Author Q&A- Jonathan Moeller

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Jonathan Moeller. He is an amazingly fast writer, and has written several awesome books for his various series! If you haven’t read his series, I suggest you get on it! Keep reading to see what Jonathan had to say in the Q&A.

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Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?

A: My second year of high school. So, a real long time ago!

I started writing because I used to run RPG campaigns for my friends in high school, and eventually I realized I was much more interested in the storytelling aspects of it than the mechanics, the die rolls and the character sheets and so forth. I started writing short stories, and it sort of snowballed on from there.

Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?

A: A combination of current events and historical events, mostly.

If I have a muse, I think it’s a combination of discipline and habit. When I’m working on something new, I like to get at least 3,000 words written a day, preferably more. Even if I would rather take the day off and play computer games, I still try to get a minimum of 3,000 words a day. I don’t always succeed, but I do hit my 3,000 words most of the time when working on a new book.

Q: You have written seven series of books, including The Ghost Series, The Frostborn Series, and The Cloak Games Series. Which has been the most fun to work on?

A: Each one has its own merits, I think, and its own enjoyable aspects to write.

For The Ghosts, Caina Amalas has evolved into a very interesting protagonist to write. One reviewer called her a mixture of Sherlock Holmes, Batman, and Valeria from RED NAILS, which I thought a good description of her character. I also like the rules I have for that world – sorcery as a badly understood form of science, no nonhumans except for spirits, and a world that’s kind of like the Western Roman Empire survived to the Renaissance.

For Frostborn, I wanted to write a big, long epic fantasy series (it’s going to be 15 books) that recreated the feel of a really good RPG campaign, one where the characters start out dealing with minor local events of no significance, and ends with them deciding the fates of kings and empires.

Cloak Games is fun because it’s the only series I write from a first-person perspective. Nadia is an interesting protagonist to write. I’ve said that the Cloak Games series would be about a bad guy very slowly and very much against her will learning to be a good guy, and that definitely applies to Nadia.

Q: How much ‘grunt work’ goes into each book you write?

A: Not much, I would say. I used to unload trucks when I was younger, and THAT was definitely grunt work!

In terms of writing a book, I just write it until it’s done. I can usually do a 90,000-word rough draft in about twenty-five days or so.

Q: Which one of your characters do you identify most with?

A: Probably Laertes in GHOST EXILE. Every group needs someone competent to attend to the details, and in my real life that’s usually me. 🙂

Q: Which one of your characters would you want to meet the most?

A: None!

If they ever met me, they would (quite rightly) blame me for their various sufferings, and likely concoct some elaborate means of revenge.

Q: How did you come up with the ideas behind each of your series?

The Ghosts started when I wrote a short story about chivalrous romance that got rejected. So the next story I wrote was the exact opposite, about a cynical spy, and The Ghosts grew out of that.

Demonsouled came out of an Arthur Schopenhauer quote about the innate evil of man.

The Frostborn series began because I wanted to write a series that matched the feel of a good RPG game, and I wanted to write a series that was planned from the beginning, since both The Ghosts and Demonsouled happened pretty organically.

The idea for the Cloak Games series came when I read a really long and slightly boring article about how the mass media is frequently used to influence the public in favor of certain social and political positions. I wondered what that would be like in the hands of someone clever, and I came up with an idea where magic-using Elves from another world conquered Earth and used carefully managed propaganda to keep their hold on power, and the Cloak Games series started.

Q: What are your favorite books? What about them do you like?

A: My favorite books are the ones that adhere closely to the rules of storytelling – as a writer, you can see all the nuts and bolts of a story, so I suppose it’s like a builder visiting a house and admiring the craftsmanship of the construction.

So some of my favorite books are THE LORD OF THE RINGS by JRR Tolkien, KNIGHTS OF DARK RENOWN by David Gemmell, THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON by Robert E. Howard, THE ICARUS HUNT, THE THRAWN TRILOGY, and CLOAK by Timothy Zahn, THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS by CS Lewis, THE BROKEN SWORD and THE HIGH CRUSADE by Poul Anderson, AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND by John C Wright, THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES and THE SIGN OF FOUR by Arthur Conan Doyle, IVANHOE by Sir Walter Scott, STEELHEART by Brandon Sanderson, CRYPTONOMICON by Neal Stephenson, and the entirety of the DRESDEN FILES by Jim Butcher.

