Hi everyone! AC Cobble here (which hopefully you gathered before coming to my blog). Today, I have an interview with the prolific fantasy author DK Holmberg. He has tons of books out and I constantly spot them on my Amazon Also Boughts, so I know we have a lot of crossover fans which is why I wanted to interview him. If you’re new to DK, it’s a bit intimidating figuring out where to start because there are so many books, but I suggest you try The Darkest Revenge in his Elder Stones Saga. It’s probably the best fit for a Benjamin Ashwood fan. I do ask DK himself about this, and you can see what he says below in the interview!
AC: You have A LOT of books. I won’t even lie and say I counted them. Can you tell us how many there are, and how they are related?
DK: I’ve been writing for a while so do have quite a few books and series. I get asked often how they’re related. For my traditional fantasy, I currently have 6 different worlds. I enjoy creating new worlds, but occasionally I find myself drawn back to an existing world, wanting to know what happens after (or sometimes before).
The first I ever released with The Cloud Warrior Saga, which is now 11 books. It’s that series that allowed me to write full-time. I wrote it wanting something I could read to my kids but that would interest older readers as well. As such, it’s a more YA type book, though the series is epic in scope. Within that world are two other series, including my newest series release Elemental Academy.
My most prolific world is The Dark Ability world. What started as a novella became a world with 22 books and counting. There are 5 different series that can all be read separately, though there is some character overlap. The first book in that series was The Dark Ability, written following a novella where the protagonist in The Dark Ability was the antagonist in the novella. I found myself thinking about how he would have reached the point in his life that he did in the novella. That novella became the second book in a trilogy set in the same world. My Elder Stones Saga series that started this year is set in this world and many of the characters from previous series make an appearance, but they aren't the primary characters.
I have several new worlds I’m working on and am always planning ahead. I have readers asking me to return to their favorites, and I do enjoy the comfort of dropping back into a familiar world but the story has to be right to do so.
AC: With so many books, where is the best place for someone to start?
DK: Each series is really meant to stand alone, so a reader could start anywhere. If they’re looking for quick fun reads with lots of action, I recommend The Cloud Warrior Saga. The first book is the first I ever published and there are times when I think I should go back and rework it, but I think it kicks off the series well. If looking for something with multiple POV, then The Elder Stones Saga would be a good fit. Looking for a female protagonist? The Shadow Accords or The Lost Garden are good series for that.
AC: I looks like you’re averaging about a book a month, how do you do it? Can you tell any prospective authors out there some about your process?
DK: I probably write more than a book a month these days, though it wasn’t always the case. When I started, my goal was to write 500 words a day and become consistent. I still had a full time job but figured I could carve out time for that many words. It took a while, partly because at the time I believed I had to be in a “writing mood” to get words out, but gradually those 500 words became 1000 a day. Then they doubled. When I was writing 5k a day consistently (I had several books out at that point and knew I could make a go at writing), finding the time was difficult until I left my day job. That was basically a book a month then.
Now that I write full time, I average quite a bit more words a day. My day starts around 8 after the kids are off to school, I write in the morning, get to my word count, and then spend the afternoon working on revisions. I’m usually done working by 4-5, though I will often do administrative stuff in the evenings. I write Monday - Friday and take weekends off, something I never did when I was still working a “day job”. In my mind, I treat it like a job. It’s one I love doing, but it’s still a job. The biggest change in the 2 years since writing full time is that my books have gotten longer so they take longer to write (and revise).
Scheduling can be a challenge when publishing frequently. I had to find the right team and process for me to keep to my publishing plans. I work with several different editors and am always looking for more. The key is editors who can stick to a schedule and help clean up my areas of weakness. I have several different artists and designers I work with for covers and try to keep well ahead of my release schedule. Software has made formatting easy, so there’s not the delay I once had with formatters.
AC: That’s great advice for budding writers - treat it like a job. I always tell people they have to wear a creative hat, and a business hat to really succeed in self-publishing. Now that you are successful, do you ever consider pursuing a traditional publishing deal, to just write, and forget about this other stuff?
