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 – 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.

Follow Leslie via –

https://www.facebook.com/LeslieSwartz333

https://www.instagram.com/saffie138/?hl=en

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/89742.Leslie_Swartz


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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

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/944377969011690

Discord: http://discord.veilofentropy.com


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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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Why I choose to be an Indie Author

I’ve been an indie author for close to a decade now and throughout that time I’ve had folk say, ‘oh if only you could get a publisher to pick up your work,’ and every time I hear it, I wince. I choose to be an Indie author and likely always will. Here are the reasons why.

Full Control

What many people don’t realise is that a ‘publishing deal’ can mean a whole host of things. There are numerous versions of said deals that range from vanity (where authors are essentially duped into paying money for their book to be published. Read why this is never the way to go here) to traditional deals where a publisher offers a cash sum upfront for the author to write their novel. Often these sort of deals also mean that the publisher attains full rights to the book and the author is tied to often tight deadlines.

Being indie however means that I am in full control of my writing. I can write at my own pace and go down the creative roads that I want to. I’ve heard several stories where a publisher has told an author to do rewrites or remove entire sections of a book, as an Indie I never have to do this.

Writing is a deeply personal experience and the scenes we create are by extension a part of us. Now don’t get me wrong I am always open to criticism and am willing to make alterations etc if they do not compromise the story or my vision. This is where Beta readers come into play as they can make suggestions as to what works well and what doesn’t. Being indie means that I am free to follow their ideas or not.

Publishers don’t guarantee success

I recently received a message from a publisher regarding one of my already self-published books and in the message, they said that they loved the story but that it could do with a developmental edit. They then put me in contact with an editing company to who I permitted to have a look at the manuscript.

As of writing, I’ve not heard back from them, but the experience made me think. I checked out the other authors that the publisher represents and their books and discovered that every single one of them was ranked far worse than any of my books.

Often Publishers don’t advertise their authors’ books and even the biggest ones often insist that the author does much of the leg work themselves. I am a one man band and yet I sale more books than authors with publishing deals behind them. In short, it’s clear that having a ‘proper’ publisher does NOT guarantee success when it comes to book sales and making money.

I recently hit #1 in the Sword and Sorcery category all on my lonesome and with some help from Bookbub

Cover Art

One of my favourite parts of being an author is finding artists or creating and designing my own book covers. I love it and I love the flexibility being an indie author allows for this. Finding a fantastic artist to do your book cover for a good price is an excellent feeling and there is nothing better than showing off original artwork for your books. Some indies don’t have the budget to pay for a good cover and there is a plethora of terrible ones out there. Fortunately, cover design is another skill that can be learnt and with free online tools such as Canva and Paint.net, there’s not really any excuse for truly awful covers. If you’re an author and want a well-priced eye catching cover get in touch.

Just a few of the book covers I’ve had made.

The disadvantages of Indie

Don’t get me wrong, there are downsides to being an Indie author too. Having a professional editor on call is very expensive and is something most trad publishers will cover. Authors that struggle with cover design will often have that covered too although there have been some high profile examples where big name authors have expressed their disappointment at the covers chosen by their publisher.

Literally, all aspects of book creation and promotion are on your shoulders and there are few places to turn that don’t turn out to be scams or nefarious companies and individuals seeking to take advantage or exploit your needs.

My advice is to try and learn all areas of the process. You don’t have to be great at everything but some knowledge in each area will go a long way and help you avoid the pitfalls.

Are you an indie author? Would you rather have a traditional publishing deal, or do you prefer the freedom that being an indie brings? Let me know in the comments below.

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Author Interview – A.A Warne

Joining me around the campfire today and coming all the way from Australia is indie fantasy author Amanda Warne.


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

Hello Matthew. Thank you so much for having me. I’m an Australian writer living in the western part of Sydney. I’ve been writing just on ten years now and publishing for two. When I’m not writing, I’m wrestling three kids, two naughty dogs and exploring the Blue Mountains in search of inspiration. I started writing after the birth of my first daughter when I could no longer practice the messy art of pottery and any creator will tell you, an artist must be creative. So I turned to books and literature and by the time I finished reading the first book, I had a pen in my hand drafting a story. Ten years later and my head is full of stories demanding to get out.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Fantasy has no boundaries. Anything is possible and even though an idea or concept might not be present in our real life, it gives us the possibility of being real somewhere in the universe and I love that.

