Today’s author interview is with the talented Francis H. Powell, author of Flight of Destiny.
Please welcome Francis H. Powell to XterraWeb ~Books & More~. We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did.
Before we get started, we would like to thank Francis for taking the time to give us this interview.
Buy Flight of Destiny on Amazon.
Amor Libris: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Francis H. Powell: Born in a commuter belt city called Reading and like many a middle- or upper-class child of such times, I was shunted off to an all-male boarding school at the age of eight, away from my parents for periods of up to twelve weeks at a time, until I was seventeen.
While at my first Art college I met a writer called Rupert Thomson, who was at the time in the process of writing his first book, Dreams of Leaving, through a friend. He was a bit older than myself, me being fresh out of school, but his personality and wit resonated despite losing contact with him. I had a stint living in Austria, where I began writing. It wasn’t until I moved to Paris, that my writing began to truly evolve. I discovered a magazine called Rat Mort (dead rat), and I sent off a short story in the hope it would match the seemingly dark world the magazine seemed to embroiled in. I got no answer. Not put off, I sent two more stories. Finally I got an answer. It seemed the magazine editor was a busy man, a man prone to travelling. It seemed my first story really hit the right note with him. His name was Alan Clark. I began writing more and more short stories, some published on the Internet.
Amor Libris: What is your favorite motivational phrase, and why?
Francis H. Powell: I am not sure it’s a motivational phrase but…
“Get up, stand up, stand up for your right.
Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight.”
~Words by Bob Marley
Amor Libris: What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Francis H. Powell: As you can see from my first answer, I come from quite a creative background. I still paint and make sculptures (from found objects, that I find around Paris). I have a YouTube channel, the Flight of Destiny YouTube channel.
I work as a teacher and work in different universities and some Architecture schools around Paris. I write music (electronic) with my computer, and I also make videos, which I post on my YouTube channel.
Recently, a friend, who has adopted a character called Lord Lupine, agreed to do a reading of one of my short stories Bugeyes with his Lord Lupine persona … Lord Lupine seems to like sherry and seems a debauched lord. The video is very Monty Pythonesque. I have been described as a renaissance man, and I try my hand at many creative activities. I have also written poetry and had it published.
Amor Libris: What books and/or authors have influenced you the most?
Francis H. Powell: I love the work of Rupert Thomson, who wrote Dreams of Leaving, as well as other books. I met him when I was a new student at Art College, and he and his writing have made a long-lasting impression on me. My style of short stories was influenced by Roald Dahl, (I loved Kiss, Kiss, which I read as a child.). I like to include a dramatic twist at the end of the story.
Amor Libris: Are there any new authors who have caught your attention?
Francis H. Powell: I read a book by Frank Scozzari I liked. It was about a man who goes to Russia to find a bride and he gets taken to the cleaners. I also liked a book by Carly Berg, who also writes short stories.
Amor Libris: Can you share the title and blurb of your latest book?
Francis H. Powell: My most recent published book is called Flight of Destiny. it is a book of twenty-two short stories. The stories are very dark, but at the same time, there is an element of satire. I would say they are very British in character. There is social satire about the upper classes, the hunting, shooting, fishing types. I think in this day and age, it is quite an unusual book. Many authors seem to be copying formulas—there are authors trying to be the new E. L. James (author of Grey and the Fifty Shades Trilogy) or trying to emulate other successful authors. Somebody compared my stories to those of Edgar Allan Poe. Recently a reviewer wrote, “They’re a little Ray Bradbury, a little Stephen King, but with Powell’s own unique twists. Very interesting read.”
Amor Libris: Who is your favorite character from your latest book, and why?
