Oliver Laws is a British Science-Fiction and Fantasy writer with a deep passion for all things bizarre and fantastical.
As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community with a deep passion for video games, tabletop RPGs and anime, Oliver channels his creative energy and natural storytelling into writing unique worlds and loveable characters.
When he’s not writing books, Oliver is usually working on campaigns for any number of tabletop RPGs, watching mecha anime and horror movies or playing videogames.
Welcome to a new post in my favourite section of the web. Today we are accompanied by Oliver Laws, author of the Crystal Gunslinger series.
Let's dive in!
1.- What made you decide for self-publishing?
I did quite a lot of independent research and reached out to a few authors to ask their opinions before making a decision. One of my favourite fantasy authors, Andrew Rowe, gave me a great reply with a lot of the pros and cons of both self and traditional publishing.
I knew that going the self-pub route would take a lot more time and hard work, but I wanted to maintain complete creative control over my book and how it is marketed. I definitely wouldn’t be opposed to working with a traditional publisher in the future, but I’d want to be sure they were a good fit for me.
2.- Why did you choose western as subgenre for your fantasy?
I’ve always deeply loved both fantasy and westerns, so the choice seemed pretty natural!
One of my favourite role-playing games, “Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura”, was definitely a big inspiration for my choice too as it takes place in a fantasy setting where magic and technology are at odds in the midst of a technological revolution.
I think mixing technology and magic can just create such an interesting and varied world with all sorts of possibilities and interesting conflicts. I wanted to take things one step further by having my story take place in a lawless frontier similar to the Wild West.
The resulting setting allows for some insanely fun western tropes like the lone gunslinger, bounty hunters, and duels to the death to mix with fantasy ones like evil sorcerers, giant monsters, and mysterious magical powers. I’m really happy with how it turned out, and can’t wait to show people more of the world!
3.- What inspired you to into creating the Scorch?
The idea of the crystal creatures that populate the Scorch actually came to me first. I’ve always loved monsters in fiction, especially when said monsters are particularly hard to kill and require special tools or weapons to do so. Examples of these can range from monsters like vampires and werewolves to the titans in Attack on Titan.
Seeing normal people having to adapt and find creative ways to deal with these extremely dangerous inhuman threats has always been particularly interesting to me. It’s something of an underdog story, and it has always felt immensely satisfying for me to watch a regular person overcome one of these threats with their own skills, experience, and tools.
I wanted to take this idea and extend it not only to the creatures but to an entire area of the world. Somewhere that is uniquely hostile to life, but people still struggle to adapt and find new ways to conquer it.
That’s how the crystalline wasteland of the Scorch and the deadly creatures that call it home came to be.
4.- Of all the creatures you created to be a part of this crystal environment, which one is your favourite?
That’s a really tough question, but I’d probably have to say the crystal spiders. They were the first creature I designed and I love how utterly terrifying they turned out. The idea of a swarm of them skittering across the starsand attacking anyone trespassing in the Scorch is pretty horrific, and I love the concept of them using crystalline webbing to trap their prey.
5.- Which part of the whole publishing process would you say it’s the most challenging for you?
Balancing everything in my life with writing a novel was definitely more challenging than I expected. It was my first time and I made a lot of mistakes trying to juggle too many things at once.
I’m still glad about the experience. In the future I know I’ll do a lot better with it.
6.- Did you have a plot in mind when starting to write this novel, or it was more of a discovering draft?
It was honestly a little of both. I had several key plot points in mind as I wrote, but I also wanted to allow the story room to naturally evolve while I wrote it. The end result is one that I’m extremely happy with, so I’m definitely glad I wrote this way.
7.- Your book features art of some of the creatures, could you tell us more about it?
For the art of the creatures, I commissioned my good friend Alex (@NextTSLElite over on Twitter). We worked closely together using references of real spiders, scorpions, and lizards to design the crystal mutations and make them all look so terrifying and deadly.
I’m really thrilled with all of the end results and how they appear in the book, but I think next time I may leave the job of looking through reference pictures of giant spiders to Alex!
8.- What can we expect from Oliver Laws in the future?
I’m currently working on getting an audiobook for Crystal Gunslinger produced while planning out the second book in the series, which is called “Crystal Gunslinger - The Emerald Express”.
On top of this, I’m working on a collection of short stories set in the same universe. They all take place at the magical academy mentioned a few times over the course of the story. The current title for this collection is “Lunar Heights - Tales From The Academy”.