Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Interview with Philip Tolhurst, author of George and the Dragon

I have a really good feeling about our next author interview. As I see it, this is a guy (and book) that look primed to burst onto the scene on April 23rd. Mark my words: There will be a movie. I said it, right here. You heard me. This one's gonna be BIG. Whenever I finally do finish my, as of yet, untitled YA sci-fi adventure, I hope that I am as excited then as I am now about this dude's book.

Today, I would like to introduce you all to Philip Tolhurst, author of the soon-to-be released, George and the Dragon.

-George and the Dragon is your debut novel. Where did the idea for this story come from?
PHILIP: A simple what if question that nobody, that I could discover at the time, had written about; “What if there were dragons in World War 2?”

-This is the first book in a series. Is the story already entirely plotted out or are you still figuring out exactly how many books it's going to take to finish this thing?
PHILIP: Book 2 is planned out and I’ve started work on it already.  Book 3 I have worked out mostly in my head but I should really write out a chapter synopsis for it.  I think there’ll be two more books after that, so there will be at least five books in the Knights of the Sky series, maybe six.  We shall see where George’s adventures take us as each novel comes to life.

-Have you always liked dragons?
PHILIP: Yes.  I have no idea who would have been the first dragon I encountered as a kid but I was playing Dungeons and Dragons before I was a teenager.  I have a fondness for all dragons, not just the fearsome fire breathing ones; like Chorlton, the Soup Dragon or even Elliot.  My favourite dragon is Draco from the movie Dragonheart.  The work they did to make him believable was amazing for the time.  I guess he is also the closest in style to the dragons I write about.

-It's really interesting to have fantastical characters living and breathing during actual historical events. Would you say that you are both a history buff and a lover of fantasy?
PHILIP: Absolutely if I could quit my day job and become a full time writer I would take the chance to also study a degree in History.  I prefer ancient history to more modern times though.  I think you can’t like Fantasy such as Tolkien without liking History and Mythology. If you look now you have writers creating myths from the myths, like Percy Jackson, that opens up a whole new audience to what we can learn from History which I think is cool. 

-What books had the greatest influence on your desire to become a writer? If we could go back in time and sit down with Philip Tolhurst, the teenager, what would we see him reading?
PHILIP: Wow interesting question, I’m guessing books like The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia but also I had a great love of The Fighting Fantasy and The Way of the Tiger adventure game books.  In my late teens I read a lot of my sister’s books particularly those by Robert Ludlam.  My sister also introduced me to the Black Tower books by Stephen King, although I still haven’t finished reading them all.

-This blog is dedicated to new writers who are taking their baby steps in the publishing world. What advice can you give to fellow fresh authors, who are currently working to finish their inaugural manuscripts? 
PHILIP: 1.  Remember your first draft doesn’t have to be a masterpiece.  Finishing the first draft is a major accomplishment no matter how good or bad you might perceive it to be.  Once you have reached that stage you can then go back and edit what you have written and refine it further.
2.  Have faith in your work.  I think it is very hard to say; “Okay I’m finished I can now publish my book.”  Mainly because anyone who then reads the work will have an opinion about what you could have done differently. 
3.  If you intend to self publish you can never start too early building your online presence because books do NOT sell themselves.  Think about social media, your own websites, creating a blog, but don’t spread yourself too thinly at the same time.

-Can you tell us anything about your journey to becoming a published author? Anything you wish someone had told you ahead of time?
PHILIP: I have never been the sort of person that ‘always wanted to write a book’.  Rather I have always had a great imagination.  I started writing George and the Dragon to prove to myself, and those who doubted me, that I could do it.  I think I’ve surprised a few people along the way.

I wish I had heard of Scrivener earlier.  Most of my early writing was written in Word.  But I tend to write in chapters and so I have 30+ separate word documents.  Scrivener allows you to break down the chapters without the need for the separation.  I can’t imagine writing without Scrivener now.

Don’t be afraid to get advice from other authors, join Facebook groups, get involved in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  Writing does not need to be a solitary experience, which for me, for a long time, it was.

-Who would you recommend your book to? Who can you see reading George and the Dragon?
It would be a cliché if I said anyone.  However, I do think we pigeonhole books because that’s how the big publishing companies like to do it.  Based on their system the book is aimed at 10-14 year old boys or girls.  So it is on the cusp of what the American’s would describe as Middle Grade and Young Adult. 

 I do believe that, regardless of your age or sex, if you enjoyed the likes of The Chronicles of Narnia, dare I say it Harry Potter, or Eragon (and the rest of the Inheritance books) then you will probably like George and the Dragon.

-Okay, here’s your chance, Philip. Make me want to go out and buy it even more than I already do. Anything else at all that you would like readers to know about your book?
PHILIP: Imagine you were a 13 year old boy at the start of World War 2 and you encountered a dragon who insisted you give it a name. After you’d gotten over the shock of meeting the dragon, what name would you choose?

Find out what name George chose when you read George and the Dragon.
-No pressure, but… when you’re rich and famous and there’s a movie being made of George and the Dragon (‘cause it sounds like it’d make for a awesome flick), will you remember me?
PHILIP: Absolutely, I’m a true believer of helping people that help me.   It’s a big world out there and we all need all the help we can get to concur it.

Blurb/teaser for George and the Dragon:
World War II has broken out. The Battle of Britain has begun and the Germans have new weapon, a weapon so powerful it could end the British war effort before it has even started.
With bombs falling dangerously close to their home George Atkins’ mother, Mary, decides they will go and live with his uncle in the heart of English countryside. George’s whole world is turned upside down when his uncle’s house is destroyed by Luftwaffe dragons and he finds himself befriended by an emerald green dragon with revenge on his mind. 

George becomes the dragon’s rider and the pair and are reluctantly recruited by the RAF. As the first dragon and rider fighting for the allies, they face the biggest challenge of their lives; to save the country from defeat by the Luftwaffe and the commander of the German dragon forces; the evil Colonel von Vogler.

Where can we buy it: It will be available on the 23 April (St George’s Day) on all major eBook formats; Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, Play etc.
Awesome! Thanks so much for the interview, Philip! Everybody else, make sure to check out George and the Dragon, set for release on April 23rd!!! Don't miss it!!!
And please keep checking back for more interviews here and on my twitter account, @RimerTom !!!

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