Interview with Bryce O'Connor

A quick and mostly painless interview with best-selling author Bryce O’Connor. Many of you have already read his Wings of War series, but if you haven’t, it’s currently just $0.99 for the first 4 books, which I promise is a huge value! Keep reading to find out why Bryce is able to sell it so cheaply, and tons of other interesting little nuggets.

Wings of War Books 1-4

Bryce’s Website

Q1: Is it true that in 100% of the games we have played, I beat you in chess? (yeah, I opened with that)

Dude... Why you gotta make me start with fisticuffs?? Sure, this is technically true, but there are caveats and circumstance I think you may or may not be glazing over here, sir. Like that fact that we've only ever played a single game. Or the fact that you didn't give me a rebuttal. I'm still holding out for the day I get to take my long awaited revenge! MWAHAHAHA!
... 
...ahem... 
Anyways...

Q2: A lot of my fans have already read Wings of War, but for those who haven’t, can you tell us a little bit about it?

Lizard dude with big spear kills all the baddies.

But actually. That about sums it up. If you want me to be more eloquent, the dashingly handsome Dyrk Ashton, of Paternus fame, summarized it very well the last time we were together at Dragoncon: "The story of the Punisher, if Frank Castle were a dragon." I thought that was such a good outline, I've stolen it as my one-line elevator pitch for new potential readers. Just don't tell Dyrk.

Q3: You have tons of great art, both on your covers, and some custom pieces I have seen floating around. First, where is the best place to view all of the Wings of War art, and second, can you talk a little bit about the relationship between author and artist?

So as much of a bummer as it is, there isn't a great place to find all the art I've had done over the years for The Wings of War right now, mostly because myself and some of the artists are trying to figure out how to appropriately make the materials available as wallpapers, screensaver, life-sized body pillows (hehehe), etc. I do plan on putting an art section together on my site eventually, and who knows? Maybe by the time this interview sees the light of day it will be available for perusal at bryceoconnorbooks.com!

Now talking about artist/author relationships.... That's gonna go deep with me, but I suspect you know that. Most of my fans are aware that fantasy art is the largest inspiration behind my own writing. Todd Lockwood. Raymond Swanland. My own cover artist, Andreas Zafiratos. All major, major suppliers of my energy and passion. My Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/OConnorBooks) is littered with daily posts of the crazy cool art I've found or had commissioned, and as a result of that respect for the medium I've evolved to think of the creators of those works as masters of their own domains. If an artist was able to wow you enough to ask them for a cover, I think it is generally best to let them do their thing with a piece and not strangle them with more feedback, criticism, etc., than they ask for. Having a good relationship with your cover artist(s) is essential to getting the end product you want out of your cover, and subsequently your book as a whole (or whatever related project you might be involved in). Respect them, treat them well, pay them what they deserve (this one is important!), and you will find yourself surrounded by talented individuals who are always ready to help you get what you need out of a piece. Strangle them, limit them, and try to gip them, and you'll end up with a bad reputation and uninspired work that you might think is great, but lacks the edge an artist who is enjoying his work can give to a his/her canvas...

Q4: You’re co-writing a project called The Shattered Reigns with the amazing LitRPG author Luke Chmilenko (Ascend Online). Is that going to be like your stuff, his stuff, or something in between?

Ok so first off, Luke is a world-building genius. If you haven't already checked out Ascend Online, do that right now. I particularly recommend the audiobook version, because Luke Daniel's masterfully brings the characters to life in a way we can't do as writers.

As for what The Shattered Reigns is going to turn out to be, I think fans of both mine and Luke's will find a lot to love in the work. We've had a hand both in the world-building and plotting, and while you'll see more elves and wizards and such classics than can be found in The Wings of War, you're also going to be neck deep in some really cool, trope-breaking characters and creatures that Luke and I have come up with together. I can't tell you how much fun it was to go back and forth creating a dragon that stays true to the common interpretation of its kind, while simultaneously turning the concept on its head. More importantly, it's been amazing having a partner who has this incredible ability to take one glance at the place you're stuck in and suggest a solution and plot direction that not only get the wheels going again, but usually adds some new, cool edge to the story.

Q5: How does co-writing compare to creating your own stuff? Can you talk some about both the technical and creative process differences?

