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An Interview with Andrew Halsall Smith, Author of The Saga of Antama

Halsall 1

I am a short and micro-fiction writer and occasional poet based in England. I am a late developer in terms of writing, having only shared my work with family until recently but now developing more of an outward profile. Professionally, I have worked for many years in information technology and the public sector on a wide variety of projects, some of which provide material for stories.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

I am interested in telling longer, interconnected stories in episodes, rather like classical sagas and folkloric tales. With an interest in history and how societies evolve and adapt, I am keen to let my fictional universes change too.

Tell us the story of your book’s current title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The book is part of a wider envisioned series and calling it a saga made sense. The etymology of the name “Antama” is better explained in one early chapter of the saga itself, but essentially comes from the idea that the setting is an archipelago that lies before the open sea, thus “ante mar.”

Describe your dream book cover.

The image would change as the reader handled the book, perhaps in a kaleidoscopic optical illusion or else sensitive to the heat of the handler’s grip.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

Given the breadth of the dateline over which it is set, the soundtrack would be quite mixed. For the tales set in modern times, the backdrop would be some lilting modern piano of Helen Jane Long or soaring orchestral pieces of Hans Zimmer, and the key scenes would use tracks like “Sleep Instead of Teardrops” by Del Amitri, “Hell Froze Over” by Kodaline, “Make It Happen” by Electronic, “Brighter Than Sunshine” by Aqualung, and absolutely anything by The Beatles because Paul McCartney is my hero.

What books are you reading (for research or comfort) as you continue the writing process?

I am currently enjoying short stories by Daphne du Maurier, Graham Greene, and Ian McEwan.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have worked in public service and software engineering for many decades. Sometimes this provides somewhat random material and anecdotes to work into stories. As a younger man, I worked at the heart of UK government amongst the ranks of the unsung clerical staff in the UK Diplomatic Service.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I had always been a private writer—in fact, some of the work I have reprised recently was originally penned many decades ago. It was telling bedtime stories to my young children that re-ignited that passion, although now they are both at university!

Where is your favorite place to write?

I am lucky to have space for a writer’s den at home, surrounded by shelves and posters and also my drum kit when I need to loosen up!

Also, I am part of a group of amateur writers in my town who meet twice a week in local coffee shops to chat, share ideas, and knuckle down to putting words on the page.

Do you have any writing rituals?

One thing is that I am obsessed with notemaking. I embrace the digital era with brief notes on the cloud, with links to articles of relevance and inspiration. For a project like mine, with a lot of historical and social-culture context, I want to be sure that any fascinating facts are not forgotten or misremembered.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I would like people to feel they can dip into it as they choose. It’s a buffet of little bitesize entertainments, so you enjoy certain chapters, characters, and settings without having to devour the whole thing.

And as there is everything there—from children’s fairy tales to supernatural to erotica—then it is hopefully able to provide enjoyment to readers of all ages and preferences.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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