I have also been lucky enough to sit down with him (on the interwebs) and question him interview him, gaining a greater insight into his world and writing life.
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
Hi! I’m Aidan (R!) Walsh.
I was born in Newcastle, Australia. I spent primary school in Newcastle before my parents moved us up to the family cattle property outside a little place called Singleton. Singleton was a great country town to grow up in and I got a lot more Sound Garden and old Commodores in my life that I might otherwise have had… I’m also the oldest of five sons, so growing up on a big property involved a lot of motorbikes and blowing things up and other general mayhem.
After school I moved back to Newcastle for university, where I read Classics extremely lazily, before going on to work at a large telco.
2. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
God, all of them. At eighteen I was a dolt. A dolt who embarrassingly thought he was clever.
To pick one idiotic thing, I had a weirdly British Imperial concept of manhood. Very into pluck, fortitude and duuuuteh and other John Buchan-type things like that. Some of those attributes are fine, and I think being able to deal with disaster and keep your head isn’t such a bad thing, but thankfully my views of what manhood and masculinity can and should be have rather broadened since.
3. What books, or authors, would you say have most influenced you in the type of writer you’ve become?
There are far too many fantastic writers that I’ve learnt from and enjoyed to list, but in no particular order I’d say my chief influences are:
4. Please tell us about your debut novel, The Game Bird.
Putting my marketers hat on, I call The Game Bird a swashbuckling black powder fantasy, wrapped around a spine of darkness and romance.
There are two main characters. The first is a young sea-captain who, in an effort to escape his debtors, sets out to hunt a sea-monster. The second is a clever young woman who carries a curse and is hunted by a half daemon assassin. Then there are leviathans, weather mages, secret societies, storms and mutiny.
Think Heyer’s Regency period and romance, O’Brian’s ships and seas and Eddings, Hobbs and Gemmell’s fantasy. All mashed together.
5. What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
Time! Time! Time!
I’m fortunate that ideas come to me easily and I can write quite briskly, but finding time is a real challenge. I work a job that regularly gets me for sixty hours a week and I try to be a present husband and dad – and all that just makes it hard to find time. I’d say at least 80% of The Game Bird was written between 21:00 and 02:00.
6. How do you balance what you’re reading against what you’re writing?
In my case, with difficulty.
I find it very hard to keep my own voice when reading a great novel at the same time as I am writing. Consequently, I read something very, very different to what I’m working on. Or I just read non-fiction. In the case of The Game Bird I wolfed down a huge number of Regency period letters, biographies and diaries while I was writing.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
Enjoyment! I just tried my best to write a book that would be a really enjoyable adventure.
I also hope people like and remember my characters. I’m a bit sick of fantasy’s current gloominess and I wanted to write characters that are flawed, foolish and silly at times – but basically good people doing their best. People who you want to succeed.
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
I’m tempted to lie and say something adult like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but my real answer would have to be the polar explorer, Tom Crean. His fortitude, good humour, endless patience, unshakeable bravery and almost complete humility is just incredible (also, maybe I haven’t changed that much since 18).
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
Five hundred years before the events of The Game Bird, there was a great upheaval in my world into which burst a hero (and maybe prophet – which the world has fought about endlessly since), Prince Isaladar. I’d love to write an epic trilogy covering his life. I’d have to hone my craft a lot before I had a crack at that though.
Even less practically, I’ve set myself the goal to make enough money from writing to buy a 1972 Buick GSX.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
For God’s sake write.
So many writers don’t ever seem to finish anything. I’ve been in and out of writing clubs and groups for the last ten years and for every one writer who fails because they’re not good enough, I’ve seen dozens who just petered out because they just didn’t stick at the whole putting words on a page thing.
It’s never easy to sit down at the end (or start) of a long day when you could be having a beer / playing a game / watching Netflix, but if you’re serious about writing that’s what you need to do. As often as you can without going crazy or wrecking your health.