Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m a native to Arizona, though I’m counting down the days until I move to Washington where I’ll hopefully never see the sun again. I’m a huge lover of pretty much all animals (except for monkeys, cockroaches, grasshoppers, and I’m deathly afraid of crickets). Besides my love of reading and writing, I also enjoy the outdoors—that is, when I travel to a place I can step outside without igniting into flames.
I’ve published one book so far and have drafts of three others for the Keepers of Arden series. I also have about six other series waiting in the wings, all of which are in competition to be written next.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Keepers of Arden: The Brothers Volume 1 has been out just shy of a year. I started it after I read a book (the first of the Dragonlance series) involving two brothers who had a very rocky relationship. One brother has held the title of my favorite character since I first picked up the books when I was in high school. Much to my disappointment, the brothers never had the close relationship I longed for them to have. Frustrated after I read them again years ago, I decided to write a book about two brothers who were inseparable. Thus, the Laybryth brothers were born.
Now that I knew the relationship of my two main characters, I needed a story. To me, I find the human mind as fascinating as it is frightening. I think it can play some crazy tricks on us. I believe what we experience in our childhood has massive influence over our perceptions and character. I also think every person is as capable of good as they are evil. With Keepers of Arden, I developed a character whose evil is an actual force within him, one that persuades and manipulates him, one he doesn’t know is evil. I’ve got enough going on in this poor character’s mind that I actually feel a little bad for the guy, but I really wanted to not only explore how he handles this evil force, but how others perceive him.
However, the heart of this book is the journey of two brothers who will face trials and tribulations that will test their bond and internal fortitude.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I talk to my characters when I’m in the shower and when I wake up. Matter of fact, the whole cast of them can carry on conversations. I’m not sure that’s very unusual, but it feels like it is when I catch myself talking aloud.
I can’t write when there’s music on with words or the TV is on. I need silence or classical music. For some reason, spoken words are always distracting when I’m writing.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I think the Dragonlance books and Edgar Allan Poe were the most prominent influences in my youth. I tend to like characters who suffer from some kind of inner turmoil or tragic past (thus Rasitlin is near impossible to top as my favorite character. However, Royce from the Riyria series has come to a very close second place). Since I’ve been writing, I’ve discovered tons of books I love and authors who have my undying loyalty. Patrick Rothfuss. Michael J Sullivan. Anthony Ryan. Zachary Jernigan. Zichao Deng. What they all have in common is an amazing ability to develop exceptionally interesting characters and I consider them indispensable teachers.
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on promoting my first book in the Keepers of Arden series (just added print purchasing options), I’m trying to figure out a short story for an anthology, and I’m editing book two of Keepers of Arden. Good news is that I only have one more pass of edits to do on book 2 before I turn it over to a copy editor. I’m very excited to get it out there!
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I’ve found Goodreads to be a very informative site. After joining quite a few groups, I’ve read posts from readers on what annoys them about authors and promotions, I’ve read challenges other authors have faced, and have found some great friends and book recommendations. It’s a massive community, so not everyone is loving and supportive, but I must say my experiences have been pleasant.
Not only is it a great learning experience, but you can reach a lot of readers and get some reviews. I admit, I’ve been focused on book 2 all year and haven’t been promoting book 1 until just this past week. I’m finding it a little difficult to balance marketing time vs. writing time. That said, I’ve recently dropped some money to promote my book on a few sites, so we’ll see.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Oh, that’s easy. First, never proofread your own work. I found that out the hard way. Secondly, read read read read. You can never read enough. And diversify your reading. Don’t stick to all Indie authors and definitely don’t stick to all traditional published authors. Mix it up and you’ll find your writing is easier, your vocabulary grows, and you can pick out weaknesses in your own book by paying close attention to what you don’t like in the books you’re reading. Thirdly, write reviews for every book you’ve read. You’d be amazed at what you can learn from your own reviews. You’ll be picking apart or raving about that other book and it’ll make you think about your own; what you love and what you hate.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Read read read read. I wish I would have taken it sooner. I was so worried I would lose my “voice” or be influenced by other stories that I didn’t read the entire time it took me to write book 1. Sure, it’s a risk if you’re not careful, but the benefits are invaluable. I learned so much when I started reading regularly while I was writing book 2. Plus, it’s a great way to meet people. Who doesn’t like talking about books?
What are you reading now?
Resurrection Man by Sean Stewart. I discovered it from a couple of my friends who have read it, so I though I’d give it a try. I’m not far enough into it to decide if I love it yet, but the writing is nice and the story has me asking some questions. Unfortunately, epic fantasy tends to be my favorite and other genres are challenged to hold my attention.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Goodness knows! Hopefully, I can continue writing until my fingers fall off. I’ve found it to be a wonderful escape, better therapy than I could ever hope for, and when someone says they like something I’ve written, I can’t begin to tell you the joy it gives me.
Since I have several series ideas awaiting my attention, I’m hoping to be around for some time. I can guarantee my readers will always have a character striving to overcome internal demons. In the future, I plan on doing a purely quest type series and another series focused more on political intrigue. I want to test my writing and story abilities and will venture into first person for one series. For another, I’ll have a series that has both first and third person POV’s in it.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
That’s just cruel, but if I must:
Test of the Twins by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Purely because of Raistlin. I cry every time I read this book and I’ve been reading them since high school.
Heir of Novron by Michael J Sullivan
Ummm… let me just say: Royce. Loved him and found myself sleep deprived while I read the entire Riyria Revelations. It also took me weeks to get over these books.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this story, how much I cried, and how engaging I found Kvothe. Rothfuss’s writing is simply beautiful.
No Return by Zachary Jernigan
This book was smarter than me, and I would love a chance to sit down without any interruptions and force my little brain to imagine some of the stuff Jernigan described. The guy’s imagination is off the charts.