Author Interview Tahani Nelson

Getting to meet my fellow indie fantasy authors is one of the perks of the job. In this author interview I sat down with Tahani Nelson to talk about her books and latest release due out on November 16th.


  • Hi, Tahani. Tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I’ve always loved fantasy, but growing up I had trouble finding heroines that I could connect with. Women in classic sword and sorcery are often love interests or damsels in distress, and I grew tired of that quickly. Even when I could find books featuring strong, amazing heroines, it never seemed to last for long. You’d get halfway through a story and the protagonist would meet a guy and that would become her sole ambition. Even 14-year-old me couldn’t stand love triangles anymore. So, I started writing all the characters that young me looked for. As it turns out, I wasn’t the only person searching.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Anything is possible in fantasy. Any creature or world or society you can think of is within reach. There’s magic that can bend the world to your will or twist the very threads of fate. It’s amazing. I love the freedom and magnificence of fantasy and the ability to face real-world issues in new settings. It’s empowering and beautiful.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together? (include release date etc here)

I started the Faoii Chronicles back in 2017 and hit every snag possible in the indie publishing scene. Scams, delays, imposter syndrome and a general lack of knowledge really keep me from hitting my stride for several years. But I have the most amazing army at my back, and together we’ve overcome every obstacle. Now the final book in the series, Faoii Ascended, is releasing on November 16 and I can hardly believe it. It’s been such an honor to tell these stories. I can’t wait to share the end with all of you.

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

I specifically write female-led military fantasy and I love it. I love women leading armies and wearing armor that covers all their vital organs. At this point I don’t know how much of myself I’ve put in my characters and how much of who I’ve become is because of them. But I’ve definitely changed in the five years since I began writing. I call my readers the Faoii Army and am honored to lead them. I wear armor to all of my events, readings, and signings. I’ve built something grand from nothing, and I think my characters would be proud… once they stop hating me for everything I’ve put them through.

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

Don’t compare yourself to other authors. Especially the parts of other authors you can see on social media. That’s a fast train to despair.

Listen: There will always be people who write more than you each night or who have more books out or more reviews or higher royalties. Social media accounts are cherry-picked highlights and your rough draft/blooper reels will never compare the way you hope they will. And that’s okay. Because there’s a version of you in the past who never thought you’d get this far. Who would be so amazed if they could see how far you’ve come. They’d be so proud of you.

If you must compare yourself, then focus on that person you were a year ago. Or five. Or ten. You’ve done such amazing things since then. Imagine what Future You will think of Current You if you keep going. I can’t wait to see.

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

This is probably going to sound like the opposite of an answer, but I make smaller goals. Tiny goals. Goals that other people laugh at. But I also hit them every single night and that adds up.

I write 200 words a day. That’s it. 200 words. A lot of people think that that’s so small that it shouldn’t matter. I’ve heard many, MANY times that I should be writing thousands of words each night. But those big numbers are intimidating, and often seem impossible. I used to aim for the big word counts. The giant goals. 2,000 words. A 7-book series. A movie deal. Whatever. And often, those giant goals were so intimidating that I wouldn’t even start. So I broke them down. 200 words a night. And I hit it consistently. Sometimes it’s enough to break the dam and I’ll write entire chapters. Sometimes I only hit the 200. But my word count is always better than the 0 it used to be, and this has gotten me through three 100k book and an additional anthology. Small goals work.

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

Panster. I often don’t even usually know what’s going to happen until three paragraphs after it’s over, and then it’s a surprise for everyone. But I like it, too. I don’t have very much control over my characters. I can only present them to the world around them and then try to keep up as they do their own thing. It makes the writing process a lot of fun, though I often have to erase entire chapters after they get themselves killed.

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

I don’t know what I’m going to do now that the Faoii Chronicles are finished. This series has been at the center of my existence for years now, and I never really considered what would happen when that wasn’t true. I’ve learned a lot about the publishing industry—mostly, that I knew nothing about it before. I might take a break from writing. Or I might start a series about dragons. Who knows? The world—many worlds, actually—are open to me.

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

Both. I like seeing people stand up against demons and societal issues and to watch them drag injustice into the light. I like that idea that maybe things might be okay; that we still have a chance at turning things around. But I also feel like we’ve passed the time of a knight in shining armor slaying a dragon. Our demons have shifted, and they wear our face. Stories have to be darker for us to relate to them, because we live in a darker world. But I also like to see that darkness being banished.

