Author Interview – James Reid

Today I am joined at the campfire by dark fantasy author James Reid and his magnificent beard. We chuck another on the flames and settle in for a chat about all things books.


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

I am a fan of fantasy books. I always loved the works of Tolkein, Eddings, Jordan, Brooks, Weis & Hickman, and more when I was a teenager. I wanted to tell my own stories set in fantastical worlds of my own!

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The creative worlds, creatures, and powers that are impossible in the real world. It lets your imagination be its most free.

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

My latest series is Secret of the Jewels, a five-book dark fantasy series that starts with Diamond Stained. It follows Obhin and Avena, two souls weighed down by their guilts and regrets.
Obhin, a palace guard who has fallen after making a tragic mistake, is now a bandit at the nadir of his life. He doesn’t care about much any longer. About the pain he causes others. But when his only friend is mortally injured, he’s spurred to save his life. Joined by Avena, a young woman the bandits have captured, they fight to keep him alive despite the objections of the bandit leader.
This act gives Obhin a chance for redemption. A new beginning, but can he find that new beginning in a city full of crime and corruption where a dark necromancer, a crime syndicate, and political unrest threatens to plunge the city into madness.

And can Avena trust this dark stranger in protecting the most important person in her life: her teacher and famed healer.

  • 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 characters with flaws and help them overcome them. Probably because I’m such a flawed person and it’s nice to know that people can be heroic and overcome their weaknesses.

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

You need to write, write, write. I could be crap. I could be garbage. It could be nonsense. But you need to get in the habit of writing and develop your mental muscles. You can’t get better if you don’t write, write, write. If you can’t find an hour every day to write, is it really something you want to do? Something you are passionate about? This discipline can be hard to achieve, but if you can get it, you’ll start to find you finish stories and make progress.

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

I write everyday. I have a schedule I follow. This is my job, and I treat it. Wake up and go to my writer’s den.

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

I am a hybrid. I started off more of a pantser, but now I do very loose outlines of major events then write more detailed scene outlines for a few chapters at a time. I write them and that way I can evaluate how the characters reacted and what they should do next. So there is room for my loose outline to change and grow while my scene outlines generally don’t’ change much.

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

I am editing What Mask Hides, which is a sidequel to Secret of the Jewels. It takes place in the same time period of Secret of the Jewels and they have some connection, but each are standalone stories. It’s about a noblewoman who becomes a thief to find meaning in her empty life. Then I’m writing No One’s Tale which serves as a sequel of sorts to both series. It follows villain characters from both series as they search for new place in the world after seeing what their actions caused. One is a shapeshifter called No One who also needs to figure out who he is. In addition, I’m writing a fantasy quest series called Shadow of the Dragons. About a young boy trying to protect his childhood friend after she’s possessed by a dragon and a dark organization needs her for their nefarious goals.

  • 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 like my characters to triumph but to have difficult journeys.

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

Lord of the Rings. Star Wars had three awesome movies, but Disney is running it into the ground with their current soulless stories. Harry Potter is great, but J.K. Rowling should stop writing these Fantastic Beast movies. She somehow ruined the concept of a fun movie about a guy going around with magical beasts into this crazy, over the top mess.

Follow James via

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

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/61bSz

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JMDReid

Website: http://JMD-Reid.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/J.M.D.-Reid/e/B00P44PBQK/

Diamond Stained Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085X3PHYB


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Author Interview – Michael Ross

Sitting at the campfire one night my peace was shattered by the appearance of a magical portal. Who should step through? None other than fantasy author Michael Ross the author of the Wand Chronicles.

  • Hi Michael what appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Letting my imagination run riot. I have the imagination of a 6-year-old and always been lost in fantasy

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

Released an epic fantasy trilogy on the 1st of July. The Wand Chronicles. Charts the events and adventures that ensue when the humans meet the elves for the first time via a portal that appears on Earth. The adventures centre around a very powerful wand (not a harry potter type wand) that is sentient and integrates with the person that is using it. Of course everyone wants it, so adventures happen in trying to protect it, but we also see how the elves cope with the bumbling humans, and as the story progresses we have the very first 1/2Human/ ½ Elf, a girl called Kia a very powerful empath. Magic abounds so do lots of unusual characters from all over the cosmos   www.thewand.me

The biggest challenge was putting all my eggs in one basket, ie Amazon KDP. I did everything right, amazing website, landing page, editor, illustrator etc On its release date, Amazon lost the plot. For 17 days you couldn’t find the books, and then for another week after they appeared, each of the books said ‘Unavailable to purchase’ All Amazon said was sorry for the inconvenience?!

