Craft Discussion - Research

IMG_3697.jpg

I’ve been asking around about what kind of content people would like to see, and one thing that’s come up several times has been the creative process. Aka, how do you write a book? It’s not a short answer, so I’ll break it down into chunks and throw them up here from time to time. Today, I’ll talk a little bit about research, and specifically what I did for the Cartographer Series.

First things first, fiction is all well and good, but it has to have some grounding in reality — in things people can understand. A good way to explain it is that you can write an imaginative story with dragons in it, but those dragons still have to obey the laws of physics! Meaning, they are still subject to gravity. You can make it so they flap big ‘ole wings or they have some secret magic that allows flight, but if anyone is to believe your story, you have to explain how these things can exist in a context the reader will understand. Whatever you do not explain needs to be real. And the more truth you can slap into a story, the easier it is for a reader to swallow. Hence, research. Even though I’m writing fiction, I want to have enough truth in there that it FEELS REAL.

I pulled a few books off the shelf to give you a visual. It’s not a comprehensive list, but it’s a sample I could find along the bottom shelf in my office ;) I read all of these specifically in preparation for writing the Cartographer. I fictionalized it all, and took whatever liberties I wanted since it was my world and my story, but the inspiration these books provided is the foundation I started building on.

The ceremonial sorcery in the Cartographer is derived from real (fake) rituals Aleister Crowley and his ilk conducted in their secret societies. The dress, the emblems, much of that wiggled its way into my books. Crowley’s practices were drawn from Egyptian rites, so I went a layer down and read about those as well. Much of the symbolism in the magic of the Cartographer is analogous to Egyptian myth. Life, death, sun, moon, the geometry of the patterns, even some of the names originated from there. ISISandra, HATHIA, THOTHam. Again, my magic system is not purely derived from Egyptian magic, but it’s inspired by it.

The Company in the Cartographer is of course a pretty obvious doppelgänger for the actual East India Company. The fictional Company’s history is the closest thing to true history in the book ;) I was inspired by traveling to England, Singapore, and India back when I had a day job, and I spent some time finding out more about the relationships between colonizer and colonized. I visited museums to see exhibits on the topic in Singapore & India, and of course I read. I just hope my crazy adventure fantasy story ends up being half as wild as the actual history…

I found a surprisingly good history of rum at my parent’s house, and did thorough testing. Not to mention the in depth study of gin while in England. I stand by all of the drinks in my book!

I won't get into the copious amounts of fiction I also read to “get a feel” for what I wanted to write, but I included Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell because it’s a great book. I read a lot more bad ones…

And no pictures, but I’ve also spent countless hours sifting through the internet on various topics. The titles of the peers in my books are analogous to the titles of peers in England, though I did away with some of the formal ways of addressing them because it was annoying to write. All of the details around ships were taken from East India Company histories or straight off the internet (don’t let me down now, Wikipedia). I won’t claim all of that stuff is accurate, but I think it’s accurate enough. Again, my intent is to write fiction, and the real world is the base. So, Google is my go-to when stumbling across any specific detail I don’t immediately know.

The maps of the Cartographer might also feel familiar to those looking closely. Enhover = England. The United Territories = Continental Europe. Vendatt Islands = Southeast Asia. Southlands & Darklands = Northern Africa. Westlands = North America. The idea is that these places are not direct copies of the real geography, but I want to make a subconscious link in reader’s minds when they’re going through the series. It’s a sort of cheap way of world-building. You may have some familiarity with these places and so I don’t need to go into depth on why Enhover has sheep or the Vendatt’s grow the spices. And if you don’t make all of those connections, no big deal!

Map World.jpg

I don’t expect anyone to pick up on every reference, but if you pick up on some of them, my hope is that it grounds this story and makes it resonate.

