The response to my call for indie authors to join me around the campfire and chat about books and writing has blown me away. Today we have fantasy author John D. Pepe pulling up a chair.
- Hi, John tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?
Hi. I’m John D. Pepe. Author of The Lone Wolf. By day I counsel high school students and at night…I’m not going to tell you what I do in the dark, lonely hours of the evening when my family sleeps (write, read, and watch TV- that’s all)
I think my inspiration for writing started at a young age. My grandmother use to tell me stories when I was young, and I was fascinated by them. Also, as a kid, we were outdoors a lot and used our imaginations a great deal more than the kids now a days (no videogames with awesome graphics back then). When you couple that with copious amounts of Dungeons and Dragons and a desire to be an actor, I think it was the eventual recipe for writing fantasy.
- What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?
I love escapism. In fantasy, as a genre, there’s something exhilarating about being able to take up your sword, slay the dragon, and save the princess (not necessarily in that order). In classic fantasy, which is what I grew up on, good triumphs over evil. That doesn’t always happen in the real world. It seemed simpler. The real world is more complicated. That is what originally appealed to me. That doesn’t mean I don’t like modern fantasy with morally grey, more nuanced characters, but the classic good vs. evil fantasy is what first drew me into its depths.
- Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together? (include release date etc here)
The only project I have finished is The Lone Wolf. I had several challenges. I had never written a book before, and I had no formal creative writing training so my learning curve was steep (I was 80% done with the book and had joined a writer’s group wherein the members began to school me on what a dialogue tags were, what maid and butler meant, etc.). Also, my editor had a lot of personal issues going on during the edits and it became a bit rushed as we were trying to get it done before SPFBO 6. And me being new to writing, she had a lot to do in a short time. I’ve since had to go back and re-edit some stuff. But hopefully I’ve improved, and the next book will be easier for her.
- What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?
I think I really enjoy quick-witted, funny, rogues who are good with a sword. I had a friend read my book and she said every time one of my MC, Caladin, spoke she pictured me. I took D&D characters my friend and I have been playing for 20 years, and I infused a bit of him and I in them as I further developed their personalities for the book, except I flip-flopped them when it came to the banter. I am more like his character (Caladin) and he is more like mine (Quinn).
- For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?
I’m a wannabe. LOL. It’s hard to give advice being a babe (not in age…maybe in looks though…call me silver fox – I’m pretty old) when it comes to writing. One book under my belt, I’m hardly an expert. I think what I would say is put pen to paper regularly. Get in a good writer’s group. Don’t be afraid to put your work out there and accept criticism as a learning tool. Draw from as many things as you can for inspiration. And don’t follow trends in the genre, write what you want to read.
- What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?
First off, I don’t create/have deadlines and I, unlike others, can afford to do this writing thing as a hobby; I’m not writing to put food on the table. And when I did try and give my self deadlines, I really started to dislike writing. So, I told myself, write when you feel like it, and in doing so it doesn’t feel like a chore.
To keep me on track, I usually write a small outline, maybe a 2-3 pages, just for reference. I use that more when I get stuck in a plot point to get the creative juices flowing. Otherwise, I sit and think about what needs to happen next in the story. I try to make it a logical for the characters and hopefully entertaining for the readers. As long as it makes sense within the story and my gut tells me it is good, I go with it.
- Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?
Pantser. I love pulling them down. It is hilarious in public. Not my own, by the way. My friends. Just want to make that clear. It is a laugh riot when you catch them unaware. The look on their face. Okay, on a serious note, I’m definitely more of a pantser. I have a strong idea of where Point A is and what Point Z is going to be, but the path, the scenes, the scenarios, and the dialogue I create on the fly. I write it and listen to my instincts – Is that what I would want to read (like how I put that in italics like I’m a character in a book who is in thought?). Then I get feedback from others about what to keep and what to reject. And I do that until I hit Point Z.
- What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?
So many plans. I had about three chapters done in my trilogy The Six, and pushed that aside on recommendation from my friend to continue to write about my rogues (they have been likened to Hadrian and Royce from Michael J Sullivan’s books by my SPFBO judge Kaitlin; I haven’t read any of Sullivan’s work but I think they are pretty popular). Best laid schemes and all. My friend and a few other readers seem to like the rogues and he suggested to stick with them. I have at least three books in mind for them, the first being The Gentlemen Procurers, and I’ve finished chapter one. Then I plan on writing two books about my other protagonist from The Lone Wolf, Remence, my young ranger. Then I will jump back into my trilogy. I plan on all the books tying in with one other with some level of character cross over.
No other genres for me. I’m such a slow writer I might never get these fantasy books done! Besides, fantasy is what I love to read, so it is what I want to write.
- With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?
I really enjoy both. But, like I said above, I grew up on classic fantasy and I really love when good triumphs over evil. I want the hero to win in the end; it’s a big part of why I gravitated toward fantasy to begin with.
- What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?
Hard NO on the Harry Potter. Not that its bad, I just never got into it, and I tried several times. Star Wars came out when I was 5 years old and had a tremendous affect on me and my imagination, so I cannot not just brush it off. I love Star Wars, but I’m really into fantasy so I will have to give it to Lord of the Rings. Elves, Dwarves, and Orcs oh my!
Follow John via-
Podcast and Blog: godamonggeeks316.com and Neekology 101 (podcast) – Podbean, iHeartradio, Spotify.
Thanks for having me!