SPFBO Author Interview: Rune S. Nielsen

SPFBO 7 is currently underway and to help give some visibility to the authors taking part I’ve opened my author interviews up to them. Today I interview fantasy author Rune S. Nielsen.


  • Hi Rune S. Nielsen tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write.

A long time ago in a galaxy called the Milky Way, in a small yellow brick house in the western part of the Kingdom of Denmark, lived a young boy who obsessed over superhero comic books. And also, any kind of sci-fi and fantasy content he could get his grubby little paws or excited eyeballs on.

Besides being an overjoyed consumer, the boy kept coming up with ideas and stories, and as the boy was me, I just happen to know that he wanted to get these out. Share his excitement with everyone.

I did some drawing and writing, then found an outlet in the wonderful world of roleplaying games, and later when he grew up, I became a journalist and got to write articles and do TV news. My love of beer then sent me to work for a decade at one of the world’s biggest brewery groups, Carlberg. Where we for instance told people, “Did you know that a study shows that one beer actually enhances your problem-solving skills but that two or more decreases the same skills?”

Despite the fine frothing beer, there was still something missing.

However, the dream of writing books never faded, and last year I finally published my first epic fantasy novel, Doomsayer Prince.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The vivid imagination. The relationships between the characters. The wonder of discovery. The differences and similarities between our world, society, and norms, and that of the imagined places.

But honestly, my first book could have been sci-fi. I love both genres about equally, and for most of the same reasons.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

Currently, I am working on two new books. One coming out this Christmas, the other a year later. And a roleplaying game set in the world I created for Doomsayer prince.

When I began, I knew little about how to write novels. Had I known just how difficult creating a huge epic fantasy was, I would have begun with a short story. Instead, I wrote what I loved—a brick-thick fantasy novel. Kind of crazy, but I loved it. The difficulties I had were many. I had to learn a lot of new skills. And yes, I’m a journalist, but being an author is quite different. The pacing, style, and sheer numbers of hours spent on one project differ from the faster-paced life of a journalist.

Another issue was/is language. I’m a Dane and we speak Danish. For me, English is a second language. I, therefore, use a lot of mental energy on trying to fool everyone into believing that writing English comes perfectly naturally to me.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

Nuanced, intelligent characters with goals and feelings. The kind you can relate to.

All my characters have some of me in them, my prior experiences in life. Like some of the flight sequences, are inspired by my skydiving. Some are inspired by the experiences of others that I have come across in some form or other and still remember.

I would say the same goes for any writer. Why? Let me tell you a cool story.

During the writing of Doomsayer Prince, I went to a lecture. An accomplished scientist who researches the brain for a living was talking about the human memory. I might just have signed up because I thought it was funny that his last name is the same as the name of a Danish fish. I’m getting sidetracked. The memory does that to us.

According to “Mr. Goat Fish,” everything we come up with, inventions, new ideas, and so on, all directly stems from our memory.

According to him: when we humans want to create something “new” we don’t. Not 100%. What we do is take one or more things from our memory and combine them in different ways.

I had a hard time accepting this. My mind rebelled against the mere thought. No, I am creative! I am! Then he talked about the slow pace of new inventions and ideas. It’s typically someone inventing one little thing, then another improves it, and another, and then we all hail one person for “the discovery” of the light bulb or the theory of evolution, or whatever. When in fact it was not one person, but a series of smaller inventions or ideas leading up to someone finally either nailing it or finally getting the message out to the rest of us.

Thing progress in baby steps, we mistake for leaps.

What does that mean for a writer? So, if you want to create a new fantasy monster, you might begin by thinking ‘I want something scary and big for my new book.’ This might lead you directly to ‘dragons.’ But you did that last year. You don’t want that, and this must be new. Feel different!

What could such a monster be like? You then pick something from your memory and combine it with other things you remember. Like what if it has the head of a Geiger alien mixed with a hammer shark? Won’t people see what I did there? I’ll make it white so people can’t see that the black alien inspired it. And instead of the rounded shape of the hammer shark’s face, I’ll give this one reversed pyramid shapes. Does it have wings like a dragon? No, it becomes too much like a dragon, and if I remove the wings, it looks like a dinosaur. What to do? I’ll give it octopus tentacles but filled with needles that suck blood from its victims.

A dragon, mosquito, octopus, alien, shark mash-up. That’s new!

Is it? Well, it might be. What you have made could be a unique combination, but since all the parts are a mash-up of what you know, there are bound to be other works out there with something not so different in them. We all tap into many of the same shared fantasy experiences after all. Like LotR, Harry Potter, or Magic the Gathering.

Yes, as an author you can kid yourself all you like, about writing “new stuff nobody has ever seen before,” and sure, each book differs from all other books, but all of us creatively mash stuff together from our memory to form something that we feel is “unique enough,” but still “same enough” to fit into one or more genres.

The genres for me are different mashes of the author’s memories. Flavored for a specific taste.

When authors are bad at the mashing (or lazy) that’s when the reviewers complain about it feeling too much like a lot of other things they have read/seen/played. That’s why it helps if we know and truly love something. Then we instinctively know which flavors to add to our books.

Or maybe that’s not quite right? Perhaps even completely wrong. What do you believe?

Many authors (including me) feel that we at times get inspiration from somewhere outside of ourselves (no, I’m not talking about beta-readers.) We feel that ideas or words flow into us from some greater and wiser source.

