Followers

An Interview with Fantasy Author Kirsten Wheelock

When did you start taking writing seriously and honing your craft?

I never really thought I could write until 2018. A couple of authors that I was BETA reading for convinced me to try writing. I was sick on the couch and thought, why not. 6 days later my first book was born.

Are you a pantser or planner? What is your philosophy on planning out your books / pantsing through the writing process?

Pantser for sure. I am trying to plan more but I find that a very loose outline fits my style more. I tend to let the characters lead me.

What three fantasy authors would you say has most influenced your writing?

Hmm. that is a hard one. Wendie Nordgren for sure, Anne MacAffrey, and oh boy I don't know who to say for the third.

Have you ever abandoned a piece of writing and left it unfinished? Would you ever go back, change it and finish it?

Yes! Maybe if the muse takes me. But either the story had issues or the readers weren't interested.

Do you have a day job and what is it?

Does mom of 6 count? Maybe that is a 24/7 job. [Yes, it definitely counts.]

What fantasy subgenre(s) do you enjoy writing the most?

RH and space opera.

Outside of fantasy, what genre or subgenre would you like most to write in? (eg. Historical Fiction, Mystery, Sci Fi, Spy Thriller, etc.)

Dieselpunk.

What was the first book you've published and what do you like about it?

Protecting Rose. I love how twisted and unexpected it was. I had no plan at all, just wrote. It wasn't supposed to be RH, but my alpha readers had an absolute hiss about one character so...

What was the most recent book you've published and what do you like about it?

Santa Nicola. It is the first in my Twisted Kiss Series and I loved trying to figure out how the men would act as being submissives. Also the 1940's, dieselpunk vibes were fun to incorporate.

How many books have published thus far and what are their titles?

  • Protecting Rose
  • Consuming Rose
  • Sanctifying Rose
  • Cherishing Rose
  • Finding Her Wings
  • Asylum of Bone and Tears
  • A Taste of Dragonfire
  • A Taste of Love
  • Xislunia's Law
  • Forsaken
  • Prevail
  • Santa Nicola
  • Merkitty and the Orange Fish Fiasco
  • Merkitty and the First Day of School Jitters
  • Merkitty Gets A Surprise
  • Merkitty and the Bootakular Fright
  • King of the Rock
  • Ruby Panda's Christmas Surprise

What was your favourite hero/protagonist you've thus far written about? What makes them special?

Oh boy. You want me to choose? If I do then one of them will shut up on me and not tell the story. Hmmm maybe Akiyra because she has overcome so much and learns to adapt and love. The same could be said for Gertrude in my current project (due out 2/14) Killove's Valentine.

What was your favourite villain/antagonist thus far? What makes them special?

Esson. His character is so complex and there are twists you don't learn until the end. (The Guardian Series)

If you could propose the plot of a TV show what would you make it about?

Hmmm I adore end of the world plots with subterfuge. But I also love space opera so probably something along those lines.

Do you like to use tropes in your writing and subvert the reader's expectations, or do you try to avoid them entirely?

Um both? I tend to twist my stories in different ways. Fairytales with the men as the damsel in distress (what is the male version of damsel?), shifters who can't shift out of their animal form, etc.

What skills do you yourself possess that you feel the need to write about and keeps you inspired? (eg. Archery, blacksmithing, horsemanship, languages, etc.)

Um... I don't know. sewing and cooking? though they are rarely in my books.

Do you get annoyed when you see movies, TV shows or books that show unrealistic depictions of things or do you brush it off as the "magic of fantasy"?

Sometimes. It depends on the show/movie and how engaging it is.

What is the darkest thing you've ever written about?

Torture of Rose. That was hard.

Do you sometimes find it difficult to find books to read because you are looking for something specific, nobody has written it, and you realize you should just write it?

Sometimes. More it is covers that drive me crazy. They all look the same and say very little about the book.

What is your next book that is coming out, when should it be available, and what is it about?

2/14 Killove's Valentine comes out. It is a RH Contemporary about a group who are soured on love, but circumstances push them together. On 2/28 Ember's Veil comes out. It is a Twisted Kiss story about conjoined twins and an albino woman who have to save the realm. It is dieselpunk/alternate history.

What are you currently reading by other fantasy authors?

Cynthia Sax Cyborg Series, Wendie Nordgren The Clue Taylor Series.

Masters of the Universe coming in November 2020

Masters of the Universe: Revelation is coming to Netflix in late 2020, most likely mid November.

Why mid-November?

Three reasons:

#1. They have confirmed that the new He-Man show will be released in "late 2020".
#2. When they released season 1 of the new Netflix version of She-Ra it came out on November 13th 2018, so a mid-November release seems likely.
#3. Netflix prefers to release family themed or holiday themed productions in December, and likewise more Halloween themed production in September or October. Being neither a November release seems more likely.



I must admit I am rather excited about this.

I grew up playing with He-Man toys, and since I had a younger sister she likewise had her She-Ra toys so we played together, making up stories with them. Playing with such toys influenced me as a storyteller.

Masters of the Universe / He-Man is one of the reasons why I eventually became a fantasy writer. When I was 5 years old I was obsessed with strongman type characters / actors:
  • He-Man
  • Mr T (from the A-Team)
  • The Mighty Hercules (the old 1960s series)
  • Superman
  • Mighty Mouse
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Sylvester Stallone

Years later when I met Hulk Hogan on the streets of Toronto I asked him about Mr T and when it became evident that I was more interested in Mr T than Hulk Hogan himself I think I made him upset... I don't think he likes me.

But you have to understand that Mr T had a huge influence on me when I was about 5 years old. I had a Mr T pillow case and blankets, a Mr T jigsaw puzzle, Mr T shirts, and various other items that declared "this kid is a big Mr T fan".

And I certainly was not alone. Mr T and other "strongman" types was very popular in the 1980s.

When I grew up my interest in strongman characters did not diminish.

I began writing my Wrathgar stories in 2003 and later my Wulfric the Wanderer stories, which I started writing in 2007.

I have read all of the Conan the Barbarian stories by Robert E. Howard, L. Sprague De Camp, Lin Carter, Robert Jordan and others.

When new Rocky and Rambo films come out in the movie theatre, guess who is there watching them? Me.

To me these strongman characters are a subgenre all their own, and I love them.

As an adult and now a parent I also happen to like the wholesomeness of these stories. I look forward to my son watching He-Man and old episodes of the A-Team.

There is also similar stories I find attractive too. The characters are less of a strongman stereotype, but I still find value in them.
  1. Magnum P.I.
  2. Simon and Simon.
  3. Bobby Ewing (Dallas).
  4. Indiana Jones.
  5. James Bond.
  6. John McClane (Die Hard).
The stories are more mature, but the wholesome quality of such storytelling has a particular punch with the mass audience. There is a reason Die Hard is now a Christmas Classic.

Could you imagine if Sylvester Stallone made another Expendables film and he got Arnold, Bruce Willis, and Mr T in it?

And for fun... Mr T should play the President of the United States. And they make it a Christmas themed film just like Die Hard is.

But that will never happen. If it does it means I have died and gone to heaven.


An Interview with Fantasy Author Jordan R. Murray

When did you start taking writing seriously and honing your craft?