And for those wondering, on Benjamin Ashwood instead of real history, my model was the 90’s era fantasy I grew up reading. The farm boy with a sword stuff. I regret some of my references there because I think people took them the wrong way, but there were intentional references to my sources. Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time was a huge influence, and the most obvious in the book. The opening sequence was meant to evoke his opening and I wanted people to settle into that farm-boy is going on the adventure headspace as they read my book. Then, the fun part is upsetting those expectations down the road! But the trick is knowing the material well enough that I can mimic and head fake with it. You’ve got to do your research!

Some other avenues I’ve gone down for research & inspiration or plan to go down are real life experience. Travel has been an enormous one for me in all of my books. I also love going to renaissance festivals because even though they’re far from authentic, there’s a vibe I want to capture. A lot of authors participate in HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) or hand to hand combat training. I recently got a line on a well-known historical scholar and weapons expert who I hope can help me with that instead ;) This face is too pretty to risk at the end of a sword!

So, this is a super long post that says, “I read a lot”. It’s true, and for the most part that simple, but hopefully you’ve found some of these details entertaining and have a little faith that some of the stuff happening in my books isn’t quite as crazy as it seems!

Happy reading,

AC

Interview with Derek Alan Siddoway

Today we’ve got an interview with rancher and author, Derek Alan Siddoway. My fans may know him for his Gryphon Riders Trilogy, and if you don’t know it yet you are in luck! Windsworn: Gryphon Riders Book 1 is on sale TODAY in the US for just $0.99. Outside of the US you can still pick it up for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

AC: Hi Derek, thanks for taking the time to chat today. First off, you’ve got several series out now. Can you tell us a little bit about them, and where should someone start?

DAS: Whew! I never planned on jumping around with so many different series when I first started writing but before I knew it, I had books going in all sorts of directions. I have three main series out right now, two that are completed trilogies (with more books planned in both worlds) and one – the first series I ever published – that I’m returning to, but in a different time period. My books vary between YA Epic Fantasy and LitRPG but overall my goal is to write fast-paced fiction with heart. Basically, books you don’t want to put down with characters you can’t help but root for.

The place to start is probably my Gryphon Riders Trilogy. They’re my best-selling series to date and you can grab them in ebook, paperback or in audiobook, narrated by the fabulous Kate Rudd. The story follows a girl named Eva who starts off as a shy girl that wants nothing to do with heroics or gryphons. Throw in some rune magic and a talking golem hold on!

My first (and unfinished) series is the Teutevar Saga. It’s a less grimdark Game of Thrones (pretty sure that comparison is worn to threads by now but I’ll use it anyway). The concept for the setting was “what if the Middle Ages happened in a North America?” I’ve had fun pairing wild west landscapes, animals and cultures with traditional fantasy in this series. I’m returning to this world – although a few hundred years earlier – in my next series: Wolf Song Saga. The rough draft of book one, A Spring for Spears, is underway as of the beginning of August 2019.

My most recently published trilogy was co-written with A.J. Cerna. We delved into the LitRPG genre but instead of doing a World of Warcraft-inspired story, ours was inspired by Pokemon, Digimon and Monster Rancher. I was a voracious Pokemon fanfiction reader growing up (fun fact: Pokemon fanfiction was the first thing I ever seriously attempted to write outside of school assignments). I always wished there were books in the Pokemon world that went outside of the well-trodden anime and game themes. I got tired of waiting so we wrote it ourselves! We made an effort to address some of the things that Pokemon likes to gloss over, while simultaneously paying homage to the things we love about the franchise AND putting our own unique spin on things.

AC: Why gryphons and not dragons?

DAS: I went through a serious dragon phase in middle school and read everything I could find about dragons. This amounted to Anne McCaffrey and, a couple years later, the Eragon series. I also had a huge collection of Mega Bloks Dragons as well. Dragons are awesome.

That being said…

I’ve told this story during interviews before, but around the same time – a few years prior to my dragon phase, actually – I got my first taste of Warcraft II playing on my next-door neighbor/cousin’s computer. Those who’ve played it will remember that the Alliance faction had a gryphon rider unit. Warcraft II That was one of my most influential gateways into fantasy and I was still young enough that whenever I played outside, I imagined I was a gryphon rider going on all sorts of quests and missions for the kingdom. 

