Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Anchorage Alaska, and raised on the coast of Oregon, in western United States. The coast of Oregon is a very green, and forested area, with the Pacific Ocean just outside your doorstep. Because of this, nature has always been a fondness for me, and that comes through in my writing. I try very hard to make my nature scenes picturesque, like the reader is actually standing in the lush, verdant environments described.
I grew up in a small coastal town, where even when you didn't know a person, you tended to know of them. Whether a little or a lot of details were known, each person was a person. They didn't get lost in the shuffle as much as people tend to, in bigger cities. In my books, no matter how small a character is, I try to find at least one or two characteristics, to give to each one. Just enough that the reader believes that the character is a real three dimensional person, and that they are only getting a cameo in this book, which doesn't focus on them.
When did you first start writing?
I've known that I wanted to grow up to be a writer since I was fifteen, but I spent a lot of time learning and playing pen and paper RPGs to help improve my world, and character building skills. It wasn't until I was a senior in high school that I attempted the daunting task of writing a full fledged novel. In fact, it was suppose to be my senior project.
Writing a book was far more complicated then I anticipated, and throughout that year, my project morphed from writing a book, to explaining how a book is written. After the project was over I put it aside, and began trying different techniques to make a complete novel. In 2005 I tried a drastically different, thought somewhat obvious approach of character first story building. Forget the plot, the world, and all the characters, and focus on building one fully realized character to become your protagonist. Years later. this would be the technique that finally created the Rise of the Blood Queen Saga.
What are you working on next?
Rise of the Blood Queen is a five book saga. I have been working diligently on the second book and hope to release in 2017.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yeah it's actually sitting on my computer along with my other old projects. The first story I wrote was back in high school and was created for my senior project. The story was mapped out to be a ten book series, consisting of three generational trilogies, and a stand alone book that would weave its way through the previous nine books. One of the biggest problems with the story, was that the scope was so huge, for a first project, I found myself unable to grasp it all. It is a project that I may one day revisit and share with my readers.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I play a lot of video games, and watch a lot of TV. There is so much creativity behind some of the stories created through these various media, and it's fun to see the kind of worlds, and characters these various artists have made. I love reading, but I find that unlike movie and games, where I can pause whenever I want to, once I pick up a book, I never want to put it down. So I had to make a deal with myself. I am only allowed to read during specific breaks I delegate ahead of time.
Who are your favorite authors?
Pierce Anthony, RA Salvatore, Terry Goodkind, and Laurel K Hamilton are among my favorite authors. Pierce Anthony's combined a real understanding of world creation and character development, with an almost child like sense of humor, and an easy going attitude. RA Salvatore, is a fellow gamer, who got his start in a similar manner to my own. He writes some of the best fighting scenes in the genre, and his characters are always meaningful and fun to follow. Terry Goodkind is responsible for one of the most epic series I have ever had the pleasure of reading, with a foresight from the first page to the last book that blows my mind. The sheer amount of detail in his books was amazing to the point that it was sometimes overwhelming in a good way. Laurel K Hamilton's first person approach expose a different way to read a book, truly immersing you in the character. While her later books began to draw some criticism for their more risque nature, one can't argue with her success, or her unique and powerful writing approach.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
In no particular order.
Homeland by RA Salvatore. This is a book that goes back before the series started, and explains how the protagonist was born, and what he had to endure growing up. It explores a unique and interesting society from a perspective we don't often get to see.
Man from Mundania by Pierce Anthony. This explores a well known story, from the other side of it's world, a sort of looking in from the outside. The story follows a seemingly normal person that we can all somewhat relate to as he discovers his extraordinary self in a realm of magic, puns and high jinx.
Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton. This explores a unique world with vampires, witches, werewolves and other things that go bump in the night from a first person perspective. The writing style is unique, and shows that a story can be told from more then a traditional writing perspective.
Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind. Sword of Truth is an epic book with great characters, stories, and a fascinating world. It explores magic through the idea of consequence, which is really cool, and its take on prophecy is interesting, and enjoyable. The author obviously knew the end of the series before writing the beginning of this master piece.
Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings. Speaking of really good authors, and series, this book was a sheer delight to read. One of the most impactful ways of approaching magic that I have ever had the pleasure of reading, the author literally used magic and science in harmony, rather then in opposition. A great example of this is when a gifted individual attempts to push a large rock, and ends up pushing himself away from the rock instead of the rock away from him. In order to push the rock, the man had to exert force not just on the rock, but also in the opposite direction to counteract the rock pushing back on him.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Creating a fully realized world, from start to finish. I imagine that I get the same joy from finishing a book, that a carpenter gets after building an exquisite hand crafted chair.
What is your writing process?
In this case I started with a character first approach. Take your time building a character you think is interesting, and worthwhile. Someone the characters are going to enjoy reading about. I also tried to build all the characters in the book up to one degree or another, without overshadowing the book it self, and it's major premise.
Then create a world and story for the character. The narrated scene, where Storm is looking back at this story from somewhere in the future was actually the beginning of the story for me. Storm looks back at himself and makes comments now and then on what he was doing, or filling in gaps of information that isn't present. Meanwhile a young Storm is experiencing the story for the first time, and the reader gets to ride along with him, with hints from the old narrator.
Next I create a sort of roadmap. That indicate stepping stones from one book to the next, start to finish. Then a set of bullet points for what happens in each book.
I then write what I call the Skeleton. One thing that defeated me often in the past, was I would get stuck on a scene, and couldn't get past it. Often I knew what I wanted to say, or the overall outcome, but couldn't form the write words together. When I finally gave myself the right to skip ahead, I found that the book would keep progressing. Since I know the overall story I never get lost, when I skip a scene. I also make sure to write any notes that are pertinent to the scene, for when I return to write it.
When I get to almost the end of the book, I stop. I don't write the ending yet. Instead I go back and flesh the story out, filling all the gaps I had to skip in. By doing this, I find that I'm motivated by a sense of completion, and I have a better understanding of what I want overall, which helps finish each scene.
Last I write the final scene, and the epilogue.
Then comes editing, but that is another story.
What's the over arching story, behind Rise of the Blood Queen?
Rise of the Blood Queen asks the reader a very specific question. What would you do, if fate told you, you were going to destroy the world? If fate says that your life will have a specific ending, how do you deal with that? Do you ride off into oblivion to meet that fate, or run from it? Do you deny the veracity of that fate, or accept it numbly. Do you challenge that fate, or give into it.
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