Interview with Al Hawkins

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Kent, England, and it didn’t influence me overly much – rather I just set the beginning of my first book there as I thought it better to start by writing about what I know.
When did you first start writing?
At about the age of 3 or 4, I think...
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Laziness. I couldn’t be bothered to try and sell my book to an agent or a publisher. I don’t think my book is that good, and I am a terrible sales person.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The best thing about writing is that it allows me to let loose my imagination in a way that nothing else does. Since I began writing I have rarely been bored, mainly thanks to my ability to obsess about the storyline - and tying up a sprawling plot has proved to be most rewarding mental exercise (although it resulted in a much longer book than I ever intended).
What is your writing process?
Sitting down with a glass of wine and listening to atmospheric music, usually of the metal variety.
Describe your desk
It looks like a lap with a laptop on it. Nearby is a glass of wine, and there is probably some atmospheric metal playing...
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My alarm – for the purpose of going to work.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, it is called the Fall of Night’s Blood.
What's the story behind your book?
There isn’t really a story behind the story. There is no intentional allegory – I would advise that all readers take it as intended, at face value, and (hopefully) as an entertaining read.
How do you approach cover design?
I get someone else to do it. The 2nd edition covers for book 1 were illustrated and designed by Alex CF, the vocalist from a band called Light Bearer, whose music I love. I would highly recommend them to anyone with a very heavy taste in music. Their style is a brilliant mix of many hardcore and metal genres... I think the cool kids call it 'post metal' these days, but to me that very concept is a blasphemy.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Although I deem success to be a relative term here, putting my book on Smashwords has generated more than twice as much interest in the first month than having the book solely on Kindle has over a ten month period. This is actually worrying me – I may have to consider scaling back the marketing strategy if too many people start reading it...
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Getting LSF involved, without a doubt (although she does have a tendency to edit all my responses and plug my blog at every opportunity). For more on LSF head over to the blog post titled "Flyers"
https://alashawk.wordpress.com/2014/07/
What do your fans mean to you?
My current modest following means that the only fans I’m aware of tend to be people I actually know, so they probably don’t count in the spirit that this question is asked. Thus, I have only one context in which to respond here, only one ‘fan’ experience to relate…

When I opened my Goodreads account, someone left a review in the form of a comment to part 3 of the Fall of Night’s Blood. It took me a while to notice it was there, and I have absolutely no idea who this person is, but I cannot properly describe the emotions I felt when I read the feedback he left (as a lover of vampire books, no less!), other than to say that I think I may actually have cried tears of happiness. Whether he counts as a proper ‘fan’ or not, I don’t know or even care; the experience of reading my first genuine reader’s review is something that I shall never forget.

So, with no other real fan experiences available to me, I can only postulate that, should I ever have any, I would be fans of them, each and every one, all ten or twelve of them - presuming I am lucky enough to become so popular.
What do you read for pleasure?
I enjoy reading a variety of books, but I find those that provide me with the most consistent pleasure are Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Other than that, I generally enjoy reading fantasy, horror and history (both factual and fact-based fictional novels). However, I have never been an avid reader and I rarely have time to read these days as writing is now my predominant pastime.
Who are your favorite authors?
Terry Pratchett, J.R.R. Tolkien, H. P. Lovecraft, James Herbert and Anne Rice, off the top of my head.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I don’t like to make lists of favourites - be it books, music, films, food or, well, anything really. If find lists too restrictive, the compiling of them requires an effort and empiricism that should not be applied to the things that I enjoy in life. Such lists are subject to too many variables, primarily my mood at the time of compilation and the context in which it occurs.

That said, I shall endeavour to provide an answer to this question by providing five books that have had a profound effect on me, but this is by no means a definitive or ordered list of favourites...

1: Small Gods by Terry Pratchett.
From the hilarity of a tortoise-bound god, hopping up and down and threatening to smite everyone with thunderbolts, to the despair of the desert wilderness, where once mighty deities exist as crazed motes of divine dust. I rate Small Gods as one of Pratchett’s most humorous and profound books. Although he has written many such excellent books, this one in particular inspired the concept of belief as an immeasurable power which features in my own book.

