I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview David Randall, author of In The Shadow Of The Bear series. His most recent publication, Ursus, came out in August this year. You can see my review here
1. Of the four books you have had published, which one did you find the hardest to write and why?
Chandlefort. Simon & Schuster rejected the first version, and required a re-write within three months. I basically wrote non-stop for three months. The published version cannibalized the old version -- about 1/3 of the novel was originally in the first version, in one form or another, but the story was radically changed. While I understand why Simon & Schuster rejected the first version, I still regret that it never was published. On the other hand, I did have the satisfaction of writing most of a novel in three months, and getting that accepted; that's not easy to do.
2. When you found out that your fourth book, 'Ursus', was not going to be published by Simon & Schuster did you immediately consider self-publishing? Is it a process that you would recommend for other writers?
I first thought of seeing if other publishers would be interested--particularly since I already had a completed MS. I was particularly hoping Hachette might still be interested in publishing it in Australia--alas, no. Then there's a local specialty fantasy publisher in New York City whom I knew; also a no. I first thought of electronic publishing--then, when I realized how much the price of print-on-demand had fallen, I switched to that method. I wouldn't recommend it as a means to make money--I'm hoping I'll make back my costs one day, since a bunch of libraries who bought the first three books in the series might be enticed to buy the fourth. I just really want to get the final book out and available for people who read the first three. I'm happy that I can do that; but I don't know how this speaks to anybody else. 3. The cover art for 'Ursus' is beautiful. How was it that this image was chosen?
A few years ago, shamefully ego-Googling, I came across a comic-book page of the first page of Clovermead, drawn by a fan named Chynna Miller. I liked it, and I got into touch with her by e-mail. When I started thinking about self-publishing Ursus, I asked her if I could commission a cover for Ursus; she said yes, and now there's a cover. If you really like it, go and tell her! Her web-page is at http://kanna-maru.deviantart.com/ . As for choosing the image: she actually did the back cover first, with the stained glass window, but then thought that a somewhat more active scene would make sense for the front cover. So we had a back-and-forth on the details, but that's basically her idea of a dramatic cover. Nifty, isn't it?
4. Would you rather live in the Hordes or at the Chandlefort Castle? Be an inn keeper or a soldier? Why?
My brief encounters with horses have not been pleasant. ("Whoa! Heeeeelp!") That would be Chandlefort Castle. Frankly, much as I like looking at the Great Outdoors, and even tramping through it for medium-length hikes, I'm an indoors person; definitely the Castle, probably the Library.
But, profession, now -- that's a tougher question. I would be proud to be a good soldier, although I'm afraid I probably wouldn't be. A good deal of the series of books is about the ethics of being a soldier. I think being a soldier is a good and an honorable profession, but that killing is a terrible thing to do, even when it's necessary--and that the worst part is that you get used to killing, or even get a taste for it. I think a lot of soldiers would agree with that. So I would rather be a soldier in a good cause than stand aside and let other people do the fighting for me, but the thought of being a soldier also terrifies me.
As for being an innkeeper--I've never run a restaurant or a bar, but it looks like hard work. Day-to-day, I'd rather be an innkeeper than a soldier, but I'd rather be a writer or (my day job) a professor. Of all the skills Waxmelt had as an innkeeper, the one I most want is cookery.
5. Computer or pen and paper? Please tell us a little bit about your writing process.
Computer. I work best when I have most of a day free to concentrate -- scattered hours aren't very helpful. I prefer to throw large amounts of wretched words on the page, then revise, revise, revise, until there's something good. Screen size matters--most of my coherent thoughts and scenes are about the size of two single-space paragraphs, which is what appears on my screen at any one time. But for revisions, especially proofs, at some point I will print out the manuscript, and look at it on paper.
Thanks David, and congratulations on the publication of Ursus.
If you want to know more about David and his novels you can jump over to his website here.