Interview with Tom Lloyd

Tom Lloyd

Hey Tom, how’s life in our new reality treating you?

TL: Hah – like everyone most likely, good and bad! Honestly thus far I’ve got off pretty bloody lightly – my wife and I both working full-time at home, kids young enough that school interruptions aren’t a big deal.

It’s still been tough and creativity isn’t easy amid all this, but I abandoned the fantasy novel I was starting and chose to write a novella/short novel as my output for 2020. Just doing that took the pressure off and I have a manuscript ready to show people before the end of the year so I’m calling it a win!

ME: So you now have a few series out, but I’m curious..when did you know you wanted to be a writer and describe a bit of the journey that led to your signing with Gollancz for Twilight Reign.

TL: It took me longer than many to realise I think – partly I’m workshy with a short attention span so wasn’t very academic and certainly didn’t stand out in English class. When I had a long summer before uni started I started writing just as something to do, so my parents didn’t make me get a job. It took a long time to consider it might be a career, but despite being slow and dull much of the time I didn’t give up.

I started writing what became Stormcaller then and learned to write as I did so. Eight-ish years later and I finally had something worth showing agents while I bounced around low-level publishing jobs trying to work out what career held any interest for me.

Luckily for me I found an agent after my boss suggested him (I’d been rejected by his colleague so hadn’t bothered subbing to him at first) – he liked what he saw and took me on.
Even luckier for me, Jo Fletcher at Gollancz was looking for new fantasy and had time to beat an impressionable young writer into something vaguely professional – they had just signed Scott Lynch and Joe Abercrombie that year so she was the only one without a new fantasy writer 

ME: That’s great company to be in for sure. I actually found Stormcaller at my local bookstore in one of those cool anniversary volumes. I noticed Scott’s and Joe’s had received the same treatment and I decided to pick up yours and was instantly blown away. Give our community a quick preview of what they can expect from Stormcaller and the Twilight Reign series.

TL: It’s brilliant company yes, and in a few ways it’s helped me out. The special edition was something I’d been nudging for, but it probably wouldn’t have happened if we’d not been published as a trio effectively!

So – Stormcaller is the first book of the Twilight Reign. It’s a big and bloody traditional epic fantasy featuring a twist on your classic teenage chosen one. What you can expect is swords, battles, monsters, politics, factions and gods.

Stranger of Tempest is a smaller scale series, following a scarred veteran who joins a company of misfit mercenaries just as they are employed by an amoral badass, and she drags them into something world-changing.

I’ve described it in the past as booze, banter, guns and monsters from the depths of the world – light hearted at times, but sweary and for a slightly older market most likely.

ME: Awesome. I’m loving Stranger of Tempest so far. What made you go the route of dare I say it..flintlock fantasy? I notice, at least as the book begins, the fantasy elements are very subtle and rolled out slowly. Was this intentional?

TL: It was – or rather, when I started I was trying not to plan too hard so I hadn’t finished the world-building side. I had this idea for magical bullets because otherwise I’d have to do research on gun types, plus it opens a whole range of explody fun possibilities. So I had this character I wanted to get to know plus these mercenaries I wanted to have lots of personality, which meant focusing on them first.

ME: And I’ve been loving the quieter character moments, the subtle conversation and banter, as much as the faster paced action oriented segments. Both of these series have excellent fleshed out characters. Do you turn to yourself or people in your personal life when creating characters?

TL: I don’t – other people that is. I’ve tried but most of the time it ends up flat so I just start with a cardboard cut out of a person and try to draw the details in. So a secondary character like Deern just started as an unpleasant, racist merc, but as time goes on he becomes more than that. He’s still not a nice person, but they’re paid to kill people for money. Making them all sweethearts would be stupid and even the nice ones have a cold side.
As for myself, not deliberately, but I was a teenager when I started writing the angry, confused teenage chosen one Isak, a soon-to-be father when floundering Narin appeared, and an increasingly-middle-aged guy when portly, world-weary Lynx arrived so….

ME: What are some of your writing influences all across the media? I’m referring obviously to fantasy novelists, but also film and television influences.

TL: Oh man, where to start? I’m just starting a re-watch of Justified because I love it, especially the banter between Raylan and idiot criminals, which may or may not have influenced Stranger a bit. I remember reading Steven Erikson in particular and feeling how high the bar for fantasy had become, he’s still one of my favourites these days. I recommend KV Johansen and Adrian Tchaikovsky to everyone because they’re two of the best in my mind, but in very different ways.

