Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up near the ocean, which is odd in retrospect because water and oceans are foreign concepts to most of my characters. I was lucky enough to live in areas with lots of trees and free space to roam around, which is exactly what I did. I had countless adventures in the woods near my childhood home, usually alone or with my dog. I'd run through the trees and create pathways and secret forts and make up stories for every step. A part of me never stopped making up stories or seeing potential in a clump of forest.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I wanted to be an author from a very young age I think, and came to realize it more and more when I got into college and started writing more seriously. The idea of submitting your work to a publisher and expecting countless weeks of waiting and almost certainly being rejected multiple times was very daunting. I'll admit I get discouraged easily and am not the best at selling myself, so the goal of becoming a published author seemed like a gamble at best. Then during my senior year I volunteered for a youth writing group at my local library and met someone who had recently self published his books and had gotten great response. I decided to give it a try, mostly as a challenge to myself. I told myself (and keep telling myself) that writing is what I want to do and there's no reason not to give something a try.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Turning writing into a career is hard. I've been forcing myself to sit down at least once every day and get some words out. Sometimes it's a paragraph, or just a sentence. Sometimes I just read what I've got already and switch a few words around to make it sound better. What I love, though, are the times when I really get into a scene and completely lose myself in what's going on in my head. I'll lose track of time and get pages out in a single session. A lot of the time those scenes will be the ones that require the least amount of rewriting because everything just seems to flow exactly as it should. I wish writing was like that every time and that I could keep that momentum.
What do your fans mean to you?
They keep me going! My fanbase is pretty small right now, but it seriously makes my day when I get so much as a new "Like" on Facebook. If I get a note from someone asking when my next book will be out or telling me they enjoyed my work I almost want to print it out and post it on the fridge.
What are you working on next?
Right now I'm in the middle of the next installment of my series. Book three will be titled "Eye of the Void" and might earn the rank of my favorite publication so far. After I finish Children of Fire I have a few other projects in the planning phase. I plan to write mostly fantasy but I have been playing around with an idea for a sci-fi that I think could go somewhere.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
When I was very little I once wrote a story about kittens who wandered away from home and got lost, but after they walked (a lot, I think the walking lasted two or three pages) they finally made it back. The story had illustrations and everything!
What is your writing process?
I think I'm still trying to figure that out. Sometimes I'll sit myself down and the writing seems forced, but I tell myself at least I'm getting words out. Those sections become building blocks for better ideas and hopefully much better writing.
A lot of the time my chapters are written around dialogue. I decide what needs to happen at that particular time in the story - who needs to go where, what they need to talk about, and how that should lead into whatever is happening after that. I'll write pages of just dialogue, then go back later and flesh everything out with world building, character thoughts, and anything else I think the scene needs.
Describe your desk
I like to use the term "organized chaos." I keep my computer pretty neat, but the rest of my desk is a mess of pens, pencils, scraps of paper, a few sketchbooks and copies of my own work. I like to make lots of random notes and sketches to process my ideas, and sometimes I'll abandon my keyboard and write out scenes by hand.
Right now there's also a napkin that once held a brownie. I love cooking in my free time!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The idea/goal of doing at least one creative thing before I get back in bed again that evening.
How do you approach cover design?
I have a love-hate relationship with my covers since I designed and drew them myself. I am definitely my own worst critic. When creating cover art I try to pick something that I feel captures the essence of what the book will be about. For Children of Fire I chose the scene near the beginning of the story where Ankenar is looking over the city of Asantir. I thought the scene described his situation in a lot of ways - not quite a part of the world he's in, and maybe a little overwhelmed by it, but ready to face those challenges. In Beginning Stones I chose the scene that I felt was the main point of that book - the scene where you get to find out that nothing was quite what it seemed to be on the surface. I've started sketches for book three and hope to get better with each piece that I create.
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