Q&A with Phil Williams – Given to Darkness

I have a review coming up for this book, but was lucky enough to get the opportunity to put a few questions to author Phil Williams about writing, reading and his stories.

But first, here’s the book:

Blurb: Ikiri demands blood. Whose will it be?

A malevolent force stirs from the heart of the Congo. One child can stop it – but everyone wants her dead.

Reece Coburn’s gang have travelled half the world to protect Zipporah, only to find her in more danger than ever. Her violent father is missing, his murderous enemies are coming for them, and her brother’s power is growing stronger. Entire communities are being slaughtered, and it’s only getting worse.

They have to reach Ikiri before its corruption spreads. But there’s a long journey ahead, past ferocious killers and unnatural creatures – and very few people can be trusted along the way.

Can two criminal musicians, an unstable assassin and a compromised spy reach Ikiri alive? What will it cost them along the way?

Pick up this exciting conclusion to the Ikiri duology today, for a supernatural thriller that will keep you hooked right to the finish.

Regular Bookshine readers will know that I am an Ordshaw fan, and have already reviewed the series so far (Under OrdshawBlue AngelThe Violent Fae), as well as the first book in this duology, Kept From Cages. Therefore I was as excited as you to get a sneak peak behind the scenes, courtesy of the author, Phil Williams.

Over to the interview…!

As a writer:

Do you have any writing quirks / odd writing habits?

I’m not sure this is that unusual, but I do find my writing sometimes emerges like rehearsals for a play, as I have a habit of completely rewriting scenes (particularly important sections of dialogue), repeatedly, only to find they come out almost exactly the same. In more extreme cases, I’ve done this with entire novels.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read a lot and have really swung towards audiobooks, which I use in conjunction with other activities like walking the dog and household chores. These days, I also swim and otherwise watch a lot of films and TV! I like to travel, too, but that’s been rare during the pandemic.

What do you most love and/or hate to write?

My favourite scenes tend to be those that unite the characters I most enjoy spending time with, such as Pax and Letty in Ordshaw or all the Cutjaw Kids. I also love writing the scenes where things suddenly take a dramatic turn – when the really unusual or surprising comes out of nowhere and life gets frenetic as hell.

There’s not much I hate to write (although I’m not especially happy writing cold-call emails!). There are a few topics I don’t write so much of, though; there’s not much regular romance in my books, for example, partly because those aren’t really the stories I want to tell. For now, at least!

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I try to read all the blogger reviews I’m made aware of, as people take so much time over them I figure it’s the least I can do. I tend to ignore random customer reviews/Goodreads reviews, though, as (a) who has the time and (b) short of if a big backlash indicated me having done something heinously wrong, I don’t see all that as necessarily for me.

I don’t handle good reviews as well as my wife would like; she feels I should be more vocal, but I just tend to share them about on social media and silently fill with warm glowing energy. Bad ones, I’m pretty used to, having had to deal with some extreme cases for my much wider-read English guides. There reaches a point where you realise you can’t please everyone; the reasonable bad reviews can help you fine-tune your audience, while the ones who violently hate what you’re doing clearly have their own issues to deal with.

As a reader:

What is your favourite book (other than your own!)?

Just one?! I’m a huge fan of everything Shirley Jackson, but not sure I could pick a favourite (maybe We Have Always Lived in the Castle). Otherwise, the easiest answer is to suggest the books I learnt the most from many, many years ago, such as Catch-22 by Jospeh Heller, George Elliott’s Middlemarch, and everything Terry Pratchett. They’re books that had a huge influence on my appreciation for literature, so while I’ve certainly read books which felt as good, if not better, it’s those formative ones that always jump to my mind.

Which author do you feel deserves more love than they get?

All those from the previous question, even though they’re hugely famous! Never enough praise for any of them. But to answer more usefully… I feel Roger Zelazny doesn’t get mentioned as much as he should; I’ve got big appreciation for writers that can achieve in a short space what others need huge page counts to do. More recently, Laura Purcell is doing very well, but she can always get more attention, her books are superb. Likewise, I recently got into T. Kingfisher and feel like everyone should be reading her.

I’ve got a lot of self-published friends who are producing great work, too, who definitely don’t get enough attention: I’m a fan of what Travis Riddle’s doing, and Craig Schaefer, and recently enjoyed work from Jon Auerbach and Sarah Chorn. Olivia Atwater, too, is writing some wonderful fantasy, but she is thankfully getting noticed for it!

What was your favourite book as a child?

This one I can answer easily: Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett. I reread it tons of times. I’m honestly not sure now what it was specifically about that story that connected with me, but it did, somehow.

What book is top of your TBR pile right now?

Ha, this changes every few days! I’m finally finishing up the Discworld series, and I’m particularly looking forward to continuing Tiffany Aching’s arc with I Shall Wear Midnight. The new releases I’m most looking forward to are Free Bastards by Jonathan French and The Fall of Babel by Josiah Bancroft.



With regards to THIS book:

I’ve read the rest of your Ordshaw series, so I am expecting urban fantasy with very strong characters and a lot of action – would you say Given to Darkness follows the same style/theme/content, or should we be expecting any differences in this instalment?

I would mostly say expect more of the same, following on from Kept From Cages, as it very much continues where that story left off, as the second part of the same story. But while Kept From Cages had a lot of mystery and crazy running from things, this one shifts gear to run towards things instead, shining a light on the mystery. It gets a bit more gritty and serious in places, with some big ideas coming to the fore.

That said, this duology is rather different to the other Ordshaw entries as it’s more global and has a heavier focus on action and adventure than the unravelling of a local mystery. But things do get weird and creepy in similar ways…

Would you recommend reading this book alone, or as a sequel to Kept from Cages, or reading the whole series in order (with this book as the sixth in the series)?

This one definitely follows Kept From Cages, as a direct sequel. I’d be both fascinated and confused by anyone trying to get into Ordshaw through Given To Darkness alone! But the duology itself is a standalone story with regards to the rest of the series, so while you’ll get some extra incidental details from starting at the beginning, it was always my intention that Kept From Cages be a new place to start. From there, you could happily go back to the others later. (Right now, in fact, Books 1, 4 and 5 are each separate entry points.)

Are there more books planned for the Ikiri/Ordshaw range? Can you tell us anything about where the series is heading next?

There are definitely more. The next one planned is a sequel to The City Screams, finding Tova Noakes back in Ordshaw, following up on what she went through in Tokyo. We’ll hopefully get some closure for her, if it doesn’t stir too many other complications.

I’ve got another standalone planned to follow that, involving Ordshaw gangs and punk witches, which will be a bit different. After that, Pax’s story will broaden over the space of a few more books. I’ve also got two other standalones in mind and at least one follow up for Ikiri (which may come sooner or later, who knows!), and there will be definite crossover between the various stories. A long while back, I estimated the series plan would be in the regions of 15 books, but it’s nothing if not unpredictable.

Is there anything else you would like new readers to know before they dive on into your book?

Firstly, Kept From Cages is on offer for the release week of Given To Darkness, so you can pick that up for $0.99/£0.99 17.10 – 24.10. Secondly, I guess if there was one warning I’d give readers it’s that these books have a reading experience that’s designed to go with the flow. There’s a lot going on, and the characters themselves can’t always resolve everything, but the joy is in the journey!

And Give to Darkness is out TODAY, so NOW is the time to pick up a great deal for any fellow urban fantasy fans.

Thank you for ‘speaking’ to us today, Phil, and congratulations on your latest release – I look forward to reviewing it!



Find more from Phil Williams at his website here, or follow him on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.

Given to Darkness releases on Amazon  TODAY!

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