I had some poetry published in english and french while in college, but for fantasy, I would say in 2014. I’d been working on my first book on and off for about two years. At first it was a casual amusement; I would work on it when I was bored to see where the story would go. When my interest evolved into sheer stubbornness and a desire to finish it, I started thinking about making it into a story that was good enough to sit on someone else’s bookshelf - that was quite an exciting moment for me!

Are you a pantser or planner? What is your philosophy on planning out your books / pantsing through the writing process?

How about an organized pantser? I do have earnest intentions of having a plan to start. Making outlines and answering story questions are essential parts of the process. It’s important that planning doesn’t get in the way of developing new ideas and directions, yet I work better when writing more freely vs. writing toward an inevitable outcome, and I believe my plot twists are more unpredictable because of that fusion.

What three fantasy authors would you say has most influenced your writing?

That’s a tough question! I’ve always admired the plot twists and magic systems that Brandon Sanderson comes up with, particularly in his Mistborn trilogy. Actually, I read the first book he published, Elantris, after reading some of his later works. Sanderson’s character development and storytelling when he first started writing was leagues away from what he writes now! It was inspiring to see how far he’s come as a writer.

I’ve read and loved a lot of the fantasy written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. The characters in their Dragonlance series are so beautifully brought to life, flaws and all, that I strive to keep in mind with my own writing how flaws are interesting and valuable parts of characters. Weis and Hickman are also able to weave together lots of threads from different worlds in their series, like in their Death Gate Cycle books. I hope that in time my Magic in the Imperium series will have a similar amount of cohesion to it.

To be honest, I don’t read a lot of fantasy while I’m writing fantasy. I tend to read exactly the opposite, and I find that affects my writing in positive ways. I’ve been on a Cormac McCarthy, Ernest Hemingway, and Kurt Vonnegut run lately.

Have you ever abandoned a piece of writing and left it unfinished? Would you ever go back, change it and finish it?

I think most authors have an entire warehouse full of broken stories! I like to be pretty optimistic, though. It’s too early in my writing career for me to admit that anything has been abandoned. There are many sci-fi projects that I chose to put on hold in order to finish my fantasy series. I like to think my other stories are in for a good sleep, out to the country for some fresh air, or churning in the back of my mind when I have a quiet moment.

What fantasy subgenre(s) do you enjoy writing the most?

I’m very drawn to epic fantasy. I’ve always liked complex plots, and subtleties within the cultural context of fantasy worlds. I like to plant easter eggs, conversations with subtext, detailed descriptions, and brief mentionings with cultural relevance. Food, music, art, all ways in which my world grows richer for the reader when they pick up on a reference. It is delightful when I get a note or message from a fan who notices and connects the dots.

Outside of fantasy, what genre or subgenre would you like most to write in? (eg. Historical Fiction, Mystery, Sci Fi, Spy Thriller, etc.)

Science fiction is another love of mine. I‘ve been working on some science fiction short stories which blossomed into a novella, and will probably end up being a full length space opera. I find I write with more of a ridiculous bent when space exploration is brought into the mix. The closest way I could come to describe it would be a mix of Neil Gaimon and Douglas Adams? I suspect that an entire universe will slowly come together with a few of my sci-fi works in progress, and when I figure out how a trio of rogues crosses paths with space pirates who run a hotel in a meteor field... Well, I’ll let you know!

What was the first book you've published and what do you like about it?

My first book is The Emperor’s Horn. Writing from the perspective of multiple characters allowed me to build a richer story about the Imperium than if I had focused on a single person. It was thoroughly satisfying to intertwine the paths of these characters and lay the groundwork for future books in the series.



What was the most recent book you've published and what do you like about it?

The second book in my Magic in the Imperium series, The Bone Reader, was released this year. Building a lot of the groundwork in the first book gave me a little more freedom with character development. It allowed me to be more bold with the plot, and have more dramatic things happen to the characters now that the reader is better acquainted with them. I enjoyed twisting the fates of the characters together a little more tightly.



What was your favourite hero/protagonist you've thus far written about? What makes them special?

Herbert Tanasen has a special place in my heart. He’s a farmer’s son whose magic allows for the success of their crops, and wins his family a noble title. He has nature magic described as Constructive magic in the books, which manifests as a connection with
plants and trees, really all growing things. He’s also ruled by his heart and his emotions. Quick to love and hate, quick to form opinions, and hopelessly stubborn. I think he’s someone I sympathize with on a deep, instinctual level.

What was your favourite villain/antagonist thus far? What makes them special?

There is an advisor to the Empress in my series known as the Praelor. He has a lot of mystery surrounding his past, and I can’t reveal too much about why I love him because of spoilers, but, in a world where literacy and books are very rare he has a way to create and control magic through ink. Whatever he writes down he can influence, be it a person’s name or an idea.

As the spice must flow in Dune, the ink must flow for the Praelor. A lot of his actions help to drive the plot of the series. At the moment, I find that I’m enjoying the villains of my series even more than my heros, yet there are definite grey areas about who to root for and why.

If you could propose the plot of a TV show what would you make it about?

I’ve kicked around the idea of writing a cook into a fantasy setting as a main character. I’m a big foodie, and love to eat and cook delicious meals, even while camping - especially while camping. What I would love to see is a medieval fantasy show where
people don’t want just another “adventurer” darkening their doorstep, but for a good stew they’ll tell all their secrets.

There are some truly fascinating things about medieval cooking and baking that would be a blast to bring up. How many people know how deer antlers used to be ground up and used as the equivalent of baking powder? Not many, I expect.

Think of the wars that might start over a ruined banquet, or a poisoned soup. Or how to turn the favor of a lord or queen by tempting them with an exotic food from a neighboring kingdom… Like part food porn/cooking show, part epic fantasy adventure. I’d watch the heck out of a tv show like that. Recipes available online at the end of the episodes? Even better.

Do you like to use tropes in your writing and subvert the reader's expectations, or do you try to avoid them entirely?

I try to avoid tropes. Heroic cycles aside, every time I’m tempted to put in a prophecy with the chosen one, or an orphan destined for greatness, I just can’t bring myself to do it. A lot of my readers are surprised that they don’t know what’s going to happen next, so for good or ill my books will keep you guessing!

What skills do you yourself possess that you feel the need to write about and keeps you inspired? (eg. Archery, blacksmithing, horsemanship, languages, etc.)

As a musician, I’ve written songs that take place in my books. I’ve performed enough on stage to think about the way that scenes appear in stories, almost as if you could watch them take place from the audience. I love to garden and travel, so a lot of the descriptions about plants, the different provinces of the Imperium, a lot of my work is influenced by my own experiences.

My grandparents had a nursery for fruit and landscape trees for decades, so I think that definitely shaped the way I approach nature magic in my books. Being an anthropologist also gives me valuable insight into creating believable cultures. It fires my imagination to think of all the ancient artifacts that exist from our own past, and all the stories they could tell.

Do you get annoyed when you see movies, TV shows or books that show unrealistic depictions of things or do you brush it off as the 'magic of fantasy'?

