The Reluctant Wizard by A.A. Warne Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
By day, wizards rule the world. At night, warlocks seek to destroy it. Now, one boy will challenge them both.
Eli never wanted to be a rebel. All he wants is an end to the famine and war threatening his community. To save his mother and baby brother from marauding warlocks, Eli is forced to make a heartbreaking decision. He must travel to Terra Magicae, the mysterious land of the wizards, to study magic. In exchange, the wizards will protect his family, but this protection comes at a price: once Eli enters the Grand Wizardry Academy, he may never come home.
Full of lush landscapes and magical marvels, Terra Magicae is more wondrous than Eli ever imagined… and more dangerous. At first, Eli’s struggles to fit in at the Academy seem ordinary. But the more he questions the wizards, the more he suspects a sinister purpose behind their bizarre rules and tests. For a dark secret lies at the heart of this mystical land, one so terrible it threatens not only the students at the Academy but the lives of everyone Eli loves.
To save them all, Eli must step into the midst of the battle between the wizards and warlocks and defy both sides. He must become the rebel he was always meant to be.
A. A. Warne writes elaborate, strange, dark and twisted stories. In other words, speculative fiction.
Located at the bottom of the Blue Mountains in Sydney, Australia; Amanda was born an artist and grew up a painter before deciding to study pottery.
But it wasn't until she found the art of the written word that her universe expanded.
A graduate of Western Sydney University in arts, Amanda now spends her time wrestling three kids and writing full time.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I was never really interested in books as a child. I had a few stories read to be here and there but nothing grabbed my attention. I loved art and I always believed I was going to grow up and become an artist. I studied painting and pottery after high school and I love creating sculptures.
But as I became a mother, these messy arts were not practical. My baby hated to sleep. She rather stay awake all day and play with me. So I put aside my art while she was young.
For a creative being, this was not a good idea. A creative person MUST create. My friend noticed that I was struggling and she threw a book at me. Twilight. I laughed. I didn’t read! But she made me read all of it. And I did. Then I went out and brought book two, then three and by the time I finished reading book four, I starting brainstorming ideas for my own book.
The best part about writing is there are never ending possibilities.
It started as a way to be creative but it wasn’t until I spoke to a friend about the story I was creating and she encouraged me to keep going. Since then, I haven’t stopped.
I now write everyday and clock forty hours a week, writing, brainstorming, researching and now publishing.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
Even though I have a great life, wonderful family and seriously interesting kids, I often live inside my head. If I’m not researching something strange or wacky, I’m creating it mentally. Stories have been a huge part of my life, especially as a kid. I always had a movie playing in the background while I was painting or creating some time of art. Little did I know, that as I listened, I was developing skills that helped me discover the structure and the composition of a story. Now it has become something natural that ticks over in the back of my mind while I focus on characters, worlds and what’s happening for them.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
I met a wonderful author who is just as wild and crazy as I am, Michelle Crow. She lives on the opposite side of the planet and as soon as we met, it was like we had always known each other. In fact, we’ve gone onto writing a book together, she has been my bridesmaid, and we plan on visiting one another so many times in the next couple of years. She is the one who gave me the Madame of Darkness title. Even though we live in two different countries, that hasn’t stopped us from talking everyday, knowing what’s going on in each other’s lives, and supporting one another in writing.
What are some of your pet peeves?
Contradictions! I can see them a mile away. But don’t get me wrong, I do them myself. There’s nothing like saying I’m going to eat clean and healthy but then I buy chocolate… okay, I know that’s a contradiction, but I have weaknesses too!
Where were you born/grew up at?
I live at the bottom of the Blue Mountains, in Western Sydney, Australia. I am third generation in this town and we don’t have plans on moving anytime soon.
Western Sydney is a large place, with the majority of Australia’s population here. I can see the mountains from my home, and yes, they are blue.
Who is your hero and why?
