The weather is a bit rubbish today and the wind and rain is lashing down on the campsite. Nonetheless we perservere and put up shelter to seek shelter from the elements with indie author Troy Young.
- Hi Troy tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?
My name is Troy Young. I have always had a creative side, honed through playing role playing games and acting. I also at one time owned a community newspaper, so I became adept at writing for public consumption and to a deadline.
I am a part-time university lecturer, and in one class I had a discussion with my students about what their second career would be, or what they would do if money was not an issue. Then my students asked me what I would be, and I thought about it and said novelist. Of course, I had not been writing nor did I immediately start writing. Years passed, and still no writing was done.
Well, I was visiting my parents in Florida when an idea for a story came to me. I came back from Florida and was telling my idea to my staff (I’m the CEO of a non-profit association) when one of my staff interrupted me to say “when are you going to stop telling us about these ideas and start actually writing them down?” That was February, 2018. I immediately started to write. That novel is set to be released in November.
In the interim, I have released a compilation of cosmic horror stories, a fantasy novel, and a sci-fi novel. The second compilation of cosmic horror stories will be released in two days’ time of this writing.
- What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?
I’ve always been interested in armour and swords, the fight against good and evil. As I noted I have played roleplaying games since I was a kid. I also fell in love with Robert E. Howard’s Conan at a young age, and of course J.R.R. Tolkien. I have read the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings more times than I can count.
Mainly though fantasy takes you away from reality, even if just briefly.
- Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?
The challenge as an indie author is always to convince new people to read it. I started writing my fantasy novel, The Stone of Death, in February 2019. I just published it on September 1. It got shelved as I started to write my short stories. It got shelved for at least nine months. There then was a bit of a continuity issue, as well as getting back into the characters. It finally was ready to go and I started getting a cover made (which took longer than I expected). But it finally got published and is out there and getting read.
- What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?
I like misfit characters that go against reader’s expectations. Like my characters in The Stone of Death; the main character is a former mercenary who is not a great warrior at all. He’s untrained with a sword yet insists on wielding one because in his mind that’s what heroes do. But he sucks.
The other “heroes” in the book are a crippled Magus, an older priest (by older I mean early 40’s, and he’s a PoC) and a LGBTQ woman who is the most capable of the bunch. While I have included a PoC and a LGBTQ character, the fact that they are this is not relevant. It is mentioned, but nobody cares and it isn’t a big deal because it shouldn’t be a big deal.
As for how much of myself goes into the characters, there is always a touch of ourselves, but if you have the ability to create dynamic and unique characters, you need to find a voice different than your own. You need to be introspective and aware and a good judge of human nature to effectively write a variety of characters, otherwise they will be static and boring and similar in every story you write.
- For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?
Just write. Like any skill, you need to practice it. Write, write and write some more. I also do most of my own editing (contrary to what everyone says). I use both Grammarly and ProWritingAid and have at least one of them running live as I write. It has allowed me to identify errors immediately, and has made me more cognisant of the potential error before I make it. This in turn has helped me write better, and faster.
I sent my first novel, the one from Florida, to two different copy editors and both of them returned it no charge as they could not see anything, they would need to do to improve it. I chalk that up to practice and the two editing programs.
- What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?
I don’t. I write when I am inspired. I don’t force myself to write every day. I tend to plot out my next chapter in my head and write the entire chapter. Taking breaks from writing recharges me. I get most of my best ideas (or clarity) on a walk. Good thing my dog needs walking, so it forces me to address and deal with plot holes and the like.
I have never had a tough time hitting my deadlines. My sci-fi novel, I managed to write it in 12 days because I was in the zone on it. It’s sequel is on pre-order for December 16. I am only on Chapter 8, but I know I will have lots of time to finish it.
I guess setting up a pre-order is a good way to scare you into finishing!
- Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?
Pantser. I know where the chapter has to end, and obviously I know where I am starting, but I often don’t know how I am getting from A to B. I start to write and the characters tell me where to go.
I remember reading something Stephen King said. He said something along the lines of being a writer was like being a palaeontologist. The story is a fossil hidden from sight. It is the writer’s job to uncover the story. It already exists, you just have to brush away the dirt and expose the bones. I like that. Makes me think my characters are real people somewhere. Like that Will Ferrell movie Stranger Than Fiction.
- What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?
Still have more short stories in my cosmic horror series to finish (14 of 18 are complete). The sequel I am working on needs to be finished. My Florida novel is part of a five part series; part 1 is ready to publish, part 2 needs a good edit, part 3 needs a major rewrite and parts 4 & 5 need to be written. I have a half-finished historical romance I am working on (more action-adventure with romantic elements than a full-on bodice ripper). The sequel to the Stone of Death needs to be started (it will be a four book series, each book written from the point of view of one of the four main characters; the second book is from the Magus’ point of view). So yeah, I have a lot on my plate.
- 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 do like a good hero tale. The best parts of a movie are when someone does something heroic. Like, when Thor in the first movie goes out to face the Destroyer armour without powers and proves his worth and gets his power back, that is awesome. When the elves show up at Helm’s Deep (in the movies), it’s such a rush. When Arwen (again in the movies) turns to face the Nazgul and says “you want him, come get him”; oooo, chills. When Theoden (man, I must really like LotR), after saying “Where was Gondor when we needed them?” is told about the beacons, and you know despite what he said earlier, the Riders of Rohan are going because dammit, that’s what heroes do. That and a good redemption story are pretty awesome.
- What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?
Like all three, but Lord of the Rings is where it is at. Those three movies (along with Princess Bride) are as close to movie perfection as you can get. Peter Jackson did an amazing job winnowing out the less important stuff from Tolkien’s epic and making it tighter. The casting was amazing. And movie Aragorn is way better than book Aragorn. To me, Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn is the ultimate movie hero.