Throughout the years this sort of influence has had many names like muses, guardian angels, genus loci, God…

Believe what you will, but for me, this does not discredit what “Mr. Goat Fish” talked about. Any outside inspiration still must go through our brain, pass through a filter that is us. The same with alien influences or drugs. They might influence your thinking but if YOU write it, it still comes from you and passes through your memory. If you don’t believe me, then think about the letters, we store each of them in our memory (yes, someone taught you to write long ago.)

Trying to get out from under the “shadow of my memory,” I invented a few tricks during the writing of the Doomsayer Prince. All to try to make the characters and the plot less a slave of my memory and hopefully more interesting.

I set up a list of “mental rules” for each character, a guideline to their behavior, and whatever I came up with I checked it with the rules and made sure their arc made sense.

I created randomly distributed “mess up my script bombs.” To help me write in a way that came less from my memory and more from some “other place.” Hopefully making the plot more exciting and unpredictable. I used a lot of time to smooth the rough edges.

If you read the Doomsayer Prince, let me know if you think I made it more unique than most books.

  • For any wannabe writers out there, what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Keep writing. Don’t expect anyone to do you any favors. Stay positive.

  • What writing tricks do you utilize to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

See no. 5.

I also use a fancy app to track all my ideas and structure the plot. It’s Causality by Hollywood Camera Works. It’s made for tv shows but it’s just wicked smart and works fine for novels.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

A plotter. HARD MODE.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

The next book (working title: A Company of Adventurers) will be out this Christmas. It’s a new beginning but still fantasy. For the first time, I’m writing together with another (the fabulous British author, Chris Paton! He writes under a bunch of pennames in various genres, this one will be under Bran Nicholls.) We are having so much fun and I’m allowing myself to be loose (doing some pantser moves here and there.) It’s so great to have a colleague after spending years writing on my own.

Around Christmas, the following year, I’ll release the sequel to Doomsayer Prince titled Arch of the Zhi’el. I’m not sure when the roleplaying game will be ready. It’s kind of massive in its own way.

  • 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?

A mix. Not too dark, not too bright. Not too naïve, not to jaded. Luckily, there’s plenty of space in the middle to tell a great story.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

You might expect me to say Star Wars (based on my answer to the first question.) It’s not, though.

Lord of the Rings, that’s my answer.

Don’t get me wrong. They are all significant works. Then again, if you had a time machine, went back, and killed Tolkien, I’m not sure there would be a Harry Potter or a Star Wars. Or that they would have been successes. That’s how big an influence LotR still has today.

Follow Rune via-

https://runesnielsen.com

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1318760974938958

Thanks for taking part!

You are welcome 😊


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https://www.amazon.com/M.S.-Olney/e/B00LE9XEBS?ref=dbs_mng_calw_1

SPFBO Author Interview: Glen Dahlgren

It’s time for another author interview. This time I chat with fantasy author Glen Dahlgren whose book The Child of Chaos is in this year’s SPFBO competition.


  • Hi Glen tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hi! My name is Glen Dahlgren. I’m a 30 year veteran of computer game design, developing fiction with noted fantasy and SF authors such as Margaret Weis (Death Gate), Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time), and Frederik Pohl (Heechee Saga). Heck, I even wrote a bit of Star Trek. I’ve always been of fan of those works, so getting to write in their worlds was amazing. It just made sense to apply all of that experience to worlds of my own!

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Sf is wonderful, but I love the mystery of fantasy. In my worlds, characters encounter the natural limitations of the relatively primitive society such that magic is more powerful and impactful because of it. When everyone has the tech to make a nuke, nukes aren’t special.

And I think I’m just drawn to mystical underpinnings. Gods, rituals, artifacts, prophecies, rules of magic—they all create the foundation for a compelling world where I want to tell stories.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

I released the Child of Chaos in the summer of ’20 after 20 years of work. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to finish it—but, with the help of some wonderful people, it became what it needed to be.

I was planning on writing the sequel right after, but a fan favorite character demanded his own book. That prequel book became the Game of War, the story of Dantess, priest of War. The novel took me about nine months to write. I’m getting faster! I expect to release it this summer.

While that’s being edited, I’m hard at work on book two of the Chronicles of Chaos: the Curse of Chaos (working title).

I love this world and these characters, so I hope to stick with them for some time.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I’m a game designer, so I enjoy writing smart characters that need to figure their way through difficult problems. I’d say that in Child of Chaos, it was primarily Horace (the villain) who devised the most ingenious plans. In Game of War, Dantess is forced to play an actual War Game and it takes all of his skill and ingenuity just to make it out alive.

Galen—the main character of Child—had some personality traits that a lot of creative people identify with. He is a frustrated story-teller in a world that actively devalues him. But we all know that stories can change the world.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Don’t get discouraged. Keep writing. Allow yourself to write badly (especially for the first draft). If you’re too critical of yourself, you’ll never get to the stage where you can make it better. Also: finish. Completing a work means you can move onto the next one–and believe me, it will be better.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I haven’t been wonderful at setting and keeping deadlines. Hey, it took me 20 years for my first book! The thing I try to do is keep forward momentum. If I’m not writing, I’m living in the world in my head, sorting problems and forging the way forward. Sooner or later, I get to the end.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I cannot start writing until I have an outline. That said, the outline will change many, many times as I’m writing. I’ve learned in game development that you always have to leave room for discovery. I look at it this way: I always give my characters a map, but they don’t always follow it.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I really enjoy YA Fantasy and I have a lot more to say there. When I’ve completed the Chronicles of Chaos, I’ll see where the winds take me.