Lately I’ve been reading THE EXPANSE series by James SA Corey and I like it.

For nonfiction, I think THE MIDDLE AGES by Morris Bishop is one of my favorite nonfiction books. I also like THE DAY OF THE BARBARIANS by Alessandro Barbero, THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE by Peter Heather, BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM by James McPherson about the US Civil War, THE SECOND WORLD WAR by John Keegan, and Alison Weir’s books about the Tudor period.

Basically, my nonfiction reading is all history and technical manuals. (I think MORE DOS FOR DUMMIES by Dan Gookin was perhaps the best technical book I ever read, but it is sadly out of date at this point, though many of the basics of DOS are still applicable to modern Windows.) I do think it is a good idea for a writer to read a great deal of history.

Q: What advice do you wish you received when you started writing?

A: Finish as many books as possible, because in 2011 you’ll discover this thing called the Kindle, and your unpublished manuscripts will suddenly become much more useful!

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: If you are a writer starting out, it is better to self-publish than to bother with traditional publishers. I think the best approach (as of February 2016) for a new writer is to write a novel series, and then eventually make the first book free, which will help slowly but surely build an audience.

If you’re a nonfiction writer, I think it is best to start your own website and publish regular articles with an eye towards turning them into a book eventually.

Find Jonathan Online:

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Author Q&A- Clive Culverhouse

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing a very talented author, Clive Culverhouse. Between raising awareness for mental health and blogging, he has created a whole new world in his book, The Legend of Heliodor.

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Q: When did you start writing?

A: I have always enjoyed writing, whether it be short stories or comedy sketches for television. I started writing my book The Legend Of Heliodor: The Crystal Spirits in 2010 after finding myself with a long period of time suddenly on my hands. Writing a book was something I always wanted to do but never got around to it until I was injured out of my career as a Paramedic and then I had all the time in the world so eventually I began to write it.

Q: What inspires you to write? Do you have a muse?

A: I’ve always had an urge to write something no matter what it is. Life is full of inspiration. I like the stories people tell. When I was a paramedic I got to hear a lot of what people said as we chatted in the back of an ambulance. Everyone has a story to tell.

Q: Tell me about your book The Legend of Heliodor. What was the original idea behind it?

28688701A: One thing I like about books, especially the fantasy genre, is the world that can be created out of the imagination. I always liked the world of Tolkien, the lands and the maps. I had the idea to invent my own world, a magical land far away. I combined that with a long-time passion of rocks, minerals and crystals to come up with a world and a people who worship and use crystals. I also wanted the people to be named after the crystals we know today. The other main thing about the book I was keen to install is also Tolkien-like and inspired by the bible. I’m not religious but I do like the fact that we have all grown up with ancient tales, folklore and myths. I wanted my book to be centred on an ancient story that has been passed down for generations where it suddenly springs to life as the current characters are thrown into the legend and then become part of its continuation.

Q: You raise awareness of mental health, and have been depressed before. What is one thing the world needs to understand about depression and mental sickness?

A: It was the loss of my job and career due to injury that sent me into a long clinical depression. I lost my function, my role, my purpose both in work and at home in my family. I let friends go and drifted into a world of solitude almost losing my family too. I cut everyone off. But I did come back to reality after a long and difficult fight. In fact I retrained as a counsellor and gained qualifications in mental health. I now co-run a mental health support group. So it is there that recovery IS possible, a new life can come from the ashes of the old. The life I have led since and especially the people I met along the way is something I wouldn’t change, so therefore I look at the depression and mental illness I suffered and think it was necessary to make me who I am now. The illness and experience doesn’t have to be negative, for me it is all positive and I wouldn’t turn back the clock. I still have bad days and re-occurrences from time to time but I cope a lot better now. They are just little nudges to remind me to self-reflect.

Q: If you could give advice to yourself when you first started writing, what would it be?

A: Just to plan and plan again.

Q: Are you currently working on any writing projects? If so, what can you tell me about them?