Oh, absolutely. As a singer, I get really bothered when someone is badly dubbed. I can often tell at a glance by the way they breathe or their way their tongue and chin move whether or not they’re singing. With a degree in Anthropology, every time I see a show or movie where they bring in an explorer or anthropologist who just starts looting the heck out of stuff, or is culturally insensitive, I can’t help but cringe and fight the urge to ask everyone around me if they think that’s realistic. I still love Indiana Jones, though. Somehow, Harrison Ford can do no wrong. Don’t ask me why!

Do you celebrate after you finish writing a chapter or a book? How do you celebrate?

There’s likely a stiff drink involved. After my first book was done, I happened to spot a wine named “Praxis”, which is a town and university featured in my book. I ordered half a case, and kept a bottle for posterity. I also have a weakness for good single malt scotch. Ardbeg and Laphroig are favorites of mine, or Highland Park if I’m in the mood for something smoother.

What is the darkest thing you've ever written about?

There are definitely dark moments in my books, both with physical and psychological pain. A boy is caught spying on Imperial soldiers right before they carry out a surprise attack. The captain of the soldiers needs information, so he tortures the boy to death in front of one of the main characters, who is a healer, yet declares the boy isn’t worth keeping alive. That decision is only one of many which will come back to haunt him.

If you could go back in time and change something in your past to become a better writer, what would you change? (For temporal causality purposes we will assume this doesn't completely change history and that only that one thing has been changed.)

I had a wonderful language arts teacher in middle school who encouraged me to submit some short stories and poems for publication. I remember one in particular I was pretty proud of, a modern retelling of the Princess and the Pea which I called The Angel and the Acorn. When I got my first round of rejection letters - which were very nice, really, and with good feedback, I was easily discouraged and didn’t pursue it further. I think if I could go back, I would love to have a conversation with myself about failure being an invaluable learning tool.

When reading fantasy what is one thing you wish other authors would stop doing?

To answer a slightly different question, I think something indie authors do that hurts them the most is publishing stories which never reach an editor. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve come across a book online and seen reviews like “good story, but there were so many grammar mistakes I couldn’t read it” or “terrible spelling, fragmented sentences, but I loved the premise”. The irony is that unedited stories kill book sales, and those sales create the income to hire an editor for the next book!

Do you sometimes find it difficult to find books to read because you are looking for something specific, nobody has written it, and you realize you should just write it?

It may be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t believe there are huge holes in what’s available. I would argue it’s more likely the book is unknown to a reader rather than unwritten. There are already so many stories out there!

Here are a few amusing examples to illustrate when I thought I had a unique idea that no one had done before:

My first book is called the Emperor’s Horn because an ancient horn is discovered that was used to end the Relic Wars about a thousand years or “cycles” before the book takes place. I was so proud of the idea to use an ancient, mysterious horn as the catalyst for my story. Then a year or so after I released the book, I started reading the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. When this mysterious and ancient prophecy turned up about “The Great Horn” I was gutted!

Another funny example came up about a month before I published The Emperor’s Horn. I saw the preview for a Netflix series called Iron Fist. Now, I’ve still not seen Iron First to know how or why the guy’s arm glows, but the trailer was still enough to be a shock. You see, one of the main characters in my series has an accident which fuses a part of his arm with glowstone. The arm is badly scarred and glows red when he uses his magic. This Iron Fist character reminds me that unintentional similarities in fantasy are more common than we realize.

Where do you see yourself twenty years from now and what might you be writing about by then?

I would love to have solid footing in both fantasy and science fiction. With any luck, my Magic in the Imperium series would be done and have a few prequels. To have a space opera or two published, and finished a few other stories I have shelved would be great as well.

I love to paint a broader picture of the worlds I create, so short stories are a personal challenge. Attending a Clarion workshop would be a dream come true, and If I could grow enough to write and publish short stories on a regular basis I would consider that an enormous personal accomplishment.

What is your next book that is coming out, when should it be available, and what is it about?

I’ve already jumped into writing the next book in my Magic in the Imperium series, whose working title is “The Fractured Crown”. It will focus on the capital of the Imperium, The Blue City, and reveal more about the royal family and the agenda of the Empress. The two main characters made some unexpected choices in the second book, so they each have their own ways of dealing with the repercussions. I’d love to have it published by early next 2021, but only time will tell.

What are you currently reading by other fantasy authors?

I have a pretty big stack of books to read at the moment. A few of them are the finalists from SPFBO this year, which I encourage everyone to check out! Never Die by Rob J. Hayes is at the top of my list, as is the Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang. Ten Tales of a Dark Tomorrow by Kevin Kuhn is another book on my to read list, and if I don’t read The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu soon I think I might have to hide the book - it’s been unread on my desk for months now! I have a vacation coming up, so that’ll be a nice chance to do some reading.

MAP OF THE IMPERIUM


Notes

Maria Spada did the cover art for both books, and the map is by Jonathan Elliott.

Why Hardcover Literary Fantasy Books Are So Profitable

Literary Fantasy is the nerdiest of all the fantasy subgenres. It is the subgenre for intellectuals who crave well written prose, complicated plots, metaphors, subversion of the plot, complex realistic characters, morally grey villains, etc.

And the good news is that these intellectual professionals who like to read this subgenre have money, so they don't mind paying $25 for a hardcover of the newest book by whomever.

However there is one important factor for Literary Fantasy that is often overlooked by writers.

It pays VERY WELL. Even for a first time author.

Let me elaborate.

The typical advance for a first time author in Literary Fantasy is about $15,000 to $20,000. It isn't a lot, but the amount is just to get the author to sign the contract. The real money comes afterwards.

For our purposes lets say an author publishes their book with HarperCollins and they give them a $15,000 advance.

That advance is effectively a debt that needs to be paid off via book sales.

The first 5000 books HarperCollins sells pays off the debt to the tune of 10% of the sale price of the book. The next 5000 books pays 12.5%, and the next 5000 books after that pay 15%.

So the $25 book pays off $2.50 for each sale. X 5000 = $12,500.

Within the first 5000 sales most of the debt has already been paid off. Only $2500 worth of debt remains.

The next 5000 sales pays 12.5% of the sale value. $3.125 per sale. Only 320 more sales and the debt has been fully paid off.

So 5320 sales and the debt has been paid off. Every sale after this results in the author receiving royalty cheques in the mail.

The remaining 4680 sales earning $3.125 per sale equals... $14,625.

$14,625 is a pretty nice royalty cheque.

The next 5000 sales pays 15% per sale. $3.75 X 5000 = $18,750.

Still keeping track?

For the first 15,000 books worth of sales here is the totals:

$15,000
$14,625
$18,750
=  $48,375.00

That is a pretty nice paycheque for the author for just 15,000 book sales.

So what about a different subgenre, one that doesn't usually sell as a hardcover?

Well, lets say you are publishing a generic mass market paperback.

You get your $15,000 advance, but you only get a 7% royalty credit per sale on a book that is selling for perhaps $10.

That 7% is about $0.70 per sale.

To pay off the $15,000 debt they need to sell $21,429 copies of their book before they see any extra royalties.

Now you might think, hey, aren't mass market paperbacks easier to sell because they are cheaper? Yes, they are, but hardcover books are eventually also released as trade paperbacks (which pay 7.5% royalty) and mass market paperbacks (which pay 7%). So the publisher releases the hardcover first, makes a bundle of money, and when the sale numbers start to decline they eventually release paperback versions to boost sales.

