Author Interview: Byron Gillan
Hi Bryon! Let's start things off by telling us about your current project:
Children of the Forest (CotF) is a multi-part epic, set in a world blending Science-Fiction and Fantasy themes.
The story was partly inspired by the works of Hayao Miyazaki (of Studio Ghibli fame) and the writings of Frank Herbert (Dune) and Ursula Le Guin (The Last Unicorn). The novel focuses on the impact of man on his environment, and the catastrophic consequences that are born of the earth’s misuse. Unlike many other contemporary novels set in the “epic fantasy/sci-fi genres”, The Children of the Forest avoids clichés such as dark lords, ultimate good or evil, and instead favors varying shades of grey clashing against the backdrop of a world collapsing from ecological unrest.
“The Children of the Forest avoids clichés such as dark lords, ultimate good or evil, and instead favors varying shades of grey”
The inspiration for The Children of the Forest came from my own love for nature and the world. I’ve been an avid environmentalist for almost a decade now, and I wanted those ideas to inform my first novel. The Children of the Forest came about due to my own frustrations with the lack of focus our society puts on an issue that will, in a very short period of time, become the greatest single threat to our continued existence on the planet. However, I didn’t want to merely write a story where the reader was beat over the head with my personal beliefs. I wanted to tell a story that explored the moral-greys and difficult choices inherent in any discussion about our environment.
The novel offers multiple view-points and perspectives on the ecological-conflict raging at the heart of the story, and never seeks to push one philosophy over any others. If there’s one aspect of the story I’m truly proud of, it’s that I feel I managed to find a way to balance, or temper, my own beliefs with those of the other side. I think this makes the novel’s plot all the more powerful, allowing the reader to make the final judgment on who is right or wrong, not me.
“having the near-death experience woke me up to the finite amount of time a person gets”
When did you realize that you wanted to be an author?
I’ve been writing as a hobby for nearly my entire life, but I was really motivated to become a full-fledged author after suffering a pretty severe accident when a driver hit me in a head on collision while I was riding my bike. The accident didn’t leave much in the way of lasting-injuries (aside from some sore joints) but it did give me quite the scare. It’s cliché to say, but having the near-death experience woke me up to the finite amount of time a person gets, and it made me double down on my efforts to see my dream come true.
I chose fantasy because it’s a genre you can do almost anything with. I grew up on the works of Tolkien and the stories that he inspired, and I knew fantasy was the genre I wanted to write. I love escapism and world-building, and there’s nothing, in my mind at least, that compares to picking up a new story and discovering a fantastic and incredible world, completely unlike our own.
What have you learned about yourself, your book, and self-promotion since joining Inkshares?
I’m no expert, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the entire process since first signing up for Inkshares, it’s that hard work, persistence, and a true attempt to study and understand the craft of story-telling and writing can make anyone a better author. Looking at my own work, it’s astounding to see how much of an improvement I’ve made from even just a couple months ago to today. I think if someone is dedicated enough, they can publish a book, but it takes hard work and perseverance, even when the going is the hardest.
“if someone is dedicated enough, they can publish a book, but it takes hard work and perseverance”
Coffee or tea?
Coffee, always coffee, unless I’m allowed to pour coffee into my tea.
You’re invited to your dream dinner party. It’s a party of four. Who else is there?
I like animals more than people, so I’d probably choose a welsh corgi, a pug, and a Samoyed.
Name three non-essential items you would want to have on a deserted island:
The cast of Lost, including the smoke monster. Sonic screwdriver. A dog.
About Byron Gillan:
Byron Gillan is an avid reader, recent college graduate, and freelance writer, with multiple publications in various newspapers, magazines, and online publications, including work for the Buffalo News. His first novel, The Children of the Forest, is currently seeking crowd-sourcing through Inkshares.com, and was recently entered in the Nerdist.com writing contest. Byron focuses primarily on Fantasy, Horror, and Science-Fiction, and enjoys blending the various genres together to create something new. His writing seeks to ask difficult and important questions about pressing social issues, such as race, environmentalism, religion, and more, exploring them through the lens of his favorite genres.