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

The Reluctant Wizard was released early September and was a challenge for me because not only was I writing something now accessible for children, but I also placed an expectation on myself to write shorter stories. Ironically, it’s my largest book to date. So I’ve thrown out that belief that I can write shorter books and just allowed the story to do what it needs to.

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

I don’t think of them as characters but rather real life people. I learn something about them but I know that isn’t a limitation or even a snapshot of who they really are. Instead, we cannot know a person fully, even ourselves. That’s why we surprise ourselves, shock even and I love exploring the depths of personality, what makes someone tick or react a certain way. It’s fascinating watching that in real life, when someone tries to mask their feelings or even the truth, but for a character, we can explore exactly why they do that.

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

There is SO much knowledge out there. Everyone is an expert in something – opinions mostly. For me, I wanted to be a jack of all trades, master of writing. But all the writing advice went over my head. So I focused on researching topics that fascinated me while I practiced the writing as a craft or even art practice. Direct feedback from editors you respect is a must and that’s when your writing will evolve. Until then, enjoy it. Love it! Stories are magical and without the magic then the reader would love it.

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

Pay the children to do cleaning – it’s cheaper than hiring a cleaner. Turn the phone off – you don’t have to answer every call. Social media isn’t real – deadlines are. We don’t have to be the perfect person and that’s totally unreal expectation of today’s society. Find your happiness, throw out the noise and then you’ll notice that deadlines are fun and exciting because it gives you a date that the story will head out of your hands and into the world.

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

I’m both. I let the stories and characters determine everything. That is, the writing, tone, even how it’s structured. Once I have enough swarming in my head that it must go down onto paper, I write it out. In that mindset, I believe I’m writing the book cover to cover but in actual fact, it’s a summary. After a month or two, I come back and write it out properly. So that summary is full of telling and about 50 pages all up, but the re-write is all showing and can turn into 500 pages.

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

I have been researching my mega-series for the last five years. It’s a life-long series that I will publish either 2022 or 2023. I don’t want to put it out into the world until I’m 100% ready to do so. My head is full of stories but this one is beyond epic. It’s so large that I will be writing it until I’m in my 90s. Until then, that’s all I can say. However, there will be more of The Reluctant Wizard and my editor messages me so often I think she forgets her other clients. She’s super excited to see the next part and I’m writing away nicely, preparing for all those twists to keep her on the edge of her seat.

  • 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 love all stories so it’s hard to chose, but if I had to, I love a faulted hero, and heroic failure, I’m not a fan of labelling anyone good or evil because there isn’t such a thing, and I love dark stories that has light, light stories that doesn’t shy away from the dark. While the world is going through this stage, I want to be reminded how important humanity as a whole is. We are all on this ride together and our local community is who we hold hands with and walk beside however, we’ve been given this gift of global insight, so we can communicate, connect and understand each other as a whole. I want to see  more of that. Community rather than individuality. Whole instead of single. Love instead hate.

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

Star wars! I love Lord of the Rings and I’ve only see the first Harry Potter movie (I know, shock horror!) but there is something truly amazing with Star Wars. It’s a story that covers the universe and beyond. One scene that truly captured me was when Queen Amidala is sitting in a room discussing politics. The seating backs onto windows where we can see just enough of that planet’s life – flying transport, wild colourful outfits, etc. and they’re all there sitting and talking about politics. That doesn’t interest me. I want to know what food they’re eating, what types of work the people do, what does a day look like to them? There are only so many political stories that can be told, but the story of a regular person, a peasant, a person who falls between the gaps – that’s an interesting story because they can get to any part of society. I don’t want to know what a queen does or doesn’t do – she only has one role to play, but a person who has no label or position and yet has a strong drive to achieve something, is amazing to follow in a story. Those are the characters that I want to explore in my stories.

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Author Interview – D. William Landsborough

Joining me around the campfire today is indie fantasy author D. William Landsborough. Take a seat by the fire and settle in.


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

Hi Matthew! My name is Doug, better known as D. William Landsborough, and I’m a dark fantasy author. My debut novel, Archangel, came out in February of 2019 and its sequel, Revelations, is coming out in December of this year. Both books are part of the Shadow’s Advent series.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I think there are two things I love most about fantasy. First, I love the ability for fantasy to be anything, for it to be an escape to be anywhere you want. Even when those escapes aren’t great places—my books take place in a post-apocalyptic world run by demons—you can still get lost in them, learn to love characters and witness things that just aren’t possible in the real world.

