Tag Archives: spfbo

Interview with Darrell Drake Author of A Star-Reckoner’s Lot

I am happy to have SPFBO author Darrell Drake in the hot seat today answering a few questions. He was also nice enough to send me a autographed copy of his book  A Star-Reckoner’s Lot for a giveaway. To enter just comment below on this post. The giveaway will end on September 22 when I will randomly select a name from the comments.

Thanks for having me, Hob! I’m glad we could put all those goblins slain in games and tabletop sessions behind us. Adventurers don’t often give much value to the lives of fodder, and we should strive for the change we want to see in others. So here we are, discussing books rather than exchanging blows.

 

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

As far as my first book is concerned . . . well, frankly, I wouldn’t have released it. I feel so much more comfortable in historical fantasy (even if that means years of research to get it right). As such, I would have been better served by a historical fantasy debut.

Have you ever judged a book by its cover?

Oh, man. More often than not. This probably makes me a terrible reader, but there’s a reason why your cover matters. That’s what sells a book, or gets someone to read into it. I think this is especially relevant where self-published authors are concerned, and it’s always disheartening to see one that was put together with clipart and Papyrus.

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

Fictional curse debate? Yeah, let me tell you, that fictional curse debate is sad, sad, sad. Who would side with the opposition when the incumbents are patently superior—I haven’t the faintest clue what’s going on in the fictional curse debate! So like many other political and social scenarios, I’m on the fence.

Curses aren’t common in my books, but they’ve made an appearance or two. A Star-Reckoner’s Lot begins with my interpretation of a Mandaic curse that involves inscribing the curse on an egg, then burying that egg beneath a gate. As the egg rots, so too will the victim of the curse.

{ By Grabthar’s hammer  That was not the kind of curse I was talking about, but it sounds messy}

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?

Hah! Try? Succeed, more like! Waray is a secondary character in A Star-Reckoner’s Lot who has been almost exclusively praised as the best character in the book. She’s an eccentric half-div (demon of sorts) with peculiar idiosyncrasies: wandering speech, pranks, delusions, inappropriate and contradictory nature, odd body language—the list goes on. All that and a dark, storied past. The A Star-Reckoner’s Legacy trilogy will feature her as the protagonist of the third novel, so I guess a spin-off isn’t necessary.

As far as themes are concerned, the effects of loss and memories and how we deal with them are central to my tales. They shape us as people, and stick with us until our last. How we interpret those memories changes over time, and in turn how they affect us. We’re defined by our past in more ways than we can grasp at any one point in our lives, and I hope to further explore that in my characters.

{Wow that is deep}

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

Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven. It was such a pleasure the first time around, and it’s the book that finally convinced me that historical fantasy was my wheelhouse.

{That was the first book of his that I read. I loved it.}

 

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…

To the side, the fifth child has no toys—no trucks or baubles—only its gas mask. He watches and waits, hands in his lap, knowing the sleeping gas is imminent. His peers never learn, and that’s why his rise to the top will be swift and uncontested.

{Thanks for that insight in to your childhood}

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

Probably three or four books that have been tossed in the latrine where they belong. Even took the time to dig a latrine for it. Currently have four released with three of them in print, but A Star-Reckoner’s Lot gets 100% of my focus nowadays. Historical fantasy moving forward and all.

Have you found any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

Well, it’s more a case of the liver problems finding me. But I’ve been pretty elusive up to now. Don’t expect that to last.

{You can always just steal a new liver from one of your vanquished enemies.}

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

At this point in the game I’m not sure what I didn’t expect from the beginning. That isn’t to say that I wasn’t blundering around in my inexperience, just that most of it is commonplace now.

More than anything, it’s maintaining any sort of interest. Reddit has been incredibly supportive, but it’s one community—a powerful community, but still isolated. Without the spread, visibility, and legitimacy of traditional publishing, it’s a crapshoot. Every triumph is short-lived. You have to constantly push, network, try to find new ways to keep it in the minds of readers without badgering them over it.

