Question time

Below is the transcipt of a question and answer session I did for a book release blog.

  • What can you tell us about your new release, The Journeyman For Zdrell?

As the second volume in the trilogy, the story opens up quite a lot. In the first volume, The Apprentice to Zdrell, our main character, know as Jonny in that book and now as Eril in this one ( names change for wizards as they advance), the entire story took place in one location, with a very limited cast of characters. In Journeyman, Eril travels as he is trying to evade identification by the demon wizards and work on mastering Zdrell. He ends up covering a lot of ground and meeting new people at every turn, though some of the main characters from The Apprentice play significant parts. This volume is about Eril maturing in many ways, but still dealing with his naiveté and lack of experience. In The Apprentice Eril was being guided and deliberately taught to use his magic. In Journeyman, Eril is having to learn on his own and pick his teachers. He also has to choose between staying hidden and doing what he thinks is right. It becomes evident pretty quick that Eril isn’t especially good at staying inconspicuous.

One of my goals in writing this series was breaking the all too typical fantasy trope of everything being a road-trip. In Apprentice, I did that by having all that action happen in one place. In Journeyman, though Eril ends up traveling quite a bit, very little of the action comes because of the travel. Most of the action happens at the various destinations. Another goal of this series is a new take on the trope (made famous by Tolkien) that magic and wizards in the forgotten past were always superior, and that their former glory can never be recaptured, let alone surpassed. In both Apprentice and Journeyman, Eril ends up creating magical artifacts equal to or possibly surpassing those of the ancient Zdrell masters.

Finally, in this volume we start to get a very clear view of the stakes that were really only hinted at in The Apprentice. This is a fairly uncomplicated tale of good versus evil, and the demon wizards’ evil is clearly revealed. Oh, and Eril finally discovers the opposite sex, with interesting results.

  • What or who inspired you to become an author?

I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy since I was old enough to read. I’ve always loved the genre and sense of wonder and possibility that comes with it. In junior high I wrote a couple of pieces, which my teachers, who weren’t SF fans did not appreciate, so I moved on. For years I flirted with the idea of writing something, until the fall of 2000 when a story popped into my head and just wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote it down. This time I wrote what became the first 20,000 words of The Apprentice first draft and showed it to a few folks who I knew would tell me if it stank. To my surprise, they all encouraged me to continue. Since I had never seriously planned on being a writer, I had a lot of learning to do, but this story is the one that got me started. I have ideas for other things and have started several, but I feel an obligation to myself and my fans to get this trilogy out there.

  • What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

As someone who has read several thousand books, I have a hard time picking the absolute best, but some books that have inspired me include (in no particular order)

Magician Apprentice/Master by James Feist
The Uplift Saga by David Brin
Pretty much everything by Lois McMaster Bujold
Ender’s Game (and various sequels) by Orson Scott Card
The Lightbringer Series by Brent Weeks

  • Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

I would probably have Timothy Zahn on and I would love to talk to him about how he’s managed such a varied career over the years.

  • What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I love the creation of first drafts. I only roughly outline and I am amazed by how the stories I’m telling do things I never expected and how cool solutions to problems I have emerge, many times without my having figured them out consciously before.

  • What is a typical day like for you?

I work full-time in the I.T. industry. Most of my day goes into my job and family and just the stuff of life. When I’m doing well I get one or two hours in writing on a given day. Lots of stuff conspires to keep me away from writing, but once I’m doing it, I love it.

  • What scene in The Journeyman For Zdrell was your favorite to write?

This is a hard one. I enjoyed lots of scenes. The climax of Journeyman where Eril finally has to face a demon head on and the resolution of that scene was tricky but satisfying.

  • Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?

I try to live each day, so I won’t have regrets. I’m not sure how good I am at following through on it, but I try.

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