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Interview with Ed McDonald

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I just want to thank Ed McDonald for taking the time to do this interview. And now on to the questions!

  1.  If you could do it all over again, would you change anything in Blackwing?

In all honesty, no. It’s easy to look back at something you made and think “Ah, I hate how the word ‘number’ appears twice in that line, or ‘I wish I’d given that character another few lines of character development’ but I don’t like to look back. I’m very happy with where it ended up and I’m only moving forward.

(Not that it matters but I was very happy with it as well. It was a great read that I highly recommend in my review here.)

  1. Have you ever judged a book by its cover?

I am terrible for doing this, but I do it often. A good cover will get me to pick the book up from the shelf. Whether I keep on reading it then depends on the writing.

  1. Who designed your cover/covers? Were you able to work with the artist or is it all the publisher/artist?

I provided a brief for my publishers on what I wanted. It was very detailed, several pages. Then they ignored it completely and their art departments or sub-contracted artists came up with something pretty much completely different. Dan Smith did the UK cover but the US one I’m genuinely not sure. I take the approach that I’m good at words, and other people are good at art, and I need to just leave them to do their own thing. It’s healthier that way and I’m really pleased with what they came up with.

  1. Have you ever had a side character Try to steal the show? Would you like to go back and make a spin off series or something for them? Or is there a theme or idea you’d love to be able to explore in more depth?

In a sense, I think that they do a little. Nenn and Tnota have been so often mentioned as being the favourite characters in Blackwing and they really aren’t central to the story! Additionally, the more I wrote, the more the story became about Ezabeth. I may have fallen in love with her myself a bit, even though that’s weird to say.
I like to imagine that after The Raven’s Mark books I’ll be able to explore the world I’ve imagined further, but I wouldn’t want to go backwards – I’d be interested in following the children of one of the characters perhaps. Assuming they live long enough to have them.

  1.   If you could read any book again for the first-time, what book would it be?

Legend, by David Gemmell. I’ve read if seven times. It’s a book that genuinely influences my moral compass and my way of living.

  1. How much for this car stereo? Oh wait, wrong kind of fencing.  I meant to ask, How did you get into fencing?  Do you compete or just do it for fun?

I did sport fencing at university, and then picked it up again later but I was always frustrated by how much of a sport it was, and how little genuine swordsmanship was involved. From there I started doing HEMA and never looked back. I love learning the technical aspects, but I’m also hyper competitive and love to compete.

  1. How many books have you written, how many have you tried to publish, and how many are in print?

Written – eight
Tried to publish – three
In print – one, with the eighth now in the hands of my editors

  1. Have you found any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

I do most of my writing with a beer in the pub, I guess that’s not great for my health…

  1.    What is your favorite word? Least Favorite?

Favourite word – there was a note in the margin of Blackwing’s edits by one of my editors, Gillian, saying “Arsehole is your favourite word. Maybe change a few?” I do like arsehole. Don’t quote me on that.
Least favourite – “literally,” used when people mean “very” and what they’re discussing is figurative.

  1. How many people have you killed over the course of your career?  Real people first, then fictional.

Three, but you’ll never find them. Fictional, we’re talking millions. I have a short story in the forthcoming The Art of War charity anthology run by Booknest.Eu which features an Armageddon event.

  1. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?  Did it end up helping? Or did we just count that person in question 10?

I don’t think that I’ve ever really had criticism, but the best piece of advice was given to me by an agent was that my sixth book, at 280,000 words, was simply way too long to be published and that no agent/publisher would pick it up. As a result I abandoned it and wrote Blackwing, at an easy 117,000 words and never looked back.

  1. What has been the best compliment?

I’ve had one reviewer say it was their all time favourite book, but I’m going to give it to Anthony Ryan, author of Bloodsong, who said: “Upon starting Blackwing it quickly gained the rare distinction of being one of those books that felt as if it had been written especially for me.” Now that’s a compliment and a half.

  1. Do you have any advice to give a new writer?

Love what you write. If you’re enjoying writing a scene, it’s probably a fun scene. If it’s a struggle or boring, then change something up: a total location change, gender flip a character, start a fire. When it’s fun to write, it usually comes out fun to read.

  1. What was the last book you read? Was it any good?

Behind Her Eyes, by Sarah Pinborough. I wanted to read something far out of my usual reading zone, and it was great.

  1. What one question do you think I should have asked you, but didn’t?

What two questions do you think I should have asked you, but didn’t?

(That is cheating!)

  1. Do you have any questions for me?

Are you aware that copies of Blackwing make excellent Christmas presents? They can also be used to prop up wonky tables, to insulate wall cavities and if you bind enough of them together, can make a handy life raft in an emergency. It’s worth stocking up.

Well if you are in need of a good book or ….um .. a life raft or anything else I guess you can pick up a copy at the links below.

Get a copy of Blackwing

  1. Amazon
  2. Audible
  3. Barnes & Noble
  4. Kobo
  5. Apple iBooks
  6. Google Play
  7. Abebooks
  8. Book Depository
  9. Indigo
  10. Half.com

 

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Interview with Jennifer M Baldwin and a Giveaway

I found some great books by following the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off also known as SPFBO last year. And while I am not a judge I am following even closer this year. Somehow I even talked a few of the contestants into doing an interview and giving away free books. The first in the hot seat is Jennifer M Baldwin and she had some great answers to my questions so …. um .. well here they are…….

