Author Interview – Marty C.Lee

My author interview series continues with YA fantasy author Marty C.Lee the creator of the Unexpected Heroes series.


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

I write YA fantasy. My then-teenage-daughter was bragging one day about how her artistic skills came from her father, but her writing skills were unique in the family. So I pulled out my file of writing to show her where she got it from. She wasn’t impressed. (It’s notoriously hard to impress your own teenagers.) Then she found four character paragraphs I wrote in high school and asked me for the rest of the story. When I told her there WAS no rest of the story, she quizzed me for two hours until I came up with more ideas, then sent me off to write it for her. The plotted six-chapter short story turned into a complete novel and eventually led to a four-book series and a lot of short stories.

  •    What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Genres tend to have a typical emotion associated with them, like love/passion for romance or fear for horror. Most fantasy leans heavily on hope and wonder, and I like writing those. I believe in happy endings (though not happy middles), even if the ending happiness is bittersweet.

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

Spark of Intrigue is the fourth (and last) book in my Unexpected Heroes series, and is coming out January 4th. In honor of its release, I’ll be putting book 1, Wind of Choice, on a major sale, so it’s a good time to start the series!

The first three books in the series are loosely connected, and you can read them out of order if you don’t mind a few spoilers. Book 4 is a little different… I took a lot of threads from the first three books and tied them all together in ways that surprised even me. For instance, a throwaway line from book 2 became a major hint in book 4. A random occupation in book 1 became super important in book 4. A character who died in book 3 comes back to haunt them in book 4 (only figuratively, sorry). And so forth. That sort of thing happened many times as I wrote the book, and then random characters either inserted themselves in the story or insisted on being more important— or both!     

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

I actually write a wide variety of characters. Some of them are like me in one way or another, but some are very different. I’m a social scientist by education and inclination, and one of my favorite classes in college was a personality class. It’s not the only class that has come in handy in my writing, but it’s certainly one of them. I’ve given my four main characters half a dozen or so different personality tests, and they’ve come up different from each other in every single test.

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

Read a lot, write a lot, get a writing partner who is better than you at some things, and learn grammar. Please learn grammar. If nothing else—and there IS else—messy grammar buries your story in weeds.

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

Try to write nearly every day, in one way or another (brainstorming & plotting count on some days). Even if you are a pantser, figure out a method of plotting that works for you. (Obviously, if you are a pantser, this will be a much lighter method.)

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

I started out convinced I was a plotter. After all, I had a sentence or two of notes for every chapter. Didn’t that make me a plotter? *lol* In the years since then, I’ve developed a much more involved plotting process, though I’m still NOTHING like those people who write a 40,000 word outline. And my plot outline still leaves room for pantsing expansions. (Oh, he has a cousin he didn’t know about? Sure! And she’s a diplomat and is going to have a part in this book? Okay!)

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

            Besides the Unexpected Heroes series, I already have a free sampler of short stories available, starring previously minor characters (https://books2read.com/unexpectedtales), but I’m working on two more long collections of short stories set in the same world, one “contemporary” to the series and the other “legends” of the different cultures (think “fairy tale retellings from my fantasy world”). Based on reader reactions to one of the short stories, I’m considering an expansion to a novel, but that one is still simmering.

 I’m also planning a series of paranormal (ghost) stories that will be set in modern Earth, but it will be a while before those come out.

 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?

No matter how the world is at the moment, I prefer good triumphing over evil. Evil might win the battle in stories or real life, but in real life, it always loses the war.

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

I do like all of them, but Lord of the Rings is my favorite. Starting at age 8, I used to reread it every three or four months, for… oh, more than a decade. My younger sister dropped her copy when she was reading and called me to find out what page she was on. 🙂 When the first movie came out, my older sister gave me tickets (and a babysitting voucher), because it was inconceivable to her that I not watch it in the theater instead of waiting for video.

No, I don’t write like Tolkien. I’ve been told my stories are more reminiscent of Lloyd Alexander and a bit of John Flanigan.

https://www.facebook.com/mcleebooks/

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/marty-c-lee

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18960886.Marty_C_Lee


Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

The power of Bookbub

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post about the writing process so I thought I’d share with you all the results of my recent Bookbub promotion and how it took Heir to the Sundered Crown to bestseller status in the Sword and Sorcery Category in four countries on Amazon.

What is Bookbub?

