Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Feature: Case C. Capeheart, author of Beyond The Hell Cliffs



The kingdom of Rellizbix has seen almost a thousand years of victory over the wrathful invaders from the Greimere Empire. King Helfrick Caelum, descendant of the first king of Rellizbix, has already seen victory over the invaders twice while wearing the crown and is poised to ensure another successful defense of his lands. Raegith Caelum is the first-born son no one knows of and spends his days locked inside a keep, away from the public and out of trouble. When he is approached by his royal father to finally leave the keep and embark on a small, safe adventure, the boy jumps at the opportunity. His small adventure: to travel with a group of soldiers beyond the Hell Cliffs, the dividing line between Rellizbix and Greimere, and initiate the next war. Simple, covert and a long-standing tradition, it was Raegith's chance to earn his freedom while serving the kingdom. When the mission goes awry, the half-blood prince finds himself alone in the heart of his people's greatest enemy. But as Raegith survives behind enemy lines and learns the horrible truth of the continual wars that plague his land, his journey becomes less about returning home and more about creating a new one.







What inspired you to write this book?


I originally intended this story to satirize the idea of the “Chosen One” that I kept seeing in other books and movies, as well as poke fun at RPG plots a little. I found that I couldn’t keep it completely comedic while still giving the characters realistic and moving motives and personalities. Terry Brooks has been a huge influence on my interests in fantasy and sword-and-sorcery stories, although my story is a little darker than anything in the Shannara Series, I think.


Can you give us an interesting fact about your book that isn't in the blurb?


For the races in BTHC, it’s pretty easy to tell where my inspirations came from by looking in traditional fantasy (The Sabans are like humans, Twileens are like elves, Rathgar are like Orcs, etc.) except for the Faeir. I actually strayed away from fantasy for their description and headed to a different genre. I actually had the Kaminoans from Star Wars in mind when I detailed the physical descriptions of the Faeir. My apologies to George Lucas.


How did you choose your title?


Almost as an after-thought. I had the entire first draft done and was waiting for my editor to finish when I finally got around to titling it. I had it labelled as The Prophet of Onyx at one point and then simply Raegith at another. Neither of those really fit the final draft, though. I chose the final title because the Hell Cliffs are kind of the balance point of the entire land and going beyond them is what sets everything in motion for our protagonist.


Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.


I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the old fantasy novels from Goodkind, Brooks, Lewis, etc. I guess in my mind, BTHC always had a kind of retro, 70’s fantasy-type cover, but I didn’t want to put any of my characters on it because I didn’t want to solidify their appearance for the readers. My friend does great landscape paintings, among other things, and he agreed to paint the Hell Cliffs for me. I snapped a picture of the finished canvas when he was done and photoshopped in the title. I probably stared at it for half an hour afterwards, I was so excited.


Did you self-publish or publish traditionally and why?


Self-publish. I had always planned to publish traditionally, but with the recent rise in success of self-published authors and the higher royalty rates, I decided to change tactics. I’ve been using the business model of a local author who has experienced tremendous success self-publishing.


What do you consider the most important part of a good story?


Realism. I know this is an odd thing to say for a high fantasy fiction writer, but I don’t mean realism in a “could this really happen” kind of way. You could have a story about shark-headed robots street racing Tokyo Drift-style against reanimated U.S. Presidents and still give your characters real motivations and real problems that might resonate with the audience. I mean, if Hammerhead is racing his Scion TC against Zombie Andrew Jackson’s Corvette for no other reason than the plot demands it, I’m not interested. If he’s doing it because his job on the Moon is driving him into alcoholism and the only way to escape the constant stress of his mundane life is through underground street-racing, well then…


What is your writing process?


I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but I don’t outline. I try to and then fifteen minutes later I realize that I’m no longer outlining, but just writing the book as is. It’s a horrible habit and the plot constantly flails out of control when I do that, but I just can’t seem to write without detail. I have this same problem when someone asks me what my book is about. I can’t just give them a two-sentence synopsis, I have to immediately start reciting the story to them word-for-word.


How long have you been writing?


Since high school. I’ve only been decent at it for the last few years.


How did you get started writing?


I had just finished up the last book in the Scions of Shannara Series and at the time, that was the last book in the series that Terry Brooks had written. I had no idea he was going to write more and I could not cope with the idea that everything was completely over (I was a bit dramatic back then). I opened up a blank notebook that I probably should have been using for my classes and started this epic fantasy with magic and demons and tons of crude, teenage innuendo… and then I let some kid read it and I never got it back. It’s okay, though. This book is WAY better than what I was writing back in 1999.


