Interview with Ronel van Tonder

What are your five favorite books, and why?
1) The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.
The world he creates is vast and fascinating. I could never make it through the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I've consumed all of Jordan's books in this series four times. His writing style is casual and engaging, making the corkscrew twists of his plot easy to follow.

2) The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.
Like Jordan, Pratchett brings to life a strange world, creating realistic character imbued with varied personalities that fill the pages with fantastic dialogue.

3) Mirror by Graham Masterton.
This book still haunts me. It contains all the elements for a good horror - suspense, gore and the best "I never saw it coming" apocalyptic ending. Just thinking about it makes me want to read it again.

4) Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
Towels will forever hold a deeper meaning in my life.

5) The Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.
I still get random scenes from this book infiltrating my life on occasion. One of my earlier short stories was fan fiction based on one of the characters, and I think she still weaves her threads through some of my writing, despite my best intentions.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My science-fiction trilogy "Tainted SUN" began as a single scene in my head, spurred on by my interest in the changing world we're living in.

I'd like to think that my novel is a discussion on the possibilities afforded to our society by knowledge, experience and the evolution of our species... but who knows the mind of a reader? I can only hope that some aspects of the new society (despite their ominous overtones), will prompt readers to change how they think about our world, our governments, and our resources.
Describe your desk
Ah. Well, I have a laptop and a few various writing spots that I circulate between, depending on my mood.

I have two official desks, one at home, and one at work.

I try to keep them tidy, but they tend to occasionally overflow with sweet wrappers, especially during writing marathons.
When did you first start writing?
My first writing piece was a co-authored fan fiction science-fiction story written at the tender age of thirteen. *sigh* I lost the original manuscript (read: A4 notebook, standard school issue), but I think it's probably for the best.

Various short stories followed that initial piece, as well as some poetry. I started a fantasy epic when I was twenty-two, but life got in the way and I forgot about that and my writing for almost seven years.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've always been a self-starter. I prefer to do things myself, going through the entire learning cycle so that I am fully capable of producing what I want by myself, without external help.

This gets me into trouble, of course, as I find it impossible to delegate, but it brings me a sense of pride to be able to say that I did it on my own.

I think indie publishing is the perfect option for new writers. It allows them the time to really get to know themselves, their writing, and the market they are publishing for. I don't see an end to traditional publishing and brick and mortar book stores just yet, despite the terrible state of our rain forests, but I don't plan on seeking out a publisher any time soon.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Imbuing life into a character, and doing it so well that he/she turns around and tells me how the story is actually going to play out. This of course brings its own set of problems, like trying to keep characters in line with your original plot, or deciding to risk it all on their flights of fancy.
What are you working on next?
I am still in the process of completing my science-fiction trilogy, but I'm looking forward to penning a horror next.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Working, unfortunately. But when I do allow myself a break from writing and working, I love to escape into PC games, usually playing a co-op mission with my husband.
What is your writing process?
I never really had a process, until I decided to pen the Tainted SUN trilogy. I was planning for it to be a trilogy from the start, and knew it was going to be tough to keep everything in order in just one massive word document.

I did my research, purchased Scrivener, and never looked back. I also read some fantastic blogs about structuring plot and characters, and this helped me gain insight into my characters before writing a single word.
How do you approach cover design?
I'm still in two minds about this at the moment. I know the importance of cover design, but I would like to design my own cover. I have graphic design experience, and have already worked on a few prototypes that I think could work, but that's not good enough, of course.

If time allows, I will design the cover myself using a 3D platform like Maya and polishing it up in Photoshop, but for now that's just a pipe dream. If I don't get the desired results by my launch date I will be outsourcing my cover design.

When researching this element of the publishing process, I started looking at artists' works on Deviantart and similar online artist platforms. I made a note of which painting styles I thought would best suit the book, and will contact the artists once the trilogy is in it's final stages.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I am still in the initial stages of marketing, trying to create a base of beta-readers and like-minded people. So far Smashwords has provided a fantastic game-plan, and I'm following it step-for-step.

Twitter has proved to be the most influential platform. It's quick and easy, and I'm finding fantastic resources to further enhance my writing and social media skills.

I am planning to release the first book of the trilogy for free, and then set the two consecutive novels in the trilogy on a two and three month pre-order.
Published 2014-06-21.
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