Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Will Macmillan Jones: Researches comic fantasy series in pubs with loud music

Welcome to Will Macmillan Jones, who lives in Wales, which he describes as "a lovely green, verdant land with a rich cultural heritage." He does his best to support this heritage by drinking the local beer and shouting loud encouragement whenever International Rugby is on the TV. A fifty-something lover of blues, rock and jazz, he has just fulfilled a lifetime ambition by filling an entire wall of his home office with (full) bookcases. When not writing, he is usually lost with the help of a satnav on top of a large hill in the middle of nowhere.

His major comic fantasy series, released by Red Kite Publishing, can be found at:
www.thebannedunderground.com and information on his other work and stuff in general at :

There’s a blog.  There’s always a blog, isn’t there?

What is your favorite way to interact with readers? Well, I have to say that this can change, and recently, for me, it has. I used to enjoy swapping jokes on Facebook, but ever since this summer I’ve been introduced to a new way: and I adore it. In fact I would really recommend it to every writer, I love it so much: I’ve found some groups that run what are called ‘Open Mic’ evenings.  Here, armed with just a microphone, the author stands before a group of writers, readers, and sometimes random members of the public and reads some of their work aloud.

I’ve sort of extended that by working some of my material into an unusually cohesive format and done some stand-up with the gags I write, and that is a fantastic experience.  It also provides great feedback on the quality of the material you are writing: if you can hold an audience for five minutes reading your work, then you know you have something worth offering.

What tune would be the theme song for the series? That isn’t an easy question to answer.  You see, I write about a rock n roll band made up of blues loving dwarfs, and led by a saxophone-playing troll with a jazz fixation. I also love a lot of rock, so I would without doubt choose ‘Rock N Roll’ by Led Zeppelin. However, my characters would all choose something else, and in order to avoid too much trouble with awkward bunch (whose co operation I will need desperately when I’m working on the next installment in the collection) I may well need to seek a compromise.

Now a number of jazz standards might do, but the vocalist for the band (what’s the difference between a terrorist and the lead singer in a band? You can negotiate with the terrorist) would object.  So in the end, we might well have to just agree on what many musicians agree is the greatest rock n roll song written: Johnny B Good.

How much fact is in your fiction? You do know that I’m a fantasy writer, right? Actually, the fact of the matter is that I am congenitally bone idle, so I cannot be bothered to make up too much stuff.  So my fantasy world is actually just a small addition to our own real world, and the books are actually set in Wales and Northern England, stopping off at some of my own favourite places. The characters, even if they are dwarves, witches, trolls and wizards are, perhaps, people that you might meet on the real streets. Or that you might meet if you were to hang around in the sort of places that I have been known to frequent. There is, of course, an upside to this: I get to do my research for these books by hanging about in pubs and bars whilst listening to loud music and indulging in the odd beer. Or two. It has to be admitted that fantasy writers get the best gigs!

The best link may well be my websites:   

or an amazon author page?

THE AMULET OF KINGS -- The first volume in The Banned Underground collection of stories that can be read in any order, or disorder.  Perhaps disorder, for when two suburban teenagers arrive for an enforced holiday at their aunt’s cottage, they find a lot more going on than they expected.

Most of the local Wizards and Witches are all on holiday – sorry, that’s the Annual Joint Professional Conference of course – in the South of France. It’s a perfect opportunity for the local Dark Lord (who has been left behind) to summon up some goblins and try to invade the underground Mansion of the Dwarves.

Can the teenagers help their new friend the King of the Dwarves save his kingdom?  The Dark Lord has his goblins and his minions; the teenagers have a luminous green, jazz-loving bog troll and his rhythm-and-blues band – and an amazing collection of jokes, one-liners, and awfully bad puns, as this new fantasy series gets off to a crackling start.

THE MYSTIC ACCOUNTANTS -- The Mystic Accountants is the second outing for the dwarf rhythm-and-blues band and their jazz-loving, saxophone-playing bog troll leader.  They are about to acquire a new band member too, but quite by accident.  After all, they hadn’t planned to demolish the mystical Throne of the Dwarf King under the Mountain during one of their gigs, had they?  But the choice of punishment was easy: get locked up or go on a more-or-less paid-for quest to find another Throne.

The Quest takes them across Wales, unexpectedly by way of various pubs and a beer festival, until they find … well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it?  And the Quest isn’t going to be as easy as it sounds either. The Dark Lord wants to intercept the Throne for purposes of his own, and his minions are in hot pursuit, until they run into a conspiracy to take over the nation of Wales by some Mad Monks.

Will the King of the Dwarves sit on a Throne again?  Will the Dark Lord triumph? And will the Mad Monks gain control of the country? (They couldn’t do a worse job than the politicians, I suppose.) Find out in this fast-moving, wisecracking, pun-filled satire on fantasy adventure quests.

