I have had my share of people who don’t like my work, but the idea of turning that negative feedback into a 7-book series has never ocurred to me. That is, until I discovered Craig Zerf’s work. The first of his works I read was Dead Declan, which is a concept so bonkers I had to read more. Here he talks to me about his popular “Forever Man,” series.
So what’s your deal? Your personal story is unique.
I grew up in South Africa. Got married there, had a son, left and moved to England almost twenty years ago. I only started to write when I got to the UK. And, because I have always been a huge fantasy fan, that’s the genre I went for.
How did you settle on fantasy and where did The Forever Man come from?
My first series, Plob, was an attempt at humour. It was okay, I suppose. You always look back at your first books and say, I could have done better. But it got me started and, for one brief week, it actually topped the charts in both the UK and Germany and was voted the year’s best read by BBC Radio 4 listeners. It was around this time I learned an important lesson… there are some seriously strange folk out there!
I had one, fan? Stalker? Arch enemy? Not sure what to call them. They purchased and read every one of my books and then proceeded to give them one-star reviews with comments like… This one is even worse than the last. Finally, they left a review that simply read ‘Every day I scour the obituaries for Craig Zerf’s name in the vain hope that he has died. Even if I live forever, I will never recover the time I have wasted reading his books.’
It was then that I came up with the idea of writing a series where the main character is immortal. I know it’s been done before. Dracula, various mages and fae types. But I wanted to portray a normal man, a reluctant hero, who gets gifted, or cursed, with immortality and supernatural powers.
How would he react? Would he be good? Bad? Indifferent?
What if it turned out that the very world was in trouble and he was the only one who could save it? What would he do?
I called the series The Forever Man and it’s been described as a genre-bending fantasy series with post-apocalyptic heroes, battles against mythical creatures, and wild temporal jumps.
Writing a whole series to piss off one critic seems extreme, but it worked. How would you sum up The Foreverman in a couple of lines?
I suppose one could say, Lord of the Rings meets Mad Max and Game of Thrones. It’s available on Kindle, paperback and audio. There are six books at the moment but I’m ready to release seven and eight in a couple of weeks.
What writers influenced you?
Obviously, whatever I write has been influenced by my favorite authors. My early reads, when I was five, six, seven years old, were Enid Blyton books. Especially the Magic Faraway Tree.
Next stage, and I’m talking nine or ten here, were books like Biggles, Willard Price and the Hardy Boys.
As I hit my teens I graduated to Wilbur Smith (I love his earlier novels. Gritty, over the top, verging on heroic fantasy). And I discovered David Eddings. The Belgariad. Well…talk about life-changing. This was proper fantasy. Epic stuff.
After that came David Gemmell. To this day, David remains my favorite author. Clearly, Terry Pratchett also has to be taken into account.
And, finally, Michael Marshall. His books like Only Forward, and Spares are proper modern classics. He is truly one of the writers that I stand in awe of. Genius.
Where can people learn more about your work?
The best place to see all my work is my Amazon Author Page.
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