A: When I was planning The Legend Of Heliodor I wanted it to be told over three books. So I’m working on the next two instalments. Although actually, they’re taking a back seat because I decided to write a book called The Legend Of Heliodor: Tales From The Realm. It’s a collection of short stories, tales, myths and fairy tales from the world I created. It’s a way I suppose to draw people into the main story. I’m really enjoying the experience of writing short stories using different writing styles and formats. Good practice!

Q: Which of your characters do you have the strongest bond with?

A: I think the character would have to be my main character Kyan. With him being the main one, it’s him that I have had to be with most of all. He finds himself thrown into a world due to things happening to him, not by choice and in a world where he has to learn quickly and he’s unsure with worries and fears. He shows self-doubt and needs reassurance and support. I think that sounds like me!

Q: Do you have any advice for budding writers?

A: I think if you’re creating a world then that world has got to work. A society needs to function and so there has to be a logic that needs to be thought through and that will need a look at all aspects of that society to remove inconsistencies or things that wouldn’t work for whatever reason. I like my magical world to be believable even though it’s just fantasy. So the key is to plan and plan again. Then again. With magic there has to be a way the magic works, it can’t just work any old how, in my world of Heliodor the magic comes from the mind linking with the crystals. People in my world can’t just summon up magic, there needs to be a crystal. So I think the most important thing about writing is the story, the plot, the world and the magic all needs to work with no flaws or contradictions. You can have the most bizarre world imaginable but if it functions logically then it will work!

Q: If you could travel anywhere in any time period, where would you go and why?

A: I’ve always liked the Victorian era of the 1800’s. It was a time where science started to take off and a lot of inventors are from this period. A lot of things were getting started, and they were the first to realise that life needn’t be hard work and so they invented leisure! They were the first to go on holidays! Some of the great writers and works of fiction came from this period. Science fiction, fantasy and horror all came from this period. Plus my great great great grandfather was a chemist and apothecary, his father before him was a chemist and I like to believe an alchemist. I’d love to have a look around their laboratories, shops and back rooms.

Q: What is one thing the world should know?

A: I discovered that instead of suffering from something, whatever it is can be used. It’s a tool for your toolbox of life. I wrote a blog post called ‘A Lightbulb Moment’ which explains it well. I use my mental illness to be non-judgemental and understanding of others, I don’t ‘suffer’ it. I still have depression from time to time but depression doesn’t have me! I use it now, therefore I have ownership of it and it has made life easier thinking of it like that.

You can find Clive online:

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Author Q&A- Kev Heritage

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing the amazing Kev Heritage. With several books under his belt, and a new one releasing soon, he is definitely an author to watch! Read the Q&A below!

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Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?

A: I was introverted as a child. Reading books and disappearing inside of them made me want to write stories. So that’s what I started doing at about age 14.

Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?

A: No muse, per se. Inspiration comes from everyone and everywhere—to be honest, I sometimes feel bombarded by ideas. The discipline for me is to try and write them all down. I do, mostly. I record all ideas in my smartphone and transfer them to story folders (both physical and virtual) and then never look at them again…

Q: Tell me about your latest release, Vatic. What was the original idea behind it?

A: I’m a ‘pantster’ – I write by the seat of my pants, not to any pre-conceived set of notions. I learnt a long time ago that it’s a waste of time for me to plan ahead as I have no control over events and characters. They refuse to go the way I want them to, and besides, it’s more of a thrill ride to let myself be swept along as the story unfolds, although I can sometimes dig myself into such a 27302333big hole that it’s impossible to get out! It’s a difficult, annoying and sometimes unhappy process but I’ve learned to trust my instincts.

With Vatic, I fancied writing something in first-person-limited, just to see if it was easier than third-person. So I thought I’d knock out a quick short mystery for a compilation that I’ve been working on for a while now called The Lady in the Glass. I had no idea about who Vatic was or who he may be, but I knew I wanted to write a mystery—and that it would start with someone thrown out into space with no oxygen. And off I went!

I literally had no idea who any of the people were until the moment they arrived. And yet, who they were influenced how the story developed. I find by far the most interesting part of the process is in the conversations. It’s through them that everything unfolds (and, as often as not, becomes more complicated).

Vatic’s affinities and dislikes are all organic, so that when we get to the denouement, we don’t feel cheated. Or at least, Vatic didn’t. All the clues were there from the start. Even if I didn’t know what they were at the time!

