Tag: interview

A Conversation with K.S. Villoso

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally from Manila, and now living in Canada, K.S. Villoso always wanted to write. She writes in the Fantasy genre. Book One of her trilogy The Agartes Epilogues is out now and the next two books will be released in April!

Purchase on Amazon

Book Description:

It has been years since his brother’s accident. Kefier was only just beginning to live a normal life–at least, as normal as it could get for a mercenary from a run-down town. And then an errand goes wrong and he finds himself holding his friend’s bloody corpse.

Already once branded a murderer, he is pursued by men he once considered friends and stumbles into the midst of a war between two mages. One bears a name long forgotten in legend; the other is young, arrogant Ylir, who takes special interest in making sure Kefier is not killed by his associates. The apex of their rivalry: a terrible creature with one eye, cast from the womb of a witch, with powers so immense whoever possesses it holds the power to bring the continent to its knees.

Now begins a tale with roots reaching beyond the end of another. Here, a father swears vengeance for his slain children; there, a peasant girl struggles to feed her family. A wayward prince finds his way home and a continent is about to be torn asunder. And Kefier is only beginning to understand how it all began the moment he stood on that cliff and watched his brother fall…

JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us a little about yourself.

I had a colourful childhood, most of which I spent in the slums in Manila, up until we immigrated to Canada in my early teens. The only daughter of two civil engineers, I followed my parents’ footsteps and pursued an education in civil engineering myself; however, I’ve always been a writer first. I now live in a village near Vancouver, Canada, where I can walk out of my backyard straight into the forest. I share my life with my husband, children, dogs, and the occasional garbage-stealing bear.

JRR: Children, dogs, and bears: Oh my! 😉 It does sound like you have had an interesting life. Did you always want to become an author?

Yes. It was one of my first answers to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When we lived in the slums, I was not really allowed to go and play outside with the other kids, and there was no Internet or cable TV or libraries, so I spent a lot of time re-reading the same old classic novels and writing on a 1 gb hard drive computer my dad built for me out of old/spare parts.

JRR: A 1 gb hard drive computer! Wow! But you had to work with what you had. What inspires you to write?

All of my writing revolves around character exploration, no matter what the genre. I like digging deep, discovering complex relationships, motivations, backgrounds, all of which culminate into character growth.

I also really like world-building, and have a large world in which most of my epic fantasy stories are set in. I love creating new cities and then exploring them; I also like getting my characters to travel through all sorts of natural and magic-made wonders.

JRR: What does your writing process consist of?

Once I have an idea, I type a lot of outlines or summaries for it. I want to have a clear picture in my head of what this story is going to be about and what facets of the main characters I want to explore. I also want to have a clear picture of the main scenes—particularly the beginning, turning points, and the end. This means it may take years for a novel (or series) to “bake” in my mind. Afterwards, I’ll generally write a deeper outline (lately I’ve been doing chapter-by-chapter outline) before I start writing.

I follow an organic process when I write: a lot of things change during the actual writing process, and I allow my outlines to evolve. This means I could be creating new outlines for every change that happens in the manuscript itself, which is labour-intensive, but I love the results so far. Characters I’ve doomed to die in the outlines may end up living after all, or the other way around; actions change as the manuscript delves deeper into their motivations.

JRR: You have quite the process! Things can always change while you are writing and characters could ‘take over’ with what you plan to do for them. What kind of advice can you give to aspiring authors?

Always question the quality of your writing, and always aspire to do better than you did yesterday. Keep writing and don’t compare yourself to other writers. Everyone had a unique voice, and you can only be “better” than yourself, not better than anyone else. Also, writing is hard—it’s supposed to be hard. It’s one of the most worthwhile things in the world you can do, so don’t let thoughts of money or fame distract you from what’s truly important, which is to give life to stories that only you can tell.

JRR: That is great advice! Who was your favorite author as a child and who is your favorite author as an adult?

I loved Jack London when I was little. I still do, but I’ve added to the list: Guy Gavriel Kay, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ursula Le Guin, Robin Hobb, G.R.R. Martin, and I’m sure there’s others I’ve missed.