When I start to plan and outline what became the Gryphon Riders Trilogy, I wanted to blend well-known and beloved tropes with some fresh air. I thought back to my gryphon riding days as a youngster and voila! Everything just sort of took flight from there, pardon the pun. 

AC: You have some really great artwork on your Gryphon Riders books. Really love the art on the 3rdone! Can you tell us a little bit about the process you went through with your cover designer?

DAS: Thank you! The secret is I have an amazing designer. I first hooked up with him for the cover of Into Exile, my Teutevar Saga prequel and he knocked that one out of the park! I usually take a scene or an image and describe it in as much detail as possible and then pull together a bunch of covers in the genre that I enjoy. I also send him movie character stills, video game screenshots – anything I can think of that captures the idea of what I’m looking for. My goal is to paint a vibrant picture before you even read the book description.

The designer just runs wild with it from there. The runestones on book one, for example, were something that he came up with and added in that really add a nice touch. Same goes for the swirling leaves – that’s all creative license from the designer.

AC: How about your writing process. What is it like from genesis of an idea to finishing that final draft?

DAS: My writing process has really evolved in the last two years. When I’m writing a solo book, I start spiraling out from a central idea or concept, sort of like when you throw a rock in a pond – the ripple effect. I’ll throw out a bunch of random scenes and things that come to mind and then try to put a framework on it all. I’m definitely a plotter, but I sort of plot by the seat of my pants, then go back and make sure I’ve got everything I need for the story to actually work.  My solo outlines are usually a few thousand words with openings left to add in additional scenes as I start to get the feel for a story. I may do two or three revisions on the outline to get the story where I want it – it’s quite a bit easier to make big changes at this stage to save deleted words in the draft.

Once the rough draft is done, I try to let it sit for at least two weeks then I go back and make revisions and additions. I have a really hard time rereading through my own stuff but once I get through a second draft, I typically send it to a team of core readers (other authors, a couple editors who like more work, readers good at finding typos, etc.) From there I may do another round of revisions and a final polish and it’s done! 

There are a few slight differences in my co-authored books. The outline is a collaboration between both of parties. In the case of Djinn Tamer A.J. then goes through the outline and really fleshes it out to 15-20,000 words. Then I do the rough draft and send chapters to him as I finish them. After his second (and usually third) drafts, I get the story back and we send it out to our team of readers/authors/editors.

AC: You have a small press called Undaunted Publishing. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

DAS: Undaunted started as a small press and has grown, evolved and changed many times in its six and a half years of existence. The original promise we made was to read and give abbreviated feedback to every submission we received. Then we opened up a writing blog called the Everyday Author, then we got into the book publicity service with a company called Book Review 22 and pretty soon I realized I was spending all of my “author” time running these other aspects of the business.

I’m a part-time indie author and, with only so many hours in a day, I realized something had to go. We’ve basically shut down Book Review 22 and things are relatively silent from the Everyday Author as well. Now, Undaunted is more of a publishing cooperative than a true small press. Aside from my uncle, Mike LeFevre, who founded the company with me, we have two other authors and two author assistants that run ads, marketing and other tasks. Aside from two anthologies, 2019 is actually the first year we’ve published books by someone not named Derek or Mike. It’s been a long and winding road, but I’ve learned many valuable lessons about running a business and publishing books in the Age of Amazon along the way. We’re finally gathering some momentum and have the most amazing team of  individuals that are all great to work with.

AC: Is Undaunted open for submissions right now?

DAS: Undaunted isn’t open for submissions right now. We’ve got a core group of authors in place that form the foundation of our co-operative and we’re working hard to help them be successful. Once that foundation is in place, we’ll look at taking on additional authors. In addition to having a great book, we also want people who are a good fit on the team. It’s become a tight knit group.

AC: What inspired you to get into writing?