So what is Bookbub exactly? Well, it’s a promotion site, the promotion site for books. Landing a US featured deal is like winning the lottery and it took me 4 years of persistent trying to get my book chosen for one.

The official description is: BookBub is a book discovery service that was created to help readers find new books and authors. The company features free and discounted ebooks selected by its editorial team, as well as book recommendations, updates from authors, and articles about books.

An author needs to sign up and create an account before listing their books to their Bookbub profile. (Follow me by clicking HERE) Once that’s done you then need to add the links to the various store fronts (if wide) that your book is sold on. If you’re a Kindle Unlimited author then you will only need to add the Amazon link.

Bookbub sends out emails everyday listed books that it chose for a featured deal and depending on what type of deal your book will be put in front of millions of subscribers. I’ve written about other services before such as Fussy Librarian etc, but Bookbub beats all of those by a wide margin in terms of guaranteed return on investment.

What also makes Bookbub standout is there use of expert editorial teams to choose what books would make the best fit for that days promotion. By using data they assess what type of books are in demand and which ones have the best chance at success.

BookBub notifies its subscribers about free and deeply discounted ebook recommendations selected by its expert editorial team, from bestsellers to hidden gems.

How to get chosen

Now this is a much sought after secret and Bookbub knows this. They have several guides on their site about what gives your book the best chance of being picked but with so many authors clamouring to get a deal the chance you’ll get picked is low. As I said, it took me 4 years of trying to get one!

Heir to the Sundered Crown was first released way back in 2014 but finally achieved over 60 reviews only recently. (If you’ve read it please review it!!!) Reviews help massively in the selection process as does making your book page on the relevant book stores look professional.

During the application process I also mentioned that the book was part of a planned promotion, something that I also think helped it be chosen. My promotion was for the book to be on sale for 0.99p/c.

Cost and Results

For the promotion I got it cost me just shy of £450 or $700, very pricey and a cost that I have to admit made my palms sweat a bit, but as they say you have to spend money to make money. The promotion went out on February 19th and at the time of writing this I have covered my costs and made a nice bit of profit.

Sales wise here are the totals so far –

Amazon (All nations) – 1,258

Wide (Apple, Nook, Kobo, Google) – 406

Total – 1664

Not a bad number and sales are continuing with every passing hour. On the initial promo date the book shot to the top of several genre lists and bagged a best seller badge on Amazon in multiple countries. What was of even greater interest is that my other books began to shift units as well, even the full priced ones. Audiobooks too began to sell with the number of them being sold doubling!

Get Heir to the Sundered Crown on Audio

It won’t be for another month or two until I get the sales data for those but it’s looking good. Another benefit I’m hoping for is that sale through for the Sundered Crown Saga will continue and that readers enjoy Heir enough to buy the rest of the series and maybe try some of my other books.

I won’t know the full impact of the Bookbub deal for another week at least as some of the stores data recording is a little slow, but overall I am very happy with the results of the deal.

Have you had a Bookbub featured deal? What was your experience of it? Let me know in the comments below.

Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

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


Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

Get the History of Esperia eBook FREE!

Hi everyone, I hope you’re doing well and not letting these lockdowns and general global rubbishness get you down.
 
 One good thing about these lockdowns is the extra spare time I have. For a long time I’ve wanted to put together a book that covers the lore and history of the world in which my fantasy novels are set.
 
 To that end I present you with the history of Esperia companion book! Claim yours absolutely FREE from the link below.


Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

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.


Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

January 2021 Update

It’s finally over, the year that felt like it would never end! I hope you all had a great holiday season and ate and drank your fill. 

2020 was a crazy year for all of us and I’m sure 2021 will be rough for many and just as mad, but there is hope on the horizon that one day life will return to normal thanks to the vaccines. (I hate all this talk of a new normal) I for one don’t want to have to wear masks forever and never be free to go to the pub with my mates again. 

Last year may have been tough but I am proud to say that I managed to get book 4 in my Sundered Crown Saga written and released. I hope those of you who have picked up a copy are enjoying it (please leave reviews!).

Anyway, enough of 2020 (boo, hiss), 2021 will be another busy year for me in terms of writing. So far I have achieved my goal of releasing 1 new book a year and in 2021 that will be the sequel to my historical fiction novel Unconquered: Blood of Kings. Book 2 covers the aftermath of the bloody Battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings and will see Osfrid become a rebel fighting to liberate his homeland. 