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{Bob you are not Batman! If anything you should have a crown or something….}

 

  1. If you could do it all over again, would you change anything in your FIRST book?

The Thirteen Treasures of Britain is my first published book. I am not sure I would change anything because it is what it is, and I don’t believe in changing a piece of work after the fact (not counting typos or huge continuity errors). But I do know that for some readers, my book might start off a little slow. I was reading The Last Unicorn when I was working on those early chapters, and I feel like I was channeling Peter S. Beagle maybe a little too much. I got caught up in making sure the style and tone were what I wanted and perhaps didn’t give enough thought to what modern readers expect as far as action. I don’t open with an exciting action scene, or with some history-defining epic battle. It’s just a wizard having a weird dream and going insane.

  1. Have you ever judged a book by its cover?

All the time. I am deeply shallow.

 

(I LOVE this answer)

  1. What FRAKING side are you on of the fictional curse debate? Any in your books?

I wish I had more fraking curse words in my book! Frak!

Not too many fictional curses, alas, but I tried to come up with some creative exclamations (think: “Great Caesar’s Ghost!”) The usual, “Oh my God!” wouldn’t really work because my characters are either pre-Christian types or talking animals or fairies. I tried to have characters say things like, “By the oaks!” or “Thank the winds!” Nature-y stuff, basically.

In general, though, I’m in favor of fictional curse words. They’re fun.

  1. Have you ever had a side character try to steal the show? Would you like to go back and make a spin off series or something for them? Or is there a theme or idea you’d love to be able to explore in more depth?

My side characters always steal the show. I eventually realize that these “side” characters would be much better as main characters – and that I should drop my dull as dish-water protagonists and replace them with the cool side people.  Some of my best stories resulted from ditching the original protagonist and going ahead with the side character.  I’m a terrible date, I guess. I don’t dance with the one who brought me.

  1. If you could read any book again for the first-time, what book would it be?

Can I say “D. None of the above”? I love discovering new books and falling in love with them, but honestly, I wouldn’t want to read any of them again as if “for the first time.” My favorite books are the ones that only get better each time I reread them. I suppose, if I had to choose, I would say The Chronicles of Narnia. But in choosing them, I’m not really wishing I could read them again for the first time – I’m wishing I could relive the moments of my childhood when I read them for the first time. That’s what I’d love to return to: the thrilling wonder of my childhood, when I first discovered my love for fantasy.

 

  1. Four children have small toys. The first child has 1/10 of the toys, the second child has 12 more toys than the first and is looking at him and going nananannaanna, the third child has one less toy then the first child has, so is crying at the top of their lungs. And the fourth child has double the toys of the third child then takes 5 from the first child. No question here just a flash back to when I ran a daycare…

This non-question feels like my life… (I’m a mom.)

  1. How many books have you written, how many have you tried to publish, and how many are in print?

Books written (in total): Four (a fifth is on the way…)

Tried to publish (and did!): One

In print: One (it’s very glossy and pretty)

{Yes, Yes it is and we will be giving an autographed one of them away to one lucky person that comments on this post}

  1. Have you found any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

The crushing disappointment of realizing that no one I meet in real life cares that I’m a novelist. (I usually get an “Oh, that’s nice!” which is the Midwest’s way of saying, “So what’s your real job?”)

  1. What was the hardest thing about self-publishing that you didn’t expect?

Getting newsletter sign-ups. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but then I look around at people with, like, 100,000 people on their mailing lists, and they just published their first book a month ago (this might be a slight exaggeration), and I’m completely baffled. How did they do it? I suck at getting newsletter sign-ups.

  1. How many people have you killed over the course of your career?  Real people first, then fictional.

I’m an English teacher, so I’m more into crushing people’s souls with the withering criticisms I write on their papers. Soul crushing is much more satisfying than outright killing.

Fictional people? Not sure. A dozen? Do non-humans count? If so, then double it. Nay, triple it. I like killing monster-y things and bad guys.

{That has to be one of the greatest quotes ever! “I’m an English teacher, so I’m more into crushing people’s souls”}

  1. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?  Did it end up helping? Or did we just count that person in question10?

I can’t think of one in particular, but I value pretty much all of the criticism I’ve been given. My 11th grade English teacher once made me rewrite and revise an essay four times, and at first I griped, but when the process was complete, I ended up with one of the best pieces I’ve ever written. She didn’t do it to punish me; she did it to help me and make me grow as a writer. That’s why I like criticism; it makes me better. Even if I don’t end up using a suggestion from someone, just by thinking about it, by considering it, I come to a better understanding of my own choices and why I’m making them.

  1. What has been the best compliment?

James Tivendale from Fantasy Book Review told me in a tweet that he thought my writing for Thirteen Treasures was “stunning.” My insides are still a giant puddle of goo from seeing that.

  1. Do you have any advice to give a new writer?

Oh, I have so much… I am an English teacher, after all! I would say that new writers need to really work on tone and word choice. Nothing throws me out of a piece faster than when a writer uses a word that doesn’t fit with the tone of the story. I also think that reading and writing poetry can be a great way to flex and strengthen writing muscles. Finally, when it comes to learning how to structure a story and write characters, I would suggest a little-known screenwriting book called Writing the Character-Centered Screenplay by Andrew Horton. Yes, it’s mostly about  screenwriting, but many of the principles apply to fiction in general. It’s a great book.

  1. What was the last book you read? Was it any good?

Just an obscure little book called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was quite good; I think that series might have potential…

  1. What one question do you think I should have asked you, but didn’t?

You forgot to ask me my favorite Smiths song (in Thirteen Treasures, Merlin is a fan of 80s New Wave). For the record, it’s “Bigmouth Strikes Again.”

