Interview with A.R. Williams

What made you want to write? When did you first start writing?
Even before I could read, I loved stories. Books were full of magic, and wonder, and unexplored worlds waiting to be discovered.

In the first grade we used to have story time. In the heat of the summer the teacher would turn off the lights and we would lay our heads down on the cool surface of our desks as she read a chapter of the Boxcar Children, or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, How to Eat Fried Worms, or Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. My father was a reader. He would carry tattered paperbacks with him everywhere.

I always wanted to read grown up books--real novels--instead of the picture books for children my age. In the third grade I tried to read "Battlefield Earth". It was just too big a book and I never finished it.

But, In the fourth grade we were given an assignment to write a story. I wrote a SF story called "Journey to Planet X". The heroes of the story were me and four of my friends from the neighborhood. I think that's when I got the bug, that's when I wanted to write.

After that, I tried writing and drawing comics. The art wasn't very good. But my heart was in it.
So, from the fourth grade to the present, what motivated you to become an indie author?
When I attended college, I had started a blog called Expand Your Reach [ http://a-r-williams.livejournal.com/ ]. I wrote about the various aspects of the writing craft. I also became more interested in how to get my work published through traditional means. I became very focused on learning more about the professional side of writing: submitting to magazines, writing to agents, preparing manuscripts and such.

At the time, self-publishing through e-Books was still relatively new. And I still had the old writer mentality about how self-publishing was bad because it didn't provide the same opportunities that traditional publishing did. The first time I discovered Dean Wesley Smith's 'myths of publishing posts' and J.A. Konrath going on and on about how great self-publishing was I dismissed what they had to say because of that old traditional mindset.

Then when searching for content for my blog, I found a Seth Godin lecture where he talked about the weakness of traditional publishing. And as they say "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear". It just clicked and I finally understood that e-publishing was not the same as trying to self-publish through print. I understood how the world had changed.

I hungered to learn more. I started reading the blogs of Dean Wesley Smith, J.A. Konrath, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Mike Shatzkin. I absolutely consumed their content, then I had to go tell my fellow bloggers what I discovered. I wrote a blog post about how I had been wrong and how self-publishing through e-books was a good idea.

Needless to say, there were a few heated discussions about whether I was right or not. But once a blind man gets his vision fixed, he doesn't want to go back to being blind again.

Self-publishing is freedom!

I have the ability of my work to succeed or fail based on what I bring to the table.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you? Why do you put up with all the difficulties?
There's a point when writing that is pure bliss. Everything flows. The mind is racing, full of ideas, and dreams, and images. Your fingers fly across the keyboard as fast as they can, because you have to capture that flow, that elusive, intangible thought before it fleas and escapes into the ether. That feeling is rare, but it is magic.

It's magic to steadily progress. To see where you were, to unravel where you're going.

It's magic when you build worlds and create characters and set them out on adventures and journeys that you might not even know how it's going to end. Or if they'll survive. There's joy in the telling of the tale, pleasure in the crafting of it, of molding it, of taking the obstacles and wrangling over them with your mind and seeing the possibility of what that story could be, the directions it could go.

Why put up with the difficulties? For the love it. That's the only thing that makes it worth it.
What is your writing process? Where do you get your ideas?
Ideas are everywhere. They come from my thoughts, my emotions, my beliefs. They come from life and experiences that I've had or seen others go through. They come from questions, from wonder. They come from examining, and studying, and probing, and asking-"What if?"

I can start with an idea, an image, a character, or a setting. Beginnings are easy for me. I know what questions to ask, I know what's needed to create a good beginning. Beginnings are exciting, they're full of hope. But they can be dangerous because I often want to start with the new idea that seems fresher, better than what I'm currently working on.

But once I have a character, I ask - "What does this person want? What opposes them?"

Those two questions can bring much of the story to fruition.
Who are your favorite authors? How have they influenced your writing?
George R.R. Martin - Few writers revolutionize what a genre can be. Some manage to push the envelope just a nudge. Tolkien with Lord of the Rings, R.E. Howard with Sword & Sorcery, now Martin with "A Song of Ice and Fire". Fantasy will never be the same again. The brilliance of "A Song of Ice and Fire" is it allows each character, even many of the villains, to have heroic characteristics. There are layers of good and bad. And real consequences for what the characters choose to do.

