Today I had the honor of interviewing Lee H Haywood; an awesome writing and amazing world builder. You can enter a giveaway here for a chance to win a signed copy of his book, The Guardian! Read his interview below.
Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?
A: I’ve been writing since my senior year of high school, so I guess it’s been close to fifteen years now. It is by no means a coincidence that my first endeavor into the realm of fantasy writing occurred the same year that The Fellowship of the Ring was released on the big screen. My first manuscript was poorly written, full of clichés and not something anyone would want to read. Still, it was a start, and helped to establish the work ethic I would need to write a 100,000-word novel in the future.
Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?
A: Reading a good story inspires me more than anything. Tolkien was my first love, but I’ve since found a whole assortment of “muses.” Brian Jacques still lingers with me twenty years after I closed the final page of Mossflower. Cormic McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic tale The Road taught me a lot about building tension through description. It wasn’t until the last year that I picked up my first Stephen King novel. I’m certain shades of King have slipped into my most recent work.
Q: Tell me about your new book, The Guardian. What was the original idea behind it?
A: I wrote the first draft of The Guardian while I was attending college. It started off with a very generic good vs. evil story arc. Thankfully, I grew up quite a bit in the decade between the first and final drafts of my book. As I got older, I learned a few things concerning the complexities of human nature. The final result was a book that examines the drive that keeps people moving forward even when the odds are stacked against them. That, and of course dragons. Everything is better with dragons. I knew this fact when I was eighteen, and I’ve only grown more certain of it with age.
Q: Which of your books has been the most fun to work on? Which was the most challenging?
A: My third book, The Order, was definitely the most fun. I hammered it out in a three week writing frenzy. Nothing is more enjoyable than the words flowing easily. The most challenging was a prequel to The Guardian that I’ll call Book X. Book X will probably not see the light of day for some time, as it is a disjointed mess. It was a five-year undertaking from start to finish, written at a time when writing was something I did when I had some extra time to kill. It was a genuine slog, but in the end, writing Book X proved absolutely crucial to my development as a writer and my decision to take up writing fulltime.
Q: Which of your characters is most like you and in what way?
A: Whenever I read a book, I always like to guess which character is really the author in disguise. In my writing, I think there is a little bit of me in all of my point of view characters. Bently, one of the central characters in The Guardian, struggles through a lot of the same questions I have about loyalty, service, and duty. While the character Dolum is pretty spot on with some of my own fears and insecurities. Even Demetry, the story’s antagonist, speaks to me on some days.
Q: If you could be inside any book besides one of your own, which would it be and why?
A: My mind wanders to the great fantasy worlds, and as terrifying as it would be, I’d choose George R.R. Martin’s Westeros. It just feels like a place that could actually exist. He has set a brilliantly high standard for world building.
Q: What advice do you wish you received when you began writing?
A: This is going to take a lot longer than you think. Progress with writing is measured in months and years, not days and weeks. Keep your head down and keep going. Every word written on paper is a step forward. You only fail when you stop writing.
Q: What is the biggest obstacle you have faced in your writing career? What did you do to overcome it?
A: Getting published. For about a year and a half I languished through the process of trying to get someone to represent my work. I collected a staggeringly high pile of rejection letters from editors and agents. The solution: I quit my job and stepped into the world of Indie Publishing. I haven’t regretted the choice.
Q: What is the best part about building your own worlds? Where do you get your inspiration for them?
A: I majored in world history in college and proceeded to spend the next nine years of my life teaching history to high schoolers. World building has always come easily to me, simply because I have such a deep well to draw from. My thoughts on world building – you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just paint it a different color. Laveria, which is the setting of my book, is heavily inspired by Greco-Roman and Ottoman history.
Q: What is something you want the world to know?
A: I received a letter from a former student the other day. In it he explained how happy he was that I decided to write full time because my book was “awesome.” The letter absolutely made my week.
Writing can be a lonely endeavor, and it often feels like I’m working in a vacuum. I’ve made a lot of leaps of faith, be it in writing, world building, designing covers, or even marketing. If you have enjoyed the work of an indie author, please be loud with your support. Write a review, recommend the book to a friend, and reach out to the author. I mean it, we want to know what you are thinking! The support of my fans keeps me clacking away at my keyboard, day in, day out. You can get in touch with me on Facebook, Twitter, or on my website at www.leehhaywood.com !
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