Author Interview – Mark Johnson

Today I’m joined around the campfire by epic fantasy author and another New Zealander (the desire to write fantasy must be in the air down there!) Mark Johnson.


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

Hey Matthew, thanks for having me on! I’m an Epic Fantasy writer from New Zealand. I started writing as I was getting bored with high school teaching, and decided to do something different with my hours off.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I’d say the thing that I like most about fantasy is the ‘mystery’ aspect. Most fantasies have some sort of ‘hidden secret’ the author asks you to consider and predict, and for me, the addition of a ‘supernatural’ element into the mystery is just too alluring.

I also like books that explore other societies and ways of living. How would society change if X technology were considered an everyday fact of life? What would you do differently if you could do X?

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

My latest book is coming up in the first half of this year. It’s called ‘The Engine of Gods’, and it’s the fifth in my ‘FireWall’ series, and second to last of the series. The first book is ‘The Renegade Within.’ It’s about a woman who discovers corruption within her martial society, which is similar to Paladins. The corruption turns out to be the tip of the iceberg, and threatens the life of her god. She finds herself going down a path she never wanted, but must if she wants to save the life of her god and people.

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

I tend to write people who just want to get on with their lives, but find themselves morally obliged to participate in the right action. That’s not really me at all, but I find the question of ‘have I done enough for my conscience to let me rest?’ is compelling to write.

I also like writing characters who learn about the nature of their powers, along with the dangers inherent in those powers. Are the powers truly making their lives better? Do they make anyone’s lives better? Can they keep the powers secret so they can just get on with life?

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

Start with dialogue, and dialogue only. You’ll know if a scene works or not if the dialogue flows.

Start with a mystery. That’ll get you to write until the end of the book.

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

Lol: ‘on track’. I usually start out with an ending and the middle changes completely, meaning that my deadlines have to get pushed out so I can go back and write new things. I try to keep to 1000 words a day, but I usually can’t, because I’m too busy redoing the plot and other scenes.

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

Oh man I’m the worst combo of the two. I start with a plot. The plot gets cooler as I go and I have to go back and change the preceding chapters several times as I go, as well as changing the plot outline. If I’ve written several books in advance of publication (like I did for FireWall), then I go back and touch up a few chapters there, as well. It’s utterly frustrating.

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

I’m currently plotting my sequel series and FireWall’s sixth and final book. My next series is about what the consequences are for what happens after the climax of the first series. An ongoing theme of my books is ‘there are consequences even for doing the right things’, and my characters go to a new place, to find the echoes/ripple effects of what happened in FireWall are continuing to spread.

  • 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 find like stories that reflect the spirit of the times. There’s no clear bad guy and the heroes on both sides and their methodologies and worldviews both have flaws.

I prefer a darker approach to deal with the more complex side of social problems, when the answers to society’s problems aren’t obvious.

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

LotR’s context was amazing for the time, and it deserves the praise it gets. But it also is showing its age and overt simplicity. Harry Potter has much more complexity and nuance, and it’s what people need in these times. The good guys aren’t always obvious.

Don’t get me started on Star Wars.

Follow Mark at-

https://www.facebook.com/MarkJohnsonauthor


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Author Interview – Darian Smith

Today I’m joined by another New Zealander! Darian Smith is the author of the Agents of Kalanon series.


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

I’m a fantasy author from New Zealand and writing has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I used to enjoy writing stories for school and then as a teenager I embarked on my first novel attempt.  Before writing, there was reading and I suspect one grew into the other.  Our local library, when I was a child, had a limit of six books to be checked out at any one time.  Every week we would go and I would check out the maximum six books and read them all.  Sports wasn’t high on my agenda but reading was a game I could win!

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The great thing about fantasy is that it can be anything.  There’s the escapism of it, of course – and who wouldn’t want magic powers?  But there are often also themes and meaning layered in just as much as the most literary of works yet delivered in a fun way.  I like that.  And I want magic powers!

