I can’t believe this is my third author interview. How insane is that Every moment doing this series has been incredible, and I thank those who have been reading, and patiently waiting, for the next one. Not to mention the fantastic authors who have volunteered their time to be interviewed. I apologise for the delay in posting this next post (work do you feel me?) Yet, I hope it’s worth the wait. Today, I interview R.F Blackstone, an author who has not only written books but has done the whole works. From movie scripts to short stories (which he says has been his favourite to work on) to the dreaded novel. From self-publishing to traditional publishing, this guy tells it all, and I am excited to share this with you all!
R.F Blackstone has been writing cosmic horror for fifteen years. In this interview, he tells me the pros and cons of writing different styles and about how criticism is construction, especially in terms of rejection.
Interview with R.F Blackstone, author of Big Smoke and author publications.
I: You’ve published numerous books? What are some of them about?
R: Flicker is about a detective who is hired to find a lost movie which has the power to turn anyone insane who watches it. Imagine Kaiju World as Jurassic Park, but with Kaiju’s instead. Big Smoke is about a guy who gets caught up in a zombie outbreak in Cuba, and the Book of Spite is a collection of short stories introducing the world to my own cosmic horror.
I: They sound fascinating, especially Kaiju World, as I’m a huge Jurassic Park fan.
R: Hahaha. Kaiju world wears it JP (Jurassic Park) references proudly on its sleeve.
I: Are all your book self-published or through a publisher? I think I remember seeing Kaiju world was traditionally published.
R: Yes. Both Kaiju World and Big Smoke are published through Severed Press, but the other two are self-published.
I: Between traditional publishing and self, which do it prefer?
R: I like both, to be honest. They both have their pros and cons. Publishing with Severed Press has been good because they handle a lot of the hard stuff, whereas self-publishing it’s all left to you and be overwhelming. But I love having the control self-publishing can give you.
I: That’s so amazing! Between all books, which has been your most favourite to work on?
R: Book of Spite has been my favourite to work for sure, just cutting loose with each story and pushing good taste. Right now, I am working on a new book for Severed Press to release Vol 2.
I: Already having a publisher, why did you decide to self-publish?
R: I decided to self-publish because I had stories to tell that I’m pretty sure a publisher would baulk at, plus I always had the plan to self-publish. Big Smoke is my first book, and having it published traditionally was like a foot in the door for me.
I: What is your writing process? Do you write every day or just when you feel like it?
R: My process changes from project to project, but usually how it goes is I’ll have the idea (usually a scene or title first), and I’ll outline. The way I outline is first I figure out a rough word count (and that is dictated by how lazy I feel), and from there I’ll do a 1- or 2-line summary for each chapter. Then I’ll bust my ass getting it written. I aim for at least 2,000 words a day, and I try to write every single day. But life gets on the way, and my second book taught me to write when I can. Once the first draft is written, I’ll put it through Pro-Writing Aid and then send it off to beta readers.
I: 2000 words a day wow, that’s amazing! Would you recommend all writers outline before they start? What are your thoughts on just someone diving into it? I feel like I do that often with maybe only a few ideas and the main plot?
R: Well, that’s what I aim for. There is an individual freedom for ‘pantsing’, and when I used to write movie scripts, I never planned it. But novels need at least some form of an outline, even if it is just a word count and chapter numbers. I’d say practice pantsing with short stories and see if you like it. Remember, George R. R. Martin never outlines, and it’s taken him how long to write GOT? Like anything with writing or life, it’s just practice and getting into the habit.
I: Oh, what movie scripts have you written? Anything that is out there? And yeah that’s true but look at it! It’s amazing. Have you read them? I’ve read the first one, but they’re just so big it’s stopping me from reading the rest. Do you like more massive novels or shorter ones?
R: Oh I wish those scripts had found life, but alas all are unproduced. I spent 10years trying to make it before turning to novels. Big Smoke has initially been a script that I decided should be a book. And after getting many a rejection, realised that it was missing something. Zombies! I’ve only watched the first four seasons of the show, and the books look intimidating. I like shorter novels that don’t overstay their welcome.
I: Hey, at least you wrote a whole script! That’s still a fantastic achievement even if it didn’t get produced, and the book is published so maybe it’s better off as a book. Some things are. Can I ask what it’s like getting rejected? I was just speaking to someone about rejection and how it can be disheartening for some writers. Did you feel like giving up on so many, or did it turn you into a better writer?
R: It totally does make sense. When I was writing movie scripts (for 10 years), I got thousands of rejections, and at first, it was quite discouraging. I almost gave up multiple times. But I’m a stubborn b****, so I kept at it and slowly it made me into a better writer. Each rejection letter I got made me go back and dissect the submission and I figured out why it had been rejected. And that’s the best way to look at it. Not as a personal thing but as a learning experience. Any form of criticism is constructive, especially when it’s a rejection.
I: That’s what every writer needs to learn isn’t it, that rejection is never personal – though it feels like it, but rather a way to make your work better.
R: Exactly! It took me a long time to figure that out but once I did, every rejection now still stings, but I just go through the submission and figure out why it was rejected in the first place
I: Which do you prefer writing? Scripts or books and is there any chance you’d go back to scriptwriting?
R: Honestly, I like writing both, there are pros and cons to them, and the fun thing about scripts is focusing more on the action. Whereas with books, I can go into detail and character motivations. That is a good question. Depends on the size of the paycheck! Part of the reason I switched to books is that I couldn’t handle the number of concessions I had to make. Writing books, I am in control.
I: Can’t forget that paycheck! I remember you saying you write short stories. You don’t see short stories that often. What is it like writing them compared to your other works? Do you feel they are more challenging, especially in terms of marketing?
R: Funny enough, Book of Spite has been my best seller. Each of the stories in it is about 10k words. And I enjoy writing at that length. Between 10 and 30k is my sweet spot because I feel like I’m not overstaying my welcome. And as far as marketing goes, I released them individually and then put them together. Just as a test. And from now on I’m not going the single release route, only the collection. They did sell okay, but the collection has been where the real money. Also, I don’t do much in the way of advertising. Just finding reviewers and that’s it.
I: Any advice for aspiring authors? Especially to those thinking about either traditional or self-publishing?
R: Advice for aspiring authors??? Mmmmmm. Probably this, if you want to be traditionally published, be ready for a long wait and lots of questions. If you’re going to self-publish get prepared to spend a bit and for the love of all things good, make sure you edit it!
I: Thank you for sharing this with me! It’s been wonderful learning about the different writing styles and publishing.
R: I’m always happy to help out whenever I can.
Blackstone is hoping to launch his next idea next year! You can check out all his works here https://www.amazon.com/R.F.-Blackstone/e/B07BT23L9Y/ or follow his socials.
@RF_Blackstone on Twitter
RFBlackstone on Instagram
Fore more information about the author visit his website at https://rfblackstone.wordpress.com/