With every passing year the indie generation comes closer and closer to the professionalism and quality of big budget films, AAA videogames, and publishing houses. We here at The Nerd Stash embrace the indie scene, and today we’re going to share an interview with indie author Robert Jackson-Lawrence.
Lawrence has been hard at work for the last few years, more than that if you count the days long ago when his story ideas popped into his imagination. He first published The Chronicles of Benjamin Knight, of which the first three books in the series, Knightfall, Darkest Before Dawn, and New Light are all available now. They are set in an alternate world where young genius Benjamin Knight is swept away after an experiment goes wrong.
His next series, Pups: The Adventures of a Third Grade Werewolf, is a shorter series aimed at younger readers. The story follows Jessica, an eight year old who is a werewolf, as she goes on adventures and solves cases with her friends. There are eight books in the series available, beginning with The Case of the Horrifying Headmaster.
The latest series written by Lawrence takes inspiration from the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, except that it fuses the myth together with a science fiction theme set in a world where humanity has been enslaved by an alien race. A computer A.I. program, who goes through centuries of data degradation, latches onto the legend of Merlin, and goes in search for his King. X-Calibur: The Return and X-Calibur: The Descent are available now.
In the last two years you’ve written and published 13 books, which is kind of extraordinary. How have you found the time and inspiration to write all these books?
I lost my job in April 2012 so I started writing again then. The stories have always been there, waiting to be written, and my first book (Knightfall) was mostly written 20 years ago, I just revised and completed it.
I remember you telling me about writing Knightfall when you were younger. So many years, with so many stories and more to come I’m sure! How exactly do you keep all the different series separate from each other?
The series are separated by time and space predominantly, though some of the characters are quite similar (I write for young adults mainly, with strong young male and female characters). Though the settings are different, the stories may have similar tones, touching on issues common to that age group (such as friendships, feelings of isolation and being different to one’s peers etc). That all gets wrapped up in an exciting adventure with peril and consequences for the characters to overcome!
And as a reader of your books, I can certainly say you’ve accomplished that! To this day which series would you call the most successful? You have the Chronicles of Benjamin Knight, The Adventures of a Third Grade Werewolf, and then X-Calibur. Is there a favorite among readers?
My favourite are the Benjamin Knight books, mainly because I put so much of my younger self into that character. They are also the most widely praised, though from a simple sales point the X-Calibur books have sold far more than the other two series combined.
That’s great to hear! And as I understand it you’re hard at work on the third book in the X-Calibur series, correct? Can you give us some details about it?
The third book in the X-Calibur series is called The Trial (following on from The Return and The Descent). Without going into spoiler territory, the gang of heroes had to make some hard choices in book 1 and this book sees the consequences of those decisions coming back in a big way. The villain they face in book 3 is entirely of their own making! They also have to come to terms with some very hard truths about themselves and deal with those going forwards.
Sounds like there will be a lot of tension in the book! Do you have a tentative release date for it yet?
I am hard at work and hoping for a June or July release (fingers crossed!).
That’s fantastic and a lot of readers will be looking forward to it, myself included! So tell us, with your writing who are your inspirations in the literary world?
Growing up I read a lot of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I also read the Dune series and The LOTR. As I got older, I actually found myself reading more YA books, hence my decision to write more for that age group. I am particularly fond of Derek Landy (the Skulduggery Pleasant series is incredible) as well as Anthony Horowitz and Eoin Colfer. I am currently reading the first Mistborn book on your recommendation!
If you don’t love it then you’re dead to me! Kidding, kidding! So back to your writing, and if you don’t mind me asking, why do you write? For the enjoyment? To give readers an enjoyable story, or other reasons?
I write because the stories want to be told! If I were to ignore them, the characters would keep hounding me until I either wrote something down or went completely insane. It’s great to be read, and even better if the person reading enjoys what I’ve written, but mainly I write because I can’t imagine not.
That’s always a good reason to do something! And like you, there are so many others trying to make it big in the book industry. For those writers who are still trying or people who are getting their feet wet, what advice would you give them?
Just keep writing. Write because you enjoy it and don’t expect to make any money from it. Just do it because love it.
I’d have to agree with that statement. If you don’t love it, it’ll show in your work. There’s always an energy to a book that’s written with love, wouldn’t you agree?
Definitely! The reader can always tell, if you aren’t enjoying telling the story they won’t enjoy reading it. If it becomes a chore, it’s time to stop.
I want to thank you for taking the time today to speak with me. As always it’s been a pleasure. Last question, for fun! You’re protagonist Benjamin Knight from his series goes up against Adam/Arthur of X-Calibur. Who wins and how?
In a straight up fight, Arthur wins, easy! Ben isn’t a fighter, though if there is a way to trick or out-think his opponent he might be okay.
Fantastic. Thanks again Rob and get back to work! I’m aching to read the next X-Calibur!
Once again that was Robert Jackson-Lawrence, indie author. For more information on him and his books, visit his website at www.jackson-lawrence.com.
Editor and writer. I’ve been a gamer from the time of the Atari to the present and I own a PS4, Xbox One, and 3DS. I squee over all things science fiction and fantasy in the worlds of gaming, movies, and books. Follow me @Gamer_TRMann