  1. Do you have any questions for me?

If you could be any knight of the Round Table, which would you be and why?

{ I would be Madmartigan the greatest swordsman that has ever lived of course!

1Madmartigan

Just kidding. Seriously though I would want to be Sir Gawain. The poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was one of the things that got me into fantasy. I think I read it in 3rd grade}

And that’s it! See it wasn’t that painful, for me anyway, and that’s what really matters right? And as I mentioned above Jenifer has generously donated a signed copy of The Thirteen Treasures of Britain to giveaway to one lucky reader. This is open to all. One winner will be chosen randomly on August 18th around 10:00 pm and will be announced soon after.

All you need to do is Comment below on this post and you are entered. Then, while not necessary you might as well share this post on Facebook, Twitter or whatever since you are already here. and I put those little button things down below. Everyone likes to push buttons.

But don’t forget to comment on this post before you leave.

 

Links:

The Thirteen Treasures of Britain on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N3O8PWD

iBooks, Barnes & Noble, other retailers: https://www.books2read.com/u/47kVE8

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-thirteen-treasures-of-britain-1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dereliction_row

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

Website: http://www.jmbaldwinwriter.com/

 

The winner has been chosen. Thanks to everyone that entered.

13

Interview with author Drew Hayes

If you know anything about me you know I like a good laugh. And Drew Hayes has given me many great books with some great laughs. With his Spells, Swords, & Stealth 

books and Forging Hephaestus (I haven’t gotten to his Super Powereds series yet but book one is on my kindle) but I think out of all his books Fred the Vampire Accountant has given me the most laughs. And I am supper happy to say Fred’s 4th book will be out in just a few days, I think Fred would appreciate the correct dates and everything so on 07/25/2017 to be exact. I got a chance to ask Drew some questions so of course I asked stupid ones. But he seamed to enjoy it, and hopefully he will be back again.

  1. You always have such good Audiobook narrators. Roger Wayne   is Fantastic with the Spells, Swords, & Stealth Series and Amy Landon hit it out of the Park with Forging Hephaestus But I don’t think I have ever heard a narrator as perfect for a book as  Kirby Heyborne. So my first question is,

Q: How long did it take you to find Kirby Heyborne for Fred, the Vampire Accountant series?

A: From my perspective, it didn’t take very long at all. Usually Tantor Media (the company who does my audiobooks) will send me a few narrators to check out for each new project. With Fred, there weren’t many people in the mix on the first round, and as soon as I heard Kirby speak I knew we’d found the voice of my undead accountant.

 

  1. Q: You are the GM of Authors And Dragons, A Podcast Where A Party Of Fantasy Authors Try To Make It Through A Game Of Pathfinder. How did that get started?

 

A: Funnily enough, it started during a Fred release. I have a tradition where every time I get a 5-star review on release day, either from my speedy readers or those who had ARCS, I do a shot and post a picture. That day required quite a few shots, until I was rather buzzed and chatting with Robert Bevan of Critical Failures. We were just talking about gaming, I was in a hilariously bad superhero game at the time that I wished we’d taped, and from there the idea snowballed. We reached out to fellow writer friends, found some who gamed, and it all went from there.

{I Love Robert Beven’s books and the titles of his short stories are worth the price alone}

  1. Q: If you could do it all over again, would you change anything in your FIRST book?

A: I’m sure I would find no end of tweaks to make, fixing bad habits I’ve since broken and cleaning things up. That said, I wouldn’t change anything about the core story itself. I liked how Super Powereds: Year 1 came out, and I’m happy with the story as it unfolded.

 

  1. Q: Have you ever judged a book by its cover?

A: I’m sure I have. That’s not always a bad thing, though. There’s a language to covers, they’re meant to let a prospective reader know what sort of tale they are in for. If you see half-naked people kissing on the front and don’t like romance, then there’s nothing wrong with realizing you are not that book’s target audience. A cover should, ideally, draw in people who will like what your selling and let those who wouldn’t dig it know they can move on to something else.

  1. Q: Have you ever had a side character try to steal the show? Would you like to go back and make a spin off series or something for them? Or is there a theme or idea you’d love to be able to explore in more depth?

A: Not only did I have a side-character steal some of the show, I gave the guy his own spin-off. Corpies was a book following a side-character from Super Powereds and putting him in the spotlight. There are more I’d like to focus on as well, although some are harder to create a whole book around than others. Sadly, that means until I come up with a killer plot the world will have to wait on a Johnny Three Dicks standalone novel.

{Johnny three dicks is from Forging Hephaestus and is one of my favorite side characters ever and he had hardly any screen time}

  1. Q: If you could read any book again for the first-time What book would it be?

A: Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman. I’ve loved other books more, but none ever quite had the same feeling of magic when I first read them.

 

  1. Q: How many books have you written, how many have you tried to publish, and how many are in print?

A: I have written 15, and when The Fangs of Freelance (Fred #4) comes out that will be my 14th to be published. The missing novel was from way back when I did my first ever web-serial, and while I did finish it I don’t expect it will see the light of day as a published work anytime soon. It’s not terrible, but it very much reflects how new I was to writing at the time.

 

  1. Q: Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

A: You don’t realize how much of your social interaction comes from work until you begin staying home all the time. So you start talking to your dog, a little at first, and then more until you realize that the dog left the room. Cut to a year later and you’re walking down the aisle of a grocery store mumbling to yourself about Doritos, because talking to yourself has become second nature. It’s a hazard they never warn you about.

