AUTHORS IN DEPTH
WITH FRANCIS H. POWELL
Author of Intriguing Dystopian SciFi
What is the name of your most recently published book? What makes it different?
My most recent published book is called “Flight of Destiny” it is a book of 22 short stories. The stories are very dark, but at the same time there is an element of satire. I would say they are very British in character, there is social satire about the upper classes, the hunting, shooting, fishing types. I think in this day and age, it is quite an unusual book, many authors seem to be copying formulas, there are authors trying to be the new E L James (author of Grey and the Fifty Shades Trilogy) or trying to emulate other successful authors. There are niche markets, for example Young Adult books, that authors have tried to tap into. My early motives were to write the best stories I could, to bring all my angst and dark fears to the fore. I was writing for myself…but was happy that people who read my stories related to them. My style of short stories was influenced by Roald Dahl, (I loved Kiss Kiss, which I read as a child). I like to include a dramatic twist at the end of the story. I think my stories are very visual, I like to describe people or places in detail. I like each sentence to be really strong…the stories have to start with real impact, for example “Black Widow”
Mercedes Schwartz had just had the most incredible orgasm, but her pleasure was still incomplete. While the man on top of her was still npumping away, she stretched an arm over to her bedside table and grasped the small sharp-pointed hat-pin she kept there. Rather than let him reach fulfillment, she plunged the pin into his back and killed him.
I really like the format of short story writing and have found it really works well for me. I like to create despicable characters, as well as freaks, outsiders, and oddballs. I think the characters I come up with, makes my work different as well as my range of language.
Please give an example of a character in your book.
There is a real oaf called Maggot (which is also the name of the story). He is in a desperate situation and is forced to sell his daughter to a tyrant to pay off his circus debts. He is greedy and obviously callous.
Maggot grasped the money in his gnarled fingers, trying his best to give the impression he really wasn’t interested, though, in fact, he undeniably was. His beady eyes drifted from the coins in his hand to the remaining ones flashing and glinting inside the treasury box.
He is volatile and potentially violent man, who surrounds himself with thugs. There is nothing particularly likeable about this man.
Have you been compared to any famous authors? If so who?
Somebody compared my stories to those of Edgar Allan Poe. Recently a reviewer wrote, “They’re a little Ray Bradbury, a little Stephen King, but with Powell’s own unique twists. Very interesting read.”
What would be the Dream Cast for your book and directors if it was to be turned into a movie?
A cast of oddballs outsiders…Jack Nicholson, he’s just a huge actor…Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Christopher Walken…Film directed by Tim Burton or for a darker version…David Lynch. I would provide the music. It would be a cult film, not mainstream.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I went to Art School after leaving school. I still paint as well as making sculptures. I have had some one man shows as well as taking part in group shows, in Paris. I work as a teacher and work in different universities and some Architecture schools around Paris. I write music (electronic) with my computer and I also make videos, which I post on youtube. Recently a friend who has adopted a character called Lord Lupine, agreed to do a reading of one of my short stories “Bugeyes” with his Lord Lupine persona…Lord Lupine seems to like sherry and seems a debauched Lord. The video is very Monty Pythonesque. The link is.
I have been described as a renaissance man, I try my hand at many creative activities. I have also written poetry and had it published.
Tell us some things that might surprise us…
- I was in a Pigbag video, dressed as a gorilla, stealing a trumpet, then playing it…
- I was an extra in a film with Kate Winslet, pre Titanic. It was called “Jude” it is a very depressing film, I appear for about two seconds…I was at the shoot for two days.
- I have been on Austrian TV, dressed as a Scotsman, in a kilt…I was supposed to be a Highland games player…at the time I was tall and lanky and was the wrong person for the job.
When and why did you begin writing? How does your present day work compare to what you wrote them?
I moved to a remote village in Austria. It was not far from Vienna, but a very oppressive and strange environment. I thought I should try writing a book. I launched into it…nothing came of it. I do many creative activities, painting as well as writing music. Writing lay dormant, put to one side. Then later, living in Paris at this point in time, via an advert, I made contact with a man called Alan Clark, who had a literary magazine called “Rat Mort” (dead rat). I submitted four short stories for this magazine, encouraged by Alan, I began to write more and more short stories, and developed a style…I guess if I compare these stories to earlier efforts at writing…there has been a huge development…I am sure my early attempts were imaginative but raw.
Do you consider yourself part of a movement? Are there other writers like you pursuing similar themes, styles, approaches?
It would be nice to be considered part of a movement, especially if it was considered a cutting edge movement. I am not conscious of this. I love the work of Rupert Thomson, who wrote “Dreams of leaving” as well as other books. I met him when I was a new student at Art College and he and his writing has made a long lasting impression on me.
Are you sometimes shocked by some of your own writing/ideas?
There are some pretty crazy things that go on in my stories. They are surreal and dark and excruciating at times. I wouldn’t say “shocked” but maybe retrospectively sometime in the future I might think did I really write that?
What advice would you give to writers who are struggling to get their first book published?
Stick at it, don’t fall by the wayside. Find a niche, find a formula that works for you. I met a woman who is an aspiring writer, who told me of the heartbreaks of her rejections. Maybe some people aim too high or have high expectations. If you post stories on the internet, there are sites I have come across like ReadWave and Scriggler, maybe you can get useful feedback, people actually get to read your stories, rather than languishing on a hard drive doing nothing. Even if 50 people read your story, it’s a start.
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