{ Well I am glad that I may be able to help in some small way}

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

Real people is a tough one, because who knows how many my lifestyle in a first-world country has claimed? I’m sure many of us have had a hand in one death or another.

Fictional . . . hmm. Millions. I’d say I’ve lost count, but that would imply I ever started counting. And was it me killing them or their decisions that brought them there? Let’s not free them of their responsibility just because I had a hand in their deaths. So hey, I haven’t killed anyone. All those characters killed themselves.

{The old Butterfly Effect defense for murder. I should have seen it coming.}

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 the previous question?

Probably something along the lines of, “I don’t support burning books or murder but yours should be used to fuel the pyre you’re tied to, you uncultured swine.” All things considered, it’s not untrue. Did help, though, because now I write just to spite them.

{Spite one of the most powerful forces on earth.}

What has been the best compliment?

Oh, this is an easy one. Some kind r/Fantasy user once said A Star-Reckoner’s Lot “wasn’t terrible”. Also mention of bad puns elsewhere.

Do you have any advice to give a new writer?

Don’t. Stop. Just . . . don’t.

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

I think it was Valley of Embers by the redoubtable Steven Kelliher. Loved it. Imaginative, action-packed, enough mystery to keep me going, and a hell of an ending.

{ I agree it was a great book. My review of it can be found here Valley of Embers (The Landkist Saga Book 1) by Steven Kelliher}

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

If I’ve ever written any goblin fan fiction. I haven’t, but I think you should canvass all authors you interview for that one.

{I will have to keep that in mind}

Do you have any questions for me?

Have you had a chance to play the Styx games at all? You control a goblin assassin, which as I’m sure you know is a pretty rare protagonist.

Awfully fond of your Hobgoblin Photoshops—hard to miss those in my feeds or on Reddit! Appreciate the opportunity to drop by. Finally, a chance with the Hob!

{I love hearing that! So glad you like my little corner of the internet. Thanks once again for your time, and the great answers to my questions. And I had not heard of the game until this, but have now played around 40 hours.}

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MarvyMagpies

Website: http://www.astarreckonerslot.com

Don’t forget to comment below for your chance to win.

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*******UPDATE**********

I have to apologize that it has taken me so long to announce the winner.  But here it is. If I can’t get a hold of Robert within 24 hours I will pick again.

giveaway

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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.

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Book Giveaway Winners

We have a winner !!!…  two of them.

We ended with 32 people entered and the 2 winners were chosen randomly by a computer program. They will recieve a free autographed copy of Paternus the multi-award wining first book by Dyrk Ashton. Screen shots of the winning names will be at the bottom. The winners are Once again, My fellow blogger, Danielle from Books, Vertigo and Tea and Ghibli. Congratulations to the winners! I want to thank you all for playing and helping me spread the word about my blog I started this blog On October 8th 2016 and with your help I have received just over  900 visitors and had almost  1,700 page views in less than 2 months. That is truly amazing to me, and I sincerely thank you all.

I will send each of the winners a email telling them that they have won and asking for a mailing address. If they do not respond by Monday 12/05/16 I will pick a new winner.

Here is a list of all the people that entered.

  1. Tom
  2. The Royal Polar Bear
  3. The Imbalance
  4. Susan Price
  5. smans001
  6. Rebekah Teller
  7. Readinginthemorning
  8. R B Watkinson
  9. Pia Roos
  10. ObservantRaven
  11. Noelle
  12. Minna Mononen
  13. Mia C.
  14. Meghana
  15. Lynn
  16. Liam
  17. Leini
  18. ladyvampire
  19. Kelsy
  20. Kameo Yarrow
  21. Jennifer Scott
  22. Jay
  23. Jason Parrish
  24. Ghibli
  25. fabiano
  26. Devon
  27. darkmondaysblog
  28. Christopher Cardenas
  29. Bryan
  30. Books, Vertigo and Tea
  31. bloodygrim
  32. Ashley Melanson