1. Describe your book and its inception. What made you decide to write this?
“The Stones of Andarus” is the first book in The Devenshire Chronicles series. It introduces us to the main characters and sets up the premise for the rest of the series. A demented Master Mage named Xavier annihilates a village in order to obtain the Stones of Andarus, which legends claim contain a fragment of the power of creation mixed with the twisted essence of a crazed sorcerer named Andarus. Daimion Devenshire realizes what is at stake and sets off on a desperate quest to stop Xavier from unleashing the unholy power of these three ancient artifacts. Joining him on this adventure are a group of unlikely heroes including The Lady Brianna Standish, governing lord of Prothtow Province, Shantira Dubris, sole survivor of Xavier’s attack on her village, Raven Darkseed, rouge adept of the Mystical Arts and Zandorth Krahl, Warrior of the Ancient Class.
What made me decide to write this was a desire to write in a genre I had never tried before. Prior to “The Stones of Andarus”, I had written manuscripts in multiple genres including westerns, science fiction, and detective/thrillers. I had always enjoyed a good Fantasy story and one day in 1998 I decided to try my hand at it. Little did I know that I was setting out on a story that would dominate and consume me for over a decade.
2. What were your influences? Is there anyone from your genre you especially admire?
My biggest influence when it comes to writing is Ms. Joynelle Pearson. When I was 13 I had a very explosive temper. One day that temper led me to punch a brick column in my schools court yard. Needless to say I wound up in the nurses station with an ice pack on my very swollen hand (thank goodness nothing was broken). Ms. Pearson happened to walk by and saw me sitting there. She lifted the towel over the ice pack and shook her head. She looked up at me and said, “You really should get a handle on that temper of yours. Have you ever tried writing a short story about whatever it was that angered you?” That piece of advice started me down the path of becoming a writer. At first they were just really bloody and violent short stories. As time went on I found that it really did help ease my temper and I really enjoyed the writing process. Those initial short stories started being expanded with actual plot lines, character development and so forth.
My other writing influences include Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Clive Cussler, Dean Koontz, Louis L’Amor and, of course, Tolkien. In the Fantasy genre I really enjoy C. S. Friedman, P. N. Elrod, and George R. R. Martin.
3. Many authors are heavily influenced by their environment when they write. Where is your safe space? Do you have mood music?
I don’t really have a designated place to write. Sometimes I write at my desk, sometimes I write in my backyard, and sometimes I write in my bedroom. I would have to say that my muse decides the environment I’m going to write in.
I absolutely have to have music blaring through my headphone when I’m writing. I have a very long playlist of all types of music on my computer. Everything from rock to rap to instrumental to big band to jazz, the list is practically endless. Sometimes I’ll pull up an Epic Music track on YouTube and write to that. Like my writing environment, it seems my muse picks the music as well.
4. What do you find to be the easiest of the writing and editing process? What is the hardest for you?
The easiest is the writing of the first draft. I don’t worry about the mechanics of writing, I just write, let the ideas flow and hope my fingers can get the ideas out as fast as my mind is producing them.
Editing gets tedious after the fifth or sixth time through the manuscript, but I enjoy the process of seeing where I’ve made mistakes and how to keep myself from repeating them. I also have a very talented editor (Rogena Mitchell-Jones) who has been a tremendous help in improving my editing skills.
The hardest part of the writing process has to be starting a new book. The excitement and urge to write are so strong and yet, getting that first sentence out has always been the hardest part for me. I’ve spent hour upon hour staring at that blank screen and blinking cursor and… nothing. I have lost count of how many millions of first sentences/paragraphs that I’ve deleted trying to get that new story started.
5. Many authors participate in book signings and conventions. Artistic authors like yourself who write and create for this genre do especially well at ComicCon and Comicpalooza. Are you interested in branching out into the event world? What would your ideal celebration of The Devenshire Chronicles look like?
