BookLife Talks with A.K. Faulkner
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'Jack of Thorns'
Urban fantasy author Faulkner advocates finding a writers group that you’re comfortable with, because you’ll need support as you write—and not just for your first book but for every book.
How did you come up with the world in which Jack of Thorns is set? Was any research involved?I’m a huge fan of urban fantasy. I love the idea of worlds hidden alongside our own, just out of sight, where the supernatural could be waiting around any corner. I also adore the folklore of the British Isles, so I wanted to blend the two together. There was a lot of research for the worldbuilding, both into regional British myths and legends and into San Diego, which was a city I’d never visited. I really liked the idea of setting all this wonder and horror in a sunny Californian city on the coast, but I wanted it to be rooted in a real place.
The Inheritance series (Jack of Thorns is the first book) is broken up into “seasons.” Can you describe the idea behind that?
Certainly! I’m a big fan of longer story arcs, so each season is one arc. Every book is a self-contained story but also part of the season’s bigger story, which has its own distinct theme and antagonist. Each season is five books long—or, rather, is planned to be, since only the first season is complete so far.
As a British writer, how do you make sure that you’re staying authentic to the book’s San Diego setting?Initially I hadn’t visited the area, so as well as doing research, I searched for alpha and beta readers who had been living there for several years. I pass my chapters to my alpha readers one by one, and any errors are quickly picked up and bounced back. The beta readers then go over a book once it’s completed and check for any issues the alpha readers may have missed.
I did eventually take a research trip to San Diego, because it’s one thing to read books and check websites and another to be somewhere in person. The trip was utterly invaluable. I was able to pick up some locally written books on subjects varying from local legends to the plant life and history of the region. I’d like to do it again next year because I want to come to grips with some finer details, such as the twists and turns of Quentin’s jogging route. I spent the first trip visiting the places I’d already written about, so next time I’d like to see potential new areas for the series to visit.
What is the one bit of advice you most want to tell other writers?
Find your tribe. There are plenty of ways to do this. There are writing subreddits, Discord servers, forums, Facebook groups, Twitter hashtags, Meetup groups, you name it. Don’t be afraid to join a few and leave the ones that don’t jibe with your approach. If you don’t feel at home there, you don’t have to stay. Find people you can share your ups and downs with, you can laugh and learn with, and who can help you with what might feel like awkward newbie questions. We were all new once, so don’t ever fall into the trap of comparing yourself to the people you’re learning from. They’ve been where you are, and everyone’s journey is different.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently giving Sigils of Spring, Inheritance’s seventh book, a last paranoid read through, because there’s no such thing as over-proofing, and then I’ll start the process of plotting Spells of Summer, Inheritance’s eighth book.