Today I’ve invited Indigo Dylis – the author of ‘Heroes of Bailey’s Wood’ – to chat with me about writing, friendships, and martial arts. I’m a huge fan of Indi’s work, particularly his depiction of human conditions and his characters who always feel so real to me. I remember how we became friends, it was when I stumbled upon a beautiful excerpt from his novel on facebook. It was titled ‘Love’, and I thought, “yeah, how cheesy is that?” Ha. It was SO not.
It’s lovely to have you here, man. So tell us: who is Indigo Dylis?
My instinct is to deflect this question with a silly gag – I’m a private man – but I’ll try to resist the urge. So … who am I? Well I guess I’m a writer. I’ve wanted to be able to say that for a long time – and I’ve been working towards it – but its only recently that I come to believe it to be true. It isn’t how I make my main living, but I believe we’re all more than the jobs we do, and writing is the thing I’d be doing if my living was already made. Aside from that, I’m a Yorkshireman lost in the south of England, a martial artist studying Classic Tiger Kung Fu and a keeper of tropical fish.
I really enjoyed your story ‘Heroes of Bailey’s Wood’, particularly the friendship between the main characters. I notice this in most your stories actually, there is always a very strong bond that binds small groups of friends together. Why is that?
I try to write stories I’d like to read – I think most writers do – and those bonds of friendship are kinda where I live. My favourite moments in the stories I grew up with were the quiet “bonding” moments. They often took place around a campfire in fantasy stories – that was where the characters came to life for me. The action and fireworks were important and fun to read – but for me they were mostly there to earn those quiet moments, to forge those powerful connections. A lot of what I write is about exploring the connections between people.
Your writing ranges from heart-wrenching to giggle-galore, but always strong with emotions. Tell us a bit about how you write and what you go for in terms of entertaining your audience.
Thank you. I think any art, no matter what the medium is, should make the audience feel something. That’s why we’re here. Everything else, from making a point through exploring the human condition to doing something new and clever, has to be secondary to that goal. Put simply – for me, if it doesn’t make someone feel something then it isn’t art. So glad to hear you think I’m getting it right.
I have been a huge fan of your awesome series ‘Storyland’. Please tell us about it and where can we go to learn more! What are you plans for publishing it?
At the moment I’m planning three novel length stories – Storyland, NCPD Black and Pantomime. They’re genre-savvy spoofs of three different types of story (the adventure story, the detective story and the mystery) set in a place where stories are a real force of nature and involving characters that know they’re in a story. All three take place at least partly in Narrative City, at more of less the same time.
I’m also planning to publish a series of short stories set in NC – one a month, as a kind of experiment. If it works I’ll collate them into an e-book at the end of the year, and I may carry on into next year as well, but that depends on how it goes and how I cope with the deadlines. The first issue is available now on my website.
You have been training martial arts since you were a boy. Tell us what got you into this awesome art and the teachings behind it.
The short version is that I was bullied at school, – which is a common story. A great many martial artists get started because they have a self defence issue of some kind. The really wonderful thing about martial training is that it removes your reason for fighting at the same time as it teaches you to fight. Most people fight because they are afraid – and martial training removes that fear. If I’m not frightened of you, or of what you might do, or what you might think or say – then why would I want to fight you?
There are many other lessons that martial training can teach – but for me the biggest one is the principle of improvement through practice. Martial artists start out as beginners, and they become advanced martial artists by imperceptible degrees, one training session at a time. That process can be used as a model for learning virtually anything. We move from a state of ignorance to a state of mastery through the magic of practice. For this reason I think most aspiring writers could do worse than study a martial art.
If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
A wolf, I think. My peeps are important to me – but I can also be fierce at need.
What are you writing now? What are your current projects?
Well for the last two weeks of each month I’ll be writing short stories for the project I mentioned above. For the first two, I’ll be working on my novel A Farty’s Guide to Pest Control. This is a contemporary fantasy comedy about a monster-slaying hero on holiday with his girlfriend’s family. I’m having a lot of fun with it.
Thanks so much, Indi, for coming here to chat with me today. I’m going to close this with the first two paragraph of the awesome excerpt that got us talking! This is from his novel The Broken Road, of which I am also a huge fan. Thanks for sharing this with us today, Indi!
I should have known from the start. I should have spotted it; maybe I could have done something different, found a way to control the damage. I’d been aware of her all her life, though I didn’t know it. She was a gentle but insistent whisper, not quite hidden among the maelstrom of screams leaving a trail of heartbreak and desire, the architect of a million wistful smiles. I should have known. It was unforgivable really; I’d seen it before, more than once. But when the heroes of legend walk the earth, sometimes even the gods can only play along and weep when the curtain falls.
Under normal circumstances, I don’t like to be around people. You’re deafening, the force and variety of your desires assaults my senses; its agony. When I must be near you, I have to block you out. Even this reflex, learned as it was from centuries of torment, doesn’t make it comfortable to be around you. It feels wrong, as if I’m missing something important. It feels as if, should I just turn my attention towards you, the secrets of the universe would unfold before me. You nag at my mental walls, constantly threatening to break through and drown me in a sea of unfulfilled want.