I do love superheroes and anyone super-human. But in real life, it’s the everyday person. Each and everyone does amazing things. Look after sick parents, survive a horrific car accident, go on adventures and to me that is amazing. We live our lives and we’re not amazed by our own steps we take across the planet. So for me, a hero is someone who sets a goal and walks the path until it’s achieved. If we get knocked down, fail, detoured, or sidetrack but get back up and keep going, that’s even more amazing and that’s what I define as a hero – someone who achieves their inner purpose in their life.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
Oh rulers! I actually hate that word. It means to stand over a group of people and dictate their lives. Instead of that position, I prefer leader. Leaders mean so much more. A leader can also be part of the team. If a leader is part of the same team, and not above them, then they can ensure that freedom remains possible so that we can chose how to live our own lives. Leaders can be pushed aside and replaced, questioned and scrutinized – anyone who has that position should always be questioned at the very least. A ruler doesn’t have that same scrutinization which is sad because it trickles traits into a society that will easily diminish the importance of a group. Together humans are strong and we’re even stronger when we work together harmoniously.
What are you passionate about these days?
I have always and always will be passionate about living your best creative life. People who are not so creative in their own lives will never understand how important practicing art, music, dance, etc. is. It’s like eating. Some people can eat limited food for a strict diet but there are people (like me) who needs chocolate all the time! And there is nothing wrong with that.
As a society, we often go through ups and downs and face difficult times. That is why it’s more important to express ourselves through non-verbal ways. For example, painting a mural to brighten a wall. It doesn’t matter how you express your creativity, providing you are doing it.
When I was growing up, there was a strong discourse that art doesn’t make money, and a pressure to forget art and get a good paying job. Terrible advice. People don’t go into art for money, artist do it for love. And we need more love in this world. Artists can work and practice art – that’s what I think life is all about. But if we don’t practice art, then what life are we living?
This discourse is stronger than ever, and I’m standing up to say, I’m ignoring that. My question to you is, are you living your best creative life?
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Movies! I love going to the movies and watching movies at home. The best thing about being at home is that I can paint at the same time. Action, fantasy and anything with an adventure is my favorites.
How to find time to write as a parent?
There’s no time for anything once I became a parent. Good thing is that the kids know I’m a creator. They’re either creating with me or they’re off playing because they need time off from mom! Ha! I have a trick for all those parents out there – be annoying, too fun, always run and don’t walk, dance every time you go near them and hug them so tight that they push you away. Half the time they tell me to go to my office for a while. It’s the best because I can sit and concentrate and I don’t get that guilty feeling of neglecting them. Wear them out and then they grant you plenty of time to get the writing done.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It was early days when I had started brainstorming my first book. I met some new friends and they asked what I did. At the time I was home with the babies and said I also write. Their eyes lit up and they called me writer. I laughed and thought, oh I guess so and since then called myself a writer.
Do you have a favorite movie?
Oh you’re making me pick one? I love heaps of movies because movies are my jam. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen The Matrix, Shrek, Star Wars. I love Beautiful Creatures and Mortal Instruments and totally annoyed neither film got to do more of the series. Can I list more? Batman: The Dark Knight, Escape from Planet Earth, Wall-e.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
Definitely The Reluctant Wizard. It’s so visual in my mind and really delves into the community around him. I love that it’s not all about Eli and he is passionate about everyone he meets.
But also Concealed Power would be awesome on the big screen too. There isn’t many fantasy action movies that aren’t based on superheroes these days and this one would bring fantasy and action to an everyday city.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Mentally I travel to other worlds, dimensions and universes nearly everyday. Yes, it exhausting however the lessons I’ve learn make great reading in my books.
Physically however, I plan on traveling to places around the world and discovering things I don’t know. I’d love to see the Egyptian Pyramids, travel through Jordon, and explore the ancient ruins of Maya.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
What an interesting question. My logo is based on a portal, one that would portal the reader into my literary universe. But if I were to choose an animal it would be a black crow. The three-eye raven comes to mind to be precise. Imagine that, a view from high above, or sitting on the rooftops looking into people’s windows. You could be as far away from the action or as close as you want.
What inspired you to write this book?
Inspiration for me is nothing straight forward. I could be reading a book on something like architecture and all of a sudden a child pops into my mind and shows me what type of food he likes to eat. Then I explore this thought and bam! I have a new story.
In other words, what I tend to set out for the day, ends up being totally different than the original intention.