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

My most recent project was the third book in the Agents of Kalanon series, Battle’s Legacy.  The series is essentially murder mysteries in a fantasy world – kind of like CSI but with swords and magic.  It was good to revisit the characters and see the story continue.  It took me a little longer than expected – life can throw some curveballs sometimes – but I’m glad to say it was released on December 1st.  I’m working on the planning phase of the next book in the series and another stand alone novel as well.

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

I think there’s a piece of myself in all my characters.  I probably enjoy the smart-mouthed ones most.  There’s a lot of fun to be had in the interaction between flawed characters who like to needle each other.

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

To practice your craft and learn what you can from others.  There’s no reason to have to take time figuring out everything yourself.  Writer organisations and craft books can be an excellent way to improve your skill quickly.

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

Sadly, I’m not sure there are many tricks for meeting deadlines beyond what’s known as BICHOK – Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard.  That said, I have found it helpful to have an ipad with me at all times so I can write at least a little any time and anywhere.  All those little pieces of writing add up over time.

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

Definitely a plotter.  It doesn’t come naturally to me but it definitely helps reduce the need for drastic rewriting later on.

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

I have plans for more of the Agents of Kalanon books but also for a stand alone YA book and an urban fantasy series.  There are more ideas floating about in my head and in my notebooks but those are the ones on the schedule next.

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

I’m a hopeful sort of guy so I prefer stories where the good guys win.  Which isn’t to say they all make it to the end in one piece, but there’s enough darkness in the world already.  It doesn’t always happen in the real world so I like my fiction to give that satisfying ending where good wins out in the end. 

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

It depends what I’m in the mood for.  Weirdly, for a New Zealander who loves fantasy, Lord of the Rings isn’t the top of my list.  I like it and respect it but it’s a harder read for a modern audience than the other two.  I read for enjoyment so tend towards lighter reads.

Website: www.darian-smith.com

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

Twitter: @DarianWordSmith

Instagram: @DarianWordSmith


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Author Interview – Sean Valiente

Joining me around the campfire today is new fantasy author Sean Valiente. I’ve been writing fantasy since 2014 and know how daunting launching yourself into the genre can be. We learn more about Sean and what makes him take.


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

Hello! I’m Sean and I am a fantasy author. It feels good to say that. I’ve recently self-published my first book, The Lighting Knight. I’ve always had stories in my head that I thought might be fun to put to paper, and after explaining the ideas to my friends for the millionth time, my best friend finally forced me to sit down and start typing. A few years later I have a real book and it’s amazing!

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I like the escapism and the allegory of it all. I think there’s something fantastical about being in a different world but still relating it to our world. Plus you get to break some of the rules of physics and readers are like, “cool”, and that makes things much more interesting!

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

My latest book, The Lightning Knight, was the first in my planned series. It was a tough cookie to bake, but after a lot of late nights and driving myself crazy, it finally came out! It’s available wherever you get your books online. The biggest challenge with this book was not redrafting it for the fourth time! Every time I went to tinker with it, things would change, which seemed like a never ending cycle of will this book ever see the light of day.

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

I like a diverse set of characters, not just in ethnicity or type but personality. However, my first book is from the perspective of one character, so the other characters are really a reflection of how he sees them. They have a lot more depth and intricacies beneath the surface, but to Oliver, they just are who they are. I’d say the main character has a lot of shades of myself, but ultimately he’s his own person.

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

Write! It’s the hardest part, especially for “wannabe writers” which is what I was for about 10 years. It’s so hard to finally start, but once you do, it’s like the Ents have broken the damn and flooded Isengard.

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

I’m a big fan of google docs and google sheets. I’m a finance and accounting professional so everything in my life is a spreadsheet haha. But really, you find something that your comfortable with, whether it’s Scrivner, Gdocs, Word, a pen and a napkin, and you go with it. Just remember to save your files (or napkins) to a cloud drive (one reason I love gdocs). Dropbox, box, gdocs, OneDrive, whatever. External USB or harddrives are cool, but even they have failure rates (or you can physically lose them.) Autosave and save often. The netherworld of lost manuscripts is littered with amazing stories that are gone forever!

