The Title of Your Work or Group:
Equivocal Destines (book 1 of the Upheaving Nidola series)
Where are you from?
Born in Perth, Western Australia. Choosing to live in Warsaw, Poland. Even I don't know why. It's probably Chutney, my dog. Maybe my fiance. Who knows...
In what genre do you write?
I'm indie published in fantasy (the book above) and 20% of the way through book 2 but I'm also 40% of the way through a Y.A. fantasy and in pre-planning for a sci-fi. I'll probably stick to these 3 genres for the most part.
In your own words, what is your book about?
Book 1 of my series is very much an open, fantasy/adventure tale about a boy - Taal - who does the very boyish thing of following the pretty girl and ends up a long way from home and in a lot of trouble. It's a world ruled by elemental magic and devastated by hordes of magically-transformed creatures that seem to be hell-bent on humanity's destruction. Taal though is just looking for a way to improve his crappy life and ends up changing the world.
I really don't like comparing books, but strictly to get an idea of the context, think LOTR but with a significantly different magical focus and style.
It's hard for me to tell you what the book's about, or even what it's like, because Equivocal Destines is a fairly open fantasy/adventure tale and it gets more layered and complex in book 2, but I shouldn't give away any spoliers.
What is your writing style?
I think that anyone who just sits down and starts writing will end up with an incoherent mess that they'll have to constantly rewrite as they have new ideas. Well, at least in my genre and if they're writing complex tomes with multi-layered plots to keep it interesting.
My style is a mix between no planning and thorough planning. I have a 50-page outline document for the series (with character profiles, magic profiles, 10 pages of plot outline bullet points, etc) but 75% of it is filled in as I write. I plan the outline at a high level, add in all of the critical sections/scenes and enough of the plot that I know how to proceed to the end. Then, when writing, I fill in all of the details, highlight anything that's not in my plan and go back later to add the details I invent on the fly to my plan. I wrote a blog post about my method actually: https://raymondclarkeauthor.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/on-literary-markup-languages/
I think planning too much restricts creativity (which I like to think I have in abundance) but planning nothing would just create a meandering mess (which I could easily do too, unfortunately).
Have you ever written anything and thought; "The world has got to see this!"?
Not so much. I'm not that type of person. I have written a bunch of scenes, and even 1-liners, into Equivocal Destines that made me laugh out loud in the cafe when I wrote it, and I'm really proud of myself for being that funny/creative. There's a few scenes in there that make me laugh, and even surprise me, every time I rediscover them.
Do you have an editor and Cover Designer or do you do this yourself?
Do it myself? Hell no! You never find your own mistakes. I'm lucky enough to have friends who are really good at these things. I know 2 excellent artists (a friend and my fiance's brother actually) who did the map and cover art (respectively). If not, I would have had to just pay someone to do them. I also sent out my book to 4 informal editors, 2 of whom actually did their jobs properly, and on time. They found soooo many typos and tiny errors that I believe proper editing is simply a necessity. I was lucky enough to not have to pay for it, but my book would have been junk without it.
Who is your favorite author? Not just someone that you read allot. I wanna know whose book you read that made you suddenly know that if you didn't do this for the rest of your life then you would never be happy.
Oh, an easy one:
* David Farland's Daily Kick in the Pants emails are a necessity for any author to read. That came later, but it can't be understated.
* Terry Pratchett. Because - der
* Peter V. Brett. I once read about how he wrote his first book mostly on a laptop (I think) on the metro. Slowly and painfully, but he got it done, and it's an excellent book.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Well, time to write, as everyone says. Also, writing short, strangely. I can be wordy. 110k words is easier for me that keeping it concise, which I probably should try harder at. I like to think those are 110k mostly-good words, but still. Dialog, apparently. I don't have a problem writing believable, natural dialog. I just don't do it enough. Apparently.
Do you write your characters or do they write themselves through you?
Most definitely #2. Half of my characters in Equivocal Destines literally named themselves even. My character Gruff, for example. I wrote "Their instructor, like most of his practice weapons, had seen better days. Everyone just called him", without knowing what his name would be. Then, without even pausing, I wrote "Gruff, because he was". And so the character was named Gruff. I stopped in the cafe and wondered where it'd even come from. My fans like Gruff though. He's gruff. That happened a number of times. I've seen my characters develop in ways I wasn't planning, and I've had to go back and update my planning document to accommodate their unexpected growth. I think it makes for a more natural, believable tale.
Do you ever write yourself into the characters?
I think this is a common trap for authors, so I did it deliberately, but I spread parts of myself across 3 characters, and not Taal, the main protagonist. I figured, I can't beat it, so join it, but channel it away from the main story arc.
Is writing your full time job or are you "Keeping your day job"? So to speak.
Back in Australia I worked as a network administrator for a bank. Here in Poland I teach business English. They're polar opposites, but I think both are really helpful to my writing. If I became wildly successful as an author I think I'd continue teaching English, but with fewer lessons. It gives me much-needed, daily structure.
If you could go back in time and meet one famous person or legend in history, who would it be?
You know, I'm more of a forward thinker. There's a thousand people I'd love to meet who are all still alive today. Speculating on those who've already done isn't as helpful to me as Twitter-stalking people who I could actually annoy in real life :p
There are millions of new books released every year. What in your mind makes yours stand out from all those millions in your genre?
Before indie publishing my book I would have been frank and said "Probably nothing. I just have to hope for the best". Now I know better. There's millions of books out there but I've been reading a bunch of the indie books published on the same day as mine (Amazon groups them together initially, for lack of a better grouping system for unknown works) and 75% of them are illiterate junk. Don't get me wrong, a few of those other books were really good, but most aren't worth paying for. What makes mine better? I'll be rude and say, a modest talent for words, the ability to spell and various mechanical things like that. That, however, isn't a reason to buy my book, it's only a reason to be careful what you buy in more general terms.
So what sets my book apart? My feedback so far says I've written a book that's really entertaining, flows well and keeps people interested. My book's new, so I'm happy with that for now. I hope it's enough to convince others to give it a try.
In the world of Indie, marketing is very difficult, especially if you don't have the funds to pay for it. Have you found a great free way to market your work that you think other Indies will benefit from?
nope :( Ideas?
Well, my blog's slowly, grudgingly, picking up steam. Apparently I write very honestly on it, which people seem to appreciate. I doubt it's leading to sales (yet) though.
Links to find, follow and generally stalk Raymond's writing: ;P