In fact, I was half way writing Concealed Power with Michelle when Eli first came to mind. I could see he was in trouble with a powerful wizard and I told Michelle that I needed a week off to brainstorm and follow this kid. I’m very excited to discover and explore his story.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I have so many stories within me that it would take life-times to write them all down. Currently I am working with Michelle Crow to finish The Hidden Truths Trilogy, I am also researching a huge series that explores an alternate Earth history, I’m brainstorming a series that explores other worlds, and I publish an anthology yearly.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
Ooooh! I do love reading author’s take on side stories especially when the book is in first person. It allows us, as readers, to jump out and see an alternative perspective. But because I write in third person, I can do that within the story. If there is a particular character that people must know more about, then I might consider it, but so far, everything goes into the book.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in The Reluctant Wizard? The Reluctant Wizard is about Eli who is accepted into a prestigious Academy called Terra Magicae. Inside huge walls, that only wizards are allow, Eli enters knowing he might never see his family again. But he’s not worried, he’s going to help them. Eli is an amazing kid. He is selfless, empathetic and he’s driven to help his community who are suffering from famine, drought and the war that’s going on between the wizards and the warlocks. The best thing about his community is that every single person has magic and Eli is just discovering who he is and what abilities his magic as in store for him.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
It’s like characters come to me. I don’t make them up. Imagine a little movie inside your head. All of a sudden a face appears, or you see a scene. Then you can see that person doing something that intrigues you. I’m often questioning why would you do that? What made you get to that point? And where are you going now? These visual gems, as I like to call them, are often the turning point in my novels. I let the characters show me what’s happening and then keep detailed notes that turns into the book.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
I’ve always loved the name Eli and had saved it for a character that I loved. The other names are often different and you wouldn’t find them in real life, like Ykey and Khah. Ykey is pronounced you-key and Khah is pronounced car. Simple to say but visually different. These names stand out for a younger reader without judgement because I didn’t want a kid to have a hard day at school with a bully and it happens to be the same name and Eli’s best friend. So I was conscious that this story has to be approachable for everyone reading it.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
This is the first book I’ve written that I have no idea how it’s going to end. That’s not enjoyable. I’m honestly scared! I have all these great concepts but every chapter leads to a deeper hole just like in Alice and Wonderland. It’s fascinating and I have no desire to turn back because the adventure is exciting.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
Eli is an empath. He feels for the people around him. Before entering the Wizard’s Academy, he lived in a poor community called Redshore. It’s a fascinating place, situation beside a dry lake bed that turned into a sprawling desert. The people are very poor and Eli is passionate about helping his entire community become resourceful, help one another, and keep their community spirit alive.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel? Heavy Dirty Soul is the name of a song. I wrote the book and was desperate for a title and wasn’t going to publish without one. Twenty-One Pilots is a band that I love and every time they come to Sydney, we go and see them. The kids, who love their music too, were watching a video clip for the song Heavy Dirty Soul and I sat down and made them repeat it so many times. After watching it, I knew that was the title of my book, because the book is about a life repeated, a mistake taken, a lesson learnt and then taking this information into the next life and doing it all again. But we only have one life and we must make the most of it, regardless of the mistakes we choose to make.
Who designed your book covers? The Reluctant Wizard cover was created by an amazing artist Borja Nekro. I worked with him collaboratively to design the concept and he brought all talent to the project. My son, C.J. is the model.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
For The Reluctant Wizard, no. I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s been an amazing ride. I got to work with the best editor and she helped me take the book to a level that I’m surprised I had it in me. It turned out a million times better than I imagined.
One of the things about writing is that you can only tap into your best ability at that time. Each book gets better because of the experience we go through. I have often thought of changing my first book, but decided heavy against it. It’s the first and will remain like that, no matter how much I grow. I can look back, and so can readers, to see the growth. It’s important to showcase it, embrace it, and learn from it. Not pretend it never happened.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes. I learnt that I cannot write a short novel. It’s so funny because I planned The Reluctant Wizard novel to be forty-thousand words. The draft was fifty-thousand. But the final write was over a hundred-thousand words. I didn’t have the heart to cut it down and neither did the editor. So it’s official, I cannot write short novels.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Oh that’s so hard because Eli is young. But let me think. I’m going to say if we could turn back time and create a kid out of an adult, then I’d pick Keanu Reeves. But then again there’s also John Boyega from Star Wars because he’s like seriously cool. I’m like a fan girl right now.
