C. S. Watts
Christopher S. Watts has travelled a long way in his life, from fur-trading outpost along the Mackenzie River in Canada’s far north, to representing his country in the world’s major capitals, from army brat to diplomat and advisor to three Prime Ministers, two Premiers and countless Ministers. Now he’s travelled the longest road of all, to published novelist.
During 35 years of service across Canada, in Washington and London, Mr. Watts served as diplomat, negotiator, speechwriter and gifted policy advisor on matters of foreign affairs, intergovernmental relations, economic development and government reform. His cool head and unique penmanship were always in demand, while his ability to render extreme complexity, not only into readable and accessible memoranda, but also into highly engaging prose, was renowned. These skills he’s now turned to the world of fiction.
His previous publications dealt with defence policy and international relations. The Ravenstones is his first work of fiction.
Questions & Answers
Q. What are the major influences on your writing?
A. I have read all my life, and a complete list of every author, whose writing has thrilled or educated me (or both), would carry on for many pages. I assume every one of these has influenced me in some way, either subliminally or otherwise.
However, in an attempt to provide a summary of my favourites, here they are by category:
- history: Paul Johnson, Daniel J. Boorstin, Barbara Tuchman, Gregor Dallas,
- crime: Scott Turow, Agatha Christie, Martin Cruz Smith, P.D. James
- fantasy and mystical worlds: Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco; and
- autobiography: Robert Caro, Antonia Fraser.
If I had to narrow the list down further, I’d have to mention in particular:
- John Irving: (for his telling of a long, involved and wonderfully satisfying story),
- Laurie Lee (for his poetic memoirs and sketches of place and time)
- Anthony Trollope (for his character sketches and profiles); and
- Robert B. Parker (for his crisp, snappy dialogue).
And I will be forever grateful to the authors (and illustrators) of all the books I read as a child that entranced and influenced me in untold ways: Lewis Carrol, C.S. Lewis, Edith Nesbit, J.R.R. Tolkien, George Remi (Hergé), to name but a few.
Q. Where and when do you write?
A. Whenever and wherever I can. I have written at home, in libraries, shopping malls and on cruise ships, and at all hours of the day. This series was written over the course of many years, and during this time we lived in 4 different houses or apartments, and travelled from Canada to Australia via Europe and back, much of the trip taken by ship. I wrote constantly during these years.
Q. What is in your collection of books?
A. Here are some photos (a small sample) of one of my bookshelves:
Q. Were you influenced at all by Game of Thrones?
A. I completely avoided reading the GOT books or watching the TV series while writing the seven volumes of The Ravenstones, which were essentially written between 2006 and 2012 (and gone through the longer editing process since then). Now, having just watched the TV series for the first time (season eight), I am struck by some of the similarities, e.g. a humungous ice wall, my use of the name Sesteros (pronounced differently than Westeros). Clearly great minds think alike. Of course, in the fantasy genre, one finds rival camps, twists and turns, good and evil, honour and duplicity, etc. So many of the same themes will emerge.
More ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ will be added, as they arrive.
The author decided he’d like to act as his own publisher. Thus he created his own company, deciding (for purely sentimental reasons) to name it after the place of his birth. That being said, it seems only logical that a book telling the story of a polar bear and an Eider duck should have a publisher, whose name hearkens back to the place where such creatures live naturally.
Thanks and Acknowledgements
The author would like to thank all those who have read early drafts, expressed any interest in this project and provided encouragement, valuable feedback, editorial assistance, moral support, technical assistance
In undertaking research into and developing the many names of the animals involved, the author has found the website www.behindthename.com to be invaluable.
In attempting to gain a better understanding of the animal kingdom, he has had the pleasure of using The World of Birds (Jonathan Elphick), Birds of North America (François Vuilleumier, ed.), the Smithsonian Natural History, the Sibley Guide to Birds, 2nd Edition (David Allen Sibley) and many others.
To get a better understanding of the theory of dreams and the interpretation of symbols, the author has made use of The Illustrated Dream Dictionary (Pamela Ball).
The map of the world inhabited by these characters was drawn by Shaun Carrigg, to whom the author is greatly indebted.
The fabulous depictions of my characters and cover work were completed by Kari Rust. Kari’s ability to capture the nuance and personality of my lead characters continues to amaze me.