Meet the Author: A.F. Stewart
I hope this week has been treating you right. It’s the weekend, hooray!
Today I’m sharing another author interview. This time around I’m interviewing A.F. Stewart, fantasy and horror author.
Fun fact, A.F. Stewart is another author I met through interviewing Kelly Blanchard, and I’m super grateful for the opportunity to get to know another new writer friend!
A steadfast and proud sci-fi and fantasy geek, A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada and still calls it home. The youngest in a family of seven children, she always had an overly creative mind and an active imagination. She favours the dark and deadly when writing—her genres of choice being fantasy and horror—but she has been known to venture into the light on occasion. As an indie author, she’s published novellas and story collections, with a few side trips into poetry.
She is fond of good books, action movies, sword collecting, geeky things, comic books, and oil painting as a hobby. She has a great interest in history and mythology, often working those themes into her books and stories.
Hi A. F. Stewart, thanks so much for stopping by. To keep things interesting, I like to ask my interviewees a random question to get the blood flowing. Here’s yours!
It’s the apocalypse, and you only get to choose two items to take along into the devastation. What would you bring?
A.F. Stewart: Toilet paper (because we now know that’s the apocalypse gold standard) and non-dairy coffee creamer (anyone that’s seen Mythbusters knows that stuff is hellfire in a jar). Nobody’s messing with me if I have coffee creamer.
Jonny: Haha! You do have a point there, my friend. It’s the simple things that really make a difference, especially in an apocalypse.
Oh my gosh, I had no idea non-dairy coffee creamer was so volatile! Thanks for that awesome tidbit of knowledge (I found the Mythbusters video here if you wanna see it)!
I can’t top your choices, so I’m gonna copy yours. No brownie points of originality for me!
A.F. Stewart and the Writing Process
For starters, tell us a little bit about your writing.
A.F. Stewart: Most of my stuff has a dark tone, or in the case of Fairy Tale Fusion and much of my flash fiction, dark humour. I like to write flawed characters and much of my work is based on mythology and history. Bad things happen in my books and endings aren’t always happy. I also write dark poetry, including horror poems.
Jonny: Very interesting. Sometimes it’s nice to read a book that doesn’t have a Hallmark ending. Flawed characters are definitely a must. I mean, who’s perfect anyways, right? I’ve tried reading several books where the MC is basically a god that’s unkillable but it just didn’t suit me (I’m referring to the Hounded series btw).
I’m also a lover of darker fiction, and even if there are just little bits of it here and there, I feel compelled to instill it in all my works.
What genre is your favorite to write in? Why?
A.F. Stewart: I think fantasy is closest to my heart, but horror is actually more fun to write. With horror, you can explore the human condition and the darker aspects of the human psyche in more depth. A lot of fantasy is about the world, or the magic, and building that wonderful speculative vision, but with horror, it’s more visceral. I like that raw, intimate emotional aspect of horror, creating the fear and tension and opening up the characters to their worst impulses. Plus, you know, there’s creating all the murder and mayhem.
Jonny: I couldn’t agree with you more. Fantasy is where it all started for me, but horror has its own great rewards. The adrenaline, fear, and crazy battles make it worth it for me. What’s life without a little chaos here and there?
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
A.F. Stewart: I’m currently working on my Camelot Immortals series. It’s a modern-day Arthurian fantasy tale where magic equals immortality. The main characters are mostly the women of Camelot, but as snarky, foul-mouthed, hard-drinking witches trying to save the world from magical mayhem. The two short stories of the series have been republished in a one volume prequel called Eternal Myths, and book one, Past Legends, is out in October. The rest of the series will hopefully follow in 2021.
Jonny: Oh wow, that’s really exciting! I love how you described your main characters. That definitely sounds like something I would enjoy reading. Just bought it on Amazon! 🙂
I’m happy that in these tough times you’re trucking forward. For me, writing has been the only thing keeping me sane some days.
Right now I’m working on my Reaper sequel, and it’s going well! Still hoping to finish my personal edits by end of year.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
A.F. Stewart: I’ve written about twenty books, if you include the poetry collections, plus I’ve penned numerous short stories for several anthologies. I think my favourite is the Camelot Immortals series I’m working on now because it’s based on Arthurian legend, a long time interest of mine. I’m also fond of Chronicles of the Undead, as that took a lot of work to pull off.
Jonny: Dang, that’s quite the accomplishment! Great job friend! I love mythology. I remember it being my favorite class in middle school and I soaked up those otherworldly stories.
To date, I’ve published a novella and short story and am soon to release my first full-length novel sequel to the novella. I also hope to publish my first completed project that I finished several years ago, but since it’s a series the timing has to be right, and I’m about to apply for grad school, so I’ll just have to see. Ugh, time!