For authors it is a mathematical no brainer that you really want to publish hardcovers in order to get the extra profits, but to get those extra profits you really want to write in a subgenre that typically publishes the books as a hardcover first.

And Literary Fantasy is the most obvious choice if the author wants to make a large wad of cash.

There is only one problem. It is Literary Fantasy. It is basically the hardest subgenre for an author to write. The quality of the writing needs to be impeccable. Think George R. R. Martin level of quality.

Any fantasy author who wants to be taken seriously should seriously consider writing Literary Fantasy, both for the prestige and the money, but not every fantasy writer out there has a level of skill or the inclination to write that kind of book.

Many of us simply prefer to write other subgenres.

Speaking for myself I regularly read Literary Fantasy, but writing it is a daunting challenge. Writing a Literary Fantasy novel is on my To Do List, and I keep a file full of notes of ideas for such a book so that when I am ready to write and publish such a book I will have no shortage of ideas to make a complex and detailed book which will amaze readers and make them fall in love with the story.

But I am also just as likely to write a comedic fantasy, something akin to The Princess Bride.

So the real question then is... is it possible to mix subgenres? Comedic Literary Fantasy?

Oh wouldn't that be wonderful.

One part Princess Bride, one part parody of Game of Thrones, one part The Witcher...?

Who knows. I would love to read a book like that. Maybe other people would too.

Two New Korovia Books Coming March 1st




"The Blizzard's Daughter"
By Charles Moffat
Heroic Fantasy
Ebook $5.99

'Blizzards' are wizards who specialize in ice magic (cryomancy) and have undergone a transformation that turns their skin blue. They become immune to the cold, but vulnerable to fire, and their cryomancy magic is enhanced dramatically. They are also very rare as only the toughest wizards can survive the magical transformation without dying...

The hunter and tracker Wrathgar knows little of wizards and their ways, but when an elderly Blizzard approaches him and asks him to track down his missing daughter and bring her home he agrees to the task knowing little of what lies ahead. What he doesn't know is that there is a prophecy about "a child of a Blizzard" and people seeking to stop the prophecy from happening have set their sights on the Blizzard's Daughter. If they can kill her maybe they can stop the prophecy from happening.

"Shifting Shadows in Iztark"
Shifting Shadows in Iztark Paperback
By Charles Moffat
Sword and Sorcery
Ebook $2.99
Large Print Trade Paperback $5.99

Wulfric the Wanderer has defeated the dark wizards inhabiting the Ivory Tower of Iztark, but upon exiting a strange old man approaches him with the promise of riches if he can assassinate the dark wizard known as Merchant-Lord Phrax Al-Amun.
But Phrax's palace and harem full of women is guarded by more than mere mortal guards and the wandering barbarian-turned-assassin will have to battle his way through all manner of dangers and distractions.

Both books are set in the fictional kingdom/world created by Charles Moffat: Korovia.

An Interview with Fantasy Author Gabriel De Anda

When did you start taking writing seriously and honing your craft?

I started a science fiction novel when I was in 5th grade, but only completed a chapter, long since lost. The one family friend who’d read it just passed away three years ago.

As an adolescent, I wrote mostly poetry, publishing in few small publications in my early twenties. In 1987 I had 8 pages of poetry published in a university paperback that was edited by, among others, the Peruvian writer / politician / journalist / essayist and 2010 Nobel Prize winner for literature, Mario Vargas Llosa.

I wrote a fantasy piece in early college titled THE CRYSTAL HEART (1976) which was purchased and published years later (1992) by Chris Reed, the editor of the British magazine, Backbrain Recluse. It is included in my 2011 Xlibris collection “Cherubimbo and Other Stories.”

In the late 1980’s I wrote what I thought was my first short, “Scissors, Rock and Paper Doll.” It was 100 pages long. I didn’t know what the length of a short story was. When I found out, I opted for turning it into a novel rather than shortening it. It was published also in 2011, through Xlibris. Although it was my second published novel, it was the first one I ever wrote.

Are you a pantser or planner? What is your philosophy on planning out your books / pantsing through the writing process?

I’m a bit of both. I need to get the skeleton for my stories constructed, but once that’s done, then I do a lot more winging it. There are many things that do not occur to me until I’m actually writing, and that’s where a lot of the flavor comes from. Both the overall planning and the pantsing change, evolve, mutate, grow, merge and dance. For me it’s impossible to do just one or the other; it’s a combo.

What three fantasy authors would you say has most influenced your writing?

David Lindsay, “A Voyage to Arcturus.” All of Jonathan Carroll’s early novels. Lewis Shiner’s “Glimpses.” Samuel Delany’s “Neveryon” series. Anything by China Mieville and M. John Harrison.

Have you ever abandoned a piece of writing and left it unfinished? Would you ever go back, change it and finish it?

I have many things that exist in a nascent form, with writings that are anywhere between a few pages to a couple of chapters. I’ve merely not gotten to them yet. I have neglected and not returned to certain project. Others evolve or are reborn as pieces of a lifelong puzzle that sometimes reveals its face. Ideas are sometimes misplaced or waylaid. The intention is always to go back.

Do you have a day job and what is it?

I am a Family Law lawyer. I also an a freelancer or what is called an “Appearance Lawyer,” which entails making court appearances for other attorneys on their files when they have multiple hearings on the same day and same time, calendar conflicts which they can only resolve by having another attorney appear for them.

How has your career impacted your writing career?

My writing career not so much. I have, however, used my legal knowledge to round out section of specific stories. I wrote an SF/legal piece titled “Par Autre Vie” that I entered into a contest sponsored by the writer Kenneth Mark Hoover, in which the judge was James Van Pelt. “Par Autre Vie” got second place.

What fantasy subgenre(s) do you enjoy writing the most?

Alternate History, I think, is a fantasy subset. I find it fascinating to see where killing Bradbury’s butterfly will lead to. The best AH will reveal how much and how well the author understands history, as well as the present time. I try to work AH into my Kronokaze series, of which I’ve written only 3 pieces so far: the short story “1969” and “Local Color,” both in the “Cherubimbo” collection; and in the short novel “My Dinner with Jodorowsky,” where the Chilean film director Alejandro Jodorowsky, who was given Five Million Dollars to storyboard and develop Frank Herbert’s “Dune” for the screen, had the project taken away from him in the end. In my tale, he gets a second bite of the apple.

8. Outside of fantasy, what genre or subgenre would you like most to write in? (eg. Historical Fiction, Mystery, Sci Fi, Spy Thriller, etc.)

I write science fiction as well as literary mainstream. “Scissors, Rock and Paper Doll” and most of “Cherubimbo and Other Stories” are SF. “Heartfelt Affectations” is a mainstream/literary novel. I’m currently working on a SF novel and a huge, family saga that spans two generations which is three-quarters done. I’ve got a few fantasy short stories on the grill.

What was the first book you've published and what do you like about it?

Orchidia


What was your favourite hero/protagonist you've thus far written about? What makes them special?

As authors we are parents. We love all our children equally, but you’re right, we don’t like them all equally.

