Q&A with Rhys A Jones

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for The Dark Alchemist. I’m sharing my Q&A with the author with thanks to Zoe O’Farrell for inviting me on the blog tour and to Rhys A Jones for answering my questions!

Have you always wanted to write?

Yes. At school, I loved writing essays. But my chosen profession meant a lot of working hours and a great deal of study outside of those working hours. And so, I did no creative writing for until I had the time. Ans so I began writing properly in my mid-thirties,

What were your previous jobs? Have they helped you with your writing process?

I have only this year fully retired from my ‘real’ job as a surgeon working for 30 years in the NHS. There is no doubt that over that long period of constant interpersonal interactions, listening to how people talk to one another, often in stressful situations, has all helped train my ear. It also taught me that almost every situation, no matter how dark, has room for humour. People need it as a coping mechanism.

What was your inspiration for The Dark Alchemist?

My Inspiration for The Wonderworking series and book one, the Dark Alchemist, comes from my love of fantasy and science fiction. I read a lot of that in my younger years. The way that young people deal with the unknown does away with a lot of preconceptions and the meddling of adults. This is what I wanted to explore in the Wonderworking. So, I’ve created a contemporary world, but one slightly different from our own. Who knows how the world would have turned out when some seemingly inconsequential change has a knock-on effect over a period of history. Some things might stay the same, some things might be radically different. And there is an appetite for these kinds of stories. Just look at Stranger Things—though the Wonderworking is nowhere near as horrifying (to start with).

How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a formula? What I try and do is put normal people, with all their foibles, into very abnormal situations. Every character must have some degree of relatability to the reader, even the nasty ones. And so, yes, all my characters have some of me in them and a lot of other people in them and one or two little traits which dominate their responses. The hope is that readers will recognize those little flaws either within themselves or in some other person they know.

What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

80% plotter, 20% pantser. That sounds like a cop-out, but it isn’t. I have a blueprint to start with, I must know how it ends before I start. It becomes too messy otherwise.  But the early outlines always change as things happen through the discovery of the writing process.

How did you research? Did you enjoy it?

Always a tricky one in science fantasy, by definition, it’s all made up. But of course, the locations aren’t all made up. I was lucky enough to spend some time in a very old Jacobean house in a school in Edinburgh that helped a lot when it came to describing the haunted house that is central to the story in the Dark Alchemist. 

Who are your favourite writers? Are you influenced by them?

For this genre and age group, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, JK Rowling, Roald Dahl, Philip Pullman. All British. All writing stories that, though aimed at children, can be enjoyed by adults too. And I think that is important for what I am trying to achieve here. From across the pond, Stephen King and Ray Bradbury. I get lost in their books.

If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be and why?

Neil Gaiman – I’ve heard him speak. We’d have a lot to talk about.

JK Rowling. I’m a little scared of her. But she, like me, writes for children and crime for adults. Plus she’s married to a medic. We could have a conversation, I’m sure.

Ray Bradbury. I love his poetic style of writing. Something Wicked This way comes is one of my favourites.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?

Windy Mindy. One of David Walliams’ World’s Worst Children’. Do I need to elaborate?

Who would play the main character/s in a film version of The Dark Alchemist?

I have no idea. Oz Chambers is 13 years old. He would be an unknown, plucked out of obscurity for stardom (I wish).

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Walk in the Black Mountains of Wales with my Golden Lab, Ela.

What is next for you?

The dark Alchemist is Book one of Five. I also write adult crime books. The dog will not walk herself. As I said earlier, do I need to elaborate?


Book? Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury

Film? Galaxy Quest

Band/Singer? Free

TV show? Ted Lasso/Schitt’s Creek/True Detective.

Colour? Blue

Place?  Halfway up a lane to a farm in the village where I live. I can see the top of the escarpment above Llyn y Fan in the Black Mountains from there. No houses, and the river valley stretching west. I go there to clear my mind.

Biscuit? Milk Chocolate Hobnob.


The Dark Alchemist is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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