Francis Sparks grew up on a farm in northwest Iowa with his two sisters, where he spent his days avoiding bulls and other livestock as he created castles in the pasture made of fallen trees, twine pilfered from his father’s hay bales and his imagination. Since graduating from college, he has lived in the ‘big’ city where he continues to build castles and fight dragons in the IT industry as a web programmer. He has an amazing wife and two beautiful children and enjoys spending time with them, writing and teaching his children, ages 2 and 6 weeks, all about dragons.
Francis recently got a piece of his work accepted in one of Bards and Sages anthologies titled The Great Tome of Darkest Horrors and Unspeakable Evils.
I was both lucky and quick to grab him for an interview.
1.What are you working on right now?
I am working on my first high fantasy novel, a short story and edits for my debut novel that will be released this fall by Pandamoon Publishing.
2.Can you tell us a little something about it?
The fantasy novel is something that sort of came to me differently than most ideas. I’m a pantser so I don’t always know where the story is going until I get there, but for this one I know how it ends and it’s all about getting there which is fun but also scary for me. It has all of the great stuff for me, wizards, politics, swords and murder.
The short story is something that I just started writing a few weeks ago but the voice of the main character is incredibly strong so I think it will go quickly, it is more along the lines of a crime/thriller story. It’s a take on how someone might react if they found out they were living on borrowed time. What if that person happened to be a repressed sociopath?
Made Safe is my debut novel that will be published in Fall 2016 from Pandamoon Publishing. It is a crime/mystery novel in which I explore the different circumstances refugees of the Bosnian conflict find themselves in and the choices they make when they are resettled in the Midwestern United States.
3.Tell us, why do you write? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I am a restless wreck if I don’t have a creative outlet.
My inspiration comes from everything around me. My doctor with the accent and broken nose for instance. Where did he come from? How did he break his nose? My mind takes me many places when I ponder things like that. I suppose I could ask him but that wouldn’t be any fun.
4. When I write, I require Jaffa cakes (and lots of them), do you have a writing must-have?
Interesting, I find the habits of artistic people incredibly fascinating. There is a great book called Daily Rituals: How Artists Work filled with anecdotes about how the greats worked. For me it is coffee. I usually write in the morning or over lunch and coffee is a must, it gives me an excuse to pause and do something other than write for a moment (which isn’t always bad).
5.What is your favourite book?
The Sun Also Rises. When I was in college I discovered the campus library’s excellent collection of Hemingway’s works and tore through them, but I still re-read The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls the most. The way Hemingway can draw you in with his simple declarative sentence structure is something I try to emulate in my own writing.
6.Which author’s career, alive or passed on, do you admire most, and why?
At the risk of talking too much about him, Ernest Hemingway had a great career. His first novel was a near masterpiece written at age 27 in the Sun Also Rises. He was an Expat in Paris at the height of the roaring 20’s, he was around for the rise of fascism in Europe and covered it as a journalist during the Spanish Civil war. He helped liberate Paris from the Nazis. All this time he is experiencing life and writing about it with ironclad discipline. And then at age 50-something he writes the Old Man and the Sea and wins the Nobel Prize. Not a bad run.
7.Tell us something about yourself…an annoying habit or party trick perhaps? Can you speak a foreign language or have a hobby?
This probably covers a few of those. I can do voices/impressions some good, some terrible. I’ve started doing a version of Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey that my two-year-old son thinks is hilarious. Also I am an avid runner and I’m taking up fencing next month.
8.Do you have a blog, website or social networking account people can go to if they wish to learn more about you or your work?
The date for release of my novel hasn’t been set yet but if you go to my website you can sign up for updates. I promise no spam.
9.What are your writing plans for 2016?
I am going to complete the first draft of my WIP fantasy novel, launch Made Safe my debut crime/mystery novel and hopefully begin my next mystery novel I have on the backburner.
10.And now, for the most important question of all: Jaffa cakes – love them or hate them?
I’m going to try them — Amazon Prime will have them here on Tuesday.
To follow Francis and be kept informed of the launch date of his debut novel please follow the links below:
Francis was kind enough to share the blurb of his soon to be released novel Made Safe. Here it is:
When an adultery investigation takes a violent turn, Fred Dunsmore lands in the hospital with a near-fatal stab wound and private investigator Moses Winter lands in jail. He’s not alone, though. He’s there with his unstable client, Sharon Dunsmore, and Fred’s mistress, a Bosnian refugee who just happens to be the cousin of DCI agent Raif Rakić. After Rakić secures their release, Fred disappears, and Moses Winter must now find the man his client tried to kill, and in doing so navigate the murky waters of the Des Moines criminal underworld run by the local Bosnian mafia.
Francis’s piece in The Great Tomb of Darkest Horrors and Unspeakable Evils, is titled Twenty Steps.
It was a real honor to interview Francis. He is such a well-read and talented writer with an awesome imagination. Thanks Francis!