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

I like all of these for different reasons. I think out of the three listed here my favorite would be Lord of the Rings.

Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series is probably my all-time favorite series, however.

Get in contact with Tahani through social media –

http://www.TahaniNelson.com

Facebook.com/TheLastFaoii

Twitter.com/TahaniNelson

Instagram: TahaniNelson

TikTok: TahaniNelson


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SALE! Get the Empowered Ones Boxset for just 0.99p/c until October 1st

Get the first two books and special bonus companion guide of the Empowered Ones Saga for just 0.99p/c until October 1st. 
This boxset is normally priced at 6.99 so do not miss out on this special sale. 
The boxset contains –
The First Fear
The Temple of Arrival
The Empowered Ones companion book

Praise for the Empowered Ones series
‘A thrilling, action packed Fantasy adventure’ – Damien Larkin‘Fans of Sanderson will love this one’ – The Bookwrym speaks
“This was such a great book! LOVED it!!! Highly recommend!” – Amazon reviewer“Really good ideas and a fun read!” – Amazon reviewer “Amazing world building” – Amazon reviewer
“Wow I wasn’t expecting this book to be so good!” – Good Reads reviewer
The First Fear is a gripping, action packed tale” – Good Reads reviewer

“Loved how the magic worked, loved our hero, Elian, can’t wait to read more!” – Good Reads reviewer

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Author Interview: Kimberly Hennessy

It’s been a while since my last author interview, but I hope to get back to posting more of these again! Anyhow, today’s interview is with Kimberly Hennessy, author of She Runs with Wolves.

  • Hi, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write? My name is Kimberly Hennessy, and as far back as I remember I’ve always been telling stories. Before falling asleep I’d imagine these worlds and rehearse the same snippet over and over in my head. Growing up I loved writing papers, and poems but I didn’t think I could do it as a living. After completing my BSc in psychology, I travelled, did the odd job here in there and realized that I love to write, which is something I could do while raising my children. I started writing screenplays, and after earning my MA in screenwriting I started on my first book. She Runs With Wolves
  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre? What fascinates me the most is the possibility.
  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together? My novel She Runs With Wolves is a scifi\fantasy dystopia. It is a book near and dear to my heart. I wrote a book that I wanted to read, that included woman empowerment, kick ass fight scenes, wolves, Artificial intelligence, and a post-apocalyptical world that needed re-building. The challenges were putting all those ideas together 😉 I joke, but it’s true. I had a good idea of what I wanted, how I wanted the story to flow, and like many writers the beginning and the ending were particularly clear to me, but how to get there was very blurry. I’m not one of those writers that writes a whole book in a single sitting. I add, delete, add some more, and go through that process a thousand times until I have a book. The book is available on amazon.com now.
  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them? I’ve noticed from my screenplays, and my last two books, I love to write vulnerable characters, real people that completely unravel and descend into  hell without necessarily finding their way out of that hole, but accepting their fate and composing with that fate.
  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned? That your first draft is not a book. You will re-write that sucker at least twenty more times.
  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track? I’ve dubbed myself the Slow Writer. Deadlines aren’t my strong point, but I do make of habit of writing everyday. I use prowritingaid to help me keep my stories lean and the sentences varied, which helps a lot during the editing process.
  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)? I am a planner, and I love to try and get my whole story down into detailed outline, but often times I’m not sure if an idea works or not until I have worked it out on paper. I will try to stick to my outline, but at some point I let the natural flow of the story evolve otherwise it stunts my creativity and I get writers block.
  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres? I still have to write part 2 of She Runs With Wolves, but I’m also working on a historical fiction under a different pen name set in the early 1900 of Ireland and Canada. I’m also set to write three screenplays this year, so I will be very busy.
  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach? I’m doom and gloom gal. I really love dark stories, and often times I turn to scifi dystopia, but the truth is I love all sorts of books like murder mysteries, rom-com’s, and historical. I turn to these when I want to unplug.
  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars? This is like asking me to choose between my children. They all offer something different. My gut reaction would be Star Wars 1-2-3, but I can’t even tell you the number of times I went to see Lord Of the Rings at the movies (it’s embarrassing) I’m currently re-reading Harry Potter with my son, and rediscovering J.K Rowlings incredible talent.

