Friday, 18 May 2012

Author Interview: Bill Blais

This is my second instalment in a series of posts for the Kelly and Umber series, which consists of an interview with the author Bill Blais. If you want to know what I am doing this series of posts please go back and check out my first post.

This is only the second author interview I have conducted, and the first one to go up on the blog (the other one will go up a bit later in the year). It is thus fair to say that the question that I asked were fairly bland, but I was really happy with the response I received, and I hope you will be too:


Rie: How long have you been writing?

Bill Blais: Well, the first story I wrote was during my sophomore year of high school English class, which would be, whoa, almost 25 years ago. I wrote more pieces during that year and the years that followed, submitting when I thought I had something worthwhile and receiving the requisite (and largely deserved) rejections. A few years after college, though, I hit a lull of several years. I continued to toy with writing, but I wasn't really serious and produced only a couple of complete pieces during that time.

All that changed in 2004. That year, as my 32nd birthday approached, I realized that I hadn't become the published author I had imagined I would be all those years earlier. Of course, the reason was simple enough: I wasn't writing. Not seriously.

So I challenged myself to write a complete novel -- beginning, middle and end. If I could finish that, then maybe I had a chance. If not, I would put that dream aside for good.

It took me a year to write the first draft of Witness and almost three more to revise it (13 times!), and it was an incredibly frustrating, exhilarating, painstaking process (my wife deserves a martyrdom for sticking with me through all that), but I did it. The very best part, though, wasn't finishing the book, but itching to start the next one. That was the moment that I truly felt I was doing what I should be doing.
Since then, I really haven't stopped.

Rie: Why did you first decide to start writing fantasy fiction?

Bill Blais: Oh, the genre was a given long before I even considered writing. My first books were Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Thomas Covenant, Dragonlance, et cetera. I wanted desperately to be swept away to these worlds. When I got older and started to consider writing, fantasy was a natural choice. I'm also a fan of science fiction, historical fiction, and mysteries, and I'm working in those directions, as well.

Rie: Who are your favorite authors?

Bill Blais: It comes down to good writing, and I tend to prefer time-tested authors, like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Patrick O'Brian, and Henryk Sienkiewicz.

Rie: What can readers expect from the Kelly & Umber series?

Bill Blais: My goal is to give readers something they haven't had from the genre to date. I don't lay any claim to true originality, but I try to avoid convention and pre-conceived expectations wherever I can.

Rie: Is the character of Kelly based on anyone you know?

Bill Blais: Yes and no. Like all the characters I write, I want to make her as realistic and honest as possible. For me, this means imbuing her with traits I am familiar with from my own experience and relationships, but it also means allowing her to use, change, or discard these traits as she sees fit in the development of her own unique character. I know that sounds a bit evasive, but it's true.

Rie: Are you writing anything at the moment, if so what?

Bill Blais: Time's been a little tight with the new baby girl, but I'm just finishing up the final (hopefully) revision of a science fiction short story I want to get out in the next couple weeks. I tried a different approach with this one and it was a fun ride, but I have trouble with short fiction, because they have to be, well, short, which is not my strong suit.

Rie: What will be your next book release?

Bill Blais: I expect to publish Another Night at the End of the World, a more traditional fantasy novel, this summer. After that, the third Kelly & Umber novel (currently titled The Road to Hell) is on schedule for this coming winter. Finally, the second in the All Prophets are Liars series (also outlined and prepped) should be ready for a summer 2013 release. There might also be a sci-fi novel slipped out in between sometime.

Because I'm obviously short of things to do.

I think you will agree that Bill is fantastic interviewee, and a big congratulations for the birth of his little girl, as well as some great little books.

You can read other (more creative) interviews with Bill as he has taken part in his book tour here:

  • The Land of Oz - Some great answers around how becoming a new Dad has affected Bill's writing.
  • Left and Write - Find out what Bill would bring save if the Zombie Apocalypse came upon us! 
  • Raine Thomas - Find out what the biggest compliment Bill has ever received about his books. 

You can find out more about Bill on his websiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads

The next post in this series with be a book review of the first book in the Kelly & Umber series, No Good Deed

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie x

Interview organised by the wonderful Annabell Cadiz at Illuminated tours.


  1. Rie, the questions were fine :) I know I'm still learning how all this works. In fact, I discovered a slight error in my math (spelling? yes. math? no.). It's actually been a little more than 25 years since I wrote that first story. Okay, so maybe I should have kept that to myself.

    Anyway, thanks for the great post and bringing me back 'across the pond', even if virtually (I miss my time in Notting Hill), and for being a great part of the tour! I hope you enjoy the read!

  2. Its a really interesting interview Miss Malyon. I like it. =]