Hi, James. Thanks for being my guest today here at my blog. Tell us about yourself and your work:
I think I've wanted to do something creative since I was a teenager. But I've tried several different things, such as music and film making, before I finally settled on writing. To be honest, if it turned out that I was actually better at, say, painting than writing, I think I'd be happy to change. So in a sense I still haven't decided.
'The New Death and others' is a collection of stories and poems, 63 pieces in all. It's only a bit over 41,000 words in total, so most of them are quite short. Most of the stories are fantasy, but there's some 'general fiction' in there as well. The style ranges from funny to very grim.
My main influences are JRR Tolkien and Jack Vance for the elaborate dialogue. Robert E Howard for the general atmosphere. Terry Pratchett for the humour. and Lord Dunsany for the use of Fame, Time and so on as characters.
Most of my stories are set in a made-up world (and the world isn't intended to be based on medieval Europe or any particular period of history). So I don't need to do research. However I do do a kind of research, in that I write down interesting things from history or fiction that I find, usually on wikipedia. For example, these are curses from the front of two medieval books, that I intend to use one day:
If anyone take away this book, let them die the death; let them be fried in a pan; let the falling sickness and fever seize them; let them be broken on the wheel, and hanged.
Should anyone by craft of any device whatever abstract this book from its owner may their soul suffer, in retribution for what they have done, and may their name be erased from the book of the living and not recorded among the Blessed.
Here's an excerpt (it's the first story):
THE GOD OF THE POOR
In the beginning of the world the gods considered all those things which did not have their own gods, to decide who would have responsibility and rulership.
"I will rule all flowers that are sky-blue in colour," said the Sky-Father.
"I will listen to the prayers of migratory birds, and you all other birds," the goddess Travel said to him. And so it went.
At last all had been divided, save for one thing.
"Who," asked the Sky-Father, "shall have dominion over the poor?"
There was an awkward silence, until the Sky-Father said,
"Come - someone must. Those with no gods will grow restless and cunning, and in time will cast us down, and we shall be gods no more."
"Not I," said blind Justice, and her stony face flashed a momentary smirk at the thought. "Why not Fame or Fortune?"
"Darling I _don't_ think so," said the sister goddesses together.
There was a long pause. The gods shuffled their feet and avoided one another's gaze. At last a voice broke the silence.
"I will," said Death.
here's the blurb:
Death gets a roommate...
An electronic Pope faces a difficult theological question...
A wicked vizier makes a terrible bargain...
44 stories. 19 poems. No sparkly vampires. There's a thin line between genius and insanity, and James Hutchings has just crossed it - but from which direction?
Barnes & Noble: