Please welcome A. J. Hawkins to Limelight
1. Please tell us the name of your book. I have two: Falling: A Spirits & Shards Novel, and The Golden Years: A Swinging Sixties Novella
2. Tell us a little about your book? Falling is about the highs and lows of love; of the secrets people keep from one another, about playing the hand you’re dealt and failing to rise above adversity. It’s an immensely personal story, and I’m very pleased that upon revising it I realized it was better written that I initially thought. (Para) The Golden Years is about retired MI6 agent Charles Fairbanks, and is written in the vain of the Bond novels, but with my style. He’s not living a happy life, but sees something on the news that rouses his attention. When MI6 dismiss his concerns he decides to investigate himself, but this is no “Expendables”, he’s a very decrepit old man. He just has to put his mind at ease. There are some thematic similarities between Falling and The Golden Years, but each is explored differently.
3. Is your book a part of a series? Falling is the first part of the ongoing Spirits & Shards saga. This story is the first half of “Season One”, which will be completed with the release of the next novel, Spirits & Shards: Firebrand. I’ll be doing a digital omnibus edition too! (Para) The Golden Years was written as a one-off, but you never know – I might write another tale about Charles one day.
4. Are you self-published? Yes. I was seeking an agent and publisher, but my trip to the London Book Fair reignited my passion for being indie. It’s more work, but can ultimately be more rewarding. The most important aspect for me is creative freedom, to tell the stories I want to tell without being pigeonholed.5.
5. What aspect of your book sets it apart from others in your genre? Spirits & Shards is science fantasy, and though it’s set in a high-concept world, it looks at every aspect of life under a microscope. Are corporations evil, or do they provide a necessary service? What happens when people abuse their positions? Is there a genuine reason for information to be withheld sometimes? What are the long-term consequences of a mistake that, at the time, was the best option? I use the genre to ask the questions science fiction asks best, but use the fantasy element to do things with the quantum mechanics of the world that are very likely not possible. But you never know, one day… I’ve already featured technology that I didn’t realize already exists (photonic power) and preempted real technological development (phone-specs, now coming to the real world as Google specs). (Para) The Golden Years deals with the psychological aspects of being a spy – the loneliness and isolation, and the fear of the mission.
6. Where do you get your inspirations for your books? I’ve spent many years conceptualizing, so I have a deep mine to source from. I get ideas from everything – news articles, films (when I see an idea the filmmakers don’t explore, I make a mental note to see if there’s a way I can utilize that idea), conversations with friends, real life events… everything.
7. How long did it take you to write your book? Falling took about nine months first time round, and about three weeks to revise again for the new edition. Despite being much shorter, The Golden Years probably took around 4 – 6 months in the end, as it was greatly expanded after the anthology it was initially written for fell through.
8. Who are your favorite characters in the book? Why? Jerin is based loosely on myself, and for that reason isn’t my favourite! Strangely, I think Keresay is my favourite character, but that’s probably because I know what her role in the greater saga is. Kol is an important character too, and a firm favourite. Readers of Falling may be surprised that they’re two of the main characters in Firebrand. I guess defining why is hard… perhaps because you invest so much time and thought in them that they become real people inside your mind. I don’t think I’ve dreamt about those characters yet, but I’ve dreamt about Tyrus and Isabella, which is odd.
9. Have you ever killed off a character you were attached to? If so, how did you feel while you wrote the scene? Yes, in Falling an animal passes away, and it was based on a real life event that broke my heart. I wanted to honour the memory of my beloved Nibbler, and to show how lonely a person can feel after something like that.
10. What is next on your agenda? A paperback edition of The Golden Years, with a few short stories in the back, then finishing and releasing Firebrand, followed by the third Spirits & Shards novel, Hyseteria, which is all about the highs and lows of fame, amongst other, more adult themes.
To learn more about or contact A. J. Hawkins, go to:
A. J. Hawkin’s books are now available at:
Falling: A Spirits & Shards Novel
The Golden Years