Interview with Ed Ireland

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born and raised in South Philadelphia, a place as different from other cities as Mars. We just do things differently there. My grandfather was an old bootlegger who came over from Sicily who actually ran whiskey from Canada into Chicago for Al Capone. How and why he made the move to Philadelphia was always a clouded mystery never to be spoken of. It was the rich cast of characters around the home and the countless stories told around my grandfather's weekly card games that gave me an in-site into people and the diversity of the stories they carried. Since my childhood I have always studied people and places and they quite often find their way into my work.
When did you first start writing?
I was in my forties when I started writing these little scenarios for an on-line Dungeons & Dragons-type game I was playing. A lot of people liked them and pushed me to try my hand at writing. So, with the blessings of friends and the spectral presence of Sister Mary Theresa and her steel ruler (the very same one that caressed my knuckles so gently in 8th grade English) I sat and wrote. The story was named "Fire At Dawn" and followed the character I played in the game. As it evolved I included many of my friends and family as characters and after about a year I was ready to present my masterpiece. Most of those who read it loved it and pushed me to find a publisher. A few rejection letters later and my ego was completely flat and airless. But strangely, I didn't feel the urge to quit writing...in fact, i found that I really loved it! So I sat and hacked away at Fire and wrote and re-wrote it. I joined a couple writer's groups where we would critique our work but I realized everybody was just stroking egos. So I decided to take the plunge and self-publish and receive the harsher critiques of customers.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is a return to my fantasy roots. It's the genre I feel most comfortable with. I created a world called Sarniall, made of 4 continents (so far) and named them Sarn, Gemmal, Icea and The Shrouded Lands. Then came races to fill these lands and my first choice was a race I had envisioned called the Castian. They are almost human in appearance with a few differences like long, angular ears and eyebrows that would extend well past the face. They could pick up subtle changes in the winds, catching scent molecules and then send the information to the brain.
My protagonist is such a person. I'd read and tossed so many stories where the lead was a "Mary Sue", a perfect entity and knew that was not the direction I wanted to take. I made an effort to match every endowment with a flaw, every happiness with tragedy. She learns she is prophecised as a savior of not only her race but another race called the Junin...who just happen to be mortal enemies of the Castian. But a new threat in the lands brings her into the start of the prophecy without her even realizing it and this simple farm-girl is thrust into her destiny and all the suffering it carries with it.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
That's a simple answer. Agents sit too high on their mighty thrones. I don't mind having to format or follow certain guidelines but it seems as if 98% of the agents couldn't be bothered with unknowns. They ask for a small pinch of your work and judge everything by it. I feel to tell a story properly, the reader should know about the background of the characters. My stories seldom start off with the action that agents seem to think defines high fantasy. Like Tolkien I like to bring the adventure along slowly or in the case of Fire At Dawn, the story does begin with a bit of adventure but the protagonist isn't even introduced until 3 or 4 chapters in. So how is my story to be judged by an intern by reading 5 pages or at best 3 chapters?
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
This is my first book here at Smashwords. Right off the bat, this company forced me into properly formatting my book which was huge. The meatgrinder took me and smacked the crap out of me...but forced me to learn proper formatting. Secondly, I love the control that Smashwords gives me. I love that I can print coupons, adjust so many aspects of my book and that I can fall back on the community for extra support in the programs they have here. If I had one thing I could change, it would be the name. On Long Island there is a chain of hamburger joints called Smashburger that I frequent far too often. You see where this is going right? I can't tell you how many times I have written that my book is available on Smashburger. But I guess that's what editing is for.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Having someone tell me "I loved your book". My books are not big sellers yet but when people do read them they often find something that spoke directly to them...the twist in the storyline, the way a character speaks (people love my Sal DeSantos in "Crime Scene" and I laugh because I just wrote the dialogue as if I were talking to one of my friends) or they tell me that one of my poems touched them. I guess that for a writer, at least for me, to have someone comment on your work is the greatest compliment one can receive.
What do your fans mean to you?
The few I have are everything to me. I have one who buys everything I put out and eagerly waits for the next. I write for him. As I inferred previously, even if only one person reads your work then to me, it's a success. I try to involve my fans in my work by asking what they liked and disliked, where the character should go and for this book even asked them to pick the cover. Every aspect of my writing is for those people.
What are you working on next?
Currently I have the second book in the Huntress series on the table. At the same time however I have the final book in the Fire At Dawn trilogy waiting to be finished. I had held out hope that I could get it published traditionally but more and more it looks as if it will be self-published as well. Especially when agents and publishers now seem to not even care enough to send rejection letters. Being ignored has always worked well...
Who are your favorite authors?
Obviously JRR Tolkien has been a huge influence on me. The Hobbit was mandatory reading when I grew up in the 60's. Many others have also inspired me and the author who currently holds me captive is Gregory Maguire. His ability to take a well-known story and turn the entire view around fascinates me. I first found out about him through the musical Wicked which I dismissed as trivial until a friend urged me to read the book. I was blown away by the dark and gritty Oz he painted and the political and sexual undertones of the story. The man hooked me. Now, I pay the best compliment any writer could and try to emulate his style by inserting 2 or more points of view on the same subject and lacing undertones of my own in all my work.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Well, at the late age of 50 and a failed marriage behind me I found a girl who could deal with my insanity. She was also 25 years younger than me. Like any normal male I thought "this is great!" and went on with the relationship.
What I forgot in my enthusiasm is that old men partnered with younger women can still produce children. Five years into it she gifted me with a daughter. So now this 3 year old bundle of love has shown that my insane genes have filtered into her and every day brings a new challenge.
