C.S. Woolley was born and raised in Cheshire, just south of Manchester in the UK, went to University to study English in Hull and now lives in Nottingham. The 29 year old is a currently a crime and fantasy writer but plans to expand into other areas as early as next year. C.S. Woolley enjoys reading, computer games, free climbing, horse riding, is something of a movie buff and loves writing whilst NCIS is on.
- When did you first discover your love for writing?
I was really young, as far as I know I have been writing stories since I could pick up a pen. We were encouraged to write in primary school, but I used to write plays and stories to read and perform to my extended family all the time. Some of my earliest attempts at writing I still have as my mum saved them.
- Do you have a favourite place to write?
I love writing outside. There is a long grassy embankment down by the river close to where I live that I love to go and sit beside with a notebook and write for hours. It has led to some very severe sunburn in the summer. I love writing in new places as well as in hotel rooms. Hotel rooms are oddly productive places for me to work. There is a lot less distraction in them than in my home, where I spend most of my time working. I spend quite a bit of time writing in The Food Bar, a local café about five minutes from my home, I know the staff and owner and always get a warm welcome. I tend to go there when I have no idea what I should be writing next or when I can’t concentrate.
- Do you have a writing routine or process that you adhere to?
I write at least 3,000 words a day, not all of them end up in the finished books, but forcing myself to get something out every day helps me keep moving forward. On days when I am really struggling to get there I will write for fifteen minutes, have a fifteen minute break and then write for fifteen minutes, repeating this for 3 hours and seeing where I get to. Most of the time this gets me to 2,000 or even 3,000 words and other times after the second fifteen minutes I just keep writing. I have a pretty strict publishing schedule to keep to, so even when I am not feeling great I still write – does tend to take a lot longer though. I also tend to write whilst the TV is on, my brain is quite a busy place so I have the TV on as a distraction to some of the busy stuff so the book stuff can filter through. There are days that music works better and a rare handful where silence is needed, but generally things like NCIS, Porridge, House, Red Dwarf, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Scrubs, How I Met Your Mother, things I have seen before and watched so many times I can quote the script make me much more productive. Disney does not make me productive – music or movies, just end up watching the movies and singing.
- Are there any authors or specific books you aspire to?
When I first started writing I just wrote because I loved reading and stories and didn’t have any aspirations of being an author until I got to high school. When I got to high school everyone was talking about careers and I knew that I wanted to write. It wasn’t until I published Shroud of Darkness after 12 years of writing it that I found an author that I wanted to be like. My best friend, who is my plot editor, he read Shroud of Darkness and said to me that the style reminded him of his favourite author, Raymond E. Feist and that I should read his work. He did point out that my style was similar but not quite in the same league, which I would agree with 100%. I have gotten about halfway through reading all of Feist’s work and can honestly say that I aspire to write like he does and produce something as wonderful as his Riftwar Saga.
- What inspired you to write Rising Empire: Part 2 and Part 3
The problem I constantly seem to come across in my fantasy books – there is so much in my head that has to happen to the characters that it won’t fit in one book. Rising Empire: Part 1 was written as a prequel to Shroud of Darkness, to try and add some history to the world and tell the story about the characters that came before who have a passing mention in the narrative. Whilst I was writing Rising Empire: Part 1 it soon became really apparent that everything wouldn’t fit into one volume and it needed to be broken down into at least one other book. I decided to make it another trilogy, not only for balance (the other books in the Chronicles are in or planned to be in threes) but because I didn’t want to jump in five year increments throughout the second book to make the timeline make sense and skip over some of the details for the sake of getting everything into just two books.
- Can you tell us a little about your book?
They are the second and third volumes in the Chronicles of Celadmore and a lot of what happens in these books affects the plot of the series as a whole. There are some things that happen through the Rising Empire trilogy that will not be explained until much later on in the series, but hopefully they will lead to “oooooohhhhhh” moments when everything finally slots into place. There are quite a few new characters in these books and readers get to learn a little more about the bad guys of the books from their perspectives rather than just through the eyes of the heroes. There are more character deaths, not quite on a George R.R. Martin scale, but I would advise readers not to get too attached to anyone. I don’t want to give too much away as I have a nasty habit of accidentally spoilering people, but, the war is still going on, you get to see Mercia and Kasnata in the same place for the first time which gets a little tense. The minor characters from Rising Empire: Part 1 have a much bigger part to play and things get a lot worse and messier for Celadmore before they get better.
- Do you have a favourite amongst all your characters?