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

I’m a bit of both. I have points I want to get to, but I don’t know how to get there. That’s when I let the characters drive the plot, and it’s pretty great as a writer, because I get to watch it for the first time!

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

I have two things going on: one is continuing my series with book two (I’ve already written five chapters). The second is I have an idea for a middle-grade fantasy book series that I might start in a few months.

  • 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 heroes triumph kind of guy, but I love a good bittersweet ending as well. I’m not a grimdark kind of person or writer, but I do like to have some darker emotional strings from time to time.

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

They’re actually all very different and important for their respective reasons. Star Wars showed what sci-fi and fantasy could be on screen, and developed an amazing multi-media empire of content. Lord of the Rings is basically the Godfather of fantasy and showed that books could be turned into movies and other content if handled with care (we won’t talk about the beloved animated movies). And Harry Potter brought a love of reading to many people who fell away, and opened up fantasy to the masses on a popular scale. I love Star Wars with all my heart, Lord of the Rings is my fantasy bible, and Harry Potter is my treat-yo-self dessert. They’re all great.

Follow Sean on –

https://www.instagram.com/theknightsofnine/

https://www.facebook.com/seanpvaliente

Currently the kindle edition of Sean’s book is $.99 and will be that way probably through feb or march.


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Author Interview – Patricia Simpson

It’s that time of the week again! This time joining me around the campfire on this cold dark night is fantasy author and karaoke addict Patricia Simpson.

1.     Hi Patricia. Tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I’m a writer from the Bay Area who has been writing since I learned to read at age 4. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and begged my parents for a typewriter for Christmas. I am married to a Scotsman and have done a lot of international traveling with him in the past twenty years. I enjoy exploring haunted and historical sites wherever I go. I’m an incurable karaoke addict.

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

I find the process of creating unique worlds and populating them with creatures of my own design to be endlessly fascinating.  

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

I started brewing a dark fantasy series, The Londo Chronicles, in 2011, when everyone was talking about the Mayan Calendar and the end of the world. I began by writing a novella to explore the concept of a few human beings who survive a nuclear disaster with the assistance of unlikely allies (vampires). I fell in love with my fictitious Victorian London setting and haven’t yet emerged. I am contemplating adding a fourth book to the series because the characters won’t leave me alone! 

THE LONDO CHRONICLES

Marriage Machine (Novella) – Aug 2011

Apothecary – Jan 2020

Phoenix – Feb 2020

Prodigy – Mar 2020

Chimera – WIP Mar 2022

4.     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 about unassuming protagonists who, when faced with adversity, find strength and courage they never knew they possessed. My characters face dangers that I hope I could overcome if I were in a similar position. So, yes, I guess my heroines are modeled after my own quiet, introspective nature. (But don’t cross me…)

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

That you gotta love writing in your bones to be able to stick with this business. It’s tough but it’s the most rewarding job a person could have. To create something out of thin air and connect with other humans through your characters is nothing short of miraculous.

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

I use “styles” in Word and then use View/Sidebar/Navigation to show my chapter titles on the side of my WIP. I add brief text to the title to cue me into what I should be writing about in that particular chapter. Using titles this way is a great reference tool when editing and makes it easy to jump around in my WIP. If a timeline is important, I will add the day to the title, so I know I’m not getting Wednesday ahead of Tuesday. Once the book is edited, I take off the notes in the title. I also use a screenwriting paradigm to plot my books so the pacing is right for the genre I’m targeting. Once I have the backbone of my book showing in the navigation pane, I start fleshing out the story.

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

I’m a plotster. I come up with a barebones plot (that I add to my Word titles). Then I write from there. If I plot too much, I lose the excitement of writing the thing. If I know too much, my characters aren’t as surprised as they should be. I would rather stab my eyes with a fork than develop a chapter by chapter outline.

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

I’m dipping into screenwriting. I find the immediate gratification of writing an entire concept in a mere 120 double-spaced pages, well…gratifying!

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?