But now in the process of uploading to many other platforms, Kobo, Goodreads, Draft2Digital etc

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

I like characters that are a little bit quirky, not your normal sheep-like kind. They all have a loose kind of moral attitude.  I have an overweight fairy in my latest series called The Big Fairy Adventures. She is called Tinker Tanker but has a heart of gold. She is covered in little bruises from bumping into walls since her wings can’t cope with the excess weight. From my last epic fantasy trilogy, I have brought a favourite character over from that, he is a little human, A Chinese man called Ding Ling, he provides the humor, even in the darkest moments. There is a scene and h is in discussion with his master Hugo. Hugo is thinking of doing two major things at the same time and Ding Ling knows it will lead to disaster, so he uses Confucius sayings, to get his opinion across, in this case he says to his master, “Master, Confucius would say, ‘never take a sleeping pill if already taken a laxative tablet’”

There is a lot of myself in the characters, particularly the humor I would like to think

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

Watch out for the charlatans on the marketing side out there. You will pay them money, for absolutely no guarantee you will sell lots of books. Go off personal recommendation. Please, if you are an indie publisher, put your books on more than one platform and not just one. Join up with Facebook groups for help and advice

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

Not really had any problems like this. Certainly, my preparation for a books official release will happen a minimum of 3 months before its release date. I don’t stress out about getting a chapter written by a certain time. I am lucky, I can sit down and immediately write and write. I know now how long an editor needs a book, how long my illustrator needs to design the book cover and so on. I never ever leave things to the last minute, that’s a sure fire way of messing up your plans

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

I am most definitely a pantser. I did try going down the apparent tried and tested route. Potting out chapters, working on characters before starting to write and so on, but it stifled my creativity. Oh I can tell you with a book its beginning, middle and end in ten minutes, but then I type directly onto my laptop, I have a very rough idea of the characters, but then let the whole adventure fill out as I write. The only problem is, I needed to know is my writing good? This is where the Beta readers can help, but more importantly, it’s when all the rave reviews come in from the public, that you know you are ok as an author

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

Working at the moment on a series called The Big Fairy Adventures. I have a big map of a fairy kingdom called Layleamonee on the wall of my authors man cave. It is covered with all sorts of little titles like, The Oberon fairy warriors, the blue whispering mountains, the Grobs, the Crags and so on, each one is a book in itself that will make up the series.

But I am about to start writing a story which is SciFi about an Android (can’t tell you much more, but there is a very interesting hook to 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?

I am a multi genre author, so have written a  true life story about a devastating tragedy, also written a book about scary stories, but I like books that are colourful, convey a whole gambit of emotions, have a touch of moral issues about them. I do have some very dark sections in my book but generally good will overcome evil

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

Hmmm. Star Wars to watch, would never read this. Lord of the rings, well written but too dark and depressing and really? 4 pages to describe a character? Not many laughs either, I always feel I need to go for therapy after reading Tolkien, to improve my mood. So it has to be Harry Potter

Links to:

My website: www.thewand.me

           My Amazon Authors page: https://amzn.to/2ZPPWzd

           My epic fantasy trilogy: The Wand Chronicles on Amazon: https://amzn.to/33IWuAO

           Book one of my Big Fairy Adventures, How it all Began: https://amzn.to/3bDpgGU

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

              Twitter:    https://twitter.com/wandchronicles

           Pintrest:       https://www.pinterest.co.uk/thewandchronicles/_created/

            Instagram:    https://www.instagram.com/thewandchronicles/?hl=en

            Linked-In:     https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-ross-280532166/


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Author Interview – Caleb Kelly

Welcome to the campfire! Today we have Indie Urban fantasy author Caleb Kelly. Let’s get started before the marshmallows get too crispy!

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

I’ve always wanted time write. It was my escape. Even in middle school I carried around a 3-ringed binder with a constant story I was writing on. I loved venturing into foreign lands and living a life free from the rules of physics we are bound by. Writing became an outlet to explore my imagination.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I write fantasy so I can break free from the fetters of reality. The real world is boring. Fantasy allows us to dig into the recesses of our mind and bring anything to life.

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

My latest project has been my impending release of my Arthurian fantasy novel, Camelot’s Reckoning. It was tricky looking into all the nuances of “history” and bending it to the way I needed.

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

I try to separate myself as much as I can from my characters. I’ve always said that adding too much of yourself will result in writing the same character across the board. Your characters aren’t you. They have different aspirations and different desires. I try to make them flawed. They are human and humans make mistakes. It’s those repercussions that add the extra flare to a story and drive it forward.

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

Edit. Edit. Edit. And learn to love it. The first draft will never be gold. It will ways have room for improvement. However, one must also learn when it is time to cut the cord on a manuscript. Every author believes their story can continue to be edited years after publication. Perfection will never exist, but we can certainly strive to get as close as possible.

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

I do most of my writing in my breaks at work. I do some at home too, mostly when I’m changing stories. The change of setting allows me to change my mindset.

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

I used to be a pantser. I used to say my fingers did the writing and my brain was just along for the ride. I don’t say that anymore. I have to have an outline. Typically, chapter by chapter. Although I’m not as detailed like others are, I need a skeleton to begin adding muscle too. Without it I will float in a void.

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

For now, I am sticking to urban fantasy. There aren’t alot of male urban fantasy writers, but I enjoy breaking the laws of our world with the ones I make up. I have an epic fantasy in the works, but I need more time to devote to the complexity of the storyline. I want a few other series out before I jump to that train.

