyline, I would find it too constricting and characters would become formulaic and less believable.
AWB: Do you have any new books coming out soon?
BRIAN: I am in the final stages of editing a new novel The Mastig, my third historical fantasy. A story set in my preferred Anglo/Saxon era. A story with many threads, various heroes, mystical objects and a dog with strange powers. Again, I have strong male and female characters.
AWB: From where can readers order your books?
BRIAN: My novels are available online from Amazon (Worldwide) in paperback and Kindle editions, and as a paperback online from Barnes & Noble.
Fantasy: The Shintae (2nd Edition) Shadows from a Time Long Past The Mastig (expected release June 2017). Thriller: Love, Lies and Treachery - a modern, post Brexit thriller, set mainly in an England that has become a one party state.