Author Interview: Mark Stallings

0. Name, please! Mark Stallings

1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

I am working on the second book in my Silver Coin Saga series titled The Animals. It is Wuxia (Woo-sha), basically Asian Fantasy with martial magic, Martial arts powered by magical energy and a heavy foundation in Chinese martial arts. Specifically, Xing Yi. This book is the second year at a school for martial magic fraught with intrigue and a sus history lesson the main character and his companions know is false.

2. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

I have two books out. My most recent release is a Sci-Fi collaboration with Matt Novotny titled ‘Prodigal Son’ set in the Four Horsemen Universe. The other was the first book of the Silver Coin Saga, The Elements. It introduces the characters and magic system set in a magic school. I am currently working on book two in the series titled The Animals, where the characters have to navigate learning the next level of martial magic and find out who is trying to kill them.

3. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

Editing. I am a firm proponent of putting out the best product, but there is a point in going through edits where you just want to be done with it.

4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

I really love the ideation process. Getting all of the hooks together and the beats in the right order. I am an extreme plotter and work through the concept to story structure to using contour for the beats to building the outline. That is the part where it is really fun for me.

5. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

David Eddings had the knack for building believable characters from diverse cultures and weaving it into a cohesive story that created characters we cared about.

6. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

In order to put you on a path where you could realize your potential, and see there is a greater, more wondrous world out there, I had to set in motion the destruction of your village, the slaughter of some of your friends and family, and people trying to kill you. Look at you now. (this so sounds like Unbreakable)

7. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

Well, Me, Xan, Cho and Sue from my books, along with Tyler Vernon from John Ringo’s ‘Live Free or Die’ are playing poker for a bottle of Grade A: Dark Color & Robust Flavor Maple Syrup. Xan and Sue will be out early. They aren’t good at bluffing. Cho will go down with an ‘I’m all in’ but will lose to a straight. I’m a decent poker player so I think it will come down to me losing to Tyler on a bluff as he will figure out my tells.

8. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

Wuxia is Asian flavored fantasy. It isn’t Chinese history. That’s the first trap. The second is that you don’t have to invent a new martial art, just use one of the existing as a basis. Take a couple classes. Talk with the instructors. Doing is infinitely more better than watching a thousand hours of videos. (yes I did that on purpose)

9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

I am looking forward to a June/July release of Book Two – The Animals and rolling right into Book Three – The Phoenix, which I hope to have both at DragonCon.

Right now my favourite thing for food is experimenting with monkfruit sweetener. Lakanto has a brownie mix that is Keto friendly and Gluten Free. (check the box for chocolate recipe) and I have used it for cinnamon roll filler and almond paste for crescent rolls.