  • 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 a good hero story. The hero’s journey is an undying classic. However, villains have to be understood. A good villian should relate to the reader. One should be able to see their point of view, though their way of obtaining it may be skewed. Having elements of both styles allows for room to entice the reader on the different layers of life.

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

LoTR. Without question. I like that Star Wars has an extensive universe with limitless possibilities, but Lord of the Rings has always appealed to the side of me that loves the Middle Ages. Swords and Sorcery is my bread and butter. If I can meld those with the modern world, I have accomplished what I set out to do.

Thanks Caleb!

Camelot’s Reckoning is now available for Pre-order here

Follow Caleb on Facebook and Twitter

Visit his website at – https://calebnkelly.com/

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Author Interview – Andy Freeman-Hall

The response to my call for fellow indie authors to sit by the camp fire and tell us more about themselves and their work has been fantastic! This time with the bag of marshmallows is new indie author Andy Freeman-Hall. Enjoy!

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

My name is Andy Freeman-Hall, I’m 29, and an ecologist in my day job. I have what I affectionately refer to as turbo-dyslexia, and after many terrifying experiences of having to read aloud at school, I became genuinely afraid of books, getting my fantasy fix from films, TV, and games instead. Then when I was finishing my master’s degree, I decided to give audiobooks a try to help pass the time with all the fieldwork I was doing. And just like that, I was hooked. After my masters, I spent a year struggling to get a job and I decided to try and write instead of sitting around doing nothing all day but wait for rejected job applications. The next thing I knew I was writing for 8-10 hours every day. That dropped down to 2-4 hours a day once I started my PhD, but since then I’ve never stopped. That was 6 years ago.  

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The ability to create entirely new, living, breathing worlds. New concepts, new systems, new ways that peoples, groups, and nations interact. Fantasy (or at least the fantasy that I love most) allows the writer to create a world with unique properties, geography, and history within which amazing stories can immerge organically. That’s what I love to see.  

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

It’s my first novel, The Sage’s Lot (Blood and Balance #1). I tried to get it published years ago when I first finished it, but it was in no way a sellable product. My skill level just wasn’t there after only 2 years of writing.

Since then I have re-written the entire novel from scratch twice because my ability had improved enough that each time it just needed a clean slate. Those were hard decisions to make but the best decisions I have ever made. When I couldn’t get the final version picked up by an agent or publisher, I gave up and started writing an entirely new series to try again at getting a book published through traditional means, but after speaking with a lot of authors and readers, I realised that self-publishing my original novel was the right way to go.

A lot of epic fantasy readers won’t even pick up a book like mine until 2 or 3 in the series are released (I’m planning eight). Now the beta-readers are all done, as are the proof-readers. I’m currently finalising the cover art and working on the maps. The Sage’s Lot will finally be released by Christmas, even if it kills me.

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

My favourite characters to write are the ones with my own sense of humour. I feel like each of the main characters in my book reflects some aspect of my own personality (or some warped version of that aspect), but my two favourites are the ones that consistently make me laugh. I may be the one writing down the dialogue, but the characters are the ones coming up with what to say.

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

Perseverance. I forget who said it (maybe Steven Pressfield), but the only difference between a successful author and someone who just does it as a hobby is perseverance. I want to write fantasy professionally, but the only way I’m going to build my skills enough to do that is to just keep going. I didn’t stop after the 1st rejection, I didn’t stop after the 40th, and I won’t stop after the 400th. In the immortal words of Brandon Sanderson, ‘The most important step a man can take. It’s not the first one, is it? It’s the next one. Always the next step’.

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

Brutality in editing. My first draft meandered down so many rabbit holes that the story often got twisted up in itself. I’m a pantser, so I just write down everything that comes to mind with no predetermined endpoint. After, I have to go back and ask myself in what way each scene progresses the story. If it doesn’t, then I either tweak it so it does or (more commonly) cut it out, slice off the best bits, and splice them into another scene. If you have the problem of writing way too much like I do, you have to be brutal. No prisoners.

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

Pantser, 100%. When I briefly started writing a book in an entirely new series, I added in a little planning, but in reality, I’ve found that no plan survives first contact with the keyboard.

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

I’ll get the first 3 or 4 books in Blood and Balance rattled off and see how it’s going. I’ve got ideas for 4 other series (all fantasy) and a fairly coherent structure for one of them, but Blood and Balance is my baby. It’s the culmination of a lifetime of complex daydreams distilled into some semblance of an entertaining narrative. I need to see if it can swim on its own before testing the waters with anything else.

  • 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?

Anything with characters that make the sorts of hard choices that a real person would in their situation. Most of us wouldn’t sacrifice ourselves for some forlorn cause, and I need to see characters that act that way as it grounds a book in realism, no matter how fantastical the setting. People are people. It also makes our courageous heroes who are willing to sacrifice everything all the more heroic. 

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

Star Wars, but again, I was terrified of books until my early twenties. The Star Wars films were my go to films as a kid and will always hold that special place reserved for a first love.

