Hey Robert, how are things going? How’s our new reality treating you?
Honestly, I’ve not noticed any real difference with me personally. I already don’t like people and prefer them to be over there somewhere and not all up in my koolaid, ya know?
Yea, I’ve heard that a lot from other authors that spend a lot of time writing. They’re calling it the time of the introvert.
For sure. It’s been nice to not have as many expectations thrown at me.
But let me say congratulations on the release of The Shadow Cult! Seems like a long time coming but it’s finally here. How do you feel about the sequel to The Dark Archer finally being ready for the world?
Honestly? I’m feeling a bit of trepidation. There are some scenes in there that I know some readers won’t be able to simply gloss over. I deal with some ritualistic things that will definitely make some squeamish. It made me squeamish. But the story, for where it all was going, needed to show these strange goings on. With that said, I’m also hopeful, because a few of my ARC readers have told me that The Shadow Cult is better than The Dark Archer. I suppose we will find out…
Yea I’d have to imagine it would be a bit nerve wracking. The Dark Archer has had some excellent critical feedback and it holds a place as one of my two favorite Fantasy novels I’ve read in the last couple of years. Were you aware when you finished The Dark Archer that you had written such a powerful piece of work?
I think initially I set out to write something that mattered, but wasn’t sure if it would come across. When I write something, I try to make it relevant, but I often find myself second guessing my work, unsure if I’m perhaps being too obtuse or ambiguous, or if I’m on the opposite end, with it being too overt. At the end of the day, I have to finish the story and allow my editor to help me polish it into something I’m proud of.
So I know from previous conversations you have a background in poetry. How steeped in that world were you?, and what led you to switch to prose novels? How much of your poetic base was used to shape your first book?
I like to think I was and am very steeped in the world of poetry. But certainly not in a modern sense. Honestly, I can barely stand any modern poets or poetry, if I’m being honest, so I largely avoid the community. that being said, when I began fleshing out my world for my books, I relied heavily on classical stylizations, but without making the same mistakes. For instance, I can write an entire page paragraph as one sentence… but who can follow that?
So, what I did was try to capture the same feeling but without getting caught in those same traps. I had to rely on my editor a lot to help hone that part, because for those who think there are run on sentences in The Dark Archer, believe me when I say you wouldn’t have wanted to read what I sent to my editor. hehe.
When you come up with a character like Bene, what inspires the character’s likeness, traits etc? How much of yourself and the people in your personal life make it into your characters?
I think Bene is everything I think I am, and everything I wish I was. I mean this in different ways.
Bene’s physical appearance, his frightening nature, his inherent malice as a wraith, all these things I see in myself at different points in my life, with some of these things overlapping at specific points. To be so vulnerable and honest about how I see myself wasn’t easy, but it was necessary.
As for Bene’s character, well, let me give some background first. In Fae lore, there were some “good” wraiths, and they were called guardians. While Bene is fully wraith, he fights against that nature in order to hold onto his humanity and be a force for good. This makes him a guardian, according to lore. But I’ll be honest, his drive and hope to be a force for good in all ways, even despite his physical self, is what I wish I was.
It was all of those intense character moments that made the book such a masterpiece to me. I’d consider it a quieter more introspective literary novel, though of course it had elements of faster paced fantasy as well. Let readers know what to expect from The Shadow Cult. How is it different?
The Shadow Cult is much faster paced than The Dark Archer. In TDA, we see Bene struggling between his new nature and his old self. That reconciliation is at the core of his redemption arc. But in The Shadow Cult, the threat is no longer internal, it’s external. The cult itself is at the center of the conflict, and our characters are trying to stop conflict as well as put an end to the cultists that created Bene to begin with. No easy feat, for anyone.
What are some of your biggest fantasy influences that led to your first novel?
My biggest influences are Tolkien and Le Guin. However, I can honestly say my decision to actually write a story and release it on the world came from Joshua Robertson, who saw in me and my writing what I didn’t think existed. With that said, I pulled a lot of inspiration from The Silmarillion, particularly for the mythos and history of my world.
Ahhh I’ve heard such good things about it. I feel ashamed to say I’ve never read it.
The Silmarillion isn’t for everyone. It’s a historical narrative of Arda. The history of Eru and the Valar and Maiar who were entrusted to care for the world of Arda.
I swear by James Joyce’s Ulysses but I’ve heard people tell me it’s pretentious and unreadable. I thing that’s the great thing about the subjectivity of art. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure
There is a market for everything, we just need to find it.
So what takes up most of your time these days when you are away from the writing cave?
If I’m not in my writing cave, I’m probably trying to relax the brain with video games or some form of motion picture entertainment, whether tv shows or movies. Also, the family takes up a lot of time, happily so, of course. I covet my time with my girls.
Definitely. It’s been a challenge to find time to work and parent effectively but that’s another silver lining in this crazy time. I wouldn’t take back the quality time I’ve gotten to spend with my wife and kids.
Absolutely. Some might see snuggle time as wasting time, but it is the exact opposite. It is those moments I find are the greatest. And the most meaningful
Absolutely. Now in terms of more distant interaction, how important is reader interaction and networking to you as an indie author and how do you most like to communicate with your readers?
I have found it to be extremely important. It’s also incredibly difficult for this introvert. But I will say that I’ve found some amazing people out there in cyberspace. Some I’ve even come to call friends, and a few who are closer than that, more like family. Reader interaction is actually something I look forward to. I love hearing that someone is reading my book. I love even more when they enjoy it. And I always love the days when I’m surprised with a review. These are little things with a lot of push behind them.
That being said, I can be found on a few social media sites, but the ones I’m on most are Facebook and Instagram. I have a reader group on Facebook called Beyond The Fall, and on Instagram or Twitter you can find me @shadowyembrace
I also have a blog site – shadowyembrace.com
At these places you’ll find me most often, and I always look forward to talking about writing and books. Shoot me a suggestion for a new read. Laugh with me at the hilarious memes I just can’t help but post. Let’s just have a good time.
Awesome. So talk a bit about your covers, and the process that went in to them. They are very unique. I love the subtle use of color in The Shadow Cult cover.
My covers were incredibly important to me. I wanted a unique style to them. There is an art school here in San Antonio, and through a connection of mine we put together a contest for the students to create a cover for my book. A few students took to the task and came up with some amazing stuff, but one really stood out. And that’s how I met Madelyn. Her sheer ability is uncanny, and her eye for design and detail is unlike most artists I’ve come across. With that said, I asked her to come up with a style that would match what I had in my head, something distinct yet with a rough edge. As you can see, there is no question it is fantasy, but the darkness of the covers and the color choices aren’t typical, neither is the style itself. That being said, I think she knocked it out of the park.
I fully agree.
She’s already working on the cover for The World Soul
So what is next for you? What can readers look forward to over the next year or so?
Well, I will be releasing two more books next year. My first science fiction novel, A Mother’s Love, will be released February 18th, and then later in the year we will wrap up the trilogy we began with The Dark Archer. The World Soul will be released end of summer, early fall timeframe.
Brilliant. Now I always like to end these interviews with this question. What one piece of advice can you offer to new and aspiring authors ?
Consider everything. And I don’t mean just the writing. Truly, and any author will attest to this, the work begins once the first draft of the story is written down. So my biggest piece of advice? Consider that you need to finish writing that story. Consider you need to market it. Consider the editing, the querying, the growth and learning that will absolutely be required of you. This is not to steer you from writing, but to be honest with what goes into becoming a published author. However, I will say that it is completely worth it.
Sage like advice sir. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Hope you enjoy the rest of the day!