{I have the same problem as a reviewer with audiobooks. I crackup for no reason apparent to anyone around me all the time}

 

  1. Q: If you had 1 million pennies what else would you have?

A: A shitload of empty wishing wells.

  1. Q: How many people have you killed over the course of your career? Real people first, then fictional.

A: For the first part, my company lawyers (which are me, only wearing a tie) have advised me to plead the fifth. For the second, it’s impossible to say unless we drill down. If you mean main characters, I think I’ve only killed one on the page, although plenty died in backstories. If we start including nameless pawns, however, I genuinely have no clue. The Spells, Swords, & Stealth folks have seen a lot of corpses in their travels.

  1. Q: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? Did it end up helping? Or did we just count that person in question 10.

A:  When I started, I had ideas of doing serious, action-oriented stuff. Okay… Dresden Files, I wanted to do Dresden Files. But I never landed that tone well at all, and my early readers called me on it. It wasn’t something I wanted to hear at the time, but when I really went back and looked at my work, they were right. The parts that were hitting well were the funnier bits, where I was writing more as me than what I wanted to be. So I steered into it, giving the humor more room to run, and my work improved a lot. As an odd bonus, I found that with comedy to play off of, I actually could write serious moments, I just had to choose them with more care.

{I love the humor in your books, but you definitely know how to throw a gut punch to the feels}

  1. Q: What has been the best compliment?

A: When I’ve gotten emails from folks telling me how my books got them through rough patches in their lives. I’ve needed books to escape in as well, so it means a lot to hear that I’m giving that to other people.

  1. Q: Do you have any advice to give aspiring writers?

A: I try to, when they ask, but the truth is unless they have a specific question it’s hard not to fall back onto the canned answers, because they’re all true. Read and write constantly, hire a good editor, and give up on the idea of the book coming out naturally and beautifully. Writing takes effort, and first drafts are usually awful. Accept that, and realize that you can go back and edit to make something good, but there’s no way to tweak a blank page.

  1. Q: What was the last book you read? Did you like it?

A: Mustache Shenanigans by Jay Chandrasekhar.  It was the story of Broken Lizard, including how they made Super Troopers and Beerfest, so yeah, it was a fun read.

  1. Q: What one question do you think I should have asked you, but didn’t?

A: When does The Fangs of Freelance come out? July 25th. And if people want to celebrate the release with me, they can do so at my annual Facebook Digital Release Party, which includes Q&A, live-streams, prizes, and, hopefully, shots. They can check it out here https://www.facebook.com/events/327971990965631

{I’ll be there and you can also preorder on amazon and at http://www.reuts.com }

  1. Q: Do you have any questions for me?

A: Got any fun personal traditions of your own?

{There is one with my 3 kids that started when they were 12, 10, and 8 years old.  One day I was driving my daughter home from school and she was kind of sad and not herself so I poked her arm and then acted like I didn’t when she looked over and I kept doing it every time she looked away. Until she started laughing.  Now there are so many rules to the game its impossible to win. Like It doesn’t count if driving north on a street that starts with a G.  When all 4 of us are in the car at the same time the rules get really complex. OH yeah and my kids are now 21 19 and 17}

Here is a Goblin animation of the intro The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant.

Here are a few images From reviews of Drew’s books I did and one I didn’t use

NPCSsplitrun

Interview with Anthony Ryan

Anthony Ryan is the New York Times bestselling author of the Raven’s Shadow series, A fantastic epic fantasy with more than a hint of Grimdark. The Slab City Blues science fiction series. And his new series The Draconis Memoria …a Dragon Flavored Steampunk series. Book Two The Legion of Flame –– was released today in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.     I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of The Legion of Flame (Available NOW HERE) If you haven’t read book 1 yet, take a minute or two and examine the choices you have made in life. After that you can pick up a copy of it here.  Then feel free to read my review of book 2. Don’t worry it is spoiler free.

In Celebration of this new release a few of my goblin minions and I, with the help of Alexis Nixon at Berkley Publishing, were able catch Mr. Ryan (He can move fast when he wants to)  so we could ask him a few of my Famously stupid questions, and believe it or not he answered them! So, my thanks to Anthony Ryan for taking the time to do this interview.

1.      If you could do it all over again, would you change anything in your FIRST book?

 

Yes, I’d do more to eliminate the typos. Other than that, probably nothing. I’m not claiming it’s a perfect book, but I think once something’s done and published I think it’s best just to leave it alone. If I wrote Blood Song now it would certainly be a different book, for the simple reason that I’m a different person these days.

 

2.      Have you ever judged a book by its cover?

 

All the time. Everyone does, even if we don’t admit it. There’s a reason why publishers spend so much time and money on covers.

 

3.      Who designed your cover/covers? Where you able to work with the artist or is it all the publisher/artist/God?

 

For my self-published work, I’ve commissioned various freelancers over the years. I’m currently working with an artist in Germany, Kevin Goeke, who did the cover for my novella ‘A Duel of Evils’ (see more of his work here). For my traditionally published work the publisher takes care of commissioning artists / designers, although they do consult with me as part of the process.  –

 

4.      Have you ever had a side character Try to steal the show? Would you like to go back and make a spin off series or something for them? Or is there a theme or idea you’d love to be able to explore in more depth?

 

Sometimes characters become much more important than I was expecting, whilst others have a shorter lifespan than I intended. In terms of spin-offs I tend to use my shorter works to explore characters who I liked but didn’t get very much screen time in the full length novels. In my novella ‘The Lady of Crows’ I enlisted a character at an earlier point in her life as a means of exploring the criminal underworld of the Raven’s Shadow setting.

