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'Riftmaster', a Fabulous Tale from Miles Nelson

Intro: One of the greatest pleasures of being a writer is the ability to talk to other writers. It's amazing what tips you can pick up while exploring their writing habits and style, how they got started, and also how they explore their genres. Today I introduce Miles Nelson, on the release of his first novel 'Riftmaster'.

Miles, what tropes interest you as a writer, and why?

A trope that I feel myself always drifting back to is a mentor/apprentice dynamic. In fact, this is the central focus of Riftmaster. I myself love to learn, and I also love to teach. I feel that the roles are incredibly fun to explore, as they are very interchangeable.

Mentor figures are people too, with vulnerabilities and vices, who can make human mistakes. And at some point, the apprentice may need to step into their teacher’s shoes and take on that role for themselves. For example, when I was teaching masterclasses at New Writing North, I often found myself learning from the young writers there!

Can you tell us about your previous successes?

As mentioned previously, my professional career started with the teaching of young writers in New Writing North Young Writer’s Group. I started attending at age 18 with my sister, which is sadly the upper end of the age range they focus on. However, I got along so well with the young writers there that they let me stay just a little while longer. I held masterclasses and was eventually added to the talent fund.

In 2019, I worked with Simon Berry who was holding a writing competition among local schools for a charity called Grace House. It was my job to type up, compile, and format all 75 of these stories into a book. It was an absolutely wonderful time, and I was so reluctant to let it go that I also ended up adding mini-illustrations for every story, too!

In March 2020, the competition went ahead again, but covid had resulted in the closure of schools. As a result, we had only around 25 short stories this year. So, the challenge to make it as spectacular as last year was on. Most of this year’s entries were already typed, leaving me with time to spare, so, following up on last year’s symbols I gave each story its own illustrated title page. I also did my first proper, full-sized illustrations for one of two winners! This year’s book sales were split between two local charities, the Cheesy Waffles foundation and RTProjects.

Finally, in summer of 2020 I contributed an essay to Laura Kate Dale’s Gender Euphoria! In this anthology of happy stories by trans, nonbinary and intersex writers I wrote about the thoughts, feelings, and challenges my husband and I faced planning our wedding. It was a wonderful experience in which I shared the story of the happiest day of my life and relived those feelings all over again.

How did this tale develop?

Riftmaster is a story many years in the making. It’s based very loosely on the daydreams I had as a child, in which I would

fly through ‘the Rift’ to all sorts of different worlds and go on crazy adventures with my favourite characters. Over the

years, the character that had once been me changed a lot. They transitioned a long time before I did, and without everyday problems to drag them down, they slowly lost touch with everything we know as normal. Over the years, the Riftmaster has appeared in various forms in various stories that I’ve written, a little different in each. The first instance of them as they are now appeared in a five-hundred-word short story entitled ‘the Rifter’ which ended up being the catalyst for the entire book to take shape.

Bailey, on the other hand, was made to be the perfect foil to the chaotic nature of the Riftmaster. Since the reader doesn’t know them as I do, the story unfolds as Bailey unravels the enigma that is the Riftmaster’s past and present and connects with them in a way no one has in many years. This also makes him perfect to relate to the average reader in a way that I have always struggled with.

How long did it take you to write?

Riftmaster took a little over a month to write from beginning to end. In January 2019, I had the new year’s resolution to write a novel, for the first time in 7 years. I started it on January the 3rd, and finished it on February the 4th, planning it as I went! I had a rough idea from the beginning of the events that would take place over the book, but the main focus was the development of Bailey and the Riftmaster’s relationship. After that point, it was just about designing the worlds to help them along. The first draft was only 45,000 words, but by the time it came to be published more than a year later, it had just hit 80,000. A lot changed in that time!

That’s an impressive rate of writing! On that subject, what is your writing routine?

I don’t have much of a routine. From the day I start writing to the day I finish, it’s simply a race to get the first draft done before my limited attention span inevitably gives up! The first draft is always the hardest, so the best option for me is simply to pump it out, forget about it for a few months, and then go back and start editing when it feels fresh, new and interesting again.


How do you hold on to hope when you’re being repeatedly wrenched between worlds? College student Bailey Jones is

plucked from his world by a mysterious and unpredictable force known as the Rift, which appears to move people at random from one world to another. Stranded on an alien planet, he is relieved when he meets a fellow human, the self-styled Riftmaster, who is prepared to assist him. Although curious about his new companion’s real identity, Bailey hopes that, with years of experience of the Rift, this cosmic traveller can help him find a way to return to Earth. But first, as the two of them are ripped without warning from one hostile planet to another, Bailey must rely on the Riftmaster to show him how to survive. Riftmaster, an adventure, an exploration, is concerned with loss, and letting go, while still holding onto your humanity and identity, even when life seems hopeless.


He was nearly there. Knee-deep in snow, he waded towards the figure. He hardly noticed the darkness creeping in at the edges of his vision. The stranger’s shape grew blurred. His legs felt heavy as lead. Weighed down by clothes frozen solid and hardly able to feel below the knees, he stumbled, one last time, and found himself sinking to his knees.

He couldn’t get back up.

Dazed, he dropped his chin onto his chest, and panted, drawing hoarse and rattling breaths.

The last thing he knew, the stranger’s shadow had fallen over him, and a heavy cloak draped across his shoulders.


Miles Nelson was born and raised in the distant north, in a quaint little city called Durham. He studied video game design

at Teesside University, graduating in 2018. Since then, he has taken a step back from coding to work on his writing career, and has since led several masterclasses with New Writing North.

He has been writing all his life, and although Riftmaster is technically his fourth novel, he likes to pretend the first three don’t exist. Whilst he is primarily a sci-fi writer who loves long journeys, strange worlds and all things space and stars, he has also had brief flings with the genres of fantasy and horror. He often writes stories highlighting the struggles faced by the LGBTQ+ community, and tries to include themes of empathy and inclusivity in all he does. Even then, though, Miles stands firm in the belief that this is not the defining element of his stories. And, although he tries to represent his community as best he can, these themes are never the main focus; because he believes that (in most cases) a person shouldn’t be defined by their deviation from standard norms. Outside of scifi and fantasy, he has a deep-rooted fascination with natural history, and collects books told from unique perspectives (be they animal, alien, or mammoths from Mars). The older, the better; his oldest book is just about to turn 100! He currently lives in Durham City with his husband, Chris, who so far seems unworried by Miles’ rapidly growing collections.

Please follow the next link in this blog tour with Geoff Nelder, here:

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Twitter: @ProbablyMiles


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