Interview with Samuel Z Jones

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in London, which at the very least fostered a life-long dislike of cities. This definitely comes through in my writing.
When did you first start writing?
As a little kid; my grandfather used to direct me to write something, and then he'd enter it in a competition or sub it to a newspaper. I think I was ten or eleven when my first piece got into a local paper, and about the same age when I was shortlisted in an adult writing competition.

I took up writing professionally when I was about twenty-four, although I'd started work on the setting that eventually became Akurite Empire and the rest a few years previously.
What's the story behind your latest book?
In Akurite Empire and Lord Protector, we've seen a steady increase in the role and importance of the Revolutionary Women's Regiment. The latest book, Baron Moruna, is really the first outing of the Regiment as the main focus of a story.

Otherwise, Baron Moruna is another epic Fantasy romp in much the same vein as the others. There's an individual theme and style to each book, but fundamentally we're off on an epic quest filled with knights, wizards, warriors, monsters and magic.

http://authonomy.com/books/47990/the-baron-moruna/
What motivated you to become an indie author?
That the mainstream market has long been in a crisis that it shows no sign of resolving any time soon?

It's well known to those in the know, but publishing ain't what it used to be. The big publishers continue to devour each other and amalgamate into ever fewer giant corporations. The number of steps and barriers between the author and publication increases with the number of middlemen, agents, publicists, editors, interns that must be convinced a book is worth a glance even before a publisher ever sees it. There are now even agents to help you get an agent, and of course everyone wants their cut. Meanwhile, the number of new authors taken on each year drops, as the big publishers focus ever more of their budgets into massive publicity to create a handful of sure-fire winners in each genre.

After about eight years working away and none of my novels seeing the light of day, I decided that the point was for the books to be read, and that the conventional routes to making that happen weren't viable. It's been slow going, but I see my readership grow with each year, and the feedback I receive confirms my confidence in thinking that my writing has enough merit for others to enjoy.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It gives me a platform to distribute my books. There are other sites that do that, but smashwords is straightforward and I've gradually built a network here; it's niee to see people I've never met adding me as a favourite.

The only complaints I have of smashwords are that the format doesn't really encourage people to leave reviews, and that it doesn't facilitate users to contact one another; no messaging system, for example.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Communicating with the characters, closely followed by communicating the story to the reader.
What do your fans mean to you?
I love my fan. She's great.

If I have other fans, it'd be nice to hear from them. I have occasionally plucked up the courage to email a favourite author, and they're usually very normal, very approachable people. I'm not a big famous author, I'm really not scary; I always like to hear from readers.
What are you working on next?
I always have about three novels on the go at once. I've tried writing one at a time and it just doesn't work. Ideas might occur that are outside the scope of the current story, but which influence the direction it goes. So right now, even as I'm working on Baron Moruna, I have two further books in development based on the course of Baron's events.
Who are your favorite authors?
I'm a big fan of the late and largely unknown Hugh Cook, author of Chronicles of An Age of Darkness. I really like his idiosyncrasies, and that he wrote sophisticated Fantasy for an adult audience; I really don't get into the standardized YA style so common in Fantasy.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The daily mundane pressures of life. But for them I'd stay curled up in bed all day, only occasionally venturing forth for tea and munchies, eventually to open my laptop and write some more. Occasionally I'd go out to interesting places and do interesting things in the name of research.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing stories, I write letters. People are always asking me to write them a letter to sort out some problem or other. Most of life's problems can be solved with a good letter.

I'm also currently studying a degree in Creative Writing; I thought that with a dozen or more novels behind me, I should probably get a degree in writing them, at the very least.

When the opportunity presents itself, I enjoy sword-fighting. Latest exploits are on my FB page.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Usually through the other writers I hang around with online; we swap reviews and feedback,and a few friendships emerge. It's always a nice moment when you get a glimpse of another writer's process.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Something about orcs, I think... The very earliest appearance of the characters and themes that eventually formed the Fantasy series was when I was ten or eleven years old. The first piece of writing I had published as an adult was a vampire short-story. Some of the ideas from that have carried over into the representation of vampires in the Fantasy series.
What is your writing process?
It's a sort of machine I build in the air above the laptop. All the imagery fits together like a complex puzzle. When it's complete, the pieces move and the story pretty much writes itself; if I get stuck at that point, I just have to consult the machine to get it going again.

