Thursday, January 19, 2012

The New Death and Others by James Hutchings - Interview : Dark Fantasy/Horror

Death gets a roommate... 

An electronic Pope faces a difficult theological question... 

A wicked vizier makes a terrible bargain... 

44 stories. 19 poems. No sparkly vampires. There's a thin line between genius and insanity, and James Hutchings has just crossed it - but from which direction?

Free Audio
Professional voice-over reader Kenneth Guidotti has done readings of two of my stories (The God of the Poor and Compatibility) and a poem (The Prince of the Howling Forest). You can listen to them here.

Kindle  |  Smashwords



In the beginning of the world the gods considered all those things which did not have their own gods, to decide who would have responsibility and rulership.

"I will rule all flowers that are sky-blue in colour," said the Sky-Father.

"I will listen to the prayers of migratory birds, and you all other birds," the goddess Travel said to him. And so it went.

At last all had been divided, save for one thing.

"Who," asked the Sky-Father, "shall have dominion over the poor?"

There was an awkward silence, until the Sky-Father said, "Come - someone must. Those with no gods will grow restless and cunning, and in time will cast us down, and we shall be gods no more."

"Not I," said blind Justice, and her stony face flashed a momentary smirk at the thought. "Why not Fame or Fortune?"

"Darling I don't think so," said the sister goddesses together.

There was a long pause. The gods shuffled their feet and avoided one another's gaze. At last a voice broke the silence.

"I will," said Death.

Enter for a chance to win a digital copy of  The New Death and Others. The winner will receive a Smashwords coupon code for a free download in the format of their choice. Comment on this post for a bonus entry. This giveaway ends Feb.11th 11:59PM Central Time.


Tell us about your current release.

It's called The New Death and others. It's a collection of stories and poems, 63 pieces in all. It's only a bit over 41,000 words in total, so most of them are quite short. Most of the stories are fantasy, but there's some 'general fiction' in there as well. The style ranges from funny to very grim. I'm much more influenced by older writers like Tolkien and Robert E Howard than by contemporary fantasy. In fact I've never read any of the Harry Potter, Twilight or Game of Thrones series.

I have a pretty big free sample on the Smashwords page, and reading it is a much better way to find out about it than having me tell you about it.

Tell us about your next release.

I'm working on a verse version of 'A Princess of Mars'. This is a science fiction adventure story, now in the public domain, written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, who's more famous for Tarzan. Disney is also doing a movie of it, called 'John Carter', but that's not why I chose it. I generally work on several things at the same time, so I'm also in the middle of a few short stories and poems. I've been encouraged to write a novel set in the fantasy city of Telelee, which is the setting of a few of the stories in 'The New Death and others'. I have a lot of background for this world, because I blog every day ( and most of it is setting detail. I also have a half-finished novel called 'All-American Detectives', which is a combination of a detective story and a story about superheroes, which I'll probably come back to in the future.

What was your first sale as an author?

I sold a story of 22 words to Nanoism, a website which prints fiction of 140 characters or less. It was called 'With This Device', and it was a science fiction story about time travel.

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?

Nowdays anyone can self-publish. If you can make a Word document, you can have an ebook on Smashwords or Amazon. However that means that if your work is no good, no one's going to stop you. I'd recommend that people get onto Critique Circle ( and/or Scribophile (, put their work up, and listen to what people tell you. Don't 'defend' your work against people's 'attacks'. They aren't attacks, they're helping you. I've found that the people who defend their work have a strong tendency to have the worst writing, I suppose because they're not making the changes they need to make.

My next point doesn't matter if you're going to self-publish, but it is important if you want to be published by a regular publisher, or if you want to submit stories to magazines. Most places won't publish work that's already been published. And most places count putting a story on the internet as publishing it. In my opinion that's silly, but that's what they do. Scribophile and Critique Circle are exceptions, because google doesn't index them and you can't see any stories without logging on. However there are writing group websites out there where, if you put a story on the site, that counts as the story being published. That seems like a really terrible way to set things up, but they're out there.

I'd also say that getting a book out isn't the final step. It's just the start of the work of self-promotion. This is true even if you're not  self-publishing: I'm told that authors are expected to pretty much arrange their own book signings and so on (if you just want to have a book out to show family and friends then this doesn't matter, of course).

There are a lot of sharks out there, who make their money from authors and not from readers. They will make all sorts of promises about how they're going to promote you and help you, but these are lies. Authors do not pay publishers, ever, and if they're asking you to pay then it's a scam. Of course if you're self-publishing you might end up paying someone to design a cover for you, or you might pay for internet advertising, but those are different things. You might also pay a printer to print your books if you want to get physical books rather than ebooks - but in this age of the kindle and print-on-demand I don't know why you'd want to. Preditors and Editors ( is a good website to look at, and you can get good advice at the forums of Critique Circle.

Finally, I'd suggest learning to touch-type if you can't already. You're going to be doing a lot of typing, and every hour you spend getting faster at typing will save you ten in the long run.

What hobbies do you actively pursue?

Other than writing, my main hobby is coding online games. I spent several years writing an online game called Age of Fable ( I don't have any plans to do more on it, but it's still online, and you can play it for free. I'm currently working on an online 'card' game, like Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon. I've also done a few smaller projects. For example I did an online version of the computer game Oregon Trail.

Is there a writer you idolize? If so who?

There aren't any that I idolize, but there are lots who have influenced my writing. Specifically JRR Tolkien and Jack Vance for the elaborate dialogue, Robert E Howard for the general atmosphere, Terry Pratchett for the humour, and Lord Dunsany for the use of Fame, Time and so on as characters.



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Burgandy Ice said...

wowswers... I love that poem!! Thx for the Giveaway - this looks like a unique book that I would enjoy!

New Follower!!

SarahSerenity said...

Thanks for the advice for beginner writers! Also for the giveaway it sounds like something i'd thoroughly enjoy reading!

Shah Wharton said...

I love this - the book sounds unique and thats no easy feat these days. Thanks for the give-away too! I'm in :) X

Tarah Dunn said...

Thanks for the follow! The advice above is really sound.

bn100 said...

I enjoyed reading the excerpt. The book sounds very interesting.

Chloecapri said...

I love Tolkien too! thanks for the giveaway :)

Laurie said...

Burgandy Ice is the lucky winner.