Such an innocent, but loaded question. I always feel like such a bad person for admitting that I do have favourite characters, it’s like saying you love your children more than the others, but I do have favourites. In the Rising Empire trilogy I love General Yoav, but overall my absolute favourite is Caslo Morgan in the Shroud of Darkness trilogy, so favoured I haven’t decided if I’ll end up killing him or not.
- Does your book contain a message for readers to consider?
There are a couple of messages that I’ve tried to weave into the narrative, the overriding one is of not giving up. I’m not particularly kind to my characters, they get put through some terrible experiences, but they don’t stop, it may take them some time to pick themselves up and keep going, but they don’t stop going after their goals. Some of the goals for the characters change and some ultimately fail, but they keep going. It’s the message of the series as a whole really. Even the strongest and wisest of all the characters have moments when they want to give up, but there is always something they can cling onto that keeps them going.
- Would you be interested in sharing a teaser?
Kelmar sat brooding. So far he had failed in his mission to capture the two princesses of Nosfa and the Order, and had become so frustrated with his own failure, he had ordered his own men to attack and kill the young girls.
He knew that had he returned to Delma with the blood of the daughters of Kasnata on his hands, then there would have been no force on Celadmore that would have kept him from suffering at the hands of the Queen of the Order.
Then there was Renta to consider. He had taken no pleasure in killing Kasnata’s general, especially in the way he had chosen to inflict torture upon her, leaving her to bleed instead of offering her a noble warrior’s death. She had stolen his victory from him in securing the princesses’ safety and he had hated her for that. His anger had been so all-consuming that he had wanted to inflict pain and suffering on the general for denying him his victory.
Renta had managed to kill two of his men and render three of others unfit for duty and the Duke wasn’t entirely convinced that they would ever be able to fight again.
Renta had been careful not to kill all those that had assaulted her, but instead had delayed DeLacey’s forces for long enough so that Mathias had been able lead the party to Tulna, where they were now out of his reach. Kelmar had taken his frustrations out on the Condor General of the Order in manner that he considered beneath him.
“I’m sorry, Renta.” Kelmar said softly to himself and shook his head. There were many things in his life that he regretted and how he had chosen to murder Renta, the satisfaction he felt and the words he had said to the woman he would have once called friend, would haunt him for the rest of his life. He had left men behind in order to prepare her body to be sent back to Kasnata. The three men would deliver it and then return home to report to the king and queen. He at least hoped that they would be allowed to return to Delma after.
He knew that Kasnata was a woman of honour, who would not harm his men for the actions that Kelmar had taken, however, the other members of the Order, especially those that served under the Condor General, might not be so understanding.
From where he sat, Kelmar could see the oasis of Tulna on the horizon, or at least he could see the lights in the largest building in which the princesses were now safe. There were plenty of old wives tales about the oasis and those who lived there, but Kelmar had not expected to meet with a warrior as strong as the woman that had single-handedly caused his men to retreat. There had been something in her eyes that made him wonder whether the rumours of immortals residing there had more truth to them than most realised. But whether Tulna held immortals or not, he had to retrieve the princesses.
“Rider approaching.” A lookout shouted, breaking into Kelmar’s train of thought. “Messenger.”
Kelmar stood and moved his gaze from Tulna to where the lookout was indicating the messenger’s approach. The messenger seemed to be in no hurry to arrive, his horse was walking at a sedate gait, not even a hint of swear or foam on its coat. The messenger wore a hood that obscured his face; even when he was less than a stone’s throw away from the Duke DeLacey, and a thick cloak that seemed to be rather unnecessary given the warmer temperature of the desert, even in the depths of Wentrus.
“You have news for me?” Kelmar asked with irritation as the messenger finally reach him and dismounted.
“Impatient as always.” The deep voice that greeted Kelmar from inside the hood caused the Duke to drop to his knees.
“Your majesty.” He stammered.
“Get up,” King Durlich said in a bored voice, “I have travelled a long way to talk with you and do not need to waste time on ceremony out here.”
The Duke rose to his feet and looked at the king. It had been a long time since Kelmar had seen him, but not long enough for all the changes that the Duke could see in the king’s appearance to have occurred.
As he lowered the hood, Kelmar could see that the king had aged at least ten years since their last meeting and there was a distracted look in his eyes, one of focusing on thoughts and problems of far away, rather than on the here and now.
“The princesses are in Tulna.” Kelmar announced.
“And you are not.” The king said disdain. “What happened to all the men that were with you? There is but a fraction of them here now. You were supposed to acquire the princesses in the Palace of Abergorlech.”
Kelmar bowed his head in shame. He had not yet sent a report to Delma on their progress and he knew that he king riding out to find them was a sign of how displeased he was but the lack of results.