Less abstract, my day to day routine is pretty much my process. I need the right balance of stress and space; stress to generate material and space to process it into writing. I write more easily after midnight, but if the story is properly structured and life in general order, then I pretty much write all day. The internet is a terrible distraction.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Narnia, I think. Lewis' sparse prose and vivid ideas are a big influence, particularly on dialogue. It's quite a trick getting dialogue in Fantasy right; it has to sound authentic to the period, while also being natural and easily understood. So no modern slang, no stilted exposition, no pop-culture references, a strict limit on fantasy words, and yet it has to also be epic and quotable.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Narnia, I think. Lewis' sparse prose and vivid ideas are a big influence, particularly on dialogue. It's quite a trick getting dialogue in Fantasy right; it has to sound authentic to the period, while also being natural and easily understood. So no modern slang, no stilted exposition, no pop-culture references, a strict limit on fantasy words, and yet it has to also be epic and quotable.
Describe your desk
I can't see it. It's buried in junk. I write on a laptop, it goes everywhere with me. At least I have a desk; it's a psychological necessity for a writer.
How do you approach cover design?
In a state of mild panic.
Published 2013-08-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Lord Protector Book III: Number of The Witch
By
Series: The Lord Protector · The Legend of Sabra Daishen, Book 10. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 113,450. Language: English. Published: August 21, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
The nightmarish assault of Red Shakasha's undead horde has been thrown back from the walls of New Adathen, but the war against the witch goes on. The good knight Sir Denebar, now Lord Protector of Kellia and Silveneir, inspires a quest to meet the Red Witch Shakasha in her demesne at the ruined Necropolis of Silveneir...
The Last Daishen
By
Price: Free! Words: 5,550. Language: English. Published: June 14, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
In a distant future where the Deepest Wards have failed and the Ancient Enemy returned to rain destruction on the world, the last champion of the Wards continues to fight. Kali Daishen is only sixteen years old...
The Lord Protector Book II: Fortress of Knighthood
By
Series: The Lord Protector · The Legend of Sabra Daishen, Book 9. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 87,250. Language: English. Published: June 1, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Sir Denebar has won the battle against the undead legions of Red Shakasha... or has he? Apparently defeated, the witch departs with laughter, leaving Denebar and his shattered forces to recover from the horrors of the fight. Ahead now lies the sacred Valley of Avellar, where Denebar hopes that wise Sir Kirin can provide some answer to the riddle of the Old Daishen...
Romancing The Sword Book V: Weapons of The Gods
By
Series: Romancing The Sword · The Legend of Sabra Daishen, Book 5. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 113,390. Language: English. Published: May 2, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Montesinos DeSilva returns at last to Silveneir, but the city is not as he left it. Revolution brews in the Foreign Quarter, while the armies of neighbouring Daricia march upon the city. Worse, DeSilva's father DeKellia is a leader of the revolutionaries, and plots an atrocity greater than any yet comitted in the long wars that have wracked the nations.
The Lord Protector Book I: Gaes of the Red Witch
By
Series: The Lord Protector · The Legend of Sabra Daishen, Book 8. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 102,160. Language: English. Published: April 10, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
The land lies in ruins. Starvation and superstition reign. One good knight will light the ensuing dark age.
The Sorcha Omnibus
By
Series: The Legend of Sabra Daishen, Book 6. Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 177,360. Language: English. Published: February 28, 2012. Category: Fiction » Erotica » BDSM
Collecting all three volumes of Sorcha's sexcapades into one mammoth Fantasy bonk-buster! Sword, Sorcery, Sex & Spanking, now in epic omnibus edition!
Sorcha's Revolt
By
Series: The Sorcha Stories, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 38,850. Language: English. Published: February 28, 2012. Category: Fiction » Erotica » Action/Adventure
Returned from her long journey, Sorcha and her lover Montesinos DeSilva arrive in Silveneir to find the city ablaze with revolution. Native Silvans and Kellion immigrants clash in the streets, champions of both sides do battle on the barricades and DeSilva's father, Montesinos DeKellia, plots an atrocity to end the conflict in a bloodbath... Sword, Sorcery, Sex & Spanking, in Sorcha's Revolt!
Sorcha's Revenge
By
Series: The Sorcha Stories, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 73,720. Language: English. Published: February 8, 2012. Category: Fiction » Erotica » Action/Adventure
Free of the harem, Sorcha Kavnor struggles to come to terms with her new-found sexual freedom, both from slavery in a foreign land and the bonds of her oppressive culture. On foot, on horseback and by airship, she returns home, bringing her lover Montesinos DeSilva to the great dam of Loth Kavnor where she was born to confront her family and the religious matriarchy of Silveneir.
Romancing The Sword Book IV - Masters of War
By