West Wing remains one of the best TV shows I’ve ever seen, Battlestar one of the biggest disappointments because so much of it was up there with the very best of all TV but elements dragged it down. Band of Brothers is another that lives long in the memory – it’s easy to forget as a fantasy writer that you’re describing really brutal things happening and BoB had an honesty to the violence that I like to be reminded about. Medieval knights etc were not cuddly or gentle souls and you shouldn’t shy away from all the genre brings.

ME: Tchaikovsky is awesome and it super cool to see his name atop the book! Shifting gears but only slightly, can you recommend a few Fantasy novels from the last couple of years to our community.

TL: I’m a slow reader so I buy more than I get around to – it takes me a while to remember when things have been released cos I’m often five years late…

I greatly enjoyed the first Peter McLean novel, Priest of Bones, the first two Becky Chambers SF books, just finished Song of the Sycamore by Ed Cox (whose first series almost certainly nudged my brain on the mage-guns in God Fragments), Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri, the Django Wexler series has come to a close now but I’m still loving the last ones of that.
The sheer variety and quality of books out these days blows my mind – so many great writers producing brilliant work. I think it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with the new generation of writers!

ME: Absolutely. And consequently I buy a full series of doorstoppers at one time (Malazan, I’m looking at you), knowing full well my will take me 6 lifetimes to finish them.

TL: Yeah, it’s a huge achievement but maybe tricky too. It’s not something you can just step away from after a trilogy and there’s pressure to grab the readership who read a lot of book 1s but maybe don’t pick up book 2.

ME: So I talk to a lot of indie authors and obviously in that world, it’s almost a unanimous understanding that social media presence and reader interaction is integral to maintaining visibility, sales etc. I’m curious as a traditionally published author, how important it is to you to interact with your readers and where you prefer that interaction.

TL: It’s definitely important – but it’s also one reason why I prefer the traditional model. There’s a way of getting that visibility without so many hours required, The indie folk do an amazing job of interacting but I worry for the burn-out rate. It’s not a natural thing for me, I’m fairly withdrawn personality-wise so it doesn’t come easily to me, plus with the day job and two kids, there’s an hours-in-the-day problem for me.

For me twitter works really well for casual interaction and FB remains a good place to trade longer messages – spending much time on forums just eats into so much of my day and can be fairly soul destroying at times.

I’m 13 books into my career now – to maintain the level of effort many indie authors do over all those books… it’d have broken me. Probably it means I’m never going to get rich off this job, but I write the books for me and when it becomes an obligation or something I resent, I’ll probably stop.

ME: I was going to ask you what took up most of your time when you weren’t writing but it seems like you already answered it in the last answer. Obviously a very relatable full plate.

TL: Yeah, it’s nothing unusual, but I have a day job for a publisher, freelance work for a number of literary agencies, and basic stuff like the school run. In lockdown I’ve shared more of that bit with my wife which is nice, but we’re agreed that she’s the one who should be working full time – even if I’m doing the same hours, it’s more flexible.

Well I’m out of contract so this could all come to nothing but…

I’ve just done a short SF novel, wreck-diving in space with an Alien vibe – that was the book I turned to when a new fantasy series just felt like too much to take on as lockdown started. It might get picked up, it might not. Either way I feel ready to get back to the fantasy which will be a more traditional epic series – I’m flippantly describing it as jedi v zombies in a medieval world.

I think my strongest genre is the big and bloody epic so that’s where I aim to return to – Dusk Watchman was a long time ago now so I think it’s time I return to that sort of series!

ME: Sound brilliant. Well thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I always like to end my interviews with this question: what one piece of advice would you offer to new and aspiring authors?

TL: It’s been great – thank you so much for having me! As for advice for new writers… well there’s so much around. Maybe – write for yourself, but remember the book in your head isn’t the one on the page.Some opinions on your work will be junk, some will be brilliant, but editors are there to make you look better. Just this week I had beta reader notes from a few people about the SF – picking up on different things and mostly stuff I’d just failed to comprehend as I edited, but were so obviously correct I couldn’t believe I’d ever written it that way.

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Authors in Focus Episode 50: Interview with Michael Ross by JMD Reid

Michael Ross

Hi! Welcome to this episode of Authors in Focus Podcast. I’m James Reid, a fantasy author publishing as JMD Reid. This podcast is all about getting to know writers, their books, and what makes them tick.

