Interview with Bret James Stewart

What is your e-reading device of choice?
My personal computer. I am still clinging to the print book for about half my reading, especially pleasure reading, because I like the aesthetic. I do use e-books a good bit for school and for other reading. I am finding many books and magazines are now only available in e-form.
I have not yet purchased an e-reader, but I have used my sisters' Nooks. I imagine I'll end up getting an e-reader of some sort before too long.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I am just starting out, so I do not have a lot of expertise in this area. My websites, Facebook, and simple word-of-mouth marketing has done the best for me so far. This is an area in which I need to grow, big time. I do have several books about book marketing that I have not yet read. I assume I will garner some good ideas from them.
Describe your desk
My desk...I have two. My computer desk has a space for the monitor flanked by two book shelves, one of which holds my textbooks and books I use regularly for my writing, the other holds various data storage things such as CDs and DVDs. I have a mouse, a phone, and a pen and pencil holder. I have a shelf to the side where I keep a clipboard and maps and things for my Blue Ridge Hiker work. This is where my Youtube music is going most of the time.
My work desk changes daily. In the morning, I arrange the things I need to accomplish the day's tasks. As I finish something, I put it away. The theory is that this procedure motivates me to "clear my desk" every day, thereby resulting in me getting a lot done. This works well for me.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the small town of Brevard, N.C., in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This influenced my writing in the sense that the culture impacted who I am. Obviously, having the public lands around virtually all over the place allowed me to do a ton of hiking and boating, which I love. This combination of love for the subject and the availability of the trails resulted in me choosing to write hiking trail reviews for many of the areas in Western North Carolina, notably Gorges State Park, DuPont State Forest, and the Pisgah National Forest. Likewise, the fact that the Blue Ridge Parkway travels through the mountains where I live, I developed an abiding love for the Parkway. I am currently writing a non-fiction book about this great destination.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing when I learned how. My earliest stories are early grade school. None of these survived, alas, but I continued writing stories in Middle School. I began writing poems in High School. I seriously began pursuing writing when I was in my early twenties.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is The Dragon's Lullaby, which is a high-fantasy novel. In it, a group of happenstance heroes are thrown together to accomplish a quest to prevent the sleep-enspelled dragons from reawakening and wreaking havoc upon the world. It has all the standard tropes, but they are presented in a different way. The tale is told from the point of view of the characters, which really allows the reader into their mindsets. The book is adventurous, a rousing good story, and does not end the way the reader expects. The book has a lot of tension because the heroes are on a time limit, they are lost part of the time, and a weirdo group of wyrm cultists--who want to stop them, of course--are chasing them.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Wow, there are a number of reasons for this. Primarily, I wanted to do it in order to maintain control of my career. I can publish when and how I want, I can write books in whatever genre I want without having to answer to anyone, and my books are always available unless I choose to take them off the market. The out-of-print monster does not scare me. Thus, I can build up an extensive catalogue of works over time. I can also control secondary things about the books such as the cover art. To a lesser degree, I was motivated by the fact that indie publishing is on the rise. Although I do not think it will completely displace traditional publishing, I do think it will eventually surpass that model.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I am only starting with Smashwords, but the multiple formattes allow me to have the platform do the work of nine individual platforms. This eases my mind, and allows me to focus on marketing or writing another book. Smashwords also has a retail outlet, and I suspect I'll sell some on it. Every little bit helps. I think Smashwords is a great company.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Finishing a book and mashing the "Publish" button. Ha!
Actually, the greatest joy is being able to express myself via the written word. I love to write. Even if I knew I would never be published and never sell a book, I would write anyway. I keep a journal in addition to my other writing, and I often look at the completed entry and think how beautiful the words look on the page.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans are awesome. Fans are the superstars of readers. They help make the writing career worthwhile. I also like that they make me more careful. Because I know my readers are out there, I am aware someone will read what I write. This makes me really think about what it is I am writing. The end result of this is a better book. Too, I dig the interaction I have with fans. I get to know them; they get to know me, and a legitimate relationship ensues.
What are you working on next?
Because I have multiple interests, I generally have more than one thing going. For example, right now, I am working on hiking trail reviews for Blue Ridge Hiker (http://www.blueridgehiker.com), a non-fiction book about the overlooks of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and a book about Gorges State Park. On the fiction side, I am writing fantasy at the moment. I should have a collection of various fantasy tales, poems, and a play ready for publication later this year.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love the Bible, of course, which is various authors. I also love J.R.R. Tolkien, and I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings every year beginning in the autumn. There are many others I like, depending on the type of book. Christopher J.H. Wright for Christian books, John Michael Greer for druidry stuff, and Poe for stories and poetry. Other poets I really like are John Keats and Alfred Lord Tennyson. As for novelists, I like Robert Louis Stevenson and Charles Dickens among a long list of other contenders.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I love life. It is exceptionally rare for me to not be motivated every day. As I am doing what I love, the work I do is largely fun--it is what I would be doing anyway. Even things I like less are okay because I know they are contributing to the whole. This makes every day and, therefore, life in general, an exciting adventure for me. I look forward to waking up and getting to do it all over again. I have not always been so blessed, and I know what it is like to have a grinding daily life. This lets me truly appreciate the freedom I have.
Published 2015-01-20.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Tales From Transylvania
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 54,710. Language: English. Published: January 9, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
In dreamscape versions of familiar settings, good and evil vampires, deadly wizards, brooding faeries, ghosts, other horrors, and the recesses of the human mind all demonstrate that, things are not what they seem. These illusions often crumble with devastating consequences for those involved. These tales, set in recognizable settings, seem even stranger than they would in an unknown setting.
Codex Rosmanicus: Twelve Tales of Enchantment ~Compiled by Jaren the Traveller
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 30,540. Language: English. Published: November 5, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
Codex Rosmanicus: Twelve Tales of Enchantment Compiled by Jaren the Traveller The literature of the past fascinates the modern reader. Part of this fascination is the paradox of the time and distance that creates a sense of the alien while remaining relevant in the present. Such literature is both ancient and modern. Some of the most interesting examples of such work can be found in the c
The Dragon's Lullaby
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 82,440. Language: English. Published: March 27, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
The elven illusionist, Shadowbender, his sister, Oceana, and their mismatched allies have the only copy of the magical spell that can prevent the dragons from awakening out of their millennial slumber. They must race against time, dogged by the Cult of the Wyrm dedicated to killing them, to find the birthplace of the creatures and use the spell before the dragons throw the world back into chaos.