My favorite character is Orchidia Abelarde from my latest, “Orchidia.” She’s a damaged character, passive and hiding from the world. Yet the world comes to her, and her reaction to it is awkward but admirable and engaging. She uses her deficiencies to plow forward, and I think that this is a good definition of health. Henry Miller wrote that when love burns us and kicks our ass, the secret is to not lose our faith in love, in its capacity to surprise, delight, transform. In earth’s evolution, certain creatures developed thick armors, and they lived the longest. Other creatures had little defenses, trading it for a fleetness and light-footedness that made them more sensitive and open to the signals existence is constantly radiating; their lives were, while shorter, richer.

The challenge is to find a medium.

What was your favourite villain/antagonist thus far? What makes them special?

Again, in my latest, there is a computer artificial intelligence/sentience that calls itself Geometra. She is a Librarian, which are diagnostic warrior programs designed to aid humans in their times of, usually, military crisis. The problem is that they’re designed to be destroyed after three interviews, basically because they’re fierce, aggressive, and, know that they have limited “life” spans and don’t want to “die.” While being kinked to serve, they try to use their bright intelligence to find a way out of their confinement and dilemma. We’ll be seeing more of Geometra.

If you could propose the plot of a TV show what would you make it about?

I would pitch the time traveling and alternative universe concept of my written and planned Kronokaze work. It could, handled right, make for an entertaining and thought-provoking TV series.

Do you like to use tropes in your writing and subvert the reader's expectations, or do you try to avoid them entirely?

Clich├ęs and tropes, I believe, are unavoidable. They develop as shorthand for human experience and reality. It’s the new patterns that we can weave with them that can create new constellations, confound expectations, give rise to a spark of surprise when things don’t go in the direction we’d thought they were going.

Do you get annoyed when you see movies, TV shows or books that show unrealistic depictions of things or do you brush it off as the "magic of fantasy"?

There is a wonderful and largely forgotten novel by a fellow named Philip E. High, the 1967 SF novel “Reality Forbidden.” It dealt with virtual reality long before John Varley and William Gibson. Same year as Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream.” Most people who used dreamscape chose to simply wish and get. The protagonist of this novel only wanted possibilities to manifest themselves, but he still held himself to the standard of having to fight for what he wanted the outcome to be. There is a vital and life-giving was to use fantasy and virtual reality.

I don’t like it when writers take the lazy way out and merely deal in wish-fulfillment. Do the work, puzzle out the reality, make it seem real. A fellow in a writers’ group I attended had his story torn apart because it was not believable.

He crowed as if in triumph, “Well, you’re wrong. This really did happen!” Sorry Charlie; only the best tasting tuna. Writers are not relieved of making their fictions appear real. Poor writing will make things that actually happened seem false.

Good writing can make things that never ever could happen seem real as
sunlight.

Do you celebrate after you finish writing a chapter or a book? How do you celebrate?

I breathe easier. I’ll feel happy with myself. I’ll do all the things (or some of the things) that I can’t do when hunkered down. But celebrate? No, not really.

Do you prefer to write what you would like to read, or do you try to cater to a specific audience? Or sometimes both?

That’s a hard one. My experience has been, not only in writing but in life in general, that what I was expecting is never what I get. Sometimes better, sometime worse, but rarely what I was expecting.

My writing, to my ears and eyes and touch, is like that. I have my favorites --- Samuel Delany, William Gibson, Nicole Mones, James Clavell, Paul Di Filippo, Jonathan Lethem, and others --- and I must be influenced by them, yet I can only write like myself. (Well, that’s not true. We can become, and often do, copycats.)

But I’m not shrewd enough to tailor my fiction with the precision that I would like. I’ll try for a certain direction, and end up at a destination I hadn’t planned on. I just hope that it’s a cool and interesting place of arrival.

What is the darkest thing you've ever written about?

I don’t like to read about violence but it seems unavoidable, and I’ve written my share. It just happens, I guess.

But most of my darkness comes from moral or emotional dilemma’s which corner people into situations that they feel definitively capture a life they can’t escape. To think that any unpleasant reality you inhabit cannot be changed (and sometimes it may be true that it can’t) is to me the darkest thing. I imagine it is, in part, what leads people to take their own lives. My life has been touched by three suicides.

Have you ever published any short stories in a fantasy literary magazine? If so, which magazines and what was the title of the short stories?

I had a short literary/fantasy piece, mentioned earlier, published in Chris Reed’s British magazine “Backbrain Recluse.” It was the cover story, and I am very proud of it. Also, I had a short piece of fantasy titled “Sphinx” published in Gordon Linzner’s “Space and Time.” You can read the latter on my website at gabrielsdeanda.com

If you could go back in time and change something in your past to become a better writer, what would you change? (For temporal causality purposes we will assume this doesn't completely change history and that only that one thing has been changed.)

I would have started writing short stories and novels in earnest much earlier than I did. I was 22 when I wrote “The Crystal Heart,” but up until then it was mainly poetry. My father, whom I loved deeply and miss profoundly, discouraged me in writing, wanting for me something more remunerative, and I see the merit in that.

But I lost a lot of time and practice because of this. I would have gotten the 10,000 hours of practice and the thousands of words and pages to be destroyed before you begin to get a grip on your art and craft.

Do you sometimes find it difficult to find books to read because you are looking for something specific, nobody has written it, and you realize you should just write it?

Trying to find confections which will satisfy ones sweet tooth can be tricky. You look for the candy you already know melts your butter. But finding new candy can be an act of serendipity, fortuity.

It takes a great act of imagination to create art. Market considerations as to what is and is not out there, and what should or should not be written, are hard to entertain while you’re just working hard at creating. There are writing courses that tell you how to test the winds of commerce and then to write your fiction accordingly. And that’s not bad advice, not really. But I find it hard to plot what
the market needs, and what I need to write.

There are so many amazing writers out there, past and present, that to look for something specific isn’t even ignited until you find something so novel and so satisfying out there that it’s hard to be avante guarde enough to think in terms of what to do or not do. At least for me. And judging by the proliferation of DIY publication product out there, most others have this problem too. Which is not to
denigrate DIY platforms. I’m DIY too.

Where do you see yourself twenty years from now and what might you be writing about by then?

I have a list of projects that will keep me busy for the next twenty years. I don’t think the project will change. How I approach them may, of course. But my love of literature is expansive. I expect to be writing mainstream fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and hybrids of all three, such as slipstream.

What is your next book that is coming out, when should it be available, and what is it about?

Hard to say. I just put out “Orchidia” a month ago. I may put out an SF novella titled “Castles in the Sky” sometime this year, but I’m unsure.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on two books: an untitled family saga that tracks the lives of two generations of one Mexican/American family. The present timeline story is completed and stands at 575 pages (176,851 words). The past timeline story is half-way done, 9 chapters out of 19 yet to be written.

I’m also working on and still plotting (plotting and pantsing) the loose sequel to “Orchidia”. It is, of course, science fiction/fantasy, and currently I’ve only written the first opening sections. It will consist of 9 separate but related stories that I’m rounding out and in the process of imagining.

What are you currently reading by other fantasy authors?

