Interview with Tom Stacey, author of 'Exile'

Tom Stacey is an English author of the fantasy novel, Exile. Tom was born in Essex, England, and has lived there his whole life. He began writing at school, often taking responsibility for penning the class plays, or writing sketches with his friends. While attending university to read history, Tom developed his writing by creating several short stories, some of which would later become to basis for his debut novel, Exile.

Tom self-published Exile in summer 2014 and is currently working on the sequel as well as another unrelated novel. He earns a living as a video producer in London in the day and writes at night, a bit like a really underwhelming superhero.
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About the Book:

On the fringes of the Verian Empire, two small boys stumble upon a strange altar, buried in the heart of a mountain. There they awaken a horror unseen for generations, that will descend upon the realm of men while it is at its weakest. For Veria is a nation at war with itself, only recently recovered from a bloody rebellion, and the time of heroes has passed. The empire is in a state of chaos, and while its ruler, the Empron Illis, rids the land of his remaining enemies, unseen forces are gathering at the borders. However all eyes are turned inwards. The Empron is not a well man, and there are whispers among the common folk that his advisors are spies; demons that only wear the flesh of men.

Yet there is hope...

In the distant mountains, a forester who has buried his past learns that he has not been forgotten, and that his crimes have sought him out at last. But he is no simple woodsman. He is Beccorban the Helhammer, Scourge, Burner and the Death of Nations, and his fury is a terrible thing.

For when all the heroes are gone, Veria will turn to those it has forgotten, before all is lost.

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Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I was writing short stories while I was at university, largely for my own amusement, and I realized that some of them could fit in the same world. I toyed with placing them next to each other and then the story started to fall into place. Exile was a story that grew in the telling in a manner of speaking. E. L. Doctorow said that writing is like driving at night in fog. You know where you’re heading but can only see as far as the headlights will allow, and that’s very much how my process went with Exile.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

It was difficult on a number of levels. Trying to craft a story that can hold people over more than a hundred-thousand words is a huge task and can be very daunting at times. Any writer will know how scary a blank page can look, but once you get going, you realize it’s not so bad. I like the process of writing; I like how words drop into your mind before they flow onto the page. It’s very therapeutic. I did have moments of panic: I discarded and re-wrote the last third at one point, but know now that it was the right decision. To any other writers I would stress the importance of planning. It’s all very romantic to believe you can do what Tolkien did and sit down at a desk and write a masterpiece organically, but it’s not going to happen. Tolkien was the kind of man that would write thousands of words and then decide there was something he did not like and start again. Plan what happens, whether it revolves around a key scene or even a sentence and then work outwards. You are a spider spinning a web and you have to know where your anchor points are before you start building it. However, don’t be afraid to deviate if you must. The plan is a guideline but it is not the final thing, so if your intuition leads you elsewhere, follow it. You can always change it later.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I am self-published. I had several encouraging but ultimately unsuccessful responses from literary agents, so I chose to publish through Amazon’s KDP and then FeedaRead for the paperback copies. At this stage, I just want people to read my book. I want to make it as available as I can.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

People’s responses have surprised me the most. I wasn’t expecting the kind words I’ve had or the support I’ve received from absolute strangers. It’s really quite amazing what a community of readers and writers there is online. Self-publishing is a lot of work but I feel it’s worth it. I’ve learned a lot, that’s for sure.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I am currently working on the sequel to Exile (title pending) and an unrelated thriller novel tentatively called Flotsam. I tend to flit between the two at the moment, so I couldn’t say when they’d be finished — sometime in the next year or so, hopefully.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I am a keen redditor and am often on r/selfpublish. I am also on Goodreads. It’s a site I only learned about once I had published Exile but I would recommend it to anybody wanting to speak to their readers and build a network.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

I don’t think I’m really trying to get a message across. I don’t believe you can sit down and write a decent story while actively thinking about themes and the like. That’s construction, not creation. Rather, I just wanted to tell a good story, something that makes people think and feel and want to read on. Any kind of message would be very subjective anyway. I’ve read books that meant a lot to me, but they might mean nothing to someone else. If people pick things up from my story then that’s great, but it’s not anything I have actively thought about.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

I would like to thank you right back for having me. I hope you enjoy Exile!

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