Reading is a series of human emotions. Writing is the gift of sharing these emotions.
1. Which of your books is the closest to your heart and why?
This is an easy one. Tarja Titan. When you read Titan, you will know immediately which popular book series inspired it. But one thing I love about Titan is that the protagonist, Tarja, came to me in a dream back in January 2018.
It was an easy dream to remember because Mother Nature decided to drop a good 10 inches of snow on the ground overnight. An ice storm preceded the snowstorm, and earlier that day, it was about 60 degrees. So, definitely some wild weather in Northern West Virginia, but nothing we’re not used to.
I’ve also been fascinated with conspiracies of all kinds. So the world in Tarja Titan is just like our own, but it is one with an alternate timeline where global conspiracies and shadow governments exist. The small elitists conspiring these global crises are a group of notorious Elemental Masters, and Tarja, unbeknownst to her, is the key to their downfall.
2. What is your favorite book by another author and why?
I’m going to say Spirit Legacy by E.E. Holmes. While I read the fantasy genre all the time, I cannot think of another work that is more original than Spirit Legacy. The beginning of the soon-to-be 11-book World of the Gateway Series, it was one series that helped inspire Tarja Titan.
3. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
You can find me in three places: The gym, a trail, or around good old Northern West Virginia. The latter two of which I’ll be running, and the former of which I’ll be lifting. I workout twice a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year. I’ve found that it provides an outstanding mental break from writing.
But given the introvert I am, I didn’t really start talking to people at the gym or the trail until recently. Then, I got the bug to compete in fitness shows, something I’m looking to start doing next year. And I made a promise to my readers that if I finish well, I’ll cos-play some of my protagonists and main characters - especially Braden Hawk from Tarja Titan.
4. At what point do you think someone should call him/herself a writer?
Once they start writing. Just as I consider anyone who steps into the gym a bodybuilder. You don’t need to step onstage and compete to be a bodybuilder, and you don’t need to earn a single cent from your writing to be a writer.
So if you write for pleasure or if you write as an escape mechanism, you are a writer and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You will find people who think you need to hit a specific income threshold to consider yourself a writer, but that simply isn’t true.
I know plenty of people who go to the gym that live a bodybuilding or fitness lifestyle, but they have no interest in stepping on stage. They’re still bodybuilders. Ditto for writers. So if you are reading this, and you have yet to earn a living as a writer, it doesn’t matter. You’re still a writer.
5. What difference do you see between a writer and an author?
Funny you say that, because I actually am a writer and an author. I freelance write for a living and I often cover professional sports. In the past, I have written about the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals and I currently cover the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres under the name Sion Fawkes. I also ghostwrite for NASCAR blogs.
There are staunch differences between my freelance writing endeavors and my work as an author. In freelance writing, it is all about getting the point across to your reader in a concise manner. This isn’t the case as an author, where you want to build tension throughout a novel and hit a home run with a climactic scene.
The main difference is that writers must keep things short and sweet. Especially if they write short form content or if they are tech writers. For authors, it is all about building on each scene in a book.
6. Are you a pantser, or a plotter?
At the end of the day, a pantser. While I plot each book, my characters nearly always end up with their own ideas and things go haywire. It has happened in every book I’ve written so far. Plotters might see this as a weakness and that the author is losing control of their characters but I think it depends on the author.
For some authors like myself, this is how they write a good book. However, other authors may lose control of their characters and write their way into a corner. Personally, I’ve found that there are no shortages of less-than-ideal situations that your characters can walk into.
A fantastic example of this occurred in Liza Fury: Catch 22, the sequel to Tarja Titan. I didn’t realize that this Elemental Master shadow government running the world was also keeping supernatural creatures hidden. But, Liza and her love interest, Kress Conway, stumble upon a couple of werewolves in a national forest.
And I’m sure in future installments we’ll get some other supernaturals that aren’t Elementals. For example, I basically implied that two minor characters in the book are aether witches. In short, there is a lot going on in a book that’s barely a novel.
