Interview with William L. Hahn

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Cats. Sure work, and passion and hunger and lots of the usual things. But those all get me up around 7, maybe 7:30, later on weekends. I get up not one second later than QUARTER OF FIVE every morning without exception; that's because I have three cats and I really don't wish to go into the details.
Do you remember the first story you ever heard, and the impact it had on you?
I was four years old, and ready for bed when my Dad came in to say goodnight. But instead of leaving, he sat by the bed, put on his glasses, opened a book and read without really looking at the page. "Lars Porsena of Clusium, by the Nine Gods he swore/ That the great house of Tarquin would suffer wrong no more/ By the Nine Gods he swore it, and named a trysting day/ And bade his messengers ride forth, east and west and south and north/ To summon his array."
I could hardly breathe. "Dad," I dared to interrupt, "what is this?" He looked over the brim of his glasses at me and said "This... is history."
It wasn't, of course. But that was good enough for a kid of four. A mighty engine of fascinated passion roared to life and hasn't needed to refuel since that day in 1963.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Don't jump to conclusions. I was raised in Vermont, I admit to that. Whether eighteen years spent shoveling snow, tapping maple trees and trying to play basketball (without success) sufficed to grow me up, I would leave you to judge. Personally, I'm not optimistic. Or maybe I secretly am.
The influence on my writing, however, was direct and vital- I became sharply interested in moving far enough south that I could write without gloves on. I made it as far as Delaware, reasoning that a former slave state should be livable. So far it has worked out equably.
Describe your desk
Maps of the Lands of Hope hang along two walls, obscuring the view of my framed Master's Degree (Medieval History); some snippets of inspiring words squeeze into the margins next to them. Atop one side-shelf rests a replica Spartan horsehair-crest helm. In the other side-shelf, photos of my mom and dad. Between them, a laptop seems dropped from another world. And it is. The desk itself looks precisely as if all three cats had a wrestling match on it with no winners. There are easily three dozen half-sheets and note-squares with pencil-scrawl on them about my real job and miscellaneous other items- with my eyes closed, I can tell you exactly where each one rests, what it's under and how much dust lies on top of it. But not what it says.
What is your writing process?
Watch.

I start from a place I last saw the world, and picture one of the characters. Then watch and wait- the Lands of Hope just unfold like a movie if I'm patient and pay attention- and stop thinking ridiculous thoughts like "I am making this stuff up".
When did you first start writing?
The evening of June 23rd 2008, between 7 and 8 PM ET (I didn't check the clock, my apologies).
There is of course, a fascinating and much longer version of this answer, but that is the meat of it. I wrote things all my life- plays, love letters, graduate history essays- but I've been chronicling the Lands since then and that's what you wanted to know.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
A 200% failure rate in finding traditional publication. Upon completion of my first novel- the still-unpublished monsterpiece "Judgement's Tale", I sent query letters to two-score agents who described themselves as repping heroic fantasy. Good query letters, too- I can spell, and I have a hook line, synopsis, first ten, whatever they wanted. Half of them wrote one-line form rejection letters (that's 100% failure). The other half never bothered to respond (which I reckon must be double).
Yeah, there's folks who tried for years, got rejected thousands of times, hoorah for their fortitude. I'm in my fifties already and didn't want to test the thesis that the good die young. I went indie and never looked back. Good thing too- turns out Satchel Paige was wrong. Nobody's chasing after me.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My WiP has pushed me out of my comfort zone further than Kirk got from Kansas. But the Shards of Light series, which began with two heroes I knew well for decades in Justin and Feldspar, has now carried me into the life of W'starrah Altieri, whom I only saw- and ogled at- in passing, like most other folks. She is the loom into which this Color-ful conspiracy is woven, she's absolutely key to unmasking a secretive conspiracy and avert civil war. And she scares me half to death, but I must watch her and learn the details. I was never any good with beautiful women, I admit it. So this is taking a while.