 

5.      If you could read any book again for the first-time, what book would it be?

 

Probably ‘The Book of Three’ by Lloyd Alexander, which set me on the road to a lifelong obsession with fantasy.

 

6.      What was the best thing before sliced bread?

Unsliced bread.

 

7.      How many books have you written, how many have you tried to publish, and how many are in print?

 

With the ‘Legion of Flame’ I now have five traditionally published books in print, with a sixth, the collected edition of my ‘Slab City Blues’ sci-fi noir series, self published as print-on-demand. Back in my twenties I tried to publish a very bad crime novel which was rightly rejected by every agent I sent it to.

 

8.      Have you found any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

 

My hands hurt if I type too long without a break. The main actual risk is that it’s a sedentary occupation and you need to remember to go for a walk every now and then. Other than that, there’s always the chance that someone who didn’t like my last book might send me a weirdly passive aggressive email.

 

9.      What is your favorite word? Least Favorite?

 

My favourite word changes by the day, at the moment I find myself most taken with ‘gargantuan’. My least favourite: ‘puce’.

 

10.  How many people have you killed over the course of your career?  Real people first, then fictional.

 

As for the real people, nobody squealed and the coppers were never able to pin nuttin’ on me, y’hear! As for fictional people, let’s just say I’m probably a mass murderer.

 

11.  What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?  Did it end up helping? Or did we just count that person in question 10?

 

Criticism is only useful if it’s considered and not just someone slinging abuse. I think the best criticism I received was being encouraged to concentrate on clarity rather than lyricism when it comes to my prose.

 

12.  What has been the best compliment?

 

I always like to hear from people who’ve gotten something positive from one of my books, especially during difficult circumstances. I occasionally get emails from veterans or active service military people who seem to get a lot out of them, which is nice to hear.

 

13.  Do you have any advice to give a new writer?

 

Learning not to give up is a skill you have to acquire along with everything else. Other than that, read as much and as widely as you can and finish what you start.

 

14.  What was the last book you read? Was it any good?

 

The last book I read was Blackwing’ by Ed McDonald and it was terrific.

 

15.  What one question do you think I should have asked you, but didn’t?

 

Would you like a million dollars?

Yes. Yes I would love a million dollars….. Oh, I was supposed to ask you that. Well never mind then.  That’s all of the questions I have. Thanks once again to Mr. Ryan for spending the time to talk with me. To you, my loyal Goblins I say you really should check out this great series. It is Steampunk with friking Dragons! What more could you want?

SP dragon

Don’t ask me why the dragon above has goggles on his hat and his eyes. Who am I to judge a Steampunk Dragon? Seriously though this dragon was drawn by my Daughter I added the hat and goggles.

 

 

Ebook:  Amazon.com  –  Amazon.co.uk  –  Nook  –  Kobo  –  iBooks

Hardcover:  Amazon.com  –  Amazon.co.uk  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Indiebound  –  Waterstones  –  Wordery  –  The Hive

Audiobook:  Audible.com  –  Audible.co.uk

 

Author Interview with Jesse Teller

When I do an Email interview like this I usually just post it as is. But, Jesse has really given some in-depth responses on some of the questions so I will respond (in brackets like this)

 

  1. If you could do it all over again, would you change anything in your FIRST book?

I did do it all over again, six times. There were seven drafts of that book. Mostly honing wordplay and some surgery of characters and plot points. There was a really cool idea where this half-demon cuts open this wizard that serves him, and he takes out his heart and replaces it with a crystal, and then closes his chest up again. The crystal performs all the tasks the heart would, but the crystal never needs rest, so the body never needs rest. This wizard was unable to sleep and he worked round the clock for the demon. In that draft, I got to explore the mercy of sleep, because sleep is a mercy. It provides an end and a beginning. Sleep is the most selfish thing we do for ourselves. Sleep gives us time to regroup before we face the troubles of the next day. All of those things were taken away from this wizard. He worked for the half-demon nonstop. His day never ended, and there was an immense amount of cruelty in that. If I could rewrite that book, I think I would put that back in.

(I suffer from Narcolepsy, so to me sleep is the bane of my existence. So I wouldn’t mind being that wizard, as long as he gets coffee breaks.)

  1. Have you ever judged a book by its cover?

It’s hard not to. It’s really hard not to. Let’s just talk about books because there’s the thing where you can say, “I met that guy and never really gave him a chance. I judged the book by its cover.” Let’s just set that aside and talk about actual books and actual covers. Have you seen the original cover for Stephen King’s book Wasteland? It’s all oranges and blacks and it’s got that scary train on it. It’s absolutely terrifying. When I first saw that book, I bought it immediately. Man, I wanted to read that book. That’s when I found out it was the third book of a series. So, I had to buy the other two. But man, when I opened that book, I was so excited. I got that feeling you get, when you’re watching a horror movie and you realize that it’s building and it’s coming for you, and you know, any minute, it’s going to break like a wave and the really, truly horrible part’s gonna come out. You keep waiting for that, and the tension keeps building and keeps building and keeps building and keeps building until, it happens. Well, I finished Drawing of the Three, which is the book before it, the night before. I woke up to go to school that day. On my way out the door, I grabbed Wasteland and stuffed it in my backpack. It sat there all throughout the bus ride, all throughout first hour and second hour and third hour and fourth hour, just building and building like a horror movie. I knew it was in that bag. At lunch, I skipped lunch, and I went out by the baseball field and sat on the bleachers. It was a cold day. I pulled the book out and held it between my hands. It took bravery to turn the cover. That was one of the times I judged a book by its cover, and I was not disappointed.

