I first started writing when i was fifteen years old. I had just begun reading fantasy books and I adored the worlds that those early books could transport me to. I decided to make up my own world on the premise of a single question: "what if?"
I asked myself "what if these high school students from Earth were suddenly, magically transported to a fantasy world? What kind of things would they have to deal with?" What started as five high school kids eventually became five college students and later was condensed into three college students. I then decided that I needed sort of a prologue, so Blood and Shadows was born, showing the story of what happens BEFORE the students from Earth come.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Blood and Shadows is basically a prologue to what I had intended to be my main storyline. In January of 2013 I saw a contest on Amazon, called the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. I racked my brain about how I could start the main storyline (about three college students being transported to a fantasy world from Earth by some unknown means), but couldn't think of anything I could write in the time period of the contest. So I started writing about Boris, a not-so-average assassin, and one of the main characters that will be a mentor to the Earthlings, Dawyn Darklance.
Basically, Blood and Shadows is intended to be a primer to the world of Tar Ebon. It's intended to introduce the world a little bit before the people from Earth arrive, with their own deer in the headlights look on their faces.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I was motivated to become an independent (indie) author because I had a story to tell, I knew it was a good (with several revisions and two professional editors, of course) story and, as I researched self-publishing more and more I realized that I didn't need to wait until i found a traditional publisher. The proverbial gates had been battered at for many years before me and were almost broken. I could get my story out to my readers and share my passion for my world with anyone who was willing to read.
I actually share my experiences with self-publishing on The Self-Publisher's Journal, which is available on iTunes.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has contributed to my success by being a great aggregation site for my content. Rather than going to sites like B&N or Kobo or iTunes and submitting my book individually on each site, I am able to just publish on Smashwords and forget about it pretty much. It really simplifies my life. Plus, I love the coupon generator. I can generate coupons for reviewers to use or run special limited time only promotions for my book.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing for me is sharing the world I am so passionate about with the world. For me it's not so much about the money as it is sharing my dream, my vision, with the world. I imagine that's the same way many movie directors, TV writers, theater directors and other authors feel about having their vision come true and be told to so many people, no matter what form that takes.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans mean everything to me. Without fans, I wouldn't consider myself a writer. When someone comes to me and tells me that they enjoyed my book, that is one of the best feelings in the world to me. I am writing to the best of my ability and always trying to improve so that the experience my readers have when they open one of my books is as good as it can be.
What are you working on next?
I'm working on book two of The Saga of the Seven Stars. My plan is to publish in early 2014. If you check the back of my first novel, Blood and Shadows, you'll get to read an exclusive excerpt from my second book.
Who are your favorite authors?
Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, George R.R. Martin (I was a fan BEFORE the TV show), Terry Goodkind, Elizabeth Haydon (my first fantasy author), L.E. Modesitt Jr., Patrick Rothfuss and many, many more.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
What inspires me to get out of bed each day is the knowledge that I still have more of my story to tell (and a crying baby and a full-time job (for now)) and share with the world.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing I'm spending time with my wife and daughter, watching television, reading, playing computer games, bike riding, walking, working and sleeping, not all in that order.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes I do. It was called "The Siege of Tar Ebon," and it was a very, very crude iteration of a scene that will occur in book three (yes, that's a bit of a spoiler) of my Saga of the Seven Stars, of which Blood and Shadows is the first book. I was about fifteen or sixteen when I wrote it and submitted it to someone to critique. They tore it apart. I saw so much red that I stopped reading it, and in turn stopped writing for many years.
What is your writing process?
For my first book, it was very much fly by the seat of my pants. I had two weeks to complete Blood and Shadows in the hopes of entering the Amazon contest. Sadly (though it was probably for the best), I missed the deadline for the contest because the contest filled before I was ready to submit. I had outlined extensively in my head he gist of my world. I knew the rules, the main locations, the names of characters and cities. I had the entire map of where things took place imprinted in my brain, and I obsessed about my world on a daily basis.
For my second book, I find I'm outlining a bit more. I'm doing this because book two has more point of view characters and more plots and sub-plots going on, so an outline is needed for me to get the order down and really keep a firm grasp on the direction of my book as I'm writing it. This goes along well with my personality, as I like to plan things out, even when things don't go according to any plan I make, haha.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember the first fantasy story I ever read. It was Rhapsody, by Elizabeth Haydon. My step-dad bought it for me for $1 at a library garage sale. From the first few pages, I was hooked. I devoured her first book and went and bought all the others that were out at the time. Her series of fantasy novels opened the door to the realm of fantasy books and turned a fourteen-year-old boy into an avid reader of fantasy and, by extension, science fiction.
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