Joining me today is Walter Shuler, author of the short story, At The Edge Of The World. In all honesty, I decided to read Walter’s story after forming what I can only define as (and very loosely, mind you) a friendship on Twitter.
Maybe there should be a word for that? Twittership? Friendtwit?
Definition: When two or more individuals recognize each other’s Twitter picture, out of the thousands that scroll past their screen, they are said to have formed a twittership.
Moving on… (Walter is shaking his heading and wondering why he ever agreed to do this interview.)
At The Edge Of The World isn’t the first book I’ve read after forming a “twittership” with another author. I’ve mentioned this in an earlier post, but I honestly feel that sites like Twitter and Goodreads have given me access to authors and books, which now that I no longer have a mega bookstore to browse through, I might never have known about. And, even better, on Twitter you get to know a little bit about the author. What type of tweets do they tweet and retweet? Are they simply promoting their books, or are they tweeting about writing and/or other things that interest you? The relationship is shallow at best…but it is, perhaps, one step above picking a book by an unfamiliar author simply because you like the cover.
But enough about friendtwits…
Walter, I was surprised by how much I liked your story. When I first started reading At The Edge Of The World, I was worried…there were all these guys and they were on ships and it all felt very manly and very far away from what I normally read, and I thought, Oh no—I said I’m going to read this and now I have to read this and I’m not going to like it!
Walter—look at my blog! 90% of the characters in the books I read are whiny, angst-ridden teenagers—not warriors. But because I promised to read Walter’s book, I persisted. And I am very glad I did, because the ending was excellent. The ending made me smile.
Well, I’m very glad that you persisted and even more so that you enjoyed the story – it was a lot of fun to write.
I guess in a way I write fulltime – I’m a freelance writer during the day, creative writer at night. I’ve been writing in one form or another since I was young. I knew after reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings that I wanted to create worlds when I grew up.
Other than At the Edge of the World, I’ve also got a few other odds and ends:
Celadonian Tales Vol 1: Blood and Brass is a set of three short stories set in my world of Celadon. They’re distantly related to one another in a way, but don’t feature the same characters.
Gods of Sand and Stone is the first book in my trilogy The God Wars – the second book (Into a Dark Land) is in progress at the moment and should be out around the end of the year.
I’ve heard authors say it’s best to master the craft of writing a short story before attempting a novel. As most of your stories are on the shorter side, I was wondering if this is your plan. And, if so, what have you learned from writing short stories? Finally, are you planning a longer work?
Hmm… that’s an interesting question. I wrote At the Edge of the World mostly as a one-off, simply because I wanted to do a historical fantasy story. Blood and Brass is another matter. Those stories are really intended as prequels for longer tales that are to come. For instance, once I wrap up The God Wars, I’m going back to the world of Celadon with a new series that picks up where The Clockwork Men from Blood and Brass leaves off. It’s in progress, and will be titled The Breaking of Northwarden.
With The God Wars trilogy, I had a different reason for keeping the story short. I’ve always been heavily influenced by some of the great early fantasy writers and this trilogy was my homage to that largely-disappeared format. Books like Michael Moorecock’s Elric saga and Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series have stayed with me for decades. I really think that with the predominant shift in fantasy to massive tomes (no offense to Mr. Williams or Mr. Martin), something has been lost. I wanted to go back to that older storytelling style with these books. I also think shorter works are a little less daunting for those interested in getting into the genre for the first time.
If I’ve learned anything, I’ve found that it’s actually harder to write short fiction than it is a sprawling epic. They’re very, very different beasts and what works well in longer books doesn’t fly well with short stories or novellas even.
As far as longer works are concerned, you betcha! The Breaking of Northwarden is only in its second chapter and somewhere around 20,000 words already. The rest of the series will be stay in keeping with that, too.
Your website is called, “Halla Litriocht, The ramblings of Walter Shuler.” What does Halla Litriocht mean and why did you choose that name for your website?
Halla Litriocht is Irish Gaelic for “hall of literature” – I’m a self-professed armchair historian and Celtic-o-phile, so for me it was a natural choice of name. It does make for some difficulties though, as you might imagine. Most people can’t pronounce it, much less remember it to type it into a browser bar! Heck, I had to get clarification from Tommie Kelly on one of our podcast episodes when we interviewed him just to make sure that I was saying it right!
If you had to recommend one fiction book, one non-fiction book and one book on writing, which books would you recommend?
Oh, my…that’s really, really, really hard. Most of the books I love are part of a series, so recommending one that’s a standalone will be a challenge. Let’s see…
Fiction: Bard by Morgan Llewellyn would probably be my top recommendation for a standalone book (series would be very different).
Nonfiction: A World Lit Only by Fire by William Manchester.
On Writing: Creating Characters by Dwight V. Swain
Finally, what is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Hmm. There’s been quite a bit, much of it good and some of it rather bad. I’d have to say the best piece of advice that ever came my way and one that I would unhesitatingly pass along to any new writer in any genre is this – Use beta readers. Use them religiously.
Thank you, Walter.
Thanks very much for having me on! By the way, I’m currently reading your book, Wheels, and am enjoying it quite a bit!
So, if like me, At The Edge Of The World is a bit different from what you normally read, my advice is for you to take a night or two off from the teenagers and vampires. Expand your imagination. In both time and money, At The Edge Of The World is a small investment. I promise, it will make you smile. It may even inspire you to attempt your own short story.
To help you on your own reading adventure, Walter has generously donated an eBook copy of At The Edge Of The World (any format). Click below to enter and win. You will not be spammed–I promise! The winner will be contacted via email on Saturday, 9/22/12. GOOD LUCK!Entries are now closed. Our winner (initials J.B.) has been contacted. Thanks to all who entered. Walter’s book is on Amazon. It’s a great deal and wonderful little story. For .99 cents, you can’t lose!