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3.       Who designed your cover/covers? Where you able to work with the artist or is it all the publisher/artist/God/ Kid with the crayons?

I got to work with mine. She’s cute and sexy and she married me years back. She’s a great artist. She’s a graphic designer in profession. She listens to what I have to say about the covers, which I know is not what you get with traditional publishing. I had final approval rights on all of my covers. We chose a theme, and that theme was shadows. So, you’ve got the shadows of characters on three of them and the shadows of the skyline on the fourth. For my book that comes out in October, we hired a gifted cover designer from Seedlings Design Studio and I’m really excited about what she came up with.

 

  1. Have you ever had a side character Try to steal the show? Would you like to go back and make a spin off series or something for them? Or is there a theme or idea you’d love to be able to explore in more depth?

Oh man, her name is Helena Flurryfist. And I am obsessed with this woman. She’s got a bit part in a 7-book series I wrote, and, OK, the thing is this. I’m a fantasy writer. I write fantasy books. Action, magic, harrowing battle, love stories, and fire. I like fire. I do not write romance novels. Now I need your help, because you have to help me tell my beta reader and my wife that I do not write romance novels, and I cannot write Helena Flurryfist as a romance heroine, even though that is what they are telling me to do. I keep telling them, I don’t write romance. My wife keeps giving me that look, and that wife eyebrow she’s got, and she gives me that little smile that says, “I know you’re eventually going to do this anyway.” And I keep thinking about Helena. You’ve gotta help me, hobgoblin.

(She sounds hot, I bet she looks just like this)

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  1. If you could read any book again for the first-time What book would it be?

The book is called Conan the Usurper. I’ve got a thing for Conan. Not the Arnold Conan. I need my Conan pure, like a good brandy, it needs to be aged. It has to have been written by Robert E. Howard in the 20s when he first created the character. Nobody writes Conan like Howard. We’ve seen a lot of people try. There have been some good Conan stories told, but nothing like Howard. So I’m reading this story, and it takes place way out in the jungle in nowhere. It’s a Robert E. Howard jungle, so it’s dark and old and musty and wet and muddy and gritty. And there are these drums off in the distance, and every now and then you hear a scream out there. And you’re a hero that’s headed for those drums, and you can feel it right here, right in your chest. You can feel that bass rattle in your ribs, and the closer you get, the more details you get. That’s the horror of it. The closer you get, the more you can hear that there’s rattles, you can hear that there’s screaming, you can hear begging, you can hear mumbles and chants. And you’re just pushing through the thick, waxy leaves, squelching in the mud, wishing you didn’t have to take the next step to get closer. Man, only Robert E. Howard can put you there. There was something savage about that night. I was in a little one-room apartment. It was my apartment, so it was dirty. It was an old building, and you could hear it tick around you. It wasn’t far away from a highway, but it was far enough that the only thing you could hear were the semis screaming by. The book was an old nickel paperback. When you turned the pages, you could feel they were gritty, like those old paperbacks get. The book was battered and bruised. There were pages, a big chunk of pages, missing out of the back. And I knew that when I got to those pages, I wouldn’t be able to finish the story. But I had started it, and I was in the jungle, and I’m moving forward through the leaves and I can hear the drums. I can hear the screaming. I can hear the rattle. I can hear the chanting, and I’m not even kidding, hobgoblin, I ran out of pages. I set the book down in the middle of the floor, and I stood up and I stared at it. I knew that even if I had a brand new copy, and the pages I was missing were in there, I was never going to have that experience again. So years later, when I found the book at a used bookstore, I walked right past it. To this day, I’ve never finished that book. And I wish more than anything, that I could go back to that night and read that story again, and again run out of pages.

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  1. When trying to figure out what a character should look like, do you Think of Celebrities, or just start looking at everyone you pass as if your looking through a mug shot book?

It’s really neither one of those. A character literally just walks in my office. Sometimes I see them and I know what they should look like, but they don’t look that way, so I describe them how they should look. Allow me to give you an example. I’ve written a book called Forsaken. Now this book’s not coming out for a very long time, but it has a character named Earl Flurryfist. Earl is a member of the Flurryfist clan. His people, dating all the way back to the progenitor of the clan, had thick blonde hair. Earl showed up in my office that day with short cropped black hair. So I wrote him with thick blonde hair. And now, every time I see him in the book, he’s got black hair, and every time I see him in the book, I describe him as a blonde. There’s other things, too. Sometimes, scars will be there and I don’t know how the scar was created, so I don’t describe the scar. I’ve got one character in one of my books—now goblin, I only write fantasy books set in the fantasy time period. One of my characters showed up in my office one day wearing an object I can never describe in any of my books. He was wearing a Rolex watch. Had a sword, and a dagger, and a gold Rolex. When I wrote that character, of course, I didn’t describe the Rolex. That didn’t stop him from checking the time. I just didn’t describe it.

( I am not surprised, even goblins know that it is all about the bling.)

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  1. How many books have you written, how many have you tried to publish, and how many are in print?

