I recently had the opportunity to interview Francis Powell author of ‘Flight of Destiny.’
I was born in a “dormitory town” called Reading, not famous for much, apart from a huge Rock festival, and for the fact that Oscar Wilde was sent to prison there and wrote “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”. My family then moved to a farm in the country, in Sussex, not too far from London. I was sent aged eight, to a boarding school, so I would spend long periods away from my family. Imagine having regular prison sentences, imposed upon you, as a child. At some of the schools I attended, there were psychotic teachers and cruel nasty children. I used to count the days when I could be reunited with my family. I became a recluse in the art room and painting was my salvation. I had a teacher who encouraged me to paint and introduced me to various artists, including Kandinsky. I went from austere harsh boarding schools to Art College, a very different environment.
What bought you to the world of writing?
I moved to a remote village in Austria. It was not far from Vienna, but a very oppressive and strange environment. I thought I should try writing a book. I launched into it…nothing came of it. I do many creative activities, painting as well as writing music. Writing lay dormant, put to one side. Then later, living in Paris at this point in time, via an advert, I made contact with a man called Alan Clark, who had a literary magazine called “Rat Mort” (dead rat). I submitted four short stories for this magazine, encouraged by Alan, I began to write more and more short stories, and developed a style…I guess if I compare these stories to earlier efforts at writing…there has been a huge development…I am sure my early attempts were imaginative but raw.
What is your first book and what do you think of it now?
My first published book called ‘Flight of Destiny’ is a collection of short stories about misfortune. They are characterized by unexpected final twists that come at the end of each tale. They are dark and surreal tales, set around the world, at different time periods. They show a world in which anything can happen. It is hard to determine reality and what is going on a disturbed mind. People’s conceptions about morality are turned upside down. A good person can be transformed by an unexpected event into a bad person and then back again to their former state. The high and mighty often deliver flawed arguments, those considered wicked make good representations of themselves. Revenge is often a subject explored.
What type of books do you write and do they fulfill your reader’s needs?
I write short stories. They are dark and surreal. They usually have an unexpected twist at the end. If the reader is enthralled enough to want to get to the end of the story and is entertained by the story, then the story has worked. I see my readers as being the types who stuck away in dingy bedsits, who never go out, not even open the curtains in the morning. I write about outsiders, freaks, odd balls, people rejected by society. Maybe there are a few readers that fit this description…out there…
Would you like to feature a book, if so which one? Tell us about it?
I would more like to feature one of my short stories. It is called ‘Bugeyes.’ We live in a world of body image stereo types, are perpetuated by the media. Those unfortunate beings, born with abnormalities, could face a lifetime of cruel jokes, and in this story’s case rejection. Bug-eyes is rejected moments after being born, due to his overly large eyes. He is born into an aristocratically inbred family. Shunned by his own family he brought up by the family’s gamekeeper. As I said before I am championing the outsiders of this world.
How long does it take you to write your first draft?
This is hard, no impossible to answer. Each story could be different.
Do you plot or not, if so why?
Not really. I have a rough idea for a story. The story then swirls around in my head…I can be anywhere…I really live with my stories for a while…moving them on…working out which direction they are going. Sometimes a whole story can be inspired by the name of a character ‘Bug-eyes.’ The first sentence is crucial to me, for example my story ‘Bug-eyes’ begins with… Bug-eyes was due a life of toil. Seed begins with Captain Spender’s wife was ovulating. ‘Cast from Hell’ begins with There it was: I was to be banished from hell. It is important I start my stories powerfully, but also end them strongly, as I said they usually have an unexpected twist. .
Do you write in 1st or 3rd person, or have you do both?
I like to do both. When I first tried writing in the 1st person, it was a challenge for me, now it comes naturally. For my story ‘Cast from Hell,’ it seemed logical to write in the 1st person.
How do you edit your work? Do you leave your draft alone for a while or edit as you write?
I worked with two editors…for my book ‘Flight of Destiny;’ it was hard…I am from the UK, I live in France, my publishing company is American. My book is very British in character, there are a few stories influenced by my time in Paris. My stories are precious to me, I did not want to lose any subtle nuances.
What type of people/readers do you market your books to?
As I said before, I am championing the hard pressed. I don’t consider myself to be a horror writer. It is true some of my stories are very dark, but I like think they also contain elements of wit and wisdom.
Do you self-publish or have you worked with an Agent/Publisher
My book is published by Savant Books & Publications LLC; First edition (April 7, 2015)… in softback format. I have not worked with an agent. I would not mind somebody with experience to guide me.
How do you promote your writing?
I am in an ongoing promotion process. I am on facebook, I use Twitter, I trawl many websites, looking for author interviews or spotlights. I do author guest spots. I have a book trailer, that I post regularly on many sites.
It is all very frenzied.
Where can we buy your books?
Who are your favourite authors?
I love the work of Rupert Thomson, who wrote ‘Dreams of Leaving,’ as well as other books. I met him when I was a new student at Art College and he and his writing has made a long lasting impression on me. I also read a book by Roald Dahl, many years ago called ‘Kiss Kiss,’ and I think this book has stayed long in my mind, and had a direct influence on Flight of Destiny, in terms of the fact that I always aim to put a twist at the end of each story, in the same way Roald Dahl does, with his short stories.
Do you have any more information you’d like to share with us?
I am a musician, video and film maker. Any authors who would like to do a short 3 minute promotion, would be welcome to add something on my youtube channel.
I also do an author to author interview exchange…writers interested just have to download the questions and send them back.
Thank you very much for taking time out for this Interview. Best wishes for your book and continued success of your writing.