Welcome to the end of another week, and another FIVE FOR FRIDAY interview! This week I welcome A.B. Finlayson to the table to talk about an idea he had over 20 years ago, a murder spree at the North Pole, drinks with the departed, and his novel, THE BOOK AND THE BLADE. Click CONTINUE READING below to check it out!
Why don’t we start by going around the table and introducing ourselves? Tell us who you are, why you’re here today, and one interesting thing about yourself.
Hello! I’m Alex, I’m here today because I thought it sounded really cool and, honestly, I’m grateful for any excuse to talk about my book! An interesting fact about me is that due to an unfortunate encounter with a church window in my youth, I can’t actually feel half of my right hand. I’m typing these responses with a fast left and a single ring-finger tap of the right like an old man peering over the edge of his glasses.
Tell us a bit about THE BOOK AND THE BLADE. I understand this one took quite some time from the first spark of inspiration to typing ‘The End’ and sending it out into the world. What first inspired the story, and how did Arthur Crazy’s world evolve over time?
Yeah, it definitely took a while. I had the idea when I was about eighteen years old and had just started uni in York. We were on a night out, having had far too many beers in one of the famous streets, and trying to find our way home. Somewhere on the long walk through dark, cobbled snickelways, I ended up with the nagging thought that it would be funny if you bumped into a ghost but didn’t realise they were dead because you were so drunk. Well, I’m not sure ‘funny’ is the right word but that’s where the idea started. Over the years I kept thinking about it and the more I learned about the York ghosts, the more I thought it would make a good story… imagine if the protagonist was just trying to get home but everywhere he turned he bumped into a different dead person? A fun idea, I thought. And that’s all it was for nearly twenty years. Then in 2018, we found ourselves living back in Yorkshire – I had been writing bits and bobs for quite a while but something just clicked and I finally sat down to write what became The Book and the Blade.
As for the evolution of Arthur’s world, well Arthur himself didn’t exist until that day in 2018. The surname Crazy is an old Yorkshire name and I thought it would be a fun hook and it all just developed from there. The main idea is to ground horror stories, ghost stories, and folklore in some semblance of realism. A kind of ‘how would a normal person react in extraordinary circumstances’ sort of thing.
I know you have written a couple of Arthur Crazy short stories. Any plans for further novels telling his story?
Lots of plans. Plans on plans. Actually, I probably need to calm down a bit. When Arthur got signed, I was so excited… and scared… that I hit a kind of imposter-syndrome-induced streak of productivity. I wrote like my life depended on it. I guess I kind of thought it wasn’t real and that someone might take it all away from me… so I felt like I had to get as many stories out as I could before I got ‘found out.’ The Book and the Blade immediately had a sequel because I’m always interested in the (usually) untold aftermath of a story… that led to a third and suddenly there was a trilogy. But then I kept going and wrote another novel, this time from Arthur’s point of view. I have also written two prequels set in Arthur’s world and another novel that I can only describe as being ‘slightly to the side.’ Like I said, I went a bit nuts. My wonderful publisher asked me a while back what my plan was, and I sent her an infographic that had twelve mapped-out novels on it. I think I scared her a bit. Eight of them are done.
We need to talk about REINDEER GAMES… a murder mystery with Santa’s reindeer falling victim as a killer stalks the North Pole. Where the heck did that come from?
Haha! Great question… I have no idea! I decided sometime before Christmas that I just wanted to publish something… The Book and the Blade had been delayed and so had Rock Zombie, so I just thought, sod it, I’ll write something and give it away for free. Roll the dice and see what happens, sort of thing. As for the idea, I’m not sure where it came from. I killed Comet on the first page and then just kept going. A bit grim, I know.
I wrote that weird little story in three days then spent a few weeks polishing it. It’s a ridiculous story, but I’m really proud of it.
Okay, so, with THE BOOK AND THE BLADE being about a guy who sees ghosts when he’s drunk, I have to ask… who is the one notable departed individual you’d most like to sit down with for a pint?
So hard to pick…imagine sitting down with Mary Shelley and asking about that night? Unbelievable! But as much as I’d like to say someone literary or a hero from the world of books, like Pratchett or Tolkien, the answer has to be my grandfather. He was my hero. Still is. He shaped my life in so many ways, but I only had him in it for six short years. It blows my mind that he passed away 35 years ago! I always wonder if he would be proud of me and what he would think of the way I have lived my life. If I could sit down with anyone it would be him… but grandad didn’t drink… just half a glass of shandy when he took nanna dancing. So I guess it would be a few mugs of tea rather than a pint.
Thanks for taking part in Five for Friday, A.B.! Have a great weekend!
Pleasure! Thank you!
A.B. Finlayson’s links
Chris Patrick Carolan is an author, editor, and hovercraft enthusiast, originally from Glasgow but now based in Calgary, Alberta. He writes science fiction, fantasy (urban and epic), and steampunk, though he has also been known to turn to crime to make ends meet. Crime fiction, that is. His first novel, THE NIGHTSHADE CABAL, was published by Parliament House Press in 2020, and was a finalist for the Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence ‘Best First Novel’ award. He can be found on Twitter as @cpcwrites but–consider this fair warning–it’s mostly wisecracks about McNuggets.
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