Francis H. Powell: Maybe Bugeyes (from the story Bugeyes). Poor old Bugeyes comes from a line of aristocrats with oversized extended eyes. He is the victim of many an insult concerning those aforementioned eyes. He is rejected at birth by his mother and sent to live on the far reaches of the family estate. His mother goes on to produce another two offspring, the first a male with acceptable-sized eyes and the other a sister, who like her oldest brother has large eyes and therefore suffers the same fate. Later curiosity drives Bugeyes to find out his true origin, and by chance, he encounters his younger brother. His younger brother is cruel and arrogant and is out to impress his friends, therefore sets the hunting dogs in hot pursuit of Bugeyes. Bugeyes does not speak much in this story … he may be silent, but he smart and resourceful.
Amor Libris: Are any of the characters and/or experiences in your books based upon yourself or someone you know?
Francis H. Powell: I like to create characters that fall into different categories, for example, despicable characters, as well as freaks, outsiders, and oddballs. I have always seen myself as a bit of an outsider; I never really fit into the schools I was sent to. Indirectly, my stories are autobiographical. There are elements of my fears, regrets, and angst in them.
Amor Libris: Can you share with us about what you are working on now or your next project?
Francis H. Powell: I hope there will be a follow up to Flight of Destiny.
Amor Libris: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Francis H. Powell: Stick at it. Don’t fall by the wayside. Find a niche. Find a formula that works for you. I met a woman who is an aspiring writer, who told me of the heartbreaks of her rejections. Maybe some people aim too high or have high expectations. If you post stories on the Internet, there are sites I have come across like ReadWave and Scriggler. You can get useful feedback and people actually get to read your stories, rather than your stories languishing on a hard drive doing nothing. Even if fifty people read your story, it’s a start.
Amor Libris: How can we contact you and find out more about you and your books?
Francis H. Powell:
Five Tips To Write A Strong Scene
A scene is a sequence of events occurring at a particular time and place and moves the story forward. A story or novel comprises many scenes, which are the building blocks of your novel and serve a specific purpose.
A scene can include narrative, dialogue, thought, action, sensory descriptions, and interior emotions. Each scene should have a goal of driving the plot forward. Weak scenes can affect sub-plots, the main plot, character development, or the entire novel.
Weak scenes can be identified by:
- Lack of focus on the plot
- Undeveloped character motivation
- Weakness in characters’ personalities or actions that don’t fit the character
- Excessive dialogue that doesn’t go anywhere
- Too much introspection or thoughts always preceding actions
- Not enough tension
To strengthen a scene, consider these five tips to write a strong scene.
- Action before thought.
Thoughts before actions can give away details or an impending action. Thought carries more weight when it follows the action. Consider how this example would give away the action if the thought came first.
Becca dumped the plate of spaghetti over Mark’s head. Mark stood from the table and leaned toward Becca, anger flashing in his eyes. What have I done? Becca thought and scooted her chair back from the table.
- Reveal necessary information before action.
Information can be used for foreshadowing and setting up action later in the scene. Opening sentences can easily lead to action.
Example 1: The blizzard coated the roads in a thick layer of snow and ice.
Example 2: The fire had reached the second floor before I arrived.
Example 3: The drive had been long and uneventful. Miranda looked forward to the peace and quiet of staying at the cabin in the woods.
- Use scenery to set the tone.
Describe scenery in a way that sets the tone, mood, and/or emotion of the scene. Scenery can also be described in a way that foreshadows what might happen by evoking feelings such as fear, mystery, darkness, danger, excitement, or happiness.
- Action should fit the characters.
Unless there is a clearly defined explanation, a character should not act in a way that contradicts his/her established personality. A timid, shy character wouldn’t suddenly stand his/her ground and dictate to others. A domineering bossy character might belittle others in a way that adds conflict, but he/she wouldn’t easily give in to someone else’s demands.
- Don’t procrastinate with action.
This can slow the pace, make a scene drag on endlessly, and lose the effect behind the intended action. In some cases, this can also make a character appear weak and indecisive. Compare the two examples below.
Example 1: Nicholas drew his dagger from his scabbard and joined the fight.
Example 2: Nicholas looked at the men fighting before him and wondered if he should join the fight. He took two steps forward and stopped. He pulled his dagger from his scabbard. With his dagger drawn, he joined the fight.