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Interview with H.M. Sealey


H.M. Sealey

Time Flies


Heather Morag Sealey is a Welsh author and award-winning Playwright with a fascination with the human mind and reality. Her first book was scribbled on folded paper when she was five and told the story of a seashell with legs. Hopefully, her storytelling skills have improved somewhat in the last four decades.


She writes a strange mixture of dark fantasy with a spiritual edge, exploring Biblical, Athurian, and historical themes in her 13-book series Kingdom Rising, and straight out dystopian in This Broken Land and The Privileged Few.


She has recently branched into Children’s literature with the help of her 9-year-old daughter, Gloria, with their time-travel adventure Time Flies. She lives in Cheshire, UK, with her husband, three children, two guinea-pigs and one axolotl.



Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?

A. William the Conqueror is my 28th Great-Grandfather. Also, Edward the 1st is my 20th great-grandfather, but apparently, I’m not entitled to any of the castles he built in Wales. Not even a little one. I can also say Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogo-goch in one breath (The longest place name in Europe.)

 

Q.2 When should we expect your next book? What will it be about?

A. I’m playing about with ideas at the moment, working on some screenplays with my writing partner. Gloria and I may write a sequel to Time Flies though, she has a lot of ideas. I usually have several ideas floating around in my head at any one time.

 

Q.3 What made you write Time Flies?

A. Several things. One was noticing Gloria’s imagination and her love of Doctor Who. She needed her energy directed into something creative during the lockdown, so we started discussing ideas on our walks. One day we were almost blown away by the wind, and thus the idea of including “the winds of time” was born. She also has a large coin collection, although her oldest is only a King George III penny. The other was learning our personal family history, our connection to the Kings and Queens of England. Gloria loves history. It made sense to write something with a historical edge.

 

Q.4 Do you feel any competitive pressure from fantasy films? If not, why?

A. Golly, no. My stories are my stories. There’s room out there for all manner of storytelling. It’s not a competition.

 

Q.5 What is one stereotype about fantasy writers is absolutely wrong? What one stereotype is dead on?

A. I can’t actually think of any stereotypes of fantasy writers off-hand. And fantasy is such a vast genre. Someone writing High, Tolkien-Esque Fantasy is likely to be different from someone writing low fantasy. That writers, on the whole, tend to be introverted and love their own company? That’s probably right though.

 

Q.6 Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?

A. I do research a lot of history and legend, though not to get ideas but to broaden and deepen the ideas I already have. The Kingdom Rising series takes a trip through the whole of human history - it takes a lot of research for even a paragraph of prose if it’s set in the 5th century, or the 12th century, or the 17th century. Political events, food, landscape, costume, architecture, etc. I learned the entire history of the warded lock for one throwaway line from a particular character and the evolution of the window for a half-page scene. I get very irritated with incorrect historical detail. If you give me a King Arthur with a turreted castle and metal armor, I’m going to get supremely annoyed. I also took the Medieval legend of The Wandering Jew and wound that in and out of the books.

 

Q.7 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

A. Not to fall back on stereotypes. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t write a strong woman by writing a strong man and changing the names. A strong character is a strong character, an individual. But also, don’t be scared of writing the opposite sex, they’re still human beings. Men and women are more alike than not.

 

Q.8 If you could be a member of any fantasy race, which would you choose and why?

A. A Hobbit. A peaceful life in the country with no cares. What’s not to like? I could always shave my feet.


Q.9 How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?

A. 16 novels and a lot of plays. It’s very hard to pick a favorite. Perhaps The King’s Story because I put the most work into it. It’s partly a peculiar re-telling of the Bible. It took a lot of research. But I love my whole Kingdom Rising series, especially the middle ones. Time Flies was the most fun I’ve had writing a book since I had an opinionated co-writer telling me what I was doing wrong every step of the way.


Q.10 How do you select the name of your characters?

A. Sometimes I work the name out carefully in advance. Angelic and demonic characters in Kingdom Rising are named after their character traits in Hebrew. Sometimes I literally choose the first name that comes to me with no thought at all. In Time Flies we used family names. So, there’s no one method really, just whatever’s right at the time. There’s a character in Deva Rising called Jack Deedever. What nobody knows is Deedever was the way my friend’s son used to say “Screwdriver” when he was a toddler, and I liked the sound.