Without giving too much of our process away, our system of co-writing has been awesome, despite some pretty significant initial challenges. Luke and I write very differently, and for a few weeks we found ourselves editing each other in circles. We met up, talked through the issues we were having, and came up with a solution that has, thus far, worked really well. We're both pretty laid back, so feedback and the go-between has been nothing but helpful no matter what the issue is, and it's been great bouncing ideas off each other. You find a rhythm in the end, working with a partner you trust, and everything settles from there.

Q6: You’re a full-time author now, but what did you do before, and how did you make the leap into writing?

Believe it or not, I worked in pediatrics! I was a physical therapist for children with special needs, working at a local school on getting kids to walk and run and jump and do all kinds of things that would hopefully one day drive their parent's crazy at home! It was really rewarding work, but the keyboard has been calling me for 20 years now, and when the opportunity came to go full time about a year and a half ago, I had to jump on it!

The story of my journey into the writing world itself is a pretty interesting one (at least from my perspective), because it was largely planned. I've wanted to write since I was 9 years old, literally. When Child of the Daystar hit the shelves three years ago, the first book in The Wings of War series, my best friend from high school rang me up and laughed about how I'd been talking about being a published author for the last 15+ years. My parents, who have been incredibly supportive and helpful, encouraged me to pursue my passion, with a single caveat: I had to be able to support myself after college. 

Fair, right? They helped me find a school I liked, going for a degree that would allow me to not only not live out of a cardboard box till the end of my days, but give me the time to continue to write after I graduated. I ended up at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY, and six years later I finished my coursework with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and a Bachelors in Creative Writing. I spent the next three years doing the double shift so many authors go through, working the day jon and writing at night when I got home. Tough, but as they say: when you do what you love, you never work a day in your life. When Winter's King, book 3 in the series, broke into the market in a big way, I jumped ship without ever looking back.

Ok that's an exaggeration. I volunteer occasionally at the school when I can, but that's mostly just an excuse to see my work friends and give all my kids a hug :D

Q7: You’ve had a hugely successful series. It has tons of copies sold, great reviews, but now you’ve got a boxset of the first 4 books on sale for $0.99!? Can you peel back the curtain a little for my readers, and talk about why that is, and how authors can make money practically giving their work away?

Oh man... I really wish this question was posed more often, particularly by the sector of individuals who look at something like a $0.99 boxset and think only "Obviously it can't be any good, if that many books are selling at that price." I'm going to summarize it here, but for anyone looking for a more in-depth explanation, I posted a deep-dive into this exact concept on the r/Fantasy subreddit a few weeks back, which can be found here: Why Kindle Unlimited is GOOD For Authors

For those of you who prefer the short version, here we go:

What a lot of readers lack an understanding of (through no fault of their own) are the minutia involved in successfully navigating the eBook markets, specifically Amazon's Kindle Store, and specifically as a self-published author. In this particular instance, it's important to explain a essential part of the Amazon profit-model for authors: Kindle Unlimited.

For those of you who are unaware what Kindle Unlimited (KU) is, it's Amazon's subscription-based membership program which, for $9.99 a month (in the US at least) gives Amazon members access to all titles in the Unlimited program for no additional cost. Thing is: just because those readers are paying "nothing" for a book in KU directly does not mean that we, the authors, are not getting paid. On the contrary: KU pays out in what are called "page reads". That means that for every page of my boxset you read, I make a very small amount of money. Less at 1¢ per, in fact. BUT, recall that this is a boxset, and as a single product is more than 1700 pages long. All in all, while you might pick up my book for $0.99, the person who downloads my book through KU and reads it all the way through puts almost $15 dollars in my pocket.

So yes. To an outsider there is certainly an understandable confusion to be address when something like a successful series puts a boxset out for stupid cheap, but I assure you we know what we're doing ;)

Q8: You’re working on Wings of War 5, The Shattered Reigns 1, what can we expect next? Any other projects you’d like to share?

Ha, oh where to begin...

My author friends typically know I like to have my fingers in a lot of pies at once, so while yes, book 5 of The Wings of War and book 1 of The Shattered Reigns are my top priorities right now, there's a lot more going on in my downtime than is probably good for my health. I'm currently working on a children's book series that will be Kickstarted likely later this year, as well as a number of board and card games that should see the light of day sometime in the next 12 months or so. I'm also working on another co-authored fantasy series that I'm keeping under wraps for the moment, and some college friends and I are simultaneously debating putting together a separate Kickstarter for a therapy product we developed while we were in our grad years together, and have recently been granted a patent for. There's a few more things going on here and there, but nothing I'm free to talk about right now, so we'll have to leave some secrets for another day!

