M.S. Olney Interview

An interview with science fiction & fantasy author M.S. Olney 


Where are you based?

Hi, I am originally from Cornwall, that land of myth and legends, Nowadays I live in the city of Worcester in the West Midlands of England. The countryside around here is stunning and the views from the Malvern Hills are on par with anywhere else in the world. It’s a great place to live. It’s not too big or small and has pretty much everything you need.

Latest releases and upcoming titles?

My latest release was The Crimson Blade. A novella based in my Sundered Crown universe. It follows the tale of Valyn, a man who loses everything and embarks on a quest for revenge that will have world shaking consequences. If you love assassins, magic, and action you’ll enjoy it.

My next release will be Heroes of the Sundered Crown, book 5 in the Sundered Crown Saga.


What are you currently working on?

I’m working away on Heroes for the Sundered Crown and a few other projects including a brand-new fantasy series and the continuation of my Empowered Ones series. As well as writing me and a few other authors have launched a new Facebook community called EPIC. We’re working hard to grow it and our aim is to make it the go-to place for indie fantasy and sci-fi.

What inspires you to write?

This is tricky to answer as I don’t have one thing that inspires me, it just sort of happens. Some days I can be full of words, other days they just don’t flow. A deadline is very often a good incentive.

When and why did you get into writing fantasy?

I’ve loved the genre since I was a kid and first read Lord of the Rings. I’ve always been creative, and the fantasy genre allows me to express that creativity far more than other I’d dabbled in aside from perhaps Sci-fi.

Who are your favourite fantasy writers/ fantasy authors?

Is it strange to say I don’t have any? Since I began writing fantasy, I find it hard to enjoy reading other works in the genre. Instead, I read Historical fiction more than anything else.

What are your favourite fantasy genres?

I love heroic and epic fantasy. I’m not a fan of grimdark as I feel there’s too much darkness in the world already. Give me tales of good triumphing over evil and of genuinely decent and honorable heroes. I massively dislike the current trend of making all heroes snarky or conflicted. You’re either a good person or you’re not. 

Do you follow any fantasy entertainment outside of books? (Video Games, Boardgames, Comics etc)

I am an avid gamer and series such as the Elder Scrolls and Zelda have been some of my biggest inspirations when it comes to writing fantasy. Playing Link’s Awakening when I was a kid was the thing that taught me to read at a much higher level than my classmates! 

What’s going on in the next few months? Anything on the Horizon?

My Empowered Series boxset has a Bookbub featured deal very soon so that’s exciting and I am eager to see how well it performs. Aside from that it’s just work on Heroes of the Sundered Crown and hopefully hitting its release date target at the end of this year.

Was your upbringing pretty geeky?

You could say that. I’ve always been an avid reader and would create my own stories in comic books and draw maps of fantasy worlds. I’ve always been a huge gamer and always loved fantasy and sci-fi movies.

Why should anyone read your book?

My books are full of action, adventure, and magic to sweep you away to amazing new worlds. If you love interesting and noble heroes and dastardly villains, you’ll love them.

Do you have a process, do you plan or do you fly by the seat of your pants?

I am very much a pantser with a tiny smidge of planning. 

How has your writing process changed since you first started writing?

I am far more structured these days and have learned how to prioritise the process. 

How long does it normally take you to write a fantasy novel, and what proportion of the time is spent doing what?

I always aim to get at least one full length novel out per year. The bulk of the time is spent getting down the drafts and then the dreaded editing process which always takes more time than you initially think it will.

Have your previous vocations influenced your writing?

I am a trained Journalist and have worked as a content writer for years so that has certainly helped with my speed. When I am in the flow, I can bang out thousands of words in a few hours. 

As far as writing goes, what do you use? Software, Apps, Hardware etc?

Just good old Microsoft Word for me.

A number of fantasy/sci-fi authors have been known to use art, music, exercise, alcohol and even drugs as a way to find inspiration to enter the zone!  Do you use any tools to enter into your creative headspace?

Yes! Music is a very important part of my writing process. Epic music such as Two Steps from Hell and Audiomachine are my go to’s when I need inspiration.

Will your next book be traditional or indie published?

 Indie publishing for the win! It gives you much more freedom and allows me to have full control over the process. 

Would you recommend self-publishing to aspiring authors, or would you suggest a more traditional path?

Self-publishing isn’t as easy as some make out that it is. To be able to actually sell books you need to learn a lot about book formatting, cover design and marketing. Being able to write in the first place is of course an advantage. Everyone thinks they can be an author, very few make a success of it.

What sort of input do you give to formatting, cover design, marketing?

I manage all of it. I have a background in content design, so I tend to do all of it myself. Cover art I outsource most often as I have a fantastic cover artist.

Marketing is so important nowadays, what’s your best advice to fellow authors?

Build a newsletter. This out of all the tools and tricks is the one that has pretty much guaranteed results.

What legal publishing advice can you give?

Always make sure a cover image is legit and is free for you to use. I’ve lost count the number of covers that I’ve seen where the author has effectively pinched the image from the internet.

What are some difficulties you’ve experienced in your writing career; how do you handle book critiques/criticism?

Perhaps the most important lesson an author must learn is that you cannot and never will please everyone. I’ve received 1 star reviews in the past and sometimes still do, but I now just ignore them, especially when I get more 4 and 5 star reviews. 

What are the best experiences in your writing career?

Topping the Amazon bestseller charts for the first time with my debut fantasy novel Heir to the Sundered Crown. It sold incredibly well and I hadn’t done any marketing for it either!

What are some encouraging words you’d give to another author/writer?

Stick at it and always work to improve your skills. Ignore those who say you can’t.

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