JRR: What can you tell us about your series The Agartes Epilogues? Book one is out now and the other two will be out soon.

The Agartes Epilogues is an epic fantasy series brought down to a “human level”. It consists of an epic plotline that is told from the point-of-view of three minor characters, who have their own selfish motivations. These POVs are contrasted with Interludes from both side characters and the actual “heroes” of the stories (people who carry out heroic deeds and represent traits like duty, everlasting love, honour, and sacrifice). In the series, I explore themes of love, redemption, legacy (specifically as it pertains to children), and purpose.

The entire series spans a whole ten years or so, but the books themselves are actually fairly light and quick reads (for this genre). There is a lot of focus on character interactions and dialogue, as opposed to descriptions.

Jaeth’s Eye, which is Book One, is currently out now, while the last two books, Aina’s Breath and Sapphire’s Flight will be out this April 2017.

JRR: Good luck with the upcoming releases! Who is the target audience for The Agartes Epilogues?

The Agartes Epilogues is for fantasy lovers who enjoy characters, particularly those who enjoy full immersion in characters’ lives, their problems, and their eventual growth. You don’t even have to necessarily like the “epic” aspect of fantasy (or even like fantasy at all—I’ve had a few of these readers), although that will certainly help you appreciate the politics, wars, and the scale of the worldbuilding.

JRR: Where did you get the idea for The Agartes Epilogues? Was there anything that influenced you to write it?

It actually started out as a JRPG my boyfriend and I were designing back in high school, using RPG Maker (I forgot which version). I had the main plot consisting of a disgruntled hero and what he did to the world and an entire cast of characters all ready, and ended up getting to the second town before I realized I wanted to do more than the medium allowed. I ended up writing the first novel right after high school graduation, but I did it from the point of view of a side character, one who wasn’t featured in the game, and instead pushed the heroes (the main cast) to the background.

I would later rewrite that same novel several times before it finally became Jaeth’s Eye.

JRPG stands for “Japanese Role Playing Game”, which is a genre of video game that usually involves linear gameplay, a party of characters, and levelling up by defeating enemies through random encounters while walking around dungeons. RPG Maker is a software for developing video games–you can find out more here.

JRR: If you could have dinner with three people (living or dead) who would they be and why?

Also supposing I don’t have social anxiety…probably Ursula K. Le Guin, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Robin Hobb, who are some of my most admired authors in the fantasy genre. And I just want to sit there and listen to what they say to each other and absorb that information.

JRR: Maybe they could give you ideas on future novels! 😉 Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

Thank you for this opportunity for an interview, and don’t forget to visit my website at http://www.ksvilloso.com.

***Thank you for your time K.S.!

Contact K.S.:
Website
Facebook
Twitter @k_villoso

Blog Tour: Anglesey Blue

Today is my stop in the Blog Tour with Bloodhound Books for Anglesey Blue by Dylan H. Jones. Today I will be interviewing Dylan!

Book Description:

A Gripping New Serial Killer Thriller

MURDER. BETRAYAL. REVENGE.

It’s not the homecoming Detective Inspector Tudor Manx was expecting, but solving the case is just the start of his problems.

Recently transferred from the London Met to the North Wales Constabulary, Detective Inspector Tudor Manx has come to Island of Anglesey hoping for a quiet life. But his hopes are dashed when a brutally mutilated body is found crucified to the bow of a fishing boat sending shockwaves through the peaceful community. Manx’s faces pressure to solve the case quickly equipped with an inexperienced team.

Is the body a message or a premonition of more murders to come?

Adding to his mounting problems, Manx’s troubled past returns to haunt him. Manx left the island after the disappearance of his younger sister, Miriam; a cold case that still remains unsolved. Can Manx solve the case before the body count rises? How will he cope when he is forced to choose between his family and his duty as a police officer?

This is the first book in the thrilling new DI Tudor Manx series.

Anglesey Blue is available now!
Amazon US
Amazon UK

JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us a little about yourself.