Other things I’ll be working on are –

  • Book 5 in the Sundered Crown Saga (Aiming for a 2021 release)
  • Book 3 in the Empowered Ones series (Aiming for a 2022 release)
  • Book 2 in the Unconquered Series (Aiming for a 2021 release)
  • A rewrite and relaunch of Terran Defenders: Genesis 
  • Planning for 2 new fantasy novels and a new sci-fi series

Also, I’ve set the Sundered Crown prequel novel The NightBlade to just 0.99p/c on Amazon and have now released it on other retailers. I’ve also republished my Terran Defender stories on wider retailers and Amazon. 

Both are now available on Kindle and other retailers. TDG Amazon – mybook.to/TDG2TDG other retailers – https://books2read.com/u/bzaVyGTDR Amazon – mybook.to/TDRBTDR other retailers – https://books2read.com/u/4EyG9e

Phew! 2021 promises to be another busy year. I hope it will be a great one for all of you as well. 


Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

Author Interview: C.T Phipps

Welcome back to the campfire. Pull up a seat and warm yourself against the cold, dark winter. Today I’m joined by prolific American author C.T Phipps.


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

Hi, back! I am 39 years old and from Ashland, Ky. I’ve been writing since I was a child but eventually I got decent around college. I’ve always wanted to tell stories and whether it was table top gaming or fanfic, I was always honing my craft. I eventually decided to write two separate series: The United States of Monsters and The Supervillainy Saga.

The United States of Monsters is now composed of multiple trilogies (Bright Falls Mysteries, Morgan Detective Agency, Red Room Saga, Straight Outta Fangton, and Psycho Killers in Love). It’s set in an urban fantasy universe where the supernatural came out in 2008 and deals with various heroes trying to make the adjustment.

The Supervillainy Saga is a six book (so far) series about a self-styled supervillain named Gary Karkofsky a.k.a Merciless: The Supervillain without MercyTM. It’s a comedic series with a serious core about a guy who wants to be the bad guy but isn’t quite evil enough to pull it off. It’s an homage to all the wonderful comic book media I’ve consumed over my life and utterly zany.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I believe what I like most about the fantasy genre is the fact that it is limited only by your imagination. I just don’t feel the same connection to historical or “realistic” settings and I feel like fiction allows you to test the limits of reality far better than something that must stay within the boundaries of the plausible. Despite this, I admit I am fonder of urban fantasy than I am high fantasy or grimdark (low fantasy). Heck, even science fiction, though I have dabbled in that genre too.

One of the reasons I decided to do a superhero universe was because almost anything can happen in them. The Supervillainy Saga was based on the idea of setting it in a world with magic, super-science, gods, demons, wizards, aliens, and more. It’s the ultimate genre mash-up and I feel like you only get to really enjoy a superhero universe if you completely go gonzo with it.

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

My most recently released work is PSYCHO-KILLERS IN LOVE for the United States of Monsters universe. It’s set in 2000 before the 2008 reveal and is a story that homages 80s slasher movies as well as the 90s reinterpretations of them like Scream and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

William and his sister Carrie are the children of an infamous holiday-themed slasher, Billy the Undying. After a Final Girl took Billy down, they were imprisoned for years in an asylum for their father’s crimes. Escaping, they’ve tried to stay one step ahead of the authorities while dealing with their father’s ghost as well as rising supernatural urge to kill. Arriving in a haunted small town with a mysterious cult, they discover a slasher hunter named Nancy that has her eyes set on wiping their kind out. However, William has eyes for her and hopes they can cross all lines of good sense to be together. Can the family that slays together, stay together?

I’m currently working on The Horror of Supervillainy, which is the 7th book in the Supervillainy Saga. I’ve had a real blast writing these and I’m very glad that my fans have continued to follow me through these. This volume has Gary struggling with his recent attempt to go straight and getting lured into a haunted swamp to rescue the President’s daughter from Dracula. It turns out to be a trap and he’s soon confronted with an entire host of past sins coming back to bite him.

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

I confess, I absolutely love snarky and sarcastic pop-culture spewing protagonists. A lot of my characters follow the Buffy, Harry Dresden, Iron Man, Mercy Thompson, and Spider-Man mold. Gary is certainly in that vein and I absolutely love how he reacts as a bundle of weird comic energy through your typical superhero universe. Mostly because if the reader is entertained every second of reading a page then they’ve more than gotten their money’s worth. As for how much of myself I put into books? Well, every one of my characters has a part of me in them. I hope I’m not a budding supervillain or serial killer (of killers), though.

