Interview with John W. Grundy, Author of To Castle Kingside

18 Oct 2023

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write To Castle Kingside?

The inspiration for the story is very clear and present all throughout it. It’s based on a role-playing game that my friends and I concocted back when we were all around 17 or 18. Tired of the standard battles with dragons, and caves of treasure, we decided to come up with an RPG of our own. A science fiction rpg.

The rules of play were cobbled together from all sorts of other games out at the time, but the universe itself, the universe and game that we dubbed “HiTec”, was unique to just the few of us. I took that universe, and the characters I knew through it, and gave them new life in the form of this novel. So in a way this is a story over 30 years in the making.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

That’s a difficult question, because I’m not really sure what my favorite genre is to write! This is my debut novel, and I have to admit I had a great deal of joy in writing it. However, I wouldn’t be opposed to trying a few other genres. Typically what I have read in the past is more along the lines of high-fantasy or gaslight fantasy, supernatural horror (I prefer a ghost killer over a serial killer), and amateur sleuth mysteries.

While I love watching science fiction, be it Star Trek or Star Wars or Stargate or Battlestar Galactica (essentially anything with the word Star in it!) I have to admit I haven’t read very much of it. When I feel the universe of HiTec has run its course, I wouldn’t mind exploring writing in some of those other genres.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

After the last few years of being eyebrow-deep in writing and editing this story, my “to be read” pile is staggeringly tall! As is my list of TV shows to be marathoned, movies to be watched, and video games to be played. In all honesty, I don’t even really know where to start! Probably what I’ll do is turn to my readers for advice. I think maybe anyone who enjoyed what I wrote would probably be able to inform me on what I’d enjoy reading. If any of you out there have suggestions, please find me on social media or my website and give me a recommendation!

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

My favorite scenes to write all have one thing in common, and that’s that I didn’t plan to write them at all when I sat down at the keyboard. There’s two or three of them specifically that leap to mind, though I don’t want to give anything away by going into detail. But these were moments where the story began telling itself, and I was merely taking dictation from the characters and their actions. These were moments where I felt like I was able to enjoy the tale more like a reader than as a writer, surprising myself at the turns the story took. These are still my favorite moments now when I give it a reread.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

Quirky writing habits? Well, I don’t know how quirky it is, but I have a very strict writing routine. I am one who needs an absolute cone of silence when I’m writing, which I’m really only able to find in the dark solitude of night time. So I typically would eat my dinner, then relax for a bit and get myself a good 30 minute nap. Then I would go into my office between perhaps 9:00PM and 4:00AM, with no lights on whatsoever, other than the glow of the hutch lamp shining down on the keyboard, and the glare of the monitor. A shell of dark silence all around myself that allowed me to get into the headspace I need to be for writing.

I suppose the only other quirky thing I did was grow myself quite a large and robust pandemic beard, which I did not shave nor trim until the book was done. After a year, you can imagine it was looking quite shaggy! But I was worried that perhaps my creativity flowed from the power of the beard, not unlike Samson gaining his strength from his hair. It was a great relief to finally shave it though. The very next day I looked like I could be my own grandson!

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

No, not really. Although if I were to look back on my last few years and try to come up with one off the top of my head, I would say that it would be “you never finish anything you don’t start”. Simplistic perhaps, and on the verge of being a Berra-ism, but resoundingly and profoundly true nonetheless.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

I would hope they remember that unique joy of reading from their youth: burying themselves deep in a spellbinding tale, while a summer afternoon passes by barely noticed. Discovering the excitement of being swept along on a fantastic adventure, arm-in-arm with characters who have become their dear friends. That excitement which encouraged many of us to become avid readers early on. I tried to recapture some of that sense of mystery and fascination in this story, though seasoned with a more mature setting and perspective.


John W. Grundy is the author of the new book To Castle Kingside

Connect with John W. Grundy

Author Site


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