Dylan: I’m a native of Wales who now lives in Oakland, California with my wife Laura and daughter Isabella. I was actually born and spent much of my young life on the Island of Anglesey before moving to the North East of England at the age of seven. We returned to Anglesey when I was fourteen years old. I could still speak the language, but my abilities to write and read Welsh had remained at those of a seven-year-old. (Not much Welsh education to be had on the outskirts of Newcastle). I moved to Northern California in 1999, but visit the UK at least once every year.

JRR: That is great that you are able to ‘return home’ at least yearly! Did you always want to become an author?

Dylan: I always wanted to write: whether that was as an author, scriptwriter, journalist or anything that included putting pen to paper and putting form around ideas. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have had a career that allowed me to be creative and to write. I worked for Channel 4 as a producer back in the day, which was an incredibly creative environment to work in, and I’ve worked in TV in some form ever since. Today, I run my own video content agency.

It took me quite a few years to gain the confidence to paint on a larger creative canvas, and to even begin to attempt a novel. Now it’s actually done and published, I couldn’t be more thrilled an I’m off to the races on book two.

JRR: That’s great that you were able to accomplish all of that! What inspires you to write?

Dylan: Many things. Other novelists, great TV drama, even just a line of a lyric can inspire an idea or spur a scene. Sometimes, it’s just that niggling itch that needs to be scratched.

JRR: When that itch needs to be scratched you better do it! Which leads to my next question: What does your writing process consist of?

Dylan: I think I’ve whittled it down to three basic elements:

  1. The initial story idea: which involves a lot of wandering around my own head and whispering sweet “What if’s?” to myself for quite a while until the urge to write it down becomes too great.
  2. The sketch: like a artist, I like to sketch the bones if the story down first, then begin to add the colour, shade and the lighting as I re-write.
  3. The sweep up: going back a few pages on the story at the start of every writing day and sweeping up the bad stuff I wrote yesterday.

I’m not one for plotting the whole story out before hand. I like know the skeleton of the story when I start, and often know the very last sentence of the book, but the joy is putting flesh on the bones and enjoying the journey that leads me to that last sentence.

JRR: Even if you plot out a story the characters could, ‘take over’ and change everything you had planned! I like how you know what the last sentence is. That last sentence is important and can sometimes change everything in a book!

What kind of advice can you give to aspiring authors?

Dylan: It’s a cliche, but just write; and of course read as much as you can. Theres no substitute for actually tying yourself down in a chair and pounding at the keyboard. It’s hard work, it’s sometimes joyful, oftentimes frustrating but there is no better way to earn your chops as a writer than just writing.

JRR: Good advice! Just write. Who was your favorite author as an a child and who is your favorite author as an adult?

Dylan: As a child, I loved the Famous Five stories, then graduated to the Pan Books of Horror short stories in my early teens- which may explain a lot.

As an adult, I have incredibly eclectic tastes: TC Boyle, Sadie Smith, Stephen King, Jo Nesbo, Val McDermid. I’m always looking for authors that move me with their words and can spin a great yarn. As a writer, I think you learn from every author you read, so why stick to one genre?

JRR: I’m like you. I don’ stick to one genre of books. If it interests me I will read it! Anglesey Blue takes places in Anglesey, Wales where you are originally from. You now live in California. Earlier you said you still visit Anglesey. What made you want to base your novel there?

Dylan: Yes, I visit around once a year, sometimes more. My parents, sister and most of my immediate family still live there.

As a fan of Scadi-Noir, I often felt Anglesey had the same brooding undercurrents bubbling away at its core. The island is rich source of ideas and inspiration. It was voted the 2nd most popular tourist attraction in the UK last year and people often only see the island as a tourist destination. I wanted to throw a different light on the island and show that beneath the scenic beauty there is also a seam of dread and evil, albeit fictional.

JRR: That sounds good! Give a different perspective of the island, even though it is fictional. Where did you come up with the Detective Inspector Tudor Manx character? Is he based off anyone you know? What can you tell us about his character?