DAS: As I mentioned before, it really started with a desire to take a story that I liked and change parts of it so I would like it more. The original Pokemon Fanfiction I wrote was actually a reworking of someone else’s story that I thought I could improve. Don’t worry – none of it ever saw the light of day so I was only an eleven-year-old closet plagiarist. From there is blossomed from stories based on things I like to stories with my own original spin on them. I started what became Out of Exile, the first Teutevar Saga book, in high school. What you see now is almost a completely rework, but that’s when the seed was first planted.

Like many authors, I write because of those who came before me. Brian Jacques, Lloyd Alexander and J.K. Rowling were huge influences for me.

I first started down the indie author route after reading an interview by Michael Sullivan that was published in the back of his first big hit, Theft of Swords. He talked about his own self-publishing journey, something I didn’t even know was possible before reading that back in 2013. I owe much of where I am to him – Michael was kind enough to reply to my email and answer many rookie questions about self-publishing and being an indie author. I’ll always be forever grateful to him for getting me off on the right foot. 

AC: Michael J Sullivan and his wife have been an incredible resource for a lot of budding authors (including me!). In case there’s some other aspiring writing out there trying to figure it all out, what’s one piece of advice Michael gave you that really stuck?

I still have my original email thread to him saved – he was the most patient, gracious person and too the time to give me cover advice tips and help me with my book description, too. I would say the best advice he’s ever given me is some on marketing that he’s shared on Reddit in a post called Author’s Guide to Self-Promotion (https://www.reddit.com/r/Write2Publish/comments/1aqjxy/authors_guide_to_self_promotion/). Essentially, it boils down to how you divide you available time depending on how many book syou have out:

·      1 book released: Divide time 90% writing / 10% promotion

·      2 books: Divide time 90% writing / 10% promotion

·      3 books: Divide time 50% writing / 50% promotion

·      4+ books: Divide time 80% writing / 20% promotion

AC: I saw in your bio that you’re a rancher. I’m picturing weeks on the range overseeing a cattle drive. How far off am I?

DAS: (Laughs) I’m sorry to disappoint, but pretty far off. We raise hay, cattle and sheep on about 120 acres, so we’re a small operation. It’s been a side operation since the 1950s – that was when the Bureau of Reclamation took most of our property to build a reservoir. Most of our fields from the original farm my great grandpa worked are underwater now, sadly.

We have about thirty sheep, a few goats, a dozen cows and two horses. Last May, I bought a registered longhorn and an working to build up a small herd of that breed. The cow I bought had her first calf a couple weeks ago which was exciting!

Farming/ranching is a tonof hard work but I’m proud of my family’s legacy and heritage.  We recently received recognition for becoming a Centennial Farm and Ranch. When you stop to think about the amount of blood, sweat and tears that goes into 100 years of running a farm – that’s something. 

AC: If you hadn’t started writing, what else do you think you would have gotten up to? Was the family ranch always in the picture?

DAS: I would probably read a whole lot more! And be caught up on my video game to-be-played list, too. I think I would have probably attempted to make an income as a YouTuber or Podcaster, honestly. I host a podcast through my day job and it’s been a lot of fun. As far as the ranch goes, it’s always been in the picture. I grew up doing it and don’t think I could walk away from it if I tried. Even though we do it on the side, it’s still something that gets in your blood – sort of like writing. Sometimes its not fun at all and you just throw your hands in the air but you still keep at it.

AC: What do you do for fun when not spilling your brains out on the page? 

DAS: It’s not always “fun” but working on the farm and ranch takes up quite a bit of my time. There’s always something that needs to be done! 

When I do unwind, I love spending time with my wife, whether that’s reading, watching a movie or TV show, cooking, hiking – whatever it might be. I enjoy the outdoors and am also a volunteer member of our county’s backcountry Search and Rescue team. 

I don’t have as much time for it anymore, but I love video games, especially real-time strategy or RPGs. Some of my favorites are Age of Empires II (and oldie but a goodie), Skyrim, Banner Saga, the Pokemon franchise, and others.

AC: What are your favorite shows and books?