We all have a storyteller inside of us. Join me as we find out what the rising stars and established voices in publishing have to say about their craft and inspiration.

I am excited to say that my second fantasy series, Secret of the Jewels, is being published. Diamond StainedRuby RuinsObsidian MindEmerald Strength, and the finale, Amethyst Shattered, are out on Amazon and free in Kindle Unlimited.

Today, I’m interviewing Michael Ross. The author of the fantasy series The Wand Chronicles! You can follow him on FacebookInstagramLinked-In, and Twitter! And check out his Amazon Author Page!

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Interview with Nikki Nelson-Hicks

Nikki Nelson-Hicks

Hey Nikki, how are you ? How’s our reality treating you?

Doing fine. Getting through.

Yep I hear that. So I wanted to start from the beginning. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? And how did that lead to your first published novel?

OK…My first real taste at writing stories was when I was 14 and desperately wanted to impress my English teacher who I was totally in love with. I loved him with all the passion a 14 year old virgin could muster. I would write him stories, slip them on his desk, and basically stalk him. In turn, he got me involved in some after school programs for Gifted and Talented Youth which is how I got into theatre and eventually met the boy who would become my husband.

None of that really led directly to writing the first Jake story. Probably more like in a weird dog leg way. Since if I hadn’t bothered Mr. Shearer and gotten involved in theatre and then met Brian, I would never have moved to Hungary many decades later and stumbled upon the name Istenhegyi. Life is weird like that. Lots of dog legs and strange cul de sacs that take you in weird places.

Oh definitely, I sat on 3 chapters I had written for my first book The Alehouse Wars, for over a year. Then I met James Reid, and by February we’ll have 4 complete books. So tell our audience a bit about Jake, and why we should all be reading about him?

Oh, Poor Jake. The story is set in 1930’s New Orleans. The first story starts on his birthday, his 25th birthday and he has plans to go out on the town with his best bud and have the time of his life. But, friend goes missing and Jake has to go out to the snake infested bayou to find him. He runs across a beautiful woman and….SHENANIGANS.

Jake Istenhegyi isn’t like most pulp noir heroes. He’s not a durnk, not some war torn veteran, he’s just this poor bastard who falls down a rabbit hole and ends up in a world of weird shit when all he wanted was to go get drunk with his friend. In the span of 7 months, I have this poor guy being chased by monsters, pirates, voodoo queens, zombie chickens, Boodaddies and immortal blood thirsty alchemists.

It’s good family fun! (No, it’s not. Don’t let your children near this stuff)

New Orleans is always an awesome setting for freaky stuff. As a music lover it’s on my bucket list of places to go. What inspired you about the city and the time period?

Like most things in my life, I fell into it. The challenge that spurred the first Jake story, A Chick, A Dick and A Witch Walk Into A Barn…, was a challenge by Tommy Hancock of Pro Se Press to contribute a story to an anthology he was producing called Poultry Pulp. The premise is a pulp story that somehow involves chickens. I’d been sitting on the Jake Istenhegyi character for years so I decided to play with him in this really short, short story. Like 10k. And…chickens made me think of Voodoo…Voodoo made me think of New Orleans….bing bang….we got a story.

The anthology never happened but Pro Se like my story enough to want to turn it into a series.

Once I started working on it as a series, I did more research into New Orleans and WOW did a fall into a treasure lode of history and story fodder. I was just lucky.

So you’ve recently released this series as a special edition omnibus. How did that come about?

When the rights reverted back to me, I planned on doing a rewrite and reformat. I knew the stories needed a little more love than they were given at their first go. SO…when Covid hit and I had more time on my hands, I went to work. I contacted the artist who did the original Jake covers and made a deal with him to create new covers.

I wanted to give Jake more attention. The first story was a fine skeleton but, damn, did it need some meat. So I rewrote it.

Also, because I had no intentions on making it a series, I could use this time to smooth out some problems in the continuity.

Also, I could work on an idea for the seventh book. In Volume 2 of the Omnibus (which dropped last weekend), I also included 2 chapters from Book 7.

Awesome, well they look amazing! Now you’ve also recently published The Galvanized Girl which is a completely different type of story. Tell us a bit about the novel.