Dylan: He’s not based on anyone I know, but he is a greatest hits compilation of many people I know. He’s a deeply troubled man who’s looking to alleviate the burden of guilt he’s felt since the age of seventeen when his younger sister, Miriam, vanished under his supervision. That year became the most traumatic of his life and led him to move away from the island, leaving his family behind.

Over thirty years later, he’s returned to the island, not by choice, but by tragic circumstance. As the DI over the island, he bears a stiff responsibility, and one he takes seriously. For Manx, it’s not just about solving the cases that come his way, now he’s back he has to deal with the demons of his past and the family he’s neglected for three decades. He’s a difficult man to get close to, as many of his colleagues discover. On the lighter side, he does have a penchant for smoking too many King Edward Cigars, enjoys single malt whisky a little too much, only listens to Americana music (Lucida Williams being a firm favorite) and has a cutting, sardonic wit. Some might call that a coping mechanism; I just call it a character trait.

JRR: If readers want to know anything else about him and get to know him then they need to read your book! 😉 What made you want to write a thriller/suspense/crime fiction novel?

Dylan: I’m a huge fan of crime fiction, whether it’s written or dramatized. I think crime-fiction is often looked down upon by the more literary world, when in fact I don’t think there’s a better vehicle for exploring human emotions and desires.

At the end of the day, character is what drives the plot of any crime novel, and I hope in my books I’m creating complex and compelling characters that are pushed by circumstances to turn to crime and the effect this has on the people around them. Even with my most abhorrent of characters, I always want to present a three-dimensional person with lots of light and shade, after all none of us are pure evil or pure saintliness- it’s the degree of how we manage those dueling aspects of our personalities that interests me.

JRR: There is something about crime fiction and true crime that just appeals to people. Anglesey Blue is going to be a series. How many books do you plan on writing?

Dylan: I really don’t know at this point. I’ve began number two, and have a vague idea for number three. I’m definitely going for four books at this point as I always intended to set each novel in a different season, the first being set in the winter.

There’s an arc that connects all the books: the mystery of what happened to Manx’s sister all those years ago. I’m just beginning to figure out how many books I can stretch that mystery over without totally frustrating the reader.

Ideally, I can see the series running for many years and I’m looking forward to writing more of Manx’s journey as he searches for the redemption he’s looking for and hopefully a sliver of happiness somewhere along the journey.

JRR: Sounds like you have a plan and we have several books of yours to read over time!

**Thank you so much for your time Dylan!

About the Author (Courtesy of Bloodhound Books):

Dylan is a native, Anglesey-born Welshman who now lives in Oakland, California with his wife Laura and daughter, Isabella. He has worked as a media executive and copywriter at various TV networks and advertising agencies both in London and San Francisco. Currently, he is owner and Creative Director of Jones Digital Media, a video content agency.

Dylan was born on Anglesey and moved away when he was seven years old to the Northeast of England. His family then moved to the Wirral for several years before settling back on Anglesey when he was fourteen. Dylan studied Communication Arts and Media at the University of Leeds, then moved to Cardiff, working for S4C. In 1993 he relocated to London as a Creative Director with Channel 4 TV. Today, he lives in Oakland, California. His parents, sister and most of his immediate family still live on the island.

Anglesey Blue is the first in a series of crime novels featuring the sardonic, sharp-witted but troubled detective, Detective Inspector Tudor Manx. Dylan’s life, both on and off the island, inspired him to develop the series.

“I love to use my imagination to create believable characters in a setting I know well,” Dylan says. “I want DI Tudor Manx and all the supporting characters to live in readers’ minds for many years. I’m looking forward to writing more of Tudor’s journey as he confronts the demons of his past to find the peace and redemption he’s searching for.”

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A Conversation with Aaron J. Lawler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A teacher for fifteen years, Aaron J. Lawler first thought he would become a professional illustrator. But he is now a published author with the release of The Marvelous Paracosm of Fitz Faraday and the Shapers of the Id on November 3, 2016.

Purchase on Amazon

JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us a little about yourself.