Thanks Andy!

You can follow Andy on Facebook and Twitter

Follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals. If you’d like to do a guest post or author interview contact me via matthewolney9@gmail.com

Author Interview: Troy Young

The weather is a bit rubbish today and the wind and rain is lashing down on the campsite. Nonetheless we perservere and put up shelter to seek shelter from the elements with indie author Troy Young.

***

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

My name is Troy Young.  I have always had a creative side, honed through playing role playing games and acting.  I also at one time owned a community newspaper, so I became adept at writing for public consumption and to a deadline.

I am a part-time university lecturer, and in one class I had a discussion with my students about what their second career would be, or what they would do if money was not an issue. Then my students asked me what I would be, and I thought about it and said novelist.  Of course, I had not been writing nor did I immediately start writing. Years passed, and still no writing was done.

Well, I was visiting my parents in Florida when an idea for a story came to me.  I came back from Florida and was telling my idea to my staff (I’m the CEO of a non-profit association) when one of my staff interrupted me to say “when are you going to stop telling us about these ideas and start actually writing them down?”  That was February, 2018.  I immediately started to write.  That novel is set to be released in November.

In the interim, I have released a compilation of cosmic horror stories, a fantasy novel, and a sci-fi novel.  The second compilation of cosmic horror stories will be released in two days’ time of this writing.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I’ve always been interested in armour and swords, the fight against good and evil.  As I noted I have played roleplaying games since I was a kid.  I also fell in love with Robert E. Howard’s Conan at a young age, and of course J.R.R. Tolkien.  I have read the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings more times than I can count.

Mainly though fantasy takes you away from reality, even if just briefly.

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

The challenge as an indie author is always to convince new people to read it.  I started writing my fantasy novel, The Stone of Death, in February 2019.  I just published it on September 1.  It got shelved as I started to write my short stories. It got shelved for at least nine months.  There then was a bit of a continuity issue, as well as getting back into the characters. It finally was ready to go and I started getting a cover made (which took longer than I expected).  But it finally got published and is out there and getting read.

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

I like misfit characters that go against reader’s expectations.  Like my characters in The Stone of Death; the main character is a former mercenary who is not a great warrior at all.  He’s untrained with a sword yet insists on wielding one because in his mind that’s what heroes do.  But he sucks.

The other “heroes” in the book are a crippled Magus, an older priest (by older I mean early 40’s, and he’s a PoC) and a LGBTQ woman who is the most capable of the bunch.  While I have included a PoC and a LGBTQ character, the fact that they are this is not relevant. It is mentioned, but nobody cares and it isn’t a big deal because it shouldn’t be a big deal.

As for how much of myself goes into the characters, there is always a touch of ourselves, but if you have the ability to create dynamic and unique characters, you need to find a voice different than your own.  You need to be introspective and aware and a good judge of human nature to effectively write a variety of characters, otherwise they will be static and boring and similar in every story you write.

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

Just write.  Like any skill, you need to practice it.  Write, write and write some more.  I also do most of my own editing (contrary to what everyone says).  I use both Grammarly and ProWritingAid and have at least one of them running live as I write.  It has allowed me to identify errors immediately, and has made me more cognisant of the potential error before I make it. This in turn has helped me write better, and faster.

I sent my first novel, the one from Florida, to two different copy editors and both of them returned it no charge as they could not see anything, they would need to do to improve it.  I chalk that up to practice and the two editing programs.

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

I don’t.  I write when I am inspired.  I don’t force myself to write every day.  I tend to plot out my next chapter in my head and write the entire chapter.  Taking breaks from writing recharges me.  I get most of my best ideas (or clarity) on a walk. Good thing my dog needs walking, so it forces me to address and deal with plot holes and the like.

I have never had a tough time hitting my deadlines.  My sci-fi novel, I managed to write it in 12 days because I was in the zone on it.  It’s sequel is on pre-order for December 16.  I am only on Chapter 8, but I know I will have lots of time to finish it.

I guess setting up a pre-order is a good way to scare you into finishing!

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

Pantser.  I know where the chapter has to end, and obviously I know where I am starting, but I often don’t know how I am getting from A to B.  I start to write and the characters tell me where to go.

I remember reading something Stephen King said.  He said something along the lines of being a writer was like being a palaeontologist. The story is a fossil hidden from sight.  It is the writer’s job to uncover the story.  It already exists, you just have to brush away the dirt and expose the bones.  I like that.  Makes me think my characters are real people somewhere. Like that Will Ferrell movie Stranger Than Fiction.