I was asked to write a story for an anthology where the premise was Superheroes in a Steampunk age. I retreated to my writing cave with a journal and a sifter of whiskey and started to figure out what I wanted to do. I really had no idea.

BUT this weird line from Hamlet kept going off in my head, Come you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here.

I don’t know why but….from that line…I started just letting a story unfold inside my head. The idea of a woman who is used to create some kind of mechanical thing….something that completely dehumanizes her and how she reacts.

I created Delilah Ditch as my protagonist. An orphan raised in the squalor and brutality of a Victorian work house. She is no shy violet. She is tall, strong and takes no shit. I love her.

My villan, Dr. Thaddeus Pryde is also his own character. A scientist, mentally ill, being used by Voices he thinks are Angels (actually they are SPOILERS) to create a super soldier for an upcoming World War. He’s a jerk and terrible human being but…he has his reasons.

The only criticism I’ve gotten about the Galvanized Girl story is that people wish it was longer. Maybe one day I’ll rewrite it, make it longer. Who knows? I think it works fine for what it is.

Yep..I got the same criticism for my first book, which I suppose isn’t a criticism if they’re saying “we want more.”

TRUE! But I have other stories I want to write. Maybe one day…

Do you write with an audience in mind or do you write for yourself and hope the audience comes along for the ride?

A little of both. Writing only for oneself is an act of masturbation. And writing for just the audience is prostitution. I like to walk that fine line.

I write stories that I like to read. I have to spend MONTHS in that weird headspace so….yeah….I want to be somewhere that I want to be. I’ve written stories….dark stories…that I was glad to be done with mainly because I wanted to be out of that headspace.

I write stories to entertain, to distract. I like to give people a reprieve from reality, take them on an adventure.

The best compliment I’ve ever gotten is the time someone said they were reading my Sherlock Homes story, The Shrieking Pits, on the bus going home from work and THEY MISSED THEIR STOP. They had to do the entire circuit but at least they got to finish the story.

How much of your writing is taken from people and observations from your personal life. Do you attempt to bring yourself into your stories?

I really can’t say that is true for me or my stories. Not a lot of zombie chickens or Mongolian death worms in my day to day life.

I have used people as sort of templates for characters but…I never let Truth get in the way of a good Story.

John Irving once said that the first thing a novelist has to learn is that they are not interesting. Don’t write about yourself. No one cares. WRITE ABOUT PEOPLE. I find Imaginary People are more real that most flesh and blood beings anyway.

I love John Irving. The man is brilliant. The Cider House Rules is a favorite of mine, and not only because it has Cider in the title. So what takes up most of your time when you aren’t writing?

HA! I saw John Irving one year when he gave a FREE lecture at the Ryman. Brilliant!

Adult Responsibilities. Day Job. Loved ones wanting my attention. Ugh. OH, and Pilates. I gotta keep my meat prison healthy.

You know that writers are ALWAYS writing even if we don’t have a pen in our hands or a keyboard. Our brains are always churning away, looking for a new plot point, a new phrase.

My daughter is an artist and I’m always teasing her how expensive her art costs compared to writing. “See my fingers….THESE ARE MY BRUSHES!” She doesn’t think I’m funny.

Ugh don’t I know it. I’ve caught the creative bug. It was seals, then snakes, then it became, let’s throw the seals and snakes together in a crossover and bring my co-writer and I into the story as bearded gods. It never ends!

Oh, no….it never ends. It’s a form of mental illness, in a way. Writers are terrible people. Others read about a tragedy in the paper and I’m clipping it out for FODDER. #terriblepeople

My childhood was very chaotic and rootless….which came in handy as a military wife….but what it also gave me was a very rich inner fantasy life. I didn’t have any friends so I made some up! My family life was terrible….so I created a world where it wasn’t terrible. I think it’s a wonderfully magical aspect of being human. This way we can create worlds to protect ourselves inside. Just don’t get lost. That’s when it becomes twisted and sick. Keep your feet on the ground but your head in the stars.

So what’s next for you? What can readers look forward to in the next year?

Now I’m done with the Jake Istenhegyi stuff (for now), I am working on three projects: one is called How Maddie Got Her Murder Back, it’s a coming of age story. Crown of Feathers, a horror(ish) story about a little boy who tries to save his dying mother by stealing the Crown of Feathers underneath her sick bed pillow and causes really bad Shenanigans and has to get the help of the local village witches, and Hand Me Down, which is going to be a challenge because it’s a thriller, no supernatural elements, no magic…..just murder, lies, and sordid truths. A woman’s past comes back and threatens to destroy everything she’s created. I know it’s cliche AF but…trust me….her past isn’t something you’ve seen before….