I have been a teacher for fifteen years and have published peer-reviewed studies in humanities, technology, game theory and education. My mother taught me to tell stories, my father taught me to think independently, and my wife pushed me to try. I am a classically trained painter and hold advanced degrees in the humanities, education, and technology. I am in love with my wife, my two kids, and my dog; and always will be.

“I am a traveller in both the world and in the library. Writing allows me to design the journey, where I will go, what I will do, and who I will meet. Adventures in Europe, Canada, the States and Mexico opened me to new ideas. Philosophical jaunts changed who I am and the way I think. But writing allows me to wayfind. I can engineer a compass for my own path, following my own direction. The mindscape is an amazing place for a daytrip.”

JRR: You have accomplished a lot and now a published book! Congratulations! Did you always want to become an author?

I am a classically trained painter, and one point in my life thought I would become a professional illustrator. Trying my hand at the trade, I found myself stifled. With endless parallel and extradimensional planetary worlds orbiting about in my imagination, I always thought the vehicle to sharing these would be through illustration. But I found that I much prefer the written word when it comes to world-building and character crafting. Painting slows my process down too much. My mind wants to invent, sprout up new places and sights and sounds with ludicrous speed. And the brush, the canvas, the whole process limits me too much.

I have found that I prefer to paint watercolor landscapes and mixed media portraits as a form of relaxation – something that actually lets my mind quiet down. Whereas writing is the opposite. Writing for me is painterly process but at superspeed. I can craft entire gardens, or ocean floors, or mystical forests with rich and lurid detail in mere moments and then continue my Aslan-like painting process by filling the world with the sons and daughters of my visualization.

JRR: What inspires you to write?

A combination of things really… I was interested in creating a way to explore magical realism and fantasy in a contemporary setting so that it felt real or possible. But I didn’t want the magic to replace the realism, just live beside it, so that I could invest in my characters. I also wanted to create a place that felt like now but wasn’t quite right – I intentionally left out cell phones and the internet to create a timelessness. Lastly, as a teacher I wanted to craft a book that met literacy standards like Common Core but was just a really good story, so this became an homage to Mark Twain.

I always say: Read. Read everything! Read good books, read bad poetry, read news articles, read the back of cereal boxes. Inspiration is not some mystical force, it’s a natural way the mind works. We are hard wired to solve problems; that is how we have survived as long as we have. To solve problems you need information. The more information you have, the more inspiration you have!

JRR: Yes! Everyone should read! What does your writing process consist of?

My wife once compared my writing process to the Robin Williams’ movie “What Dreams May Come.” In the movie, the visuals are liquid paintings that shift and grow from scene to scene, always lavishly textured, and in a perpetual motion. This is how I write, filling the page with the symbols – in this case words – which represent full, technicolor splashes of life. Painting does not allow me to communicate this way, it is so arduous and would require hundreds of canvases to create the world I want to bring to life.

It is a double-edged sword in some ways. Because I want to create a specific visual in the mind of others – I want to seed them with my thought in the pristine, perfect way I have shaped it. But writing forces me to let go of this. I find myself relaxed at the release of control, at first it was painstaking to simply be – to simply flow. But now, I visualize the image, craft the words with poetry and rhythm instead of color and brush, and that is how I manifest my ideas.

The Marvelous Paracosm of Fitz Faraday and the Shapers of the Id actually pays homage to this process. Although my first novel, this not my first writing (I have even published nonfiction articles with the International Journal of Art and Art History and the Erudite Journal of Educational Research). Yet this novel is so personal because Fitz creates his world the same way I created the world for Fitz and even Fitz himself. There is a meta-element to this novel in that it in many ways explains how I created the “paracosm” – a word here, meaning parallel world sideways from our own.

JRR: I like your explanation of your writing process to What Dreams May Come! I have only seen that movie once many years ago. What kind of advice can you give to aspiring authors?