Family and friends inspire me as they always have. Life inspires me even though the times have indeed turned gloomy. Dark or light, it all gives me pause to think and when that happens what I think is how this will be incorporated into my work.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a degenerate video game player. I'm also the owner of a book cover design and business printing service. I love photography but don't spend nearly as much time at it as I like. And finally I'm a huge wildlife fan and spend as much time as I can either looking for it or campaigning for it. I've tried to do a lot for my favorite refuge here, www.runningwiththewolves.org
How do you approach cover design?
An appropriate question considering I design book covers for others as well. I first look at the book's story. What is it trying to tell? The cover must reflect that. In my current book "The Last Ranger of Sarn" the story was of a bleak and desolate land ravaged by an undead army. The protagonist was a young girl thrust into a terrible prophecy and her role in it.
So when it came time for the cover I started with placing a bare tree and its branches in the background. Then I added the customary ground-cover fog. For the main image, I chose to isolate one feature of the protagonist. In the book she is an archer so I show little of the girl except a small portion of torso and her arms holding a notched arrow. This was to symbolize her solitude as well as her skill area. Within the lettering I placed a starburst to symbolize the hope that she needed to carry in her heart. Then I shaded the entire thing in a soft-blue light showing the melancholy as well as the otherworldly lands she lived in.
Describe your desk
Hiroshima after detonation....
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I make business cards that are either a direct copy of my cover or a very close tie-in. On these cards I have the book title of course, a one or two line "grab" and my website information. Up till now I have just used them electronically however with this batch for Last Ranger I'll be handing them out at our closes Barns & Noble, at our library and posting them on every public billboard I can find.
For an even greater impact I'll be writing coupon codes on the back for those who seem interested in buying it making them feel as if they get a special "reward" for their interest. I'll also be making coupon books for an even more polished look.
If anybody is interested you can visit my work site at www.storyteller419.wix.com/storyteller and look over the mountain of marketing tools I make. If you go, don't forget to join the site for even more discounts.
You recently finished your trilogy, Chronicles of the Free People. How does it feel?
Exhausting in a word. The story was about sixteen or more years in the making with book 1, Fire At Dawn going through several re-writes and edits. That set up who the characters were and what their personalities were. Book 2, The Stormrider took that a bit further and now Book 3, A New Dawning brings their ending to light.
It was an emotional roller-coaster for the last book. It drained me and in the end, I was reminded of the Truman Capote quote that says “Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the back yard and shot it.”
What is next on the horizon?
A good rest! After that, I have two books that I'll be working on. The first is the next story in the Huntress series entitled, The Broken King. Alongside that, and at the extreme other end of the spectrum, is a cookbook. I found a bunch of my Grandmother's recipes and I'll be putting a bit of South Philly attitude into them. The working title for it is The South Philly Smartass Cookbook. Still playing with that one.
Also, far in the back of my overworked mind is another crime drama. Recent insights into a very real emotional disorder have given me a story idea. To the inspiration for it, all I can say is thanks for being crazy!
So, have we seen the last of the Free People?
I thought it would end with the trilogy, but I love them too much to put them aside. I'm planning a sort of pre-quel to them called Clans: The Story of the Free People. I'll address their early days of the Clan Wars and then the Slaver Wars. Then I'll go into the Andarian Conflict and the Battle of Var.
If people still want more after that, and I'm hoping they will, I've purposely left a large time gap between books 2 & 3. From that area I can create a series entitled The Lost Tales of the Free People. I can fill that series with short stories, novelettes and even the odd epic novel. It depends on the readers.
How can your readers reach you? Do you have a website?
Yes, I always look forward to hearing from readers, good or bad. My website is located at http://www.fabsfan419.wix.com/edireland
There is a members section and a place to subscribe to my mailing list.
What is Crime Scene all about and why the switch in genres?
Crime Scene is a bit of historical fiction that I wrote about 4 years ago. For some ungodly reason, temporary insanity, I wrote the book with a dual first-person perspective. It started out well enough, but you can imagine the confusion once the story got going. But it was a good story, and one I never wanted to give up on. Finally, I pulled it down and gave it a proper rewrite.
I kept the first person perspective of Sal DeSanto, the hardened protagonist of the story. It's his words that bring not just the story to life, but him as well. Having grown up in Philly, I just told his story in my regular voice. I'm pretty sure every nun that taught me English composition rolled over in their graves as I wrote.
As far as a genre change, I think that every story has an element of every genre in it. Any story would be a little dull if it didn't have a bit of romance to it, and what good is romance without horror to offset it? I haven't given up on my true love of epic fantasy, but this story needed to be done right and set back out on the market.
Published 2017-02-01.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Final Chapter
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 25,040. Language: English. Published: October 24, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Short Stories
One girl is brutally murdered and another missing. Detective Jim White follows clues amid the backdrop of Reno, Nevada and the staid city of Sacramento, California. In that city he meets Grace Payne and is sure the killer is in her office. But who can it be? As the story moves along the prime suspect is all wrong to the hardened detective...or is he?
Forgotten Treasure
Price: Free! Words: 17,420. Language: English. Published: October 19, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Literary collections » American / General
(4.00)
A collection of poems and short stories. The poetry is inspired by emotions. Anger, joy, love and spirituality all find their way out in them. The short stories are studies in different genres. There is humor in the Wiki-esque biography of Popeye the Sailor and the irreverent "When the Music Stops", fantasy in the "Bonds of War" and drama in "Silver Lining".