  • 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 don’t shy away from darkness in my books. I put my heroes through the wringer. And Horace is probably the evillest villain I’ve encountered. I actually had a hard time writing one of his chapters because I knew what he was going to do. But I think I would have a harder time writing an ending that didn’t reflect my own sensibilities, which respects the power of friendship, loyalty, and sacrifice.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

They’re all great properties for very different reasons. When I was a kid, I had all the Star Wars trading cards taped to my wall (along with all the other merch I could afford at the time). If you asked me then, there was nothing that could compare, but I think fantasy overtook SF later in life.

Of those properties, I guess I would choose Harry Potter.  While I love the world and the races that the seminal Lord of the Rings presented, the property is huge. There’s so much lore.  Harry Potter feels more intimate; almost everyone can connect with it.

(Please include any social media links – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.)

Blog: http://www.mysterium.blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gdahlgrenauthor

Amazon: https://amazon.com/author/glendahlgren

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20441786.Glen_Dahlgren

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/glen-dahlgren

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GlenDahlgren

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/glendahlgren/

Amazon Book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08BN6S5R2/

Goodreads Book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54239375-the-child-of-chaos

Bookbub Book: https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-child-of-chaos-the-chronicles-of-chaos-book-1-by-glen-dahlgren

Audiobook: https://www.audible.com/pd/B08W8GKDLF/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-236240&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_236240_rh_us


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Author Interview: Ron L. Lahr

In today’s author interview I speak with US fantasy author Ron L. Lahr about what he’s working on and why he enjoys the most about the fantasy genre.


  • Hi Ron L. Lahr, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write? I am married with two grown daughters, which is what affords me the time to write. I love reading, gardening, cooking, baking and working on old cars. I have wanted to be a writer since I can remember and started during high school. I chose to stop writing and get a degree and a career to support my family. Now I have the opportunity to get back at it.
  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre? Fantasy is my favorite genre to read and write. It has been since I read the Lord of the Rings in junior high. There are many things I love about it, the sense of wonder, good versus evil, and honor mattering.
  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together? My current project is the Kathaldi Chronicles, an epic fantasy trilogy. Dirk, a thief and sarcastic jerk, is the narrator of the story. He and some friends end up accidentally fighting an ancient evil to save the world. The first two books, Children of Kathaldi and Assassins of Kathaldi, are out on Amazon as ebooks and book one is also available as a paperback and an audiobook on Amazon and Audible. I am just finishing up the first draft of the final book, Destroyers of Kathaldi, so it should be out by the end of the summer.  The challenge of writing this trilogy was finishing the third book during the pandemic. With everything else that has happened over the last year it took me much longer to finish the third book than I thought. I like to think that I’ll be back on track very soon.
  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them? I enjoy writing all sorts of characters but my favorite is the narrator of the Kathaldi Chronicles, Dirk. He’s a thief, scoundrel, sarcastic jerk, braggart, and believes himself to be quite the ladies man. However, he is also a loyal friend willing to put his life on the line for you. He’s funny, mean, and gets to say things I would never say in a million years. That is definitely fun to write.
  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned? The biggest thing for me is to just finish the first draft before you start rewriting and editing. Get something done and then work on making it perfect, or at least better.
  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track? I’m awful at meeting deadlines so any tricks I use are worthless. I need some new tricks!
  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)? I am a hybrid. I do create an outline and write pages of notes but the finished story has a lot more stuff in it. Sometime my characters just say or do something while I’m writing that I hadn’t ever thought of and I almost always go with it, even though it can mean a lot of extra work to ensure it fits with the rest of the story. I’d say I’m one third plotter and two thirds pantser.
  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres? All of that and more! I have plans for new series, I will be releasing some humorous books and stories, and I have more plans for the Kathaldi Chronicles, including some anthologies where I write a few short stories and the rest are by other authors, and more books with Dirk and other books that cover different time periods and characters. I’m a planning fool!
  • 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 prefer good to triumph over evil but I don’t mind if it’s a close call and lots of good guys die in the attempt. There can be a fair amount of dark and I don’t mind a bit.
  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars? This is a tough one because I love all three of these. Lord of the Rings has probably had the most influence on me, the books, although I loved the movies, too. The Harry Potter books were about the only thing my oldest daughter would read and we eagerly awaited the publication of each one and then when the movies came out it was our special thing to go see them together. She gave me the Blu-Ray set for Christmas one year. And Star Wars? I was a kid when Episode IV came out and it changed everything for just about everybody.  I simply cannot choose. It’s like trying to choose between your own children – impossible!

(Please include any social media links – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.)

Amazon series page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B089GW4FVW

Amazon for Children of Kathaldi (book 1): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B089FNJHB7

Audible for book 1: https://www.audible.com/pd/Children-of-Kathaldi-Audiobook/B08KHSZXRG

Amazon for Assassins of Kathaldi (book 2): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KNW5TT9

Free audiobook of a prequel short story: https://talltaletv.com/dirk-goes-to-church

Website: www.Kathaldi.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Kathaldi

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LahrRon

Email: RonLodellLahr@gmail.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8508877.Ron_Lahr

To join my email list: https://bit.ly/39FIcSu

Patreon: www.patreon.com/RonLahr


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Author Interview – Claudia Klein

Today’s author interview is with American fantasy author Claudia Klein. Enjoy!


