Kath here. Today’s guest is Geoffrey Wilson. He writes alternate history blended with historical fantasy. His first novel, LAND OF HOPE AND GLORY, set in an alternative world of Victorian England where magic rules . . .
It is 1852 and the Indian empire of Rajthana has ruled Europe for more than 100 years. With their vast armies, steam-and-sorcery technology, and mastery of the mysterious power of sattva, the Rajthanans appear invincible—but a bloody rebellion has broken out in a remote corner of the empire, in a poor and backward region known as England. At first Jack Casey, retired soldier, wants nothing to do with the uprising, but then he learns his daughter, Elizabeth, is due to be hanged for helping the rebels. The Rajthanans offer to spare her, but only if Jack hunts down and captures his best friend and former army comrade, who is now a rebel leader. Jack is torn between saving his daughter and protecting his friend, and he struggles just to stay alive as the rebellion pushes England into all-out war.
Sounds cool, right? Publishers Weekly described Land of Hope and Glory, as an “impressive debut” and a “breakneck-paced adventure”. A sequel, The Place of Dead Kings, releases in October 2012. Take it away, Geoff!
My name is Geoffrey Wilson and I’m a write-aholic.
That’s right, I’m addicted to writing fiction. My affliction has cost me jobs, friendships, relationships. It’s left me virtually penniless on several occasions. It’s made it impossible for me to live an ordinary life.
It started when I was young. I used to make up stories and write plays for me and my brother to perform. Then in my teens I progressed onto the harder stuff — short stories and a full-length novel. When I was twenty I received my first rejection from a publisher. Instead of taking this as a warning sign, I plunged headlong into a writing binge that lasted for several years. I churned out more novels, writing feverishly, desperate to be published.
I knew I had a problem. I even tried to go cold turkey for a few years. But I always found myself sneaking over to the computer and dashing off stories when no one was around. I wrote first drafts for two novels during the period when I was supposed to be completely clean.
Finally, I’d had enough. I was exhausted. I was unhappy. And I couldn’t carry on as I was . . .
Of course, I’m exaggerating. But not that much. Writing really has obsessed me for as long as I can remember. And I suspect many fellow writers will know exactly what I’m talking about.
Behavior is often classed as addictive if a person repeatedly engages in it despite negative consequences for their physical, mental or financial well-being. On that basis, writing has been a little like an addiction for me. While my family and friends have always been amazingly supportive, working long hours on projects has strained my personal relationships at times. As for my finances, the less said about them the better. I’ve also allowed writing to interrupt my career in the far more lucrative field of IT.
I don’t mean to make light of the terrible addictions that afflict many people. Of course my obsession with writing isn’t in the same league as an addiction to alcohol or gambling. But still, it has caused problems for me. I’ve often thought I would be happier if I didn’t have this burning desire to write fiction, to get my ideas, visions and stories down on paper and out into the world.
I suppose some might say what I’ve called “obsession” should more properly be termed “passion”. It certainly sounds better to say I’m passionate about writing, than obsessed with it. But where do you draw the line? At what point does passion become obsession? At what point do you have to say to yourself, this is too much, I’ve gone too far?
I don’t think there is a simple answer to this question. We all have to find our own ways to balance the different aspects of our lives. What is right for one person is obviously not going to work for someone else. Nevertheless, I think an awareness of the problem is important. We writers need to keep an eye on ourselves and know when to stop, take a break, go for a walk or concentrate on something else for a while. After all, writing isn’t everything, is it?
If your commitment to writing is causing problems in other areas of your life, then that is a problem. A problem you can’t ignore forever. And, in the long run, writing is much more difficult if the rest of your life is a mess.
Still, having said all this, I know that I have to write. I’m compelled to do it. How I handle that compulsion is up to me, but I really cannot imagine life without this strange and wonderful urge to create stories.
So, I’m a write-aholic, but I’m in recovery. I have my addiction under control. For the moment at least.
Thanks for guesting with us, Geoff. LAND OF HOPE AND GLORY is out now.
Image by ~azaliafallen.