I love to chat about books, movies, book to screen adaptations and Netflix. People on my newsletter are always quick to talk about some film or other they want to discuss and it’s such an amazing community. https://kimberlythennessy.com/

I post a lot about daily events on my facebook, where again people comment and shoot the breeze with me. Most recently how we can’t wait to see Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. https://www.facebook.com/kimberlyThennessy

And on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimberlyt.hennessy/


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NEW RELEASE – THE CRIMSON BLADE

It’s release day for The Crimson Blade! If you’re a fan of darker fantasy, assassins and criminal underworlds you’ll enjoy this one. Set twenty years before the events of Heir to the Sundered Crown you will discover just who the mysterious Crimson Blades assassins are and how they came to be. Here’s the blurb –

Killers, Murderers, Assassins.

The Crimson Blades strike fear into the hearts of all who cross their path.

When, Vaylin a low born merchant sees his wife and child murdered by the Knights of Niveren for wielding magic, he embarks on a quest for revenge that will cut a bloody swathe through the Kingdom of Delfinnia.

As he embarks on his deadly quest of vengeance, he will be embroiled in the realms criminal underworld and encounter an ancient evil that promises him the power he seeks to enact his bloody retribution.

With the Crimson Blade in hand, Vaylin will become an unstoppable killing machine but in exchange, he must sacrifice everything, including his soul.

Get your copy today in ebook and paperback formats!

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NEW RELEASE – The Empowered Ones Boxset

Hello I hope you’re doing well. Today I have something special to announce, a new book release!

The Empowered Ones boxset includes both books in the series as well as the short companion book and it’s price is actually cheaper than if you buy the books separately. Check out the synopsis of both books below. If the demand is there I will also make it available in paperback and hardback. Let me know if you want physical editions!

—Get the first two books of the action packed fantasy adventure in the Empowered Ones series boxset!

In this world Emotions grant incredible powers.

The Supreme rules the world.

For years, the people of her Imperium have lived in fear. Dreams of freedom are long dead for most. Those that could challenge her are in hiding.

Yet hope remains. Following an incident, Elian, a young man living at the edge of the Imperium, discovers he possesses powers with devastating consequences for both himself and the people he loves.

Forced to flee from the Supreme’s most deadly agent, Elian encounters a ragtag band of resistance fighters and a group of powerful rebels led by a charismatic leader, who believes that the key to overthrowing the Supreme lies in the ancient ruins of the once mighty Kingdom of Aeranyth.

Can Elian survive long enough to develop his newfound abilities and help the rebels turn the tide against the Supreme? Or will he die trying?

The Temple of Arrival

Betrayed.Hunted.

The Liberators defiant stand at the city of Asta has sparked the fires of resistance in the downtrodden people. Slaves, serfs and even members of the aristocracy have risen against the regime and flock to the Liberator banner.

As conflict spreads across the world, the Supreme’s gaze is fixated on Elian more than ever. Reeling from his mentor’s betrayal and battle with the First Fear he is hunted relentlessly by Hollowed and Venerable Chamber Seekers.

The only person who can help Elian is a mysterious Empowered One–who he’s not even sure he can trust. Terrible secrets await. Secrets about himself. Secrets that could herald the end of all things.

Temple of Arrival is the second book in the exciting Empowered Ones fantasy series. If you like action, sprawling battlefields, and power enhanced heroes, then you’ll love this series.

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SPFBO Author Interview: S.D. Howarth

As the SPFBO continues and as the judges start eliminating books at speed I will be interviewing as many entrants as I can regardless of whether they progress to the next rounds. Indie authors need all the good publicity they can get and I am happy to do it. Today I interview S.D. Howarth the author of The Tryphon Odyssey.


  • Hi S.D. Howarth tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I live in East Yorkshire with my wife, children and eternally hungry cats. I bypassed kids books at school and went into adult adventure books and military history. Since then I wanted to write, but deferred it until an enforced break from computer gaming, then looked at seriously working at it after I dinged 40. Then the learning process began.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The breadth and scope available to play with. You can do something close or offbeat to existing history, or go all out and do your own thing. You can keep it small and local, spread through time, or massively encompassing. Everything is there in the toolbox to play with, and if it isn’t, you can change it so it is, with and without limitation

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

Mt debut novel The Tryphon Odyssey is available from Amazon from May 2021, and was an entrant in SPFBO7. Worldbuilding was a mix of Civilization & Warcraft gaming inspirations, with archaeological/historical references to keep it grounded as an evolution to ‘What if’. The novel could be described as nautical fantasy in a medieval period, with a few twists due to environmental calamities. The main challenges were a lack of primary sources to the original worldbuilding, once you dig past Christian and much earlier Roman influences in historical accounts, and looking to archaeology instead – where it exists. Then the pounding and evisceration to turn the manuscript into something readable around the day job and children. The duration of that is something you don’t expect, when putting pen to paper.