  • Hi Claudia tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hi! I’m a military wife and a stay at home mom to my 3 year old daughter. We’re expecting a baby boy in June and we currently live in Colorado. I’ve lived in 13 states so far, 2 of them twice! I’ve always written stories and I was inspired to get published young when I read a biography on Louisa May Alcott who published her first book when she was 17. Obviously, 17 came and went for me and I was still overwhelmed by how in the world to get published. Thankfully I joined a writing group in my early 20s right after college and there were some Indie authors in the group who told me the ins and outs of Indie publishing. It seemed easier than traditional publishing, so that’s the route I took.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I love that you can imagine almost anything happening and it can happen in a fantasy world. I also love that it’s in the medieval time period. I love history and I especially love that time period.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

So I’m currently in the final stages of getting my sequel to my debut novel, The Heir, published. The sequel, The Crown, will hopefully make its appearance sometime this late spring. Definitely before baby comes in June, that’s my goal. So it’s the sequel, and in The Heir the world was basically thrown into chaos and The Crown picks up where that book left off where the main characters have to put the world back to rights.

The biggest challenge I faced was getting that first draft written. I think it took me 2 years to write the first draft, which is a ridiculous amount of time. I went through months of just not being motivated to open up the document on my computer. And then of course, I had a 2 year old who every time I opened my computer would try and type too, which doesn’t work. So definitely working with a toddler around and getting motivation to write the sequel is what I struggled with the most. I’m glad it’s almost time to publish it.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I would say there’s kind of two sides to myself that you see in my books. There’s the adventurous tom-boy self who would climb Pikes Peak at 40 weeks pregnant or go to a gun range to try and outshoot her soldier husband. Then there’s the gentle, quiet self who likes to stay home and spin yarn. You definitely see these 2 characters of myself in Kat and Lucy, the heroines of my books.

But it’s almost fun to write evil characters too, like wimpy King Eric and the mysterious Creature.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Write that first draft as fast as possible. 4-6 months at the most. Like I said, I wrote the first draft of The Crown in 2 years and there were so many inconsistencies and repeated scenes. It was hard to edit and make it into a cohesive book.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

Gosh, I wish I gave myself deadlines! That’d really help! But my biggest trick is I just force myself to open up the document every day for at least half an hour. Once I open up my book to write it, the words flow easily. It’s just the motivating myself to do it that’s the hard part. And I don’t know why because I love the feeling I get in the pit of my stomach when I’m putting new words on a page.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

Panster. All the way. I typically have an idea for a story in my head, a beginning scene and usually and ending scene. The rest comes as I write. I have in recent years started writing out the plotline on paper as I develop it in my head. Just so I have it all written down so I don’t forget anything important that’s supposed to happen. That comes in really handy for when I start a story idea then set it aside for a few months and come back to it.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I’m hoping to get my Endorlothorien trilogy published next. I have all 3 books started and 1 finished. It’s a fantasy world of Elves. It’ll be under a different name because of course my world name is real Tolkien Elvish and that’s copyrighted! Little did I know when I invented the name soon after reading LOTR for the first time…

I’m also wanting to try my hand at Dystopian. That’s the genre I read the most so I definitely want to dabble in it.

  • 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?

Definitely the ones where good triumphs over evil. In my book good always has to win. Evil can’t become good. And good always chooses not to become evil.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Oh my gosh! Such a hard question! I can officially say I’ve read Harry Potter as of last year. (I know, late to the party). I would have said LOTR hands down in 2019. But I think I have to say Harry Potter after having read them.

(Please include any social media links – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.)

Facebook: @claudiakleinauthor

Instagram: @claudiakleinauthor


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Author Interview – Leslie Swartz

In today’s author interview we speak with Urban Fantasy author Leslie Swartz.


Hi Leslie tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hi, Matthew! I’m Leslie Swartz, urban fantasy and horror author. I started writing stories when I was four but what inspired me to do it for a living was the movie Legend. I was five or six and it was on HBO all the time. I watched it A LOT. It was the most beautiful and magical thing I’d ever seen and it was then that I decided my goal in life would be to write something that Ridley Scott would want to direct. It’s still the dream.

What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The drama, the high stakes, the badassery. I love that there are no rules. If I want to write a vampire queen falling in love with a depressive angel who tends to punch Lucifer in the face, no one tells me I can’t. If my Messenger of God is a pan woman that sets demons on fire with her mind because she’s having a bad day, no one tells me that’s not physically possible. There are no limits, nothing to stifle creativity. As a writer, fantasy is freedom. As a reader, fantasy is just a good time.

Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

I released the final book in The Seventh Day Series in December. The series is seven books that represent twenty years of research and four years of writing, revising, and editing. The biggest challenge came when I was writing Seraphim (book one) and my computer exploded. It completely shorted out WITH my flash-drive in it, corrupting it, too. I lost a third of the book and had to start over completely. It worked out because I didn’t remember a lot of it so I made a ton of changes that made the series more interesting but at the time, I was devastated.

What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I like to write funny HBIC’s that are sick of everyone’s s**t, probably because that’s how I see myself. “Gabriel” is basically me with superpowers and no inhibitions. I didn’t set out to make her that way but after writing her first couple of scenes, it became clear that that’s what I’d done.

