The Blood King
Pitch your latest novel:
>In The Blood King, sequel to The Summoner, Tris Drayke races against time to gain the skills he needs to challenge his half-brother Jared for the throne of Margolan and defeat the dark mage Arontala before the Obsidian King can be loosed from the abyss. Pursued by assassins and caught in a dangerous web of intrigue, Tris’ greatest danger is his own magic. The fate of his kingdom, his lady and his soul hang in the balance. As Margolan plunges into darkness under the yoke of a tyrant, Tris leads an unlikely insurrection, knowing that if he fails, death will be the least of his worries…
What are your favourite 3 books?
>That’s a hard one. There are so many. Can I count trilogies as one? Let’s see…Atlas Shrugged, because at the time I read it (I was 18), it gave me the radical notion that it was ok to be smart. I had received some very strong programming to the contrary, so that book was revolutionary for me. Destination: Universe—because it was the first science fiction book that I ever read, and having grown up in a family that took the Cold War way too seriously, it was paradigm shifting for me to read stories about a future we might exist long enough to experience. The Last Herald Mage trilogy, because the characters are so hauntingly real.
In the books you’ve written, who is your favourite character and why?
>Tris Drayke and Jonmarc Vahanian are my two favorites. Tris because he loses his innocence when his world falls apart and has to find new meaning for himself. Jonmarc because he loses faith in anything when he goes through a dark period in life and finds the courage to believe in something again.
What character is most like you?
If you could, would you change places with any of your characters?
>I was a medieval history major, so I have a pretty good idea of what life was really like back then. Probably not.
If you could live in your fantasy world, would you? In someone else’s?
>It would be tempting if magic were operative and I could have magic. But there are trade-offs, like losing Tylenol, central heat and indoor plumbing. It would also be pretty interesting to actually meet and talk with the ghosts and the vayash moru. So a qualified ‘yes.’ As for someone else’s, there are at least places I’d like to visit—Valdemar, Xanth, Anne Rice’s New Orleans (complete with vampires), Babylon 5.
What was the first novel that you wrote and how long did it take to write it?
>The first novel-length book I wrote (written and re-written on a manual typewriter), was done on a bet with friends. It was the summer after my senior year in high school. We were impatient for Return of the Jedi to come out, so I wrote my own third installment to the Star Wars original trilogy. I definitely had different ideas than George Lucas—in my version, Luke went to the Dark Side and Han was the ‘other.’ I wrote it over the course of a few months.
What was the hardest scene to write in The Blood King?
>I always find battle scenes take longer because they have to be so clearly choreographed in my mind.
What is the strangest question you have ever been asked by a fan?
>Actually, readers have been very polite and quite delightful, so no one has asked anything way off base. At signings, I always find it odd when people walk up to an author and ask for directions to things in the store. I don’t mind helping, and I can usually answer them, but it’s just odd that they ask me as if I work there!
What’s your day job—how long did it take before you could support yourself only on your writing?
>Trick question, because I’ve always supported myself on my writing—it just hasn’t always been my fantasy writing. For a long time, I worked in corporate America in marketing and PR, and now I own my own marketing consulting firm, where I still do a lot of writing—articles, nonfiction e-books on marketing, client projects.
What is your university degree in?
>I have a B.A. in History and an M.B.A. in Marketing/Management Information Systems
Do you think it’s easier to write fantasy or science fiction?
>It’s easier for me to write fantasy because I have a very deep history background and I don’t work in the sciences. Someone in engineering or with another science background might feel differently. I would think SF would be harder because its more based in real life and has to have some roots in hard science. We get to make up a lot in fantasy.
When and where do you write?
>I generally write on Mondays and usually in my office, although I take my laptop with me when we travel and also sometimes move around the house.
What’s the best/worst thing about writing?
>The best thing is you get to write the stories you want to read and you know the ending before anyone else. The worst thing is that you have to wait as long as everyone else to get the book in final form.
What is something you didn’t know about the publishing industry before you had your first book published?
>I don’t think I realized how many people work behind the scenes to get a book from manuscript to bookstore. Not just at the publishing house, but all throughout the distribution process, warehouses, distributors, and the whole bookstore process. It takes a village to print a book!
Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?
>Keep at it. Never give up on your dream. Read everything you can on writing and learn from anyone who’ll teach you.
Any tips against writers’ block?
>If you’re stuck writing one scene, skip to another and then come back.
How many rejection letters did you get for your first novel or story?
>I started with nonfiction articles before I tried to publish novels. I had a whole file of rejection letters at one point, and then I threw them away because I realized that they didn’t mean the articles weren’t good, they just meant the articles weren’t right for those particular editors. I’ve sold a lot of articles that someone else turned down—you just have to find someone who shares your interest. That’s hard to believe until you make your first sale, but it’s true.