Second, I love the spectrum that is fantasy. You can get your high fantasy fix with elves and dwarves, but there is a lot more in the genre. In my writing, my dark fantasy takes place ten years from now. So you have angels and demons facing off, but they are doing so in the ruins of cities. Then you have urban fantasy, which takes everything we love about Middle Earth and shoves it into today’s society. They all share elements, but there is so much variety and diversity within the genre that it’s hard to get bored.

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

As of writing this, I have just wrapped up the last little bits of Revelations, Book Two of Shadow’s Advent and the sequel to my debut novel, Archangel. It will be releasing on December 10, 2020.

Oh boy, the challenges. Archangel took me four or five years to actually finish. It was a long road of starts and stops, ups and downs. No one knew it existed except for a handful of close friends, and I wasn’t even sure it would ever see the light of day. Then, when I did get it out there, I didn’t just get a positive response, I got fans!

Then I realized that writing a book was difficult, but writing a sequel is much tougher. Not only do I have to get it out in a timely manner, but there was a constant voice in the back of my head asking “What if it sucks? What if I disappoint these people who are supporting me?”

So I tried combating both. Unfortunately, turning my previous 5-year writing process into a 1-year one was challenging. I wasn’t writing as quickly as I wanted to and after a while I realized I wasn’t writing the story I wanted to. I found about halfway in that I hated what some characters had become and where the story went. So I made a tough call: I scrapped it and started again.

Once I did that and took another swing at it, I realized I was on the right track. I realized this was the story I wanted and I’m confident it’s a story my readers will love. So I forged ahead, behind my initial timeline but content.

Then the pandemic hit. That’s not news to anyone, and everyone has been affected in their own way. Beyond the isolation and challenges that have accompanied the pandemic, I actually became much busier. I’m fortunate to have not lost my job, nor did my partner, and I recognize that not everyone was as lucky. However, I work for a charity and she is a teacher; both of us became exponentially busier and more stressed almost overnight. For someone writing in the early hours of the morning, during lunch breaks or at night, sometimes stress from this crisis just pushed Revelations back… which then served to stress me out more!

Now, the pandemic hasn’t gone anywhere, but I was able to consistently work on Revelations and it’s just about ready for release!

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

Flawed characters are by far my favourite to write. When writing my main character, Uriel, there was a lot of potential for him to have “Superman Syndrome” (at least, that’s what I call it). I find Superman to be incredibly strong, but without flaws or depth. I’m sure there are comics and storylines out there where this isn’t the case, but most mainstream depictions of Superman show him being this bulwark of good who just shows up, punches something and saves everyone.

That’s flat. I like characters who make mistakes, who aren’t perfect. I want my characters to be affected by regret and pain because that makes them relatable. I don’t want them being picture-perfect heroes, nor do I want my villains to be one-dimensional evil-doers. I want them to have their own flaws, to make us root for them sometimes. People are complex and have flaws, so characters should too.

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

I have two tips here. First, establish a habit of writing. Archangel took so long because I thought I could only write when it strikes me, when my creativity is at its peak. You have a talent and the only way that book will get written and you’ll grow as a writer is to start writing. Ten, fifteen, thirty minutes a day all adds up.

Second, understand that you and your work will grow and develop. You won’t write it perfectly the first time around, but that’s why we revise our work and why we have editors. While many people have a talent for writing, it’s still a skill. If you practice and make a habit, you will become better!

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

Well, as I admitted before, deadlines are tough for me, especially after taking so long to write my first book. One of the tools I use for my writing now is Dabble. I know a lot of my fellow authors swear by Scrivener, but I’m a Dabble convert. I could go on about it, but one of the best tools is their Goal function.

Essentially, you pick a date you want to be done by, an approximate word count goal and how many days off you want, and it will spit out a number that you should write every day to reach your goal. If you hit that word count, you get a nice congratulations message that is actually pretty encouraging. If you write over or under your goal, your daily goal adjusts for the next day.

Once I combined that tool with an actual habit of writing, I could easily track my progress and stick to my deadlines!

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

I was a pantser for Archangel and it took me five years to write, so now I’m a plotter. The pantser lifestyle works for some people, but I need at least a chapter-by-chapter outline to write the story I want. That outline must be flexible so I can adapt as my story develops, and sometimes I have scenes within those chapters heavily outlined if I have a really great or necessary idea, but usually an outline by chapter works for me.