“Osama” by Lavie Tidhar, a dark fantasy which is amazing, the imagery and characterizations similar to that of “Voyage to Acturus”, David Lindsay’s previously mentioned novel, though more baroque It reminded me of my own “Crystal Heart.”

Also “Lud in the Mist” by Hope Mirlees; the writing is layered, perceptive and creative, very involved, seductive, revelatory.

If you could recommend one or two fantasy author(s) for me to interview after you, who would that author be?

I may have a name or two coming up, but I need to touch bases with them first.

Collaborative Writing

For anyone who doesn't know what collaborative writing is, it is when two or more authors work on the same piece of writing (and presumably publish it together). The term also applies to nonfiction, and is common for students to write essays/projects collaboratively. Sadly, yes, I did need to explain this because apparently ignorance of writing terms are surprisingly common.


Comment from a fellow writer on Facebook on the topic of Collaborative Writing:

"Not me, sorry. It usually ends up with someone dictating, and me doing all the actual work."

 And my response:

That is what happens to me!

If only there was a way for 2 authors to share the burden equally... Like having two MCs and each author alternates between their characters for each chapter.

Of course first the writers need to agree on a subgenre, a setting, how much magic is in the world, how many monsters, a theme or themes for the story, and a target word count.

So for example they could choose to write...

  • Comedic Fantasy
  • Post-Apocalyptic Earth where magic is now real and the world has been invaded by magical creatures coming through portals into Earth.
  • Humans are still new to magic and suck at it. Magical races that came through the portal have significant command of magic.
  • Lots of strange bizarre monsters. Eg. Flying Piggasaurs, Laughing Storkians, Two-Headed Indecisive Dragons...
  • Multiple themes, including survival, ingenuity, discovery, perseverance.
  • 40k, with each author responsible for writing at least 20k.

Then when it comes time to edit they swap and edit the other person's work.


I have no objection to collaborating with other writers, but the real trick is finding another writer with similar writing goals / style / interested in the same things.

For example I mostly write heroic fantasy, dark fantasy, and sword & sorcery these days. But I am open to writing in other subgenres.

I also firmly believe that the two writers should have similar writing styles and be passionate about the same or similar things when it comes to what their writing is really about.

For example, my heroic fantasy book "The Assassin's Trail" is really about two things: Survival and standing up to bullies.

Likewise my book "The Demon's Sacrifice" is really about teamwork and heroic sacrifice.

Thus when I am writing heroic fantasy, there is definitely going to be various themes associated with heroism.

Likewise if I am writing dark fantasy there will be themes related to undead, horror, dark magic, etc.

Sword and Sorcery? Classic tropes and themes that you might find in old Conan the Barbarian stories.

The trick therefore is finding other authors, with a mature writing style, who also write such things and want to write collaboratively.

The next hurdle to this is how to publish...

Traditional Publishing - The publisher might be more willing to take a chance on two authors over a single author, as it doubles the number of writers promoting the book. The key benefit for the authors is that the publisher can split their payments evenly.

Self-Publishing - Trickier when it comes to splitting earnings. Amazon currently doesn't have a system in place for splitting earnings between multiple authors. This actually makes more sense if the two writers are already friends and they can just use the honour system for sharing the profits, because they trust each other and don't have any trust issues.

Problems arise when two strangers are self-publishing and the workload isn't being split evenly and the profits are likewise not split evenly.

It would be nice if Amazon (or similar self-publishing platforms) created a system wherein authors could collaboratively publish their work and share profits evenly.

Same goes with authors and illustrators, in the case of graphic novels, children's books, etc.

So this is definitely something which Amazon needs to rectify.

It is also possible (and more expensive) for two writers to setup a LLC account that then splits profits, but Amazon really should find a way to allow writers to split their profits.


So is the headache worth it?

Honestly, I don't know.

I have never written and published anything cooperatively.

I have tried to do it, but the other person (or group of people) always fails to live up to expectations.

Plus I have so many of my own ideas and projects to work on I don't think I would ever do it unless another author approached me with a great idea for how we could work together.

Last year I joined several groups of people who were trying to make a collaborative novel (with 13 authors no less) or an anthology, and all of these projects died when the person leading the project lost interest in making it happen.

You know how sometimes you are working on an idea and you just lose interest in it? Well, for a collaborative project that is twice as likely to happen because it only takes one person to lose interest for the project to fail.

However that doesn't mean the writing you did doesn't have potential to just go it alone.

Some of the writing I did last year for these various projects are now destined for self-publishing as solo pieces.

So even if the headaches fails you still have work product which you can sell if it is written well.

I was expecting the projects to fail when I joined them (I had very low expectations), so when writing I just focused on making my contribution able to stand on its own.

For example one of the stories I wrote was about a wandering stranger. I have since decided that I will turn that into a Wulfric the Wanderer story which will be published later this year.

An Interview with Fantasy Author James Duvall

When did you start taking writing seriously and honing your craft?

I first got interested in high school. I thought I was taking it seriously in college but later realized I wasn't making much progress or really putting the time in. I would say I've been seriously writing for about 8 years.

Are you a pantser or planner? What is your philosophy on planning out your books / pantsing through the writing process?

I tried pantsing and it wasn't for me. I wasn't getting the strong thematic developments I really wanted to see. I've been a plotter since starting my third manuscript. (I've completed 8).
Generally speaking I start by ideating a few really epic scenes. In Shards, I wanted to have a moment when Sapphire came face-to-face with the leader of the warp singers and really have to look death in the eye. I had another scene in mind where Blaze would get to say "We are the Soldiers of the Last Watch" and that was going to have to be a big epic moment to really land with the gravity of it. After that I take those scenes and I start trying to figure out how they could fit into a story. Not every cool scene idea lives to the end.

The outline comes from all that effort. I'm somewhat flexible with the outline as well though. If I get "on the ground" as it were and find a change might make a scene a lot better, the outline gives me an opportunity to go back and see what impact that change might make on the future of the story.

What three fantasy authors would you say has most influenced your writing?

Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Brandon Sanderson.

Have you ever abandoned a piece of writing and left it unfinished? Would you ever go back, change it and finish it?

Ah yes, several times. Most of the time if its abandoned its because I lost interest in the subgenre or the story had some fatal flaw. I have enough new ideas coming in that it's pretty uncommon to resurrect something I'd laid down.

Do you have a day job and if so what is it?

I'm an electrical engineer focused on electromagnetics and software development.

How has your career impacted your writing career?
Well it takes up a lot of time. I have to travel a lot which makes writing difficult. On the other side of it you get exposure to a lot of different places and systems and you start to see how the world works when you get down to the level of design and implementation. You also see how things break and what causes problems and it lets you create very realistic everyday problems in your stories.

What fantasy subgenre(s) do you enjoy writing the most?

I do mostly epics. It is extraordinarily rare for me to write something where it's not life and death.

Outside of fantasy, what genre or subgenre would you like most to write in? (eg. Historical Fiction, Mystery, Sci Fi, Spy Thriller, etc.)

Lately I've started working on a battlemech series :)

What was the first book you've published and what do you like about it?

