Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’ve been writing for over 30 years, though most of it has been in French and under a different name. Until now, I’ve mainly published short stories and nonfiction. The majority through traditional publishers, though there was a short experiment with self-publishing back in 2012.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest is titled “Of Dragon Bones and Ashen Tears.” It is the first installment in a series of epic fantasy novellas revolving around a character named Veric.
As for what inspired it… Basically, I wanted to try self-publishing again, but with a better strategy. The first step was figuring out which genre to write. That was easy, though. I’ve always loved, read, and wrote Science-Fiction and Fantasy, but clearly the latter–and especially epic/high fantasy–was what I enjoyed most writing. So I decided to focus on that.
Then I started looking for a character that could be interesting and intriguing enough that I could write about him for a long time, as the intention was to do a long-running series. And thus I came up with Veric.
I came up with the title, “Of Dragon Bones and Ashen Tears,” before I came up with the plot. In fact, coming up with all my titles was one of the first things I did because I noticed that I often struggle to find one if I write the story first. Having a title before hand also helped me come up with the plot.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I’m not sure. I guess it depends what you call “unusual” LOL. I tend to write after midnight… does that count? I’ve tried different times in the day, but that’s what works best for me. I’m not a morning person, and I love the quiet that you can only get during the night.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Roger Zelazny. Most definitely the biggest influence on me, I’d say.
Then, in the epic fantasy genre, more specific influences include Tad Williams, George R.R. Martin and, of course, J.R.R. Tolkien.
What are you working on now?
I always have three projects running at the same time. One is a translation (from English to French) that I work on every day. The second and third are personal writing projects.
One of those is, of course Veric’s adventures, which I focus on the first two weeks of each month (it takes me about a week to write a novella, so I write two in that time frame). The other is a novel, that I work on the two following weeks. At the moment, that’s an epic fantasy novel in French–one that I’d started in 1993 and that I hadn’t touched in 28 years! I’m rather happy with how it’s turning out, and I expect to finish that next month.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Marketing is still pretty new to me, so it’s probably too early for me to answer this.
Though I have to say that I’ve had great results with SFF Book Bonanza, which is a great website for genre readers, with lots of cool recommendations. Getting my free prequel featured there really increased downloads!
Do you have any advice for new authors?
If you’re serious about writing, the two most vital things you can do to help yourself (and I’ve learned this the hard way) are:
1) Write every single day, even if it’s just 10 minutes (though I recommend at least an hour, if you can)
2) Try to always write at the same time each day, or about the same time (it can be a rough estimate, like my ‘after midnight’ statement above).
What happens when you do this is that you train your brain to come up with ideas when you need them. You know that little thing called “writer’s block”? This will fix that. If not, you might be working on the wrong project–try switching to a different one, and see if the block remains (I’d be surprised if it did).
You’ll also find that writing becomes much easier once you get into a pattern like that, words will just flow out of you. Your writing speed should also increase after a while.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
That’s a tough one. You learn something new everyday, so…
I’d say one of the most useful things I’ve learned (from a Chris Fox book) is to keep track of what I write everyday. That is to say, I have a spreadsheet where I write my daily word count and the time it took me to write those words.
It’s fascinating how this simple little trick can help motivate you to keep going, at least in the beginning. After that, it’s still great if just for stats 😉
What are you reading now?
You know, as a child, I used to read A LOT. I don’t really anymore though. I keep saying it’s for lack of time, but deep down I know that’s just as bad an excuse as when I’d say I didn’t have time to write. You can make the time, if you put your mind to it. I really need to start reading more again. I do have a bunch of books on my to-read pile.
Though the next one I’ll read will likely be “The dead man’s brother”, a posthumous crime novel by Roger Zelazny that I ordered last month. I already know I’m gonna love it haha. I have yet to find a single book of Zelazny’s that I did not like.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I have tons of projects. More Veric novellas, of course, but there are also a bunch of novels and short stories in the works. There’s this French epic fantasy novel I need to finish. After that, I’m not sure yet if I’ll work on a French novella that’s been on standby for a few years, or an English language novel (I have several waiting to be written). I also need to finish editing two novels (one in each language).
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?
Oooohh… Let’s see. That’s tough because a lot of my favorites are part of a series, so do I just pick one from each series or a whole series that’d fill all the slots? LOL. Bah, I could probably find omnibuses collecting all the books together, so to make them count as one each… yeah, I’ll go with that 😉 So:
– The Chronicles of Amber – by Roger Zelazny
– The Lord of the Rings – by J.R.R. Tolkien
– A Song of Ice and Fire – by George R.R. Martin
– Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn – by Tad Williams
– The Book of the New Sun – by Gene Wolfe
Though it kills me that I couldn’t fit in “Creatures of light and darkness,” as that’s probably my all-time favorite by Zelazny. Maybe I’d take that one instead of the Amber books, hmm.
PS. Ooops, I just realized I was supposed to list 3 or 4, not 5! Ack. Oh well. I suppose I’d leave out the Gene Wolfe series, if I really couldn’t take 5 🙁
Author Websites and Profiles
Steffen Larken Website
Steffen Larken Amazon Profile
Steffen Larken’s Social Media Links