2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
I don’t think I need to say much about this legendary epic – the inspiration of so many other books that I have read and loved, such as Eddings, Gemmell and Martin to name but a few - not to mention the whole D&D et al RPG universes...

3. The Whisperer in Darkness and Other Tales of Terror by H.P. Lovecraft
As a teenager I found an old collection of short stories (printed in the 1950s) and, in no small way assisted by the Call of Cthulhu RPG, immersed myself in an art deco world of cosmic horror, insanity and occultism that has always stayed with me. Perhaps Lovecraft is not the easiest or most uplifting read, but like Tolkien, his writing influenced much of what followed...

4. The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
I have never read An Interview with a Vampire – I saw the film and loved it. So I skipped the book and went straight to The Vampire Lestat. I enjoyed this book so much that I had to go straight out and buy The Queen of the Damned. To my mind there will never be a better series of vampire books, although its inclusion here was a toss-up with The Shrine by James Herbert, which was the first truly creepy book I ever read…

5. American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis
I wouldn’t exactly say that this was a favourite book, but it is one of the cleverest and blackly humorous pieces of writing I have ever read – even the title is clever. Not so much an enjoyable read as a true work of horror. If you were to compare an enjoyable read to a drive through the Alps – with precarious twists and turns, exhilarating hairpin corners and stunningly beautiful vistas – then American Psycho might be compared driving past an horrific car crash… you don’t want to look, you know what you’re going to see will give you nightmares, yet you cannot stop yourself from looking… I would only recommend this book to those who can handle the bleakness of an emotionless soul lost in a material society – the sickening torture, misogyny, racism and homophobia, and can take all this the way that I think it was meant. I cannot even say I enjoyed the book – of the five I have listed here, American Psycho is the only book I have never re-read (and I’m not sure I ever will) but I am glad that I did read it. American Psycho is the kind of book that needed to be written, and it took an author with exceptional talent and courage to write it.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first book I remember reading (aside from the books they made me read at school) was the Hobbit. The impact it had on me was profound – I started reading ‘choose your own adventure’ books and playing Dungeons and Dragons.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Working, sleeping, eating and spending time with my wife (although not necessarily in that order). Writing is just my hobby.
What are you working on next?
I am working on book 2 of the Nocturnal Supremacy series, which is set three months after the conclusion of book 1. The working title (which I think I shall stick with) is ‘Watchers at the Gate of Dusk’. I am currently seven chapters in and it is already proving to be longer than the Fall of Night’s Blood. I may have to split it into four parts (or two separate books), but if I can get the plot sufficiently nailed down, I may release each part as I go. So perhaps I will have the first part out there in early 2015.
In addition to this, I have started to write an unrelated short story, just to see if I can. Hopefully that won’t take too long, but if it does, I may have to write both in conjunction...
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My phone. I do not own a tablet and my laptop is not quite as portable...
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I must confess that I am no ebook expert, so please don't look to me for advice here - basically, if you have already found my book then you are far better than I am at discovering cool new ebooks...
Published 2014-11-02.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Fall of Night's Blood - Part 3
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 185,020. Language: British English. Published: September 28, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Undead, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
The Fall of Night’s Blood is the first in a planned trilogy or, maybe more, following a group of vampires and humans as they fight to stop an age old prophecy from coming to pass; a prophecy that will have far reaching consequences for us all.
The Fall of Night's Blood - Part 2
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 178,110. Language: British English. Published: September 28, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Undead, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
The Fall of Night’s Blood is the first in a planned trilogy or, maybe more, following a group of vampires and humans as they fight to stop an age old prophecy from coming to pass; a prophecy that will have far reaching consequences for us all.
The Fall of Night's Blood - Part 1
Price: Free! Words: 181,730. Language: British English. Published: September 28, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Undead, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
The Fall of Night’s Blood is the first in a planned trilogy or, maybe more, following a group of vampires and humans as they fight to stop an age old prophecy from coming to pass; a prophecy that will have far reaching consequences for us all.