A couple of weeks ago I was approached by an author on twitter who asked me if I’d like to participate in an ‘Interview Swap.’ Through the process, I’ve met the whip-smart and extraordinarily creative fantasy author, A. Wrighton. You can see my side of the Q&A on the A. Wrighton blog here.
Thus far, I’ve been able to accommodate any requests for interviews (Love ’em), but I’ve yet to actually interview someone myself. So I said, “Sure!” and started brainstorming a list of questions. I should’ve asked her why she enigmatically goes only by the letter “A”, but, as I said I’m only a novice interviewer. Here’s the Q&A I managed:
Tell us a bit about yourself (bio):
I started writing when I was really little, about 5, and at that point I had been telling stories for a few years. (Yes, seriously). I’ve dabbled in every kind of writing you can think of – fan fic, video games, comic books, novels, novellas, short films, web series, feature films, animation, etc. – and love helping and networking with other writers. I’ve lived in or visited almost every state in the U.S. and I was once fluent in Spanish, Latin, and Arabic. I have a B.A. in English/Literature and I took home the highest honors for my M.F.A. in Creative Writing program. I like fruit, coffee, and football and when I am not writing, I am hiking, sleeping, or playing with my family & two pups.
And a quick blurb on your book:
World War II with a victorious Third Reich – with dragons and less guns.
What? You said quick!
It boils down to this: Defiance: Dragonics & Runics Part I is the first in a quartet of epic novels that enlist you in the Resistance movement against a tyrannical dictator who has successfully murdered the entire race of magic-wielding people, the Runics. Following a Prophecy slated to free Solera and return the Realm to greatness, the Rogue Dragonics – Dragon Riders who disobeyed the order to slaughter the Runics – search for The One and the Five Catalysts that will enact the Prophecy and restore freedom and Justice. The Rogues have a breakthrough when they decipher a predecessor’s log and realize one Runic – of untold power – escaped the Council’s grasp. Find her, and the Resistance will be one step closer to the Prophecy’s success. The only problem is – they aren’t the only ones looking for her.
What inspired you to start writing? How old were you?
As long as I can remember I was telling stories. My first recorded (on paper in my mother’s garage) was in Kindergarten when I was 5. I think it has 11 words total.
How would you characterize your writing style?
I don’t characterize my style. I write in my own voice and what you read, is who I am. I bend the rules but only because I know and respect them. If you are looking for traditional styles – I’m not your author. What other people say ranges from a female Edgar Rice Burroughs to an astute student of Hemingway.
How did you come up with Defiance: Dragonics and Runics?
I fell asleep listening to the History Channel. It was either a show about Dragons or Hitler. I honestly don’t remember. I just know that I woke up at around 4 am, grabbed a pen and my notebook and scribbled down (I found it recently): “WW2 with dragons. Don’t &$@! with the dragons. Magic.” After that, I took my love for dragons and history and wove together a story that hopefully serves as a warning to its readers and really calls into question the extent of a person’s humanity in extreme circumstances.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. It’s really easy to say in retrospect that if put into the situation the characters in the Dragonics & Runics series were put into, that you would do the right thing. But then, what exactly is the right thing? Who decides that? Where’s the line? And, if you were actually there – in the war, in the battlesky or in the cities – would you still do what you think you will? There are limits to a person’s humanity and this series really opens that conversation up to the readers.
What books have most influenced your life most?
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
The Pern Series by Anne McCaffrey
The Ancient One by T.A. Barron
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Tim O’Brien. He’s so brutally honest and his characters are so truthful and raw. He bends rules to wield a better story. I just love everything he writes. It’s pure genius.
What are you reading now?
A colleague’s book. Can’t divulge too much now!
What are you working on right now?
The second book in the series – ALLEGIANCE: Dragonics & Runics Part II, the young adult paranormal fiction episodic that I host on my website, and then the third episode on the webseries I co-created and write on – Things Left Unsaid.
Do you see writing as a career? Or just a hobby? How else do you fill your time?
Career. It’s my calling. Right now, it’s not my day job but it will be. I fill my time with my day job and my family. That, and I sleep every third day or so.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing? Writer’s block, etc.
I don’t look at things as challenges but as puzzles. I don’t subscribe to writer’s block so, no go there. What I do find challenging is being an indie author in a not-so-friendly-for-indies book world. That’s changing, but it’s still got a ways to go and that can wear down on the indie author.
Do you plot out your books or just shoot from the hip?
Both. I work with a bare bones skeleton and then – if it’s an intricate weaving of plot and subplots (like Dragonics & Runics) then I note card it. Otherwise, I just write.
Who designed your cover?
The amazingly talented Anabel Martinez. She’s well known for her video game art and has amazing fans. I saw some work she did of a character for a video game that was kinda slated as a propaganda poster and I was all – HER! I MUST HAVE HER! I think I started my email with that too…
Who did your trailer?
I did but with some help. All the trailers feature voice-overs directed by Scott H. and there are three different actors that lent their voices to it: Michael Monks, Kiriza Bajos, and Erin Bennett. They’re amazing. The music I get royalty-free from Kevin MacLeod. He’s wicked talented!
What was the hardest part of writing Defiance: Dragonics and Runics?
Figuring out where to “divide” the books (parts) properly so you have a microcosm plot that furthers the series plot and doesn’t cut short the subplots. It’s like knowing where to step on a rickety bridge.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Network and work on your craft. Write, write, write. Edit. Edit. Edit. Don’t give up. Don’t stop. And, don’t take failure as an option. Learn from your criticisms and mistakes and get better. Oh, and get used to not sleeping so you can finish that story burning in your mind’s eye.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
You think you know what will happen and to whom, but you don’t. I didn’t even know on some of them. They surprised me, now I will surprise you.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
My heritage is that of a German Jew on one side. You’re probably going “eesh” right now and you’re right to do so. We don’t have a family tree anymore. They’re just… gone. So, really delving into the Third Reich and Hitler and his powerful oratory skills was a challenge. I can’t make the Chancellor seem flat and I wanted him to be as realistically twisted as Hitler was. But, I hate him. Hitler’s one of the only people I will ever hate. He earned it, if you ask me.The other challenge was keeping everything sorted. Thank god for my OCD organizational skills and making a production bible. It’s often referred to as “My Precious.”
Thoughts on a zombie dragon?
Bad. Ass. Can it have an acid fire breath? Oh! And maybe… his wings are mainly bone with just these rotting sloughs of skin and wing membrane. He can eat goat brains!
Thanks for the great idea, A.W.! I knew you were a kindred spirit as soon as you mentioned Tim O’Brien. The Things They Carried blew my socks off… and I loved McCaffrey’s dragon riders as a kid! I’ll definitely have to check out Dragonics.