For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Edit, edit again, then edit some more. Vet your editor with other writers to make sure they’re on the up and up. My first editor was a conman, fake name and all. He butchered my manuscript and hundreds of people bought the book looking like trash. It still haunts me.

What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I make playlists for all of my books during the outlining stage so that when I feel stuck, I can listen to songs that remind me of specific scenes or characters to get back in the right head-space.

Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

Hardcore plotter. I’m a type A, OCD, leave-nothing-to-chance kind of person. I write out all my ideas, then put them in order, then make a chapter-by-chapter, scene-by-scene outline. I’ll print it out then scribble in the margins any new ideas I have as I’m writing.

What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres? 

I’m currently working on a based-on-true-events horror novel. When that’s done, I’ll write two more horror stand-alones, adapt them for the screen and, hopefully, sell the screenplays, giving me credibility so when I pitch The Seventh Day as a show, industry-types take me more seriously.

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?

It’s very dark in here, *points to head* and that’s how I write. I think I just like the drama, life and death, big emotions. I don’t need a happy ending, necessarily, as long as the ending wraps things up. I hate open endings almost as much as I hate love triangles.

What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars? 

Star Wars, for sure. I haven’t read/watched Harry Potter (I know, I know. I’ll get to it, eventually.) and LOTR, while awesome, didn’t give me anyone to care about. Frodo’s great but…meh. The best character was Sam and he didn’t get enough screen time, IMO.

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Author Interview: Paul Mouchet

Today we interview fantasy author Paul Mouchet who’s new book was released yesterday!


  • Hi Paul Mouchet tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I have always enjoyed writing, but I didn’t really start writing in earnest until about five years ago.  I started writing stories for a PC-based Gamebook I was developing, which I loved, but because a game-based story needs to be succinct, I couldn’t really explore the narrative the way I wanted.  So, last year, I paused the game development to concentrate entirely on novel writing.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

From both a reading and writing perspective, I like the idea of limitless possibilities that the genre can offer.  That being said, the story still needs to be grounded in reality and have logical consistency to it.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

My current project is the Priest of Titan series, a nonology: a trilogy of trilogies.  Eyes of Titan, Book 4 in the series, was released on March 29.  Daemon of Titan, Book 5 in the series, is in the works and will be released on May 10.  I’m currently releasing the books on a 6-week cycle, which is working well for me.

I think my biggest challenge in writing the series is that I want to write spin-off novels about the major characters who come and go from the story, telling what they’ve been doing while Kit (the main character) is going about the business of self-discovery and saving the world.  I’ve nearly finished writing one of those spin-offs and it may be released in concert with Book 5 in the series.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I’m not sure if I have a preferred character type, but after some soul searching, I think I like to write characters who are outwardly strong, but inwardly frightened or at least unsure of themselves – which is totally me.  I think it goes much deeper than that though, with how Kit deals with things that go against what she’s been taught, wanting to learn the truth for herself and not necessarily take everything at face value.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

If you want to have fun writing, write for you – and nobody else.  If you want to be good at it, take the time to learn the trade and read voraciously.  Examine the books you like and those you don’t.  Try to use what you learn from other authors’ styles to make your own stories the best they can be (for your pleasure.)

If you want to write to make money, you need to learn so much more than just being a good writer that can tell great stories.  You need to write to market and you need to be able to market yourself and your books like a pro.  Writing for profit is a business and you need to treat it that way.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I don’t have any tricks, but I make a point of writing or editing every day, without exception.  On the days when my mind is too preoccupied with the world around me, I might not write much, but I write something – even if it’s just notes about thoughts I’ve got, ideas of where the stories may go, etc.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I started off as a pantser.  I knew exactly where I wanted my story to start and how it was going to end, but everything in the middle took on a life of its own.  I find that, especially when writing dialogue, things start to get pretty fluid as I try to act and react in character.  Sometimes, that means the characters end up pushing the story in unexpected directions.

When I started Book 5, I knew I needed to map out the rest of the story because there were so many different wheels spinning, I had to make sure they all went in the right direction.  So, each book has a planned start, middle and end – but how they’re going to flow is still totally by the seat of my pants.  I love writing this way.  Each day is a surprise.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I’m undecided.  I really enjoy a lot of different genres, except for pure romance type novels.  I really enjoy police procedurals, but I don’t know enough about the subject matter to write them.  I will likely continue in the fantasy genre for quite a while, but I think I’d like to work in a few mystery/suspense and/or dark-fantasy/horror stories into my world, so long as I can keep them YA appropriate.

  • 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 think the world’s affairs shapes us in unexpected ways and it shows up unintentionally in my writing.  I like stories where good triumphs over evil.  I love the idea of happily ever afters.  I like love stories where people find each other and find happiness together.  But, the realist in me says that the world can be a really crappy place.  So, unless you’re a world-class-hero type, I like the idea of stories where the heroes make good things happen in their own small piece of the world, where they live and the people with whom they interact

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Dang, that’s a particularly tough question for me because I really like all these stories (but to be fair, I’ve never read a Star Wars novel.)  I think that it’s tough to say which is best because they all have very different settings.  But, if I have to pick one, I’ll say Lord of the Rings, because it has likely triggered my love of the epic fantasy genre.  I had to read the books several times before I was able to keep all the people straight in my head, but then again, I think I was 10 or 11 the first time I read them.

