Interview With Andrew John Rainnie
Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.
I’m a writer and filmmaker from Glasgow, Scotland. I have lots of fingers in lots of pies; I write short and feature films, and occasionally direct them. I also produce music videos and other film projects through my company, Rain Fire Films, and run a website helping people explore Glasgow, www.discoverglasgow.org. I also write for an American gaming website, Warp Zoned.
In short, I’m a workaholic!
In short, I’m a workaholic!
Your latest book, Spirits of Vengeance: The Stone of Spirits, is a fantasy novel. Can you tell us a bit about it, and your corresponding short story collection, Tales of Vengeance?
Spirits of Vengeance: The Stone of Spirits actually started life as a feature length screenplay that I had to write as my final project while studying screenwriting at Bournemouth University. One of my mentors, Rosie Cullen, made me realize two things; firstly, that the story was too big for a screenplay, and two, the world made no sense. It was a popcorn movie inspired by Lord of the Rings and other magical adventure films like Willow, Red Sonja, Conan.
So I took the core idea, and started from the ground up, sculpting a believable world for my characters to inhabit. The main characters changed drastically after that, as I tried to make it more than a simple action adventure. Originally, Kaedin was the main character, but a couple of drafts later led me to realize that Kamina, his younger sister, would make a better hero, because she did not want to be one. It made the entire book more dramatic and character-driven by having the focus on her journey.
Tales of Vengeance came about as a side project; there were characters and situations who have great backstories, but for one reason or another were removed from the final book, more often because they simple diverted from the story, so I thought it would be great to gather them in a short story collection, as a companion piece, or for those who were unsure of buying Spirits, they can try Tales first, as its free.
You’re an experienced world traveler, so how do you think your journeys influenced your new book?
It’s funny because I was writing Spirits of Vengeance during my year of in 2011, travelling around the world. I ended up publishing my travel blogs as an eBook, My Right Leg Is Tastier Than My Left. There are several points in that were the landscape or scenery inspired me, or I changed names or places after visiting places. Bolivia was a big inspiration, as I had finished the first draft, but Bolivia’s landscape is so diverse and awe-inspiring that I went back and changed key points.
But I guess there are parallels to myself and Kamina; we were both on a journey of self-discovery, meeting new people, seeing wild, exotic places. We both returned changed, even matured.
Your previous book was non-fiction. Why did you decide to write a novel in the fantasy genre?
The previous book came about because I was keeping a journal on the round the world adventure, and when I returned home I had 400 pages, so I thought I should do something with them. But I have always been a fiction writer, be it short stories, novels, or films. I love the fantasy genre; I read a lot of Terry Pratchett, Phillip Pullman, Joe Abercrombie, and I grew up with the classics like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Writing epic fantasy allows you to create brand new worlds, share ideas that are similar to those on Earth, yet allow you, as a writer, to keep it separate, and new. Spirits deals a lot with race, sex, and religion, but in another place with different societies, different ideals.
Did anything surprise you about the process of writing your novel?
The sheer length of time. I’ve been working on Spirits for near enough a decade now, but during that time I have had many, many other jobs, went travelling, made a few short films, and bought a house! I’m amazed at writers who can crack out a book every 18 months. I’m hoping the sequel to Stone of Spirits only takes a couple of years.
Can you tell us about your writing process? Do you have a certain writing routine?
I try and write when I can. If I have an idea I’ll scribble it down or email myself, and then patch them together to make a cohesive story. I’m one of these people who can’t really turn off the creative part of their brain; I’ll be constantly mulling over story ideas until they gradually grow and grow and then blossom into something I feel make a great story. Then it’s just a case of expanding on storylines and treatments until you have the groundwork for something you want to invest years of your life in.
Time management is key though. I find I’m dividing my time between writing books and writing films, so I’ll set one evening as scripts, one as books. I was always advised to write at least three hours a day, which is a struggle, but not unachievable.
What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
You also work as a filmmaker and screenwriter. How does that creative process differ from writing a novel?
In many ways writing a book is like writing a screenplay, you start with an idea, and it grows as you add to it, shaping characters, story, and plot. However, once you actually get to the meat of sitting down and writing it, you find you have a lot more freedom with a book, which can be both a good and a bad thing. Screenplays are rather restrictive; they are a lot of white space, which is filled by actors, directors, production designers, special effects artists. Writing a film is essentially a foundation for other creatives to build upon, whereas a book is yours and yours alone.
Making a film is just a different kettle of fish entirely. It’s more about the logistics of organizing a cast and crew, and inspiring them all with your vision for a project, and guiding them towards it. You don’t sleep much when making a film.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently writing a sports drama feature film for a director working in India, and I have a trio of short films, collectively titled The Illuminant Midnight Project, that I hope to launch a crowd funding campaign for in early 2015, and film them next summer.
And at some point, I’ll get back to the second Spirits of Vengeance book, The Assassin of Araneque!
You can find Spirits of Vengeance: The Stone of Spirits at:
Andrew John Rainnie is a Scottish novelist, screenwriter, and filmmaker. He has an MA. Joint Honours in English Literature and Film & TV Studies from the University of Glasgow, and an MA/PGDip in Screenwriting from Bournemouth University. He has written and directed a number of short films, which have shown at festivals around the globe. His last, The Collector, based on a short story by Jonathan Lethem, was shown at the London East End Film Festival, the London Short Film Festival, and Aesthetica Film Festival in York.
After working as a media analyst and script reader in London for six years, Andrew quit the rat race and embarked on an epic around the world adventure, details of which were published in a compendium of his travel blogs, titled My Right Leg Is Tastier Than My Left. During that journey, he finished writing a passion project, his first fantasy novel, Spirits of Vengeance: The Stone of Spirits.