Lois McMaster Bujold - I love the relationship she built between Aral Vorkosigan and Cordelia Naismith. I love her ability to get into a characters head, reveal their emotion, their thoughts, the beating essence of their heart and their dreams and to lay it out for the reader to enjoy.

Margaret Weiss & Tracy Hickman - I pretty much became a fan of fantasy fiction because of them. Their world-building and the adventures their characters went on were the most astounding things for me. They made fantasy my favorite genre. I think their ability to craft world is part of the reason I love world-building so much.
What do your fans mean to you?
They mean everything.

People who love your work and can't wait to read the next adventure are why writers work as hard on their stories as they do. To write only for ourselves, when the stories are all in our heads doesn't require that extra effort, that extra push to make us better. But writing to communicate with other people, to bring something to the craft so that you can create an experience that is as enjoyable for them as it is for you, forces that little extra revision, that little extra attention to detail, and to getting it right.

When people show appreciation for what you do, and the love you put into it--it matters a great deal.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My current work-in-progress is a sword and sorcery adventure story. It takes place in an Aztec / Mayan type setting. Xicahua is a sorcerer who has discovered an ancient medallion that allows him to bring a forgotten power back into existence. Ziraxxus is the warrior determined to stop him. It's full of fight scenes, magic, and adventure. The cover can be seen on my Facebook fanpage. It was drawn by Keith Draws. He does excellent work and has made other covers for me in the past.

[ https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151506887236146&set=a.10151506887091146.1073741825.158125546145&type=1&theater ]
If you lived in a fantasy world, what type of character would you be?
I've always been fascinated by the warrior culture and the warrior ethos: brave knights, noble samurai, warriors with an indomitable will to be victorious. I would be a knight, or a samurai, or a barbarian. I would be a defender of the weak and helpless.
In six hundred words or less, tell a story.
There was a writer. He finally figured it all out and dedicated himself to what he loved. From then on he lived happily ever after.
Published 2013-08-27.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

As the Crow Flies
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 16,660. Language: English. Published: January 12, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Fantasy » Dark
Aziru is a mercenary fighting in the Persai army. When the army is routed, the survivors are forced to retreat for home, the enemy close on their heels. Their flight leads them to the Black Forest. Ten thousand years old and surrounded in superstition, the forest is rumored to be haunted. Legend says, that no one who entered has ever returned.
Wuxia: Four Short Stories
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 8,580. Language: English. Published: October 5, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Fantasy » General
Wuxia presents four tales of the far east. Swords and samurai adventures collected in one volume. Demon Song: Kenshin Nobuyashi is on a quest to avenge those he loved. Duel on Hakkojji Bridge: When his master falls ill, Maeda Ujisada must get the medicine to save him. The Bone Game: It's not just a game. Blossoms Weep, Spiders Fall: Love and honor. Triumph and defeat.
Sword and Sorcery Adventure: Winter's Cold Heart
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 13,520. Language: English. Published: May 24, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Fantasy » General
When he visits the tribe of the Elk, Leif Jurgensen falls for the chief’s beautiful daughter. The man that slays the local monster will be offered her hand in marriage. Leif volunteers for the task. But when Anneke, the chief's daughter, makes a special request, Leif struggles to make the difficult choice between what his heart desires and his honor demands.
Sword and Sorcery Sampler
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 41,090. Language: English. Published: February 6, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Fantasy » General
“Sword and Sorcery Sampler” is a collection three novelette length works featuring sword-wielding heroes, dark magic, monstrous villains, and brave new worlds. Experience the action that sword and sorcery tales are known for, experience A.R. Williams' "Sword & Sorcery Sampler"! "The Blessed and the Damned" "The Dragon Brood War: It Walks Among Men" "Winter's Cold Heart"
The Dragon Brood War: It Walks Among Men
Series: The Dragon Brood War, episode 1. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 15,950. Language: English. Published: July 23, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Adventure » Action
Gerhardt is hired to kill a priest, but his instincts tell him there is more to the job than he’s being told. He questions the man who hired him and discovers that the priest he’s sent to kill isn't human at all--but a demon.
Kuwar: The Blessed & The Damned
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 14,500. Language: English. Published: May 2, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Fantasy » General
When her daughter is kidnapped, Lorna Jassan returns to Kuwar in order to save her. Forced to seek help from Weslin, a man she never wanted to see again, Lorna must find her daughter while keeping a secret hidden. But Kuwar has secrets of its own. Can Lorna unravel them in time to rescue her daughter and escape?