Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Burt Clinchandhill, author of Aldaraia (The Matthew Bishop Series – Book One).
FQ: Mr. Clinchandhill, per your biography, you are a Dutch-born author. Can you tell readers a bit about when you wrote your first story and how the passion for writing first came about in your life?
CLINCHANDHILL: As a kid in the seventies and eighties, in my teens, I was intrigued by a British TV show called Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected. Fantastic stories told in half an hour that always had a surprising ending. I felt those were the kind of stories I wanted to tell, so I started writing short fantastic stories, which I – of course – felt were pretty good. Unfortunately, none of those words survived, and we’ll never know if, indeed, they were any good.
FQ: You have had a long career in photography. Has this creative pursuit helped your writing? In addition, because of that career path, do you create your own book covers?
CLINCHANDHILL: To start with your last question, no, I don’t create my own covers. A very talented lady from Ukraine designed my indie-published book covers, and for my latest books, my publisher works with a talented designer named Kabir Shah from the UK. Don’t you love that the world has become the small place it is now? Regarding my photography career. When studying photography, you learn to visualize a picture before you take it. I like to think that’s how I write. Before the words appear on paper, I visualize every image, every scene, like a movie. When I close my eyes, I see my characters speak every piece of dialogue, and the environment they’re in.
FQ: Please tell readers a little about this fantastic title, Aldaraia, and when/how the idea came to you in regards to this work? In addition, will this be part of a series or a trilogy?
CLINCHANDHILL: To be honest, I wanted to write a ‘Dan Brown-like’ story. Not that I’m a big fan of his writing style, but I love the way he develops a story—especially the intertwining of past and present and making it (almost) believable. The same goes for the books by Michael Crichton and the way he combines adventure with current medical knowledge to create science fiction stories. Fantastic and, again, believable. I try to tell my stories, however wild sometimes, in a plausible way.
FQ: Do your characters, in this case Matthew Bishop, share any characteristics with you personally?
CLINCHANDHILL: I don’t think so, at least not much. He and I like fishing and traveling, but for the rest. I do think that all of my characters reflect some smaller traits of me. Even the bad guys. I do like strong but flawed character so in that way we might have more in common than I like to agree on.
FQ: With other titles, such as Kursk, 47 Hours, etc., you concentrated on true stories and real-life tragedies. Is this work more “out of the realm” for you when it comes to genre? If so, what made you decide to go in this direction with your writing?
CLINCHANDHILL: I love this current genre. This is absolutely my favorite. It took this long to write my first book in this genre because I simply believed I couldn’t do it, that it simply would be too difficult to do. That’s why I started with more or less true stories like Kursk. I felt that a story like Kursk was especially suited to start writing (again) because, being a true story, there was a sort of an outline there. Fortunately, there was also a lot of unknown mystery that I could fill in using my fantasy. In that first book, I created a character called James Mitchel that I felt deserved a sequel. And since I like trilogies, the James Mitchel trilogy was born.
FQ: What comes next? Can you give us a “sneak peek” in regards to Matthew Bishop’s next step?
CLINCHANDHILL: Ah, well. Bishop’s next adventure is called Lemuria and will take him again across the globe. Only this time, it will be personal for him when a close friend disappears mysteriously. Of course, there’s a mystical reason for the friend’s disappearance, and even the Vatican seems to be involved this time. For the rest, you’ll have to wait until May 2021.
FQ: Is there a genre you have not explored as of yet that you would like to one day?
CLINCHANDHILL: Matthew Bishop’s adventure comes as a trilogy, and currently, I’m writing the final installment, planned to be released in December 2021. That final chapter will end in a sort of cliffhanger into a new series that will be in a different genre. Think of it as more of a fantasy series that plays in our own current realm. Confused? Sorry, that’s about all I can tell you about it now, and it changes just about every day in my mind, so who knows. I love the fantasy genre, but again, It seems so hard to write.
FQ: Is there one author you would love to sit down and talk to about writing? If so, who would that be and what would be one question you would like to ask them?
CLINCHANDHILL: Michael Crichton would absolutely be the one I’d like to sit down with. Unfortunately, that will never happen, of course. But I simply admire, maybe even worship, the man. Not just for his active writing style but also for the way he wrote his view of the near future into his adventurous stories. Many of them have a predictive value that I love. I love books that when you finished reading them, your first thought will be, What if?”