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

Still have more short stories in my cosmic horror series to finish (14 of 18 are complete).  The sequel I am working on needs to be finished.  My Florida novel is part of a five part series; part 1 is ready to publish, part 2 needs a good edit, part 3 needs a major rewrite and parts 4 & 5 need to be written.  I have a half-finished historical romance I am working on (more action-adventure with romantic elements than a full-on bodice ripper).  The sequel to the Stone of Death needs to be started (it will be a four book series, each book written from the point of view of one of the four main characters; the second book is from the Magus’ point of view). So yeah, I have a lot on my plate.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I do like a good hero tale.  The best parts of a movie are when someone does something heroic. Like, when Thor in the first movie goes out to face the Destroyer armour without powers and proves his worth and gets his power back, that is awesome.  When the elves show up at Helm’s Deep (in the movies), it’s such a rush. When Arwen (again in the movies) turns to face the Nazgul and says “you want him, come get him”; oooo, chills.  When Theoden (man, I must really like LotR), after saying “Where was Gondor when we needed them?” is told about the beacons, and you know despite what he said earlier, the Riders of Rohan are going because dammit, that’s what heroes do.  That and a good redemption story are pretty awesome.

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

Like all three, but Lord of the Rings is where it is at.  Those three movies (along with Princess Bride) are as close to movie perfection as you can get.  Peter Jackson did an amazing job winnowing out the less important stuff from Tolkien’s epic and making it tighter.  The casting was amazing.  And movie Aragorn is way better than book Aragorn. To me, Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn is the ultimate movie hero.

Thanks Troy!

Follow Troy on Facebook and Twitter, Check out his books!

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Author Interview – Deston J. Munden

The nights are drawing in quicker and quicker but that just makes the campfire a more cozy place to be. Settle in dear reader and join me and we chat with fantasy and science fiction author Deston J. Munden.

Deston’s fantasy novel: Tavern

1.      Hi, Deston tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hiya. My name is Deston J. Munden, science fiction and fantasy author from North Carolina. I am a game art design major, who enjoys video games and Dungeons and Dragons. What inspires me to write is the passion to tell stories, exploring the creativity of my mind, and trying to help other people like me to burst through the industry. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

2.      What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

It is the limitless possibilities. Fantasy is a powerful tool to explore things that you can’t really do anywhere else. For me also, I’m a sucker for fantasy races, magic, and swords. I’m a very simple man to please when it comes to things like this. I feel like a lot of genres can hit these notes for me, but it’s still the fantasy genre as a whole that keeps bringing me back.

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

My latest fantasy project is named Duke’s Brand. It’s a story about a knight that is on a redemption quest to better himself. The most difficult portion of this character, however, was that I made him with being autistic in mind. I wanted good representation with the character and how he acts to be both accurate and liberating for people that this character is meant to display. I’ve been marketing Ser Torlyek as Neville Longbottom meets Thor from the MCU and Steven Universe. I think that’s a good selling point for anyone interested.

It should be released in December or January! It depends on my editors.

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

I enjoy writing the burly big guys with hearts of gold. For some reason, that tends to be the characters that I play in video game as well as my go to Dungeons and Dragon archetype. I do tend to put a little bit of myself into them though. It’s something that I don’t see much in myself, so I want to pretend to be tougher and stronger than I actually am (partly because of bullying and not being able to protect myself in the past).  Something about just being strong and living out that fantasy of protecting the people that I care about is present in a lot of my books.

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

Finish that first draft. I don’t care how you do it, finish that first draft. I feel like a lot of new writers get trapped in this constant loop of writing and rewriting the first few chapters. I’ve done it myself. But that’s not how you learn how to write books. You learn how to write books by writing them, making mistakes, and learning from them. It wasn’t until I wrote a really bad trilogy before I began to learn more about how to write. If you don’t learn anything else, you learn how to write consistently and effectively after finishing your first draft of anything. So do it. Get it done. Stop pre-writing, world building, and talking about it and get the draft done.

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

Writing consistently and having a planned writing schedule really has help me keep my stories on track. Before, I would either write sparingly or write out of schedule. It wasn’t until this became my full-time job where I started treating it like that. The trick is to write a little bit every day. It doesn’t even have to be a lot. There are days where I can barely manage 200 words, but I try to get other things done in the meantime. Other than that, I try to keep good notes on what I am writing and what’s going on with them for the best possible story I can manage.

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

Pantser, definitely. I tend to make a lot of it up as I go. It doesn’t mean that I go in without a plan in mind. I usually have a beginning, middle, and end planned somewhat or at the very least loosely. But, I like the idea of telling myself the story first and then working my way in and filling in the blanks in the second draft. It’s an adventure to say the very least.

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

Right now, I’m sticking with my fantasy and science fiction genres. I do want to dip into some other styles of fantasy and sci-fi as I get more experienced. Right now, though, I have my hands full with the two series that I’m working with at the moment.

9.      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’ve always been the type that enjoy when heroes’ triumphs over the evil. I feel like fantasy has been dipping deeper and deeper into grim dark. Though I do enjoy reading these stories, they aren’t something that I would want to write in my current headspace. I just wanna see a guy or girl or non-binary pal fight some evil and takes some names while dealing with their own personal issues.

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

Lord of the Rings, hands down!

