Interview with Author Ben Galley

Ben Galley's The Heart of Stone has rocked the fantasy community over the past few months, winning Best Self-Published Novel in the 2017 Booknest Fantasy Awards. I'm pleased to have him here today to share his thoughts on writing and creativity.

What inspired your world building process?
The inspiration behind the the world of The Heart of Stone—The Realm—came largely from war-torn Europe during the 1700s, also known as the Gunpowder Age. It was a time of constantly moving borders, strife and battle. The main setting of the story is Hartlund, which is in the strangle-hold of a civil war, and for this I took a lot of inspiration from the English Civil War, where countrymen were turned against each other in a brutal fight over parliament and country. I wanted to portray a vicious environment, where alliances and battle-lines shift constantly, giving a constant sense of uncertainty and betrayal. Hartlund has basically been trashed by years of war, and whatever beauty it once held in its rolling fields and bucolic climes has been trampled and forgotten. The rest of the Realm was inspired by a classic struggle between northern and southern ideals, similar to the later Crusades. Magic doesn’t feature too heavily in my book, nor do other races, so it makes the main character Task—a 400 year-old golem—truly unique and feared.

Who are you writing for and why?
A very good question! I write because I am obsessed with writing, and I enjoy crafting worlds and characters. As for who reads it, of course I care, but I normally write for anyone who might enjoy my stories, which are normally character-driven, multiple POV fantasies. There is no defined demographic I’m actively targeting. I’ve had non-fantasy fans say my books were their introduction to the genre, and so I know to just focus on the strength of the plot and writing, and let the book appeal to whoever it appeals to. I try not to write commercially, as I feel it pigeon-holes me too much, and restricts what I can do with style and structure.

What do you do to recharge your creative energy?
Music is a great source of energy for me, as is planning. If I know where I’m going, I find the writers’ block doesn’t rear its head. If I’m lacking focus, I find that a belter of a tune will give me the inspiration and verve that I need to ignore any doubts or questions. Other than that, it’s important to get enough sleep and get away from the desk when I can. I’m an avid gym-goer, which gives me a good physical break from a very mental and sedentary job.

What reactions do you hope to inspire in others?
Ideally, enjoyment and awe, and maybe some shock thrown in too. As I write within the genres of grimdark, epic fantasy and weird west, my fiction is naturally dark and full of graphic action. At the same time, being very character-led, I want readers to feel thoroughly invested in my characters and their struggles. I also try to balance the darkness with humour, and so a laugh here and there is always something I aim for.

Where is your writing taking you?
Hopefully to a stratosphere of fame and riches previously unheard of… In all seriousness, I am very lucky to have gone full-time on my writing several years ago, and so my goal is to continue doing that, churning out book after book and improving my craft all the while. It’s an incomparable feeling seeing reviews and reader reactions to my books, and that is a constant inspiration to continue with my writing and to keep improving. I’m very lucky to have got where I am with my books, and I can’t wait to see where they lead me next.

Find more from Ben Galley online:
You can find all my books and details at my website,, or you can connect with me on Twitter and YouTube (@BenGalley), or on Facebook and Instagram (@BenGalleyAuthor).

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