The first full length novel I've published is The War of Embers. I really enjoyed working on it. It was quite a long haul. I had a few epic scene ideas in mind for this story and I think I got there. I'm pretty sure I did. It's actually a rewrite of one of my first concepts, a story then-called The Light of Syrrel. At the time I don't think I was mature enough to handle a story of the size that was needed.

My favorite concept in this particular book is [the hero is] turned into a dragon pretty early on and has to learn to live that way. The way his life fundamentally changes, even after he's able to shapeshift into a human form fascinates me. I've seen this kind of thing approached as wish fulfillment, and I can assure you if this is wish fulfillment then I must be a djinn of old.



What was the most recent book you've published and what do you like about it?

Shards!

Shards is one of my favorites, and I'm presently about halfway through the sequel. I love the new kind of dragons I created for the series. I love Sapphire and her brilliance. I love Timothy and his struggle to become a better man. I love Aebyn and how his simple belief that Timothy can be honorable instills this drive in Timothy to live up to that expectation.


How many books have published thus far and what are their titles?

I currently have 5 books up on Amazon.
  1. The War of Embers (Ryvarran Novel)
  2. The Ashfall Run (Ryvarran Novella)
  3. Shards (Pendrian Novel)
  4. The Brightistry (Pendrian Novella)
  5. The Lion's Roar: The Spellhound (Monster Hunting Novella)

What was your favourite hero/protagonist you've thus far written about? What makes them special?

Sapphire Nightsong! Imagine a world filled with clever humans, stalwart dwarves, noble centaurs, and mysterious owlmen. Now imagine these great, prestigious magical schools where the best are sought out and trained.

Then one day the greatest magical talent of an age is born. The officials come through testing children, but no one thinks to test the hungry animal huddled in a heap of rags above the apothecary's shop.

When she's grown and comes to them they reject her. It simply cannot be. What this does to her, how this shapes her, really makes for a great character.

If I were to describe Sapphire in one sentence I would say... She is Beautiful in her Hatred.

What was your favourite villain/antagonist thus far? What makes them special?

Praetus, the Scepter of Ashes.

He's strange, intimidating, and has a great flair for showmanship. He's a big oolari priest (owl-person) that's got himself a true feather from the Phoenix. He also has a habit of dusting with wings with ashes and tiny crystals so what when he flares his wings in an impassioned monologue, ash and embers scatter from his wings. I like his passion, his fearlessness, and the incredible obstacles he's going to pose to the Fletcher Street detectives.

If you could propose the plot of a TV show what would you make it about?

Probably a hybrid procedural crime/fantasy story. That's more or less how I got started working on Mistweaver.


Do you like to use tropes in your writing and subvert the reader's expectations, or do you try to avoid them entirely?

I honestly don't think about it. I think you can find yourself making yourself predictable in whole new ways by trying too much to subvert expectations. I mean, everyone expected the end of Game of Thrones to be great. Subverted expectations~

Do you celebrate after you finish writing a chapter or a book? How do you celebrate?

Sometimes if I think I've come up with a cool line I'll show it off to a few friends :) Finishing a book I'll usually call up and talk to my friends about it and how excited I am to send it out for pre-reading.

Do you prefer to write what you would like to read, or do you try to cater to a specific audience? Or sometimes both?

I write what I would like to read with maybe a few edges smoothed off to cater to a broader audience. At some point people want to hear more than just "how weird and difficult it is to be a shapeshifter hiding in plain sight".

What is the darkest thing you've ever written about?

I write mostly darker stories. Common themes I like to explore are enduring tragedy and moving on after life-altering situations. There's just something inspiring about seeing someone able to lift their head and face the world knowing it will forever be dark.

It is good for you to hope. Hope is the foundation of despair.

If you could go back in time and change something in your past to become a better writer, what would you change? (For temporal causality purposes we will assume this doesn't completely change history and that only that one thing has been changed.)

I think I would've tried to find someone more willing to give me harsh, honest critique sooner.

When reading fantasy what is one thing you wish other authors would stop doing? (eg. I wish various writers would stop trying to copy GRRM.)

Nastiness. Tired of nastiness. I think the best way to summarize it is my complete feeling of "meh" about Carnival Row after the satyr guy informs the rich girl that the perfume she's wearing is the piss of a female ogre in heat. I felt like it added nothing to the story and its just gross. Like certain other... fluids... that someone had to drink in the Magicians.

Where do you see yourself twenty years from now and what might you be writing about by then?

By then I'd like to have the entire Nightsong series written and published.

What is your next book that is coming out, when should it be available, and what is it about?

Shards 2: Mistweaver is coming out this summer! In fact I've got a really cool cover preview...
THE IMAGE BELOW IS A 
WORK IN PROGRESS FOR AN UPCOMING BOOK COVER.



What are you currently reading by other fantasy authors?

Currently I am reading Master and Commander, as I wanted to learn more about life on boats for an upcoming project.

If you could recommend one or two fantasy author(s) for me to interview after you, who would that author be?

Kyle Robert Schulz has some interesting stuff going on. :)



Thanks to James Duvall for taking part in my series of interviews with fantasy authors. My goal is to have a new interview with another fantasy author every Sunday. Want to read more in the future? Subscribe or Follow Nerdovore.com!

Interviews with Fantasy Authors

Below is a list of questions for Fantasy Authors being Interviewed for Nerdovore.com:

Round One Interview Questions

(Skip any questions you feel are unnecessary or redundant. You do not need to answer all 30, although it is certainly helpful if you do so.)

1. When did you start taking writing seriously and honing your craft?

2. Are you a pantser or planner? What is your philosophy on planning out your books / pantsing through the writing process?

3. What three fantasy authors would you say has most influenced your writing?

4. Have you ever abandoned a piece of writing and left it unfinished? Would you ever go back, change it and finish it?

5. Do you have a day job and what is it? (eg. Myself, I am an archery instructor.)

6. How has your career impacted your writing career?

7. What fantasy subgenre(s) do you enjoy writing the most?

8. Outside of fantasy, what genre or subgenre would you like most to write in? (eg. Historical Fiction, Mystery, Sci Fi, Spy Thriller, etc.)

9. What was the first book you've published and what do you like about it? (If you can please include links to where readers can purchase it on Amazon/etc.)

10. What was the most recent book you've published and what do you like about it?

11. How many books have published thus far and what are their titles? (Ignore this question if you've only published two books thus far.)

12. What was your favourite hero/protagonist you've thus far written about? What makes them special?

13. What was your favourite villain/antagonist thus far? What makes them special?

14. If you could propose the plot of a TV show what would you make it about? (eg. I think there is market out there for a Sword and Sorcery themed TV show on Netflix or HBO. No wait, The Witcher already fulfilled that niche. Oh well.)

15. Do you like to use tropes in your writing and subvert the reader's expectations, or do you try to avoid them entirely?

16. What skills do you yourself possess that you feel the need to write about and keeps you inspired? (eg. Archery, blacksmithing, horsemanship, languages, etc.)

17. Do you get annoyed when you see movies, TV shows or books that show unrealistic depictions of things or do you brush it off as the "magic of fantasy"? (eg. As an archery instructor I get annoyed when I see archery done incorrectly.)

18. Do you celebrate after you finish writing a chapter or a book? How do you celebrate?

19. Do you prefer to write what you would like to read, or do you try to cater to a specific audience? Or sometimes both?

