Author Interview: Andrew Rainnie
Today I am pleased to welcome Andrew Rainnie on to the blog with a quick interview! He’s come up with some intriguing answers!
What is your favourite thing about writing books?
Well I started writing film scripts, then moved to writing books because it allowed me a deeper level of storytelling. Spirits of Vengeance started life out as a spec film script, but it was simply an exercise in writing a fantasy film. Once I created the world of Enara and the characters that inhabit it, it took on a life of its own.
This was especially true when it came to Kamina Elloeth. For the initial few drafts of the script, her brother Kaedin was the main character, but he wanted to go on an adventure, leaving his younger sister behind. Forcing her to go on the same adventure, a reluctant hero who discovers her true strength.
And that is my favourite thing about writing books. It is not simply telling a story. I believe anyone can do that. It is telling a story well. By that I mean taking your idea, or your first draft, and asking yourself “How can I improve the story?” or “How can I make this character’s journey more emotional?” In that respect it is like solving a puzzle. There’s lost of different parts, and it is about linking them together in a way that serves your story and your theme, your underlying message, best.
Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Normally I would say Kamina, because the book only came into focus for me when I realigned the characters to make her the centre of the story. The whole trilogy is her story.
However, now that I have the second book written, and the third planned, I have other characters who appear in the first book as minor characters, who come into their own in the book, like Innes Vangar or Ariel Atari. They both have tragic stories that I explore more, and there is a heartbreak to their tales that makes me savour them a bit more.
What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Tea! I have a massive mug that says ‘Pint of Tea’ on it, and I usually go through a couple of those during a writing sprint. Sometimes with dark chocolate digestives being dunked in as well for good measure. You cannot write on an empty stomach!
Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Eating chocolate biscuits. I am also easily distracted, so I usually have to turn my phone off and drown out the world with music to really get into writing zone.
I also get lost in looking for names or specific words. If I find I have not named a character, or want to change one, I will spend hours looking at google translate or anagrams of words to give that name a meaning behind it.
How do you research your books?
We’re meant to research? Joking aside, not enough. I remember Terry Pratchett saying that he said there would never be a map for Discworld, and then he made one. And in that project he had a geologist help him design the surface to make sure it made sense in a very logical way, that deserts would be dry and so on. I didn’t quite go that far, but I tried my best to mirror certain parts of the maps of Amaros on features in the world. For example, the Hyru Salt Flats come from my time in Uyuni, Bolivia. I climbed a very small section of a volcano, and the air was so thin because of the altitude, it was hard, hard work, and those details seep into my writing, because I’ve been there and done it.
But because you are in a fantasy world, your research is only going to take you so far. I did do a lot of research on medieval settlements and architecture, to get it right in my head how certain villages and towns would look, even if they are never visited in the actual book. The Kingdom of Hyrule is influenced by Viking settlements and Nordic architecture, whereas Caspia is more like the Roman republic.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a plotter, although that’s not to say I won’t change things if I have a better idea, but if you wait for the perfect idea you will end up never writing anything. I learned in scriptwriting that if you come up against a problem, write 10 ideas on how to solve the issue and move the story forward. They don’t have to be great, they just have to do the job. You can always come back and rewrite it, but for me it is about keeping the momentum going.
Most writing is rewriting, but you need to have something to rewrite first, but I think having a rough guide to follow in that first draft is important.
If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
Oh, good question. I think for the sheer hilarity alone, it would have to be in the Discworld. It is such a beautifully realised world, full of fun characters. Imagine sitting in a coffee shop in Anhk-Morpork, just watching the world go by. That would be incredible. The coffee I imagine would be awful.
If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
I am going to cheat a wee bit and pick a character from a computer game. I play a fair bit and it is where a lot of my inspiration comes from. I just finished Horizon: Zero Dawn by Guerrilla Games, and the main character, Aloy, could sorely use a friend. She’s beautifully realised, brave, fearless, and yet alone in the world, both physically and emotionally, despite becoming a warrior of legend.
About the Author
In the summer of 2012 he published My Right Leg Is Tastier Than My Left, a non-fiction book collecting his blog posts charting his around-the-world trip in 2011.
His debut fantasy novel, Spirits of Vengeance: The Stone of Spirits, was released in November 2014.