'Riftmaster', an extraordinary Fantasy by Miles Nelson
I’ve been very much looking forward to Miles Nelson’s novel, ‘Riftmaster’, now released by Elsewhen Press. I know that readers of scifi and fantasy will adore this fascinating tale. I’m always fascinated by how other writer’s work, and we’re thankful that Miles was delighted to support ‘The Scribe’ with an interview for our blog. We wish him every well-deserved success in his literary career and I, for one, look forward to grabbing a copy of 'Riftmaster' as soon as I can.
Miles, do you plan your book using such programmes as excel, or write as you go?
For me, my plotting method largely depends on the book! Generally, I have a basic, bullet-pointed list of major story events, which I’ll highlight as I reach each one to give me a nice feeling of progress. Other than that, the relationships between characters tend to grow organically and, if I end up needing more development for them - or a curveball to throw in some drama, then I’ll do that. It’s a nice windfall knowing that I don’t need to stick to my plan to a ‘T’.
Do you find writing blindly helps, or do you always know what you’re going to write first?
Writing blindly can be fun, but I don’t do it much anymore! Not fully blind, anyway. Oftentimes, I find that plots develop better if they have a skeleton, but that the ‘meat’ (I.E: the character growth and interaction) is far better to write as you go! I find it develops a lot more naturally that way.
How did you go about getting a publisher and was it a hard journey?
It felt like a long journey, but not nearly as long as it is for some. I started submitting to agents around 3 months after I’d finished my novel, having self-edited it twice. I was lucky in that I was a part of the New Writing North Talent Fund, meaning I was able to attend special events such as a visit to the publishing house Faber and Faber, and was offered tickets to their
northern writing conference. I brought the pitch for my novel to both of these events, meaning editors and agents were able to offer me some fantastic advice for the very first draft of my novel! In that time, I also bought books containing the names and information of indie publishers, which was ultimately how I ended up discovering Elsewhen!
Sci-fi is a fairly niche genre though, and it is a little more difficult to find agents that represent it than I was expecting. In addition, my inexperience in formatting let me down with some of my earlier submissions (make sure you learn how to properly format your works, folks!)
Six months later, I had an epiphany. There were elements of my book that I wasn’t happy with. Characters that were there to fill a purpose and nothing else. I realized that I still had work to do, and settled into another round of editing. This time, I added a whole new perspective, introducing new nuances of the story and facets of characters that had been previously unexplored. The book went from 55k to almost 70k words. That’s the equivalent of two whole chapters!
I had around twenty to thirty rejections by the time I got my first full manuscript request from a publisher; and it happened just as I was in the middle of taking the book apart to add in everything new! Panicking, I hastily put it back together and sent it off for review. Soon after, I got my second. This time from Elsewhen.
Finally, in April 2020, exactly a year after I’d started, I was offered my first book deal. And the rest, as they say, is history.
If you were to choose a favourite social media platform to promote your writing, which would it be?
I like Twitter the best, but it’s probably because of my short attention span! I like to be able to hop in and hop out, without too much commitment. It also seems to be the best platform for helping to foster a bit of a broader audience quickly, which is nice! However, I will say it can be a bit of a double-edged sword, and I find myself staring at the follower count quite often.
In what areas do you particularly struggle as an author, and how do you overcome them?
The first draft is the most difficult part of writing for me. I am an editor as much as a writer, and I often need the scraps of a draft already there in order to write my strongest passages. My solution to this is to briefly summarise the parts that I’m struggling with; oftentimes, taking the pressure away from making it good means it’s actually easier. Coming back to it later with fresh eyes is even better, and sometimes you’ll even end up liking what you wrote the first time!
What advice would you give to any writer, who’s starting out?
My main advice is this: if you want to publish your writing expect a lot of work and rejections. But don’t let that get you down, even if it feels disappointing. Think of a rejection as progress, another name to be checked off the list! The statistics are always going to be stacked against you from the get-go, but just have faith that the perfect home for your story is out there somewhere. Your agent or publisher ideally has to be your first and biggest fan, which makes them hard to come by. But don’t give up, always persist!
