Name: Michael-Israel Jarvis
Where are you from
I’m originally from the Home Counties of England, but am a proud resident of Norfolk these days.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Booktrope have published my fantasy novel Gravedigger and are in the process of doing the same with my dark fantasy,Victorianesque alt-history book, Osric Fingerbone and the Boy Murderer.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
In my early teens. When I was even younger than that I’d sit my friends down and tell them stories, or record it on cassette tape. I’ve always daydreamed worlds and characters and stuff like that. Writing was just another form to get it out.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I realised I wanted to write novels for the rest of my life, and that I was able to.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A strange dream about a pack of wolves in a nightmarish forest and a boy with a stick who held them off by smashing an evil stone.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I write primarily in restricted third person perspective, but dip into the perspective character’s thoughts. I try to restrain my description in favour of allowing the reader to paint the colours and details of a scene.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Not sure. Some come fully formed, like a cartoon lightbulb moment. Others have to be dragged out of the text while I’m still writing it.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
In Gravedigger, the message is about morality boiling down to selfishness versus the instinct to serve others. It’s packaged in an exploration of brotherhood. But it’s more fun than that might make it sound. There’s also loads of grim and lurid violence!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
That depends on your standards for realism. As Fantasy goes, Gravedigger is fairly classic—there are non-human species, undead warriors and so on, you know? However, there’s also a politics in place that is quite credible. Magi control the commoners, which is logical and people work, and eat, and live in a very down to earth fashion. I feel like it’s my job to bring realism to the absurd by making the possible and impossible seamlessly interwoven…
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Well, I’ve never been possessed by the spirit of an undead King. Or have I…?
Mostly character development involves some universal experiences, so I guess the answer is yes. One or two of the characters are an amalgam of people I know, for sure.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Before everything else, Tolkien, he said with boring predictability. But Middle-Earth is where so many fantasists start. Other authors that have led me to this point include Garth Nix, Trudy Canavan, Terry Pratchett, Brandon Sanderson, J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith and graphic novels too numerous to remember. Also, Star Wars.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’ve just finished reading Karen Miller’s Awakened Mage. I recommend it and the first one, Innocent Mage, both great reads.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
New to me, certainly. I’ve not been into Sanderson long and I’m likely to keep an eye on his output from now on, but he’s hardly new.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Publishing Osric Fingerbone and the Boy Murderer through Booktrope, followed by Land Rising, first in my The Maker’s Bloodline series. I’m writing the sequel to that; Hunter’s Path and the sequel to Gravedigger, which may or may not end up being called Warprince. After that, I will be submitting the sequel to the first Osric book, which is called Osric Fingerbone and the Spring of Jacks.
I am busy.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Entity? As in God? Yeah, go on then. Apart from God there have been others, such as Daniel Stamp—who has a lot in common with God—my Pubkin, Joseph Parsonage and… Look, just buy Gravedigger and look in the acknowledgements section.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
No. It’s an obsession. Possibly a mental illness, just maybe a vocation, and certainly a cry for attention.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Get behind me, demon of doubt!
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Creative writing during my English lessons at school, I think.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure. Here’s the last paragraph I wrote of The Maker’s Bloodline: Hunter’s Path.
“Brant…” Daris came alongside. He looked tired, as they all did, but the relentless cheer that seemed to fuel him was not doused. He gave Brant a one armed hug as they paused for a rest. The archer’s hair brushed against Brant’s face. It sent a surprising shock through Brant, even as he gratefully leaned on Daris’ shoulder. Daris’s hair smelled of sweat and smoke, and the sharp, resinous aroma of bowstring wax.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
When plans I’ve made are forced to change. Sometimes a character makes the decision, sometimes it’s myself acknowledging that the current strategy isn’t working. Either way, it’s hard to chuck it all away and turn it toward a different destination.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
That’s a bloody hard question. I am in awe of Brandon Sanderson’s innovative magic systems, charmed by Karen Miller’s rich, dialogue-driven character development. I think in terms of overall brilliance in constructing a story while delivering superbly psychorealistic characters, it has to be J.K. Rowling. Not just because Potter was such a big part of my growing up, but due to her modern-Dickensian masterpiece, The Casual Vacancy and her superb Cormoran Strike detective novels, which she writes as Robert Galbraith.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not much. The internet makes that all easier to get around. Believe me though, when I can, I will expand those horizons as much as I can.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Amalia Chitulescu. She’s a gifted professional cover artist from Romania. I’m convinced that hers is some of the best work around.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part of writing Gravedigger was pulling together the ending.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I really love superheroes. That may not make sense to you, but it does to me.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Get yourself some critics.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you so much for reading my work. You’ve no idea how much I hope that you fall in love or hatred with these characters. They deserve it.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The Very Hungry Caterpillar? I think.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Absurdity, surrealism and savage satire make me laugh. Heartfelt sentiment and nobility in the face of loss make me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
I would love to have met Terry Pratchett. It saddens me that I never can.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
I reckon I’m going to go for a green burial, and I’d like a tree of some kind instead. Eucalyptus or horse chestnut or maybe just a big mound of budleja.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I love playing tennis. I like singing too, though I don’t really do it as a hobby.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Netflix originals. American cable shows like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and so on. Anything by Marvel. Star Wars, of course.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Homemade ramen is up there. Mexican food (or as close as we get to it in England) and Malaysian are favourite too. As for colours, I like greens, blues and golds. I listen to lots of genres of music from artists like Dean Friedman to bands like Billy Talent. In general, alt rock, punk, some folk, metal…
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Maybe a video game designer? Or an actor.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?