And that’s all for this month’s interview. Remember, you can find Bryce’s Wings of War Boxset Books 1-4 right here for only $0.99!

Interview with Andy Peloquin

AC Cobble:Hi Andy, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. First, I think my readers are most likely to know you from your Hero of Darkness (Darkblade Assassin) series. Can you tell us a little bit about that one, and what else have you written?

Andy Peloquin: There are two answers to this question…

The first is that the Hero of Darkness series is an epic, action-packed novel about a bad-ass immortal assassin. If you love heart-pounding fight scenes, breathtaking worlds, fascinating cities, and neck-tweaking plot twists, this is the story for you. Hero of Darkness follows the Hunter as he journeys from his city, wandering the world in search of answers about his forgotten past, his true identity as a half-demon. Though he begins his journey as a mostly amoral killer, he ends up a slightly more moral killer who ultimately is the “hero” who saves the world.  

But my real answer, the one that feels more genuine, is that the series is the story of an outcast seeking a place in a world where he doesn’t belong. As an assassin, he has to conceal his identity from the world, but that means he’s concealed HIMSELF from the world. He’s not human, so he can’t really relate to human problems. No matter where he is or who he’s with, he finds himself alone. 

For people like me—and so many others—a character like this is very real and relatable. I spent most of my childhood and teenaged years as an outsider (courtesy of my Autism Spectrum Disorder and my varying “odd” interests). The Hunter’s journey of self-discovery came at a time in my life when I was learning more about myself—I’d just been diagnosed ASD, so it was an emotional and psychological journey to understand exactly what that meant. Being able to walk this fascinating, complex, tortured character through many of the same difficulties I was dealing with was a way for me to understand myself and the world around me better.

AC: Your books sometimes delve into the darker side of human nature. What is it that intrigues you about that darkness?

AP: That stems directly from my diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. When I was diagnosed ASD, I found myself diving into the realm of psychology and neurology to understand why my atypical brain made me different than my wife, kids, and the people around me. 

As I did that, I found all sorts of fascinating links to conditions and diseases where the brain affected other people in other ways—psychopathy, sociopathy, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, Williams’ Syndrome, and the list goes on. The more I researched, the more I realized that these conditions are very common among not only real-life people, but characters in fiction. That was when I started incorporating them into my stories—both so I could better understand them, and to help readers understand them as well.

AC: A lot of us write characters that have odd tics, but mental illness is rarely explicitly dealt with in fantasy. Do you have any favorite books where the topic is addressed?

AP: Almost every one of my books deal with mental illness in some way. Different, Not Damaged is a collection of shorts focused on autism, PTSD, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s, and other physical disabilities. The main character from my Hero of Darkness series is an assassin with schizoaffective disorder, which manifests as voices in his head that drive him to kill. 

Everything I write deals with the psychological effects of violence, death, loss, sorrow, trauma, and abuse. As I mentioned above, my diagnosis of Asperger’s lead me down the rabbit hole of psychology and neurology, and now I write it into everything I create.

AC: Does that explain why you love assassins so much?

AP: It’s because they’re just so damned much fun! They’re a sort of “wish fulfillment” character. We’ve all had bad days when we want to murder someone: that nitpicky boss, that irritating “friend”, the ass**** who cut us off in traffic, etc. Assassins actually DO it, and there’s a sense of justification and vindication when they do.

Of course, the elements of sneaking, cunning, clever planning, and wicked action scenes just make them so much better! 

AC: If you were to assassinate someone - let’s assume they were properly evil and deserved it - how would you go about doing it?

AP: I’m a battle-rager/barbarian type, so I’d probably go about trapping them in someplace and blocking off all exits, then going straight up the middle with heavy armor and a greatsword or battle axe. It’s just my personality type to have head-on confrontations.

AC: I heard you have some martial arts experience. Can you tell us about that, and how it influences your writing?