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

There will be four more books in the Shadow’s Advent series, and book three is what’s next for me. I want to get that out within the year, because I feel like I owe that to myself and my readers after taking almost two years between Archangel and Revelations.

At the same time, I’d like to start exploring other book ideas. I am creating an outline for a near-future climate sci-fi, and I have an idea for a horror novel on the backburner that’s giving me the evil eye. There are some other ideas floating in my head, too, but they are mostly just notes in my phone right now.

Ultimately, I want to get to a place in my writing career where I am putting out one Shadow’s Advent book a year and one other book a year!

  • 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?

With 2020 in particular, you’d think I want lighter stories, but my writing style is a dark one. Terrible things happen in the stories I write and enjoy, and I often venture into the bleak category. That being said, I write this way because I think it makes the triumphs or just moments of hope that much brighter. We need Thanos to snap his fingers to have that inspirational moment where all the portals open in Endgame, and it’s so much better for it.

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

Honestly, with the latest Star Wars disappointments and J.K. Rowling doing everything she can to make me and many others dislike her, Lord of the Rings is a clear winner. Beyond the negatives of the other two, LotR is such an incredible example of world building and it holds a very special place in my heart.

Follow Doug at –

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

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

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiAPkfJ40u-RA9YijVfdSLQ Website: https://www.dlandsborough.com/


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Author Interview – C.F Welburn

Joining me around the campfire today is fantasy author C.F Welburn creator of the Ashen Levels series.


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

As far back as I can remember I’ve had a passion for writing. Certainly, since primary school when I fell in love with Fighting Fantasy books, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and subsequently, The Hobbit. I was lucky that I had parents that read to me, and some great teachers that encouraged me to use my imagination! I also grew up in the countryside, so playing in the woods and making dens always gave me a sense of adventure!

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I suppose it’s just the sense of magic, danger, adventure. Something that used to set my young mind to daydreaming and these days as pure escapism.

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

I’m currently being torn between two projects. One being a standalone grimmer-darker tale of revenge (TBA 2021); the other being a four book series which will have multiple POVs and be more of an end-of-the-world affair… I’m also working on the narrative for a videogame with my brother-in-law, called The Prison.

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

This would depend on the story. For example, in The Linguist the main character is pretty flawed, and his decisions have led him to a very dark place, which was interesting to write and get inside his headspace. But the most fun character to write by far has to be Balagir from The Ashen Levels. Despite myriad challenges he never loses his dark sense of humour, and ability to outwit most of his adversaries.

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

I’m afraid my advice will likely be the same old spiel… Write what you want to read, enjoy what you do, never be afraid to push your ideas much further than the initial spark. If you’re in a slump go for a walk, travel, listen to music, read, play! Try to write little and often… Basically, have fun! This is your creation, make it shine!

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

[insert manic laughter] Fortunately, I never tell anyone about my constantly shifting deadlines, to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on myself. It’s ready when it’s ready and if that takes twice as long as intended, or the book doesn’t resemble in any way its original concept, then so be it. The creative process is exactly that; a process. Like making a cake when the kitchen is covered in flour and smells slightly of burning. In the end it’s the final product that you put out that matters. If I’m not 100% happy with it, I’d rather sit on it and write something else. With the Ashen Levels I had some loose plot points, but lots of room to manoeuvre, so the story never was on track, because there was no track… Well, perhaps a dirt track, choked with nettles and riddled with ditches. That made it more enjoyable to write, and gave me more freedom to chase surprising ideas.

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

I tend to be a little bit of both. I have general ideas, milestones, situations in mind, and then I begin to see how they might all fit together. Of course, this depends on the project. The Ashen Levels’ first draft was 75% pantsing, whilst the series I’m working on at the moment is requiring significantly more plotting to make sure the magic system makes sense…

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

I want to write a mixture of standalones and series. These days I’m tending to prefer standalones in the way that they feel self-contained and stay in my mind, like the old classics used to. However, Epic fantasy as a genre works really well in series format and it’s nice at times to get lost in something you know is going to last you a while! I have working titles for my next 3 books, but I’m keeping them close to my chest until nearer the time.

  • 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?

In spite of the current situation I haven’t found that my reading (or gaming/music) tastes have changed. I like stories that have a fun element and quirky sense of humour, but I’ve always been drawn to the darker, tragic side of literature, too. If it’s too happy I don’t feel as much impact from the story. Then again, too much doom and gloom can be a bit tiresome. Think about a dark, dramatic, stormy day with the occasional shaft of sunlight and invigorating breeze.

