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  • Writer's pictureegradcliff

The Interview

Updated: Mar 29, 2020

I was recently interviewed for the first time by a local outfit and thought I’d share it here on the blog, to provide a glimpse into the writing life (or compulsion, if you wish!)

1) How did you begin writing, and why do you enjoy it?

Truthfully, I can't remember when I started writing for pleasure. It was always something I'd just done, but I didn't realize it could be more than a pastime until around the time that I hit

high school. In the past, I hadn't put much thought into the mostly-instinctive act of writing, and so the pleasure I reaped didn't last past the end of the writing process. That changed when I started trying longer pieces, pieces where I experimented with new skills and played around with more difficult techniques, because I created results I could reread and be proud of. I love the challenge that comes with that, and I love the anticipation I feel when I'm building up to an exciting plot point. Writing is the one activity where I lose all track of time; I'll look up at two in the morning and realize that I should have gone to bed ten pages earlier. I just can't get enough.

2) Where did you get the inspiration for “The Hidden King”? How would you describe the book to potential readers?

Maybe it's cliche, but the idea actually started as a dream. The dream was peculiar; it gave me the setting and the characters, but not a single plot point. With the stage set like that, I couldn't give up an opportunity to play with a storyline. The Hidden King is a young adult novel based loosely in Celtic mythology, a coming-of-age story set in a divided world, and the official blurb is this:

A mad king. A powerful, inhuman heir. A young man endures the unimaginable to save his only family and unite a kingdom.

Áed dreams of escaping the misery of the Maze, the dismal city of his birth, but his love for his makeshift family—his partner, Ninian, and an orphaned boy named Ronan—compels him to stay. When a crushing tragedy forces a new beginning, Áed determines to break out of the Maze once and for all—but not before deeply buried secrets flare up with formidable consequences.

Setting out for the legendary White City fueled by hopes of a better life, Áed discovers a beautiful world hiding unexpected danger. Navigating a treacherous path of friendship and deception, Áed must embrace a legacy he had never imagined in order to protect the only family he has left.

The Hidden King is the first book in the young adult high fantasy series The Coming of Áed. Fans of the gritty and the mythical, the wrenching and the redemptive, will love E.G. Radcliff’s harrowing coming of age tale.

Those are my own words, but to put it more organically, The Hidden King is a fantasy book with relevant social themes, deep settings, and at least one character who's quite literally and just a little bit figuratively on fire. Read it--you'll see :).

3) What was the most difficult part of writing the book? What was the most exciting?

The most difficult part actually came after I finished the first draft. That very earliest draft clocked in at a whopping 150,000 words--pretty much, I'd just written whatever came to mind, and the plot was stringy and unevenly-paced. The hardest part was changing that. I cut it down to half the length, and rewrote half of that again. I hit wall after wall of writer's block, and eventually resorted to taping together sheets of paper so I could map my plot with a pencil and make physical cuts, changes, and scratch-outs. It was satisfying and I enjoyed the process, but it certainly challenged my endurance!

The most exciting part is harder to pin down. Every time I found a new inspiration, or grew close to a plot point that I was very eager to reach, I got excited. I found the process thrilling, like a game to see how much I could improve. The characters excited me, too--after all, I was getting to know them as I wrote them into existence--and I got lost in the power I held over the story. My own little dominion! Aside from that, I was excited to find out what it would feel like to be satisfied with something I'd written.

4) What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

The most important thing you can do is observe. Watch everything around you, and watch it with the intent to make it yours. Memorize the way a certain person plays with his hair when he's nervous, and how the sunlight shines off certain bricks in a wall more brightly than others. Find out what the wind smells like at three in the morning, and how the air moves differently. Watch how people fidget. Watch how they turn their head as they talk, and how those motions change depending on who they're talking to and why. Observe. A writer does more than transfer an idea into a document; a writer makes art.

As with any art, few people start out great, or even particularly good. If you hate something you've written, take that as a good sign! You have to care about something in order to hate it, and genuinely caring about your work is the first step. Find out what you hate about it, and try a different approach next time. Make sure there actually is a next time, and don't stop.

Share your writing with people you trust, and then, when you feel bolder, share it with people who aren't socially obligated to be nice to you. Try to take criticism in stride, because from experience, it's the best way to learn. I've improved massively by absorbing some very ego-crushing advice, and in hindsight, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

This post uses Amazon affiliate links. If you were to make a purchase with these links, I may receive a teeny commission. This does not affect your purchase price.


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