Write On! interviews Writer Frasier Armitage
Frasier says: “Hi. I’m Frasier. I’m a sci-fi and speculative fiction writer. This is another way of saying I’m a total geek who spends my spare time alone in a room scribbling about things that are impossible. I won the Pen To Print Audio Play Contest in 2022 and have just released my debut novel New Yesterday.”
WO: How would you describe your writing to someone new to it?
FA: I write high-concept stories to explore what makes us human. I think when most people hear ‘sci-fi’ they immediately picture spaceships and aliens and pew-pew-pews. But I prefer to write stories that delve into more personal territory verging on the cerebral. If you’ve ever started a question with, “What if..?” you’ll probably relate to something in my books.
WO: Can you tell us a bit about your latest book, New Yesterday?
FA: New Yesterday takes place in a city where events in the present can change history. Adam Swann has rewritten his past and he’s living the life of his dreams. But when he stumbles across the name of a woman from his former past — a name he can’t forget — he’ll risk everything to find her, uncovering long-buried secrets which will force him to choose between the life of his dreams and facing the man he used to be.
New Yesterday is for everyone who’s ever caught themselves wondering about the road not taken. It speculates over how much of ourselves belongs to the past. But it reads like more of a thriller than a sci-fi book. Perfect for fans of Blake Crouch.
WO: What inspired you to write in the first place, and what inspires you now?
FA: That’s a huge question. I’ve always had ideas coming out of my ears. Not literally. That would be the weirdest writing method ever! But I used to be that annoying friend you’d take to the cinema who came out of the film saying, “The ending would’ve been much better if…” or, “What would’ve been cool is…” etc. After years of listening to me waffle about story ideas, my wife encouraged me to start writing them down. So this is all her fault, really!
In terms of what inspires me now, the more stories I write, the deeper my love for stories goes. It’s like a cycle that feeds itself. Once you become a storyteller, there’s no going back. My wife and son are a constant source of inspiration, and I can’t stop telling stories to them, for them, or about them.
Finally on this question, one of the great pleasures of writing is discovery. I don’t mean discovery in terms of finding a plot, or a character revealing themselves to you, or anything about the craft. I mean self-discovery. When I analyse my stories, I learn something about myself. It’s like my brain is trying to tell me something I feel so deeply and so intensely, it needs a safe way to be expressed, and so my imagination will find a way to put it into a story. So long as there are things I need to learn, there will always be things I need to write.
WO: The current issue of Write On! explores the theme of ‘Literary Passions And Guilty Pleasures’. With that in mind, what would you say fuels your literary passion in terms of both reading and creating? Do you have a bookish guilty pleasure you’re happy to share?
FA: I’m passionate about creativity. The more novel an idea, the more excited I get. Maybe that’s why sci-fi appeals to me so much? There are no limits to what you can do in sci-fi, and that’s been true right from the founding of the genre. When I think back to books like The Time Machine by HG Wells — the invention and imagination which must’ve been involved in defining the concept of time travel back in 1895 — it blows my mind. But ever since then, sci-fi has continued to grow in scope and potential. Right now, the genre is leaning more and more into fresh, new territory. It’s a really exciting time to be a writer.
My guilty pleasure is PG Wodehouse. Blandings, Jeeves, Psmith, the golf stories — I could happily live in those worlds forever.
WO: What one piece of advice would you give an aspiring writer?
FA: Don’t view yourself as an aspiring writer. You’re a writer. Full stop. Now go and write something extraordinary.
WO: Question from Twitter user: @grasshopper2407 What has been your hardest scene to write?
FA: For me, the opening scene of every story is the hardest scene to write. With New Yesterday, I must have rewritten it at least a dozen times. And I’m not talking about tweaks, I’m talking about starting from scratch and writing it as if it were new. I use an outline. I plot the story. I do everything I can to limit the amount of rewriting required to make a story work. But even with the best of intentions, I doubt I’ll ever write the perfect beginning first time around.
A lot of advice you’ll hear about beginning a story will include things like: starting in the middle of the action, introducing a character and setting, or avoiding the pitfalls and cliches that some writers can stray into overusing. But for me, a great beginning has to accomplish two things: 1) create intrigue, and 2) make the reader care. This is so much easier to do when you’ve got elements of a story already in place. Reaching into the emotions of your reader on page one is a lot trickier than it sounds. For me, at least.
In terms of which scene has been the most emotionally difficult to write, if you read New Yesterday, you’ll probably be able to figure that one out.
WO: Can you tell us anything about future projects?
FA: My next book is called Time’s Ellipse, and it’s a bit like The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury fused with the Christopher Nolan movie Interstellar. There’s a colony on an alien world and a phenomenon that plays around with time. But really, it’s about humanity, parenthood, and the cyclical nature of the past and future. It’ll be coming out in December, if all goes to plan.
In terms of writing audio drama, I would love to work with Alternative Stories again. Postcards From Another World turned out brilliantly, and I loved every moment that went into creating that audio play. There’s nothing official in the pipeline yet, but that’s definitely something I’m hoping to explore again in the future.
WO: Lastly, if you could choose one fictional animal/creature to be a pet or companion, who would it be and why?
FA: Does Grogu count? I mean, seriously, who wouldn’t want Grogu in their life?
You can find out more about Frasier Armitage here frasierarmitage.com and/or connect with them: @FrasierArmitage on Twitter and Instagram. New Yesterday is available to buy from Amazon.
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Don’t view yourself as an aspiring writer. You’re a writer. Full stop. Now go and write something extraordinary.