Good always triumphs over evil in my books. But I have especially enjoyed writing the villain in The Londo Chronicles. Neal Moray was an absolute hoot to portray. Every time he came onstage, he wrote the scenes himself. However, because of the dark times we are living in right now, I have switched gears. My screenplay is a dramedy. Something entirely new for me. Jokes. Feel-good. Sidekicks. I just can’t do dark right now. 

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

Hmm. Someday I hope to see The Londo Chronicles included in that question.

Award winning author of gothic, dark fantasy and paranormal suspense
Books: https://patriciasimpson.com/books/

Phoenix: https://patriciasimpson.com/books/phoenix
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PatriciaSimpsonAuthor/
BookSniffer: bksnfr.me/Patricia_Simpson
Books2Read: https://books2read.com/u/bQdZGZ


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Author Interview – Sarah Astwood

Joining me around the campfire today is romantic fantasy author Sarah Astwood. We dive into what she loves about the genre and hear about her latest projects.


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

Hi, I’m a wife and a mom of four kiddos, who I homeschool. I live in Oklahoma, USA, and I’ve been writing since I was 18. I love to write because it allows me to tell the stories and explore the worlds inside my head.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The endless possibilities! I always say in fantasy you can make pretty much anything work.

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

My latest project is rapid releasing a four book urban fantasy series. I’ve never rapid released before, and the challenges of prepping manuscripts and getting them ready for publication when you’re raising and homeschooling four children are probably pretty self-explanatory. Especially this year, 2020, when everything seems to have gone haywire! However, Book 1, Ashes on the Earth, released September 2020. Book 2, Down into the Pit, followed November 6th. Fire from the Midst will be available January 2021, and the last book  of the series will probably debut in March or April 2021.

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

I like characters with genuine problems to solve and hard issues to figure out. I would say the part of me that shows up the most in my characters tends to be their sense of humor.

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

Always get plenty of eyes on your manuscript! We’re talking several beta readers, to start with. They will catch many things you never noticed.

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

For me, I work best with a daily word count, be it 500 words a day or 1,000. That sort of routine and daily discipline keeps me on track.

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

Ha, I try to plot, but through the years I’ve learned I’m very much a pantser. I’m pretty much a pantser at life, as well.

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

For the future…after I finish releasing my Stones of Fire series, I plan to return to an epic/portal fantasy series I started a couple years ago called Beyond the Sunset Lands and finish 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 like a hefty dose of darkness and realism, but with good triumphing over evil in the end. I know a HEA may not be totally accurate, but at the end of the day it’s what I prefer.

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

Lord of the Rings! Half the reason I’m on Facebook anymore is because of this awesome group called Funny Middle Earth. Seriously, if you like LOTR and you’re on Facebook, join this group. It’ll make you laugh, and I think we all need laughs right about now.

For a complete list of all Sarah’s works and the links to find them, visit her website at www.sarahashwoodauthor.com. To keep up to date with Sarah’s new releases, sign up for her newsletter. You can also follow her on Bookbub, or find her on Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

Let me know if you have a new release, launch date or promo dates to be added to my monthly newsletter. Spots are limited to 1 per month and will be chosen at my discretion.

Newest future release is Fire from the Midst, coming January 2021.


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Author Interview – J. Elizabeth Vincent

Joining me around the campfire today is fantasy author J. Elizabeth Vincent.


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

I’ve enjoyed writing since I can remember. The great way a book can provide you with entertainment, escape, and education (sometimes all at once!) is plenty of inspiration for me. I love making up new, idealistic (and not so idealistic) characters and new worlds and learning stuff as I do it.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The fact that literally anything can happen and that, as the author, I get to decide the rules of my own worlds.

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

I’m currently writing Rise of the Ceo San, the third book in my Legends of the Ceo San series. It should be coming out early next year at this rate. It’s been fun but also challenging because the deeper you get into a series, the more details and subplots there are to keep track of. Plus, there is always that part of me that wants to try something new … like, all the time. So, staying focused can be a challenge as well.

  • 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 that feel real, that have genuine everyday kinds of problems in addition to the big story problems. They need to be different, just like real people are, so some are generally somber, some are funny, some are snarky, and they all have a mix of moods.

