Today we welcome Andrew John Rainnie as we travel to Glasgow, Scotland to learn how traveling the world, a red panda and Thundercats have come together as part of Andrew’s life. Grab your boomerang and let’s go …
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Andrew John Rainnie, and I’m from Glasgow, Scotland. I’m a writer, filmmaker, dreamer and gamer. I’m a strong advocate for animal rights and an independent Scotland.
In which genre do you write?
My first attempt at publishing a novel was actually a non-fiction travel blog I kept when I was traveling round the world. My fiction has so far been epic fantasy, but I’m hoping try different genres in the future. I have been jotting down ideas for a stream of consciousness drama story for a few years, and also have loose plans for an urban fantasy book series.
I also write screenplays, usually in the horror/thriller genre. I like the challenge of looking at a genre and working out how to write a story within the conventions of what an audience/reader expects, but also subverting those to better the story.
How many published books do you have?
Technically two! I self-published my travel blog, My Right Leg Is Tastier Than My Left, back in 2013, I think (it’s not on sale now as I’m planning on doing something different with it). I was just curious as to how the whole self-publishing process worked and had a wealth of material from traveling for a year.
I then self-published Spirits of Vengeance: The Stone of Spirits in 2014. It was the first book in a planned trilogy.
After that I also made a book of short stories available based in that world called Tales of Vengeance. Then while working on the sequel, the first book got picked up by a publisher along with the second book. It was due out last year but I was making a short film, getting married and moving house, while also trying to do significant redrafts. It is almost in a state I am happy with, so hopefully it will be published this year.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
From a very young age. I used to write short stories all the time as a child, and not just a page or two, but like 10 page epic tales. My school teachers used to hate me because when we were given a writing task, I would hand in several pages more than anyone else.
What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?
I struggle to write at a computer sometimes. I find sometimes there’s a bit of a fug, although IU have since acquired a mechanical keyboard which makes it sound like you are using a typewriter.
But if I find there is a problem with the flow of ideas, I’ll just sit down with a pad of paper and a pen and write freeform for an hour. It does mean I then have to type those notes up, but I find switching between the two keeps my ideas fresh. I also like to drop my friends’ names in as minor characters. There are at least four in the new book!
What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?
Good question! I am very tempted to say a dog (because I love dogs and yet live with two cats) but I think probably a red panda. They are very playful and creative.
What does your ideal writing space look like?
Well we just moved home and I claimed one of the smaller rooms as my own personal office, so I have a big wide desk populated by toys and notes and pens. I have a boomerang and a Frisbee and a toy space gun all hanging on the wall, all mementos from my travels. Hopefully I’ll get more artwork up on the bare walls soon.
What are you currently reading?
I am currently working my way through Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy. I’m a few chapters from the end of the first book, so will move on to Life Debt afterwards. I’m hoping to finish them before The Rise of Skywalker hits in December(I don’t get a lot of reading time).
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
I don’t have much of a life anymore. I work full time, I have another job writing copy, I have a couple of screenwriting commissions. I also make films and promo videos. My wife rarely sees me.
When I get a spare five minutes, I love nothing more than playing video games. I just love disappearing into these rich worlds filled with colourful characters and stories. I was halfway through the new God of War before we moved house, but I’m on a bit of a video games ban until I finish the new book. My pile of unplayed video games almost rivals my pile of unread books!
If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Terry Pratchett. I renamed a character in the second book as a small tribute to him. He managed to create several series of books, especially the Discworld, that told very human stories dealing with contemporary issues, while based in this absurd fantasy world. And it’s a credit to his storytelling and world building that it works so well over 40 books.
I read an interview with him where he told a story about someone asking him what was the first thing he figured out when creating a city like Anhk-Morpork, and they were disappointed when he answered that he works out where the water comes in and the sh** flows out. But that’s how you build worlds. You make sure they work within the logic of the world.
I learned a lot from my decades wandering the Discworld, but I would have loved to have had the opportunity to sit down with him over a beer and pick that fantastic brain of his.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?
That I am my own worst enemy. My background is in screenwriting, so I try and plot or structure as much of the books as I can before starting to actually write it. But sometimes I’ll get bogged down in the detail, or conversely leave a very vague plot point because I haven’t quite worked it out, and when I come to write that chapter it’s like hitting a road bump on a skateboard going at 50 miles an hour.
I am completely thrown off and have to sit and rework it based on my characters and how I think they would act or react to the situation. Yet, if you plot too much, it can sometimes kill the creativity, so it’s about finding that balance.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?
I do all sorts. I like trying different writing techniques, so for one story I recorded me speaking in the character’s voice, like a stream of conscious narrative. For Spirits ofVengeance, I remember there was a fight scene across a battlefield, so I had to work it out using Lego toys (I collect Lego) because it was just so confusing.
Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?
Apart from when I was traveling, no. I try and write a minimum of 3000 words a day. Keeping a diary would just add to that.
What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?
