I’m excited to host Rob Stoakes on my blog today! He’s the author of “Mother and Monster”, a new science fiction novel.
Thanks for being my guest today, Rob!
The pleasure’s all mine.
Leigh: Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Rob, a writer, producer, film critic and Yorkshire’s foremost nerd. I would describe myself as a writer before anything else, given that I’ve wanted to do little else since before I can remember. I’ve tried my hands at scripts, video games, articles, all sorts, but books are my first love and the most fun thing to write for me. I’ve had a couple of short stories published before Mother and Monster, and outside of the realm of books I also host the Battleship Potemkast, a (mostly) weekly podcast about films, comedy and just about anything else that catches our interest.
Leigh: What were some of your favorite books growing up? How much influence did they have on your writing?
I’ve always been a huge fan of the sci-fi and comedy genres, especially Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegurt and Terry Pratchett. More serious sci-fi I like to dig into are the pulp style pre-50’s sci-fi and modern throwbacks to those days. For Mother and Monster, though, the biggest influences actually came from the fantasy and action genres. I took the action and pace from the James Bond series and the writings of Corinne Melville and combined it with the world building of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast series.
Leigh: What’s the most challenging thing about writing from the perspective of a main character of the opposite gender?
It’s easier than you’d think, but still pretty difficult. It’s just about knowing the character inside and out. The hard part was not going too far either way and making a wilting delicate flower or John McClane in a dress, which is the two extremes I see the most. Samantha’s a rough-and-tumble grizzled fighter but her feminine side is still very important, which is was what I wanted to capture with her.
Leigh: What was the most difficult scene to write in this book?
Without spoiling the plot, there were about nine completely different endings until I finally made one I was happy with. The chapters on Earth went through a lot of changes as well.
Leigh: Do you have a set time to write? How long did it take to write “Mother and Monster”?
Depending on your perspective, either two months or six years. It was in a very different form for most of the time I’ve been writing it and was a project I abandoned and restarted a few times. The current form it is in took shape after I had written it almost line by line over two months at the beginning of 2016. Part of the reason was that I didn’t make much of a routine when I write; I now dedicate specific times in the week that I write and it has increased my output a lot.
Leigh: What are you working on currently? Can you tell us anything about it?
At the moment there are three projects I’m working on, a prospective sequel to Mother and Monster and two unrelated fantasy comedies. It really depends on what I finish first at this point. I don’t want to tease too much, but what the universe has in store for Samantha might be her toughest challenge yet.
Leigh: What draws you to the science fiction genre?
The science fiction genre is so broad and so versatile that you can tell pretty much any story you want. You have sci-fi that escapes from the real world, sci-fi that reflects our world, sci-fi that looks at where we’re going, sci-fi that is a metaphor for our past. You can be dark, child-like, introspective, silly, sad and everything in-between.
Leigh: Who edited your book and how did you select them?
I did a lot of editing myself, which is part of why it took so long to write. The publisher, Akasha Publishing, were also a big part in the editing process. I’m already very critical of my own writing, so editing comes quite naturally.
Leigh: What advice would you give new writers?
Don’t give up. Some people say success is down to luck and they’re wrong. Luck’s a big part of it, but you only get lucky if you keep trying, and if you keep trying you will be lucky. It’s difficult, and probably crazy, but you only fail when you give up.
For more practical advice, make writing part of your routine. The only way you get better at writing is by writing, and it’s easy to get into a habit of not writing. Even if you only do ten minutes a day, you’ll write more and, more importantly, better than if you write non-stop for a month then take the rest of the year out.
Leigh: What’s your favorite movie and why?
It’s difficult to narrow it to a top five, let alone one (though don’t be too surprised that Aliens is in there) but the film I keep coming back to is The Lion King. The sheer scale of it is what cinema should be all about, with big characters, big emotions and big visuals.
Leigh: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Amazon Author Page: Rob Stoakes on Amazon
USA – Mother and Monster (USA)
Japan – Mother and Monster (Japan)
Thank you very much, Rob, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
And thank you for having me.