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

Write what you love, even if that changes. That will provide you with the best motivation to keep going, even when things get tough.

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

Um … I’m not hard and fast with writing deadlines, and it’s probably because I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire with work, writing, and family. Sometimes, when it seems like I am having trouble getting the writing in, I will get up early (say 5 or 5:30) and work on writing first. That way, I’ve accomplished something early in the day before I can procrastinate myself out of doing it at all.

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

Both. I have little patience for plotting, as much as I think it’s a good idea, so I plot until I can’t take it anymore and then start writing.

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

Legends of the Ceo San is planned to be four books long, so I need to finish the third book and write the fourth. Outside of that, I am currently plotting a new book (fantasy romance or romantic fantasy) with a challenge another author friend is doing (Write a Romance in 30 Days). Even if I don’t publish it, I think it will be fun and a great learning experience.

  • 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 preferred the stories where good triumphs or the hero/heroine gets what they want. I don’t mind darkness in stories, but not to the point that I can no longer sympathize with the main character(s). The great thing about the triumph stories is knowing that no matter how dark or difficult it gets, your main character is going to come through. Much better than real life.

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

They’re all excellent series, but as a writer, I’ve got to go with Lord of the Rings. The sheer complexity alone left me staggering at the end, saying to myself, “How can this world not be real?” Tolkien obviously didn’t have my tendency to want to jump around between projects. He took the time to build Middle Earth in grand detail. Not a lot of authors do that.

Website: https://jelizabethvincent.com

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/j.elizabeth.vincent/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Fiction_Editor


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Author Interviews – Scott Kimak

Joining me today is history teacher, Kung Fu master and fantasy author Scott Kimak!


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

Hi, my name is Scott Kimak and I’m a history teacher and Kung Fu master. I came up with the story “I call him HIM” when I was a teenager but failed miserably to put pen to paper. It took me nearly forty years to make a second attempt. This time the words flowed unrestrained. I live in Harlingen Texas with the love of my life Diana, our four children, and our four annoying dogs.

As a child I was fascinated with the amazing stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs. There was a forest next to my house that I would wander into and pretend that I was Tarzan. There weren’t any other kids my age in the neighborhood, so I had to use my imagination quite a bit. Eventually, I started creating my own obstacles for Tarzan to overcome and my writing career had begun.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

That there are no limits. Whatever worlds, creatures, languages, or cultures you can imagine can be found in the pages of a great writer.

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

I’m finishing up the “I call him HIM” trilogy. The first book has already been released and the second book is also finished and available for preorder. Here’s the blurb from book one…

In a post-apocalyptic world, a warrior and his family are driven underground, fighting for their very survival. 

When they do emerge, the futuristic planet they discover is very different from the one they left behind. Ruled by an evil presence which dominates and controls what is left of mankind, Earth has been reduced to a violent place of darkness, grief and destruction.

I call him HIM follows the journey of this unnamed warrior as he loses both his family and his mind. As he hits rock bottom, all he can think of is his insatiable yearning for revenge until he meets a young girl called Angelica who shows him the true power of faith. Her youth, innocence and strength of character reminds him of everything he has lost and the things which really matter.

But as the armies of the world rise up for the ultimate battle of good versus evil, can Angelica help him regain his sanity and rediscover himself before it is too late?

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

I like my characters to be flawed and vulnerable, but also someone who can really kick some ass. “HIM” is really based on me. I tried to imagine what would happen to myself is someone murdered my family. How would that impact me?

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

Learn about marketing your book and build up a following before you publish.

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

I don’t use any tricks and I’m not worried about deadlines. I waited forty years to write these books, so it doesn’t matter how long it takes. The important thing is the quality of the story.

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

I guess I’m a little bit of both. I have the main idea planned out, but as I start writing something weird happens. I become the characters and they dictate where the story is going. I truly feel their emotions, and this can lead me in all kinds of different directions.

