Interview with Igor Ljubuncic

Published 2018-07-18.
What is your writing process?
It starts with an idea - a random, uncontrolled process. It just hits me out of the blue. Once I have the core motive for what I intend to write, I just do. I don't overthink the plot - I build it as I go along, surprising myself sometimes, and almost never go back, except to add an odd sentence or two, or fix a plot discrepancy.

Of course, over time, I got better at this. As I've written more and more full-length titles, I learned to avoid the classic traps - writing yourself into a corner, trying to justify a bad idea, trying to reconcile impossible concepts, writing about something for the sake of it, even if it does not fit that well into the plot.

This approach works for me. I tend to produce high volumes of content relatively quickly, keep the plot concise and sharp, and I consistently finish what I start. Editing, bells and whistles, and everything else gets done after the work is complete.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I believe I was six or seven at the time. There was a waterfall and a bee. I don't remember more than that. Three years after that, I began writing (but never finished) a respectable 100-page book about ninjas, and finally got my first full-length book written and complete around my twelfth birthday. It had no ninjas - I am actually going to release this one soon; no editing, no polish, raw and fun childhood material, 80s cliches and lots of explosions. It should be a blast.
How do you approach cover design?
This is one of the more important parts of the publication process. It has to be perfect. I work with a professional graphics designer and artist. Between the two of us, we create the covers. Sometimes, it starts with my idea or concept, and sometimes, the artist creates their own version. We've done seven books - seven covers - together, and we have pretty good chemistry.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
This is a very difficult question. As to why, that's simple. These books have left a profound impact on me, made me think, made me happy, influenced my own writing, inspired me to try my own luck turning my imagination into words. What makes them special is that I can read them again and again, and always be amazed anew.

The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien)
Night Watch (Terry Pratchett, Discworld #29)
Best Served Cold (Joe Ambercrombie)
Hawkwood's Voyage (Paul Kearney, The Monarchies of God #1)
Air Power: The Men, Machines, and Ideas That Revolutionized War, from Kitty Hawk to Iraq (Stephen Budiansky)
What do you read for pleasure?
All sorts. Fantasy, science fiction, history, military history, mythology, thrillers, espionage. Fiction wise, I prefer books with strong characterization, intricate plot, and terse writing style. I like ambiguous protagonists, I like amoral, grimdark scenarios. For non-fiction, I like rich, intelligent, throught-provoking works.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
That would be Kindle. I liked the old non-touch hardware better, but nothing lasts forever in November rain.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
The word effective is tricky. I don't think I've reached the effectiveness levels I desire, so it would be hard to call any of my techniques truly effective (yet). In general though, Goodreads seems to be the best place to socialize with fans, readers and other authors, while Goodreads Kindle giveaways seem to be the most effective way of getting fresh reviews.
Describe your desk
I have many desks. But each one is tidier than an Austro-Hungarian army barracks before an inspection.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
For the sake of privacy, I won't mention the particular region of the globe that spawned me. But it did shape me in that I have a colorful past of cultural and social encounters as well as unusual experiences, all of which help inspire writing. In other words, some authors dream about exotic places, war, crazy people, and crazier situations; some authors live them.
When did you first start writing?
That would be when I was a wee lad. But my serious, consistent writing efforts harken back to my tenth summer on this planet.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is called: I Shall Slay the Dragon!

It's an epic, biblical mythology novel, and it has everything - the serpent, the Beast, the number of the Beast, Gog and Magog, the end of days. And of course, a tragic love story.

Yes, it comes down to that. I felt writing an unusual love story - soppy me - but one that would put the question of life, death and determinism to the ultimate test. Going back to the origins always feels like the best way to explore the topic. Biblical works are full of interesting anecdotes, allegories and stories that touch upon love and faith - the choice between man and God. One that strikes the imagination quite vividly is that of an almost superhuman, red-haired Nazarite named Samson.

It's all there - courage, intrigue, forbidden love, and a tragic ending, the kind that would inspire Greek drama for centuries. Later on, it would inspire the story of pretty much any superhero, like for instance, the creation of Superman - a super-strong man with a flaw; his love for Lois Lane, his emotional Kryptonite - in addition to his physical weakness to the element - not unlike Samson's love for Delilah and the supernatural strength he derives from his red hair.

But that story has already been told. I had to amp it. Every good tale has at least two conflicts. The more the merrier. If a protagonist has to fight two or three or ten dilemma, then the story should be more exciting, more compelling. Love, and to some extent, faith are already part of the Samson & Delilah story. But it's not enough. Samson needs an enemy. THE enemy.

What's the best supernatural foe for a hero with supernatural abilities?

The dragon, of course.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have had a very successful technical blog for more than a decade, which garners roughly a million page views per month from loyal readers. In parallel, I've always been active writing books, both technical works and fiction, and I wanted to try my luck in this space, too. In that sense, the decision to go indie has not been a singular event.

I have self-published as well as gone with big publishers (my technical works). I am looking for opportunities in the pro space even as I write and release my fiction novels independently, roughly one book a year. I think it's the best of both worlds. I like the leisure of being my own boss, although you need discipline and you can't cut corners, and I do understand and appreciate the marketing sway and power behind the big publishing houses. So I'm playing both camps.
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Books by This Author

The Humbled (The Lost Words: Volume 4)
Series: The Lost Words. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 172,490. Language: English. Published: November 11, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
There is no going back. In a whirlwind of conflict, anguish and unexpected compassion, The Humbled spins the ancient battle of gods and men, their love and madness, to a gripping conclusion.
The Forgotten (The Lost Words: Volume 3)
Series: The Lost Words. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 191,160. Language: English. Published: November 11, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Being the last remaining deity has its advantages—becoming “God of Everything” means no rivals vying for your followers’ loyalty. For Tanid, it means all the magic he can get in the war against Calemore, the White Witch. Meanwhile, Calemore is using his relationship with Nigella to persuade her to decipher a book of prophecies for him. So when he finds Tanid, he can kill him—and take his place.
The Broken (The Lost Words: Volume 2)
Series: The Lost Words. Price: Free! Words: 220,970. Language: English. Published: November 11, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Eighteen years after Adam defeated the Kingdom of Parus and proclaimed himself emperor of Athesia, he dies peacefully in his sleep. When his daughter Amalia crowns herself empress and takes nobles from neighboring Eracia and Caytor hostage, the political situation in the Realms is primed to explode. Meanwhile, exiled god Damian resumes his quest to flee his prison and kill the remaining gods.
The Betrayed (The Lost Words: Volume 1)
Series: The Lost Words. Price: Free! Words: 107,110. Language: English. Published: November 11, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
A war is brewing in the Realms. When the sect of Feor invades the Safe Territories, the home of the old gods, Commander Mali of Eracia scrambles to counter its advance. Adam, an Eracian prostitute who awaits hanging, is spared to join the army. In the Territories, a former criminal Ayrton and his protégée Ewan face the invaders. Can Feor be stopped, and the old faith be saved?
I Shall Slay the Dragon!
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 68,430. Language: English. Published: July 10, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical, Fiction » Religious
It’s been a thousand years since the last war against the Beast. Now, the serpent is awake again, and the armies of Gog and Magog are on the march. If they are not stopped, the world will be enslaved by the dragon. The end of days is near.