THE VAMPIRE MECHANIC -- The third stand-alone volume in The Banned Underground fantasy collection finds our friends – the dwarf rhythm-and-blues band known as The Banned Underground – in trouble again. For once, they can claim that it wasn’t their fault.  After all, they didn’t suggest Santa’s Little Helpers should borrow The Sleigh to get to their gig whilst Santa is on his summer cruise, did they?  And they certainly didn’t crash The Sleigh into a mountain in Wales on the way, did they? 

But they can’t let their friends down, so the Banned are on hand to help get The Sleigh repaired—by the only remaining mechanic who has a workshop manual.  After all, Vampires don’t throw things like that away.

However, The Sleigh has triggered computer alerts around the world, and one such alert was on the Dark Lord’s computer.  As his Mercedes has seen better days, the Dark Lord sends out his minions with orders to recover The Sleigh to be his new personal transport.

Warlocks, Druids, Vampires and Witches (and the occasional accidental frog) combine in a laugh-a-minute roller coaster as the Banned struggle to save their friends from the wrath of Santa. 

BASS INSTINCT -- Bass Instinct is the fourth book in The Banned Underground collection of comic fantasy books.  Each is a stand-alone novel, needing no previous acquaintance with the characters.

The Banned Underground are a dwarf rhythm-and-blues band, led by a luminous green, saxophone playing bog troll with a passion for mushrooms, beer and pizza … and more beer … and for playing jazz, blues and rock ‘n’ roll, of course.  The latest addition to the group is a bright red Welsh dragon that plays bass guitar.  But he’s in trouble.

Dai the Drinking Dragon has been kidnapped by the Dark Lord for nefarious purposes, and by the Dark Lord’s dragon receptionist for even less reputable reasons. Without their bass player, the Banned Underground are now in deep trouble with their record label. They have to produce a set of recordings for an album, and someone has stolen the tapes from the last gig. Can they make some more recordings, or will Freya, the renegade dwarf bass player hired by the Dark Lord, distract the boys whilst the Dark Lord's evil schemes come to fruition?

The Dark Lord has found some thugs to help him in his latest plan to invade the underground Dwarf Mansion he would like to own (as an alternative to his garden shed as a place to hide from his wife), but they have other things on their minds - like looting and pillaging the locals - and it's all going wrong for him again.

Described on The Guardian newspaper’s book review pages as ‘Lord of The Rings as written by stand-up comic Milton Jones to the soundtrack of Led Zeppelin IV’, The Banned Underground series is an underground hit, full of both crackling one-liners and more subtle jokes.

THE SATNAV OF DOOM -- The SatNav of Doom, the fifth in the Banned Underground fantasy collection is now released.  This is a stand-alone work; previous experience is not required.

Something always seems to happen when the Banned Underground, a dwarf rhythm-and-blues band led by a jazz-loving bog troll, are playing.  Sadly for them, it is rarely anything good – for them at least.  The rest of us always seem to get a good laugh at their predicament.  But their world contains more than just pubs and pizza places. There is a Dark Side to some of the people they know: and to one in particular, of course: the Dark Lord of Keswick.

Once again, the Dark Lord has a cunning plan. And once again someone else is going to have to carry it out for him: that's what henchmen are for, isn't it? To hench? Oh, and to be sent on the risky missions …

Not that this mission should be risky. What could be easier than secretly inserting computer spyware into a laptop, using a Banned Underground gig as a diversion? The Tax Office probably does it all the time. But the Tax Office is not normally being chased for an unpaid credit card bill for a huge round of drinks. (That's our politicians. And the Dark Lord’s henchmen, of course.)

And it isn't just any laptop the Dark Lord wants to spy on either. The Government is struggling to find the way out of the Recession without a road map, and what better aid than a SatNav linked to an economic forecasting computer? If the Dark Lord can get inside information on future economic policy, maybe he can clean up and buy a new Mercedes at last.

Then there is a mystery: where did the time-travelling SatNav come from in the first place? What if the original owner wants it back?

Magic, mayhem and macro-economic policy collide in the latest surreal instalment of the acclaimed comic fantasy collection, The Banned Underground.

HAVE FROG, WILL TRAVEL -- More speculative fiction from The Banned Underground collection: in this sixth outing for the series Grizelda (the off-white witch) is forced to speculate about her future in fiction when the Dark Lord tempts her with his cookies, and then threatens her with eviction from her cottage if she doesn’t join The Dark Side.

Tempted, Grizelda sets off on a journey of self-discovery, but whatever is she likely to find, apart of course from a few frogs?

Is it Good to be Bad? Or is it Bad to be Good?  Or could there be a Third Way? Frogs, Vampires, and assorted witches and wizards all have a different view on her predicament, and the only certainty is Grizelda’s uncertainty … and the usual stream of gags, one-liners and slapstick jokes provoked by her thoughts on philosophy.

‘Lord Of The Rings as written by a stand up comedian to the soundtrack of Led Zeppelin IV’ said a reviewer on The Guardian’s Books page.

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