Monday, April 28, 2014

James Vernon Interview

I am very happy to say that new Fantasy author, James Vernon, is my latest interview. James has been a supporter of my work since day one, is a fellow-Pennsylvanian, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for the man as a person and a writer. 
James is a fantastic writer with an excellent imagination and you should absolutely check out his first novel, Bound to the Abyss!

Artwork from Bound to the Abyss
First off, tell us a little bit about you, James... First, thanks for having me! I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, where I currently live with my family. I grew up with books by David Eddings and Terry Brooks always by my side, although I loved any book with a great world with a lot of detail to culture, races, and magic. I'm a full-time mathematics teacher and fuller time father, but I can always find time to write (usually when my family is asleep, since I'm a night owl).

Tell us about your books/What genre do you consider your books?My first book, Bound to the Abyss, is a fantasy story set in a world that I've spent over three years creating. It follows a young man, Ean Sangrave, who is the village pariah and apprentice to the local healer. When a monster invades the village mine, Ean finds himself dragged on an adventure to find a way to battle the beast. But little does everyone know, but Ean has a connection to the Abyss, a seperate world host to countless monsters and ruled by a dark god. Ean struggles to understand his growing power while trying to determine if he wants to be the village hero or live up to the stigmas placed on him.

When did you start writing?I started writing around three years ago, although I've had stories bouncing around in my head for much longer then that. This world just really spoke to me and I had to get it down on paper and explore it further.

Why do you write?For the pure fun of it. I love reading interesting stories with deep characters and I'm striving to be an author that writes stories that people can really get into. Of course, if I can make enough money to continue to fund the books I write and a web site and illustrations to go with them, that's just the icing on the cake. Sweet, thick icing.

What would be your choice for a superpower?Recently I would have to say the ability to fly. The past few years I've had about an hour commute to work, sometimes longer depending on when I hit traffic. As great as an opportunity to brainstorm about stories and world-build while I'm sitting in traffic, there are certainly some days where I would love to be able to fly home in a matter of moments.

Who is your favorite author?I would have to say at the moment it is the late Robert Jordan. The world he created for the Wheel of Time series was incredible and humbling for a new author like myself. The different characters, how they developed, and the intertwined story lines of all of the characters is a level of planning I don't think I could every achieve. As great of a series Game of Thrones is, it has nothing compared to the intrigue and plot twists in the Wheel of Time series (hope I don't anger Game of Thrones fans, I like that series too!)

What are you reading now?

 I haven't been able to read as much as I used to or would like to, but at the moment I'm working on John Sprunk's Shadow's Son. Its the first in a series, and even though I've only read a few chapters, the setting and main character Caim are really pulling me into the story.

Who is your favorite character to write? Zin the imp, Ean's companion. He is both a bit of sarcastic comic relief to my main character Ean and creates a little mystery. Does he really have Ean's best intentions at heart or does he have ulterior motives? His well thought-out actions and advice are a nice contrast to Ean's young and impulsive nature.

Do you have a writing process?Not really, but it usually does involve a can of red bull. My main writing time is at night when my family is asleep, but if I can squeeze in an hour or so at different points of the day I take advantage of it. Other then that, its random. I might sit down in front of the TV and write with the background noise of Hell's Kitchen, Survivor, or Agents of Shield in the background, or I might lock myself in my office where I'm surrounded by pictures and posters of my own novel or others that I've enjoyed.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author? Be open to constructive criticism. Your story at time certainly feels like your own child, and its hard to hear when people punch holes in the plot or find the story/world uninteresting. But that doesn't mean you should disregard what you hear or go the other direction and give up on the story. It just means you have to work on it more. My novel certainly was improved by the no-holds-barred criticism I received from my beta reader and editor.
Also seek out people that don't usually read your genre to beta read your story. If a person isn't into the type of work you write, but finds themselves getting through to the end of your novel and wanting more, you know you've put together an interesting and enjoyable story.

What inspired you to pursue writing?Just a basic desire to have my story out there. I can't wait for the day my son is old enough to start reading my stories. I hope by then I have a few nice, long series for him to enjoy.

What are your favorite TV shows/Movies to watch in between writing?Anything with interesting characters and not a predictable plot. Hannibal and The Following have certainly been recent favorites. Agents of Shield started strong, turned into filler for a bit, but have really found their stride after what happened in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. A little reality tv isn't that bad for you either; Hell's Kitchen, Survivor, and Face Off and Creature Shop on SciFi are very interesting. If you want a good basis to see how people really act towards each other, reality tv is a good place to see how a person's character can change.

What are your current projects?I have a few things I'm working on at the same time. Main focus is still on my first release, Bound to the Abyss. I have its sequal currently in the beta reading process and I just started the first draft of the third book in that series. I've also finished the first book in a new series set in the same world and time period, following a new cast of characters. The plan is to release the squeal to Bound of the Abyss by the end of the summer, then the first book in the new series before releasing the third book in the first series. If I don't confuse myself too much in the process.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers?Review the books of authors you like! Even if its a few sentences on why you liked/disliked it really helps the author out. Like I said earlier, constructive criticism can really help an author grow as a writer. And hearing positive things is always helpful too!

Quick Fire:Cats or dogs?
Dogs. I'm horribly allergic to cats.
Coffee or tea?
Tea. I rarely drink it, but I always have to get a Snapple Peach Tea when I buy a hoagie from Wawa.
Favorite food?
A well-cooked steak.
Vanilla or chocolate ice-cream?
What are 3 things you never leave home without?
Keys, cell phone, and wallet. I always check to make sure I have them.
Laptop or desktop?
For writing, laptop. For video games, the most powerful Desktop I can afford on a teacher's salary.
Who are 3 famous people you would to hang out with?
The three that popped into my head right away were: Joss Whedon(a master story teller in my opinion), Patrick Stewart(who wouldn't want to hang with a star trek captain/professor x), Mark Hamill(for Star Wars alone, but he has also done so much in the industry that not many people talk about. He was the voice of The Joker for how long?).
TV or Movies?
TV. I love a good movie but it always leaves me wanting more. A nice 20-some episode series always keeps me interested and provides satisfying results.


Best-selling author of Wake the Dead!  On Amazon Kindle here!

All Artwork and covers of my works by William J. Kenney & Carlos Cara

All maps, names and content copyright Ashenclaw Studios 2014 unless otherwise noted.

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