This week I had the pleasure of speaking with scriptwriter-turned-author Joshua Rutherford about all things writing. Josh has released three full-length novels, one short story, and contributions in a further two books. When I learned of Josh's previous profession, I was curious to dig deeper, and find out what other jobs Josh considered before turning his hand to novels.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I had so many interests as a child. Looking back, honestly, I guess you can say I wanted to be a polymath because there was so much in life I longed to do. Throughout my childhood, I considered being an astronaut, a fighter pilot, an archaeologist, an MMA fighter, an engineer, an architect, and a writer (to name a few of the possibilities I can remember).
A number of those contemplations were clearly pipe dreams, such a becoming an astronaut or fighter pilot, especially since I suffer from motion sickness. Others I analyzed in earnest before concluding I just didn't have the passion to dedicate the time and effort to turn such interests into a career.
Ultimately, I accepted writing as my calling, for it allows me to pursue all of my curiosities, everything that enthuses and infatuates me. Having that level of freedom - to study and act upon all that interests me - is so inspiring. The cyclical nature of writing - curiosity, studying, writing, repeat - keeps moving me forward.
You touched upon the studying aspect of your process and I was hoping you could share some of the most interesting things you have learned while researching for a book?
Each writing project I've taken on has required some depth of knowledge outside my scope of experience. As fantasy and sci-fi are my genres of choice, the old adage of "write what you know" doesn't really apply. So I research voraciously. I consume details and facts the way people breathe: without thought or effort, save when I stop. I would have to say the most interesting things I've learned in my research have to do with the marginal areas of history. The Middle Ages, in particular, are my favourite because it's a period that captures the popular imagination yet there is so much about it that remains unknown or misunderstood. For instance, a knight's armour is often portrayed in mass media as being restrictive and bulky. But consider that knights began their training as squires, some as young as seven or eight years old, so moving and fighting in such protective gear became second nature for them.
Then there is the fact that the armour was articulated, that is, secured with tiny pins and scales to allow for maximum movement. Such small details go underrepresented, so when I discover them, I do everything I can to implement them into my work.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Over the course of my writing, I have sought the company of other scribes. In comparing my style to that of fellow authors, I would have to say a stark point of difference is my inclination to create the most visceral, raw, and embarrassingly intimate experiences possible.
I am always trying - at times too hard - to instil an edge in all I say. To be clear, that is not to say my topics or style are sensational or risque. Against others on a sentence by sentence basis, my prose is quite boring. What I'm saying is that I love constructing deep psychological moments whenever possible, the kind that pull a reader into a manuscript to the point he or she loses track of minutes and hours.
If my character is bored, I explore his or her deepest fears amidst their mental solitude. If they lust, I aim to expose just who they desire and why, as well as what they intend to do about it. If a soldier fights in battle for the first time, I cast aside heroics for the more realistic I-will-defecate-in-my-pants fear that courses through his or her veins. I long to expose my characters, and myself, for all our harsh, beautiful truths..
Last year you released your latest novel, Kinghood. Is there anything you can tell all of us here at Super Ink about your next writing project? Book two of the Fourpointe Chronicles, perhaps?
Yes, Book Two of The Fourpointe Chronicles is on its way. I'm very excited about it. My next novel will continue the story of the identical quadruplets - Symon, Dawkin, Ely, and Gerry - as they adjust to their new roles in the kingdom and the challenges that come with their reign.
I don't want to give too much away but I will say that their love interest, Princess Taresa, becomes a more integral part of their lives. There's also going to be much more bloody action.
I also want to reveal the name of the second novel of my six-part series: Peacefall.
Lastly, is there any writing advice you could share with me and the readers?
Be supportive of other writers. Writing is tough, and for those of us who long to make a living from it one day, the publishing industry doesn't make things any easier.
In the span of my experience, I have encountered perhaps hundreds of cynics in the form of agents, literary managers, book coaches, and other scribes. They have shredded my work along with my ambitions all in the name of "constructive criticism" or "telling it like it is." While I'm certainly not promoting the opposite - a coddling or patronising approach - I think the rhetoric we have as a community could be improved to encompass as much encouragement as possible.
Because on the other side of the spectrum of my experience, I have witnessed the goodwill of authors, those who take the time to help the rest of us. Their advocacy manifests itself on social media groups where we can share our successes, or in a thoughtful review of one of our books, or as a friendly mention on a blog.
I will be forever grateful to those writers who have shown me such courtesies, which is why I would like to see many more acts of kindness within our profession. For our inclination toward introversion or modesty should never deter us from receiving one another as equal partners with the same goal: to share our stories with the world.
So there you have it: wise words from a wise man, and eloquently put as well. If, like me, you’ve read all of that and thought “this guy sounds like a worthwhile read,” you can find Josh’s work available to buy on Amazon!
Author Joshua Rutherford was interview for Super Ink Arts by Kyle J.