How long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
A.F. Stewart: That depends on the book. Something like the Camelot Immortals which has a modern day setting takes less research than say my WIP historic fantasy series, The Obsidian Blade, set in 15th century Venice. For the first one, I had to do preliminary research of certain geographic areas of Britain, the differences in language (British slang is fun) and various historic sites like Stonehenge. I also had to brush up on my Arthurian mythology. For Obsidian Blade I’m turning back time and recreating a city that has changed quite a bit since the 15th century (for instance, many of the historic landmarks of Venice weren’t built until later centuries) I also have to research clothing, food, weapons, customs, politics, etc.. It’s fascinating but takes much more time.
Jonny: I totally understand. I tend to write in more modern eras, typically 80’s forward. That makes it a lot easier to do research on differences from today’s world. Kudos for due diligence with your Camelot Immortals stories! I bet it’s great!
How do you select the names of your characters?
A.F. Stewart: If I’m not making up my own names (which sometimes happens with fantasy stories) I generally start with whatever historical era or culture I’m basing the setting on and look up a list of names associated with that particular time or place. I make a list of names and surnames I like and then check on their meanings; Behind the Name is one of the sites I use for that. I like to find names that fit the character that way.
Jonny: Your methods are pretty similar to mine. Sometimes the names just come to you. Other times, it’s time for some name generators and research!
Fun Facts About A.F. Stewart
Could you tell us a couple fun facts about you?
A.F. Stewart: I have an obsession with scarves. I love to collect scarves (not the winter kind) but rarely wear them. Also, I spent two weeks learning how to do the Vulcan Live Long and Prosper salute as a child (with both hands) and after watching a scene in Twin Peaks, found you can indeed tie a knot in a cherry stem with your tongue.
Jonny: Whoa … I thought I was the only one! I too collect scarves but rarely wear them as I overheat very easily. I just find them beautiful and love to have them just in case. I might wear my winter ones maybe once or twice a year for the really cold days, but I never wear the more decorative ones.
Oh my gosh, you can do that? Tying a cherry stem with your tongue has always been a puzzle to me.
Pancakes or waffles?
A.F. Stewart: Pancakes. Fluffy, fluffy pancakes loaded in butter and maple syrup.
Jonny: Can I just side with anything that has plenty of butter? *drools*
If you had to choose one type of food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A.F. Stewart: Chocolate cake with fudge frosting.
Jonny: Ooo, good choice! I’d say sushi. I crave it on a regular basis and there are so many great kinds out there. My favorite is spicy tuna rolls or Vegas rolls. There’s something about nori and I that get along great.
Marvel or DC?
A.F. Stewart: Both. I love comic books. Some of my favourites are Batman, Daredevil, Thor, Blue Devil, and the Sandman series.
Jonny: Me too! Those are some great choices. I typically tend to stick to Marvel, but DC has caught my eye in recent years and can be just as good. I am super curious about the Sandman series. Gotta put that on my TBR!
Who are your favorite writers?
A.F. Stewart: Guy Gavriel Kay and Neil Gaiman. Both brilliant writers. You can’t go wrong with any of their books.
Jonny: I don’t know the first reference, but I love Gaiman’s books centered towards younger audiences. Coraline, Stardust, I loved them to pieces!
Some of my recent favorite authors have been Neal Shusterman, Travis Liebert, and TJ Klune. Can’t speak highly enough of them!
Star Wars or Star Trek? OR Doctor Who?
A.F. Stewart: I love all three. I am a big sci-fi movie and TV fan. I’m also a fan of Firefly, Farscape, Killjoys, Orphan Black, and Fringe to name a few.
Jonny: Me too! I tend to favor Star Trek and Doctor Who over Star Wars, but it just depends on my mood.
I adored Orphan Black and Fringe also. Have you seen I Am Mother on Netflix yet? If not, it’s an amazing scifi movie!
What do you think would be a fitting epitaph on your gravestone (not meant to be dark, I swear! Just be creative.)
A.F. Stewart: She can finally get enough sleep. (And hey, I write horror. Dark is what I do, so no worries.)
Jonny: Haha, I hear that!
Mine would be “Here lies Jonny, cat-crazed individual.” I love my kitties!
A.F. Stewart and Her Works
Tell us about your new book.
A.F. Stewart: My latest book is Eternal Myths, the short story prequel to my Camelot Immortals series and that leads straight into book one, Past Legends.
This short read was originally two separate short stories published in 20007 and 2014, that I rewrote and brought more up-to-date with the new series. I then republished them together in one book. They are the first two tales of the immortal witch Nimue and tell the story of what happened when Merlin returned (a continuing plot point in the series), and her adventure with the Grail, along with how she met the character of Martin. Book one of the Camelot Immortals series takes place just after the short stories and takes Nimue and her friends on a quest to stop Nostradamus.