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

Patience. A lot of authors think that they’re going to be an immediate success if they release their book as quickly as possible. They don’t realize they’re going to be part of an ocean of millions. As such, they need to adjust their expectations and build a strong social media presence as well as a following. Completing a book is already an enormous task and that also will require massive amounts of editing, beta-reading, and revising. Basically, this is a marathon not a sprint.

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

I like to immerse myself in the genre of the work I’m writing. If I’m going to be writing the Supervillainy Saga, for instance, I want to immerse myself in comic books and superhero movies in order to make sure that’s where my mind is presently at. Stephen King said that writing was like milk in the fridge, “It tastes like whatever it is left against.” Aside from questioning what exactly is in King’s fridge, it inspired me to keep that in mind.

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

I go for a hybrid. I love to plot out a basic idea of where I want things to go. However, I love letting the characters decide how to get there. Plenty of times I’ve decided to handle things going one way, only for my characters to completely change where I was going to go next.

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

I’m currently planning on continuing to finish off my existing trilogies and works before moving onto new projects. I got a little big for my britches by starting a half-dozen series at the start of my career before focusing on one at the start. Still, this worked out for me as the Supervillainy Saga proved to be the most successful one by far. I have plans for twelve books in that story and that should keep me occupied for some time.

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

I’m a definite fan of antiheroes. People who have their own selfish motivations that may triumph over their better natures but who still have limits they won’t cross.

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

Star Wars remains my universe from beginning to end. I grew up on the movies, loved the Expanded Universe in high school to college, and still manage to pick up the occasional canon work.

Facebook Fan Club: https://twitter.com/Willowhugger

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Willowhugger

Author Page: https://ctphipps.wordpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13434447.C_T_Phipps


Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

Author Interview – C.F Welburn

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


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

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

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.cfwelburn.com


Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

Author interview – E.V. Everest

Joining me around the campfire today is debut fantasy author E.V. Everest.


  • Hi E.V. tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hi everyone! I’m E.V. Everest, and I write fantasy and sci-fi books. My debut novel, Seven Crowns, released this year (2020).

A little bit about me: I enjoy the great outdoors. I’m a huge animal lover and have two dogs and two cats. The weirdest thing about me (that I am willing to commit to paper) is that I can play the trombone and ride a unicycle at the same time. Freak flag flying high, ladies and gentlemen!

Though I strayed to pursue a “practical career,” I’ve always loved to write. I can remember shoving several desks together in elementary school to write stories with a friend. Our series featured a cat that travelled to the moon :p

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Fantasy is boundless. As a writer, the only confines are those you set for yourself. It’s a genre where cats can talk, dragons still fly the evening skies, and Elvis *could be* your next door neighbor.

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

I am currently working on a young adult sci-fi series. The first novel, Seven Crowns, was released at the end of July. Blurb below.

A crown is dangerous. A crown split seven ways is deadly.

One year after the death of her mom, sixteen-year-old Anabella Halt is living on her own and breaking all the rules. Life is tough but ordinary.

Until Ana learns her mom’s dangerous secret—she was the heir to a fallen dynasty on a world ruled by seven families. Her family was murdered one by one. Now, assassins are closing in, and Ana could be next.

With the help of a handsome hobo, Ana escapes to the place where it all began—a starflung world where magic and technology coexist. A place where Ana must navigate a tangled web of friends and foes to unmask her would-be assassin before it’s too late.

Travel to a glittering, dangerous world with political alliances and ballgowns, perfect for fans of Cinder and The Hunger Games.

The biggest challenge with the second book (release scheduled for February 2021) is balancing plot lines. I have quite a few threads I want to weave together. Outlining has helped immensely! Overall, I’m really excited to share it with beta readers soon.

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

I really enjoy writing snarky side characters and villains. Their lines are always fun to write.

None of my characters are exactly like me, but a few contain a little piece of me. For instance, I have a little bit of Samuel’s snark, Ana’s independence, and Ophelia’s love of animals.

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

Ask for feedback early and often. A rule of thumb for accepting critique: If one person says your chapter is garbage, ignore them. If two people say your chapter is garbage, re-read and really consider their feedback. If three people say your chapter is garbage, look for a trash can.

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

In the words of Douglas Adams, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

In all seriousness, knowing that readers are waiting for a book, is very motivating.