Follow Paul –

Website: https://mouchetsoftware.ca

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/VeilOfEntropy

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Author Interview: S.E Anderson

In today’s author interview I chat with fantasy author S.E Anderson about her writing journey and her future projects. Join us around the campfire.


  • Hi, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I’ve been telling stories since I was a kid. I think it runs in the family: my dad could invent a whole novel with subplots on the spot and would distract my sister and I while hiking with these incredibly complex tales. I was telling stories before I could even read, making my parents do all the writing for me. My brain just thinks in stories.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The worldbuilding. I love trying to imagine the big “what if?” questions that arise when people are subjected to different norms and challenges than what we face every day. It’s fun to push the limits of reality and see what can be!

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

I recently had the fortune of being involved creating an anthology of YA stories. While we were open to many genres, many of them were fantasy, including my own contribution (though it’s more Urban Fantasy). We did this to keep the pandemic from getting to us, and it worked! It kept all of us focused and goal oriented. The book truly is a labour of love and I’m so thrilled to be putting it out into the world. It came out February 15th.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I like characters who don’t have life figured out – because let’s face it, who does? Characters who are sure of themselves only to have their foundation shaken, or ones who haven’t yet realized the potential that’s within them. Big change leads to big growth, and I love following them on their journey. As to how much of myself I put in them. It depends on the character. But I feel like each one represents a facet of me, whether I’d like to admit that or not. Who are you, my therapist?

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

To just keep writing. I’m sure they hear this all the time, but it’s so true. An object in motion stays in motion. And how do you learn to write well if you don’t write at all? Take the plunge, and just keep swimming.

Wow, my metaphors are mixed. You see? This is what happens if you step away from writing for too long.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

Word count goals, mostly. I don’t have any magic life hacks here. Just nose to the grindstone some days, even if it might feel tedious.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

My first drafts are always a pantsed up mess. But as soon as I put the last period in my draft, I’m off to the drafting board to make the plot actually make sense!

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I have a new duology I’ve been cooking up for the fast four years, but I’d also like to try more contemporary YA with fantasy elements. I have a lot of stuff I want to explore. The only hard part if knowing I’ll never write everything 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 switch it up. I like more exploratory stories, to get me out of my apartment. A lot of wide arching fantasy and scifi, plus a bit of nonfiction here and there. 

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Star Wars OG trilogy for pure watchability, LoTR for a long binge read.

Author Page: ‪https://www.facebook.com/seandersonauthor/

Website: ‪seandersonauthor.com

Twitter: ‪https://twitter.com/sea_author

Book: ‪http://bit.ly/KSTAR


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Author Interview: Nils Odlund

This weeks author interview is with fantasy author Nils Odlund whose new book will be released at the end of this month!


Hi Nils tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

To begin with, I’m originally Swedish, but since 2007 live in Cork, Ireland, and I write in English.

About ten years ago, I stumbled onto writing, as a hobby, almost by accident. At the time, I was applying for game design jobs, but had no actual experience making games, and I wanted to change that. Only, I had no idea how to get started making a computer game, so instead I decided to create a setting for a Pen & Paper RPG.

This turned out to be a lot more fun than I’d expected, and I put countless hours into it, coming up with all kinds of more or less relevant little details. At one point, a friend of mine suggested that maybe I could write a short story about someone living in the world I’d created, as an example of what life there could be like.

That’s how it started. One short story became another, and another, and another…

There’s a bunch of them, and then there’s an unfinished novel. Somewhere along the way, the world-building faded away, and I spent all my time writing stories. Eventually, I decided it was time to get serious, to stop messing about with exciting ideas and promising beginnings, and to actually finish something.

What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The escapism. The fantastic worlds that can’t be real, but that we can still travel to in our imagination. Why limit yourself to the real world?

Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

My latest project is the Lost Dogs series, which I’ve been working on for the last three years. The tenth book in the series is almost ready to publish, and it should be available before the end of March.

The series tells the story of two people. One is a middle-aged man (Roy) who gets the chance to make amends for a mistake that’s plagued him for half his life. The other is a young woman (Alene) trying to come to terms with who she is, and to find her place in the world.

It’s fantasy, but much of the challenge has been in coming to terms with how the fantastic aspects are just the backdrop against which the story takes place. It’s not a typical fantasy story with magic to discover and monsters to defeat. Rather, Lost Dogs is much more about internal conflict and personal struggles.

This wasn’t something I planned for, and I didn’t consider it when I started writing. It made it difficult for me to find people who wanted to read the story I’m telling. As soon as I mention that one of the main characters is a werewolf and a superstar wrestler, people get the impression that the story will have a lot of brutal, furry action (and possibly a fair bit of kinky sex), and that’s not at all what the story is about.

It eventually went to the point where the tag line I used for the series was “A Story of Werewolves, for people who don’t like Werewolf Stories,” but I’m moving away even from that now.

What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I have this idea that I want to write about everyday characters in fantastic worlds. Characters that just live ordinary lives there, and who don’t become heroes or go away on fantastic adventures to save the world. I believe there’s room for stories like that within the fantasy genre, and I don’t see much of it written.

When you contrast the fantastic with the mundane, you can make it seem even more amazing, than if you just throw tons of awesome things onto the reader.

Then again, once you start writing about a person, even an ordinary everyday Joe, you’ll get to know them, and you’ll realise that they aren’t so ordinary after all.

