This month, I caught up with fellow Brit fantasy author Andrew Claydon to chat about how he started writing and favourite authors. His latest book, Strange Companions, is out on 5 December and if you like reluctant heroes, irreverant fantasy references and chickens, I recommend you check it out.
So, Andrew, tell us about yourself.
That’s a toughie, because I can come up with all kinds of stories and characters, but ask me to talk about myself and I draw a blank. I suppose the first thing to know about me is that I’m a guy living his best life being an author. I’ve always thought I had one book in me and tried for years, in vain, to get it out of my head and into words. But when I finally did, it turns out I had more than one bouncing around in my head…who knew? It’s kind of funny, because when I first started writing ‘The Simple Delivery’, I told myself it be purely for fun. But then I start looking at these author groups on Facebook, and there were so many inspirational stories that I thought it was time to go and make mine. It’s still a work in progress. On a more personal level, a word that easily sums me up is…nerd, which I wearing as a badge of honour. I grew up immersed in fantasy and sci-fi. Even when I was a kid, I remember He-man and Thundercats. The 80s/90s was THE best era for kids’ television bar none. (GC – I completely agree!) Then I get older and it’s Buffy, Star Trek, Warhammer. I can’t tell you the name of four streets around my house, but I can tell you the lore of Warhammer 40k at great length. Though I doubt I’d offer the information, as I’ve always been a bit introverted. Give me a group of any more than four and I get lost in it, though I think that I’m growing in that way as part of my author journey. When you’ve done as many daft TikToks as I have, it tends to make you come out of your shell a little. And I suppose I am putting myself out there with people via my stories. Because if a novel is anything, it’s a glimpse into someone’s mind, a person whose creativity crafts this world and narrative that you hopefully (please God) fall in love with. And that’s what I’m hoping for, that people will love my work and get something out of it. I have two kids and when they refer to me as an author, that’s pretty damn great. It’s certainly better than the bald jokes…or my son’s rapping (bless him).
I would never have guessed you’re introverted based on your tiktoks! I am loving your fantasy series, and your next book is out on Monday, can you tell us what it’s about?
What’s my books about- ‘Strange Companions’ is the sequel to ‘The Simple Delivery’. In the first book our unprepared hero(ish), Nicolas goes on a quest to deliver a message. I don’t want to give out spoilers for those who read it, but suffice to say it goes pretty sideways.In book 2 we’re back with Nicolas. He’s back home, trying to get comfortable in his life again after everything he’s seen, which was some pretty crazy stuff, and just be himself again. That’s all well and good, up until a crazy creature attacks his village, then he finds himself on the road again, because these thing’s never come in ones. On his journey he will meet some familiar friends, but as the title suggests, also some surprising new ones. The question is, is Nicolas any more prepared for this quest than the last one. He has a sword now, but having a sword does not a hero make.
I love how much Nicolas doesn’t want to be involved, but why did you choose such a reluctant hero?
What is the form of magic/character that appealed to you-I really love writing Nicolas’s character. When I first got the idea for ‘The Simple Delivery’, I loved the idea of someone out of his element trying to do the right thing. But I wanted to take that and dial it up. Nicolas is really a ball of anxiousness and nerves, but he’s heart is in the right place? Is it enough? In the first book it was, just. As much as I’m writing a fantasy world, and a humorous one, I want to keep the characters realistic. I didn’t want Nicolas just picking up a sword in book one and saving the day, because that’s not how it works. And when we meet him again in book 2, I really wanted to explore how the events of book 1 affected him. You don’t just go from being a village boy to underground caves full of vampires without taking something away from that. The question really is, if and how he will deal with this whilst trying to save the day again.
He does have good growth as a character. So, where did you get the idea for Nicolas and his companions, strange or otherwise?
What are the roots of the story-I suppose the real root is someone trying to do good despite a lack of skill. I first got the idea for the series when I was playing Skyrim. My character was journeying down a road and I met some random NPC, we had a chat and I had a quest. I thought to myself, ‘what was he going to do if I didn’t turn up? Do it himself?’ And so an idea was born. But I wanted to make sure that idea worked realistically. My MC wasn’t going to just swan off, do it himself and become a knight by the end of the book or something, because that doesn’t make sense. Maybe he will get there in later volumes, I’m not telling, but it’s important that his growth makes sense, even in the sometimes daft world that I’ve created. It’s really a message that anyone can be what they want/have to be if you follow the right path and put the work in.
And did you get that message from somewhere? Who are your favourite authors?
Good question. My favourite author is Dan Abnett. Though I’m a fantasy writer, as a reader I’m a sucker for military sci-fi and he writes some of the best. I also read a lot of comics growing up and Garth Ennis and Brian Michael Bendis are two of my favourite comic writers. Garth is great at holding a mirror up to established conventions and saying, ‘what if we look at this a different way’, with a great dollop of dark humour in the mix. Preacher and The Boys are two of my all times favourites. Brian did a long run on Ultimate Spiderman. He made Spidey laugh out loud funny, with great interconnected stories and genuinely emotional moments. Another in my top tier is Stephen King. I’m not a horror reader, but the Dark Tower series took up a significant portion of my life when I discovered it. His son Jim Lee, also wrote this amazing book called Horns, which is a favourite of mine. This question has really made me wish I had more time to read!
Where can we learn more about you?
Learn more about me/books-You can find me at www.andrewclaydonauthor.com, where you can coincidentally, get a free prequel novella by signing up to my newsletter.I’m also on social media. You can find me on Instagram and TikTok under @authorandyc and on Facebook under AndrewClaydonAuthor.I’m also on Goodreads here: Andrew James Claydon (Author of The Simple Delivery) | Goodreads, and my books are available at all great retailers.