Hi Hugo. Thank you for chatting with me today. Let's start off with an easy on: what is your book about?
The Stolen Thief continues a sub-plot from the prior book, The Prison Planet of the Mah-Lahkt. Glaive the thief has gone undercover for a special mission for the King which falls apart and he seemingly disappears. Qualtan insists on finding him, but the King, who has some bias against the thief because of his half-orcne heritage (orcnes being these bestial creatures they usually war against), won’t allow it, so the knight decides to go against his wishes and find him anyway. In the process, he uncovers the truth about the legend of the Dokahlfar and the Vartahlfar, evil elves and their dwarfish companions that controlled an unknown technological magic, and ends up having to forge a truce with a band of servants from Those That Stand in Shadow (evil creatures that are recurring villains in the series), to attempt escape from the clutches of the Dokahlfar, while not trying to kill each other in the process.
There’s adventure, excitement, and further developments in Qualtan’s growing schism with the King, especially from the way his close friend Glaive has been treated because of his mixed orcne race. In addition, there is the return of a knight that fled from a battle back in Book Two. In each book since then, I’ve been showing snippets on what has been happening to this character. His fate, along with that of a mystery character revealed in the last few pages of The Stolen Thief (a mystery character, by the by, that was referenced way back in Book One that probably no one will ever catch, heh heh), will lead to what happens to Qualtan in Book Five of Forging of a Knight – Knighthood’s End.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead characters from your book?
That is a toughie! No one specific comes to mind, but someone along the lines of a David Wenham (who played Faramir in the Lord of the Rings movies) would have the right “look” and presence for Qualtan.
Glaive the half-orcne thief would be even tougher. Being this sarcastic, distrustful, glass half-empty kind of a character, and yet still loyal to Qualtan and their friendship, would require the need for a combination of the snarkiness and deadpan comedy of a David John Battley (sadly deceased), similar to his role as Ergo the Magnificent from the movie Krull, and Roddy McDowall ala his role as Cornelius in the old Planet of the Apes movies (another great actor that has long since passed). Maybe your readers can help me out on that one, lol…
I'll let you know if any of my readers send me some suggestions! What are you working on at the moment?
The rough write-through for Book Five of the Forging of a Knight series, Knighthood’s End! The so-called curse Qualtan has been dealing with since the start seems to finally come through at last. Will he betray his knighthood, become a hunted fugitive, and lose everything he has, all for the sake of a love forbidden? The title might just give it away…
Well good luck finishing that book! What was the hardest part of writing this book?
When you build up an ongoing series, you want to ensure that (a) the characters grow and the storyline progresses, built up by sub-plots and the actions of one story to another, but at the same time you want to make sure that (b) the next book in the series can still stand alone and be accessible to a new reader without getting bogged down with too many bits from the books that went before it. Having all these references to strange names and stranger places from prior tales can only confuse a new reader and make them lose interest.
Those are very good points. Do you write every single day?
I try to – sometimes I can be really productive and get a handful of pages in, other times maybe just a thought or paragraph to expand on later. If I hit a wall, I’ll take a few days off to recharge.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write what you have a passion for, and not just to follow a theme or fad – the honesty of your writing will definitely shine through. Also, be patient with your ideas, and take the time to hear what your characters have to say. For some variety, I switched a supporting male knight in Book Two of the series into a female knight, not thinking much beyond that, but she literally took a life of her own, taking the storyline into a whole different area I hadn’t thought of and becoming a bigger part of the overall saga, improving it as well.
It's amazing how characters can take over your story. Is there any person/s that has inspired you to write Forging of a Knight, The Stolen Thief?
Notwithstanding the aforementioned cartoon, for the entire series, I have given thanks to quite a few people – of course, my wife for giving me the gumption to write the stories now, not later, my mother and father who had always supported and encouraged my voracious reading habits, but especially my 7th grade teacher. She introduced her class to the creative wonder of role-playing games as a means to teach leadership and teamwork, and was also a big fan of fantasy herself. After that, I was really blown away by the concept and never looked back.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There is usually a subtle hint of acceptance and redemption in my stories, where the worst is assumed from certain individuals or groups until they are given a chance – such as Glaive in the first book, a certain Giant in the second, and of course, the wild and crazy band of orcnes in the fourth – another life lesson I wanted to touch upon, and one that really hits hard when you get to book five…
What books have most influenced your life most?
Tolkien, of course, with regards to the introduction it gave me to fantasy. Although I write fantasy, I have always loved the intellectual battles of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, which helped me to think of questioning things in a logical manner and not just be taken in by the passion of an argument vs. the facts behind it, and the atmospheric detail of an H.P. Lovecraft where there was such a blend of invented mythology and real life locales the reader could easily become confused on what was real and what was not if they didn’t dig deep enough – another life lesson to be wary of!
What genre do you consider your book(s)?
Fantasy, epic fantasy. Action and adventure could be included with that, I would guess.
Do you ever experience writer's block?
Sometimes I get in this zone where it’s all flowing easily and I’m afraid to step away from the laptop in case I forget to add something – but then after awhile I start to feel burnt out and the ideas kinda fade away. I start to lose patience and I realize I need to step back and let it bake on its own, instead of trying to force the writing. I’ll just decide to ignore the writing for a few days and do something else, like biking or hiking, anything not related to sitting in front of a keyboard. Then, the interest comes back and I get excited again to pick up where I left off.
How hard is it to establish and maintain a career in fiction writing?
It’s definitely a challenge, especially when you balance a full-time position in the “real” world, a spouse, a child, and other interests as well. You really have to be organized and block time into a schedule and follow it, just like you would any other project. Of course, you have to be flexible at the same time, and not chastise yourself when something comes along that forces you to re-prioritize. My son is good at keeping me on top of my game, since I’m usually writing when both he and my wife are asleep or busy. The tough thing is that’s usually late at night when I’m propping up my eyelids with toothpicks to keep myself from nodding off as well……and that’s only the writing piece! Then you have editors to work with, cover illustrators to partner with, and marketing, marketing, and more marketing. That takes more time and effort than the actual writing, but you still need to find the time to do it all. If you are familiar with the British romantic comedy sitcom, “As Time Goes By”, about two people (played by Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer) who fell in love in their youth and lose touch only to become reacquainted some 38 years later, you’ll get the in-joke when I say every author should have an Alistair Deacon by their side, and I hope I find mine one day! (That character was the owner of a publishing company that took one of the main characters under his wing to personally assist in the promotion and marketing of their auto-biography with some pretty hilarious results!)
Thank you for all of you thoughtful and in-depth responses and good luck with your continued writing!
o Amber Gregg o