I have been very lucky in my life, and could answer this question a million different ways. I was inspired a lot when I traveled the world, seeing the Earth, this planet that we live on, all of us, together. I loved meeting new people, experiencing new cultures. I think if everyone traveled, the world would be a much better place. I was traveling on my own, and so many people showed me so much kindness (I think maybe everyone thought I was having a mid-life crisis) but it makes me well with tears just thinking about it.
Anyway, you’re looking for a specific example. I’ve already mentioned how I adored Terry Pratchett, so here’s a cool story. I was in a Japanese restaurant in Glasgow with several of my friends. One of my friends Steve was visiting from Japan where he was teaching English, so obviously we took him and his Japanese girlfriend to a Scottish Japanese restaurant. It’s one of these restaurants with long tables and benches.
So our party sits down, there’s maybe 10 of us, and just as I sit I look at the next table, and there is a guy sitting there that looks the double of Terry Pratchett, so much so I do a double take. I mentioned his to my friends who glanced over and they were said no, it’s not him, he’s not got his signature hat on.
So we continue with our meal, while this man who may or may not be my favourite author gets up and leaves with the two people he was sitting with. They pay for their meal and then he goes to the coat stand in the corner and picks up his hat, and it was Terry Pratchett! There had been a sci-fi convention in Glasgow that weekend and he was one of the guests.I thought that was cool.
You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?
I hire an impersonator! In the party we had for the first book launch, I had someone shout a page number and read that page, which was unfortunately as it had a lot of difficult character names, so maybe next time I choose the page beforehand.
What do you miss about being a kid?
The sheer lack of stress, or worry. I mean, when you are a kid, you are fearless. I mean I was quite timid as a child (my parents would probably argue otherwise) but I think there’s an innocence and naivety that allows you to go do stupid things regardless of the consequences. As an adult, you’re like “I would love to have this cake but I also have bills to pay.” I guess I miss the freedom of it, or perhaps the sense of adventure, of the unknown, because everything is unknown.
If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?
I instinctively want to say Thundercats, but I have actually re-watched them recently and they have not aged well at all. But what has I guess? I think I like the mythology of it rather than the show itself. Your brain remembers the sweeping arcs and major plot points, but forgets there was an episode where everyone was tripping on some psychotropic plant or fighting robot-pirates.
If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do?
I’d probably turn into Innes Vangar. He’s a former soldier turned marauder. He’s sharp tongued, loves a drink, and runs towards danger. He’d have an amazing night out in Glasgow!
What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?
The last move I saw was Detective Pikachu, and pretty much because I love Ryan Reynolds. For my sins, I have never played a Pokemon game (I probably will soon as there is a new one coming out for the Nintendo Switch), but yeah, it was enjoyable fun.
A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?
“Hey gringo.” I then go get my sombrero (I genuinely have one) and we go the nearest Mexican restaurant to play in our animal-themed mariachi band with an alpaca and a chameleon.
Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I’m not religious (not in the way I think there’s a big beardy guy planning or lives), but I think things do sometimes happen for a reason, and it is up to us to take those opportunities when presented. Other times I think things happen because you put in the hard work. But still, I’ve had my fair share of coincidences to believe there is a pattern within the chaos.
An example – I was traveling in New Zealand on a bus tour, and you kind of get to know everyone straight away. I met these two lovely Welsh girls and must have been in their company for a couple of weeks when they were looking through their old photos, and spotted me. We’d been sitting next to one another on a flight from Singapore to Australia two months beforehand.
If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?
1. What the f*** do you want?
2. Why do you get pissing on the carpet?
3. Why don’t you love me?
Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?
Perseverance. There’s a certain stereotype that Scottish people are hard-working, and I’m the perfect example of it. I just don’t know how to stop doing something until it is done. I rarely quit.
What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?
In my country? So many places! I live in Glasgow, which is to me one of the most amazing cities in the world. We just have a great culture and we’re a very artistic city. But other than Glasgow, I’d say the Highlands. Scotland has a lot of mountain ranges, but the Cairngorms are just amazing. If you visit the town of Aviemore, there is a road that takes you to the visitor centre, going past Glenmore Forest and Loch Morlich which has a lovely sandy beach. It’s beautiful.
Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day,weather, place, etc.
Sunny day. Brunch at Brewdog Berlin.
Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.
I’m just finishing off the second book in the Spirits of Vengeance saga, called The Assassin of Araneque, and plotting the final book, The Rise of Rakkatoa.
However, the first book in the series, Spirits of Vengeance: The Stone of Spirits, is available online at sites listed below.
About the book:
It tells the story of Kamina Elloeth, a young tree elf who is thrust from the safety of her forest home on an epic adventure with a mysterious ranger and her ghostly brother.
I really hope you enjoy reading it and the sequels!
Thank you Andrew for being a part of Meeting the Authors and sharing a bit about you and your writing life. –Camilla
Where to purchase the book:
UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2JEaAfr
US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2YIl4hk
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/spirits-of-vengeance-andrew-john-rainnie/1120792102
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