Friday, September 14, 2012

Author Spotlight...Please Welcome Richard Rhys Jones!

Our guest today is a wonderful guy named Richard Rhys Jones. Richard, or Reggie to his friends (and Reggums to me) has written an absolutely fantastic novel called The Division of the Damned, combining two scary things: war and vampires. Sounds awesome, huh? Please join me in welcoming this fantastic author to the blog!


Author Interview Questions

(JLD) Please tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? What do you do for a living?

(RJ) Hi, my name is Richard Rhys Jones, Reggie to my friends and I hail from the sunny shores of Colwyn Bay, north Wales. OK, I lied about it being sunny but it is by the sea. I'm the wrong side of forty, the right side of fifty, married with two children, one cat and currently live in Salzgitter, Germany.
I grew up in the 70's, early 80's and saw the worst of a catastrophic Labour government and Thatcher's Britain, so it isn't really surprising that I left home at 16 to join the army. I stayed in the forces until I was 24 and then decided to have a look-see at how life is outside of that great institution known as The British Army. I'd met a nice German girl and rashly decided to live in Germany, regardless of the fact I couldn't speaka-da-lingo and didn't have a job. However, I'm an optimistic guy and soon found work as a security guard. I grew my hair, took up the drums in a band and basically did all the things most people do at sixteen, at the age of twenty four!
Since those wanton days of yore I've worked in a workshop servicing plant machinery, (graders, bull dozers, excavators, earth movers, lorries etc etc.) on the building sites doing EVERYTHING and now I work in a steelworks. I still play the drums but gone are the days of wanting to change the world with my music and now I settle for simply having a laugh while practicing with my band, (Due Vengeance :  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xObzsiga3ls).

(JLD) What started your writing career?

(RJ) Mmmmm, well I always knew I wanted to write a book, it was like a subconscious setting in my head. However, unlike "Breathe", "Drink beer", "Worship the ladies" and "Eat", "Write a book" was a sort of advanced setting that only activated when I left the military, as was, "Punish my drumset".
Writing is like a drug; the more you write, the more you want to write. I’d written lots of short stories, poems, rhymes and song lyrics but I’d never actually tackled a full length book. It was always on the horizon but I knew that if I was to write a novel, I’d have to write about something that really interests me, something special. Vampires were always my favourite monster and I knew that if I was going to pen a book, then I would definitely include or write about ‘the children of the night’.
However, following vampire folklore could only lead to cliché and the regurgitation of old mythology and I wanted to do something new.
But what?
My interest in the Third Reich came about after a visit to Dachau in 1988. I’d never given much thought to the hows and whys of the awful calamity that befell the German people between 1933 and 1945, and Dachau was the epiphany that ignited my fascination.
How was it possible that one of the most cultured and civilised countries in the world could stoop to such barbaric depths? I refused to believe that all Germans were purely evil therefore there had to be another reason. So I dug deeper to find out.
The malevolent politics, the tragedy and the confusion of the Third Reich, I knew, would be the perfect vessel for any story I cared to create. But how could I write about something in the Third Reich that hadn’t already been covered?
This attempting to understand the background of the Holocaust led me onto another subject that spiked my interest; the Nazi obsession with the occult.
The Nationalist Socialist hierarchy had all sorts of fanciful notions about German Blood and Earth, the supremacy of the Aryan race and even Atlantis. However, none were so deranged as Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS. The architect of the Final Solution, who caused untold misery throughout Europe, was in reality a very sickly, small minded person who would sooner listen to his astrologer rather than his generals. The castle at Wewelsburg stands as testament to his penchant for pseudo-mythology and costumed ceremony. It was his unstinting belief in the supernatural, and all the fictitious possibilities it held, that lingered in foetal form at the back of my mind for a long time.
Then it happened, that Eureka moment. Whilst working with a German colleague I noticed that, though his German was flawless, he had an accent that I didn’t quite recognize. At first I’d placed him as being from Bavaria but the more we worked together, the more I was convinced he wasn’t German.
Finally I asked him.
His family originally came from Transylvania.
Transylvania, he told me, has a large German speaking community that uses German as its first language. These Transylvanian Germans are considered Auslandsdeutsche, or Foreign Germans, by the German government and therefore have the right to German citizenship.
His family came over to Germany at the end of the cold war.
A German colony in Transylvania.
Transylvania, the traditional home of the vampire. It wasn’t a great leap of the imagination for me to connect the Siebenberger Sachsen, (they’re known as the Transylvanian Saxons) with the vampire theme.
I had my idea and I started researching the book as soon as I came home from work.