For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

One of the hardest and most difficult lessons I had to learn was that no one is going to care about my story just because I write it. I need to make the reader care, and I need to make the reader want to keep reading.

It’s not enough that find the story fascinating.

It’s not enough that I love my characters.

It’s not enough that I know the ending is amazing and will blow your socks off.

If I don’t give the reader a reason to care, they’ll toss the book and go read something else.

What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

For a long time, I wrote my books with a three-month deadline, because that’s how far in advance you could set up a pre-order on Amazon (this has changed now). It made sure I had a deadline and pushed me to get the story done.

I also make sure not to strive for perfection. Good enough doesn’t mean something is bad, it really does mean good enough. Also, it’s achievable.

With my first book, the novella Emma’s Story, I tried to polish it to a shine, fix every little detail and address every ounce of feedback. It took me a few months to write the first draft, and another two years of tweaks and adjustments before it was done. Even then, the final version wasn’t all that different from the first draft.

The trick, as such, is to learn when something is good enough. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I’m a plotter. Much of the reason I was able to keep up a three month per book release schedule was that I’d already outlined the books in advance – the entire series. I aimed for an outline that’s detailed enough that actually writing the first draft is akin to filling in the colours in a paint by numbers colouring book.

With my next project, I’m stepping back a little from this, because even with such a detailed outline, I wasn’t able to stick to it. Partly, because the story still took my by surprise from time to time, and partly because I changed as a writer. I’ve learned and improved a lot since I started writing the Lost Dogs series, and I eventually got to a point where I realised that the outline I had for the series just wasn’t good enough for me anymore. I’m going to keep the bare bones, but the details all need to be redone.

What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

My next book, Nothing Left to Lose, is the tenth in the Lost Dogs series, and it will be the last book of that series. However, it is not the end of the story.

Like I mentioned above, I’ve come a long way since I started the series, and I feel like the last few books are significantly better than the earlier ones. I’m going to be revising the first books in the series to clean up language and content issues, and that will bridge some of the quality gap, but it won’t fix everything.

It feels like it’d be a waste of time and effort to add books to the end of a long series, when most readers won’t get past the second book. Instead, what I’ll do is I’ll start a new series, with a new name, that begins where Lost Dogs ends. That way, the people who have read Lost Dogs will get the continuation of the story, and new readers will be able to hop into a new story without having to go through a huge number of books, where the first ones aren’t representative of the latter ones.

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?

Lately, I’ve taken a liking to noblebright. Positive cheerful stories, with less doom and gloom. Maybe it’s just me getting older, but I feel like it’s not just this last year. The world’s become increasingly dark and hostile for a long time, and more and more often, I feel like I need to get away from that.

What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Star Wars. It’s basically space fantasy with lasers.

Follow Nils via:

FB: https://www.facebook.com/svrtnsse

Twitter: https://twitter.com/svrtnsse

IG: https://www.instagram.com/nilsdlnd/

Website: https://nilsodlund.com/


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Author Interview – Merri Halma

Joining me around the campfire today is American fantasy author Merri Halma the creator of the Indigo Travelers series. We settle down for a chat about the world of fantasy writing and what inspires her.


  • Hi Merri__ tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I am originally from the Yakima Valley in Washington State. I’m now residing in the Treasure Valley, Idaho. I was inspired to write as a way of being heard. I grew up with a severe speech impediment and often I felt like others weren’t interested in what I said. But if I wrote down my ideas or stories, I found an audience. Sometimes younger kids in my neighborhood would gather around me and I would read them my stories or tell them a story I hadn’t written down yet.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I like the freedom to let my imagination go and the challenge to make the impossible real. I like having animals that can think, talk and guide humans so they have a real relationship, which grows. They challenge each other to be better. Also having plants and rocks that can move on their own, think, talk and have feelings.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

My latest project is Ian Temple and the Search for the Wisdom Trees, An Indigo Traveler Series Companion Novel. I have been working on this off and on since 2014.

 Ian Temple hears the calls of the trees and tries to follow them. He knows they are in danger and the Temple of the Wisdom Trees, in another world, has vanished. But he doesn’t know how he will get to that world. A strange cat appears in his room and points out the shadow that is lurking in the corner. The cat calls Ian an Indigo teen and says Albagoth, the Creators of All Worlds, are looking for the original Wood Sprite. Ian doesn’t think that is him, but Ian does heal plants that are ailing or hurt.

  Shadows see Ian as a threat. His parents are hiding who they are and who Ian really is. They are afraid if Ian were to find a way to their world, they will not see him again.

 Ian doesn’t have a release date.

  There is newly released anthology that I have three stories in, Table by the Window by the Caldwell Writers Group, which I belong. The Caldwell Writers Group has both seasoned authors and those new to writing striving for more exposure. One of their authors has had stories published several times in various Chicken Soup for the Soul books as well as other anthologies. 

