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Interview for Magician

A couple of months ago I was asked to do an interview on Magician, the first book in the Veiled Earth Series. I thought you might enjoy reading it too. Feel free to tell me your thoughts in the comments.

The Book Magician is pretty special to you, can you tell us why?

Magician was the first book I finished, and it represents a turning point in my life. Up to that point I’d only ever finished short stories and started novels only to abandon them later when it became too hard. I didn’t understand how to do the actual physical work to create an entire cohesive book. By the time I realized Magician was hard work, I was in too deep.

What was your inspiration for Magician?

Largely, assholes. I’m a fan of the whole anti-hero archetype, the lone crusader who follows his own code. These characters always seem to be misguided, but firmly upon their paths, and willing to suffer for their morality. Magician came about as a result of wanting to write a cowardly, petty, bombastic, self-important, self-appointed authority type of jerk who truly believed he was the end-all and be-all of the world- and then have him turn out to be right. I was fascinated with what that kind of revelation would do to a character and who he would become over time.

Magician is the first book in The Veiled Earth trilogy. Did you always know it would be more than one book? Why?

Like most of my generation, I grew up on Star Wars. Everyone knows trilogies are cool. When I began, my grandiose plan was to create a Lord of the Rings-type epic, only with magic and modernism. That’s literally as far as my plotting had gone. Luckily, the characters knew where they were supposed to go and what they were supposed to do, because _I_ sure didn’t. I was so new at writing I didn’t even know what I didn’t know.

Are any of your characters in Magician based on real people?

In as much as any wholly-created character can be. I tend to embody my characters with a lot of my personality, which I understand isn’t a glowing endorsement of me, given some of the characters. The main character, Val, is my cockiness and vanity. The villain is the same way, representing my ruthlessness. Val’s companions, Mike and Vanessa, represent the parts of me that never fully developed- the reasonable attitude of Mike and the surety that love is the answer to every question that Vanessa embodies.

You write in several genres, Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Crime Fiction. Do you have a favorite genre, or one that is easier for you to write?

Crime fiction always seems to be easiest. I love a good heist, especially if it’s a logic puzzle. I’m not a fan of novels whose reveal is something no one could have guessed. I try to write logical crimes and responses. Many writers like to fudge the details, because really… who understands how to ‘find an underworld contact and buy the security codes for a vault’? But with my crime novels and my heist novels, I try to be as realistic as possible. I prefer to read realistic books, and I prefer to write them. Sometimes I’ll tie myself into knots figuring out actual plans for robberies that could work. Maybe I was born to be a bank robber.

What's your favorite atmosphere and process when you write?

Personally, all I really need is a machine to type on. I tried to write by longhand once, but it’s too slow. My wife noticed I only use a couple of fingers when I type: my thumb and first two fingers on my left hand, and my thumb and first three fingers on my right. Yet, after years of practice, I accurately hunt-and-peck at around ninety words a minute. I’ve written by firelight, in an airplane, and notably, by texting myself while waiting in an emergency room. Sometimes I like music: during the writing of Magician I played Audioslave’s first album on repeat for a solid month.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Only since birth. Before that, I wanted to be a sea turtle. Seriously, I’ve never NOT written something. I have short stories I typed out laboriously by hand (a whole page, sometimes!) on a manual typewriter I borrow/stole from my mother when I was just a little guy. I wrote reams of poetry in high school (as you do), and more and better short stories. I was in my high school literary magazine, and in a couple of college magazines. My only goal has been to be a writer. As I’ve gotten older, my goal is to be a writer who also gets paid.

What made you decide to self publish your books?

Time, mostly. Traditional publishing is a… slow process, to put it kindly. Even if you’re lucky enough to get picked up by a major publishing house, there’s the editing process, the artwork process, the rewrite process, the ad copy, the marketing, the…. Honestly, it’s a frozen-sloth-on-valium slow process. Even if you’re completely ready to be published, you’ve polished your manuscript, you’ve selected a cover, your blurb is on point… there’s still a publishing schedule to fit into. Most of the time, it’s a year or more AFTER acceptance. Even Stephen King couldn’t get published more than once a year, which is one of the reasons he started using the Bachman pen name. I have books to write, and I didn’t want to wait.

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