I was fortunate to be interviewing Liz Williams, author of the highly imaginative Detective Inspector Chen novels as well as several other sci fi and fantasy novels, including Empire of Bones and The Ghost Sister. Nominated twice for the prestigious Philip K. Dick Awards, she lives in Glastonbury, England where she runs a small witchcraft shop in addition to writing her wonderful novels.
Ms. Williams, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for the readers at Static Multimedia. Who or what influenced you to start writing seriously?
My mother was a writer â€“ she produced about a dozen Gothic romances for Robert Hale in the 1970s. So I grew up with the role model of a woman for whom writing was just what you did in between raising a family and caring for an elderly parent.
Where were you the first time you saw your book on a shelf in the store and what did you do?
I canâ€™t remember where I was, but I remember being pleased!
You have created a wonderful setting in Singapore Three. Is its creation influenced at all by the real Singapore?
No, but itâ€™s heavily influenced by Hong Kong, a city I know reasonably well. I have a friend there, who at the time was living on a houseboat in Deep Water Bay and dating someone in the HK vice squad â€“ she was also writing a book about murders in the colony. So although the geography is different, it basically is Hong Kong. All the feng shui stuff comes from HK and so do the many gods. The idea of calling it Singapore Three came from an actual proposal by the Singapore government to franchise their city â€“ they were planning to build a version of it in Africa.
Did anyone in particular inspire Chenâ€™s creation? What about Zhu Irzh? I absolutely adore this demon.
Chen just appeared in my head, but I guess heâ€™s an amalgamation of honest coppers in movies and books over the last forty years. Zhu Irzh came about because Chen needed a sidekick, and once I worked out that he was on the vice squad of Hell, everything just flowed from there.
Would you ever like to see your novels turned into film?
Yes, I would, and theyâ€™re under option with a production company as we speak â€“ theyâ€™re involving some pretty hot writing teams, so fingers crossed!
What is the most difficult thing about the writing process for you?
Finding time â€“ I run a business and a smallholding as well as writing, and there are never enough hours in the day. But I manage.
Whatâ€™s the best part of being a published author? The most difficult?
The best part is just the writing bit â€“ I enjoy it. I like the social side of publishing, too, and getting to meet readers. The most difficult is as above – the lack of time.
Whatâ€™s one of the best pieces of advice youâ€™ve ever received?
Apply Ass to Chair.
Do you have a favorite novel or poem that speaks to your heart?
Too many to mention â€“ I love Mary Stewartâ€™s Merlin series, and Yeats is probably my favourite poet. Le Guin has been a major influence, as well, but more on my SF than on the fantasy.
Do you have a particular routine when you write, such as playing music or working at a certain time of the day?
No â€“ itâ€™s usually behind the counter of the shop, so I write in between serving customers.
When Iâ€™m writing, I sometimes need a break because the words and ideas arenâ€™t flowing. What do you do to get away and refresh your mind and spirit?
I garden, or go swimming. Just walking about or reading something different is usually enough to kick-start the process again.
Thank you very much for your questions, and Iâ€™m very pleased youâ€™re enjoying the books!
Thank you, Ms. Williams. The newest installment in the Detective Inspector Chen series, Precious Dragon is available now while the forthcoming book, The Shadow Pavilion will be available soon. Pick up this truly remarkable series as soon as you can.