Are you a plotter or a pantser?


Is it bad that I had to Google this? I guess I could have saved us some time a few questions up if I knew there was an actual term for the way I write. Definitely a pantser, I guess.


What part of the writing process is the hardest for you?


Finishing. I drive my wife crazy with unfinished projects. Gone are the days where I can run up to her and say, “So, I thought of this great new idea…” without her trying to hit me in the face. I have several dozen partially-finished stories on my hard drive that I could probably complete if I was not such a pantser (I’m going to start using this term all of the time now).


What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?


Turn on the Xbox! No, that’s probably not a good tip. I actually experienced the greatest success with overcoming blocks when I realized that if I ever want to quit my day job and just write, then I have to treat my writing as a job. I have to “clock in” or log a set number of hours, but most of all, I have to work at it. If I can’t get past a certain point in a story, I’ll write on another. Writing on something is better than not writing at all and sometimes you can figure something out while just writing the craziest, most nonsensical things you can think of.


What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?


I listen to Pandora internet radio while I write and I have a select few stations I have really refined over the years. I’m a rocker to the core, so I like to put on Chevelle or A Perfect Circle, but I’ve recently been shocked to realize that I like dubstep. It just came on one time and I was like, “What is this?” Also, the Tron soundtrack threw me off guard with its awesomeness.


Who is your favorite author?


My most read author is definitely Terry Brooks, but I’ve found that my tastes have changed a little with age. I’ve started to appreciate stories with social critique a lot more and Phillip K. Dick has just some mind-blowing stuff. The man was ahead of his time with some of his observations.


Who is your favorite character from a book?


David Valentine from the Vampire Earth Series, by E. E. Knight. David is a badass, but he’s not Superman. He gets hurt, he has scars and lingering injuries, he screws up relationships beyond repair; he is human, with all the strengths and weaknesses that entails. I love the fact that every time a new book comes out, I cringe at the idea of him continuing the fight, because at some point I know he’s going to get himself killed.


What is your favorite book?


The Stand, by Stephen King. That was the book that introduced me to the much-beloved post-apocalyptic story. I spent the entirety of that book imagining what I would be doing in a world where almost everyone was gone and only a handful of us were left, scattered and plagued by visions of the Walking Man.


Read anything good lately?


It’s not a book in the traditional sense, but there is a manga called Ubel Blatt that has rocked my world. It’s not concluded, but the artwork and the depth of the characters is outstanding. Do comic books count?


What do you like to do when you're not writing?


I am a gamer at heart. I’m playing Neverwinter Online right now (no, I do not have a character named Raegith, but I will be really excited if I ever see one). I also have a 9-month-old son who I spend lots of time with. I’m training him to be a ninja, because I feel like that’s going to be the hot career field when he gets older. So far he’s only mastered the crawling around on the floor technique and his awful hand/eye coordinatin makes the katana practice a frightening experience for his mother and I, but he’s getting there.


What advice would you give an author just starting out?


Finish. I know that sounds obvious, but finishing is so important. You don’t want to be the would-be author that hyped up your book online and in person and then nothing ever came of it. Because hearing “Hey, whatever happened to that book you were writing?” from everyone is really annoying.


Have you had anything else published?


I had an article published in the newletter at work, once. Other than that, no, this is really it, so far.


What's your next project?


I’ve already begun work on my next novel, Blood Daughter. I’m breaking away from the more, R-rated content of BTHC and trying my hand at YA. Blood Daughter is about an outcast rock chick at a small town high school who finds out that she might be a demon. I know that sounds really corny and maybe like a Twilight rip-off, but I swear it’s going to be good. There’s racism, bullying and at the core of it is the morality question: can one still be good if they were born evil?






Case C. Capehart lives in Oklahoma with his wife, Kristy and son, Jackson. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and served for six years in the 1/180th Battalion of the 45th Infantry Division as a 50 caliber machine gun operator. During his service, Case earned the Expert Infantry Badge and Air Assault wings and was a recipient of the Army Commendation Medal.

Case is an avid online gamer and has written well-received fan fiction for games such as Shaiya, Dekaron and Scarlet Blade. He is also an enthusiast of American comic books and Japanese Manga.  His favorite American character is Marvel's Deadpool and his favorite Japanese character is Yukito Kishiro's Battle Angel Alita.

Case is politically moderate and his works of fiction often elude to the dangers of political extremism. He and his wife are members of the First United Methodist Church.



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