Lee: To start things off, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and your work as a writer.
A.F. Stewart: I live in Nova Scotia, Canada, and I write horror and dark fantasy under the name A. F. Stewart. I’m a huge fantasy and sci-fi geek, and I love reading and movies. I’m a minor history buff and adore mythology and folklore; that’s why you’ll see so many of my stories with historic settings or characters from legends. I love writing short fiction more than novels, but they both have their own level of reward. I also write poetry and have published several collections of poems.
Lee: I’m familiar with your story Infernal Patrol, which is part of the anthology, Hell’s Empire: Tales of the Incursion. Can you tell us a little about the book and your inspiration for that story?
A.F. Stewart: The book is a themed anthology and tells the dark and tragic tale of the invasion of Victorian Britain by the Infernal Forces of Hell. Each story in the book recounts part of the struggle against Hell’s Minions from the beginning whispers of incursion to the end. My story, Infernal Patrol, falls somewhere in the middle of the saga and follows two men serving in the Whitechapel Corps, part of the volunteers protecting London. It was inspired in part by the WWII British Home Guard and the actual Victorian militia regiments of the era. Then I threw in some demonic possession and, voila, a story.
Lee: Do you have a specific artistic method you follow when writing? What are some things you need on-hand when writing?
A.F. Stewart: I generally like reasonable calm when I’m writing; I don’t listen to music and try to avoid distractions. A good cup of coffee and a handy supply of chocolate (or other snacks) is also helpful. And I need my outlines and notes handy and my research ready to be consulted if necessary.
Lee: Do you find writing energizing or exhausting? Or a little of both?
A.F. Stewart: I find it engrossing. If I’m in the zone, I can lose track of time until I finish scenes, chapters or stories. It can also be annoying when the muse hits at inconvenient times such as when I’m doing the dishes or nodding off to sleep. That little voice in my head is persistent and must be obeyed.
Lee: What has been a challenge you’ve faced as a writer?
A.F. Stewart: I do have trouble being disciplined about writing every day, and if I have any prolonged break, it’s hard to get back in the rhythm of a routine and get any substantial writing done. There are far too many distractions out in the world these days to pull me away from writing.
Lee: Do you plan stories? Or do you just write and let it come together naturally?
A.F. Stewart: With novels or novellas I do plan, with plot and chapter outlines at least. I also have story notes, sometimes I create maps, and of course research notes. And with this new book I’m working on I’m trying out scene outlining. With short stories, it is more of a basic idea and wing it, although I often do jot down notes and a plot direction. For flash fiction, it’s wherever the muse takes me.
Lee: Do you prefer reading paperbacks or ebooks?
A.F. Stewart: I prefer reading paperbacks; it’s a comfortable habit. I do read ebooks, though, and I have a virtual stack of novels on my tablet waiting for me. Now I just need more time to read.
Lee: What do you like to read? Who are some of your favorite authors?
A.F. Stewart: I like fantasy and sci-fi books mostly, or a good mystery, although I read quite a few different genres. Some of my favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, Guy Gavriel Kay, Ray Bradbury, Andy Peloquin, and Agatha Christie. They are all brilliant in their own way.
Lee: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
A.F. Stewart: I like doing graphic art on Photoshop, watching TV, playing dumb games on my tablet, or going out to see the occasional movie. Or maybe puttering in my herb garden. My day-to-day life is not exciting.
Lee: What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a career as a writer?
A.F. Stewart: Don’t try for perfection, especially on the first draft. If you agonize over each sentence as you create the beginnings of the book you make it more difficult. The agony comes with editing. Get your framework established and get the story down. Polishing the prose comes after the basics.
About A.F. Stewart
A steadfast and proud sci-fi and fantasy geek, A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada and still calls it home. The youngest in a family of seven children, she always had an overly creative mind and an active imagination. She favours the dark and deadly when writing—her genres of choice being dark fantasy and horror—but she has been known to venture into the light on occasion. As an indie author, she’s published novels, novellas and story collections, with a few side trips into poetry.
Find links to her website and social media pages HERE