How did you come up with name of this book?
I honestly don’t remember. Usually I work really hard for title names but this one just popped in my head, exactly how Eli did himself. It’s been a real natural process for this work, like I’ve waited my entire life for this story to come to me and now it’s just pouring out naturally.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
Just one part! The entire book is my favorite. I do love the different relationships Eli establishes. He has a very close relationship with his uncle and they really rely on each other. When he meets new people at the Academy, he really struggles because they’re not like the people at home. But as soon as he’s not homesick, he makes friends and becomes close and they save one another. I love this about Eli.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I have to admit, it wouldn’t be with Eli. He’s so dominant in my head that I think he distracts me from other characters. Instead, I’d spend the day with Eli’s father. He was such a knowledgeable man, always helping people and a lot like Eli too.
Khah would be another one I’d spend the day with. She is so intelligent and I feel like she’s hiding a big secret but of course, how does anyone know? I guess if I were to spend the day with her, then I think I could get it out of her.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
I’ve never met someone that I’ve put into a book. My imagination is so much stronger than people in real life. The people we meet is for short periods of time, it’s practically fleeting. Instead, when you have people living inside your head, you can explore the depths of their personalities, their secrets, the things that make them cringe. Plus you can jump into their heads and find out things that not even they know and use it against them. Seriously, that type of thing is completely unacceptable in real life, but totally essential as a writer with imaginary people.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
Me have the reigns to this story? Oh no. Never! I’m more like a witness to the events of these characters. I follow them, sometimes I have input but that input generally gets kicked out and left on the chopping block. Characters don’t need me to control them. Of course I throw scenarios at them to see how they’d react, but they have full control over what their limitations are. It’s my job to push them to that point and see how they fight their way out of it.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
Read what interests you! I don’t feel qualified to convince anyone to read certain books, but I feel like my job is to make my work as interesting as I can. The Reluctant Wizard explores real life issues that even magic cannot fix, which is kind of really neat in a way because we often wish for a magical answer.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Heaps! I have a whole list of books that I wrote while developing my writing practice. It wasn’t until I had several done that I started writing for publication. Then my practice changed again. I might re-write them one day, but so far, no plans. The things I have upcoming are too exciting to push back.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Ha! Smell and sight at two different things. Of course the candle would be black and burn a black flame, but the smell would be soft vanilla that just slowly floats through the air.
What did you edit out of this book?
All the juicy bits! Ha! Kidding!
Actually, it was the scene where I first imagined Eli in my mind. This scene is massive and I thought it belonged in the first book. But no matter where I placed it, it wasn’t right. Now planning book two, I don’t think it belongs there either. Instead, Eli’s story is so big, so massive and absolutely important to explore before this huge moment takes place. I’m excited to discover just how deep this story gets.
Is there an writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
There’s a few. Writers are interesting specimens. They all think very differently. Neil Gaiman is fantastic world and character builder. He gives the reader everything they need to be in the moment and often when I’m struggling to write a scene, I change my inner voice to his voice and listen to how he would write the scene for me. I would actually like to know what he thinks of that.
Then there is Karen Miller. She’s an amazing fantasy writer. Her stories are epic and they’re not for a single read. I would love to know how she writes, what gets her through the day and how does she remember so much story!
Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?'-type tidbits about the author, the book or the writing process of the book.
Coffee Drinker – black, no sugar
Lactose intolerant – milk, yuk!
Chocolate-holic – bad mood? Throw chocolate at me – it solves problems!
Fantasy lover – because real life can be bland
Sits on the computer way too much, but never feels like I’ve written enough.
Owns over 500 books… cough, cough, maybe more.
Has one of those massive desks but it’s filled will papers, books, notebooks, and decorative writing essentials.
Owns a pen holder, but can never find a pen.
