This will always be a significant date for me. It was the date when I could finally call myself a novelist. Before I was simply a writer but unleashing a novel into the world meant that I could upgrade my credentials to full-blown novelist, like a Pikachu evolving into a Raichu.
In the three years since, I have published a second novel and a short story collection, whilst also collaborating on another novel. I have signed books, given lectures and blogged aplenty. I have also learnt to live with the constant guilt that I should always be writing. Always.
Anyway, I thought I would celebrate The Sheriff’s 3rd birthday with a self-inflicted interview.
What is The Sheriff? The first novel in my Nephos fantasy series, in which magical creatures live in secret on top of the clouds.
Is it part of a trilogy? No, my Nephos series is modelled on Pratchett’s Discworld. The books share a world but ultimately each instalment is a self-contained adventure. I have written two so far.
When was the novel written? The first draft was written in November 2014 as part of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, in which writers set themselves the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days.
What is a Sheriff? One of twelve protectors who police the clouds and ensure the magical creatures are behaving themselves. The Sheriffs appear in all shapes and sizes. The Sheriff in my first novel is Denebola, a cross between Aslan and Jaime Lannister, with the voice of Laurence Fishburne!
What happens in The Sheriff? Sheriff Denebola is recruited by young Toby to rid his village of a demon. There, Denebola encounters a winged man claiming to be an angel, a zealous priest prejudiced against magic and stories about a Red Witch who visited the village five years earlier.
Is it a children’s story? Probably. It’s definitely fantasy. And it’s suitable for children – no swearing, no sex, a heroic child and a talking animal. But you can decide for yourself whether it’s a children’s story, a young adult story or straight-up Fantasy 101. I’m not sure myself.
Would I enjoy The Sheriff? If you like Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials then you will enjoy The Sheriff. HDM are my favourite books of all time, so Pullman’s influence was inevitable and easy to see.
Who designed the front cover? The cover was created by illustrator Matt Miles based on an extremely rough sketch and a printout of the Mufasa cloud from The Lion King!
Which is your favourite part? I love the twists, which come thick and fast towards the end. I also love when the narrative switches to the demon’s perspective. It is an unexpected curveball which hopefully makes the reader sit up and pay attention. Gak!
Which is your least favourite part? I always felt uneasy about the negative comments towards Christianity featured in the novel. The hero despises Christianity and the villains wear their crosses with pride. Hopefully the end claws back some of that negativity to create more of a balance.
How many copies have you sold? Always the most popular question and the hardest to answer! I reckon 50 copies is a fair assessment, although I have given away lots of freebies. Reviews on Amazon are better currency than money for an emerging novelist. I currently have 35 reviews.
What is your favourite review of The Sheriff? One of my writing heroes is Agatha Christie, so I love this review left on Amazon: “This is a detective story worthy of Agatha Christie: the story is liberally sprinkled with clues, but Denebola alone has the smarts to piece them all together. The tale races along at breakneck speed, with plenty of page-turning action. Best of all, the very last sentence is a cracker. Fairbanks is a master of the killer ending.”