They all sound amazing!

So…that should keep me busy for a year or so.

So I like to ask all the authors I interview this question. What one piece of sage-like advice can you offer to new and aspiring authors?

Here is something I wish someone had told me…wait…two things i wish someone had told me.

FIRST: YOU DO NOT NEED AN EDUCATION TO BE A WRITER! You do not need a frigging MFA or Bachelors….or any piece of paper. What you need is the dogged determination and butt paste to keep your ass in the seat and WRITE THE DAMN STORY. Oh, and join a critique group, get some beta readers, hire an editor but YOU DON’T NEED SOMEONE TO BEQEATH THE TITLE OF WRITER ON YOU.

Second: getting published doesn’t change your life. NOPE. It’s the beginning. Red Carpets don’t magically appear. Your bank account isn’t suddenly going to become flush with cash. Nobody is going to beat a path to your door. You publish and then you write another one. Again and again. So you better really like homework! Because, sometimes, that is what it feels like. And sometimes….it’s freaking magic. When you hit the vein and the words rush out and you CREATE something out of nothing….dude, you’re magic.

Recommend some recently released fantasy or sci-fi to our audience.

Oh, man….I’ve been reading primarily horror lately. Sorry. It’s October! I’m trying to into the spirit of Halloween. I can recommend Grady Hendrix’s The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. It is so charming and terrifying at the same time! Also, Todd Keisling’s Devil’s Creek, rural horror that will haunt you and Anthony Rapino’s The SoundTrack to the End of the World, a zombie story that actually has a twist!

I need to dip my toes into my Scifi and Fantasy. It would be a good change of pace. Lately, I’m having to carve out time to read. Writing takes up so much of my day.

Oh I know what that’s like. These days I basically read what I’m editing. So my final question is, who were the authors that influenced you into becoming an author and have remained with you all this time?

Easy peasy. Terry Pratchett, I wish I had his wit and brilliance. Flannery O’Connor, the way she used simple words to convey complicated ideas. Hunter S. Thompson, I wish I had his rage and lunacy. Sharyn McCrumb, oooh, her way of writing such lyrical prose. Rod Serling, yeah, his writing was heavy handed but I LOVE HIM. Stephen King, Richard Matheson, Peter Straub, all those guys are a natural.

OH! And Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry. Comic masters.

Awesome, well thanks for taking the time to answer some questions and have a great rest of the day!

Thank you! Have a great day!

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Authors in Focus Episode 49: Interview with Troy Young by JMD Reid

Troy Young

Hi! Welcome to this episode of Authors in Focus Podcast. I’m James Reid, a fantasy author publishing as JMD Reid. This podcast is all about getting to know writers, their books, and what makes them tick.

We all have a storyteller inside of us. Join me as we find out what the rising stars and established voices in publishing have to say about their craft and inspiration.

I am excited to say that my second fantasy series, Secret of the Jewels, is being published. Diamond StainedRuby RuinsObsidian MindEmerald Strength, and the finale, Amethyst Shattered, are out on Amazon and free in Kindle Unlimited.

Today, I’m interviewing Troy Young. He is the author of fantasy adventure The Stone of Death (The Companions of the Stone 1)! You can follow him at Twitter, on Instagram at troyyoung1971, and on Facebook! Check out his books on his Amazon Author Page!

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Interview with Robert Cano

Robert Cano

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 –

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!

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Authors in Focus Episode 48: Interview with Chris Lodwig by JMD Reid

Chris Lodwig

Hi! Welcome to this episode of Authors in Focus Podcast. I’m James Reid, a fantasy author publishing as JMD Reid. This podcast is all about getting to know writers, their books, and what makes them tick.

We all have a storyteller inside of us. Join me as we find out what the rising stars and established voices in publishing have to say about their craft and inspiration.

I am excited to say that my second fantasy series, Secret of the Jewels, is being published. Diamond StainedRuby RuinsObsidian MindEmerald Strength, and the finale, Amethyst Shattered, are out on Amazon and free in Kindle Unlimited.

Today, I’m interviewing Chris Lodwig! He is the author of the sci-fi novel Systemic! You can follow him on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Linked In. Check out his Amazon Author Page, his Audio Books, and check him out on Goodreads!

