- 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’ve just finished the second book in my series. Well, the third draft of it, at least. Book 1 took me 4 years to release, and I finished the attached novella – Free Worlds of Humanity 1.5: Short Stories from the Free Worlds; at the same time, that book will come out in January of 2022. Book 2 in the Free Worlds of Humanity saga, Tensions Rising, is where most of my focus is now. I’m refining it through my process to make sure all my characters stay in character, and I don’t leave any plot holes.
2. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.
Free Worlds of Humanity occurs in a distant future society throughout a region known as occupied space that includes Earth. The exact time is unknown because an event had happened thousands of years earlier, known as the Great Darkness, where the whole of humanity on every single air-breathing world abandoned advanced technology and lived in the shadows of their former glory. When the light returned, only a shred of humanity returned with it. As the new civilizations of the Free Worlds of Humanity rose, they all had forgotten what it meant to be good-willed and true to each other. The Great Darkness caused such devastation and loss that those who survived did so through brutality, force and subjugation. Only the Free Worlds of Humanity are considered enlightened now. Each of them is unique, with a common theme of its people living within some form of caste system where most of the population live at the bottom.
In the colonized planets forming the Free Worlds of Humanity, everyone falls into a caste of some kind.
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!)
Book 1, Free Worlds of Humanity, released on 9-17-2021. I began concepts for this story during my senior year of high school in 2001. My original thought behind world-building was to turn it into a real-time strategy (RTS) video game. I drew concepts and wrote in my free time on the physics within the story. I would spend random amounts of time doing it through the years. Then put everything back on the shelf until I felt like doing it again for a few months here and there every year. Around 5 years ago, I found over 300 pages in a storage box that included story detail, world-building, societies, characters and more. My wife raised an eyebrow and wondered where I found all the free time to work on so much stuff. I had no idea what to do with all this stuff. Who would? I had wondered if I should make it into a comic book, try to pitch it as a game concept to developers, or maybe make a tabletop board game from all the details. For the life of me, I can’t remember where the idea to write a book came from, but I spent lots of time researching what to do, which included second-guessing myself numerous times because I had never ever read a book, let alone written one. It wasn’t until I reached out and got a response from Mercedes Lackey, a NYT best-selling published author with over 135 books on the market. She convinced me to write this book myself, which is what I did. Without her push, it might never have happened. I started writing the first draft 4 years ago and finished it within 90 days at 300,000 words. Then the refining started.
What I found interesting through the process of writing it out was how much real-world events started taking shape with similarities to how the rich politicians of Free Worlds acted and responded to public affairs. The reason book 1 took 4 years to write was because I had gone through it nearly twenty times from start to finish and kept tweaking and refining. It also went through four rounds of professional editing/proofreading. That extended everything by another year.
I spent more time on my story bible wiki page to expand on the world-building for the series. I’ve always found that when I enjoy a show or movie, the first place visited afterward is Wikipedia or somewhere that has more rabbit-hole falling details that no one would know unless they did a deep dive into it. I wanted that for Free Worlds and created www.FreeWorldsofHumanity.com – a complete detailed lore page filled with everything about the societies, characters, battles, ships, planets, and tons of illustrations.
Something about the story must interest people because I had nearly four hundred sales within the first ten days of release.
The worst part for me is not writing. Because of this crazy process, I’ve spent the last three months working on marketing and networking. It’s left little time for doing what I enjoy most, which is writing the darn thing! Lol. When I get into my flow, nothing stops me at all. I’ve never had writer’s block and don’t understand what that concept even means. Once I sit down and focus, it all flows from my fingers quickly.
4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?
The hard twisted nature of my story. These characters literally crawl through crap, evil, and terrible things occurring within their stories. These people are so strong and keep moving one leg in front of the other to get out. It’s not over the top to the point of being unbelievable. The sense of realism from my advanced readers was something I was complimented on besides my writing style.
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.)
I really wish I could answer this question without feeding you a line… but I can’t because I’ve never read a book in my life. From community stories I’ve read across places like Reddit and Quora, I’ll say that GRRM’s TV version of Game of Thrones was something I tried to model my story after in the sense of the corruption level. If I could learn to do that better with some added humor, that would be cool.
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?
Considering that my story follows five main character story arks through individual POVs, I’d have to refine it down to one of them. I’m picking the one that wouldn’t kill me without hearing me out first… lol. Mace Applegate, an employee from the Federate Corporation, 5th and final of the recognized Free Worlds governments with seats inside the Capitol Forum on the relations station. He’s a calm, calculating man who slowly evolves throughout book 1 to a person who becomes numb to things, and while he might hate me forever, I don’t see him or any of the characters ever believing what I did to them was for the best, he’ll at least let me live.
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?
While I’ve never read a book in my life, I can associate it with the last TV show I watched, which was Foundation. I’d say between Hari Seldon, Gaal Dornick, and Brother Day, around a table with Henry McWright, Kathryn, Mace Applegate, Isabel Sideris and Master Gunnery Sergeant Askar; the stakes are rather interesting.
Math genius might be able to count the cards in such a way as to calculate the odds of winning (Hari and Gaal.) But I could see them being intimidated, sitting across a table with a Dolrinion sentinel in full battle armor with countless markings of battle across his war plate. Henry McWright can manipulate any situation, including people, bending them to his will, and Kathryn, oh Kathryn, wouldn’t spend five minutes playing this game. She’d want nothing to do with it. Mace is a math guru himself, being the best programmer within the Federate Corporation. He might put up a good fight.
The stakes would be simple. Brother Day would want to kill anyone who beat him, Henry would meet the challenge by calling in a Colonial Hellfire assault, Askar might kill everyone if the mood strikes him, and Isabel would be plotting her way of motivating anyone outside to her cause.
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.)
My process is part sprinkling and part winging it. I have a general sense of the direction I’m going in while writing, but as the words come out onto the page, let’s take a general conversation between two characters, it comes to life on its own. I’m not thinking in my head about how the conversation is taking place. It’s literally happening in real-time as I write it. I’ve changed directions numerous times through book one. I also hit a few plot holes square in the face, but it took no more than five minutes to write myself out in a believable way each time. The world-building for me took place over twenty years, so I had a solid foundation in my head on how everything worked without the need to check through pages of writings for reassurance that what I had put on the paper was legitimate to the lore. I’ve never experienced writer’s block. My first draft of book one took 90 days and ended at 275,000 words.
Refining everything is the hardest part. That takes patience and stamina. The only trap I can think of is a trap you set for yourself. Stay off social media, don’t watch the news, or fall into a rabbit hole of arguments posted in your feed. Immerse yourself into character and write. That is also something I do while writing. I turn my brain into the character chapter I’m writing at that moment. I become the character. I think like them and try to sound like them in my head. Character acting in a sense. That’s how I spend each day of writing. One day is a chapter of Henry McWright. I give myself an accent (in my head) and become Henry for the day. Even in real-life dealings, I respond and act as if I were the character for that day. My wife can tell you all about that. I’m a peach on days when I’m pretending to be a 63-year-old warrior who is grief-stricken from endless wars.
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.
The world-building of Free Worlds of Humanity was very important to me and took 20 years to develop. I’ve got so much fun stuff for readers to explore at www.freeworldsofhumanity.com – be warned. There are spoilers there that will give you details from book 1. The attached novella for book 1 will release on January 14th, 2022, followed by book 2’s release in August of 2022. I’ve already started on the attached novella for book 2, which I think will excite readers because of its direction to expand on the lore of Free Worlds. The characters all have distinctive and independent voices, and I think your listeners would enjoy their personalities. Even if they don’t approve of one, there are five to choose from 😊