Q: Your writing falls under the popular genres of sci-fi and fantasy. What challenges have you had breaking into the market? What makes your books unique?

A: Sci-fi, fantasy and mystery fans love my stories, but I have fans who just like a well-crafted story, regardless of the genre.

The challenge of any author is ‘getting into the market’. I see writing like creating an album of music. You put in equal work, time and effort into writing each song, and hope that amongst them there will be a hit – and everyone will go out and buy the rest of your output.

Unlike songs, books, take a lot longer to write. And I tend to write what I fancy writing, rather than to anything prescribed by the market. But having said that, the more I’ve written, the more I’ve discovered my niche. I’m a mystery writer at heart—and that is reflected in the way I write, which is finding out what the hell is going on! So that’s what I do. I write sci-fi and fantasy adventure mysteries, with the emphasis on fast-pace, great characters and to never, ever cheat the reader.

Q: You have published many books, including the Into the Rip series and the IronScythe Sagas. Which was the most fun to write? Which was the hardest?

 They are all equally as hard and as fun as each other. I go through the same process of excitement, elation, depression, confusion, relief and desperation and always think that the finished product isn’t any good… And then a big side-order of surprise, when the reviews come in and the readers like it. Phew!

The most mentally challenging work was Blue Into The Rip. It was my first release, and at that time I didn’t have any editors, so it was a risk to edit the novel myself and put it out there. A big risk. Luckily, I have a strong work ethic and I’ve been an editor for most of my working life, so I got away with it! If anything, I’d say it’s slightly over-edited.

 Q: How much ‘grunt work’ goes into each of your books? Is there a lot of research involved?

A: I do no or little research. I have an expansive knowledge of science, astronomy, astrophysics etc. which I also use. For anything I’m not sure about, a quick Internet search does the trick.

The rest is pure grunt work. The first draft is always hell. I hate it. I don’t write with any plan, so at about 70K words in, I have an idea what the novel should really be about and then I have to rewrite from the bottom up. As they are usually mysteries, this makes this approach onerous. The process usually involves weeks of no writing and outright panic until I have my eureka moment and find the thread that I need to continue—although, sometimes, I have to abandon. A low moment after months of work. But it is what it is.

And then it’s redraft after redraft. About twenty of them before it goes off to my editors (it’s greedy, I know, but I have four!). After that there’s a few more edits before my final, final, last edits.

Q: If you were implanted into one of your books for a day, which would you want it to be and why?

A: Blue into the Rip – simply because it’s a modern take on a boy’s own adventure, with time-travel, rocket ships, genetic engineering, a globally-warmed future, space-walking and a cracking mystery thrown in for good measure. My main character, Blue, doesn’t have it easy, but it’d have to be my choice simply for all the cra-mazing things he gets up to.

Q: Which of your characters do you relate the most to?

A: Pretentiousness Alert!

I’m afraid, it’s all of them—in some way or another. They’re all mostly little bits of me with other people thrown in for good measure. So the question is really ‘which bit of myself do I like the most?’ Heh. Hmm. Difficult. But I’m going to go for the combination of Vareena and the Cowl from The IronScythe Sagas. Vareena arrived as a bit character and became so a lot more. She is very much her own woman—irrepressible, strong, full of verve and enthusiasm but also unpredictability. I’m presently writing Part Four and it’s all about her dark destiny. The Cowl on the other hand is a disfigured outcast, a loner forced to live his life under a hood, and to forever carry IronScythe—a blade of forbidden metals and golds—for without cursed iron, he is nothing. Together, they make an unlikely pairing, but it works. The pair represent the Ying/Yang of my own personality, perhaps, also seemingly made up of these kinds of polemics.

 Q: Where is the strangest place you have ever come up with an idea?

 A: As I have said, I’m always having ideas. So if you can imagine any human activity, I’ve pretty much come up with an idea at the same time…

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: My secret identity, which I have to keep hidden from the world. But one day…

You can find Kev Heritage online:

Amazon Author Page: US | UK

Website: http://kevheritage.com

Twitter: @KevHeritage

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KevHeritageAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/KevHeritage

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/KevHeritage/

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