Recently, I was given a great opportunity to interview a wonerful debut author, A. J. Thornton, whose new book, A Druid’s Tale, is bound to enchant fans of fantasy. With a boundless imagination and a knack for stellar storytelling, Thornton achieves great entertainment in his work. Read on to see what makes this author tick, and to find out more about his tales.
Tellest: Hi there A. J., thanks for taking the time to talk with me. I’ve been talking to a ton of writers over the last year, each of them juggling so many things and still finding time to write. What has this past year been like for you, and how has it affected your storytelling?
A. J. Thornton: I would just like to thank you for having the time to interview me. It’s been a difficult year for many. Most independent authors I know have jobs and have struggled to find time to write in the past and this year for me was no exception, but after lockdown was issued in the UK, it did give me enough time to finish the final draft and send it out for editing so last year had its ups and downs.
T: Do you think that the pandemic being here ramped up your ability to write as quickly as you did? If it wasn’t for being quarantined the way you were, do you think you would have still had A Druid’s Tale ready this year?
AJT: I believe I would have been able to finish my first book, I was still a key worker so work didn’t stop but my day offs were more silent then they usually are so I ended up writing less believe it or not although like most authors I went through writing maybe 200-300 words in one day to writing 2000-3000 on others.
T: It seems that a lot of your inspiration came from Celtic lore and mythology. What are some specific concepts you can point to as being responsible for your push into publishing your literature?
AJT: They all come mostly from my uncle who was immensely proud of his Irish heritage and he made me proud of it too, and we used to read the old tales of ancient Ireland together and have long discussions about them. Since he passed a couple of years ago, I feel writing this series will bring me closer to him but also the pagan influence from my father which again only inspired me to find out more about the Celtic Gods of Ireland.
T: Do you find inspiration for your characters in your uncle or your father, or anyone else you know?
AJT: I definitely have a character based on my uncle and I intend to do characters based on people I know but none of them will be main characters in the series, as much as I would love to I just feel stamping a character with a person inhibits my imagination and they become predictable and I don’t want that.
T: On your blog, you mention that the book that started you on losing yourself in other people’s worlds was Harry Potter. Let us imagine a situation where Harry Potter wasn’t the catalyst. Do you think you’d still be writing your stories?
AJT: Oh yes, definitely I did say Harry Potter was the start for me—as I suppose it was the many others—but with the great depictions of fiction that have been written I would have still craved the satisfaction of imagining these worlds form Darren Shan, Cristopher Paolini and of course J. R. R. Tolkien.
T: Without giving too much away, what do you think you bring to the world you’re creating that’s going to be game-changing or mind-blowing. What are you most excited for people to read about in your books?
AJT: I intend to bring a lot of action in the forthcoming books, the first was just a taster but because Celtic mythology is full of captivating stories and characters, I will be making easter eggs in the books to follow. In each book, readers will hopefully understand the world a bit more and love the growth of each character, new or old.
T: Your book leans on a magic system called Arts, where you talk about a cost being present for the magic that is cast. What led you to create it, and what are some of the cool things you can tell us about it ahead of your book’s release?
AJT: In most wiccan practices they use a three-fold rule where what you cast will return back to the caster at three times the amount, I suppose as a deterrent from others using it as a means of harm. I wanted to emphasize this in my system. I didn’t want any characters using them without any consequence, but I did make it possible to bargain what that cost would be but there is still a cost no matter the bargain.
T: If Arts were available to us in real life, what bargain would you be most likely to make?
AJT: To be honest I probably wouldn’t, it’s easy to say we can handle power but the cost itself should be enough to stop me from using it.
T: Do you prefer to play in worlds that are more traditional fantasies, or more contemporary?
AJT: I would definitely say traditional fantasies because with some contemporary fantasies you are still hindered by reality. I prefer reality be stripped away and for a moment the rules implied in this world don’t exist, making endless possibilities.
T: On your blog, you mention that you’ve had unfinished projects in the past. Now that A Druid’s Tale is on its way to be released, do you see yourself resurrecting any of the other projects? Or are you planning on sticking with the universe you create in A Druid’s Tale?
AJT: I did think about redoing some lost projects, but I’m so fascinated to where this story is heading that for the foreseeable future the universe of A Druids Tale will be my main focus.
T: Is there anything you feel comfortable telling readers about the inevitable sequel?
AJT: Stronger enemies, battles, and new creatures. I don’t want to give too much away but if you liked the first one you will love the second.
T: What do you think was the most challenging part of the writing process? Was it something related to the writing or storytelling itself? Or was it perhaps editing, formatting, getting together art for the cover or things of that nature?
AJT: Thanks to Fiverr, YouTube and other blog pages learning how to publish and find freelancers to do the editing and cover design was easy. The hardest part is marketing because I’ve become so focused in the world I’ve created, that following up with adverts and interviews is all very new to me but hopefully it’s something that I will be able to learn more about and get better at in the near future.
T: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about getting into storytelling with the ultimate goal of publishing?
AJT: Writing is the easiest part; it just depends on if you want self-publishing or traditional publishing. The hardest part is getting people to read your work and don’t be afraid to use places like Fiverr and YouTube for ideas and research. I would love to tell all authors that your book will make millions, but you have to be a realist and enjoy what you are doing if you don’t enjoy it your audience won’t.
T: What are you most looking forward to regarding your book and your further writing once this first book is finally on the market?
AJT: I am looking forward to writing the next one but I’m even more excited to hear from what others think of the story so far. I have enjoyed hearing for book reviewers so far whether its good or bad. I want to make this world enjoyable for everyone as it continues to grow, I hope I’ll be able to get people lost in this world.
T: Where can people find out more information about you and your books?
AJT: I have a blog and an Instagram I use for snippets about my book and upcoming information.
T: I want to thank A. J. Thornton once again for taking the time to tell us more about A Druid’s Tale and the other projects that he has been working on. We wish him luck on his storytelling journey. Thornton’s debut fantasy is A Druid’s Tale: The Rise of Balor, and it available on Amazon now. Go check it out!