What inspired you to write this book?
Immortal's Discord is the second book in the Chaos Rising trilogy, so in the truest since, I wrote this book because I already wrote the first, Tarinel's Song. LOL In all seriousness though, I have always felt there was a great deal lacking in fantasy fiction when it came to the interaction of the actual Gods with their mortal followers. If you look to the classic myths – which essentially is what modern fantasy is supposed to be inspired from – the heroes are always either matching wits with or in some way seeking to overcome the whims of the Gods. This is a critical element missing from modern fantasy, and both of my epic fantasy series seek to explore the foundation, origin and relationships that must exist between deities and those who they compel to worship them.
Can you give us an interesting fact about your book that isn't in the blurb?
The whole point of this series is to demonstrate the evolution of religion in a fantasy setting – in this instance, the Trinity – who were the original three Gods of the Eastern Realms' pantheon – have been splintered: one is dead, one is bound captive, and the other has taken absolute control of the remaining Gods. Millennia later, they are all once again coming towards a grand confrontation, and it is inevitable that the mortal realm is going to get drawn into the conflict.
How did you choose your title?
I wanted to theme the series around sound – Tarinel's Song, Immortal's Discord, and Stranger's Silence (the as-yet unreleased conclusion to the series) represent the progression of sound – a song escalating to discord then falling to silence.
Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.
I have been working with Eda Christianson on creating a theme for the series covers, as well. We did an original cover for Tarinel's Song that was not well received, and Eda had the idea of using symbology instead of a picture to improve it. She then used Celtic designs to characterize how the Hand, a critical relic in the story, might have been depicted in holy scripture. I loved it so much, I came back to her to do the same for this book, and her Celtic conception of Tumolth, the dragon tyrant of this story, was just perfect.
Did you self-publish or publish traditionally and why?
I self-published, primarily because traditional publishing is just so hard to break into anymore. When anyone can throw ten thousand words together in a word processor and call it a book, it is incredibly hard to have genuine works of fiction stand out. After years of rejections, I eventually found out how to self-publish, and this has been my primary method of releasing my books since.
What do you consider the most important part of a good story?
I was once told that if you could not relate to the characters of a story, there was no purpose in writing it. So I have always held to the ideal that the characters of my story must not only exist and move between scenes, but their motivations must be clear and relatable. Even if the reader does not like the character, they should always be able to understand their reasons for doing things.
What is your writing process?
Complicated. I spend months thinking of where I want the characters to go, how they will progress there and the motivations needed to get them from where they are to where I want them. As I mentioned above, my stories are largely character driven so the movements of the characters must be mapped out fully in my mind before I ever write anything down. Once I feel I have a good idea of where and how the characters will progress, I create a rough outline before I begin actually writing the chapters – I do not do anything solid in preliminary stage, since I have learned from hard experience that a story is always fluid until it is finalized in text. Only when the chapters are written can I consider the story set in stone.
How long have you been writing?
I first started writing as a teenager, when I first started getting the dream of creating my own stories. Of course, those stories met with the same rejection I spoke of earlier, so it was never a solid, committed practice. I would write stories, seek to have them published, and then abandon them when no one would accept them (incidentally, those early stories have pretty much been lost through the years). I began to publish my own books through Amazon back in 2011, and have been publishing consistently since.
How did you get started writing?
To me, writing just seemed a natural extension of reading. As I read, I would get new ideas, and committing my ideas to paper just seemed a proper evolution of the material I was absorbing through reading.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I would probably fall somewhere in the middle, though I would definitely lean more towards plotter than panster. As I mentioned before, ideas evolve as I write, and I have found that trying to create a concrete diagram of where I want my story to go is counterproductive to my creative process. But I most certainly spend a considerable amount of time and energy planning where I want my story to go and what the ultimate objectives of the story are.
What part of the writing process is the hardest for you?
Fact checking and referencing. Especially when working with sequels, it is incredibly important to maintain a consistent story web and not create conflicting elements. So there is a constant need to go back to what has already been written and make certain there are no contradictions as I move forward with the story. In the case of my Oz-Wonderland series, I am having to check against sixteen previously published stories (fourteen original Oz books and two Alice stories), so that is even more daunting.
What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?
I do not believe I have approached writer's block in the same way twice. Sometimes it is a matter of walking away from the work for a period while the story ideas stew, and other times it is just a matter of sitting down and forcing myself to write and let my own doubts about where the story is going fall away through the creative process.
What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?
I love music – as a consequence, I cannot listen to music while I write, or all I want to do is sing along...
Who is your favorite author?
I have shifted between favorites through the years, but right now I would have to say my most consistent favorite is Terry Brooks, though I have had Sara Douglass, Raymond E. Feist, Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin and others take the top spot in the past.
Who is your favorite character from a book?
To be honest, I cannot say I have had a favorite character since George R.R. Martin killed off Rb Stark...
What is your favorite book?
Hard call, but I would have to say it's a toss-up between Wayfarer Redemption by Sara Douglass and Sword of Shanara by Terry Brooks.
Read anything good lately?
Lately I seem bogged down in books that have great reviews but are disappointing when actually read. Just finishing up Stephen King's Dark Tower series, for instance, and I was sorely disappointed...
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I am having a lot of fun working on resurrecting Golden Age comics through my Golden Age Preservation Project. I have been converting public domain comic books to Kindle Format for a modern generation.
What advice would you give an author just starting out?
Three things: First, write. Do not worry about whether the story falls well into chapters or structure, just get the idea written down. You may have the greatest idea in the world, but if you do not commit the idea to paper (or in modern sense to a word processor), you will never have a story to share. Second, do not be afraid to ask for help. If you try to do it on your own, you lose the opportunity to share in the wisdom and experiences of others. Finally, if everyone who have read your work loves it, not enough people have read it – don't fear the negative review. Listen, absorb and learn from it. How else can you improve your talent if you are not challenged?
Have you had anything else published?
Immortal's Discord is my sixth novel. I have two books each published in my Godslayer Cycle and Oz-Wonderland series, and of course Tarinel's Song from this series. I also publish an ongoing comic book trivia series (Ron El's Comic Book Trivia series), which presently has ten volumes (Volume 11 will be published in July, 2014).
What's your next project?
Back to the Oz-Wonderland series for the third book, The Wonderful Alice of Oz.