AP: I studied a mixture of Karate, Kung-Fu, Taekwondo, Hapkido, and MMA for about 18 months, got halfway to black belt (6 of 11 belts). You can see it reflected a lot in my earlier works, as I wrote those while I was still practicing. Seeing as I was very focused on learning each move, each sequence, and each technique, I wrote those into my books in greater detail.

Training in martial arts gave me a much better understanding of the human body, physical mechanics, muscles, joints, and the way weapons interact with our movements. My fight scenes no longer get into such great detail, but they still move the way a sparring match or training bout does. A lot of back and forth, ebb and flow, each person sizing up their opponent to find openings in their guard. 

AC: In my writing, I’ve found cultures that I experienced through travel provided a huge influence in my books, sometimes in obvious simple ways, sometimes in very subtle adjustments to the way people behave. Can you tell us how your own experiences with different cultures has bled into your stories?

AP: So, I was born in Japan, lived there until I was 14, then moved to Mexico, where I traveled around the country (and the US) and lived in 10 different cities for the next 16 years (before finally moving “home” to Canada at the ripe old age of 30).

I will say there are two huge influences resulting from this:

  1. My characters have no sense of “home”. I realized this as I was writing my second series, Queen of Thieves. All of my protagonists have been uprooted from their homes, have lost their parents, were raised as orphans, or had something else happen to take them away from their home. That’s definitely the result of my traveling around to many places where I don’t truly belong. Even in Canada, the country that should be “mine”, I don’t fit in because I spent so many years living among other cultures and people. My characters’ journeys reflect that—they always find that sense of “home” with people that matter, causes and missions that make them feel like they matter.

  2. My stories are varied and include elements from around the world. I love writing memories from my past and favorite places I visited into my stories, as well as places I’d like to visit in the future. Traveling around so much has exposed to so many amazing things, and it’s a thrill to share those with people through my stories.  

AC: How’d you get into writing?

AP: It’s all thanks to a passionate grade school teacher! He loved science and the arts (odd combination, but he was and still is a wonderfully odd man), and he would include a lot of extra-curricular activities in our classes. We’d go on nature walks and write poetry about a weird-looking tree, or we’d throw elaborate science fairs with all manner of crazy projects.

I come from an artistic family (musicians, writers, artists, graphic designers, etc.), but I had no art of my own until I discovered a penchant for the written word. It was my way of turning on the tap to let out the innate creativity within myself. Now, it’s such an ingrained part of my life that I can’t imagine living without it.

AC: What is your best experience as an author, or as a reader?

AP: As a reader, it’s being sucked into a book or series so completely it becomes an addiction. That hasn’t happened often in the last few years—maybe because I’m more cynical as an adult and a writer. But there are a few series I can think off off-hand—Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards, Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archives, and David Weber’s Safehold,to name a few—that make me forget the world around me until only this fictional world remains. That’s a breathtaking feeling that I can never get enough of.

As a writer, it’s always nice to get those five-star reviews and comments saying, “I loved the book!”  But the real joy is when I hear people saying things like, “Whoa, I totally felt the Hunter’s loneliness and depression—it’s exactly how I feel” or “This character you wrote is exactly like me, or she embodies the qualities I want to have.” That connection with people is the reason I got into writing. I have a hard time in social situations, but being able to connect through my writing is the most rewarding feeling of all.

AC: What did you do before becoming a full-time author?

AP: English teacher, salesman, balloon artist, and copywriter/blogger. All fun jobs, but nothing close to writing!  

AC: Tell us something no one knows about Andy Peloquin?

AP: I’ve been dying to start a podcast/webshow where I read erotic scenes from romantic novels and utterly RUIN them—with the wrong voice and accent. I did it at a conference I attended in 2018, and I nearly suffocated laughing so hard. It was the most fun I’d had (and a terrible drinking game when attending a romance-heavy conference) and something I’d love to do more often.   

AC: Why were you at a romance conference? Any pen names you want to share with us…?

AP: No pen names, sadly. I just happen to write articles for the magazine that organizes the event, and I was up for one of their awards. The first year I had so much fun that now I go back every time. They’re just such wonderful, kind, friendly people—and many of them with utterly filthy minds! Endless amounts of laughter and fun there.

AC: Now that Hero of Darkness is complete, what’s next on the agenda?