Series: Romancing The Sword · The Legend of Sabra Daishen, Book 4. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 100,260. Language: English. Published: November 28, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Returned from the paradisial isle of Far Hrinor, Montesinos DeKellia is inveigled into the schemes of Queen Rathe Saban to make her daughter Empress of the Darician Plateau. But the barbarian Kraag have arisen in Kellia and the cult of Naril still command military might. With or without DeKellia's aid, Rathe and her husband must win final victory if they are ever to see Kaesa take the throne.
Sabra's Return
By
Price: Free! Words: 7,070. Language: English. Published: November 28, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
At the end of her long quest, Sabra Daishen returns to her homeland. At the home of the wizard DeSilva, Sabra bids a final farewell to her sister Sorcha, and rides on to join her old friend Sir Denebar in one final battle.
The Legend of Karel Tate
By
Price: Free! Words: 5,100. Language: English. Published: November 26, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
During the long wars, Ava was the concubine of the Headsman of Vale, the Imperial General Karel Tate. Years later, when she is free and happy, Ava must confront her fears and face again the man she once called master.
Sifu Dansac's Kung Fu Secrets
By
Series: Sifu Dansac's Ninja Society. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 21,560. Language: English. Published: November 21, 2011. Category: Fiction » Holiday » Humorous
An irreverant and surreal crash-course in practical self-defence, presented in the style of a demented Chinese Kung Fu teacher.
Romancing The Sword Book III - Sins of the Father
By
Series: Romancing The Sword · The Legend of Sabra Daishen, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 72,020. Language: English. Published: November 14, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Montesinos DeSilva has found his father, but civil war still threatens Daricia. From the island of Far Hrinor in the deepest south, Queen Saban of Daricia must return, with the legendary swordsman DeKellia and his errant son in tow. But the hostile expanse of Heimjaro lies in their way, and the queen has already stirred up its inhabitants to war against her...
Romancing The Sword First Omnibus
By
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 198,990. Language: English. Published: November 14, 2011. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
Fleeing an arranged marriage, the young prince of Silveneir, Montesinos DeSilva, leaves a life of luxury for exile in neighbouring Daricia. But Daricia is not a land at peace, and DeSilva finds far greater danger there than the unwanted wedding he sought to evade. Combining the first two volumes of Romancing The Sword into one epic quest across land and sea!
Sorcha's Story
By
Series: The Sorcha Stories, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 64,930. Language: English. Published: November 11, 2011. Category: Fiction » Erotica » BDSM
Kidnapped by Darian warriors, Sorcha Kavnor is forced to submit to harem training. Fantasy erotica set in the world of "Akurite Empire" and "Romancing The Sword".
The Complete Akurite Empire Omnibus
By
Series: The Legend of Sabra Daishen, Book 7. Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 265,300. Language: English. Published: November 8, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
All three volumes of Akurite Empire, comprising The Red Knight, Golden Firebird and Beyond The Sunset together in one omnibus edition. Save a buck on the complete trilogy!
They Call Me Anonymous
By
Series: Sifu Dansac's Ninja Society. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 71,820. Language: English. Published: October 31, 2011. Category: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
Billy Wilde is a man on a mission; mistaken for a Supervillain and imprisoned for three years, he resolves to escape and take revenge on the world. There's just one problem; he doesn't have any superpowers, and he needs to get them; fast.
Romancing The Sword Book Two: Far Hrinor
By
Series: Romancing The Sword · The Legend of Sabra Daishen, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 97,440. Language: English. Published: October 26, 2011. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
With civil war raging in Daricia, Queen Rathe Saban and her bodyguards set out to find the one man they believe can save the realm: the infamous swordsman Montesinos DeKellia.
Romancing The Sword Book One: Kingdom of the Void
By
Series: Romancing The Sword · The Legend of Sabra Daishen, Book 1. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 101,680. Language: English. Published: October 26, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Fleeing an arranged marriage, the young prince of Silveneir, Montesinos DeSilva, leaves a life of luxury for exile in neighbouring Daricia.
Akurite Empire Book Three: Beyond The Sunset
By
Series: Akurite Empire. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 69,190. Language: English. Published: October 25, 2011. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
The concluding volume of Akurite Empire. The Empress is defeated, but her evil allies remain; before the enemy can muster an invasion, Sabra Daishen leads a small band of knights to distant Psarrion to make war on the enemy's home ground.
Akurite Empire Book Two: Golden Firebird
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Series: Akurite Empire. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 130,430. Language: English. Published: October 22, 2011. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
Defeated in battle, the rebels scatter to rally new forces. Riding north and west into frozen Kellia, the rebel champion Sabra Daishen seeks to rouse remnants of the knightly orders against the Empire.
Akurite Empire Book One: The Red Knight
By
Series: Akurite Empire. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 65,770. Language: English. Published: October 17, 2011. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
The great hero Kam Daishen lies dead; taking his name and armour, a young woman sets out to complete the slain knight's quest. Book One of the Akurite Empire Trilogy.