Mother of three kids
Mother of two dogs (they are way more naughtier than the kids)
I am the official tortured play toy for the neighbor’s cat – yes, I truly am. The cat tortures me.
I’m a painter. If I run out of canvases then I’m prepping the walls!
I can write better with a paint brush and ink, then I can with a normal ballpoint pen.
I have no idea how many words a minute I can type, but once I wrote a ten book draft (about 200k words all up) in two days and I couldn’t use my hands for a week. So it’s safe to say, I don’t like to type too fast.
I love getting out in the sun, but if it’s too hot, I have an allergic reaction! Who’s allergic to the sun? Me!
I studied pottery after high school and now teach my children. We make pots and vases and sometimes sculptures.
Too often I’m planning on renovating. My poor husband…
I’m a collector of old books. Nothing fancy, just topics that fascinate me.
I cannot write one book at a time. I have at least three books going at once
I read seven different novels/books at a time. It’s a research thing…
You could call me hyperactive and you’d be right.
Creating is life!
Behind the scenes.
Oh there is nothing fancy about this writer’s life.
I write as soon as I’m awake and float on and off the computer throughout the day – depending on who is home. But if I’m home alone, I don’t leave the computer at all, well only for coffee and stretching my muscles.
I do all of my research at night, when I should be sleeping. Reading widely as I can, I very rarely narrow down on a topic because I want to do that myself in my novels. My goal for research is to have enough information that propels me into the scene. Too much and it freezes my creative muscle, because I need to get it technically right.
Publishing is something completely different and I love it just as much as writing. It’s something that I’m still learning the ropes with but seeing the book out there and hearing people’s feedback just excites me to continue into the next book.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
(There is no particular order) Authors:
H. P. Lovecraft
Mary Shelley Woolstonecraft
George R. R. Martin
(There is no particular order) Books:
Discovery of Witches (Deborah Harkness)
Twilight (Stephanie Meyer)
The Canterbury Tales (Chaucer)
The Godspeaker Series (Karen Miller)
Frankenstein (Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley)
Game of Thrones (George R. R. Martin)
The Odyssey (Homer)
Dracula (Bram Stoker)
Blubber Mouth (Morris Gleitzman)
Goosebumps Series (R.L. Stein)
Dr. Seuss Series (Dr. Seuss)
The Lost Boy (Greg Ruth)
1984 (George Orwell)
What book do you think everyone should read?
Read only what interests you. Life is short and there are a ton of books catered for your individual interests. You’ll never be able to satisfy that spark of wanting to know more. Don’t fight what interests you because we do that too often. If you love a certain thing, then read it because you’ll love it even more. And that’s how you live an interesting life.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing at the very end of 2009 and I haven’t stopped since!
It’s a passion and an obsession all rolled into one.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Great question. I only ever have one character come to me – that’s the main character. Then as I explore them a little more, others step in and generally its for a purpose. They’re either there to cause a problem or support them through hard times. Then I spend time with that character to explore what they’re about so they don’t just have one purpose.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
Oh you’re going to laugh. The research I do has nothing to do with the book and yet I come to the conclusions I need on my own. How? That’s the funny part. I haven’t a clue.
It’s like I need to distract my brain while it’s working out a problem. So I read other things, mostly non-fiction about ancient Egypt or what’s going on in the science world and then bam! I know how to fix a completely un-related to what I’m reading, problem.
I’ve stopped trying to figure out why or even how my process works, and now I just roll with it.
Do you see writing as a career?
Of course! It’s a wonderful career. Without writers we wouldn’t have books or television shows. There wouldn’t be movies! All of these things come from writers.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
I cannot talk for the trade publishers, but as I am an independent publisher, I can say that it’s a lot of hard work. The best thing is that we live in a world that allows us to access the information at the tip of our fingers and instantly. Building world-wide relationships has never been so easy and as I build my team and move forward, each new relationship brings new goals and new ideas which makes it a never-ending exciting day. I never know what’s going to happen next week, other than what I’m going to write.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I read anything fantasy. I love books that allows us to escape into another universe and explore unlimited possibilities.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I can do both. I do prefer to write in silence but with a house full of kids, that’s a luxury. If the husband is home, I put music on to cancel out the excess noise. Generally I listen to gaming music as it helps keep me focused on what I’m doing. Now you’re probably thinking that the husband is easy that the kids, but I can confirm that is not a fact. He needs just as much attention as they do and he can be louder than all three of them put together. Some times he needs a nudge that I’m still working and to quieten down. This generally causes a giggle fest from the children.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I have several series. I do try and write only one, but with certain deadlines playing out, plus I tend to blow word count and therefore my own writing time, I’m often doing two.