AP: By the time you’re reading this, the new series, Heirs of Destiny, is already releasing. Heirs of Destiny is a sequel spin-off to both Hero of Darkness and my other series, Queen of Thieves. It follows the young (secondary) characters from both series, teaming them up on a mission to save a new city from evil creatures, corrupt politicians, bloodthirsty death cultists, and ruthless criminals. 

As that series is releasing (all five books are written), I will resume work on another series: epic military fantasy. Think Black Ops/Rainbow Six, but set in my fantasy world. A team of soldiers are handpicked to join the “Grim Reavers”, a team of special operatives given the most dangerous missions that could put an end to the century-long war gripping their continent. I wrote the first two of six books in 2018, and it’s going to be one hell of a fun series to both write and read!

Find Andy Peloquin’s Darkblade Assassin HERE or his new book in the Heirs of Destiny series, Trial of Stone HERE. That’s all, and happy reading!

AC

Dark Territory: Benjamin Ashwood Buch 3 auf Deutsch!

Dark Territory: Benjamin Ashwood Buch 3 (the German edition) is live! Apologies it took so long to get this version going on this book. We had a terrible string of luck that led to almost 2 months of delays. It will be worth it (I hope)! And good news, Book 4 is already in translation, and the contract is signed for the rest of the series. They’re on the way, and I hope we can get it turned around a little faster on those. In the meantime, you can find Dark Territory: Benjamin Ashwood Buch 3 HERE!

Dark Territory: Benjamin Ashwood Buch 3 ist live! Entschuldigung, es hat so lange gedauert, bis die deutsche Version dieses Buch veröffentlicht hat. Wir hatten ein schreckliches Glück, das zu fast zwei Monaten Verspätung führte. Es wird es wert sein (hoffe ich)! Und gute Nachrichten: Book 4 ist bereits in der Übersetzung und der Vertrag ist für den Rest der Serie unterzeichnet. Sie sind auf dem Weg, und ich hoffe, wir können es etwas schneller herumdrehen. In der Zwischenzeit können Sie finden Dark Territory: Benjamin Ashwood Buch 3 HIER!

Interview with Dyrk Ashton

Excerpts from this interview were included in January’s monthly newsletter. Check it out for behind-the-scenes insights about other authors, news about AC Cobble, and FREE short stories.

Dyrk Aston - yes, that’s his given name - is a really fascinating author for me. His books are a kind of bonkers contemporary fantasy thrill ride that is absolutely jam-packed with detail and mythology. It gets compared a lot to Gaiman’s American Gods, and I can see why, but as you read Paternus you’ll realize it is wholly unique. If you want something different, this is for you. And as you read, don’t stumble over the initial mythology. As the book continues, it transitions into a really crazy action tale. It’s cinematic and fun, I think largely due to Dyrk’s experience in film. Find out more in the interview below!

Dyrk’s website: https://www.paternusbooks.com

Dyrk’s Twitter (I thought we were all on Facebook!?!): https://twitter.com/UnDyrk

Dyrk’s Facebook (there we go): https://www.facebook.com/paternusbooks/

Paternus: Rise of Gods

Paternus Wrath of Gods

AC: You’ve been deeply involved in the film industry, can you tell us a little bit about that experience?

DA: Hi AC, thank you for having me. Yeah, I lived, ate, breathed film for a long time. Got my undergrad and masters degrees in film and video production from Ohio State University, where I produced the first feature film ever made there for part of my masters ‘thesis’. I then worked my way up from a production assistant and grip to producer and production manager on commercials and industrial films in Columbus, OH. Buddies of mine and I also made short films and a feature film during that time (of which I acted in a bunch, actually). We had our own production company for a while and developed screenplays and made a spec pilot for a cyberpunk TV series, which we pitched around Hollywood for a time, but could never really get anything to fly. I then moved to Los Angeles and worked in a ton of positions, including location sound recording, editing, and set construction. Mostly, though, I made my living as a SAG/AFTRA actor. I’m in Men in Black for about 4 seconds, was in a bunch of commercials and music videos, got some one scene appearances in some other features. The biggest part was a co-starring role in Rudyard Kipling’s The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo (longest movie title ever!). I was writing screenplays the whole time I was there as well, and got one of them read by several big companies, including Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Productions and New Line Cinema. Also had a proposal for a TV series championed by American Zoetrope Television, Francis Ford Coppola’s TV division, but it got turned down eventually by the financiers. A whole lot of almost-made-its!