What’s even funnier about Catch 22 is that Braden Hawk was supposed to be the main character. But about 40 pages into the first draft, I thought Liza would resonate better with audiences. Liza is such a mixed bag. She’s outspoken, yet friendly. She will do and say things that surprise even me. And she is a master at conquering her fears.
7. How do you develop your plot and characters?
Kind of going off the pantsing topic, once my characters take their own path, I end up forcing them into a bad situation. But, I’m one of those authors who does write the book’s sales description before I even concoct the first draft. While these descriptions change, they still give me a very loose guide from which to work.
But, like in Tarja Titan, I already had the character in mind. I just needed to write the book. As for Wind Wielder, I’d written a similar, unpublished book a few years before. I refused to publish that book because it was my first rodeo writing a book and the plot was therefore terrible. But it was a starting point.
So in the case of Wind Wielder, I took elements that I liked from that novel and discarded what I didn’t like. In the end, it made for a much better book. As for its sequel, Wind Master, I based the plot on an old video game that I loved when I was younger.
What I’m getting to is, I have no one method to develop a plot and my characters. What works for one book, may not work for the next. I’m currently editing the first draft of my next novel, The Rebellion Awakens. The thing is, I started with the first act, wrote the third act, and now I’m swinging back around to write the second act.
8. What is your latest book? Please tell us something about it.
My latest book is Liza Fury: Catch 22. We first meet Liza in Tarja Titan, but she gets her own stage time following the conclusion of Titan. This book is told exclusively in first-person, present tense instead of the alternating first-person, present, and third-person, past that Tarja Titan is told.
This is a book where the main character struggles with anxiety and the occasional panic attack. She’s given this insurmountable task at age 17 as an Escort for One of the Five. But she’s also dealing with her older sister’s recent kidnap.
The stakes are stacked against Liza, a girl who really doesn’t know herself and would like nothing more than to be an average, everyday kid and not an Escort. But she is an Escort, and throughout the novel, Liza slowly discovers not only herself, but she conquers her anxiety and uncertainty.
With the help of her girlfriend, Kress, a swashbuckling, blood-bending human-werewolf hybrid, Liza repeatedly pulls off feats she never thought possible. Of all the books I’ve published, there is no larger character arc. Ironically, Catch 22 is the shortest of my novels at just over 56,000 words.
9. What do you think is the hardest genre for you to write, and what would be the easiest one? Please tell us why.
Believe it or not, I find fantasy to be the easiest. I know many authors think fantasy is this hard, nearly impossible endeavor, but I think differently. You can build any world, society, magical system, anything, really, that you want. Just make sure you close the loopholes, because that is a challenging part of fantasy.
I’ve always dreamed of writing a dystopian novel series with no magical systems, or at most, magical realism. But, since I’d want this dystopian society to resemble all we see in the real world from a technological standpoint, it would be so hard for me to emulate such technologies in a book series.
10. How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?
Oh, yes, the reader avatar! I created them early in my writing process. So, since my work is young-to-new adult from an age standpoint, any reader that enjoys characters between the ages of 16 and 30 would like my books. They would also need to be comfortable with genre fusion, because I love merging science fiction with fantasy, and a touch of dystopia.
My ideal reader would also be someone who loves fast-paced novels that don’t go into too much detail with description. I have a very active writing style and I use it in every book that I write. They must also love outspoken characters that come from all schools of thought and are comfortable with characters voicing different opinions.
Readers who love diverse characters who come from different backgrounds would probably like my work. In Civil War, Mina Hirai was conscripted into a higher status given her Elemental ability. But, Tarja Titan comes from a working-class background. Ditto for Liza. Sion and most of his crew came from an upper-middle class family and he enjoyed favored status before the events of Wind Wielder.
And finally, my ideal reader shouldn’t expect a traditional good versus evil trope. I feel it has just been so overdone that there needs to be something different in the industry. So in Tarja Titan, Tarja learns that the faction wanting to use her ability for their war machine is every bit as corrupt as the faction trying to kill her.
In short, most of my warring factions are laden with corruption and my protagonists with their tiny band of friends are the only real good people in the books.