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

People who I can develop and throw into events, or what I’d like to read. Sometimes based off historical individuals – sometimes more inspirational than fiction, or someone who came out of the woodwork and is fun to play around with, particularly when in over their head.

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

Patience. If I can do it, anyone can, but you need to set time aside and work through the fun, the challenge and the frustrations. When time is a challenge, keep chipping away, the greatest source of stress will be yourself adding pressure.

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

What deadlines – I’m in the plebite ranks.

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

Panster, but some structure will kick in to define key events and POV.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres? ‘The Tryphon Odyssey’ is the first in a trilogy, with a rough draft for another couple of trilogies, ideas for a prequel origin novel and a standalone side project in The World of Sanctuary. I also have a Steampunk/Flintlock world called Crater, which morphed out of a short story ‘Halidom’ in the Blackest Spells Anthology by Mystique press which I was developing with a few short story ideas.
  • 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?

Either, both work for me if entertaining, or have interesting characters or concepts. Something to pique my interest would be the distraction, I’m after as dark hunour can be amusing.

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

Star Wars, the RPG saved the franchise for me in the 90s when it went silly, and the recent trilogy shows what works well, and less well when you only use part of the toolkit, and swap around the tools each film. The recent series and standalone movies resonate with the RPG feel and even with the tropes, they are fun.

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

facebook.com/sd.howarth.79

http://twitter.com/Angry_Cumbrian

www.worldofsancturary.co.uk

Many thanks for your time & good luck with your releases.


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SPFBO Author Interview: S.R Cronin

In this latest special SPFBO author interview I spoke with S.R. Cronin about her entry into the competition and what she enjoys most about writing fantasy.


  • Hi  Sherrie. Tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Like many others, I made up stories in my head as a child. I also read all the science fiction and fantasy I could find in Western Kansas in the early Pleistocene. (It wasn’t much.) When I tried my hand at a dystopian short story in eighth grade, my English teacher told me to keep writing. I was an obedient sort, so I’m still doing as she said.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

It’s my world. I make up the rules, I create a place that fascinates me, and I let people have adventures in it that I like. Why would you want to constrain a story and write anything else?

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

I don’t like doing easy things and that’s a shame because I’ll probably never know if I could just write a good book. To my own misfortune, I like complicated.

So after my first six-book series (complicated in another fashion) I got this idea to tell an alternate history/historical fantasy story seven ways, each time through the eyes of a very different sister. I called it “The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters.”

Because these seven young women will manage to save their realm, it’s a little like a female Seven Samauri with some Rashomon effect thrown in. (I thanked Japanese film genius Akira Kurosawa for his inspiration in the first book’s dedication.)

Book one, about the intellectual mastermind of the girls, came out in November 2020 and is in entered in the SPFBO#7. I released book two, the story of the nurturing sister, in February 2021, and book three, the story of the warrior sister, in May 2021. These days I’m writing book five, at least when I’m not checking SPFBO sites to see if book one has been reviewed and cut yet.

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

I like my main characters to surprise themselves with what they are capable of. I’m not a particularly grey or dark writer, though every good story needs a little grimness to be interesting.

I put a lot of me into most characters, including (or maybe especially) the villains. You can’t write what you don’t know, and I think spinning tales is cheaper than therapy. It sure gets you to confront things in yourself you don’t like.

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

Write. Write more. Keep writing. Don’t get me wrong .. classes and writer’s groups and beta readers and online blogs are all a wealth of information and should be tapped. But unless you write, rewrite and edit a lot, the rest won’t matter.

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

I set aside three writing days a week and don’t let myself do anything else. No social media. No laundry. No random ordering junk from Amazon. I write, or I sit and stare at my screen. It works. After a while I get bored and I start writing. (I do let myself eat cookies though and that helps.)

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

Much more of a pantser. I always have a vague idea of the story’s main conflict and how it will be resolved, and I often do an outline with a few sentences per proposed chapter before I start the book. (I seldom stick to it.) But I always do a more detailed outline of the next chapter before I start it, listing what has to happen in it somehow. It usually reads something like: Jason and Margie MUST meet now and Jason’s cat HAS to die. Hit by a car? Margie’s car? Maybe Jason’s car. Is it because he was looking at Margie?