Monday night I finished my 25th book. I’m a no-child-left-behind kind of writer. I don’t write a book and decide I’m never gonna publish it. I’ve decided on a publishing rate of two books a year for normal size books, and for my epic books (anything 700-pages or longer), one a year. At that rate, the book I finished Monday will be published in 2033. I’ve only printed four so far. But I don’t have time to slow down. I’ve got a lot more planned past these 25, and I’ve got a lot of work to do. My all-time hero is Louis L’Amour, and I hope one day to be the Louis L’Amour of fantasy.

  1. Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

OK, so I type with three fingers on my left hand and four fingers on my right. I didn’t learn to type properly. So, my pinky finger on my left hand is always flexed and out of the way. That is fine for a normal workday. But toward the end of a book, I go into what we call end-of-book mode. And my wife allows me to obsess about the book, and I start putting in real numbers. When that happens, my pinky finger starts to cramp, and it feels like it’s on fire. But I can’t stop typing. That’s not an option. And I don’t use voice software. So what I do is I take medical tape and I tape my finger straight. It’s not very comfortable. It causes me to cuss a lot, and it slows me down a little bit, but at least I can still type. But every now and then, I look at that finger and the quote from the Bible, “If thy right eye offends thee” will come to mind, and I’ll think to myself, “Could I still get by if I only had 9 fingers?”

(I know this is a really bad graphic but Sorry not sorry)

The_Blade_Itsel

 

  1. If you had 1 million pennies what else would you have?

A big jean pocket. No, if I had that many pennies, like I wouldn’t need all that, so I’d take about 5 pounds of pennies and I’d melt it down. My wife thinks blacksmiths are sexy, so I’d set myself up with a forge. I’d smelt the copper and pour it and make a copper sword. While the metal was still cooling, I would sink pennies in it to form the skin of the sword so you could still see Lincoln’s face. And I would call it The Emancipator.

(now that is a great answer)

penny.jpg

  1. How many people have you killed over the course of your career?  Real people first, then fictional.

Real people? I can’t really get into that. Not so much because it would incriminate me, but a lot of really good friends put their lives on the line to help me dispose of bodies. But let’s talk about killing characters in books. I can’t even begin to tell you how many characters I’ve killed. Pitch battles where tens of thousands of people died, down to the little deaths where somebody just curled up in an alleyway and gave up the ghost. I can tell you about the ones that hurt me. The way I deal with it is I don’t blame myself. A lot of times when I’m writing, it doesn’t feel like the story’s coming from me. It feels like I’m witnessing it and writing it down. So when I witness the death of one of my favorite characters, I don’t take the blame for that. All I can do is try to represent that death in the best way possible. They’re gonna die, they’re gonna die horribly or die well, and the way I see it is, I owe it to them to make that death as representative of how it actually happened as I possibly can. In the end, I’m not a god in this world that I work with. People have said that I am. An editor I respect looked at me once, when I told her something wouldn’t work, she looked at me and said, “You are the god in this world. You can make it work.” That’s not bad advice. But I don’t think in my particular case it’s very accurate. I’m not a god in this world, I’m a reporter. I’m just trying to bring the news of what has happened in Perilisc to the people who want to read about it.

(Why won’t anyone answer the first part of this question? But I do Recognize your loyalty and must applaud you for it.)joke517bac-c

  1. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?  Did it end up helping? Or did we just count that person in question 10?

The toughest criticism I ever got… Well, there’s the little deaths you suffer when you’re a writer. You talk to somebody and they tell you how interested they are in your work, and you give them the book, print it off and hand it to them, and they say, “Yeah, I got through the first chapter and then I ran out of time.” And what they’re really saying is, “I read the first chapter and I didn’t feel the need to read anymore.” I was told once by my stepfather, when I was in high school, I had just written a story, and I was told by him, “I’ll read it when it gets published.” But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re not talking about the little deaths. My editor for Liefdom came back with pages of comments, with suggested rewrites. This was in 2010. I read it, and there’s the knee-jerk reaction of “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” or “She just doesn’t get it,” or this one’s my favorite, “She’s just jealous.” And what I had to understand was that I just wasn’t a good writer. So, I was at a crossroads. There’s the turn to the west that says now we work, now we work at being better. We write one book after the next after the next after the next, until we get good at this. Or you turn to the east, and you’re like, we’re not good at this, I give up. At this point, either one of those is a viable path. We choose to give up on things we’re not good at all the time, that doesn’t make us bad people, or weak. She gave me those pages and I had looked to the west and looked to the east, and I went west. Ask me on another day, and maybe east. I eat a bad breakfast and have indigestion, maybe east. But I went west, and I worked for six years, writing every day, until I was good enough to publish.

  1. What has been the best compliment?

That one is super easy. I’ve heard this a couple of times and I think every writer would agree with this. “I just couldn’t put it down.” For two women I know, the day they started Liefdom was the day they finished it. One of them made a day of it, got up, started reading, read all day, went to bed. But one of them was a single mother of two lively daughters. She put her daughters to bed after working a full day, and picked up my book to unwind before she went to bed, and when she was done with that book, she took a shower, she woke her daughters up, sent them to school, and she went to work. How can that not be the greatest compliment I’ve ever gotten?

  1. Do you have any advice to give aspiring writers?

This one is really easy. Write all the time. When you’re done writing, either eat or sleep and get back to writing. The more I wrote, the more I trained my brain to write. So, at first, I needed an idea of what I was going to write that day in order to do the job. Flash forward 300,000 words, and now I don’t even need to think about it. The day’s words just come to me. Flash forward 3 million words, where I am right now, and I don’t really need a game plan for the book at all. The more you train yourself to write, the less you need to plan, the less you worry about doing it. I have a friend I’m mentoring and he’s like, “I just didn’t have anything to write today.” My advice to him is always the same. Write anyway. Work inspires more work. Very rarely have I ever come across an artist in any field who made a piece of work and was done. Usually, during the course of making a piece of art, they become inspired for their next piece. Work inspires work.