You can follow Deston –

Website : www.djmunden.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Deston-J-Munden/e/B07Q2D6948/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SrBuffaloKnight

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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/D.J.Munden/



Book Links: 

Tavernhttps://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PWTR89Q

Dusk Mountain Blues: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B085LQJH3K

Author Interview – A.F Stewart

The sun rises over the campsite on this cool October day and from the trees emerges our latest campfire visitor, fantasy author Anita Stewart. We get the fire going and delve into what makes this author tick.

  • Hi A. F. Stewart, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?  I’m a geek, a writer of fantasy and horror, and also a bit of an artist; I like to paint and play around on Photoshop. My hobbies include reading, watching movies (I love action movies and sci-fi films), and studying history. As for writing inspirations, reading would be number one. I’ve always loved books and loved telling stories. That’s never gone away.
  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?  I love the “what if” at its core and the fantastic nature of the worlds and characters. The idea there’s something magical beyond the everyday routine has a captivating allure.
  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?  My latest project is The Camelot Immortals series. There are five books planned with a prequel collection of two short stories. The prequel, Eternal Myths, is published, and book one, Past Legends, is currently on pre-order with a release date for October 28th. The series is based on Arthurian legend, set in modern-day England, and follows the adventures of Nimue and other women of Camelot as they work save the world from impending magical doom.
    The premise of the novels is magic can make you immortal, so most of the Arthurian characters are living among us, but they’re still dealing with their emotional baggage and past sins. And woven in among this modern fantasy are more traditional fantasy elements as the characters encounter gods, elves, other wizards and creatures. Plus there’s swearing and drinking, and wizard vs. witch action battles.
    The greatest challenges in putting this series together were keeping the timeline and interwoven elements straight, and researching modern Britain. I needed to get the details right, and I know a lot more about historic Britain than its current culture.
  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them? Honestly, I enjoy writing the villains best, and even my heroes tend to be a little ambiguous in their morals. And I certainly hope there’s not much of me in those characters; they’re quite awful at times. Villains are more fun to write though, as they’re not as constrained or conflicted to the right thing. Need to destroy a village for a plot point? The villain will do it happily.
  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned? Recently, it’s scene outlining. I’ve had a much easier time writing a book by creating the outlines scene by scene as opposed to chapters, as it allows me to see how the plot points flow into each other. I can change things up, move scenes around, add scenes in, and take things out that aren’t working. And I can quick check the outline to see what a character did earlier to write in consequences later. Scene outlining has helped my plots. 
  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?  I try to plan out enough time to work on things; I really don’t like being late with anything. Writing sprints are another excellent motivator. But If I’m stuck, I take a break or maybe go for a drive in the car. That generally helps clear my head. But the weirdest thing that helps my thought process is washing dishes. I’ve worked through several plot issues over soapy china and glass.
  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?  For books, I’m a plotter. I base many of my stories on or in history with mythological elements, and interweave arcs through a series or a plot. It’s easier for me to write if I outline timelines, characters, and scenes, and keep all the elements straight. However, for short stories, I usually pants those plots. I start with a beginning and an ending and fill in a few thousand words for the middle part.
  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?  I have to finish writing/editing the Camelot Immortals series by early next year, and then I want to get back to my Obsidian Blade series. That series is set in 15th century Venice and follows the assignments of an immortal assassin and troubleshooter who works for the city’s government.
  • 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?  All my books take a darker approach, even before the current state of things. I mix in a little horror with my fantasy (or write straight up horror stories) and not everything ends happily. As a reader, though, I like both styles.
  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?  I’m a long time Star Wars fan, so if you’re talking about the original trilogy, then that’s my pick, no question. It does lose major points for the prequels/sequels, though. So maybe it’s a tie with Lord of the Rings if they’re included. Poor Harry Potter doesn’t even make the top three cut for me.

Thanks Anita! You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and visit her website

Her new book Past Legends is due for release October 28th. Get it here

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Author interview – John D. Pepe

The response to my call for indie authors to join me around the campfire and chat about books and writing has blown me away. Today we have fantasy author John D. Pepe pulling up a chair.

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

Hi. I’m John D. Pepe. Author of The Lone Wolf.  By day I counsel high school students and at night…I’m not going to tell you what I do in the dark, lonely hours of the evening when my family sleeps (write, read, and watch TV- that’s all)

I think my inspiration for writing started at a young age.  My grandmother use to tell me stories when I was young, and I was fascinated by them.  Also, as a kid, we were outdoors a lot and used our imaginations a great deal more than the kids now a days (no videogames with awesome graphics back then).   When you couple that with copious amounts of Dungeons and Dragons and a desire to be an actor, I think it was the eventual recipe for writing fantasy.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I love escapism.  In fantasy, as a genre, there’s something exhilarating about being able to take up your sword, slay the dragon, and save the princess (not necessarily in that order).  In classic fantasy, which is what I grew up on, good triumphs over evil.  That doesn’t always happen in the real world.  It seemed simpler. The real world is more complicated. That is what originally appealed to me. That doesn’t mean I don’t like modern fantasy with morally grey, more nuanced characters, but the classic good vs. evil fantasy is what first drew me into its depths.