I would love to branch out into the event world. I think book signings, conventions and other events where I can introduce readers to the world of The Devenshire Chronicles would be ideal. The perfect celebration of The Devenshire Chronicles would feature a booth with copies of all my books for sale, all sorts of book swag, portraits I’ve created of all the characters and a monitor set up playing the book trailers and other videos I’ve created for the series. I would be there signing copies of the books and talking with people about the books, writing and other creative processes. It would be great.
6. Did you learn anything about yourself or the world you live in by writing this book (that isn’t included in the book itself)?
Over the 16 years that I’ve been involved in The Devenshire Chronicles, namely The Stones of Andarus, I’ve watched myself grow as a writer and a person. I go back to the original first draft of Book 1 and I almost cringe at how bad the writing was. At the time I thought it was the best piece of literature ever produced, but looking back on it now, I can see how much I’ve grown. My wife has read both versions and she has made the observation that I’ve seasoned as a writer and a person since I began this story. As I have grown, I can see how the main characters of the story have grown as well. I have learned that while my skill as a writer has improved tremendously over the past decade, I still have much more to learn and that there is always room for improvement.
7. How have your friends and family reacted to your content?
My friends and family have been tremendously supportive of my writing. I have to temper their praise with the fact that they are my friends and family, but it’s good to have that kind of support.
One of my friends is hooked on the series and is always asking me when the next book is coming out and that I need to hurry up. She says she actually misses the main characters in between books and can’t wait for the next one.
My wife, Renee, is, without a doubt, my staunchest supporter and the primary reason Book 1 was ever published. When I met her three years ago I had given up on ever publishing The Devenshire Chronicles. She read part of “The Stones of Andarus” and encouraged me to keep writing. She has become my sounding board for story ideas and keeps me on track when I get discouraged or distracted.
8. What are your future writing plans? Do you have other books in the works?
I am currently working on Book 3 of The Devenshire Chronicles entitled, “The Amulet of Talmara”. I’m hoping to have it released later this year. I also have ideas for a pirate novel, a science fiction novel, a western, a post-apocalyptic novel and another Fantasy novel as well.
9. Tell me about your art ventures.
After I had released “The Stones of Andarus” I wanted a book trailer to go along with it. I had watched several book trailers and started playing around with a movie making program. I produced a crude trailer but I was never completely satisfied with it. I needed/wanted characterizations of the characters in the book and I didn’t want to use someone else’s artwork or photographs. I saw the trailer for “Sanctum of Souls”, a work in progress by Bex Pavia who is a friend of mine. She had 3D representations of her characters and I was blown away by that. I asked her how she made the characters and she introduced me to a 3D graphics program.
Over the next couple of months I played with the program, watched tutorials and experimented until I was finally able to produce the first 3D rendering of Daimion Devenshire. That was a very powerful moment for me. I had always pictured Daimion in my mind, but to actually “see” him was incredible. Once I had 3D portraits of all the main characters I started revamping my book trailer and found that I absolutely love doing that sort of creative work, almost as much as I love writing.
Since then I have gone on to produce a book trailer for Book 2 “Predator & Prey” and have gone back and replaced the text-on-screen in both trailers with my own voice over work.
I have also produced a video which is a remake of the original “Hawaii 5-0” intro. In the remake I call it “Prothtow 5-0” (Prothtow is a province in the books) and I use the characters from the book as its “stars”. I did it for pure entertainment value and the fact that I so enjoy making these videos.
I have found it’s a good outlet for me when I have a particularly bad case of writers’ block.
10. If there was one thing you’d want fans to know about you, what would it be?
I don’t write these books to become rich and famous (though I won’t deny the more pleasant aspects of that thought). I write these books because I want to touch people the way I’ve been touched through someone’s writing. I pour everything I have into these stories so that maybe, just maybe, someone will read them and feel like we have some sort of connection. I want people to read my work and feel like we had one hell of a good time together and it leaves them with some very warm and fond memories.
The Stones of Andarus (Kindle/ paperback)
The Stones of Andarus on Smashwords
The Stones of Andarus book trailer
Predator & Prey book trailer