What I do is write one, while I plan out several more. My head is always jumping from one idea to another and those thoughts get collected up into a crazy uncoordinated folder for when I’m ready to start writing.
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
Oh, that’s hard because I’d easily claim hundreds of great books. Mary Woolstonecraft Shelley is amazing because she’s so poetic and delves into major social issues. Then there is Homer. The insight into the world of the Gods playing at the human level is amazing. I can never remember all of the Greek Mythologies so I’m often re-reading and re-discovering their stories. And I’m completely in awe of Aaron Blabey, the author of The Bad Guys, for being able to write short stories for children. I can’t help but hit the 100k mark all too often.
Pen or type writer or computer?
Pen for the brain farts, I mean, ideas. Then when I have a folder full just for one book, then I cross over to the computer, type it up into a summery, and work from there. I use to print the book out in it’s end form and go through by pen but now I’m finding that I don’t need to in the last few books. The process is getting easier.
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
I always wanted to become an artist. I love exploring the world through visual arts and being creative. It is my life’s purpose. But as I became a mother, I found I didn’t have the time or energy to devote all of my life to art. So I put it aside for a while. Then I discovered writing. It was great because all it required was a pen and paper and there was no huge mess to clean up afterwards. It was my practical art while being a parent.
A day in the life of the author?
Coffee gets me out of bed because I usually stay up too late reading. I am a natural night owl but as the children get up early, it’s better that I’m up first just incase I get pushed out and so coffee is a better way to start the day.
I do the emails first because this can either take ten minutes or two hours.
Kids up and out of the house. Back to the computer and writing commences.
I have no idea where the time goes then. There can be words and then there might not be words. Writing isn’t easy so don’t let anyone convince you of that.
Kids are home and in my hair. This is when they are either too tired to do anything and retreat which allows me to write more. Or they didn’t use all of their energy, so I’m left to use the remaining of mine to extract theirs.
Dinner, regular night time mode. And then I have this extra spurt of energy which all night time owls do. It kicks in after a long day where you’re emotionally tired and a regular person would head off to bed exhausted.
But not me. Instead, my brain goes, oh no! it’s the end of the day and I begin thinking I had all day to read a two hundred page non-fiction book, but instead I’ll sacrifice my sleep in order to devour it in one setting.
Pass out. Wake up to coffee and repeat.
Advice they would give new authors?
Don’t listen to advice! Ha!
I found that there are two types of people. One, you should only devote your time that will make money – writing, apparently, isn’t one of them. And two, the over enthuastic people who will support you but in no way will buy your book.
It doesn’t matter either way. Instead, write your own rule book. Pretend you’re giving yourself advice – that’s the advice you need to hear.
You can become a writer over night if your have the natural talent, or it can take tens years, like me, where nothing is natural and you have to worked for it. Doesn’t matter either way too. Because you are your own boss, advice giver, and therefore your know your own rules.
Describe your writing style.
I’m not a natural writer. The first book I wrote was horrible and will never see the light of day. It was fantastic to write because my mind thought I was getting it all down on the page. It was like watching a movie play out in my imagination and I was dictating it all.
I thought I needed a publisher straight away. The excitement was crazy! I was practically manic.
But then I read it back to myself and I nearly died. Who wrote this garbage? Damn. It was me.
I crashed. Emotionally, physically, you name it and I crashed.
How was it that my story looked so terrible on the page?
That’s because I didn’t know how to write. Of course I could tell a story. Yes, I know what the characters were like and how interesting the world would be. But I didn’t have the ability to create poetic language, form paragraphs. I couldn’t even write dialogue. And that was okay because everything just took practice. I didn’t give myself a timeline or even a deadline. I let this practice dictate itself and led it down an organic path, learning what I had to when I had to.