Initially, I queried nearly sixty different literary agents and publishers. Only three responded back with favourable offers. That much rejection can be hard to take, but it also taught me so much about myself and the process. In the end, when I chose Black Rose it was because they are a small press firm, and I believe in small press – I believe in the idea that more work should be shared with the world instead of relying solely on the Big Four. I am advocate for small press.

But I would say, that the point of this story is that of sixty different chances, only three turned out. I am told this is actually quite good for an industry saturated in new works. So two things: 1) First, be ready for rejection but realize that every failure makes you better; so seek those failures out! It is good to fail! It means you are trying and learning new ways to succeed. And 2) Second, look at small press as an option. The Big Four publishers include Simon & Schuster (a subsidiary of CBS Corporation), HarperCollins (a subsidiary of NewsCorp), Penguin Random House (a subsidiary of Bertelsmann and Pearson), and Hachette Livre. All, but Hachette Livre, are headquartered in New York, NY and two are subsidiaries of large news media organizations. What this means for us? As readers and consumers our choices are filtered through four megacorporations who dictate what should be part of the body of literature we have access too. I am staunchly against this system, even if literary agents and publishers are not. 99% of all published works are not on the New York Times Best Seller’s List, so we are often only exposed to 1% of works being created. My argument is simply, that is it possible the other 99% might contribute to our culture? Is it possible?

JRR: This is a great answer! Be prepared for lots of rejection. There are so many options out there now, be traditional publishing, indie publishing, and even self-publishing. I believe the stigma of self publishing a book means your book is sub-par is vanishing.

Who was your favorite author as a child and who is your favorite author as an adult?

My favorite books as a child were CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, John Dennis Fitzgerald’s Great Brain series, anything and everything Mark Twain, JM Barie’s Peter Pan, I was in love with anything by Maurice Sendak but particularly Where the Wild Things Are, and I loved the Choose Your Adventure series – I would spend countless hours at the library reading these. I also enjoyed Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders series, and Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. Later I became a fan of Orwell and Bradbury.

JRR: Tell us about your book The Marvelous Paracosm of Fitz Faraday and the Shapers of the Id.

So here is what is on the book jacket: After witnessing the murder of Professor Oliver Crowley, who has invented a way of bringing thoughts into physical reality, Fitz Faraday and his friends must exonerate the town bully, who is being framed for the murder. Using Professor Crowley’s inventions, Fitz soon learns he can bend the field of Id, a sea of golden dreams and wishes. Fitz finds himself drawn inside a new world he never knew existed. He hopes he will be able to use that world to help his friends and even his enemies. To do so, he must master Crowley’s technique of “Thought becomes light and light becomes physical.”

Hook: Fitz Faraday punched Freud right in the face, and told the world he was his generation’s Tom Sawyer. You see, you cannot tell if this true or not, because Fitz Faraday treats the Id like a Wunderkind prodigy bending spoons. With the quirky fun of the Back to the Future trilogy, Shapers of the Id is a modern day coming of age, inspired by the wit and antics of Mark Twain.

Pitch: The newly orphaned teen, not only struggles with bending reality but also coping with his mother’s passing and living with his grandmother, his cuckoo aunt and his snivelling, little cousin. From childish escapades at the beginning of this bildungsroman, Fitz falls in love with the new girl in town, witnesses his mentor’s murder, defends his bully against false charges, and confronts his mentor’s true murderer. His hero’s journey prepares him for bringing the boon of Id-shaping to the Dreamtime. And that is how Fitz Faraday disproves Freud. The Marvelous Paracosm of Fitz Faraday is a fantasy/sci-fi, coming of age series, modernizing the yarns spun by Mark Twain. Its first instalment, And the Shapers of the Id, is a story complete unto itself and rounds out at about 90,000 words.

JRR: Who is the target audience?

So my novel is a young adult book and targets 6th – 10th graders, but certainly can appeal to a wider audience, specifically anyone with a little imagination and sense of adventure! I wrote the novel for this age group because I wanted to help encourage youth/teens to read. Reading was such a big part of my life when I was younger (and still is today!) and it saddens me that readership is down. I thought if I wrote something fun, unique, and enticing that maybe students might be compelled to try something new.