Secondly, if someone offers you advice, take it as a compliment. You don’t have to incorporate it; after all, the world is full of reviewers who think they know what your book should be. But think about what it would mean, and taking it isn’t a bad thing. It’s great practice for when your book goes into the professional editing stage, too. Find the balance: being an author is all about learning, changing, and making your work the best that it can be.
And, as with anything else, expect to make mistakes. No-one does everything perfectly the first time. Have patience, enthusiasm, and overcome those odds.
How do you hold on to hope when you’re being repeatedly wrenched between worlds? College
student Bailey Jones is plucked from his world by a mysterious and unpredictable force known as the Rift, which appears to move people at random from one world to another.
Stranded on an alien planet, he is relieved when he meets a fellow human, the self-styled Riftmaster, who is prepared to assist him. Although curious about his new companion’s real identity, Bailey hopes that, with years of experience of the Rift, this cosmic traveller can help him find a way to return to Earth. But first, as the two of them are ripped without warning from one hostile planet to another, Bailey must rely on the Riftmaster to show him how to survive. Riftmaster, an adventure, an exploration, is concerned with loss, and letting go, while still holding onto your humanity and identity, even when life seems hopeless.
Bailey’s stomach dropped with nerves and he halted, more than happy to let the Riftmaster come to him. The Riftmaster was dressed as he was – a pink hide cloak and similar boots, and a mask that obscured his face. A hide shroud covered in wiry pink hair fell from the mask down to his shoulders. Bailey could see little of the clothes beneath the except for a hint of faded purple cloth. As he approached, Bailey thought that the Riftmaster was smaller than he remembered – in fact, he was shorter than Bailey himself.
The stranger briefly stopped to speak to the mountain-dwellers. Bailey strained to listen, but all three spoke in the mountain-dwellers’ tongue.
Finally the stranger looked back towards Bailey.
The Riftmaster covered the last few metres between them and stood opposite Bailey. Although the other’s face was hidden in its entirety, Bailey knew in an instant that he was being judged, and he looked over the Riftmaster in turn.
Bailey watched in bewilderment as finally, after a momentary pause, the Riftmaster crossed slender hands over its chest, before dipping towards him in a shallow bow. Bailey caught a glimpse of a human hand as one palm was outstretched towards him.
Bailey could think of nothing else to do but stare; the gesture felt strange and almost ritualistic, but it must have been some sort of a greeting.
Before he even had the chance to figure out a suitable etiquette, the Riftmaster was removing the mask from his face. Bailey hesitated, and then did the same.
Miles Nelson was born and raised in the distant north, in a quaint little city called Durham. He studied video game design at Teesside University, graduating in 2018. Since then, he has taken a step back from coding to work on his writing career, and has since led several masterclasses with New Writing North.
He has been writing all his life, and although Riftmaster is technically his fourth novel, he likes to pretend the first three don’t exist. Whilst he is primarily a sci-fi writer who loves long journeys, strange worlds and all things space and stars, he has also had brief flings with the genres of fantasy and horror. He often writes stories highlighting the struggles faced by the LGBTQ+ community, and tries to include themes of empathy and inclusivity in all he does. Even then, though, Miles stands firm in the belief that this is not the defining element of his stories. And, although he tries to represent his community as best he can, these themes are never the main focus; because he believes that (in most cases) a person shouldn’t be defined by their deviation from standard norms.
Outside of scifi and fantasy, he has a deep-rooted fascination with natural history, and collects books told from unique perspectives (be they animal, alien, or mammoths from Mars). The older, the better; his oldest book is just about to turn 100! He currently lives in Durham City with his husband, Chris, who so far seems unworried by Miles’ rapidly growing collections.
Books to read: https://books2read.com/Riftmaster
Google Play: http://bit.ly/Riftmaster-Google
Kindle UK: http://bit.ly/Riftmaster-KindleUK
Kindle US: http://bit.ly/Riftmaster-KindleUS
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