{P.S.: My lovely wife married me, but I have no earthly idea why. And I don't dare ask. So it doesn't help.}
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
First and foremost, there are these three cats- q.v. what gets me up in the morning.
I enjoy playing PC games like Legend of Sherwood (which is hilarious) and Titan's War (which has just enough of a social/chat element to remind me that the rest of the world is populated by teenagers).
I spend many happy hours carping about my daughter's choices in TV. Occasionally, I go upstairs to watch something tasteless and disgraceful, like a football game.
Twice a month I receive a sumptuous paycheck. These rare occasions serve to remind me I am gainfully employed by a technology research firm. In such moments, I scurry off to do some things for them.
But mostly, there are these three cats.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is the sole reason I am able to obey Hahn's First Law of Chronicling: This Hobby Shall Cost Thy Family No Money. I write on my own time- don't even buy paper and pens. I swap beta-reads with partners, barter for cover art, and used a free utility to make a trailer. When it comes time to publish, Smashwords is the platform that gets my tales out without charging me a penny. I set my own deadlines to publish- knowing I CAN publish makes it possible for me to set a deadline- and that automatically inspires me to be more productive. Honestly, it's everything- whatever happens with sales, I feel I've found success because I've chronicled a half-dozen tales of Hope and without a publisher, a free publisher, I'd have written maybe one.
What do your fans mean to you?
How I wish you could see the polygraph on my arm as I write this answer.
The feeling I get when feedback comes in on any of my tales is beyond description- to know that someone, even one someone, gets it- empowers me.
To do more writing! Sure, but it carries over into the rest of my life: work, family, everything improves. I think we all need reassurance, and a writer is very lucky to have a chance at the purest, most direct affirmation there is. I've heard good things about the Tales of Hope from people I will likely never meet in person, who have no "skin in the game"- who really mean it.
Published 2013-08-26.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Games of Chance
By
Series: Judgement's Tale. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 43,650. Language: English. Published: December 9, 2014 by Independent Bookworm. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
For twenty centuries the Lands of Hope prospered, but suffer now from their Heroes’absence. Chaos slowly grows in the central kingdom when the liche Wolga Vrule plots escape from his extra-worldly prison, and enlists the Earth Demon Kog as an uneasy ally. On the western coast of the Lands of Hope, Solemn Judgement comes ashore, both a stranger and an orphan, driven to study no matter the danger.
The Book of Tales
By
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 18,410. Language: English. Published: December 20, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
A collection of short tales told by the Children of Hope. Some are Animal Tales, others are Legends of the Heroes. An indispensable resource to understanding Hopeful culture and customs.
The Plane of Dreams
By
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 115,440. Language: English. Published: September 3, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
The greatest tales begin when the adventure ends. The Tributarians have won fame across the Empire, but also triggered a threat from beyond the bounds of reason to tear the waking world apart. Will newfound wealth sunder their company and remove their last chance? Or will they sacrifice fame and fortune, and risk their lives, to become the unknown saviors of the Lands.
Fencing Reputation
By
Series: Shards of Light, II. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 46,830. Language: English. Published: August 7, 2011. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
When the elven lords, preachers and merchants of Cryssigens need wrongs righted without clues, they look for the stealthic Feldspar to solve their problems. But the legend without a face is hard to find: and when Feldspar takes a commission from the most famous, and beautiful, priestess in the city, he finds problems of his own piling up, and is forced to choose between Hope and safety.
Three Minutes to Midnight
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 14,370. Language: English. Published: June 26, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » General
Never call Trekelny a thief, he's the greatest stealthic since Astor himself. It's true, just ask him. He won't end the night a coin richer, instead exchanging mortal risk for a hero's reputation. But on this night, he won't succeed to live in song, or even survive, without the help of a woman who hates him above all others. If he is to despoil her temple, he must also take her love with him.
The Ring and the Flag
By
Series: Shards of Light, I. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 31,870. Language: English. Published: June 17, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Newly-graduated imperial officer Justin is convinced he has no future, and hearing the details of the secret mission he's assigned for the Emperor won't change his mind. Civil War threatens the North Mark. Justin must race against time to form a company, and lead his men into the center of the web; but what happens when his loyalty to the Empire means the death of those who follow him?