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

I have a ton of ideas. When the trilogy is finished, I want to do a prequel of stories. I would also like to take some of the side characters and branch off into solo novels with them.

  • 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 played a Paladin for the last forty years in my weekly D&D game with my kids, so I’m definitely taking the side of good. But my character “HIM” is very controversial and without some help, he could easily slip into darkness.

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

Honestly, I never got into Harry Potter. I love Star Wars but LOTR was one of the first books I read, so I’m going to have to go with that one.

Follow Scott via –

https://twitter.com/ScottKimak

https://www.instagram.com/scottkimak/

https://www.facebook.com/scott.kimak/

Links for “I call him HIM”

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/i-call-him-him-scott-kimak/1137473710?ean=9781663548320

https://books.apple.com/us/book/x/id1540316466

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/Search?Query=9781005847623

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1050311

 Part two of the trilogy is available for preorder but won’t officially launch until 5/6/21.


Author Interview – A.A Warne

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


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

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

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAWarne

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Twitter: www.twitter.com/AAWarne

Website: www.aawarne.com


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Author Interview – D. William Landsborough

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


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

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

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Doug at –

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

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

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


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Author Interview – Simon Kewin

Joining me around the campfire on this freezing cold winter’s day is science fiction author Simon Kewin.


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

I’m one of those people who always wanted to be a writer. I make most of my living as a software developer, and I do enjoy that, but creating fiction and fictional worlds was always what I wanted to do. I’ve been writing short fiction and novels for around twenty years now.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I think there’s something profoundly important about literature that allows a complete escape from the real world. It’s noticeable, and a little sad, how many people leave behind a love of fantasy literature as they grow up. I’m with Neil Gaiman on this: “growing up is highly overrated”.

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

I recently completed a science fiction trilogy, and felt the need to write something completely different. I came up with the idea for an urban fantasy series set in the UK and based around The Office of the Witchfinder General – a shadowy branch of the UK government responsible for “protecting the people from the unnatural”. They’re sort of magical detective stories. The first of these – The Eye Collectors – was just published by Elsewhen Press

The Eye Collectors

  • The ebook version published September 4th paperback version came out November 16th
  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

It’s always fun to write characters outside of your own experience: the imagination needed for that is very liberating. For instance, there’s a character in my recent sci/fi trilogy who is essentially a planet, with a very different perspective on space and time to creatures like us. Writing that was a lot of fun.

I’m sure, however much I try, that there’s always going to be something of me in every character I create. I guess that’s the case for all writers.

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

Write the next thing. In the early days I used to write one thing, then stop while I tried to find a publisher or an agent. Not only can that be soul-destroying, it also means you’ve lost your momentum. Keep writing. Get excited about the next project.

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

I set myself a daily word count target and stick to it. It can be hard to sit down and get into that flow, so what I often do is go back and revise what I wrote yesterday first as a way of getting into the zone. I also try to think about what I want to write next when I’m not at my desk, so that when I do sit down, the words are just there in my head.

I also like to have a few things on the go at any one time – if I tell myself I need to work on story A, something in my brain immediately starts working on story B. I try to let it do it.

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

I’m a pantser who tries to plot but finds it a bit boring, to be honest. It’s good to have a structure, maybe an end point to reach, but I find that if I lay things out in great detail, the actual writing becomes a bit of a chore. I like to discover as I go. It can be dangerous if the text wanders off in an unexpected direction…

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

I have three or four things to work on. I want to write several more (possibly four more) books in my Witchfinder series, but I’ve also written the opening ten thousand words or so of two or three other possible novels, all science fiction or fantasy. At some point I’d also like to write a more realist novel – but then I’d also like to create an epic fantasy trilogy…

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

A bit of both, I’d say. Ultimately I’m an optimist and so believe in the triumph of good. It can be hard to stick to that belief some days…

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

I love them all, obviously, but Lord of the Rings.

Twitter – @SimonKewin

FB – https://www.facebook.com/SimonKewin.Author

The Eye Collectors print version is coming out November 16th

The box set of my sci fi series (The Triple Stars) is released December 11th


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