Last month, I was persuaded/brainwashed by two acquaintances of mine--T.L. Gray and Jeff Suwak--into participating in an arcane Internet ritual known as a "blog hop." Apparently a chain of authors have mentioned others on their blogs, leading readers to their blogs, where they would write a bit about themselves and lead readers to blogs further down the road.
It seemed kind of like a benign, friendly version of a pyramid scheme, so naturally I was eager to take part. I'm no expert in blogs or hopping, so if I hop too hard and you fear for your safety, please feel free to stop me.
As part of the hopping process, I'll be answering four interview questions, but I'll get to that in a moment.
First, a bit about the man whose blog proceeded me in the hop, Jeff Suwak:
Jeff Suwak lives and writes in the magnificence of the Pacific Northwest. He is the author of the dark fantasy novella Beyond the Tempest Gate. He is also a regular contributor to The Prague Revue and songplaces.com. Some of his recent short fiction publication credits include The Colored Lens, Plasma Frequency Magazine, and The Writers Tribe Revue. He enjoys being berated on Twitter, and is a velociraptor in human skin.*
Blog/Site -- http://jeffsuwak.com
Twitter -- https://twitter.com/jeffsuwak
Facebook -- https://www.facebook.com/authorjeffsuwak?ref=hl
*I may have added the bit about the velociraptor.
Now, I'm supposed to answer four questions! I did not come up with the questions; they were provided to me by a person or persons of unknown origin. What terrifying webs we weave when first we play the blog hop game.
1.) What am I working on?
In the immediate present, I'm responding to blog hop questions.
In the very recent past, I was shaking in bed and trying to recover from exhaustion-related illness stemming from last week's release of City of Light.
However, to actually answer the spirit of the question, I will soon be moving on to my next project. When I pull my quivering mass back together and muster up some energy, I'll be embarking on my next project: deciding which of my many ideas I want to write next. I'm starting a new series, the first book to be released this fall...and I don't know what it's going to be. It's an adventure for everyone, isn't it?
It's not that I don't have any ideas. To the contrary, I have far too many viable story ideas, and now I have to pare it down to the best ones. My favorite idea right now involves two books released simultaneously. One of them follows one character through the story, and the other follows the same events, but from the perspective of a different character. Since the two characters are opposed to one another, and they go through completely different events over the course of the story, the books would look very different. They could be read separately, but if you read them together, you get a lot of context that you would miss otherwise.
That sounds like a lot of fun, but it would require me to write two books at once. That may be...ambitious, for a fall release.
2.) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Man, I had a hard time not responding to this question with a joke.
The Traveler's Gate Trilogy, my only completed work at this time, differs from most fantasy novels by virtue of being quick, streamlined, and light on detail. It's relentlessly focused on plot and action, with very few of the slow, world-building stretches that make up most works in the genre.
Not that I have anything against the big, doorstopper fantasy books. Far from it. But that's not the story I wrote.
I also do my best to play on reader expectations. The Chosen One isn't the hero, the rebels aren't necessarily the good guys (nor is the empire totally evil), and the crazy old hermit who trains the young hero is actually crazy.
I also try to blend a dry, quirky sense of humor into the books. That's less of a strategic consideration on my part, and more of a compulsion. I've tried writing stories without jokes before, and I couldn't stay awake long enough to get words on the page.
3.) Why do I write what I do?
Because fantasy is inherently more interesting than any other genre.
I may have started some fights with that statement (then again, on this blog, maybe not), but from my perspective it's true. Take the craziest thing that's ever happened in history, and then imagine that it was all part of a hyper-intelligent dragon's mad plot.
See? Inherently more interesting.
I write fast-paced action fantasy because I feel like there's a niche for that, especially on Kindle. There are certainly some great action-driven fantasy novels out there, but they seem to be vastly outnumbered by the big, plodding historical tomes. I had a theory that there were a substantial number of people out there who wanted to see some smaller, quicker fantasy novels focused around vivid magic systems and engaging action scenes.
So far, it looks like that theory was correct.
4.) How does my writing process work?
There's lots of procrastination involved.
Honestly, having the idea, fleshing it out, and coming up with an outline is the easy part. I could do that stuff all day. I barely have to think about it. To me, the part I have to work on is actually hammering out a first draft. That requires weeks and months of daily sitting down and pounding out words, all the way until you have a complete story. Then comes the editing, of course.
To me, the hard part of the drafting process is keeping myself disciplined. A lot of times I'll finish a scene, and a powerful force will take over my body, completely out of my control. When I regain consciousness, I'll realize that I've been on Reddit for two hours.
Definitive proof for spiritual possession? You be the judges, ladies and gentlemen.
I have to enlist family and friends to badger me into working at a steady, disciplined pace. They provide me with the accountability I need to work at this job like a professional. It helps now that I have fans badgering me on my blog, too, I'm not going to lie.
Even with all that, though, I often let tasks slip through my fingers until the last possible minute, at which point I have to lock myself into a cave for two months with no TV, Internet, or entertainment of any kind until the project is done. I'm looking at you, City of Light.
So those are my answers. Revel in your newfound edification.
I'm supposed to call out three other writers to continue the hop, but I didn't contact anyone. Therefore, go on and check out Lewis Dix. He's the author of I, Minion, a fun fantasy novella about the battle between a Hero and a Dark Lord as told by one of the Dark Lord's skeletal minions.
I don't know Lewis in real life, but he comments on this blog every now and again, and he even helped edit City of Light. He's a cool guy, and his book is both short and cheap. There's a link above, but I'll link it again now:
Check it out!