 The titles of my stories are: My Life, an essay; The Mysterious Chest, a horror; Thirteen Again, an essay I wrote when my son was 13 and I was reliving my life at that age.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I like characters who usually feel alone, isolated in a way, and feel like they do not belong in the world because they see themselves so different than others. There is usually a part of me in each of my characters, except the antagonist. Majority of my characters are on a deep spiritual quest to unite part of themselves that they have lost. One of my characters was born on another world, but had to her genes altered to appear human and pass as human. As she nears her 15th birthday, a gene turns on that will eventually bring her home to go through an initiation into her birth culture.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I work for myself, so I set or don’t set deadlines for myself. I tend to blow past my deadlines. I keep a good idea of what I want to do, but seldom set a specific date to finished.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I am a pantser, but I do some planning and plotting, but do use the main ideas of my pervious drafts in my re-writes, while keeping in mind what I want to change.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I plan to do another rewrite of the latest draft of Ian Temple and the Wisdom Trees and I have two more stories to write for the Caldwell Writers Group’s next anthology. The theme is Idaho. I will probably attempt some literary fiction with one of the stories.

  • 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 prefer fantasy with deep characters. Though, I am reading a non-fiction book on Trees Magic by Iva Kentaz. This is research for my fantasy series since Banyan trees play an important role in each of the books.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

I would have to say Harry Potter wins in the magic, fantasy and awe hero journey story. The awe of Harry learning to fly on a broom and fight with his wand was outstanding. Lord Rings scores higher points for Tolkien spending years developing an Elf language and using it throughout all of his books, inspiring so many children and adults. Star Wars is okay, but he really failed in the last two sequels of his original story.

 Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit are classics. I love them for setting the bar high for those of us who desired to write epic adventures.

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Author Interview – Kevin Buckner

In this week’s author interview I chat with fantasy author Kevin Buckner.

  • Hi Kevin Buckner tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

My name is Kevin Buckner. I studied Medical Laboratory Science at the University of Utah and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 2011. I am a certified Medical Laboratory Scientist, currently working as a Technical Consultant for a clinical laboratory near my home in the Salt Lake valley in Utah. I have a wife and two children. I enjoy playing games of all kinds with my family, especially the Zombicide series. I am known for liking zombies and super-spicy food. I enjoy playing my guitars and listening to heavy metal music, in most of all the many sub-genres. One thing you would not expect by looking at me is that I am also very good at knitting.

It is difficult to say exactly what inspired me to write. I have always enjoyed playing role-playing games and for many years was the perpetual Game Master because the players all thought I was the best at it, particularly because they liked the world I built and the way I described things. They all agreed I was a good story-teller. I enjoyed writing stories in grade school and gained appreciation for classic literature when I was in high school, where I took Honors and AP English classes and a Creative Writing class. Writing is something I’ve always wanted to do, really. The support I received from friends and family is what pushed me to actually do it.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I love the creativity I encounter in fantasy. It’s great that the only limits are the author’s imagination. It’s also so great to be able to escape into a world of magic and mystical creatures.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

My latest project is the second book in The Cudomerie. It has a working title of The Descent of Rogen. The biggest challenge I’ve faced with it is maintaining continuity with the first book. I have spent a lot of time re-reading the first one to make sure I don’t create plot holes or contradict anything that happened in The Advent of Zon.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I like to write anti-heroes a lot. People who are basically good at heart and try to do the right thing, but have a darker side and sometimes give into that darkness and do some morally questionable things with the attitude that the ends justify the means. I also enjoy making characters with depth, rather than giving them a single defining trait.

How much of myself I put into a character really depends on the character. I find it impossible not to put at least a little bit of me in everyone I write, but there are some characters that I don’t like very much. I don’t put much of myself in them. I put a lot more into the characters I like a lot, but it’s a complicated thing to say exactly how much. I’s probably say that my most favorite characters are as much as 30% me.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

You can’t do it all by yourself. While you maintain creative control over your work, you need input from other people if you are going to write something that multiple people are going to want to read. Get a group of beta readers who will give you honest feedback and make sure you have a thick enough skin to receive that feedback. Remember that constructive criticism is intended to help you, not tear you down and that it is much better to receive that criticism before you’re published and can easily change your manuscript than to receive it after your work is already out there for the world to see.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I have designated Tuesday evening as my writing time. I have informed my wife and children about this so they know not to disturb me on Tuesday evenings. They also know that if they see me wandering around and/or not writing, they need to call me out on wasting my designated writing time. Having designated time helps writing progress. My family holding me accountable is a huge help, as well.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

Both. I know from the outset where the book will begin and end and key details that will happen along the way. What happens between the major points is anyone’s guess until it happens.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I mentioned at the beginning that I have two works in progress. The second WIP is my NaNoWriMo project from 2013. I wrote the entire first draft in November 2013, but haven’t revisited it since then. It’s a near-future, dystopian sci-fi story, which I’d like to have ready for release by the end of 2021. Of course, I’m also planning on finishing my current series. After that, I have plans for a more humorous fantasy series than the one I am currently working on.

  • 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 the darker approach to things, but good has to win over evil eventually, even if it seems evil has the upper hand through most of the story.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

What’s better, Ice Cream, Cheesecake, or Pie? They’re all good and picking a single best depends on a number of factors. If you were to ask which of the three is the most well-written, then I’d say Lord of the Rings, hands down. Which is the most entertaining? It would be Harry Potter or Star Wars. Not to say that Lord of the Rings isn’t entertaining, but you cannot deny that it is the slowest of the three, despite being a benchmark in both film and literature. The most visually stunning? That would either be Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. If I had to pick a single favorite, I’d probably go with Lord of the Rings, though.

Follow Kevin on –

https://www.facebook.com/KevinBucknerAuthor

https://www.instagram.com/lordzombitten/


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