Interview: H David Blalock

Today as part of his blog tour to promote his new book I am honoured to have H. David Blalock over for a chat.

Hi David, how are things with you?

Doing well, thanks. Busy, as usual, with writing projects.
Would you mind giving the readers a little bit of background info on yourself?
Sure. I’m a retired air traffic controller who enjoys writing fantastic stories for fun and profit. My kids are grown and have kids of their own. I’ve been married nearly 40 years to a wonderful, loving, and understanding woman who doesn’t mind I’m a half-bubble off plumb.
You describe yourself as a speculative fiction writer, what exactly do you mean by this?
That I write speculative fiction (smile). Speculative fiction is a term that encompasses things like horror, science fiction, fantasy… pretty much anything not considered mainstream fiction. It is the kind of fiction normal people would hide in their closets to read.
Can you remember what first motivated you to start writing, and has your motivation changed over the years?
I started reading science fiction at a very young age and became inspired to spin yarns like those I enjoyed so much. Over the years I have gone from just wanting to tell a story to wanting to tell a story that evokes emotion, good or bad, from the reader.
How would you describe your writing style?
Very sparse. I depend heavily on dialog and not so much on narrative. I try to allow the reader to fill in the details to help draw them into the story and also give me the chance to spring a surprise or two on them when they’ve made their assumptions.
And what aspects of your writing do you think are the strongest and what do you think are the weakest aspects of your writing?
My strongest I believe is the ability to translate information in dialog. My weakest, and the one most of my critiques harp on, is in-depth character development. The current trend in fantasy is to spend an immense amount of time developing secondary and even tertiary characters. This is in imitation of Tolkien, I believe. I prefer to concentrate on the primary protagonist and antagonist. This seems to be unforgivable in the eyes of most critics today.

How much research do you do? And have you ever had any nasty letters saying your research is flawed?
I research a subject thoroughly before incorporating it into my work. I believe that writers owe their audience the courtesy of making sure any statements made in the work are true at least inasmuch as they pertain to the real world. I have very little personal feedback on my work beyond reviews, and none of them have ever complained about my research. Most complain about my timelines in my fantasy work or the lack of character development, but as to research, nothing.
Who would you say have been the biggest influences on your writing, and how?
The speculative fiction writers of the early and middle 20thcentury were the biggest influences on my writing. I understand that there is a resurgence in interest in their work, now calling it the New Pulp Movement. I am delighted this generation is rediscovering those great stories.
What would be your desert island book?

Probably something to build a boat or raft to get off it and back to civilization.

You signed with Seventh Star Press for the publication of Angelkiller, what made you decide to publish through Seventh Star Press?
I was impressed with the energy and involvement SSP had with their writers. I met Stephen Zimmer several years ago and was amazed at his dedication to genre publication. I figured SSP would be the best vehicle to get the Angelkiller books in front of a wide audience.
Can you tell us what the book is about?
With your permission, I’ll just quote the blurb from the back cover:
Why do bad things happen to good people? Simple. In the ancient war between the Angels of Light and Darkness, the Dark won. Now it is the job of an undercover force simply known as The Army to rectify that.

Using every tool available, The Army has worked to liberate our world from The Enemy for thousands of years, slowly and painfully lifting Mankind out of the dark. On the front of the great Conflict are the Angelkillers, veterans of the
fight with centuries of experience.

Jonah Mason is an Angelkiller, and his cell is targeted as part of plot to unseat a very powerful Minion of The Enemy. Mason and his troop are drawn into a battle that stretches from real-time to virtual reality and back. The Conflict is about to expand into cyberspace, and if Mason is unable to stop it, The Enemy will have gained dominion over yet another realm.

What was the genesis of the story?
I have always wondered why we still have war and hunger and so forth if there is a God. It just seemed to me that the simplest answer was that there was a war going on between the forces of good and evil and we were caught in the middle. The real question then was, who were the “good” and who were the “evil” and what exactly did that mean? Ergo, Angelkiller.
Is there a message in Angelkiller?
I believe so. It is that there is still hope and we can look forward to a better world in the future because the forces of the Light will never give us up to the Darkness.
This blog tour has been set up to promote the sequel to Angelkiller,which is called Traitor Angel. How does this book follow on from Angelkiller?
Traitor Angel picks up where Angelkillerleft off, continuing the story of the Greater Conflict between The Army and The Enemy.
The book have a similar tone, or have you tried to give a fresh spin on your own world?
It is in the same tone, just further broadening it into the virtual world a little. I tried to delve a bit more into the characters, to humanize them a bit more in preparation to the finale in the third book.
How easy was it to return to this world and its characters?
I had no problem returning because I really never left it. The books flow into one another in my mind and the manuscripts for all three were pretty much done at once. It was simply a matter of filling in the details to better define the characters and the final chapters.
How have the characters developed?
Just about as I expected. When I write, I want the characters to fall in line with the plot. I don’t allow myself leeway with their development because that would take the plot away from the original intent of the work and that would defeat the purpose of the project.
Can you tell us what happens in this book?

Again, with your permission, the back cover copy:
The war between The Army of Light and The Enemy continues behind the scenes. Unknown to the general population, the battle for control of humanity is heating up.

Jonah Mason, called Angelkiller, faces more than one decision. His Army resistance cell is wounded physically and emotionally, on the brink of falling apart. The mysterious allies calling themselves Knights are pressuring him to abandon his people. Meanwhile, the world outside draws closer to Armageddon.

As Mason and his friends pursue their campaign against Dorian Azrael’s global megacorporation, Andlat Enterprises, the stakes get higher with each desperate foray into the enemy’s computers. They are fated to lose one of their number and gain an unlikely ally, but any advantage they gain could be fleeting at best.

If they fail, it could mean the end of The Army and all resistance to the forces of Darkness.

Can the readers jump into this book without reading the previous book?
I hope so. There is a prologue that should bring any reader up to date with events detailed in the first book. I don’t believe it fair to penalize someone who comes into a series late, so I try to make all my work stand-alone.
How well has it been received?
So far the reviews for this book have been better than the first, which is interesting. I suppose it has to do with the deeper character development.
Can you tell us about any future projects you have in the pipeline?
There is, of course, the third book in the series, titled Doom Angel. I have a novel for another publisher in the works and several short stories for a number of publishers, some ready to appear, others still in the notebooks.
Thank you for stopping by, do you have any final words for the readers?
Thank you for the chance to connect with your readers. I welcome any and all comments about my work. You can contact me through my publishers or directly at specficwriter(at)hughes(dot)net. I invite everyone to visit my website at www.thrankeep.com to find links and information on my past work and to follow my blog at hdavidblalock.blogspot.com for the latest news.
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