1. How did you get started writing?
My foray into storytelling started when I was five, making shadow puppets with my hand and a flashlight of dinosaurs going on adventures in some primordial world loosely based on the original The Legend of Zelda game. Even back then, I had a desire to make up my own stories which I assume my mother assumed was just a passing thing and likely got me into trouble as there was always some excuse as to why something happened (or a rather creative explanation of how my sister was actually at fault)
I started writing in 4th grade, much to the dismay of my Language Arts teacher. Even back then (around 1997) my school was focused on preparing us for State tests by teaching spider-webs to write our story… I refused. Instead, I wrote as one might call ‘pantsing’ but frequently failed every single writing assignment because I refused to conform to doing it as my teacher insisted. Fast forward a few years and sitting in history class in 7th grade, me and three friends created a fantasy map and each picked our favorite characters to go on an ‘adventure’. In this case, it was Han Solo, Link, Kyo (from Streetfighter, I believe) and Ryback from the Under Seige movies… we each wrote from the POV of our characters but found it a bit crazy because we all had different ideas. Eventually, I converted the idea of four characters going on an adventure to my own truly epic fantasy story, with these character archetypes fitted into new characters not too far from the world of Tolkien (Considering the first The Lord of the Rings movie had just came out and I read my first actual fantasy novel (Fellowship of the Ring).
No, this first fantasy world has never seen the light of day but I kept tinkering on it through middle school and high school, spending most of my time in Geometry and Algebra classes, writing on my ‘book’ (which was very much a loose collection of partial stories)…I don’t have to tell you how bad I am at math… thankfully, I had a friend that was really good at Geometry. 😀
All of this led to NaNoWriMo 2007 where somehow, starting eight days late, I drafted 49k words and wrote my first novel in around eight days. This was an important moment because I attempted NaNoWriMo again in 2012, busting through 50k in the first 14 days and making me wonder where all this might lead. THAT book written in 2012 became my first published novel.
2. Out of all your books, which one is your favourite and why?
I keep a special place in my heart for my 2012 novel Winemaker of the North. It has issues that I recognize now but thousands of readers have enjoyed it. It was my first foray into really ‘trying’ to write a book. If we’re talking about what is my actual favorite novel based on the merit of the story and the adventure, I’d have to say one my more recent books: Trials of Eschal, the second Shadow Elf Chronicles book.
Aside from increasing the lore of vampires in my epic fantasy world, it’s a bit like playing Skyrim and learning from a Master Vampire ‘how to be a vampire’ while exploring vast subterranean caverns where demons are creeping up from the deeper parts of the world. It’s a fun story and features my main character’s companion animal Nonro, the ‘fire dog’ that Wynder meets near the climax of my story in the Hellcat Anthology. Nonro is a representation of my real-life GSD Ronon, who died a few years ago. A promise fulfilled in the purest of forms, he lives on as the companion to Kealin, the Rogue Elf of Urlas, one of the chief characters in my world.
3. If your friends were asked to describe you in one word, what would it be?
4. What is your favorite thing to do outside of writing?
In December 2018 my wife and I traveled to Paris, France, and I walked into a city that I never realized had inspired my first book. The cobblestone streets, the Seine cutting through the city, and even the picturesque north side of Notre Dame (a literal scene from one of my books) was a rather wonderous sight. From there we traveled to Bali, Japan (Tokyo and Kyoto), and then Hawaii, before heading back home and completing our first trip around the world.
The moment we returned, we were ready to go again. 😀
5. What do you love most about the genre you write?
There are endless potential stories. From a young lord growing up in a place of opulence, to a rogue thief just trying to survive… with epic/sword and sorcery fantasy, there isn’t really a version of other genres that you can’t include. Romance? Sure. Military? Easy. Sci-Fi (add science outside of magic and you lean towards Science Fiction)… when you create a secondary world, you have the palate for every other form of fiction in existence. You just have to weave it into the worldbuilding so it makes sense.
6. What do you want readers to take from your books?
Escapism. Much like Tuomas Holopainen, the keyboardist and songwriter for Nightwish (my favorite band), I want my art to be a catalyst for adventure and to forget some of the negative in our world. There is beauty to be had if one simply searches for it with open eyes… and hopefully, readers can obtain that by letting themselves be immersed in my world.
7. Describe yourself in 3 words.
Bad at following stated directions.
8. What made you decide to write in your current genre?
It’s what I’ve always written and enjoyed. In my opinion, it has the most potential from a storytelling angle.
I thought about reverse harem sci-fi romance alternative history android galactic empire urban fantasy… but that seemed a bit much. 🙂
9. Tell us about your current release/or new release?
My newest release was Stormborn Saga #14: Ascension. The end to a saga I began back in 2017 as a simple three novella arc to explain some backstory… that became a fourteen book series… LOL.
