An Interview with A. J. Dalton
Welcome to Falmouth, Adam Dalton!
We are very excited to welcome best-selling sci-fi and fantasy author Adam James Dalton, A. J. Dalton, as a Lecturer in English and Creative Writer for this term. Creator of the subcategory of metaphysical fantasy, Adam is a prolific writer whose work includes the Flesh & Bone trilogy and the Chronicles of a Cosmic Warlord. His Empire of the Saviours was longlisted for Gemmell Legend Award in 2013.
Amy Lilwall sat down with Adam to welcome him to Falmouth and to introduce him to our Falwriting community.
Amy Lilwall: Tell me about your world before Falmouth.
A.J. Dalton: Well, this covers about 48 years! With regards to writing, my grandparents were writers. I sent my first manuscript to publisher at 15. I sent of a Tolkien rip-off at the age of 15 (it was terrible) but over the years, I got to understand what people were looking for through endless rejections. It also taught me how to accept rejection. It’s a competitive industry and you need to start taking the blows early on. Rejection shouldn’t be the same as dejection. It’s not about the quality of your manuscript, it’s about the commerciality of your manuscript. My mistake has always been trying to write good literature. Lesson one: don’t try to be a good writer, just be a relevant writer. There’s a spectrum from successful highbrow to successful low brow – where do you wanna be? Even a hack wants to be a good hack.
AL: Where have you joined us from?
AJD: I have just relocated from Manchester where I was teaching academic English and Creative Writing for Manchester Metropolitan and Manchester University.
AL: What do you think about Cornwall?
AJD: It’s a pirate place! I saw Jack Sparrow walking down the road the other day. No, seriously, it’s so rich in history, contemporary arts and there’s generally a huge culture scene. It’s got a language, it’s got a past that it could market to the world with all this fantasy mythology going on! Cornwall, needs to get into a renaissance. We want Cornwall PLC happening. Falmouth, specifically, has been given this art centre platform for what is an extraordinary and unique resource that could be marketed to the world.
AL: What are you most looking forward to, at Falmouth?
AJD: It’s a vulnerable market for A. J. Dalton enterprises! With the strong mythology and cultural identity that Cornwall has, I think there’s a good culture for fantasy literature here. A virtuos circle that could at once inform and sell my writing as a fantasy writer, with any luck! You've heard of the best-seller Empire of the Saviours, right? Published with Gollancz. Where have you been?
AL: What is your advice to our budding creative writers?
AJD: Be prepared to put your money where your mouth is, because publishers are inundated with quality manuscripts. Buy your way into the market. The big ones will receive up to 1000 per week (unsolicited) so how are you going to convince one person to read your manuscript? Self-publishing is a viable ‘in’. A thousand copies sold is the magic number. Reach that and you could get a publishing deal. I was the UKs biggest selling self-publishing author in 2009 and 2010 just because of my marketing and sales techniques. Writing is the easy bit! Selling is the tough bit!
AL: What would you want written on your gravestone?
AJD: ‘He was a cheeky bugger, but he made me laugh!’
by Amy Lilwall