Asking Authors Awkward Questions, with Andi Ewington

Behold the return of the Author Interviews! And this one’s a bit meta as I’m interviewing Andi Ewington, author of The Hero Interviews, a comic fantasy novel very much inspired by the works of Terry Pratchett, in that it embraces the footnote like no other.

Author photo. Andi Ewington. White dude, black glasses, short combed-back hair, stubbly ghoti beard, wearing a purple t-shirt.

What was the first novel you ever sat down to write? How old were you at the time?

This doesn’t really count as a novel, but when I was about 10, I wrote a fanzine inspired by my love of D&D and Fighting Fantasy—it was about 20 pages long, all pencil drawn with illustrations and fake letters from ‘fans’ (I even remember one of the names I came up with—Andrew Dawson). Oh yeah, I even managed to create three issues and convinced the local newsagent to stock them on their magazine shelf (to be honest, I think he just took pity on me). You can imagine my surprise when I returned a few hours later to discover all the issues had gone! Thinking I had sold all my copies, I excitedly spoke with the newsagent behind the counter—only to learn that the local ‘youths’ had come into the shop, spied my homemade magazines, and laughed so much that the newsagent was forced to take them off the shelf. I guess you could say that was also my very first experience with negative reader feedback!

How old were you when you finally got published? How many novels had you written by then? Which one got published first?

Not strictly a ‘novel’, my first published ‘graphic’ novel (Forty-Five) was in 2009/10. What happened next was about ten years of comic work on IPs such as Dark Souls, Freeway Fighter, Vikings, and Just Cause. In 2021 I collected a series of funny tweets and published them in a book called ‘Campaigns & Companions’ co-written with Rhianna Pratchett. I guess you could say that ‘The Hero Interviews’ (published in 2022) was my first ‘official’ novel.

What are your crutch words? Which words do you most overuse?

‘Nod’ or ‘Shake’—my characters tend to express themselves through a lot of ‘head’ movement. ‘Glance’ and ‘Glancing’ also make frequent appearances. I’m also prone to overusing the words ‘really’ and ‘just’…

Which character of yours is your favourite, and why? (And why is it never the main character?) Seymour, the talking skull—I love him! He’s sarcastic with a gallows sense of humour. He’s also made a cameo in nearly every fantasy novel I’ve drafted. I’m just glad he’s finally made it into published form within ‘The Hero Interviews’.

Front cover of The Hero Interviews. A cartoon image in many purple hues. A lounging writer with long hair and round glasses lays scribbling in an unfurled parchment scroll. Around him are images of D&D archetypes - a toothless pirate roaring, an elven archer covered in leaves, an orc with an arrow in its butt, an old wizrd who looks suspiciously like Gandalf, and a skeletal warrior knight.

How’s your grammar, spelling, and punctuation? What mistakes do you make most often?

It’s okay— not fantastic; I tend to ignore all of the main rules (much to the chagrin of my Editor and Beta Readers) in favour of getting the idea down first, then worry about finessing afterwards.

How disciplined are you as an author? Do you have set goals? How often do you fail to meet those goals?

Hugely! I make time on my commute to and from work to write. I also write late at night when I’m home when the kids are in bed. You have to be disciplined to get to the finish line. I’ve always considered writing to be a marathon rather than a sprint—although as I get nearer to the finish line, I find myself rushing towards it. As for failing—the only time I usually fail is when I bump into a friend or the trains are all screwed up—so, as you can imagine, there have been some less-than-productive days in the current climate.

What’s something you hate in other people’s writing that you try to avoid doing in your own but often end up doing anyway because words are hard?

There’s nothing I really hate that I end up doing—but one thing I loathe is when a writer tries too hard to be clever by throwing in big words that require a reader to reach for a dictionary. I think there are better ways to show how creative your writing is—using characters and plot rather than mic-dropping words only found in the Times crossword.

If you could go back and change any of your already published work, would you? What would you change, and why?

Nothing—not because I think they’re all perfect, but because all the mistakes and errors have helped me become the writer I am today.

Which part of the writing/publishing process do you like the least?

Editing—I hate it with a passion. I also hate the bit where you press ‘print’ on a book—especially when you find a typo a few hours later on a casual read-through.

Aside from book sales and big piles of cash, what does literary success look like to you?

Seeing the writing community talk about your book positively amongst themselves—no better feeling (Bar seeing your book in the hands of someone going to pay for it at the till).

Finish this sentence: Reviews are…?

Like socks—tons of them about, and I never seem to get any… (with apologies to Blackadder III)

What aspects of fantasy are you not a fan of?

Overly complex names of characters and places; I tend to shorten names in my head to more manageable sounding names—like Bob or Gary.

Which of your books should a new reader start on? Pitch it to us.

I will say ‘The Hero Interviews’ simply because it’s my best writing to date. If you’re a fan of comedy, Discworld, Dungeons & Dragons, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, pop-culture references, film movie quotes, and footnotes*—all set to in a bonkers Fantasy world, then this is the book for you!

*Lots of footnotes…

Quote from the back of the book. White and black text on a purple background, surrounded by comic D&D characters - a laughing skeleton warrior, and orc with an arrow in its butt, and a raging barbarian woman with a battle axe. "Does for fantasy what interview with the vampire did for vampires, but with a lot more bloodshed and battle axes. Insightful, delightful, and above all hilarious." Rhianna Pratchett

The Hero Interviews is available now from Amazon, and you can follow Andi over on Twitter.

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