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Check out John’s book The Lone Wolf
  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together? (include release date etc here) 

The only project I have finished is The Lone Wolf.  I had several challenges.  I had never written a book before, and I had no formal creative writing training so my learning curve was steep (I was 80% done with the book and had joined a writer’s group wherein the members began to school me on what a dialogue tags were, what maid and butler meant, etc.).  Also, my editor had a lot of personal issues going on during the edits and it became a bit rushed as we were trying to get it done before SPFBO 6.  And me being new to writing, she had a lot to do in a short time.  I’ve since had to go back and re-edit some stuff. But hopefully I’ve improved, and the next book will be easier for her.

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

I think I really enjoy quick-witted, funny, rogues who are good with a sword.  I had a friend read my book and she said every time one of my MC, Caladin, spoke she pictured me.  I took D&D characters my friend and I have been playing for 20 years, and I infused a bit of him and I in them as I further developed their personalities for the book, except I flip-flopped them when it came to the banter.  I am more like his character (Caladin) and he is more like mine (Quinn).

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

I’m a wannabe. LOL.  It’s hard to give advice being a babe (not in age…maybe in looks though…call me silver fox – I’m pretty old) when it comes to writing.  One book under my belt, I’m hardly an expert.  I think what I would say is put pen to paper regularly.  Get in a good writer’s group. Don’t be afraid to put your work out there and accept criticism as a learning tool.  Draw from as many things as you can for inspiration. And don’t follow trends in the genre, write what you want to read.

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

First off, I don’t create/have deadlines and I, unlike others, can afford to do this writing thing as a hobby; I’m not writing to put food on the table.  And when I did try and give my self deadlines, I really started to dislike writing.  So, I told myself, write when you feel like it, and in doing so it doesn’t feel like a chore.

To keep me on track, I usually write a small outline, maybe a 2-3 pages, just for reference.  I use that more when I get stuck in a plot point to get the creative juices flowing.   Otherwise, I sit and think about what needs to happen next in the story.  I try to make it a logical for the characters and hopefully entertaining for the readers.  As long as it makes sense within the story and my gut tells me it is good, I go with it.

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

Pantser.  I love pulling them down. It is hilarious in public. Not my own, by the way. My friends. Just want to make that clear. It is a laugh riot when you catch them unaware. The look on their face. Okay, on a serious note, I’m definitely more of a pantser. I have a strong idea of where Point A is and what Point Z is going to be, but the path, the scenes, the scenarios, and the dialogue I create on the fly.  I write it and listen to my instincts – Is that what I would want to read (like how I put that in italics like I’m a character in a book who is in thought?).  Then I get feedback from others about what to keep and what to reject.  And I do that until I hit Point Z.

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

So many plans.  I had about three chapters done in my trilogy The Six, and pushed that aside on recommendation from my friend to continue to write about my rogues (they have been likened to Hadrian and Royce from Michael J Sullivan’s books by my SPFBO judge Kaitlin; I haven’t read any of Sullivan’s work but I think they are pretty popular).  Best laid schemes and all.  My friend and a few other readers seem to like the rogues and he suggested to stick with them.  I have at least three books in mind for them, the first being The Gentlemen Procurers, and I’ve finished chapter one.  Then I plan on writing two books about my other protagonist from The Lone Wolf, Remence, my young ranger.  Then I will jump back into my trilogy.  I plan on all the books tying in with one other with some level of character cross over. 

No other genres for me. I’m such a slow writer I might never get these fantasy books done! Besides, fantasy is what I love to read, so it is what I want to write.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I really enjoy both. But, like I said above, I grew up on classic fantasy and I really love when good triumphs over evil. I want the hero to win in the end; it’s a big part of why I gravitated toward fantasy to begin with.

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

Hard NO on the Harry Potter. Not that its bad, I just never got into it, and I tried several times.  Star Wars came out when I was 5 years old and had a tremendous affect on me and my imagination, so I cannot not just brush it off.  I love Star Wars, but I’m really into fantasy so I will have to give it to Lord of the Rings.  Elves, Dwarves, and Orcs oh my!

Follow John via-

Website: johndpepeauthor.com

Email: johndpepeauthor@gmail.com

Podcast and Blog:  godamonggeeks316.com and Neekology 101 (podcast) – Podbean, iHeartradio, Spotify.

Thanks for having me!

