Tuesday, October 28, 2014

AMONG THE STACKS: Gavin Hetherington

Abry:  Tell us a little about yourself.

Gavin:  I am a British self-published author, so I am just starting out in this business so half of the time I don't know what I'm doing.  It's hard to be your own agent and publisher.  Fortunately I love the writing side of things which helped a great deal.  I have a truly crazy imagination which I've had since I was a child.  I would always write silly little stories at school and home and I would never be seen without a book or a pen and notepad.  I don't know if I have stressed enough how much I am in love with Disney and Pixar.  That completely contradicts the genre I am writing in now as horror is far from princes and princesses, but I still cry at The Lion King so I'm a big softie.  I also cry at The Muppets Movie strangely.  And I just completed college and I am on my way to University next month and I am so excited.

Cordelia Windygale:  What are five things most people don't know about you?

Gavin:  I am so modest.  If a family member asks me about my book and tells me congratulations and things like that, I get shy and I don't actually like talking about it.  It's weird but I hate when I become the center of attention.  I get sad a lot.  The people in my life will never know it because I always smile and act like my normal self - when I get sad I don't tell anyone.  I have never had a boyfriend before, but I think that's mainly due to my independent nature.  I just don't think I'd make a good boyfriend.  I am too self-reliant.  I also doubt myself a lot.  I always think I'm not good enough or I'm doing something wrong, but I always try to keep a positive mind.  And last thing, I have an overbite.  I am currently wearing braces that I have had on for over a year and next stage is Orthognathic surgery.  Hopefully by the end of the year!

Abry:  What is the first book you remember reading?

Gavin:  I remember in primary school (I guess that's kindergarten in America?) when I was about 4 or 5 years old, there was a book in the classroom called "We're Going on a Bear Hunt."  It was pretty scary as a child, but I remember enjoying it and thinking it was exciting.  The first proper book I ever read was one of the Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine.  He ended up having a big influence on the direction of my writing.

Cordelia Windygale:  What are you reading now?

Gavin:  I am currently reading a few books.  I always end up reading a few books at once because one day I might be in the mood for something scary, but a different day I will fancy something with witches and wizards.  Currently, I am reading Divergent by Veronica Roth, Rivers by Ben Aaronovitch and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.

Abry:  What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Gavin:  My love for Harry Potter made me want to write.  I will always credit J.K. Rowling as the person who inspired me to pursue a career in writing.  I always loved reading fantasy so tires and I thought it was incredible how authors could transport me to new worlds with just their words.  It fascinated me and I admired every author I ever read.  I knew I wanted to be a part of that, and something about writing down my stories from my mind to paper has a really amazing effect on me.  I can't describe it.

Cordelia Windygale:  Do you have a special place you like to write?

Gavin:  Not really.  I have a desk in my bedroom which I usually sit at to write.  I have only ever been able to write in the house and nowhere else.  I am so easily distracted and it still doesn't help that it's hard to concentrate in this house too as I live with my mother and younger brother, and my younger brother is one of the biggest distractions ever.  He's only two years younger than me, but you would think he was a decade younger.  I am going to try and hunt for a new place to write, maybe when I get a better laptop that will be easier to transport.  I have always wanted to write in a coffee shop.

Abry:  Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Gavin:  I  usually celebrate completing a chapter with some very loud music and dancing.  I also allow myself to have chocolate or some other fancy treat.  I'm not exactly strict on myself when it comes to writing, which I should probably be as I set myself deadlines and nine times out of ten I'll miss it.  But I just let myself write when the mood comes.  I do plan every chapter in advance of writing it so I know what I should be writing about.  A lot of the time I let the story flow as I write, but it's nice to know what direction I'm heading in.  I love planning and brainstorming ideas.  To me, that's probably more fun than writing.

Cordelia Windygale:  Where do the ideas for your books come from?

Gavin:  For my particular series - Abyssal Sanctuary - a lot of the ideas come from nightmares I have had or little bits of inspiration from different horror stories.  My first book was basically a homage to the horror genre, so now, as I write my second one, it's becoming its own series, so I am just letting the story flow organically without forcing it.  I allow my characters to make their own decisions and I try and abide by what hey would do in whatever situation I put them in.

Abry:  What books have most inspired you?

Gavin:  I am usually inspired by a lot of different things - books, films, television shows, real-life events - that I can't exactly pinpoint the main inspiration, but books are the main source.  I have read a lot, though maybe not as much as other people as I have been slacking over the years, but I guess the books that have inspired me the most are definitely the Harry Potter series and Goosebumps.  It would explain why my book series is a mixture of fantasy and horror, though my books are more adult horror than Goosebumps.

Cordelia Windygale:  Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Gavin:  Sometimes I can picture something so vividly in my head, but when I want to write it down, I can't seem to use the right words or paint the same kind of picture.  The hardest part has to be transferring the right words to the page.  I feel like I am improving with that though, but it's still hard.  Also, trying to find the time.  When you work a part-time job and then you have a house full of loud people, or more specifically a loud brother, then rioting becomes a bit of a chore to find time for.  It's even worse when I am trying to feel in-the-mood for writing among all that.