What makes a good story?
For me, its all about the worlds! I love exploring endless possibilities and trying to imagine that in our own world. Strong characters are a must too. Because why would you want to follow a boring character through a fascinating world? You wouldn’t! Plus when we get to experience these great worlds and follow these interesting characters, then we want something important to happen.
So for me, that’s three components: World, character and events, which you can call plot. These three components as weaved together from beginning to end and that’s how I approach story writing.
What are they currently reading?
I’ve just started Ross Kingston’s Awakening. It’s epic fantasy and the prologue was just amazing!
I’m half way through Erich von Daniken’s The Gold of the Gods.
And I’m nearly finished a huge witchcraft encyclopedia.
Yes, I’m that type of reader! One book is never enough, it’s like my mind needs to cross threat the ideas.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
Of course, I don’t do anything simple. I generally come up with ideas all the time. Most of the time they don’t belong to a story in particular, so those ideas get written down and thrown into a slush pile. When I’m stuck for an idea, I just start plucking out of that pot until something sticks and I write it into the scene.
The ideas that I have for a particular series, also goes into a folder. Once I’m finished with whatever I’m writing currently, I pick what folder is the biggest and start working on that story.
First it’s all about putting the ideas into a coherent order – and this is really hard especially since I like to throw timelines all over the place.
Then I write an outline and revise it several times. If I write from multiple character’s perspectives, then each character gets their own timeline, and I somehow merge them all together to form a book outline.
Then the draft. This is nothing to sneeze at. Drafts are horrible writing but for some authors their natural talent make it look like a polished piece. I am not one of those writers. My drafts are full of notes, comments, repetition, emphasis, etc. because I’m telling myself the story.
I do countless re-writes until I’m happy with it and then the editor’s round starts.
So the process is long and it’s nothing short of hard work but if I skip any step, I end up writing myself into a corner. Which all writer’s know, is not fun to navigate back out of.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Rules! Too many writers say learn the rules but then can’t determine what the rules are.
Of course there are grammar rules, spelling and punctuation. These are a given. But writing rules? Are they suppose to be on content? Use of language? Expression? I never found out.
Instead, I ignored all the generalized advice and rule talk and put my head into a book to figure out what exactly does a novel consist of. Thousands of articles will tell you to skip that step, but I needed to learn the hard way so I knew it for myself. Learning something for myself made me in control of those
What is your writing Kryptonite?
No outline! I’m not someone who can write a book from cover to cover. I have to have a plan. Too often, I write the plan several times before I start constructing scenes. The I draft the book several times over before I start the re-write. I sounds like a lot of work but it’s a process that allows me to dive deeper, search harder, explore more.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I haven’t a clue what people want to read and this is really a no-no in the publishing world. I have certain stories that I must get out of my head and onto paper. If people want to read them, then great! But if not, that’s fine too, but I must write them. Every time I watch a movie or read a book, my mind wanders and I find myself seeing a deeper picture than the story was meant to go. That’s where I find my content – the layers that are so deep and shine the light on what’s hidden in the darkness.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Never give up.
Everyone thinks they have the answer – but it’s only relevant to their lives, not yours.
The yellow brick path has been tracked too many times – don’t follow the dirt path either – create your own.
There is no such thing as the wrong answer when you are asking about life.
Creativity is life.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Actually I find writing males so much easier. It’s woman I find hard. I grew up with so many boys and never any girls. They’re less complicated and talk at face value. Woman don’t. They hide things and have a level of expectation thinking it’s written on their face. I can’t deal with that! So I jump into a man and follow him. I’m more comfortable doing that.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
How long is a piece of string? No idea. Some very quick, others years. It’s a matter of what the story requires, needs from me, etc. I let the work dictate itself. If I try and put limitations on it, then everything goes out the window.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes and reader’s block too! Neither is fun. But it’s all about the mindset. If you are not creating – don’t blame the craft. Something is going on in your life that is impacting the creative muscle. Health? Stress? Toxic person in your life that you constantly thinking things will get better? It does once they’re out of your life! And you’re creating again.
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