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Giving Voices to Characters with Disabilities with Allegra Pescatore on the Books and Authors Fantasy and Sci-Fi Podcast

This is the Books and Authors Fantasy Podcast Episode 139 with Allegra Pescatore.

Good day and welcome to this episode of the Books and Authors Fantasy and Sci-Fi Podcast. I’m your host, podcaster and author of Fun Fantasy Reads, Jamie Davis. This podcast is exactly what the title says it is, a show focused on everything in fantasy books.

This show will cover everything to do with fantasy books. From Epic Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, and everything in between, expect to find the best and brightest authors from all the various corners of the fantasy book world. Plus we’ll add in a few other very special guests as well along the way.

Kicking things off this week, I’m working hard on writing the next book in the Accidental Champion series. This LitRPG Epic Fantasy tale combines a great fantasy setting with a lite touch of gaming. I’ve enjoyed revisiting Fantasma with Cari and a new character I hope you’ll all enjoy. Watch for more updates soon in my Fun Fantasy Readers facebook group.

Speaking of which, you can check out more information on what I’m up to, including some early looks at excerpts from the new book over in my Fun Fantasy Readers facebook group. I post sneak peeks of upcoming covers, special giveaways, and more, by visiting my fan group on Facebook, Jamie’s Fun Fantasy Readers and over at my website and blog, I look forward to hearing from you.

Joining us this week on the show is Allegra Pescatore. Allegra grew up in a small village in northern Tuscany, and was raised in a community of international artists. After much travel, adventure, and a career in culinary arts, she moved to Pittsburgh, PA, where she currently writes science fiction, fantasy, running the Plot Mom Youtube channel.

As a disabled author, her goal is to write inclusive, representative fiction, where characters who don’t usually get center stage have a chance to shine.

Here’s my chat with Allegra about her book NACL: Eye of the Storm and what she has coming up next.

Find Allegra on Facebook here and on her Discord Channel here.

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Authors in Focus Episode 47: Interview with Susan Faw by JMD Reid

Susan Faw

Hi! Welcome to this episode of Authors in Focus Podcast. I’m James Reid, a fantasy author publishing as JMD Reid. This podcast is all about getting to know writers, their books, and what makes them tick.

We all have a storyteller inside of us. Join me as we find out what the rising stars and established voices in publishing have to say about their craft and inspiration.

I am excited to say that my second fantasy series, Secret of the Jewels, is being published. Diamond StainedRuby RuinsObsidian MindEmerald Strength, and the finale, Amethyst Shattered, are out on Amazon and free in Kindle Unlimited.

And just out, my first co-author novella The Alehouse Wars is out!

Today, I’m interviewing Susan Faw! She is the author of the epic fantasy box set The Heart of the Citadel! You can follow her on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter!

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Authors in Focus Episode 46: Interview with Jan Kotouč by JMD Reid

Jan Kotouč

Hi! Welcome to this episode of Authors in Focus Podcast. I’m James Reid, a fantasy author publishing as JMD Reid. This podcast is all about getting to know writers, their books, and what makes them tick.

We all have a storyteller inside of us. Join me as we find out what the rising stars and established voices in publishing have to say about their craft and inspiration.

I am excited to say that my second fantasy series, Secret of the Jewels, is being published. Diamond StainedRuby RuinsObsidian MindEmerald Strength, and the finale, Amethyst Shattered, are out on Amazon and free in Kindle Unlimited.

And just out, my first co-author novella The Alehouse Wars is out!

Today, I’m interviewing Jan Kotouč. He is the author of the military science fiction novel Frontiers of the Imperium! You can follow him on Facebook and Goodreads, and check out his Amazon Author Page!

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Interview with Deston J. Munden

Deston J. Munden

Hey Deston, how’s life? How’s our new reality treating you?

I’m doing okay! There’s a lot to get used to but everything is going to work out eventually!

Yep I hear that. So I wanted to start from the beginning. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? And how did that lead to your first published novel?

I’ve been wanting to be a writer for a long time, ever since I was a kid. It only really surfaced as a potential career in the last few years though. It took a lot of hardship to get where I wanted to be, but after a bunch of rejections I decided to take matters in my own hand and self publish. It’s been a wild ride.

Oh cool…so you attempted to agent querying trad route first?