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

I can’t imagine life without thinking about the next series. I already know mine will be a crime novel/fantasy hybrid. (Crime novels are my other love, a taste not developed until adulthood.) I’m thinking I’ll have three different detective protagonists from different times and places who loosely work together. Like I said, complicated fascinates me.

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

I’ve always been a good triumphs kind of lady when it comes to my entertainment, although I think a little shading makes it more interesting. (Good triumphs but …) It’s not because I’m inherently cheery or an optimist, though, but more like because deep down I’m pretty cynical. I like my entertainment to take me out of the dark places I’m prone to go to in my head.

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

Star Trek – none of the above.

Follow Sherrie via –

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cinnabar01
Facebook: www.facebook.com/46Ascending
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/s.r.cronin/

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/5805814.Sherrie_Cronin
Amazon: www.amazon.com/Sherrie-Cronin/e/B007FRMO9Q

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/s-r-cronin

Author Blog: https://sherriecronin.xyz/


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Get Quest for the Sundered Crown for just 0.99p/c this week until July 4th

The summer sale continues! This week it’s the turn of book 3 in the Sundered Crown Saga: Quest for the Sundered Crown. I’d like to give a huge thank you to those of you who have picked up the books. Every review helps and if you enjoy my books please do spread the word and tell your friends and family about them.


Danon’s army sweeps across the Kingdom of Delfinnia and Luxon, the only one capable of stopping the annihilation of the realm embarks on a desperate quest to cure himself of the deadly Void Sickness that threatens his life.

To find the cure, Luxon must travel through the Magic Gates and find the Waters of Magic, but in doing so, he will be sent to new worlds and even through time. There he will uncover the shocking truth about Danon and another he calls friend and mentor.

Elsewhere dragons ravage the eastern lands spurring Kaiden to reform the Knights of Niveren and in the south, the King’s Legion, led by the usurper Ricard makes a desperate stand against Danon’s hordes. As the world turns ever darker, one hope remains. The legendary sacred sword Asphodel remains hidden.

The Quest is on to claim the blade and perhaps push back the evil threatening creation itself.

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SPFBO Author Interview – Devin Downing

In this latest SPFBO special author interview I spoke with Devin Downing who has entered book one in his Adamic Trilogy: The Dividing into the competition.


  • Hi, Devin. Tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write? I grew up in Temecula, California where—like every other author in existence—I read books nonstop. As a kid, I was a huge fan of Rick Riodan and the Percy Jackson Series. I loved how he took a polytheistic Greek religion and turned it into a magic system. Growing up in a very Christian household, I started thinking about how I could do something similar with the Bible. I ultimately decided to turn the creation story into a magic system. Once I started running with that idea, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had to write it. Eventually, my freshman year of college, I decided to give it a shot. Now four years later, I nearly have the Trilogy complete.
  1. What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre? One of my favorite aspects of fantasy is its ability to critique the real world. The fictional, impossible nature of fantasy creates a barrier—a safe space if you will. Fantasy readers want to be immersed in a new world. Most of them aren’t looking to read about systematic prejudice or sexism in society; however, when reading about a magical realm, they might just find those same messages hidden between the paragraphs of dragons and danger. Fantasy authors have the ability to introduce world-altering topics to readers who may not even be looking for it, and I think that is pretty amazing.
  1. Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together? My most recent project is the third and final instalment of the Adamic Trilogy, The Reviving. It’s been a wild ride, and I’m so excited to finish my debut series. The size alone has been a bit of a challenge. The trilogy will be weighing in at just over 500,000 words. I’ve been writing it while simultaneously getting my bachelor’s degree in neuroscience, so I’ve been pretty pressed for time. However, I just graduated this last April, so I’m ready to devote all my attention to this epic conclusion. Assuming everything goes according to plan, I hope to release book 3 in October 2021.
  1. 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 without a doubt villains. While I know that sociopaths exist, they aren’t the kind of villains I want to write about. I want a villain my readers can relate to, with a cause that even I could consider justified. I tried my best to make such a villain for The Adamic Trilogy. As for the second part of your question, I put a pretty liberal helping of myself into all of my characters. I pick and choose the most interesting aspects of myself and mix them with personality traits of my friends and family. Matt (my male protagonist) is probably the most unfiltered reflection of myself, but they all have little sprinklings of Devin.
  1. For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned? This is a cliche, but write what you want to read. Even if you’re into some weird stuff, you’ll find an audience. Writing requires a lot of motivation, and if you don’t love your story, odds are, you won’t finish it. Second, don’t be afraid to suck. We all gotta suck before we ascend. Just start writing. You might just surprise yourself how quickly your story progresses into something you’re proud of.
  1. What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track? Frankly, I just try to muscle through. Occasionally, if I get stuck in a scene, I’ll jump ahead to a scene I’m more excited for. I find that skipping to my most anticipated scenes keeps me going, even in the face of writer’s block. Otherwise, a little caffeine and a comfy couch are all I need.
  1. Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)? Plotter, to the extreme. I like to have a chapter by chapter outline before I write a single word. For me, it’s often the convoluted conclusions of a story that motivate me most. Without having some implication of how it all ends, I doubt I’d find the motivation to start any story.
  1. What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres? Both you could say. Once I complete the The Adamic Trilogy, I plan on writing A Sliver of the Soul. It’s a Historical Fantasy Romance that adds soulmate magic to the tragic events of America’s colonization. I hope to finish and begin pitching it by January. From there, medical school is actually the plan. I’ve been accepted to medical school for Fall 2022, but that won’t be the end of my storytelling. Once I complete medical school, I have no doubt I’ll be back to writing.
  1. 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 definitely take the darker approach. Something about the realism of tragedy makes it infinitely more appealing. The truth is, characters die, heroes fail, and sometimes… villains are victorious. I think maintaining a realistic degree of darkness makes a story that much more believable.
  1. What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars? What kind of trick question shenanigans is this? That’s like asking ‘which is better, food or water?’ Honestly, I’m not sure I want to give an answer, though I will say this. The Dividing most closely resembles Harry Potter in its contemporary fantasy nature. Of the three, Harry Potter definitely played the biggest inspirational role for my writing.

