December 10, 2014

Beer Monkeys and Bouncy Castle Kung Fu: an interview with James Walley, author of "The Forty-First Wink"

About The Forty First Wink by James Walley: Marty is having a bad morning. Roused from slumber by a gang of polo mallet wielding monkeys and a mysterious voice in his wardrobe, he must quickly come to terms with the fact that the world outside his door is now the world inside his head. Lying in wait amidst bleak, gloomy streets, deserted theme parks, and circus themed nightclubs, lurks the oppressive shadow of a myriad of giggling, cackling pursuers, hell bent on throwing a custard pie or two into the works. 

Assisted by a string of halfcocked schemes, a troupe of tiny unlikely allies, and (literally) the girl of his dreams, Marty sets out on a heroic quest to wake up and get out of bed. 

Find The Forty First Wink on

Gef: Where did you get the inspiration for The Forty First Wink? I mean, heck, where does the imagery of polo-mallet-wielding monkeys come from?

James: I've actually been visited by the beer monkeys many times myself! I've always believed that they are where hangovers come from. Really, a great deal of 'Wink' was borne from my love of all things random. I wanted to create a situation where the reader simply had to keep turning the pages, since absolutely anything is possible. Pure escapism and fun are what makes the story tick. I just went where my imagination took me. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes me to clowns.

Gef: What went through your head when you finally got to hold your debut novel in your hands? How has the experience with Ragnarok been thus far?

James: It's probably the most surreal and euphoric feeling I have ever experienced. You're holding something that you've laboured over, and basically lived in for months. I suppose it's like giving birth, only slightly less messy.
Ragnarok have been fantastic. They're growing so fast, and pulling in some awesome talents, so it's nice to be involved in something like that. Since I'm something of a newbie, they talked me through the whole process, from editing, all the way through to promotion. Plus, I think I was the first British author they took on, so I think extra brownie points are in order for that.

Gef: How intensive was the research process for you? What little tricks have you picked up with approaching the research phase of writing?

James: As you can imagine, researching tiny, living toy pirates and bouncy castle kung fu can be problematic. I found that it was usually little, seemingly insignificant things that required the most research. Fictitious place names, nautical terms, the sort of thing that fits seamlessly into the story, but that would stick out like a sore thumb if it was wrong. The most research I did was for the character of The Locust, since he talks like Wikipedia!
In terms of tricks, the only thing I can wholeheartedly say is, Google, Google, Google!

Gef: What do you consider to be the strength or saving grace of the fantasy genre?

James: That's a difficult question, since there are so many branches of fantasy. For me, the ability to create completely new worlds is what excites and interests me. Tolkein, Pratchett and Adams are all huge influences to me, and all have a wonderful knack of creating lavish environments for their characters to play in. It's fantasy, I can have a high speed car chase in an ice cream truck if I want to!

Gef: What's the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?

James: This is also a tough one, since everyone writes differently. Some people plot, others run screaming into the thick of the plot, waving their pen frantically. The worst thing I hear is that there is a 'right' and 'wrong' way of doing things. Some people don't write four hundred drafts, and that's ok. Some people break the fourth wall, and that's ok too. There isn't a handbook, because writing is organic and personal.

Gef: What kind of guilty pleasures do you have when it comes to books or movies or whatnot?

James: I suppose I'm a sucker for a good reluctant hero, or a plan that goes so spectacularly wrong that it actually stumbles through and ends up working. Maybe it's the Brit in me, but heroes that can bench press a hippo, wear tight spandex and have their own theme music are ten a penny. The awkward little guys who try their best to deliver a stirring speech before tripping over their own shoelaces are more my cup of tea.

Gef: We're coming up to the end of the year, which means everyone and their mama is writing a year-end lists. So what book, movie, game, show, song, or dirty limerick has found its way to the tippy-top of your favorites this year?

James: Harking back to the last question, I loved Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. It plays the "screw ups come good" card beautifully, and made me feel like a wide eyed, cheering kid again as I peered out from behind my popcorn with a huge grin on my face. In terms of books, I have been poring over Ragnarok's catalogue since joining their ranks, and there are some beauties to be found there. Kevin Lucia's Devourer of Souls has some wonderfully spooky undertones of old school King, and the collaborative Dead West series covers zombies and the old west - two of my favourite genres. Really, everything I've read from the Ragna-paddock has been exceptional. Yes, I am biased, but it's true. They really do only put out gems.

Gef: What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?

James: I have been beavering away like a...beaver, on a collection of short stories which will be trickling out over the next few months, starting with Santa Claus Wants You Dead which will form part of Fireside Press' "Wishes" triple anthology. After that, I'm hoping to be able to announce the release of Bad Little Boys Go To Hell, and If You Burn Down The Woods Today in the new year. Following that, I'll be looking to complete and release the second of the "Wink" trilogy, The Fathom Flies Again.
I can be found sneaking around Facebook planting seeds of insanity, and also on Twitter (@JamesWalley74). There is also a FortyFirst Wink Facebook page, which will continue to provide news and updates on the emerging trilogy.

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