Interview with Samuel James Richards

When did you first start writing?
I started writing during my teenage years after watching Minority Report, the film adaptation of the Philip K Dick short story of the same name. I bought a collection of Dick's short stories and fell in love with his brand of psychological science fiction. That was when I decided, I want to write stuff like this!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Ooh, that's a hard one! There are so many to choose from. I'll do a couple I've read recently and some classics (in no particular order).

1. The Father Thing, by Philip K Dick. An amazing science fiction short story collection containing some of Dick's finest work. Each story leaves an impact on the reader, often saving the best right until the final sentence.

2. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. This is a must-have for anyone who enjoys video-games and grew up in the 80s/90s. Jam-packed with pop culture references and nostalgia, but also a chilling commentary on the control technology can have on our lives.

3. The Knife of Never Letting Go, the Chaos Walking series, by Patrick Ness. A master-class in young adult fiction. High concept delivered with simplicity and heart.

4. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. The first Atwood novel I read and it made a real impact on me. It has a chilling timelessness to it; the story could be past, future, or happening right now.

5. The Bible. As a Christian, the Bible is the most important book to me. I believe it's the word of God and that it has to define the way I live.
How do you approach cover design?
I get someone else to do it! I'm good at visualising what I would like a cover image to be, but I'm happy to admit that I lack the artistic skills to create anything suitable. I have a couple of contacts via my StoryMechs project who create awesome illustrations, so I approach them when I'm in need of a design.

My approach is to provide lots of guiding info - other covers I like, images that have inspired my work, etc - but then to give the artist/illustrator/designer a fair amount of creative freedom. With that approach, they often come up with ideas that surpass what I had in mind. I'm a firm believer in paying for quality; I want people to pay for my books, so why should I expect an artist to work for free?
You've mentioned StoryMechs - what's that?
StoryMechs is an online interactive fiction project which I run alongside my good friend Mr Mook. The project provides 'create-your-own-adventure' style narratives, which are shaped by users together through a 'play by crowd' format. You are presented options for how the story progresses, and you can vote for your favourite option. Once the voting session is over, the option with the most votes is used to continue the narrative.

The project has been running since 2011, and was originally known as Tweet RPG. Since its inception, there have been nine adventures completed, ranging from medieval fantasty to neo-noir crime investigation. To find out more, visit www.storymechs.co.uk
Describe your desk
I don't actually have a desk. A lot of my writing happens on the go, either in a notepad, on my laptop, or most often on my phone. I find it useful to have various modes of recording my work, and various locations. It is a necessity as I have to grab what moments I can to write, but it offers opportunities to see my work from different perspectives.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I undertook a couple of work placements with literary agencies in London a few years ago, which gave me some stark insights into the world of traditional publishing. The experience demonstrated how difficult it is for a genre author to get a break, with so many different factors involved.

Based on these insights, and also on a realisation of the possibilities that lie within indie publishing, I decided to self-publish and see what success I can generate for myself. I'm not totally abandoning traditional means at this point, and still plan to submit drafts to agencies, but I'm not going to rely on that path. Self-publishing still means lots of work, but it allows me to get my work out there onto readers' devices and start to build a buzz about my writing.
Published 2014-09-15.
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Books by This Author

Resolutions: A Science Fiction Short Story Collection
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 10,450. Language: English. Published: September 22, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
Resolutions is a collection of science fiction short stories written by Samuel James Richards. These are stories about ordinary people facing extraordinary situations, narratives which explore questions about the future of technology and humanity. Resolutions is all about the way things end. By the final conclusion, you will have smiled, shuddered, and will take away some food for thought.