Abry:  What do you think makes a good story?

Gavin:  To me, a good story is all about good characterization.  I cannot read a story if the characters in it are dull and unreadable.  The plot could be fantastic and exciting, but if the character cannot balance the plot and provide readers with someone to rely on to take us on this adventure, then the story just falls apart.  I wouldn't read a book where I haven't liked the main character.  The main character acts as the reader's avatar - if I wouldn't want to be in their skin, looking at the world through their eyes, then I don't want to read the story.

Cordelia Windygale:  Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Gavin:  I have a main character in Abyssal Sanctuary called Justin Rutherford who I basically modeled after myself.  He isn't completely me - in fact, he's so much better - but I gave him a lot of my traits and personality.  He's also homosexual, which I think is important to have a lead gay character in a story like this.  I can't remember ever reading a horror story with a lead gay character.  I have four other main characters too, and they all take a little something from me, but Justin is definitely the most like me.  I also made him do little things that I have done before, like spray air freshener on myself because I ran out of deodorant.

Abry:  Why did you pick this particular genre?

Gavin:  Horror was the last genre I wanted to pick to be honest.  While I love Goosebumps, that's more for kids so it's not truly horror.  When I was little, horror movies used to keep me up at night crying.  Jaws gave me nightmares for months.  More bizarre though was that Scary Movie made me cry too; even though it's a parody of horror films, it still frightened me.  As I got older, I started to love reading horror and watching it too.  There's something about making your heart stop in suspense and the whole uncertainty of hat is going to happen next, but you know it's life or death.  Like being on a roller coaster.  Excitement is something I look for personally in a book and horror typically comes packaged with excitement.

Cordelia Windygale:  What makes your book different from others out there in this genre?

Gavin:  My book deals with ongoing story lines that weave to and from between different characters. The layout and design of the book is definitely unique in the horror genre.  I have a Prologue that sets up the story of the book with a devastating event.  I then split the book into six sections, the first five sections dedicated to one of the main characters.  Each section has six chapters each as the character plays through their story lines and ends at another event that will have all five main characters come together for the final section.  The Epilogue has three chapters that build up to the climax.  I really enjoy writing the story like this as I can have certain scenes viewed from two different sides and the reader will develop a bigger picture of the story once they read one section and go onto the next.  Things make more sense as the story develops, but a lot doesn't at the same time as not everything is revealed in the first book.  It can be a pretty amazing, but frustrating structure at times, and that's what I love about it.

Fluta:  What is your most unusual talent?

Gavin:  Oh wow, I really don't think I have any besides writing, and that's hardly unusual.  I can remember some very significant details about something, like dates.  Such as, if somebody were to ask the date I bought High School Musical on DVD, I would tell them the 9th of December 2006.  See how unimportant that is?  Nobody would ever ask me that, but it's something unusual.

Abry:  What can we expect from you in the future?

Gavin:  Fortunately my book has taken off so the future is looking pretty bright.  My book, Remnants of the Damned, is a finalist for four awards, two of them at the Readers' Favorite Book Awards.  I will be attending the awards ceremony in Miami in November, so that is so exciting.  I am currently working on the sequel to Remnants of the Damned, which will be out 6 October 2015, hopefully.  I have my heart set on it so I am going to try and make sure everything is ready for then.  I currently have some other book ideas floating around in my head for standalone books and other book series too.  While Abyssal Sanctuary is also fantasy, I have an idea for a fantasy series that will be nothing like it.  I am going to be starting University next month too so my knowledge on how to write and all things literature will improve, so I am hoping the quality of my books will improve too, and I will go back and make sure the first book (and the coming second book) is perfect.

Cordelia Windygale:  Where can we find you?

About the author:
Gavin Hetherington, born 7 May 1992, currently resides in the town of Gateshead in the United Kingdom.  A literature fanatic of fantasy, Gavin began writing stories when he was young, mainly about witches and the supernatural.
            In 2006, Gavin's short story, titled "Vanquished," won a nationwide competition to be included in a children's anthology of short stories.  The book, Telling T.A.L.E.S.: Adventure into Fiction, Volume 1, was published on 30 November 2006.
            Gavin is Gay and has never had a boyfriend, which he is grateful for as he wants his first boyfriend to be "the one."  Call it fictional, but it's true.  Gavin loves film an scripted American television shows.  His favorite films include the Harry Potter series, The Wizard of Oz, The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, Titanic and more.  Almost every Disney animated classic and Pixar film, Gavin loves.  His favorite television shows include Charmed, Desperate Housewives, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Grey's Anatomy, True Blood, The Walking Dead and many more.
            While writing, Gavin also has a part-time job at Greggs the Bakers in Gateshead.  Gavin attended Gateshead College from 2008 to 2009 before dropping out after feeling lost during a course change in the second year.  Gavin returned to learning in September 2013 when he enrolled at Newcastle City Learning and will attend University in Fall 2014.

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