20. What is the darkest thing you've ever written about? (eg. I once tortured a main character and had a villain cut his eye out, after which the MC suffered from PTSD.)

21. Have you ever published any short stories in a fantasy literary magazine? If so, which magazines and what was the title of the short stories?

22. If you could go back in time and change something in your past to become a better writer, what would you change? (For temporal causality purposes we will assume this doesn't completely change history and that only that one thing has been changed.)

23. When reading fantasy what is one thing you wish other authors would stop doing? (eg. I wish various writers would stop trying to copy GRRM.)

24. Do you sometimes find it difficult to find books to read because you are looking for something specific, nobody has written it, and you realize you should just write it?

25. Where do you see yourself twenty years from now and what might you be writing about by then?

26. What is your next book that is coming out, when should it be available, and what is it about?

27. What are you currently working on?

28. What are you currently reading by other fantasy authors?

29. Do you follow any specific authors on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc?

30. If you could recommend one or two fantasy author(s) for me to interview after you, who would that author be?


Round Two - Optional

I may come up with additional questions related to your answers from Round One, that are more specific to what you've written. If you would prefer to skip Round Two please let me know and we can proceed with just the answers from R1.


Notes


I will be posting at least two images (most likely the book covers) on the Nerdovore.com blog post. If you have a professional photo of yourself or other photos you want included please attach the files with your responses to Round One. Maps of your fantasy world are also welcome.

If you have an author website you want readers to know about please let me know and I can include it with the interview.

Links on the blog posts will be rel=follow, so yes you will see a benefit there SEO wise. If you make any future links to Nerdovore.com I appreciate if you do the same.

After the interview is posted I would appreciate if you bragged about the blog post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, your author website, etc and include links to the blog post. This is not mandatory, but hey, if you do it then you should be boosting your branding online.

I may not post interviews immediately, but will schedule them for specific release dates. I will notify you when the release date will be ahead of time and I will *try* to remember to send you a reminder when it does come out so that you can help promote it.

My goal is to be posting 4 interviews per month, for a sum of 48 interviews per year. I am hoping to conduct at least 15 interviews in February alone and then schedule them to appear accordingly.

If you have questions of your own you want to add feel free to do so. In particular, questions that pertain to specific topics about your books are definitely welcome.

If you have specific questions for me regarding the post itself please feel free to ask.

Thank you for participating and I wish you and your writing great success!

Sincerely,
Charles Moffat
Nerdovore.com


Click Fantasy Author Interviews to see the most recent interviews.

So Far:

The Ultra Gorgon

I wrote the following down back in 2019 as an idea for either a D&D monster or possibly as a monster I could use in my fantasy writing.


The Ultra Gorgon (For Lack of a Better Name)

If I come up with a better name for this entity I will update this post later. I feel "Gorgon" doesn't really suit what this entity actually does.

An immortal entity that can inhabit non-living objects, sometimes staying dormant or hidden for hundreds of years.

The Ultra Gorgon is an unique creature, possessing no physical form of its own, but instead transferring its spiritual essence from one object to the next at will. It cannot possess the body of any living or undead creature and may only inhabit objects. Since some objects cannot move it is limited to whatever motions an object can do. Due to this limitation it could inhabit a magical sword or similar object, thus taking on the appearance of a talking sentient magical sword, but would be unable to walk or otherwise move while inhabiting a sword.

The Ultra Gorgon's favourite things to inhabit is puppets, the bigger the better. When possible it will inhabit the form of a smaller puppet and use it to build a bigger puppet, building larger consecutive bodies until it can build more impressive bodies like that of a dragon or demon. It will stash away old puppets in caves and dungeons and hidden places for future use, in case its main collection of puppets are ever destroyed and it needs a spare.

Being a highly intelligent immortal entity the Ultra Gorgon's motivations are complex. It doesn't require food or creature comforts. Weather means little to it, unless the weather is somehow damaging its collection of puppets. As such it is motivated more by magical or spiritual goals, and has little use for material wealth except as a means of making more puppets.

The Ultra Gorgon is not evil, per se, although it is capable of evil acts. It is a very selfish and fickle creature. Good acts are also possible, but rare as it odd for it to do anything unless it benefits itself somehow. If it recognizes an act as possessing a spiritual side to it then it will sometimes aid someone, just so it can claim to have "done a good deed for the day".

(Despite being unscrupulous the Ultra Gorgon is surprisingly spiritual about its existence.)

Other creatures usually steer clear of the Ultra Gorgon. Being able to possess any object means that if a creature annoys the Ultra Gorgon then its wrath is indeed powerful. It can, at will, possess the ground beneath a person's feet and cause an earthquake. It can topple trees, strangle creatures with rope or chains and similar means.

As a magic user the Ultra Gorgon also has an impressive knowledge of all magic, both clerical and mystical. It can cast almost any spell it wishes, including almost any spell it has knowledge of. Even if limited by its choice of physical forms, it can use magic to accomplish a variety of goals. Eg. Building an army of animated objects.

It can even cast the Wish spell, but rarely does so as it considers it to be cheating and is wary of using the Wish spell because of its ability to change reality. Thus even if it agreed to grant someone a wish, it might refuse to grant any wish that would warp reality and have dire consequences.

It might also believe, on a religious level, that using Wish magic is bad karma and will lead to bad luck in the future.

Its motivations are yet to be determined.

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I am not sure I will ever use this for any future stories or for D&D, but it is an interesting concept of a creature which is not wholly evil, but could fulfill a pseudo-villain role. The heroes might think it is a villain type entity, but later discover it is merely selfish.

Clearly if it is to fulfill any role in a future D&D game or story I will need to consider what motivations it has beyond its own survival. If it simply craved privacy it could inhabit a mountain in a region without people, but if it is to interact with people then it needs to have motivations that would cause it to be close to civilization.

It could even be something simple like "Where did I come from?" and thus it could be looking for ancient lore in an effort to find out where it originated.

If it is casting clerical magic then it should also have a particular faith. Or it could be druidic magic. To be determined.

The Lilith Bloodstone Series is on Sale

Greetings Charles Moffat Fans!

During the whole month of February my dark fantasy "Lilith Bloodstone Series" ebooks will be on sale.

There will be a different sale each week. Four weeks, four different sales.


The schedule for the sales are as follows:

Book I, The Black Rose
On Sale Feb 1st to 7th.
$1.99 (Regularly $3.49 USD)

Book II, On Death's Door
On Sale Feb 8th to 14th.
$1.99 (Regularly $3.99 USD)

Book III, The Astral Plane
On Sale Feb 15th to 21st.
$1.99 (Regularly $3.99 USD)

And the Lilith Bloodstone Omnibus eBook, which contains all three books, will be on sale:
Feb 22nd to 28th. $4.99 USD. (Regularly $9.99.)

If you prefer to buy the trade paperback of the Lilith Bloodstone Omnibus you can get it now for $17.99 USD.



Study Archery in Toronto

So you want to study archery, but you are having difficulty finding an archery instructor who is local. However there is a solution. If you are willing to travel you can take a crash course in archery in Toronto, Canada. 10 lessons over a two week period will take you from archery novice to an experienced and capable archer.

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