 

Q.11 If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

A. A newcomer. Acting’s a hard business to break into. I’d like to give someone a big break.

 

Q.12 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?

A. Yes. Trying to push through it makes it worse. I just stop writing for a while. I do the garden, go for a walk, or write something different. Sometimes I can write 50,000 words of a book and not come back to it for years. I just see writer’s block as my brain needs a quick break.

 

Q.13 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?

A. I don’t have a lot of reviews because I don’t ask for them. It feels rude. I’ve had a couple of critical ones but they don’t upset me too much, I felt they were fair enough. Writing is subjective and not everyone likes what I write. A good review makes my day in a way very little else can. Someone once wrote. “Keep writing, just keep writing” at a point when I was very low. That made the whole world seem a bit brighter.

 

Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?

A. Hmmm. I type really quickly but only using my index finger. I’ve never learned to type properly; it wasn’t a subject offered at school in my day unless you intended to be a secretary. My husband thinks my finger flying across the keyboard is quite funny. I wrote my first plays on my Dad’s old typewriter, the keys had to be hit really hard to get the ink onto the page. I spent my later teenage years with an oddly swollen index finger. 

 

Q.15 Outside of your family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author?

A. I don’t think anyone or anything did really. I knew I would write; it’d be easier to stop breathing than stop writing stories. I used to stand under the willow tree in my garden, lay little clay models of characters I’d made out on the grass, and tell myself their stories from being about four or five years old. I don’t think I needed anyone outside my family to encourage me. I don’t think anything could’ve stopped me. But my parents bought me a word processor for my 18th birthday. That was 1992, so it wasn’t anything like today’s computers. It was an expensive thing; unlike anything, I’d had before. It was the best present I’d ever had.

 

Q.16 How will you describe your life before and after getting published?

A. Very little difference, other than a quiet sense of foreboding. Writing is one thing. Sharing part of your soul with the outside world is something else. I wrote the first of my Kingdom Rising novels whilst pregnant with my eldest daughter - so 18 years ago - but other than having more children, my life has stayed on quite an even keel.

 

Q.17 What three things readers should expect from your books?

A.  Hmmm. Usually more than one narrator/viewpoint. I like to mix first-person and third-person, past and present. My later books become quite complex, I think it’d be hard to pick up, say book 8, and really know what was going on. I like to make sure readers get rewarded for sticking with the story. 


I always assume my readers are intelligent, can remember facts, and don’t need to hit over the head with any of my opinions. I like my characters to have a range of religious/political/philosophical beliefs so I learned to steel-man opinions I disagree with. It makes for much more rounded characters. Other than Time Flies, my books tend to be quite long. I suppose that’s due to my own love of long books. I always feel short-changed if everything’s wrapped up too neatly and quickly. Life isn’t like that.

 

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?

A. There are a lot of people I’d love to meet. I think maybe Empress Maud, (Mother of Henry II) and not only because she’s my 26th great-grandmother, but because she seems like a pretty strong woman living in a time where she was denied the throne because she was a woman. Hard to imagine that mentality clung on until so recently.

 

Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?

A. Kindred by Octavia E Butler. I read it at about 17 and was blown away. I was raised in a little Welsh town, we didn’t cover American history at all, and the fact that the British had anything to do with the slave trade (it was illegal to have slaves in Britain dating back to William the Conqueror, but that didn’t stop us trading them in America. Hypocrisy at its finest) was never mentioned. Reading Octavia Butler’s world showed me this whole world, this whole chunk of human history I knew nothing about. It’s because of her I have elements of history from this era in my books.

 

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?

A. Writing is all about learning, learning how to write better, how to paint with words, how to draw a reader along for the ride. The more you broaden your own experiences, the more you have to draw on for your stories. Learning languages, learning about cultures, history, science, theology, any field can open you up to something new and that newness will find a way into your work.


The first full-length novel I wrote was a derivative, high-fantasy quest. It wasn’t good, I would never have tried to publish it. But when I look at it now, however awful it is to read the work of your sixteen-year-old self, I see the occasional flash of who I am now. I like to think I haven’t written my best books yet.

 

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Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/HMSealey

Website - https://malkahprasch.wixsite.com/hmsealey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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