(JLD) What is the name of your book and what is it about? What did you want to accomplish when you wrote it?

(RJ) My book is called, "The Division of the Damned" and broadly speaking, it's about Himmler sending a squad of SS to Transylvania to raise a division of vampires. However, I crammed in all the things that have interested me over the years and welded them into the story. Sumerian and Biblical mythology, Teutonic Knights, werewolves, the Concentration camp system, the Eastern front; you name it, if I'd read a book on it, I lodged it in there. I think they all go rather well together actually, but then again, I would wouldn't I?
What I wanted to achieve with it? Well obviously World peace, a cure for cancer and the second coming of Elvis. Unfortunately none of that happened but that was my original plan. No, seriously, I just wanted it to be out there, being read by like minded people and thanks to Taylor Street, it is.

(JLD) Is there a character you identify with? Who is your least favorite character and why?

(RJ) I think if I have a favourite character it's one of the SS called Rohleder. A survivor of a flame thrower attack, he's horribly scarred and very cynical. However, his mutilated outer shell hides an inner compassion and comically dry outlook on life. I had Rohleder fall in love, which was hard for me to write as I generally stay away from such goings on when I read. The woman of his affections sees through him and I feel that I struck the right balance in their relationship. I won't put down what happens though.
Least fave character has to be The Dracyl himself, the main vampire. He's such a bullying, psycho arse.

(JLD) What do you want readers to take away after they’ve read your book?

(RJ) Now that is a good question. I hope they just take pleasure in the meandering story line and the characters involved. I hope they simply enjoy it.

(JLD) What is your favorite genre, and do you write in that genre? Will you ever write in a different genre?

(RJ) Horror and warfare are my favourite genres. I don't really go for crime or romance. I do read an awful lot of factual books. I also like books about Rome and Ancient Greece.

(JLD) What’s the hardest part about being a writer? The easiest part?

(RJ) There is no hard part to being a writer. I see the word "Hard" and I think "Unpleasant", but it's not.  Proof reading sucks but it isn't hard, just time consuming; especially as I change everything I read anyway. I love research, (I do loads of that, believe me) and the writing, if I'm in the right mood and I find myself "in the zone", is a veritable pleasure.
The easiest part has to be pulling characters out of thin air. I've never had a problem with ideas, oh I've hit the Wall a couple of times but it's mainly because my research was wrong and I had to change the story to accommodate it, or I was simply tired after shift. It's never a good idea trying to write after night shift, lol.

(JLD) What advice do you have to new writers out there?

(RJ) Simply write. Just write as much as you can and tell your friends to read it and then prove to you that it's pants. Proof read like a robot, don't be carried away by the story, read from the back to the front and take lots of breaks. When you're ready to send it of, research how to do this, read the guidelines on every publisher's webpage and change your manuscript and covering letter to suit how they want it.
Or, if your novel is over 120,000 words and is cross genre, use Amazon and release it on KDP :-)

(JLD) If you could start your writing career over again, would you do anything differently?

(RJ) OMG, the list is endless!! Read the above, I wasted three years because a.) My manuscript wasn't good enough. b.) I never used to follow the guidelines and c.) I never realized how bad cross genre novels with a word count of over 120,000 words are for attracting an agent or publisher.
Research the business end and you'll probably save a lot of time. I wish I had done so now.

(JLD) Which person, alive or dead, would you like to spend time with? Why?

(RJ) Another list that has no end... well it probably does but not one I can see right now. However, I'll stick to  the one person who was always on my side, no matter how bad I was.
I'd like to meet up with my Gran again, simply because she ROCKED !!

You can find The Division of the Damned on Amazon at these addresses:
The link is for the paperback version but the Kindle download is also on the page.

1 comment:

R.R.Jones said...

Thanks for having me on your Blog Jess, I'll put the link about a bit :-)