AC: How did your background in film influence your writing?

DA: My background in film has definitely influenced my writing. I’m a very visual person, and tend to ‘see’ the locations, staging, and movement as I write, as well as ‘hear’ the dialogue as if it were on the screen. I also think in terms of how scenes tend to open, progress, and close in films, and how confrontations, tension, and outright battles are ‘directed’ when I write, and sometimes ‘edited’ as well. I also enjoy the immediacy of present tense, and the freedom of third person omniscient narrative storytelling, which I’ve learned how to hone from writing screenplay. All that said, though, I have been reading books and writing in a narrative style all my life, so I don’t consider myself a film guy who writes books. The two have been been weaving out of my process forever.

AC: Paternus is filled with rich detail and incredible depth. How much of it is “Dyrk’s Mythology” and how much of it is based on real world mythology?

DA: I’ve been a big mythology geek since I was very young. I’m also fascinated by the process of mythmaking as well. That includes both how ‘real’ myths have developed and how masters of creating their own mythologies, such as Tolkien, mine from existing mythologies and create their own. Nearly every mythological character and many of the stories of their backgrounds come from actual legends, fairy tales, or myths. I definitely put my own spin on a lot of what’s in the books, though, and some of them are, in a great part, mostly made up and just loosely tied to any existing ancient stories.

AC: Who is your favorite character in Paternus?

DA: That’s a really hard question, because I like them all for one reason or another, or I wouldn’t put them in the books. Some of it is the whole “love to hate” thing too, of course. If I have to choose, it would be Fi’s Uncle Edgar, which I never would have guessed when I began writing. I find him a really interesting character with a conflicted background but who is trying to do the right thing. He’s often the most fun to write. They really are all fun to write, though, for me.

AC: You’re an experienced hand on the convention circuit, can you tell us which ones are your favorite, both from the perspective of a creator and a fan?

DA: Yeah, it is really difficult to separate my creator side from my fan side. I think all of them are great for both, though. DragonCon may be my fave con as a fan, though, and ConFusion as a writer. I’ve had great experiences at SFWA/Nebulas, WorldCon/Hugos too though, and will definitely go again.

AC: What’s your favorite thing about being a published author?

DA: Interacting with other authors and fans, definitely, though to be honest, can’t shake a stick at being able to make a little money doing something I love.

AC: Tell us something readers don’t know about you?

Hmm. My great-great-grand Uncle on my father’s side was John L. Sullivan, the world heavyweight champion boxer, and my Grandfather on my mother’s side was a medic in Begium and France in World War I--he rode a horse (and I have his saddle :)  I also like Funko Pops and babysloths... wait... everybody knows that...

AC: One of my favorite parts about writing is the community of authors. People are there to help each other out. One contest I want to give some recognition is the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO). The incredible Mark Lawrence serves as a sort of spiritual guide, and a dedicated team of bloggers review hundreds of books every year to sift out the wheat from the chaff. As someone who’s been both a participant and now a judge for Team Booknest, tell us a little bit about the contest.

DA: Very happy you posed this question, AC. Mark and the SPFBO bloggers deserve all the praise and thanks we can dish out. I first heard about it about a month before my first book came out, through an AMA on Reddit Fantasy (which I had just joined) with the top three placing authors the first annual SPFBO. I hurried and completed the final production phase of Paternus and submitted it the day it released on Amazon, May 1 or 2016. They only allowed 300 entries, and I believe I was entrant number 298.

I had no idea what to expect, except I was sure my book would be out of the contest very quickly. I was shocked every time I learned it hadn't been cut, each step of the way. I had known absolutely no one in the industry prior to that--that's not entirely true, I'd met a few at ConFusion in Michigan the January of that same year--but it was through that first year as a floundering, flopping about, fledgling author that I met most of the folks in the industry I know today. And anyone else I've met, I can probably trace to a connection with someone I met through the SPFBO. Many of these people have become incredible friends and compatriots. Many of these people are authors, but there are also quite a few bloggers and industry professionals of other sorts. I was completely blown away when I found out I'd become a finalist, the final 10 out of 300 entries, and to come in 3rd was absolutely amazing. It became a little stressful at times, but it was a thrilling experience all the way through.