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

Despite being born in 1977 and my early years being spent with the (original) Star Wars trilogy, I’m going to have to go with LOTR. The book formed a cornerstone of my childhood, and I thought what Peter Jackson did with the films was spectacular! (The Hobbit films, not so much). If Harry Potter is on at Christmas I’ll watch and enjoy it, but I kind of missed the Hogwart’s Express on all of that.

Thanks for the interview, Matthew! My website has just had a facelift which you can check out for a bit more about me and my books. Oh, and Part 1 of The Ashen Levels (Fledgling) is currently 99c. If you want to take a stab at something for the price of a Mcdonalds’ cheeseburger, then you’ve not much to lose. It’s not quite as fattening, but may leave a greasy residue. I also occasionally lurk on Facebook and Instagram.

www.cfwelburn.com


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Author Interview – Aaron Hodges

The campfire crackles in the cold night and a shivering figure emerges from the forest. It’s Aaron Hodges, the epic fantasy author from New Zealand. Unlike his homeland that is now enjoying the fruits of spring, the camp is in the grip of winter. We pull up a stool next to the fire and chat.


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

Well I’m a fantasy author from New Zealand and I have to say I’ve always been inspired to write. I think in a similar way I love to read fantasy, writing gives me ability to go off into my own world for a while. I really love having that ability to escape real life for a bit—and especially when I get to share it with others!

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I think that it can both give us an escape from real life, but also that it often mirrors the same struggles we have in the real world, albeit in a simpler way.

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

Well my latest project is a series set in a fallen world, where humanity is at war with the inhuman Tangata, creatures with superhuman strength and speed, which are determined to destroy humanity. I’ve just about finished off the third book, Age of Gods, which is due to be published on the 8th November. In this book, the two main characters are completely separated, and their individual plots and discoveries about the past are both quite complicated. That’s made it really difficult to keep everything in line in my head, and I just hope I’ve managed to write it so that I bring the reader along!

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

I love characters that are able to rise above their circumstances. I often have characters based in normal settings, without any particular special ability or skill, but who are determined to lift themselves up, to face the challenges of the enemy and save the world. I’m not sure how much of that they get from me though 😉

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

The value of time management. I really force myself to have fixed times that I go and write and work on my advertising etc. I’ve found without that strict schedule, I don’t get half as much done, and would never be able to keep on track with my releases! Equally, making sure I give myself time off is important too—something I got out of the habit of doing during the pandemic, since I got bored without my work!

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

I know about how much time each phase/edit of my work takes, so I pencil in a release date when I first start a project—usually about 3 months from when I start. Then I just use the time management I used above to make sure I am working on it and keeping to schedule!

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

A bit of each, I generally write a general plot outline, then pants the bits in between as I go!

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

I am considering dipping more into the scifi genre soon, after reading Skyward by Brandon Sanderson and really enjoying it (before I really had no interest in space ships!). I’m still brewing the story in my mind, but it would be based on a planet where humanity is enslaved by a technologically superior race of aliens!

  • 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?

Gotta enjoy the good triumphs over evil, but not without sacrifice. Nothing good in this world comes easy.

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

Harry potter!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/fantastic.adventures

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14713614.Aaron_Hodges

author@aaronhodges.co.nz

Latest series: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08653PM1L/

            (Book three is out now!)

Thanks for taking part!


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Author Interview – Nikki Nelson-Hicks

Writing by the flickering flames of the campfire I see all sorts of shapes and tales cast by the light. Adventures and heroes, villains and horror. A twig snaps in the woods nearby and I look up to see my latest guest. Author Nikki Nelson-Hicks.


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

Hi! I’m Nikki Nelson-Hicks and I think my interest in writing started because I am a reader. My childhood was chaotic and I found solace in stories. That is still where I find peace and the place I flee to when I need some guidance and a cosmic head rub.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The world building. Creating entire civilizations, races, religions, universes, all from the static medium of ink on paper. Think about that. It’s magic.

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

This past year I’ve been putting together all the stories from the Jake Istenhegyi: The Accidental Detective series into an Omnibus. My first intention was to put them all into one volume but, yikes….it turns out the first one was 300 pages long. I had to split it into two volumes.

The first volume is already out on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. The second one, will be out hopefully in November.