Jonny: I love the cover and what you had to say about the stories. I’m looking forward to reading this in between books soon. Sometimes it’s great to go back and repurpose former works. That’s how I ended up publishing my scifi short story Conscience. I didn’t publish it before and it had a lot of dust on it, but I saw potential in it and couldn’t resist rewriting it to glory!
How did you come up with the title for this book?
A.F. Stewart: I went through several titles before setting on Eternal Myths, including Tales of Camelot and Witches and Wizards. I finally decided to match the rest of the series titles (Past Legends, Gathering Hallows, Broken Branch, Wayward Prophecy) by making it two words. Eternal fit with the whole immortality theme of the books, and I went with Myths as I used Legends in the book one title.
Jonny: I agree with you on your choise. Eternal Myths has a mysterious vibe to it that intrigues you and gets you wondering what epic tales are hidden within.
What inspired you to write this book in particular? Is it part of a series?
A.F. Stewart: The original short story was written way back in 2007 and was inspired by my love of Arthurian myth and the thought, “what if using magic made you immortal?”. I envisioned this cynical dysfunctional group of people still connected by their origins, but having this hatred towards the person that led them to this life: Merlin. The story Legendary Debts grew out of that. I enjoyed the main character of Nimue quite a bit, and when the opportunity to submit to an anthology about myths and legends came about, I wrote the second story, Grail Days, basically a modern-day Grail quest. It was published, and that’s when I toyed with the idea of possibly writing a series. When I unexpectedly got the rights back to Grail Days a couple of years ago, that’s when I decided to go ahead with the Camelot Immortals series. A few things got in the way first (including my epic fantasy trilogy), but it’s on its way to being in the hands of readers.
Jonny: Thanks for sharing all of this with us. Writing sure takes us on long journeys, doesn’t it? I’m glad you have the rights back so you can publish in a way that fits your vision. I’m looking forward to the dysfunctional chemistry!
What was your favorite part about writing this book?
A.F. Stewart: Reworking Arthurian legends. I’ve loved the stories since I was young and playing around with them, adding bits here and adjusting bits there, is fun. Some lines from the short stories have gone on to be major plot points in the series, such as Nimue knowing Nostradamus. Also, I love threading pieces of the legends into the characters’ lives.
Jonny: It sounds like you had a ton of fun with this. I’ve never tried to rework a legend, but seeing how much you love the stories I bet the reader will feel that same love as they read it.
Do you have a favorite character in your new book? Why are they your favorite?
A.F. Stewart: The main character, Nimue is my favourite as she is such fun to write. She’s snarky, sarcastic, swears, and is overly fond of her homemade mead. She complains a lot, and has a troubled past that underlies her doubts and insecurities (something she works out in series), but is not a witch to be messed with.
Jonny: Haha, anyone who curses like a sailor is probably someone I’ll enjoy reading about. Looking forward to getting to know her better.
What other projects do you have in store for the world to see in the future? Anything you can share with us?
A.F. Stewart: Besides the upcoming Camelot Immortals series, I’m working on a paranormal historic fantasy series, The Obsidian Blade. It has immortal assassins, magic, intrigue, betrayal, backstabbing politics, sword fights, man-eating mermaids, the undead, witches, supernatural plagues, and more, all set in 15th Venice.
Jonny: Wow, that sounds amazing. I’ll definitely be keeping tabs on your upcoming works. Sounds like you have quite the bright future ahead of you!
Thanks so much for taking the time to join us. Before we end this interview, do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events, and special offers?
A.F. Stewart: You can find everything on my website: https://afstewart.ca/
There you’ll discover all my books, some extras, my weekly drabble (100 word stories) series, and my book swag.
Jonny: Thanks again, and best of luck with your writing endeavors!
That’s a Wrap!
All righty book worms, that wraps up my interview with A.F. Stewart. I had a great time chatting it up with her, and I hope you enjoyed the experience too!
If you’d like to learn more about A.F. Stewart and her work, she can be reached at the social media links provided below.
Thank you for stopping by, and have a great day!
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Excellent interview. You two are so funny about your scarves. I’m the opposite. I don’t like any adornments because I’m always tugging at them and stuff. I secretly think I must have lived in a nudest colony in my past life. Good luck to A.F. Stewart on her Camelot Immortals series!
Lol I have no idea why I bother collecting them, but I guess I just like pretty things.
Oh wow, I didnt know that about you. My thing is earrings and wrist cuffs in the colder months. Other than that I’d rather be in a tank top and workout shorts all the time haha.