Friday, 5 September 2014

Talking Age of Iron with Angus Watson

HToday I am pleased to welcome author Angus Watson to the blog.
A big thank you to Angus for stopping by and also thank you to Clara at Little Brown for inviting me to be part of the tour. 

                                

Angus Watson is an author and journalist living in London. He's written hundreds of features for many newspapers including the TimesFinancial Times and the Telegraph, and the latter even sent him to look for Bigfoot. As a fan of both historical fiction and epic fantasy, Angus came up with the idea of writing a fantasy set in the Iron Age when exploring British hillforts for the Telegraph, and developed the story while walking Britain's ancient paths for further articles. You can find him on twitter at @GusWatson or find his website at: www.guswatson.com


                                  

They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take, please can you describe the journey that you went on?
I once drove from Bristol to Essex in a snow storm and that was probably the hardest journey I’ve taken, but… I left banking about 12 years ago thinking that I could write and knowing that I wanted to be an author. I had a go at a book but it was awful. There was no suspense and the characters were all the same (they were all me). So I took a course and tried freelance feature writing, that is writing the articles in newspapers that aren’t news. That worked very well and within weeks I was writing regularly for the Guardian, FT and Telegraph. I spent ten years having an excellent time getting paid to do things like being an otter keeper for a day, diving on the scuppered WW1 German fleet at Scapa Flow or walking along Hadrian’s Wall, then writing about it. All the while, I reckon, I was improving my writing. The goal had always been a novel, so eventually I came up with an idea and sent the first 20,000 words and a synopsis to about 20 agents. Two were interested and I chose one – Angharad Kowal, with an American agency called Writers’ House. Luckily she turned out to be excellent. She asked me to finish the book, with some changes, then got me the deal with Orbit. Walking into the plush Orbit offices and being told by loads of people that they loved the book, New York loved it too, and that they were keen to publish (and wanted to give me an advance) was right up there with best days ever.

Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them. So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character? 
It’s the most obvious answer, but it would be Lowa. I’d like to know what it feels like A: to be a woman and B: to be athletically capable. I’ve always been a total idiot at all sports apart from expensive ones beginning with S (skiing, sailing and SCUBA diving), so I’d love to see what it would be like to be able to, for example, catch a ball.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
When I was 19 I backpacked on my own around India and got far enough away from other tourists that crowds would gather to look at me if I sat in a park or a restaurant and at one point, deep in the Nilgiri Hills, a whole school was lined up by their teachers to salute me as I walked past (Good Morning Sir! Good Morning Sir!). I’d like to recapture that, not because locals were interested in me, but I like being places where not many tourists go. So, although I don’t think it would be exactly like that, I’ll say Bhutan as it’s relatively unspoiled as yet, deeply weird (compared to the UK which I’m used to, but is also of course deeply weird) and there’s excellent hiking. I’m a keen photographer too and reckon there’d be plenty there to point my camera at.  I have often been to Las Vegas, Where I get up a couple of hours before dawn and drive then hike into the desert with two cameras and a few lens. That deals with the getting away from other tourists thing pretty well and I now have lots of photos of lizards.
If you could choose one book that you think everyone should read, what would it be and why?
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.  Probably because it was the first book I loved, but I think its irreverence, humour and sense of adventure demonstrate exactly how we should go about our lives.
If there was one saying that could sum up your life to date, what would it be?
“Folks are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be” Abraham Lincoln. (not really, but that’s the first thing that comes on mind. Actually it’s about the tenth. This is a difficult question. Who knows a phrase that sums up their lives?)

Please share with us, one random fact about yourself or your book?
Although I don’t ever play it these days unless I’m drunk, I am qualified to teach the flute. And about the book – Before the Romans came to Britain the British sold British slaves to Rome. So busy was the Roman Empire’s slaving business at the time the largest slave market, at Delos, an island near Greece, sold 10,000 slaves a day (that info from Rubicon by Tom Holland – a good book if you’d like to know more about the Romans at the time of Age of Iron).

What can we expect next?
Things get more epic in the next two books . We meet the Romans, who are a nasty lot, an even more horrible army from Ireland, and some monstrous creations of dark magic . Readers persevering with books two and three also have a tsunami and armoured war elephants to look forward to. Lowa and Dug’s relationship continues to be far from simple, Spring grows up and Ragnall swings between having the best times anyone’s ever had, and about the worst.

About Age of Iron:

LEGENDS AREN'T BORN. THEY'RE FORGED.
Dug Sealskinner is a down-on-his-luck mercenary travelling south to join up with King Zadar's army. But he keeps rescuing the wrong people.
First, Spring, a child he finds scavenging on the battlefield, and then Lowa, one of Zadar's most fearsome warriors, who's vowed revenge on the king for her sister's execution.
Now Dug's on the wrong side of that thousands-strong army he hoped to join ?- and worse, Zadar has bloodthirsty druid magic on his side. All Dug has is his war hammer, one rescued child and one unpredictable, highly-trained warrior with a lust for revenge that's going to get them all killed . . .
It's a glorious day to die.
Age of Iron by Angus Watson (Orbit) is now available as a paperback and eBook. 

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