Updated: Mar 29
What does it take to write a critically-acclaimed novel? What are the steps to navigate to immerse yourself in an imaginary landscape? What was the journey like of creating a fantasy world during a global lockdown that saw our real lives temporarily placed on hold?
Josh Winning, fantasy fiction author of The Shadow Glass (published by Titan Books), joins Second Mountain Comms as the special guest for episode one of the #GoodJourneysPod, the podcast series that explores the lives of inspired people and their inspiring stories.
As well as The Shadow Glass, Josh also has a number of other fictional titles to his name - including The Sentinel Trilogy and Vicious Rumer - is a film journalist for the Radio Times, a Total Film magazine feature writer and co-hosts the Torn Stubs podcast.
Episode one of the Good Journeys with Second Mountain podcast is out now. Listen/watch:
Apple Podcasts: https://tinyurl.com/2s47exrp
Amazon Music: https://tinyurl.com/k277zvuj
NOSTALGIA FOR EIGHTIES FANTASY FILMS
"Feeling an absence..."
In our open conversation, Josh speaks about the impetus for the book - the lack of "philosophically interesting yet also adventurous, exciting fantasy films" that have been usurped by "big enormous CGI summer blockbusters ... superhero films now rule the cinema."
The author's initial idea for what would become The Shadow Glass stemmed from feeling an absence for the puppet-laden fantasy flicks that defined the 1980s such as Labyrinth, Dark Crystal and The Neverending Story - and a feeling that there would be other nostalgia-craving fans looking to fill the "void in our souls left behind by Jim Henson."
While puppets may dominate the narrative and draw in fans, it is actually a father-son relationship that lies at the very heart of the novel. For Winning, it became a deeply personal journey:
"My father's second wife, at the time of me coming up with this idea, had terminal cancer and was passing away ... I was spending lots of time with my dad, thinking about our relationship and coming to terms with the fact that one day he's going to die as well ... as I've got older and as my father has got older, I've become more aware that one day he's going to be gone ... which seems impossible because for every up and down ... he's always been there, just full of so much life and energy. This book was, in part, coming to terms with the fact that he won't always be around."
writing fiction from the heart
"I had a notebook..."
It's clear from speaking with Winning that The Shadow Glass has deep personal resonance, rooted in its origins: "I had a notebook that my mum gave me when I was a teenager before she passed away, and hasn't been touched [for over 20 years]. I've had this notebook through how many house moves, and I've never used it because I didn't feel there was anything good enough to use it for, until The Shadow Glass ... it just felt right."
In episode one of the Good Journeys with Second Mountain podcast, the author describes how he approached the writing process, the emotional connection that he felt towards main protagonist Jack, and the unintentional creation of a "mixed media book" that aligned his love for fantasy worlds with his extensive background in film journalism.
"Even in the early stages of this book, I always knew that I was going to have 'found' documents ... articles and transcripts and all this kind of stuff. It was very much part of the early building blocks of this book ... journalism has had a huge impact on my development as a writer."
THE SHADOW GLASS
"It's a long, long journey"
Winning was signed to publisher Titan Books during the pandemic, following years of self-publishing and remaining wholly committed to his craft.
"The whole overnight success thing very rarely happens ... the thing that's kept me going is self-betterment; trying to get as good as I can and improve with every draft, every paragraph, trying to be a better writer: it's a passion."
"From a very, very young age, I was writing stories that were inspired by the books I loved at that time, cutting out the stuff that I didn't like in that book and writing my own version. It's just something that I find endlessly fascinating - the craft of writing."
Episode one of the Good Journeys with Second Mountain podcast is out now.
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