DAS: My wife and I just finished the second season of Dragon Prince on Netflix and really enjoyed it. There was some surprising depth to the wide cast of characters and I’m looking forward to where the show goes next. My favorite movie of all-time is probably a Knight’s Tale, followed closely by… it gets tough after that but I remember thinking how genius The Dark Knight was the first time I saw it.  I don’t really have a Top 10 ranked or anything. Westerns are always great as well!

As far as books go, I’m a big Joe Abercrombie fan, but not really because of the grimdark genre. I just absolutely love the voice he uses in his books.  I love tons of the books that everyone has probably heard of or seen on the Top Fantasy lists and I also enjoy nonfiction about American Football, especially this time of year. One book I like to plug that people usually haven’t heard of is The Builders by Daniel Polansky. It’s like a Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western took over Watership Down or a Redwall book.

AC: And that’s all, folks! Reminder, the first book in Derek’s Gryphon Riders Trilogy is on sale today! If you want to find out more about Derek, you can find him at derekalansiddoway.com.

Happy reading!

AC

Back on Twitter

My normal social media haunt is Facebook, but I’m giving Twitter another spin. Last time I was on there you could only tweet in 140-character increments. I write novels, people, that is not enough!

Anyway, now that they’ve changed the rules, I’m back in. Hit me up on either platform and let me know what social media you follow and what you’d like to see from authors! Now that the kiddos are going back to school, I’ve got time to up my game.

AC Cobble on Facebook and @ac_cobble on Twitter. Yeesh, I can’t figure out how to link that. I’m like 90 years old when it comes to social media… Sorry, should be easy to search for me!

Quill: The Cartographer Book 1 is out in Audio

Quill: The Cartographer Book 1 is out now on audiobook. You can find it on Audible, Amazon, or iTunes.

I’m really excited about this edition as I got to work with the legendary Simon Vance. He has nearly a thousand audiobooks under his belt, he’s been nominated for an Audie FORTY SIX times (and won over a dozen of those), has over SEVENTY Golden Earphone wins, and so on… He’s worked with George RR Martin, Stieg Larsson, Frank Herbert, Anne Rice, Naomi Novik, Brent Weeks, James Maxwell, Terry Brooks, and so many more. It’s a true honor he agreed to do Quill with me, and after listening to the performance, I’m entirely convinced Simon was the best possible narrator I could get for this project.

Not sure? You can sign up for a FREE 30-day trial on Audible and give it a whirl at no cost! It can’t offer anything better than FREE ;) If you’re an audio fan, give it a whirl, and let me know what you think!

Audible US HERE

Audible UK HERE

Interview with Evan Winter

Great interview with Evan Winter today! If you’re not familiar with Evan, I suspect you will be soon. His debut novel The Rage of Dragons was self-published to incredible success and he was picked up by Big 5 publisher Orbit for the series. They released a new and improved (?) The Rage of Dragons, and it’s now live in eBook, hardback, and audio.

Both cover images go to the same book. The first is Orbit’s new cover, and the second is Evan’s old one which he references below. Who deserves two covers this good for one book?!?

Anyway, Evan is an author on the way up, and he’s really a nice guy who is a lot of fun to talk to. I recommend you keep an eye on this one!

Find The Rage of Dragons HERE or head to http://evanwinter.com to learn more about, well, Evan Winter.

AC: Hi Evan, thank you for joining me today. First of all, congratulations on your publishing deal with Orbit! My fans know I’m an Indie Publishing evangelist, but it’s awesome to see someone who’s had success in that arena find a Traditional deal that works for them — and by all appearances looks to be on their way for even bigger success. While I like Indie Publishing, it’s worth noting there is more than one way to skin this cat! So, first off, can you tell us a little bit about your debut, The Rage of Dragons, and what else is in store for the series, The Burning?

EW: Hi AC and thanks very much for taking the time to do this with me. I was really glad you asked and can’t wait to talk ‘shop’! I guess, to answer your first question, I’d say that The Rage of Dragonsis book 1 in a planned 4-book series and, to give you a quick sense of what book 1 is about, it’s best described as either Game of Thrones meets Gladiator or The Count of Monte Cristo meets Gladiator. 

