You’ve just completed a massive 12 book undertaking with Legends of Gilia. How did it feel to press publish on the 12th and final book?
It felt like I’m not done yet! I’ve actually gone one step crazier and made the series 15 books long. Looking back, it was crazy to decide upfront to make this such a long series, but I’m stubborn enough to stick with it!
Did you always know you were going to write such a long, epic series or did just expand in the writing process?
Yes I did! At the very beginning I knew I wanted to make a world, not just one small continent. I decided my world would have five continents and that each would receive a trilogy so that I could explore the creatures, citizens ,and secret places of each new land. So yes, I have always been this crazy.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer? What inspired you to begin writing Legends of Gilia?
I’ve always written stories. And when I say that I really do mean always. I remember drawing and writing books in elementary school and making up worlds in my head when I was young.
There’s always been something fascinating about telling a story to me.
The thing that got me started seriously writing was NaNoWriMo, or national novel writer’s month. A friend challenged me to compete one year and I won and she did not. That first novel became my first book in this series.
When you are not writing what takes up most of your time?
Well, I’m a pastor to middle school students as well as a husband and father. I’ve got three beautiful girls so that all takes up a whole bunch of my time!
I also work out a lot. That’s mostly influenced by my wife , who works at a gym as a fitness manager. Currently I’m trying to get double unders down. That’s jumping rope while passing it underneath your feet twice when your jump. Currently, I’m really bad at it.
Every now and then however, I do enjoy sitting down to play a good video game. Some old-school RPG usually.
I’m a huge fan of another long running series, Joe Jackson’s Salvation’s Dawn, which uses a lot of Christian/biblical allegories to tell the story. Have you incorporated any of these concepts in to your writing, and if so where are they the most apparent?
I’m certainly influenced by my faith when I write, but I’m not quite sure if there’s an area where I can say this is super apparent in this particular passage or in this part of the story.
It’s really fascinating to me who decides to take on the role of an author. I’ve met a lot of different people who hold a lot of different beliefs and it’s neat to see how they incorporate them into the writing.
Who are some of your biggest influences in the fantasy genre?
I mean it has to be Tolkien. He’s the one who got me started thinking about goblins and elves and dwarves and such. But I definitely want to nod my head towards the video games I played when I was a kid. Their sprawling stories and plot lines made me want to write something just as epic. I also played a lot of tabletop wargaming and some of the old Warhammer lore is really fascinating. I would say those three areas are my biggest influences.
Did you have a message or moral you set out to convey in your series?
My main character often wonders if his decisions were predestined by fate. It’s an interesting thing to think about: are your decisions predetermined or do you have any influence over them?
For myself, I’m comfortable thinking that I am responsible for the decisions I make and yet that there is a sovereign power over the universe who is also completely in control. Mostly I’d love for people to think about doing the right thing when confronted with a difficult task. It can be standing up for the least fortunate or speaking up when others are put down. That’s what my characters try to do. And what I try to do in my daily life.
Aside from writing, you are also a podcaster. How did “The Epic Fantasy Podcast” come to be and can you talk a little about the direction of the podcast going forward?
It began as a selfish endeavor for sure. I can get in touch with readers through social media and also through emails. But not everybody enjoys those two avenues. I wanted another way to connect with readers. Podcasts are kind of big right now so I felt like I could sustain one and still be able to write. My goal with the epic fantasy podcast is to give readers who enjoy the genre something to think about and laugh along with on their commute to work. I try to keep the episodes shorter, anywhere between 15 to 20 minutes.
I enjoy interviewing other authors and every now and then get to goof off with my wife on the podcast as well!
Set the stage for new readers that are looking for a new series. How would you intro Legends of Gilia for them?
I would say if they’re looking for traditional fantasy where the elves are lofty and the dwarves are stubborn, they will find a home in the legends of Gillia.
I didn’t set out to bend any of the fantasy norms. I just wanted to write an epic story worth reading! So if you enjoy epic fantasy, I hope you would give my books a try!
Do any of the characters represent versions of yourself or people you know in your real life?
It’s hard not to write a character and put some of yourself in there! I definitely want to be Ealrin, my main character. He does what’s good even when it’s hard. But maybe I see myself a little bit in Blume as well. Sometimes she does something not because it’s smart or the best decision, but just because there’s an adventure to be had!
How important is reader/fan interaction to you?
I really enjoy talking to my readers! If they have questions or want to reach out, I’m available on social media and I try to respond as quickly as I can! It’s a lot of fun to interact with the people who enjoy reading what you write.
Can you recommend some indie Fantasy that you’ve read recently?
The first one I would recommend is Moth by Daniel Aaronson. That was a series that really pushed it for me! Plus it was my first real glimpse into what an indie author could accomplish. I’d also suggest somebody check out Carroll Greenwoods Isle of Dragons series. I find her writing fascinating and really enjoyed the series she put out.
With such an active life with work/family, do you find it challenging finding time to write? How do you manage to be so prolific?
Yes! But just like every activity, you have to decide what to do with your time. Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. I get a lot of my writing done by dictating. It means that I have to do some heavy editing on the backend, but at least it helps me get words on a page. You can’t edit a blank page!
What’s next for you looking in to 2020?
I hope to wrap up a Legends of Gilia in a spectacular fashion! After that I’m going to look over my outline of my next series and see if I can apply any lessons I’ve learned with this one to the next.
I have another epic sprawling fantasy planned out and who knows!? Hopefully I’ll get around to writing it soon enough! I may have all 15 books outlined in some form or fashion…
What one piece of advice would you offer to aspiring writers?
Get started! Don’t wait for the perfect story or to perfect your writing! You need to practice. And you can’t practice if you’re not riding. Also, connect with other authors who are on your same level. Maybe reach out to one or two who are achieving a bit more than you are and ask him for advice, but don’t try to overwhelm. Network with others and see if you all can’t rise with the tide!
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