Hi there! I’m D. E. M. Emrys, but you can call me D. I was born in Wales, but raised across the UK.
Home for me is Chelmsford, Essex. Though, being a member of the British Army, my working-week home is on a military base…at an undisclosed location. Dun, dun, dun!
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
Not always – I actually hated reading when I was very young. I only started to get into it when I was about eleven years old. Before that…I wanted to be an Action Man, but I don’t have the ‘plastic groin’ for that and so became the next best thing…a soldier!
When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
I started writing by posting short stories on a site called ‘Deviant Art’. A lot of readers might have heard of it. When I started getting people responding to my work I realised I was not just writing stories, I was writing for people.
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
‘It Began With Ashes’ from start to finish (this includes beta reading, editing, cover work, registering copyrights etc. as I am self-published) took just over a year and a half. I’m confident, that given the time to write around my work life, I could easily half this.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I’m a serving soldier in the British Army.
‘It Began With Ashes’ – An epic start to a new fantasy series. It’s about living on your feet or dying on your knees.
Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
I’m self-published and proud of it. I release my titles under the ‘Four Branches Publishing’ header, so as to give them a recognisable but personal brand.
Do you have a "lucky charm" or "lucky routine" you follow when waiting for your book to be accepted by a publisher?
I’ve yet to start querying…but time will tell. And as with sailors, we soldiers are a superstitious bunch!
Well, so far I’ve only got experience with ‘It Began With Ashes’ and it’s short story prequel ‘From Man to Man’, but so far I’d say that the year marker would be adequate.
Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
‘From Man to Man’ was harder than ‘It Began With Ashes’ despite being shorter. That was because I was new to writing short but chaptered stories, but I found the experience to be an eye opener! I forced myself to work to a 1000 word limit per chapter, and this really was a game changer for a fantasy writer as myself.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Both! I’m currently working on the sequel to ‘It Began With Ashes’ but I’m itching to get myself stuck into a crime or sci-fi novel!
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
‘A Stirring of Dead Embers’ is my current project, the sequel to ‘It Began With Ashes’.
What genre would you place your books into?
Fantasy. If you want to be more specific heroic-fantasy. It’s a low fantasy setting (as opposed to high fantasy with fairies, goblins, ghouls and dragons) with elements of sword and sorcery thrown in.
When I started reading, I devoured the works of David Gemmell and always wanted to write a novel in the same vein as his.
Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favourite?
‘It Began With Ashes’ – it’s gritty, it’s real, it’s emotional.
Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
I’m torn between Draven Reinhardt and his son Kale. They’re very much alike, both very thoughtful, intelligent, witty…but I’d have to stick with Kale. Though he’s still young (twelve in ‘It Began With Ashes’) he’s got big things coming his way, and he’s about to learn the hard way that life isn’t as easy as it seems. It’s about ‘living on your feet, or dying on your knees’ in my fantasy setting.
If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why?
Haha, Draven or Ivebian. As mercenaries they don’t have the most glamorous of jobs, but they certainly have fun whilst doing it!
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I was a late bloomer with reading. I didn’t start picking up books (outside of school) until I was eleven years old. Even then I jumped the gun, and started with Adult-reading-level books. Namely the heroic-fantasy tales of David Gemmell and James Barclay. These got me into the genre.
From time to time, I’d find a book that I didn’t like the end of, or in some cases a book that I wanted to continue. I’d pick-up where the book finished off and continue the story. This eventually saw me start writing my own works. The first time I started writing stories for myself? Thirteen years old.
When I was sixteen my father committed suicide. Suddenly, the desire to write stories became the desire to write books. I wanted something concrete, something to leave behind not only for me, but him, too. When it came to publishing, I even chose to adopt parts of his name to craft my pen name.
As far as further inspiration that’s down to work, family and friends. I’m a serving soldier for the British Army, and my experiences as part of the military have played a massive part in bringing the kinetic side of my stories to life. Family and friends? That’s self-explanatory, I hope. Earlier, I mentioned my writer’s doubt? That in itself was a wall to be taken down, and all credit for that goes to my fiancée. She inspires me to keep going, to keep putting the pen to paper, but most importantly, share.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from?What/Who is your inspiration?
Literally…everywhere! The ideas come pouring in from everyday life.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
Finding time to write is not as easy as you’d think. I snatch time here and there, scratching notes on receipts, post-its, the back of my hand…ideally, I sit down at my desk and listen to a movie sound track to get me going!
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
Not for reviewing purposes, though it’s something I want to start doing. At this point in time I’ve only given copies out prior to release for the purpose of test reading.
Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Yes – it’s all part of the learning curve.
What was the toughest/best review you have ever had?
A reviewer saying that though the story was good, they had little to ‘report home with’.
Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
No – it’s their opinion after all! I would extend an invitation for them to read another of my stories, though, in a bid to prove that I’m not ‘all that bad’ at what I do :D
How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
The cover for ‘From Man to Man’ was designed and created by myself. I wanted something to reflect the gritty mood of the main character, Draven, and a stark image that put the reader in the mindset of a dark and violent persona.
‘It Began With Ashes’ was concepted by myself, but I commissioned the very talented Rachelle Fryatt to produce the artwork. She’s done a fantastic job, and I’m more than happy with the handsome cover to the story.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Books first, title second – though with both ‘From Man to Man’ and ‘It Began With Ashes’ the titles came to me as I wrote.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
Inspiration from friends, history – particularly ancient history. I studied the Greeks, Persians, Romans and Celts at college, and a love for the ancient world has stayed with me since then.
Are character names and place names decided after there creation? or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
A little bit of both.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I have a basic idea when I start writing a character, but to me they’re real people, and as with people, they grow of their own accord.
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
Basic plot at the outset but more often than not things worm their way in one way or another!
How do you market/promote your books?
At this point I do a lot of reader engagement via Goodreads and forums.
What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller ?
Having qualities which its audience can relate to.
Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
Most definitely suffered with it – but the best remedy? Just pick up the pen and get down to it!
What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
As part of my job I enjoy keeping fit and shooting, so I’m a pretty active guy. I’m also a very amateur DIY’er seeing as I’ve just bought a house, and I play the guitar.
Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
Definitely! I won’t name them all and give the game away, though!
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
There will be a point in everyone’s lives when they’re caught between doing the right thing, or the easy thing. But, just keep in mind that: ‘it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees’. Or words to that effect!
Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
David Gemmell – my writing idol.
Which format of book do you prefer, ebook,hardback, or paperback?
I prefer hardcovers – nothing beats the feel of a well loved hardback.
What is your favourite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
‘Legend’ by David Gemmell. I’ve read it so many times! My copy of ‘Legend’ is dog-earred and tatty, but it’ll last a few years yet! I love the ‘human’ factor in it. There’s no super humans with intergalactic powers to rush in and save the day. Just pure old brains and brawn.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst book to movie transfer?
Of course – books make for the best stories, after all! Favourite movie transfer…who wouldn’t say Lord of The Rings? Worst = Eragon.
What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
The special edition hardback of Ben Galley’s fantasy debut ‘The Written’.
Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
Never – brick and mortar book stores will forever belong on the high street!
Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing?
Not fully. My younger brother has just passed out of secondary school, and bar for reading ‘the classics’ in history as part of the compulsory curriculum he read very little else. I think children should be encouraged to read more of what they like, rather than what has stood the test of time.
Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
I didn’t like the books given to me at school, as did many of my peers. Though, I did hide a blank bit of paper in my school books to write my own stories.
Did you have a favourite author as a child?
I was a late bloomer to reading, so as an early teen David Gemmell ruled the roost for me
Do you have a treasured book from your childhood? If yes, what is it?
That same old copy of ‘Legend’.
Do you have a favourite genre of book?
Fantasy is, and will always be, my first love.
Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish?
No – I’ll try any book that comes my way!
Are there any New Authors you are interested in for us to watch out for? and Why should we watch out for them?
John Gwynne – I think he’ll be a tour de force amongst the fantasy pantheon of the current age.
Is there anything in your book/books you would change now if you could and what would it be?
A question I ask myself almost every minute of the day? The short answer…no. The long answer…still no. I believe that I’ve done all that I can at this moment, and if I kept going back and editing then I’ll never finish!
What do you think about book trailers?
Fantastic promotional device.
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Writing has taught me a lot about myself. I pour myself into my stories. They’re personal – thoughts, opinions, hopes, fears, dreams, experiences. I apply myself to everything I write, in an effort to bring out what I want to share with the reader. This doesn’t help with the doubts mind you, as the fear of negative response isn’t just a critique, it’s something more.
So to all the writers out there, I know you feel the same. But don’t be afraid to share. Write for yourself, that’s most important, but get out there and do it.
Best advice though…be a writer, not an author.
Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
D. E. M. Emrys is in fact my pen name. I chose to publish under a pen name because 1) my real name would kill search engines by the mass amount of people in the world who share it, 2) due to the nature of my job, I thought it best for security reasons, and 3) D. E. M. Emrys is special to me. My father took his own life when I was sixteen, and left very little as a legacy. To put something of him down in history, I adopted his middle (Emrys) and first (David) names into my Author Persona. And so, D. E. M. Emrys was born.
If you could invite three favourite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with?
Ooo, tricky question this one as I have so many favourites!
Michael J Sullivan – the man is a hugely talented writer, and he self-published first!
John Gwynne – a new fresh face to the fold.
Mark Lawrence – all round nice guy, though he writes a wicked anti-hero.
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