This year I had the honor of being a guest judge for Booknest in the first round. My task was to read five of the thirty books they were assigned and then forward my pick as one of their six semi-finalists. I got very lucky in that all of the the books in my batch were damn good, and a few of them truly great, in my opinion. The book I picked was Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike. It's going to be a lot of fun watching the remainder of the contest and rooting for 'my boy' from the corner of the ring :D  Having been in the contest, I trust to review each book kindly and fairly. I've never come at reviews with the idea that what I enjoy is actually great, or that what I don't like is somehow bad, and brought that same sensibility to my judging in the contest.

AC: When can we expect the third book in the Paternus Trilogy, and what comes next after it?

DA: The plan has been late summer, and it still might be that, but I'm considering a Kickstarter to fund the production and release of hardbacks for all three books, which I've never had, and even a special limited edition hardback box set, among other things. This would have to be done well before release, of course, and Kickstarters are very time consuming, so that could push release back into the Fall (hopefully early Fall at the latest). Quite a few author friends and readers have been rallying for the hardbacks and support it whole-heartedly, so it's becoming more of a reality. I want to get the first rough draft of the entire third book done before I really decide and dive into it, though, so I have a better grasp on the time frame.

As far as what might come after, I have a number of ideas. The highest on the list at this point, though, is probably a five to six book series of more straighforward UF like readers are more used to. They would also be shorter, 80k to 100k words instead of the ~140K (book one) to ~180k (book three) of The Paternus Trilogy. Faster moving as well. They would take place in the same primary world as Paternus, but 20 years earlier, and follow a single protagonist who's a bit of a vagabond-mercenary-rōnin-warrior type. Some of the characters from Paternus would be involved as well. That said, my plan is to make it a standalone series, so anyone could read either the original trilogy or these books first. The idea is that if you read the trilogy first, there are things you'd pick up on that readers of only the series, wouldn't, and vice versa, but these things would enhance the experience rather than spoil anything. So, that's the primary project as of now, but don't hold me to it, you never know what could happen :)

AC: You have a magic touch when it comes to snagging high-profile blurbs. First, here’s your chance to sell us, which one is your favorite? Second, aside from having an awesome book, is there any advice you can give new authors trying to get recognized by influencers?

DA: I have been very lucky when it comes to having high-profile figures and traditionally published authors read my books (and, to my never-ending astonishment, actually like them). I can't say I have a favorite, because it would actually be a lie, because I cherish them all.

As far as advice, number one, any author, but especially a new author, should never, ever, expect other authors to read their books. To have someone accept your book, whether they read it or not, is a great privilege.

1) First, you have to have some relationship with them, whether it be several positive conversations online or having met them (more than once, preferably) at a convention. Having worked in the film business and gotten to know some very high-profile stars, I learned that you have to treat them like real people. Don't gush and pee your pants, but don't be afraid either. Be you. Be an author. Be a professional, but a real person yourself. Don't hover and don't stalk. I'd also add, never ask someone to read your book if you've never read one of theirs. That's just, well, asinine.

2) Ask the right way. Never contact someone cold. Never walk up to someone you haven't talked to, or who probably wouldn't remember you, and hand them a book. If some sort of relationship has been established, if you do contact them, thank them for the conversation or whatever it was, and tell them it's absolutely alright if they say no or don't want it, but you really respect their work and you'd like to send them a book (print is always better than ebook--they may ask for ebook, but always offer a print copy if you can). You completely understand if they don't get to read it, and even if they do, no strings attached whatsoever. If they do read it and don't like it, no hard feelings at all (and mean it). If they accept, the only follow up you should do is to check to make sure it wasn't lost in the post. Don't check up on them. Ever. Unless, they very specifically ask you to.

Yes, I have some great blurbs, but many of those came a year or more after those authors had the books in their hands. Remember, no one has any obligation to read your, or my, shitty book. That goes for bloggers as well. Leave them alone, and never grip. To get a review or a blurb is an honor and a privilege, not a right.

Anyway, that's what has worked for me. I hope it helps!

AC: Thanks Dyrk! Hope everyone found this interesting, and was as surprised as I am that the man who wrote Paternus is so shockingly sane when you speak to him 1 to 1. If you have any interest in contemporary fantasy, then I highly recommend you take a look at Dyrk’s books!

That’s all I have for today. Happy reading!

-AC