JRR: Hopefully you will reach that with the younger readers out there! And I like that the main protagonist is a boy. I could be wrong, but it seems like so many books come from a female perspective. Where did you get the idea for The Marvelous Paracosm of Fitz Faraday and the Shapers of Id?

I have been toying with this idea of bending reality and the dreamworld for quite some time. Originally the story was much different. It began with a boy who could transform into his superego – a story I think I will someday revisit for sure. But over time I removed a lot of the overly complicated and redundant parts and brought it down to a simple idea – a boy, his world, and how he copes. I have always been fascinated by science, religion and philosophy and so these ideas come together in the story. Psychology blends with the fantastic and philosophy borders physics, where I get to toy with the very nature of reality. It was so much fun to write, that I cannot help but want to make more!

JRR: I know the book just came out a few months ago, but are you thinking of future novels to write now?

The Marvelous Paracosm of Fitz Faraday and the Shapers of Id was written with series potential in mind (Even the title was structured that way so that it would always be The Marvelous Paracosm of Fitz Faraday and the…). So my plan is to put Fitz in new challenges and new landscapes, refining his abilities to turn thoughts into reality. But I also want to chart the progress of his internal growth as well as his supernatural growth. The debut novel was as much a discussion of morality and truth as it was “what would it be like to have superpowers?” Both are fun to write about, but for vastly different reasons.

I also plan to incorporate a more diverse pantheon. The first novel offered a perspective of small town America which was populated by predominantly white, working class or middle class people. I would like to broaden the scope and add characters who bring different perspectives to Fitz’s world. For instance I am working on a character that has background in Eastern philosophy, who will bring some ancient ideas into what Fitz is doing. The groundwork for this was laid out with Josey’s parents (they are academics) but I think I can dig this even further with a character that has a far more personal connection. She is also a female character, adding another powerful woman to the cast (Josey is of course a pretty substantial character already!).

JRR: That’s great that you are thinking of future novels with Fitz! Now, If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be and why?

Hands down, Phillip Pullman. I love his worlds, his characters, and his plots. He just creates this rich tapestry where you become completely immersed. And I would simply ask him, “How? How did you create this world for His Dark Materials?” Pullman’s work is so complex that it reads almost like philosophy, and he intentionally challenges traditional ways of thinking.

I would also love to speak with Neil Gaiman. His works have been a huge influence on my own writing style and patterns. Specifically the way he treats dialogue and unfolds action. And I would ask him, “Is there a point where you find you are going too dark and you bring it back to the light? How do you know when? And why?” Gaiman is so prolific! He is always working and always creating. I love that energy and I just want to be around someone who has that kind of passion.

Lastly, I would really want to speak with Stan Lee, famed Marvel creator. My original interest in becoming a writer is largely because of comic books. And I originally saw myself as an illustrator, but realized that I was far more connected to the story rather than the visual. I think I might ask Stan Lee about this – what is the difference between the visual and the story? And when he writes, does he think in pictures or dialogue? Stan Lee is a treasure trove of wit and knowledge. I met him once, but it was at a photo op so you were not supposed to talk to him. He did tell me “Good job!” when I followed the rules, and it was a pretty neat day. He didn’t say “Excelsior!” but I was happy just the same!

JRR: Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

I am currently working on some vignettes – shorts set in Fitz Faraday’s world. They will star different characters, but will serve as the bridge between the first novel and the sequel. My hope is to have the first one of these vignettes wrapped up in March.

Also, as a big thank you to my supporters I recently launched the Fitz Faraday Fanart Fray (4FContest): a chance for you to create an original piece of art—drawn, painted, digital, or in any other two-dimensional format—that depicts two or more characters in a scene from the story! #MPoFF #4FContest. Submit your original artwork inspired by the book “The Marvelous Paracosm of Fitz Faraday and the Shapers of the Id” for a chance to have your artwork showcased in the special edition of the novel! Here is your chance to become a published illustrator (looks great in your portfolio!)! More information can be found here.

**Thank you for your time Aaron!
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