  1. What will be your Final words?

When I die, the final words I say will be, “I love you so much. You were such a good wife. and I’m so proud of you.” When I write, my final words will be one of two things, “And he looked across the smoking ruin of the world, and laughed.” or “He looked across the smoking ruin of the world, and decided he could help.” It all depends on who wins.

  1. What one question do you think I should have asked you, but didn’t?

I was talking to my father-in-law one day. He was driving me to pick up my kids at martial arts, and I had just completed an interview. He’d never read any of my interviews. I said, “I took an interview today.” He said, “OK.” I said, “They’re all starting to sound the same.” He said, “Oh,” and then he listed off four questions. The man has never read an interview for a writer, and he knew the four questions I had to answer the most. When you’re doing this, you answer a lot of the same questions, and I haven’t had to do that with your interview. This is one of the best interviews I’ve ever had. And I always wonder, why didn’t they ask about this, or why didn’t they as about that? I’d say you cut pretty deep into the meat of what I am doing. But the question I’ve never been asked is, who is your audience? In our mind, as writers, we picture the people we’re talking to. Usually it looks something like Comic Con, where you’re sitting on a stage and you’re talking to a crowd of people that are all dressed up like the characters you’ve written, and those people are going crazy for you. That’ll get you through one or two books, but you’ve gotta dig deeper when you’ve been writing for six years and two people have read your work. When you’ve been doing it that long, you need to have a more defined audience. So what I do is, I pretend that I’m dying, that my kids are too young to understand, and I’m not going to be able to teach them and raise them in all the things I want them to know. So all I have is the book I’m writing, and in that book, I have to teach them something about the world, that they’re too young to know now. All of my books are love letters to my children. One day, when they’re much older, and before they go to college, I’ll give them a copy of all my books that I’ve published to that point. When they read that, they’ll truly know their father.

(As a father myself that really hits home. I will read the rest of your books with a different eye)

  1. Do you have any questions for me?

I could ask how you came up with these questions. I could ask where you got the name the Hobgoblin. I could ask why you spend your time interviewing writers. I could ask what you thought the first time you read my book. But I’m not going to ask any of those questions. I think I’d like to know what age you were when you decided you wanted to spend the bulk of your time in other worlds, and what was the book that did it? What was the book that made you say, “I want to spend my free time doing this.”?

“That is kind of an easy one. I have Dyslexia and when I was young I hated to read. It was really frustrating for me. But I am nothing if not a stubborn little goblin, so I made myself sit and just do it, and I soon started to beat my frustration down.. I started with the Dragonlance books when I was 9 or 10. Then soon moved on to Greek Mythology and  Conan. But when I was 11 I had my first major surgery to remove tumors from my sinuses and when I was recovering my Uncle gave me Lord Foul’s Bane the first book of the The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson  It was good but I read the whole trilogy in 4 days. I needed something nice and thick to sink my teeth into.

I was still really weak. I was not supposed to even get out of bed for another 2 weeks, because, I had after all, just had  8 1/2 pounds of tumors taken out of my head but I needed something to read. So I bribed my brother to take me to the grocery store. I got on my brothers handlebars and he pedaled me the 2 blocks. I was lucky enough that they usually had a good selection of books.(For a Grocery store at any rate) On that day I picked up The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. It was on a cardboard New Release display, Having read some of Jordan’s Conan books, I was sure I would like it so I picked it up and bought it Without even opening it. In the 27 years since then I have read that book, and the rest of the series as well around 35 times and listened to the audio 15 or 20 times.It consists of 10,173 pages, 4,410,036 words, and the playtime of the Audiobooks totals out at 19 days 5 hours and 25 min.

Here is that book. I was never lucky enough to meet Mr. Jordan and have him sign my old battered book But Brandon Sanderson did.

You know how I asked about if you could go back and read it again for the first time? I was actually able to kind of do that when my son started the series. Our discussions long into the night are some of the best memories I have.”

Well that is all for the questions. I really want to thank Jesse and his wife, Rebekah for taking the time getting these questions done. I hope you guys had as much fun as I did.

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As for you my fearsome Goblin readers you should take a minute and head over to Jesse’s blog and follow him to be entered to win 5 FREE books! Also don’t forget to take a look at the Excerpt of Jesse’s new book I just posted HERE    

Here are details on his new release:

Mestlven: A Tale from Perilisc
Revenge, Insanity, and the Bloody Diamonds
Meredith Mestlven was abused and betrayed by her nobleman husband. After a desperate fit of retaliation, she fled for her life and lost her sanity. Now nearly 20 years later, she returns to her home at Sorrow Watch to destroy her enemies and reclaim her jewels. How far will she go to satisfy her revenge? Dark, cunning and beautiful, Mestlven will win your heart or devour your mind.

Book links:

Author bio:

Jesse Teller fell in love with fantasy when he was five years old and played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. The game gave him the ability to create stories and characters from a young age. He started consuming fantasy in every form and, by nine, was obsessed with the genre. As a young adult, he knew he wanted to make his life about fantasy. From exploring the relationship between man and woman, to studying the qualities of a leader or a tyrant, Jesse Teller uses his stories and settings to study real-world themes and issues.

He lives with his supportive wife, Rebekah, and his two inspiring children, Rayph and Tobin.