I did! I thought that I would at least try it first. I learned a lot and met a lot of people. A lot of agents was interested but they weren’t really willing to take the risk on a new author. So I decided to take the risk myself.

So what has your experience been with self publishing so far? And tell us a bit about your first novel Tavern.

It’s been a great experience. It’s a lot of work on the marketing half but it’s been a good experience. The hardest part is getting over the stereotype of self published novels being poor quality when that’s not true. I still have a lot to learn on that aspect.
Tavern is a high fantasy novel following an orc tavern owner and spymaster trying to stop a plot that threatens to destroy his city. It has a dungeons and dragons mixed with a bit of classic fantasy feel. It’s meant for readers who likes those classic fantasy tropes with a dash of modern inspiration.

Awesome..Orcs are severely misrepresented and have gotten a bad rap. What made you decide to focus on an Orc protagonist?

That’s the very reason why I chose an orc protagonist. I wanted to create a world where its only fantasy races yet there’s still some things each race must learn about each other. I also wanted to remove the natural bias people have for their own race going into this world. Also, I just like orcs. They are one of my favorite fantasy races and often they are seen so badly that I wanted to change up the script and have them as a race that are gaining respect from the other races after their bloody history with themselves.

Well I know we had both read James Jakins’ Jack Bloodfist series, another example of an Orc Protagonist.

It’s one of my favorite series! James does an amazing job and his character is one of the coolest orcs I’ve ever seen!

Definitely! Changing direction a bit, I know you also write Sci-Fi. Which genre have you enjoyed writing most? Tell us a bit about your newest novel, Dusk Mountain Blues.

Fantasy is always my first love. It’s what I grew up with and what I still feel I work the best in. But, scifi is also really fun to work with!  I decided to get into scifi though to broaden my horizons and give people an alternate way to read some of my works.
Dusk Mountain Blues is a space opera western following three generation of moonshining hillbillies fighting off colonizers. It’s a fun read about family, heartbreak, and general shooty-shooty bang bang!

Sounds awesome! What were some of the biggest  influences on your writing? I’m talking, books, TV, film etc?

World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons, Elder Scrolls, Brandon Sanderson, Game of Thrones (the books), Robert Jordan (relatively recently), Final Fantasy, Dragon Age, Mass Effect. Just a little bit of everything. I consume a lot of media!

Nice…they say that’s the best way to be informed as a writer. I’ve only started writing for publication purposes, but my books have ended up being sort of a love letter to so much of the media I’ve consumed.

It really happens! Before you know it, you realize how much media has put an impression on you as an author or creator!

Totally. Now I’m curious…As an indie author, how important is reader interaction to you, and how do you most like to connect with your readers?

It’s important to have reader interaction for me. I love the idea of getting a comment or a review from my readers. It’s an amazing experience. Whether it’s through my email, reddit, twitter, or facebook, I’m always ready to hear from my readers.

Excellent, do you write with an audience in mind, or do you really write for yourself and hope people dig it?

I mostly write with myself in mind first. If I don’t want to read it, how could I expect anyone else to. But yes, I do have a general audience in mind. People like me usually, gamers and fantasy/scifi geeks around their 20-40s. That tends to be my demographic.

Which leads me to this question. Can you recommend some of your favorite recent work to our audience that pretty much is made up of that core demographic?

I think if people enjoy me they are going to enjoy First of Shadows by Deck Matthews, Mercenary Code by Emmet Moss, and Orcblood Legacy by Bernard Bertram.

So what’s next for you? Any sequels planned or are you working on more standalone work? When can we expect to see something new?

Duke’s Brand is coming up soon. It’s a sequel to Tavern but follows another PoV character! Also I have Dusk Ocean Blues raring to go as well. You can expect something new by the end of this year or early next year!

That’s brilliant! so I ask this question to every author I interview…if you could offer one piece of advice to new and aspiring authors, what would it be ?

Finish that first draft. No matter what. It could be the worst thing that you’ve ever written, it’s important to start and finish that first draft. And no matter what you do, it’s never going to be perfect at the end. You’re gonna find things that are going to be wrong. Don’t sweat it. Just improve and keep writing.

Sage like wisdom. I’ve gone over my first novella 100 times and every time I think it’s perfect, something screams out and I’m like “how did I miss that?”

Yes! It’s infuriating! 

Well, Deston, it’s been a pleasure talking to you.





Book Links:


Dusk Mountain Blues

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