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Author Interview – Jonathon Lively

  • Hi Jonathon Lively tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?
  • I was inspired to write because I used to run a small business writing professional resumes. I fell in love with writing at that point but I didn’t have the correct outlet at the time. I tried to write a book about resume writing but that didn’t go anywhere. I was just regurgitating information that was already freely available. One day, I was sitting at the bar where I worked and reading a book. I kept thinking that I’d rather be writing, than reading. So, I went home and did exactly that. Question two tells a bit more of that part of my story!
  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?
  • I started writing in the Fantasy genre because it is basically all I read. Except for some self-help/business books, I read for entertainment. I like to escape to a new world. I love the idea of magic and imagining how it would work blended with today’s society. When I first started writing fantasy, it was a background story on a character I was going to play for a DND campaign. Later that night I turned in a ten-page backstory that made my Dungeon Master want to puke it was so long. But for me, it was just the start. Three days later, I had about sixty-seven pages written on a character that I’d never thought about before. I did not research, I had no pre-determined goal, and there was no outline. I just wrote. That’s when I knew.  
  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?
  • My first completed work has been published and I am in the midst of learning how to properly market a book. That is easily the challenge that I am facing the most. I also struggle with my editing. Sad things for an author I know but its true. I LOVE to write stories but I never claimed to be an English major. I have big problems with my run-on sentences, commas, and fragments. So, I get to pay someone for all of that!
  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?
  • With my limited writing experience at this point, that is tough to answer. Currently, I am really enjoying the exploration of anti-heroes. I have a few characters detailed out that will be in the coming sequels that I hope, are relatable anti-heroes. I always put a small piece of myself into each character, otherwise its difficult for me to view from their perspective. I envy authors that can come up with these wild characters that have no basis in reality and think completely alien. I haven’t been able to channel that yet. The main character of my first book, Lathan, was based upon my life at the time. At least before the supernatural stuff kicked in. I’ve been told that the introduction to him was slow but that was intentional. I wanted people to relate to this guy who was real, with real problems. And then thrust him into a magical world, hoping that my readers would put themselves in his shoes and say, “how would I respond to that?” The approach had mixed reviews. Some loved it, others thought it was too slow and had trouble getting into the book.
  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?
  • The advice I will give is the same that I received from Dakota Krout. He was a mentor for me in my first book and without his help, I am not sure if I would have finished the book. Just write. That’s it. Just write. That is vague I know. But for me, it meant two things. First, when you do not know what to write or have writers block. Write something. Anything. Writing something, is better than writing nothing. And once you get the ball rolling, you’ll come back to your WIP, I promise. Second, do not edit your WIP to death. When you are in the zone, when you cannot type fast enough, and the ideas are just rolling out of you, write without stopping. Do not fix those red typos, ignore those blue grammar mistakes, just keep going. You can get all that when you move into your next draft or start editing. Sometimes, if I have writers block, I will review my previous chapter to get back into the zone. In doing so, I will edit a lot of that stuff out at that point. But do not do it in the moment. Just write. 
  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?
  • I write best at night. And currently, I am working nights as a 911 Dispatcher. So, on nights off, I write while the rest of my house is quiet. And on nights that I work, I do smaller projects. If I end up with downtime, I try to spend it working on a project that isn’t too involved. That way I can drop it at a moment notice. When I am home though, I’ll usually sit at my kitchen table or in my recliner. I throw on some head phones and listen to a playlist called Deep Focus on Spotify. The playlist is meditation like music with no vocals. I can’t focus on my writing if the music I am listening to has any singing. Although, I do enjoy throat singing a little. I don’t usually eat while writing, too distracting. But I will drink obnoxious amounts of water and pee like a race horse. 
  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?
  • I am a bit of a pantser so I don’t do a ton of research before beginning my writing. I usually start writing, fill in what I want to be true, and then go back and verify or change what I’ve written. That’s more for a chapter or some detail that is super specific. In regards to a book, I have only written one and I spent about three months outlining that universe. I spent probably twenty hours researching various parts of my universe to make sure that certain aspects were even possible. In the future though, I am unsure if I will do the same level of research. Because I know as an author, I can get really tied down in the research. However, as a reader, I can’t point to a single time when I have stopped reading and looked up a fact to check if it was true or not. I’m reading fantasy fiction, I am taking what I read at face value.
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  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?
  • I am working on the sequel of my first book, The Last Soul. I am working on the sequel following book two as well. In fact, I am writing them as one book, a continuous story, and then finding a good breaking point to split it into two novels. Also, I am writing a side story to my trilogy and I am considering turning it into a podcast. We’ll see. The side story is still in the works and not my main focus at the moment. 
  • 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?
    • Right now, a darker approach. I don’t feel my stories need to combat the current climate, I feel as though they are some sort of reflection of it. Hence my interest in anti-heroes at the moment.
  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?
  • Depends on the medium. To read, Harry Potter. To watch, Lord of the Rings. To debate endlessly about, Star Wars. I have more interest in living within the Harry Potter and Star Wars universes. However, I prefer to write in a world most similar to the Lord of the Rings. So, short answer? Yes.

Follow Jonathon on Facebook, Instagram, and his website.

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The Indie Authors guide

Want to publish that novel you’ve spent days, months or years of life sweating and crying over?

Want to get it to market without falling victim to the vast array of scammers out there? Want to navigate the minefield that can be the author community and do it without breaking the bank?

Well, with this quick guide you can!

Indie Author M.S. Olney takes you through the steps needed to get your book on the market without going bankrupt in the process!

He’s been writing books for a decade and he’s experienced pretty much all the BS an Indie author will experience.

From one Indie author to another, let’s get your book out there!  mybook.to/Authorsguide

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