AC: What inspired you to write the series?

EW: I’ve always loved fantasy as a literary genre and The Rage of Dragons, the whole series really, is me in conversation with all my favorite stories. When I write, it’s perhaps a little selfish because I’m trying to tell myself a story that I would think is amazing. I’m trying to connect more tightly to this thing that’s been a wonderful constant in my life by offering up the best of everything it’s given me as seen through the perspective with which I view the world. I’m writing the series because, as wonderful as the genre has been to me, it was hard for me to feel that its stories were actually for or about me, and I wanted to play some small part in changing that.

AC: I agree, it seems to me the best stories are the ones we write for ourselves. That’s deep, we’d better bring it back! As someone who successfully self-published a book and is heading toward what I’m sure will be an awesome relationship with Orbit (it’s out now!) can you talk a little about what is different between the two publishing methods, and if anything surprised you about either one?

EW: I have to start by saying that I’m new to both publishing methods. I only self-published one book and now that one book is being traditionally published. So, while I’m almost the opposite of an expert in either system, I’m more than happy to talk about the things I’ve noticed:

First up, I was surprised by how much a self-publisher needs to understand their publishing platform(s) if they want to succeed. For example, if you publish on Amazon and aren’t aware of how the platform treats new releases versus old releases, pricing sweet spots, appropriate cover styles given the genre, advertising, etc, etc, etc, it’ll be really difficult to get your book read by more than family and friends. A successful self-publisher is a businessperson every bit as much as they are a creative person. I think it’s important to note that. <AC – this is very true>

On the traditional publishing side, writing to a contractual deadline is hard. It’s harder than I thought and finishing off a second book (which people tend to say are always the most troublesome) under a deadline has been interesting. Also, I thought that working with a Big 5 publisher would mean giving up a lot of creative control over the story, but I haven’t found that to be the case. Editors and publishers aren’t there to change your story. They’re there to help you tell the story you want to tell to the very best of your ability and learning that made me much more comfortable. 

Lastly, even in the short time I’ve been with a traditional publishing house, it’s been eye-opening to see the types of opportunities that they can offer, which simply weren’t available to me when I was self-publishing. From putting my book in big chain stores and independent shops across the continent to lining up interviews with major media outlets to providing the extra social proof that helps make things like movie or TV deals happen, traditional publishing can open doors that would still be too heavy to open on my own.

AC: Major media outlets? You are too kind! Wait, you weren’t talking about me, were you? Hmph… Let’s move on. Before writing, what were you up to, and do you think it helped in this new career?

EW: Before writing, I worked in film. I was a music video director/producer, and I do think it helped me as a writer. Music video directors write the scripts for the videos and I’d been doing pitches and sharpening up scripts for two decades. 

The work was a masterclass in valuing your creativity while balancing it against the needs of the business. I think doing that for so long taught me not to conflate my own identity with the creative output. My identity goes into the creative, but I am not the creative and I must be able to step back and be clear-headed in how to improve it while it’s still a work in progress and then, when it’s delivered and ‘on-air,’ I must be able to let it go so that I can create again.

AC: I saw you mentioned bartending in two different countries. This is a subject near and dear to my heart ;) What’s your best drink?

EW: Haha! Great question! I make a mean mojito and my personal favorite, if not a good bourbon straight, is probably an old-fashioned. 

AC: While trying to research your bartending, I found this in your bio: “Born in England to South American parents, Evan Winter was raised in Africa near the historical territory of his Xhosa ancestors.” Break it down for us! Where did you grow up?

EW: Another tricky one, eh? I grew up in Zambia in central Africa. I was there for my formative years and then my family moved to Canada (hence the ‘eh’). :)

AC: Where do you live now, and why did you end up there?