I have an Instagram account where I post daily writing prompts and short stories. https://www.instagram.com/writing.prompt.daily/?hl=en



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SPFBO Author Interview: Rob Donovan

The interviews keep coming! This time it’s the turn of Rob Donovan the author of The Crystal Spear, an entrant in this year’s SPFBO competition.


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

 I am 42, married with three boys and live in West Wickham, a small town in greater London, UK. I’ve always dabbled in writing and wrote my first novel of sorts when I was 14. It was entitled, “the Scarecrow” and was derived from my love of reading Point Horror novels.  I never really considered writing novels properly though until 2009. I had read three books from three of my favourite authors in a row: Robert McCammon’s Speaks the Nightbird, Stephen King’s The Wolves of Calla and George R R Martin’s, A Storm of Swords. I loved all three books but two of them went in directions I wished they hadn’t and “a Storm of Swords,” just blew me away so much, that I wished I could write something as good as that. My wife had just given birth to our first boy Joseph and was extremely ill. I would do many of the night feeds and it was whilst sitting up in the quiet one night around 3 am, that an idea popped into my head that involved aspects of those three novels and how I wished they had gone. Not tired, I lay Joe down and on a whim, scribbled down a scene. I had no idea of a plot, but the scene was just so vivid to me, that I wanted to write it. The next night, I read over what I had written and the next chapter came to me immediately. It really was that simple, every night I would write a bit more until I got in a routine of doing the night feed at 4am and not bothering to go back to bed, but writing until I had to leave for work at 6am.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

How broad and diverse the genre is without a doubt. Not only do you get to create brand new worlds with rules and laws of your choosing and fill them with all kinds of characters and species but you are not restricted in any way to the genre. If you fancy adding in elements of horror you can, want some romance, comedy, detective novel etc go for it. With the fantasy genre you can have the choice of including all of those elements or none of them and still be creative.

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

I’m currently hard at work with the sequel to the Crystal Spear entitled, The Kraken Churn. I’m around 80k words into it and have roughly 30K to go I reckon. I aim to finish the draft by the end of July. That should allow me to release the novel in autumn.

There have been two main challenges in putting this one together. When I finish a novel in my series, I normally go onto a lighter project or short story before delving into the next in a series. It clears my mind and allows me to let off steam. I did that by starting to draft a prequel to another book I wrote 7 years ago. I was having great fun doing that when suddenly the urge to write a prequel of sorts to the Crystal Spear took my fancy. I always try and finish the current project before moving on to the next but this time the story was so clear in my mind, I knew I had to get it down on paper or risk losing it. I was really enjoying that story when I woke up one day and thought I really need to be getting on with the next book in the Forbidden Weapons Saga. So once again I put my pen down and started on another project. It was a challenge to start with as I had three separate stories whirling around in my head and it took a while to quiet the other two voices.

