Today I’m joined by another New Zealander! Darian Smith is the author of the Agents of Kalanon series.
- Hi Darian, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?
I’m a fantasy author from New Zealand and writing has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I used to enjoy writing stories for school and then as a teenager I embarked on my first novel attempt. Before writing, there was reading and I suspect one grew into the other. Our local library, when I was a child, had a limit of six books to be checked out at any one time. Every week we would go and I would check out the maximum six books and read them all. Sports wasn’t high on my agenda but reading was a game I could win!
- What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?
The great thing about fantasy is that it can be anything. There’s the escapism of it, of course – and who wouldn’t want magic powers? But there are often also themes and meaning layered in just as much as the most literary of works yet delivered in a fun way. I like that. And I want magic powers!
- Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?
My most recent project was the third book in the Agents of Kalanon series, Battle’s Legacy. The series is essentially murder mysteries in a fantasy world – kind of like CSI but with swords and magic. It was good to revisit the characters and see the story continue. It took me a little longer than expected – life can throw some curveballs sometimes – but I’m glad to say it was released on December 1st. I’m working on the planning phase of the next book in the series and another stand alone novel as well.
- What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?
I think there’s a piece of myself in all my characters. I probably enjoy the smart-mouthed ones most. There’s a lot of fun to be had in the interaction between flawed characters who like to needle each other.
- For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?
To practice your craft and learn what you can from others. There’s no reason to have to take time figuring out everything yourself. Writer organisations and craft books can be an excellent way to improve your skill quickly.
- What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?
Sadly, I’m not sure there are many tricks for meeting deadlines beyond what’s known as BICHOK – Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard. That said, I have found it helpful to have an ipad with me at all times so I can write at least a little any time and anywhere. All those little pieces of writing add up over time.
- Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?
Definitely a plotter. It doesn’t come naturally to me but it definitely helps reduce the need for drastic rewriting later on.
- What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?
I have plans for more of the Agents of Kalanon books but also for a stand alone YA book and an urban fantasy series. There are more ideas floating about in my head and in my notebooks but those are the ones on the schedule next.
- 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’m a hopeful sort of guy so I prefer stories where the good guys win. Which isn’t to say they all make it to the end in one piece, but there’s enough darkness in the world already. It doesn’t always happen in the real world so I like my fiction to give that satisfying ending where good wins out in the end.
- What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?
It depends what I’m in the mood for. Weirdly, for a New Zealander who loves fantasy, Lord of the Rings isn’t the top of my list. I like it and respect it but it’s a harder read for a modern audience than the other two. I read for enjoyment so tend towards lighter reads.