Interview with Francis H Powell
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
What better way to put all my angst into short stories. Born in a commuter belt city called Reading and like many a middle or upper class child of such times I was shunted off to an all-male boarding school aged eight, away from my parents for periods of up to twelve weeks at a time. In such an institutions, where I was to rest until my seventeenth year, there was no getting away from the cruel jibes hurled at me from taunting tormentors. My refuge was the arts room, where I started to find some kind of redemption from the stark Dickensian surroundings, whose aim was nurture the army officers, businessmen, and gentry that dominate the class ridden world I was born into. The seeds were sown, I was an outsider, Happier times were to follow, I went to art school, where I attempted to exorcize my time spent at school. At eighteen I turned my back on a parentally enforced weekly visit to church and my head was filled with a range of nonconformist ideas. While at my first Art college through a friend I met a writer called Rupert Thomson, who was at the time in the process of writing his first book “Dreams of leaving”. He was a bit older than myself, me being fresh out of school, but his personality and wit resonated and despite losing contact with him, I always read his latest published books with not only great expectation and unabashed admiration, but also a fascination for a person I had really looked up to, his sentences always tight, shooting arrows that always hit the mark. My yearning to be creative stayed strong and diversified, from my twenties through to my thirties and forties I made electronic music, doing concerts, in front ecstasy infused crowds, at a point I was making videos and short films. When the age of the internet arrived I was really able translate my creative endeavors into something really tangible. To earn a living I have worked as a teacher. I moved to Austria where upon I thought I would try writing. It is sure that my writing at that time was rough and rugged and without direction. I dived into a story about immortality, the story remains vegetating on some dusty floppy disk. Then tried short stories for children with illustrations to go with them. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-forties that my writing took shape. I was at this point living in Paris, France. I spotted an advert for short stories. The magazine happened to be called Rat Mort (dead rat) I sent off a short story, in the hope it would match the seemingly dark world the magazine seemed to embroiled in. I got no answer. Not put off I sent two more stories. Finally I got an answer. It seemed the magazine editor was a busy man, a man prone to travelling. It seemed my first story really hit the right note with him. His name was Alan Clark. He had a flat in the Montmartre area of Paris, where he seemed known to all, especially those who frequented his favorite drinking haunts. He offered me many words of encouragement. I was writing stories that were coming into my head at regular intervals, as if a monster had suddenly awakened. I was writing them on scraps of paper, less I would forget them, while I travelled on the Paris metro, going about my teaching work with staid business types. I had found a format for writing that worked, as well as a hunger to write about the demons of my past that still haunted me. Moving closer to present times, the desire to put together an anthology seemed to resonate in my mind. The Flight of Destiny evolved slowly. Many trans-Atlantic exchanges between myself and two editors seemingly far away. This evolution took my writing to a new level and the stories more depth and resonance.
When did you first start writing?
I had a false start…I tried to write a book while living in Austria. While living in Paris, my writing developed and I started to write short stories.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
It is 22 short stories, published by Savant Books & Publications, it took a long time to edit and polish, but the outcome is very pleasing, it also includes 22 illustrations. Like the stories the illustrations are dark and foreboding…
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
To get things done…to be with my son and wife..to be creative…to connect with other people…
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I don’t have much time at the moment…I love to paint (I went to Art college) I also write music and make videos…I like to go for walks and visit places (I live near to Paris, there are lots of things to do)
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
There is a story in a school magazine somewhere…it is about a Knight…
What is your writing process?
I don’t write and outline, ideas just accumulate. The first sentence in my stories can be vital. Sometimes the name of a leading character (for example Bugeyes) impacts the story. The conclusion to the story is also essential and I am always focusing on how my stories will pan out and the direction they are going in. I want each sentence to be powerful and I am often searching for better ways of expressing myself and stronger and appropriate language to use.
How do you approach cover design?
My book is called “Flight of Destiny” I guess I wanted a main image connected to “flight” so I chose an angel. There are other surrounding images that connect to the stories.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I have tried many…constantly posting on Twitter and facebook…it is hard to know how many people you genuinely reach. I have also signed up to many writers/readers sites. I have a book trailer on youtube;
Describe your desk
chaos…papers…chewed pens…a crumpled tissue…