The second challenge is being productive. Being in lockdown and working from home has not been as fruitful as I thought it would be. I had a nice routine of writing before work and at lunch whilst in the office. At home with three kids that routine has been harder to maintain and so some weeks have been very productive but there have been others where I have managed a few days writing and then it has just not been possible.

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

Flawed characters are always great to write about, especially ones that don’t know they are flawed. I also like to write a good villain. The best villains are complex with understandable motives, but I also love to create “cool, almost cartoonish villains.” Villains that you just love to hate. Darth Vader in a New Hope, the Emperor in Return of the Jedi, Joffrey, the Ringwraiths, Voldermort, the list goes on, but all of them are just evil because they are evil and everyone loves to hate them. There is a push to make villains masterminds or Machiavellian and I love that type of villain but sometimes you just want to read a classic good vs evil story. 

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

Reach out and back yourself. Being an author is a lonely profession and with it comes a large imposter syndrome complex. No matter how many times you get good reviews or praise, there is always an element of doubt as to whether you are good enough to do what you do. The truth is, if you want to write, it is because you have a story to tell. Someone, somewhere will love that story and so do it for them and yourself.

Writing is inherently a lonely profession but it doesn’t have to be. The writing community is the most friendly and helpful community I know. Everyone is rooting for each other and ready to help in any way they can. It is hard work but the help is there to make sure you have the best chance of succeeding.

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

I find setting the mood definitely helps and I have a variety of things I try depending on what scene I am about to write. Often I will work in a dark room, light a candle and play medieval music on Alexa to get me in the zone, if I am not in the writing mood, a walk through woods and imagining myself in another time period often helps.

In terms of tools, I use Dabble writing software, which I have found to be excellent. I wrote my first 7 novels in Ywriter which was a simple but great free software, but I saw Dabble and loved: its simplicity, its planning feature and more importantly, being web based, I was enamoured with the fact you could log in on any laptop or phone and write at any time. It is subscription based but I think the fact that I changed from a perfectly acceptable free software to paying a monthly subscription tells you how impressed I am with it.

Finally, I am on a few writing Discord channels. One of them is very active in running 15 minute sprints where you compete against other writers to write the most. I say compete but it is really not a race, but it does inspire you to stay focus and distraction free for those 15 minutes. I average around 450-500 words during those 15 minutes. Do that three times a day and I achieve my daily targets.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Mostly a pantser for sure. The majority of the novel is definitely made up as I go along, allowing the characters to drive the story. Around about three quarters of the way through where I sense I should be wrapping things up soon, I will sit down and plot the last ten chapters or so to make sure characters have a decent arc and the story is cohesive. I always find this part (the plotted part) hardest to write as it begins to feel like doing a homework assignment or a task at work.

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

A busy one. I aim to finish off the other two projects I mentioned earlier. I am roughly 15K words in to both of them and I don’t plan on them being long – more novellas really. I have also been jotting down ideas around a coming of age story with a supernatural element that I am quite excited about. I might attempt that one during NaNoWriMo this year (writing 50,000 words in the month of November).

Then of course there is the third book in the Forbidden Weapon saga.

  • 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 not sure if it is do with the state of the world at the moment or my personal circumstances but my tastes have changed. I always used to love a dark ending. I loved any book where evil triumphed unexpectantly, or the hero died at the end. Those are the endings that stay with you (the Mist for example). However, since having my three boys, I tend to want good to triumph and with all the doom and gloom around the pandemic, I think we all need a feel good story.

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

Wow, now there is a question. The answer is without a doubt Star Wars but I feel guilty about saying it. I am a huge fan of all three. I grew up watching Star Wars on repeat and had all of the toys and played with them daily. I loved the Ralph Bakshi Lord of the Rings and had read the books but it wasn’t until the Peter Jackson films came out that I went back and read the books again and truly fell in love with Lord of the Rings. Harry Potter is just a magical series and I am not ashamed to say that I queued up at midnight for the books as they were released. Star Wars though just affects me like nothing else ever will.

Follow Rob via –

Rob’s website: www.Robdonovanauthor.com

Rob’s facebook page: (3) Rob Donovan Author | Facebook


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