Several things to cover today, but first: if you'd like to discuss heavily spoiler-related topics about City of Light, do so in these comments!
Honestly, if you're trying to avoid CoL spoilers, you should probably not be messing around in the comments sections of any recent blog posts. But I thought I'd give you a place to speak freely, anyway.
Second, an update on my status--I'm in Santander, Spain! And also sick in bed!
It turns out that pushing myself to release a book, and then immediately leaving for a convention in Boston, and then turning right around and flying to Spain...well, it wasn't the healthiest idea. The morning of my flight to Spain I woke up with a high fever. I choked down medicine and went anyway, because the tickets were non-refundable, but I've been bedridden and recovering for about 24 hours.
This is one of the reasons I haven't been responding to comments since CoL was released. Reason #1: I needed a break. Reason #2: I've been both incredibly busy and sick.
That's the bad news. The good news is that City of Light has already sold about 4,500 copies! It's selling hundreds of copies a day and staying pretty steady in the Amazon Top 200 Best-Sellers, which is mind-blowing. It even cracked the Top 100 for a while, rising as high as #86 on the Amazon Best-Seller Charts, and I can barely believe that. If you had told me last year that I'd be on the Amazon Top 100, I'd have said something like, "No, not in the next year. God willing, maybe in the next ten years."
But you guys came through. You're all my favorite. Personally and individually.
So anyway, the total novel sales have risen to roughly 76,000. I'm hoping to crack 100K by June 2nd, because then I could say I sold a hundred thousand books in my first year, which would just be fantastic. I don't think I'd be able to tell that to anyone without cackling like a mad emperor.
Anyway, I'll be putting up some more posts pretty soon regarding the future of the Traveler's Gate universe, my summer plans, the new series I'll be starting this fall, etc. Once I recover, hopefully.
In the meantime, discuss City of Light in free, spoiler-full terms!
(For those of you in the U.K., it usually takes a little longer. I don't know why--it's a weird thing on Amazon's end.)
Now off I go to PAX East...and hopefully I'll get to sleep on the plane.
It's all in Amazon's hands, now.
By this time, most of you know the drill: the book will show up on the Kindle Store sometime in the next 4-12 hours. It won't show up on my Amazon author page at first, but will instead appear when you search "City of Light," or "City of Light, Will Wight."
First person to find a working link to the page, please let the rest of us know, and I'll re-post the link through all the media at my disposal.
As always, it's been a pleasure.
I had to attend the UCF Book Festival yesterday, even though all I really wanted to do was work on City of Light. But I had a good time, and we had a lot of fun at the fantasy panel, so I don't regret it.
However, one of the most common questions I got was about the gender of my reader-base. People kept asking me who read my books, or telling me which gender should like my books.
As I dodged those questions like it was gym class, I started to realize: I don't even know.
One of my personal philosophies is that you need to aim at a specific target audience when you're writing, so I know exactly the sort of person I was aiming to hit when I wrote the Traveler's Gate Trilogy. But who actually read and liked the books?
So I started thinking. How do I talk to people who read and liked the books?
And here you are. So, if you would, could you tell me who you are? This is solely for the purpose of allowing me to answer this question, and will not affect my future writing (in case that worried you, for some reason). Also, I think it's an interesting question to know.
All that said, the poll:
I received these awesome pictures yesterday, but I couldn't post them because...you know, April Fools. Everyone would assume it was somehow a trap.
But now that it's April 2nd, I'm free to share this cool story with you: about six months ago, shortly after the release of Crimson Vault, I got an email from a fan named Aaron Hetherington. Aaron wondered if I could explain the different symbols/banners for the various Territories in more detail, since I only give a vague overview in Crimson Vault.
I described the banners as best I could, and then I didn't hear back from Aaron until yesterday. It turns out that he and a graphic artist friend of his, Sara Miller, had come up with banners for each of the eleven Territories in the Traveler's Gate Trilogy.
I'm not going to lie to you: they're pretty fantastic.
If these banners tickle your fancy, and you'd like to hit up Sara for some commission work, I hear she's available here: http://saraphimcreations.elance.com
This is one sample of her work, and you can hit the jump for the other ten:
Ladies and gentlemen, I couldn't be more excited to announce my new partnership with Facebook!
All my future novels (beginning with City of Light) will be published through the social media website, and will include the full social functionality that I know you've all been missing in your reading material.
At the end of each page in the book, you'll be prompted to share your progress to your Facebook page, to let all your friends know just how fast you can read. All Facebook users will be allowed to leave comments in the book itself, which are viewable by any future readers and cannot be removed. This is your chance to make a permanent mark on your favorite ebooks, so leave as many comments as you can!
Facebook is very committed to your privacy, so they will never share the details collected during your time reading my books. Your average reading speed, the facial expression you made when your favorite character died, the number of minutes you spent reading on the toilet or in questionable social situations...those are some examples of data that Facebook will collect, but would never release to anyone they didn't absolutely trust to keep a secret.
These improvements will take a little time to implement, of course, so we're "adjusting" the City of Light release date to reflect the changes. You can expect CoL sometime around September 21st, 2017.
And, of course, all my future releases will be announced using the patented "GRRM Calendar" - with dates ranging from "It'll be a while" to "It's done when it's done."
Look forward to the new Facebook-enhanced Traveler's Gate Trilogy, coming "soon!"
Of Killers and Kings Progress:
"Until it was time to get back to work."
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