“Neesa was waiting for us. We dispatched the household but the whore of the king killed the men that I took with me to the fortress. The princesses escaped and were met by Mathias of Roenca, he kept them out of my reach. There was one occasion where we had them cornered but General Renta of the Order and Tola of Roenca stopped us.” Kelmar explained, trying not to turn his description of events into an excuse for failing in his duty.
“Where are they all now?” The king growled.
“Tola and Mathias are with the princesses in Tulna. Renta is dead.” The Duke confirmed.
“Good, then at least the barbarian bitch will know what it is to lose someone she cares about.” The king snarled.
“Sire?” Kelmar asked in confusion.
“Prince Jayden is dead. He was murdered by the bitch Queen when the prince and our armies came across her and a small portion of her army.” The king spat on the floor.
“My apologies, sire. My prayers –” Kelmar began but the king cut him off by raising his hand.
“Save your fawning, you disgraceful worm. You will get those princesses out of that place and return them to Delma, even if it kills you. And if extracting both of them is too taxing for you, then I will settle for one of them.” The king snapped and remounted.
“Sire, won’t you stay in our camp tonight, then tomorrow I can send some men with you as an escort to ensure you return to Delma safely.” Kelmar offered. The king looked down at the Duke from astride his horse and scoffed.
“There is no protection your men can offer me, DeLacey.”
- What would say has been your biggest challenge and achievement in writing Rising Empire: Part 2 and Part 3?
Actually finishing them. I had two things happen that really made me want to give up writing altogether, the first was one of my books was plagiarised – copied word for word and published with someone else claiming they wrote it and then about a week after having to deal with lawyers getting it all sorted, I got a really nasty review that just made what little motivation I had left disappear completely. If it weren’t for a group of people that work at my local game store (yes, I go into this game store so often I am now friends with all the staff) I wouldn’t have written either of these books; so some of the characters were named after the four of them and Rising Empire: Part 2 is dedicated to them.
- What have you learned about yourself as a writer through writing Rising Empire: Part 2 and Part 3?
I’ve learned that my way of working has changed since I first started writing and that it’s probably a very good thing. Every book I write, I become more organised and when I get to the point when I think I’ve had enough of a series, I find I really haven’t and can’t wait to start writing the next one.
- Do you have any advice for other aspiring authors?
Don’t think that as soon as you put a book out there that it will sell. It takes years of working to get to a point where people are willing to even look at your book on free promotion let alone part with money for it. Anyone who tells you they wrote a book and put it out and went to number 1 in the best sellers in the first week is either incredibly lucky, has paid a lot of people to download their work or is lying. Don’t live and die with every review either, not everyone is going to like your work and when you do get bad reviews, it’s actually a good thing – shows readers that you aren’t just paying people to give you five star reviews and some of the lower ratings can be constructive. Some people are just out to be nasty though and get a rise out of you, don’t let the haters bring you down and if they do, make sure you have amazing people around you to get you back up again. Write for yourself, if you do that, then you’ll always be happy with what you produce and will be producing the best work you can and don’t pay too much attention to “writing rules” – most of them work for a narrow group of people and art has never been about creating something that follows rules.
- Anything else you would like to say?
A huge thank you to several people: Laura, Dave, Mike and Mark, you guys are great, thank you for the distractions and encouragement. John and Abby for always being supportive and amazing, Sam and Emma for just being themselves, Jenny for her love of the series and pestering me to keep writing it and Joe and Dave for always being interested in what I am writing.
Anyone wanting to get a copy of Rising Empire: Part 1 can get a free copy (less than 500 available) from http://www.instafreebie.com/free/goCr3 up until 1st October or until all the copies are gone.
- And finally, do you have any future works planned?
Well by the end of 2025 I am aiming to have at least 139 books finished and published if not 145. I’ve been told that I think big. In the immediate future I have a charity book raising money for the British Heart Foundation coming out on 21st October, Standing by the Watchtower: Volume 2, which is a collection of short stories from me and some other authors. On 30th November the fourth book my crime series, the Lily & Rose Saga, is due for release and 31st December When Darkness Falls, the seventh book in the Chronicles of Celadmore, is slated for release.
C.S. Woolley Fan Page – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorC.S.Woolley
Mightier Than the Sword Fan Page – https://www.facebook.com/MightierThantheSwordUK
The Chronicles of Celadmore Fan Page – https://www.facebook.com/ChroniclesofCeladmore
C.S. Woolley – @TheCSWoolley
Mightier Than the Sword UK – @MTtS_UK