The biggest obstacles I faced while writing…well, I should say re-writing, reformatting and re-editing, these stories was coming the grips that, although they were originally published by another small press company and did pretty well….they weren’t very good. Oh my. Especially that first story. Yikes. What a mess. I’ve grown as a writer and I was able to go back, make corrections, add some meat to a very decrepit skeleton and make the series not only flow better but more enjoyable for the reader.

Oh, and 2020. That pretty much got in everyone’s way.

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

I love to write heroes that take on the bad guys and fix wrong and make everything right. It’s the Fury in me. I put a lot of my hopes and dreams into my characters. I wish I were as strong as they are.

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

I have a poster on my wall above my desk that reads:  QUIT YOUR COMPLAINING. IT’S NOT THE WORLD’S FAULT THAT YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER. IT’S NOT THE WORLD’S JOB TO ENJOY THE STORIES YOU WRITE AND IT’S CERTAINLY NOT THE WORLD’S OBLIGATION TO PAY FOR YOUR DREAMS. NOBODY WANTS TO HEAR IT. STEAL A PEN IF YOU HAVE TO BUT STOP WHINING AND GET BACK TO WORK.

Oh, and get a chair with good lumbar support.

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

When I have a deadline, everything else in my life gets put on hold. The house turns into a pigsty. Meals are whatever you can put together in a pantry. Showers are on a need-to basis. My family learns to deal with life all on their own. Momma’s got work to do.

If I’m not a deadline, I force myself to work at least two hours a day on a story. Hey, I have a day job, a family, 5 cats and 2 dogs to take care of. Two hours is a lot to carve out of my day.

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

I’m a hybrid. I loosely plot. I need to know the Beginning and The End. The middle bit can be a bit more muddy but I can make my through it as long as I know The End.

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

I write in all sorts of genres; I don’t like to get pinned down inside one box. (Although I’ve never tried Romance. I’m not sure I have the stomach for it.)

When I finally put the Jake series to bed, I have two stories I want to work on.

 One is called “Crown of Feathers”. It is based on the Appalachian legend that a crown of feathers can be found underneath the pillow of a dying person. If you find it, it means they are going to heaven There are actual examples of them in an Appalachian Folklore Museum in East Tennessee. In my story, set in the turn of the 19th century, a boy steals the Crown of Feathers from beneath his dying mother’s pillow so that Death won’t be able to take her away. Shenanigans ensue.

The other is a modern day thriller called “Hand Me Down”. Short and sweet, it is about a woman whose dark deeds from her past bleed into her present and threaten to destroy everything. There’s lots of murder in it. It’s gonna be fun.

  • 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 want my heroes to win. I want the bad guys to get what they deserve. It is bourgeois but I don’t care. If I wanted stark, dystopic reality, I’d watch a freaking history channel. Fiction helps me see a world the way it SHOULD BE and, maybe, it can teach us how to create a better one. If something can be imagined, it can be created.

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

Did you know that an interview question posited by the FBI is: Would you rather be a serial killer or a terrorist?  It’s a way to tell if a person is an individualist (serial killer) or team player (terrorist).

I feel the same way if a person asks if I like Star Wars or Star Trek? It’s a way to tell if a person is a team player/bureaucrat (Star Trek) or if a person is more of a rebellious streak (Star Wars).

Confession time: I have never read Lord of the Rings.  I have what I call a Tolkien Block. When I was a teenager, a group of girls started up a coven and wouldn’t allow me to join their group because I “wasn’t their type” because I didn’t read Tolkien. Ever since then, I can’t stomach it.  I didn’t even like the movies. I got bored. I mean….don’t even get me started on those damn eagles. WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST USE THE EAGLES??!?!

So, we’re down to Harry Potter or Star Wars.

Huh.

Harry Potter is fun but if you really stop and start to think about the idea of a Wizarding World that, for some stupid reason, lives in a Dickensian dystopia and doesn’t use their obviously laws of physics bending powers to aid the world at large, it starts to fall apart. Seriously. Quills over a ballpoint pen? Owl mail over Email?

Star Wars has a very warm, fuzzy spot in my heart because I was there at the beginning, sitting in the theater, 1977, when that Imperial Cruiser pulled out overhead.  My heart still races when I think of the opening overture.

Yeah. I gotta go with Star Wars (despite the terrible prequels and then even sadder sequels). At least we have The Mandalorian. #itistheway

My blog is:  https://nikkinelsonhicks.blog/

My Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/nikkinelsonhicks


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