EW: I’m in Toronto now and, before that, I was in Los Angeles doing the film thing. At the moment, I have connections to four different continents and I keep thinking it might be nice to turn that four into five…

AC: I imagine in interviews you get questions about diversity a lot. Instead of me trying to lead you somewhere with a question, can you tell us your thoughts on diversity in fantasy?

EW: A very good and very difficult question. It’s hard to answer in a way that gets across my true feelings in anything less than an essay, but I’ll try. 

I have worked in some form of storytelling for the entirety of my adult life and I believe that stories have an incredible amount of power, much more power than they are typically credited in having. For example, the largest consumer brands have learned that they can best effect our buying choices not by appealing to our intellect but our emotions and connections to stories.

So, instead of telling us things like, “buy the Zune it has a 3xM processor, 5GB of memory, and a Formula 3 hard drive.” They learned to say, “Here’s something new for people like you. For people with taste and style. Here’s 1,000 songs in your pocket, because your life deserves its own soundtrack.” 

It’s why the Olympics come with a story on every major athlete. It’s why politics speaks in terms of the narrative of the day or moment. Stories matter. Stories change minds and opinions and the form your story takes, the people it chooses as its protagonists, those things matter too. 

So, ‘diversity is important’ and ‘representation matters’ — both are true, because stories have power and they, in good part, point to the edges of how far we can go while also suggesting how far we can fall. They can uplift, cause change, help, or hurt, and America’s greatest export is its stories. Its stories have changed the way the world looks at itself and at each other. 

Stories have power, and in the best world possible, the heroes and heroines in them will not look only one way.

AC: Great answer!Stories matter. Somehow in this day and age with access to mind-blowing technology that we were promised would make us all connected, we’ve somehow become strangers with each other. A big fat epic fantasy novel is a pretty pleasant way to bridge that gap… In my own books, my childhood tends to inspire the themes, and travel as an adult tends to work its way into worldbuilding and the more tangible aspects / inspirations of the story. Do you find your past playing a significant role in your imaginary world, and how so?

EW: I think we experience this similarly because the world within which my first series takes place is entirely the world of my childhood. I took Zambia, as I remember it, and put it on the page. I did not try to align my child’s memories with my knowledge as an adult. Instead, I very much wanted the world to look like what I knew it to be when I was 5, 7, 9, 10.

AC: I first noticed you gaining popularity on Reddit’s r/Fantasy. Can you talk a little bit about how that occurred, and give us some thoughts on how social media has changed the way authors interact with fans?

EW: Reddit’s r/Fantasy is probably the world’s single largest group of fantasy fans. It has over 600,000 subscribers and it’s a great place to go to get to know fantasy a bit better. Or, if you already know the genre well, it’s a fantastic destination if you’d like to talk genre ‘shop.’

I’d been subscribed to r/Fantasy for about ten years (I think) under a different account and I’d visit every day. I didn’t post though. I was a total lurker. I just read and consumed the content.

But, when I finished The Rage of Dragons, I wanted to share it with people who I thought might like it. I mean, I shared it on Facebook and my family and friends were super supportive, but most of them don’t read fantasy. They were just happy for me that I’d written a book. r/Fantasy was the dream share. I had no idea if anyone would care about the book, but if anyone would, it would be r/Fantasy. 

So, I had an animated version of my book cover (I was going to use it in Facebook ads) and I made a post using the animated cover because I thought it might attract a bit more attention than me simply saying that I’d written something. I was lucky, the cover caught a lot of eyes and that drew people into the post to see what the book was about. Like I said, r/Fantasy is a big place and, though it was only a fraction of the everyone there, enough people were interested and gave the book a try to shoot it up into the top 250 books on Amazon. That push, so early in launching the book, gave it a chance to be seen by fantasy readers on Amazon, and that’s what really got the ball rolling…

AC: What is something readers don’t know about you?

EW: I surfed Bondi Beach in Australia and it was awesome!

That’s all we’ve got for today. As a reminder, find The Rage of Dragons HERE or head to http://evanwinter.com to learn more about, well, Evan Winter.

Happy reading,

AC