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

I’m a reformed pantser. Now, I outline. It helps me to build complex, multi-layered plots. I can evaluate the twists and turns BEFORE I get to the editing table. What a time saver!

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

Too many to count! Right now, my first priorities are completing the Bellaton series and building the Coffeehouse Magic series. However, I have a short story that is 70% there. Teaser below.

An out of work architect is desperate for employment. Too desperate. He takes a position redesigning an abandoned nuclear bunker but finds he’s not alone in the deep. Think Night Vale X Twilight Zone.

  • 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?

Like most people, I really enjoy a multifaceted villain with an interesting backstory. However, I’ve been on a light-hearted reads binge. I recently read Meg Cabot’s Avalon High.

That’s also why I wrote The Matchmaker and the Coven. What’s more escapist than a coffeehouse that sits on the boundary between a hundred realms? Or a meddling barista who insists on setting up a water nymph and a mortal?

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

This is a cruel question. I’m also deeply offended that Star Trek didn’t make the list :p I love Harry Potter. I went to the midnight bookstore openings, and it will always have a special place in my heart. I also adore Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Twilight Zone, Chronicles of Narnia, and many, many more.

My newsletter is very active and goes out twice a month. We have trivia championships, recommended reads, sneak previews, and freebies. I’m doing a November giveaway of The Matchmaker & the Coven to all new subscribers. So, if you enjoy light-hearted fantasy, give it a try.

https://dl.bookfunnel.com/kj4pspb0vs

Website & Blog:

https://www.evelinaeverest.com

Facebook Reader Group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2394603750840538

GoodReads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53474078-seven-crowns

Amazon:

Author Interview – Cameron Johnson

In today’s author interview I chat with Cameron Johnson the author of the excellent Traitor God and other fantasy novels.


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

Hello, and thanks for having me. I’m a totally not-middle-aged (expecting 100+ years achieved via a combination of whisky and cybernetics) guy from Scotland who writes darker fantasy, loves archaeology, history and mythology and exploring ancient sites. I was a library kid and I guess I caught the storytelling bug from that, and it evolved from reading a whole lot to wanting to tell my own stories.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Part of it is revelling in the sheer imagination of it all, from floating castles to terrifying monsters, otherworldly places and fascinating characters landed in situations that suck you in. In a way, reading fantasy is like being an explorer of strange new worlds and as that sense of discovery is a wonderful thing.

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

The Maleficent Seven will (probably) be out in August 2021, and let me tell you, writing seven (and a bit) villainous points of view is a pretty daunting prospect after writing two books with only a single point of view protagonist. In the end, I really enjoyed writing those characters and seeing them develop their own unique voices.

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

I like to vary characters so I don’t have a set type, other than perhaps one with a sharp tongue. One thing I do try to do write are characters that are never 100% good or 100% evil – a bad guy might be a good father or love and care for dogs for example. People are bewilderingly complex creatures. As for how much of myself I put in, probably very little – I’m thankfully much nicer than most of my characters.

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

Know that most authors are incredibly self-critical, and what you read has gone through several rounds of editing and rewrites. When you start out, the first draft of your first novel or short story will probably not be good, and that’s OK – many published novels started life on shaky feet. To write well you need to learn to write, and then you have to learn to edit your work so it makes sense and reads smoothly. Don’t despair at your first attempts and give up – you will learn from writing it, and then learn to edit it.

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

Panic? Hot cups of tea? Perhaps the odd whisky? There are no tricks sadly, just sitting down, avoiding the internet and distractions and getting the words down. It’s easy to procrastinate with a million other things you could be doing, but you just need to resist and get to work.

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

-Almost entirely a pantser. I like to know the start and the end of a story, and perhaps a few important points along the road to give it shape, but other than that the characters make their own decisions and write their own story.

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

Oh, lots of plans. Too many, really. The only problem I have is what one I want to explore next. I have a few standalone fantasy novels I want to write so I will probably toss the dice to decide what one I start writing first.

  • 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 noticed a slight preference for less grimdark fiction at the moment, turning to more popcorny adventuresome stories instead. I expect that’s trying to find an emotional balance with the relentless craptitude of 2020.

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

-I’ll go with Lord of the Rings for this one. What a world! That said, I do love The Mandalorian.

Website: http://www.cameronjohnston.net

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CamJohnston

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cameronjohnston13


Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.