Author Interview: Francis H Powell

Do you participate in writing challenges on social media? Do you recommend any?

I regularly do a poetry challenge on Twitter. It is posted on a Friday and the deadline is Saturday. It is posted by @movemepoetry. The last challenge prompt was “Grease” At first I thought how can I write a poem about “Grease” but somehow ideas came into my head.

Does writing energize or exhaust you? Or both?

I think it is quite calming. I went to art school and studied painting. When I paint I get paint all over my clothes, I get into a state, and I am not as composed as when I am writing. I like to write something one day and then look over it the next day in the morning, when I am feeling fresh.

If I struggle to find an idea, I can get frustrated, but generally I see writing as a relaxing activity.

Have you listened to any audiobooks? Which did you enjoy the most?

I listened to an audiobook recently, called “Station Eleven”. It was read by a woman, who I think did quite a good job. We were travelling at the time. Sometimes my mind drifted away from the story, sometimes I was more emersed. I quite enjoyed the experience, it is different to reading a paperback. I can imagine it would suit a certain type of person.

How do you come up with character names for your stories?

For my stories, I am looking for names that people will remember. The name has to fit with the character. With my first children’s book because it is called the Fish King and the Two Wise Ghosts” I chose “fishy” names, like “Sharky” “Charlie Codface” “Captain James Piranha” .  The name has to fit the character. Sometimes I change the name of the character, if a better name comes to mind.

What inspired the idea for your book?

My son did a drawing, that looked like a king holding the hands of two ghosts (which he insists are snakes). I had the idea of writing poems to go with my son’s drawings.  I wrote a very long poem about the Fish King and the two ghosts. At a point I decided to turn it into prose, but I couldn’t bring myself to extract all the poem parts, so it is a mix of the two. I also did the illustrations, which involved a lot of work.

Do you like to create books for adults?

Yes, I started by writing dark short stories for  adults and I written some stories quite recently.

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

I like to create art. I write music on  my computer. I like to go for walks with my family and our dog (Bertie). I live in a really nice place in France, about fifty minutes from Paris. It is near a river and a big forest called Fontainebleau. There is also a large château where Napoleon used to live as well as various kings and Queens. 

What do you think is the best way to improve writing skills?

Keep writing all the time. Try different things, like writing a story in the first person. Writing a story with the perspective a woman or vice versa if you are a women. Try writing something in a different time period (like the middle ages). Write short stories as well as novels. Challenge yourself. Go out of your comfort zone, push yourself. Read other writers work. Learn to evaluate what you are writing.

What do you think makes a good story?

A story that grips you from the start and doesn’t let go right up to the final full stop. Good description and sharp dialogue. Interesting characters. Twists and turns in the story. A powerful ending. A story that stays in the mind a long time. The writer plays with the reader, with the direction of the story. Wit and humour. 

What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you?

You can’t always have ideas flowing through your mind, sometimes you are going to have times when ideas don’t come to you as you would like. There can be parts of a story where you struggle to move the story on. It might mean you need to work on another piece of writing or take some time to reflect.  It could just be mental fatigue, it will pass.


Born in 1961, in Reading, England Francis H Powell attended Art Schools, receiving a degree in painting and an MA in printmaking. In 1995, Francis H Powell moved to Austria, teaching English as a foreign language while pursuing his varied artistic interests adding music and writing. He currently lives in Moret sur Loing, France writing both prose and poetry. Francis H Powell has published short stories in the magazine, “Rat Mort” and other works on the internet site “Multi-dimensions.” He has had three books published and  has also compiled a book of short stories, poems and illustrations, featuring other writers and poets. The book is called “Together Behind Four Walls” and is a book of lockdown stories and poems. The books has raised money for Marie Curie nurses.   He has had poems published in anthologies, for both adults and children.  He has done poetry reading for Paris Lit up as well as other events.

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