If you make it all the way to #14, you’ll see a bit of what I mentioned before when it comes to the wide possible parameters of the genre: I’ve got sea monsters, flying ships, energy weapons (think Independence Day aliens), nuclear weapons, Eastern philosophy/religion, anti-globalist rhetoric, magic, naval battles, elves, dwarves, wizards… yeah, I go all out.
Readers liked it. That’s all that matters.
10. What does your writing space look like?
At home? My laptop, headphones, a single candle or incense holder (with a variety of incense), and a choice beverage. I generally have a regional map (for the area I’m setting the story in) and a stack of notecards with random tidbits of info. (Could be particular plot points or a character list.) As simple as possible. I can easily move to a cafe or write on a flight from France to Bali (I wrote a story while on that 13-hour flight in 2019. ) I really don’t need much. I do not eat while writing, either. I prefer to only eat at night. Otherwise, it slows up my writing (which I do in the morning)
11. What’s the one piece of technology you can’t live without?
Laptop. I do everything from this.
12. Do you find it hard to kill off your characters?
I enjoy the song The Rains of Castamere.
Though having more experience than I had in my bloodier early writings, it’s a pain to kill a well-developed character because it is shocking to the reader and if the character is liked… well, you likely invested a lot in the character through many books… Good characters are hard to come by.
And rare these days… I’m not like some big-budget movie production companies that carbon copy the same Mary/Gary Stu types to fit some temporary agendas, so I put a great deal more thought into characters as being living, breathing people vs simple archetypes. You wouldn’t get off your couch to go fight a dragon just because some authority said to… but if it was about to burn your family alive, you’d train, you’d prepare, and you’d give it your best shot… likely getting maimed in the process. That’s a character readers want to read. If a character does all of that but at no personal cost or loss, what’s the point?
Readers follow characters above all else. So, if I kill someone, there is generally a purpose even if that purpose is to have no real purpose but to show the fragility of life.
13. How much of your characters are based on your traits or someone you know personally?
Most are caricatures of many people. A handful I based on real-life people but unless you know I wrote it for you, you might not see it.
Some of the most nefarious characters I have based on either a few members of my extended family or old upper management from an old job. Wait, no, that’s all coincidence and those are works of fiction. Of course…
14. What are you working on now? Can you share a teaser of it with our readers?
I’m relaunching two of my series into one massive series. It’s a bit more work than I expected but the series will work better as one long sequential adventure.
Here’s the opening few lines of my newest book: Shadow Elf Chronicles #3
Kealin sniffed the air, looking down at Nonro who was sitting just at his knee. The dog smelled of salted pork.
That damn dwarf, he thought.
“And I’d say that’s just enough,” Tuzbror said.
“Just enough what?” Kealin asked, “The hunter spiders will spell that meat of yours. You have to keep it sealed.”
The dwarf growled, “We’ve been journeying for three days, I’ve got just enough kindling to get a nice pot of tea going. You’ve been down in these caverns less than four mist cycles and you’re telling me how to avoid fangs in my neck? I think I’d know how to survive out here. I got you out of that trouble-“
“Yes, yes. You’ve reminded me,” Kealin cut in, “Three times.”
He looked back over the expanse of rolling mists that flowed like rivers between the towering mesas. He could smell a putrid odor somewhere far below them. They were getting closer to his friends and whatever it was that had captured them.
They had to take care not to awaken more nefarious creatures. The Black Expanse was not a place to be careless, even for a cup of dwarven tea.
15. Is there one genre that you have not written in yet, but would love to try writing?
Sci-Fi. I’m a massive fan of Stargate SG-1/Atlantis, Starwars, Starcraft (a game)… basically, ‘Star’ stuff. I’m also a big fan of alternative history and Indiana Jones so, eventually, I will write something that explores the forgotten history of the Earth, perhaps tied to space in some way…
I am never short of ideas. 🙂
16. What do you do when a flash of inspiration hits you at an inopportune moment?
Write it down on a notecard or if I’m away from my desk, an email to myself.
17. What keeps you going while writing?
It’s more so what stops me… my five kids! LOL. Otherwise, I could just sit and write for 4-6 hours every day. The ideas do not stop and once I’m writing, the story plays like a movie that I type to keep up with. I generally have a very rough idea of the story (and an ending) but the details in between develop as I write. Though black coffee and/or Earl Grey tea is my go-to drink which makes everything better. If it’s cold, I like a splash of heavy cream in both.
18. What’s next for you?
Bang Miami Cola Energy Drink and a cup of black coffee. (Yes, I’m drinking both at the same time.)
19. Where can we find you on the internet?