11. How did you come up with the title for your book?
Unlike many authors, I don’t come with titles that define the book’s genre. Instead, I like titles that can tell the story in two to four words without giving anything away. So in Elementals of Nordica, we have Wind Wielder, Wind Master, and Wind Keeper.
The titles reflect the stage Sion Zona is in his wind mastery. In Wind Wielder, he is not yet a Wind Master. But in Wind Master, he is. In Wind Keeper, he reaches a state of mind called Wind Keeper status. And in the upcoming Book IV, Wind Ruler, he reaches an even higher state of mind.
Civil War, on the other hand, tells the reader exactly what kind of book this is going to be. An intra-domestic conflict between a rebel and a powerful faction. But there may be more to that rebel faction than meets the eye, as Mina might just find out.
As for The Terrian Chronicles, we got Tarja Titan and Liza Fury: Catch 22. Tarja Titan simply that, a story about a girl that gives away very little. Tarja is a mysterious character with a hidden ability, so this particular book, I gave nothing away. As for Fury, Catch 22 describes her situation.
The same thing will hold true for the books I have coming out next year, starting The Rebellion Awakens.
12. How do you celebrate when you finish a book?
One of my idols growing up who continues to be an idol today is NFL quarterback Tom Brady. I was also a big fan of Jerry Rice. The common denominator between them? Both players won Super Bowls, and they were both practicing for the next season as soon as they were able to.
Former NFL quarterback Steve Young once remembered a time when, one day after the 49ers’ Super Bowl XXIX win, he saw someone running on the practice field. That someone was Jerry Rice. So, taking what Brady and Rice have done over the years, my way of celebrating the finishing of a book is to get right to the next one, sometimes on the very same day.
My friends think I’m crazy. But from studying the habits of successful people, most of them don’t take time off. I once trained a client that earned seven figures a year during my old personal training days. And he said if you really want to make it to a specific point, such as running a business, you never stop working.
And I’ve never forgotten those words.
13. What risks have you taken with your writing that have paid off?
Oh, goodness, what risks haven’t I taken? Well, we can start in July 2018, when I quit my day job with about $5,000 in the bank at the time, got absolutely nowhere, and went to work in a seasonal job when I was down to my last $400 in November.
But, it paid off, because I learned the writing process that year and pinpointed everything that had gone wrong in that Wind Wielder predecessor novel. So, living on a prayer that summer and early fall, in my mind, was the cost of a writing education.
As a full-time freelance writer, I feel I take risks every day here in 2022. I could work 50 hours a week freelancing and bring in well over four figures a week. But I don’t, because I value my author career as much as I value my freelance writing career.
But I can’t justify abandoning an author career even if it meant earning a six-figure income from freelance writing and driving down St. Petersburg in a Chevy Camaro or a Dodge Challenger. Nah, I’d rather take the risk and so far, I’ve built my audience and have made some money doing this. So, maybe in a few years when I stay consistent, I will join them. But I’m still 31 years young. I can wait.
14. To readers who haven’t read any of your books, which book would you first recommend and why?
That depends. If you love complex plots then start with Wind Wielder. It will take you for a ride, I can guarantee that. It also follows more traditional fantasy tropes than my other series that Civil War and Tarja Titan belong to.
Now, if you want to go on an emotional roller coaster, then Civil War is definitely it. The love theme plays out more than any other in that one. Not just with a love interest and a friend, but also siblings.
If you are into alternative timelines, current events, and conspiracies, then Tarja Titan is your cup of tea. As I said, a popular book series also helped inspire it and I make sure that series gets plenty of positive references in Titan.
15. What message would you like to say to your readers?
Honestly, I’d just like to say thank you for giving my work a chance. Whether it’s for you or not is irrelevant. There are millions of books available at dozens of retailers worldwide, and you selected my work. That alone means a lot to me.
If you read and loved it, please spread the word to your friends, family, and peers. Even if you didn’t, still feel free to spread the word, because someone you tell my work about may end up enjoying it.
Wind Wielder: Elementals of Nordica Book 1
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