DK: When I decided to leave the day job, I knew I would have to treat writing as much or more of a business than I had before since I still needed the income to support my family. I enjoy most of the work (I don’t love revising. I’d rather create new.) and don’t find it to be work, which can annoy my kids when I’m taking an hour on vacation to put down ideas. I’ve considered traditional publishing in the past, and nearly released my series The Dark Ability traditionally. When my agent was first shopping the series, I was new to indie publishing and wasn’t sure which pathway I wanted to take. I started seeing significant success with The Cloud Warrior Saga and decided to pull back the series since the offer I was got as a “new” author (at least to trad pub at the time) was fine but I knew I would do better releasing the series myself. It turned out to be a smart move.
I’m more open to a hybrid model now. Though I enjoy the creative control of choosing my editors and cover artists, there is something to be said about letting go of some of it. I can write fast, and as long as I can still release indie, I could gamble on the reach that a traditional publisher might be able to offer in print, or in the case of A-Pub, with their push. The offer would have to be right for me to pull the trigger.
AC: With so much out there, do you think there’s a point where you’d get tired of writing fantasy and switch to a completely different genre, or get bored of writing in general?
DK: I love fantasy so will probably always have a foot there. The first fantasy I ever read was Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. My sister got me the hardback for Christmas one year and I wasn’t sure if I’d like it. I was reading a lot of Tom Clancy and Stephen King at the time (this was early high school for me). I LOVED it. After that, I was hooked. I’ve got two years of stories planned out, with more ideas coming all the time, so I will keep at fantasy.
I have dabbled in UF, and have a UF pen name that I enjoy writing. There are some ideas in other genres that I’m kicking around as well.
AC: I was a big fan of Robert Jordan also. His writing, particularly the way he began his series, was a big influence on me. Can you tell us a little more detail about your influences?
DK: You’re going to make me go look at my bookshelf! I enjoy lots of genres, and really became a reader devouring Stephen King when I was young (probably too young - I remember reading Cujo, Christine, and It in fifth and sixth grade and have a distinct memory of asking my dad to tell me what decapitate meant). That might influence my writing in that I tend to avoid horror elements in my books. As I said, Robert Jordan is the reason I got into reading fantasy. Love Lord of the Rings books (and the movies). I read through everything I could by Raymond Feist and Terry Brooks. I’d love for Rothfuss to finish his series (and Martin). More recently, I’ve read the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. I do read indie fantasy as well and love KU for that.
AC: Tell us a little bit about yourself, what influences your writing, what’d you do before you got into this gig full-time, and what’s your Mount Everest as an author?
DK: Let’s see… I’m married, have two kids, and live in Minnesota near one of the 10,000 lakes that I hope thaws so I can get out boating. My kids are pretty active; my son plays soccer 6-7 days a week and my daughter dances and figure skates. That’s how most of my free time is spent, but it’s a blast watching them develop. I worked in health care prior to writing (and while writing), and you can see that influence in many of my books. I don’t always intend to have it creep in, but sometimes it does without me knowing. Digging deeper, my family was a little messed up while I was growing up, and I think that influences things for me too. Lately, I’ve tried to incorporate aspects of places I’ve traveled into my stories. My long term plan is to be able to keep writing, though maybe slow down a bit. My kids want a movie made off something I’ve written, which I think would be cool. I guess if we’re talking Mount Everest, I really want a Harry Potter world of my own! If you haven’t visited, it’s amazing.
AC: A theme park, now that is a worthy goal. I’ve always had two. I want someone to get a tattoo inspired by my books, and I want to see a stranger reading my book on a plane. Unfortunately, the coolest “author story” I have is really lame and involves my mom’s cousins. What is the coolest thing that has happened to you as an author?
DK: I think it would be great to see someone reading one of my books too! I wish I could say I’ve been recognized and swarmed by adoring fans, but I’ve still had several cool things happen. One was an email early on from a mother writing to tell me her son loved my books and they got him into reading. That’s really rewarding. I’ve had that happen a few times now, and it never gets old. I’ve also had several readers/fans who have started writing and publishing and I love to see that too.
AC: What is something no one knows about you?
DK: I’ve been writing since I was in high school, but the first things I ever wrote were the lyrics for songs for my (terrible) band. No one will ever see them!