Today we have fantasy author James Eaglewood on the blog. He published his first book in August, 2015 and has sold almost 500 books in two months, which is quite a record for a newbie indie author, especially one starting out these days.
Why did you put pen to paper and write your novel in the first place? Why did you care to do all the hard work?
I’d been thinking about the story for a few years and came to a point that I couldn’t keep it to myself any longer. The moment I started writing the story I found that I couldn’t stop; it was more of an obsession or need rather than a desire. Writing my story allowed me to enjoy and explore this world I had created, changing it and adapting to it. I once described the process as being akin to a god in this defined world and it is hard to draw yourself away from this. I can be sitting on the train and be seeing and creating entire landscapes within my mind, which I then have to put down so that it becomes real. I don’t see it as hard work, regardless of the effort involved. I’m at my happiest when I’m talking about my story and the way it develops. The process of editing is laborious, I will confess, but in no way would I consider it a chore. The difficulty of the work cannot be underestimated, but the actual creation and description part of writing is easy for me.
Can you share the summary of your book with us?
I’d be happy to. Imagine a world where every living creature has magic. From creating massive balls of fire to moving mountains to simply being able to change the colour of their hair, everyone has something that makes them special. Now imagine that there is a person without magic living in this magical land. Janus is a pariah, born without magic in a world that rejects his whole existence. He lives in the country of Aurelia, a land wholly embracing its magical roots with the ruling twelve mage guilds keeping people in line and warring with each other. After a chance encounter with a young guild mage, Janus finds himself thrown into the chaos that is the guild of Magi Avia, where he tries to survive in a world that wants nothing to do with him. However, Magi Avia is no stranger to strife, and the guilds may return to warring with each other soon enough. These are the Tales of Aurelia. This is the first novel in the Magi Avia trilogy, an epic fantasy tale full of adventure, conflict and magic.
Any childhood incidence which inspired a scene in your book?
All authors put a piece of themselves in the story they write, whether it is intentional or not. The four main characters in my novel represent parts of myself and some of the struggles they go through are ones I personally have dealt with. I would not consider any of these ‘incidents’, but I’ve been around and had a few interesting experiences. Although I will admit that a few of the action scenes are derived from my own fighting experience, as I have a history of martial arts and so on.
Any novel that you read recently that just blew you away?
I don’t seem to read as much as I should these days, but the last book that really knocked me out was: The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. Not only does it have the best title ever, the first three novels in Stephen R. Donaldson’s series are some of the strangest and harrowing fantasy novels I’ve ever read. However, that makes them fascinating. You start out hating the main character (because of what he does at the start) and then you pity him, then you understand him. At no point do you like Thomas Covenant, but you enjoy the world around him. It’s not the easiest read because of the main character, but for fantasy it really fascinated me.
Who are your favourite authors?
I have several across different genres. For fantasy, I grew up reading Raymond E. Feist’s Magician series. The first three novels: Magician, Silverthorn and a Darkness at Sethanon are some of the best books I’ve ever read. I also love Robert A. Heinlein’s novels, particularly Time Enough for Love. Asimov’s series are also classics and I love his work. Other authors I like include: Stephen King (because of the imagery he can create and the interesting stories he tells), Dan Abnett, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Tolkien and many others.
How do you deal with clichés in fantasy?
There are some terrible clichés in fantasy, such as the hero saves the day, the princess who needs rescuing and many others. Dealing with clichés is primarily a case of recognising what is a cliché and how to avoid overusing them. They are easy to fall into and recognisable for the reader, as we all read them. I guess a lot of it comes down to looking into a part of the story and seeing whether it is an original idea or falling into a cliché. You can have a character that becomes powerful over time, rather than get a sudden power-up or falling into the deus ex machina. The occasional cliché is not the worst thing in the world, but you can also turn it on its head and catch a reader by surprise by going against the cliché.
Describe the world in which your story takes place.
Aurelia is a country filled with magic, mages and all manner of creatures and conflicts. It is a place that is constantly at war with itself and the countries that border it, but that is only because it is a place of magical influx. In this land there is a forest that grows trees in a matter of hours, a desert that increases and decreases depending on the amount of blood spilt in it and a changing landscape as the mages live their lives within. The population of Aurelia are split into several groups, primarily mages and civilians. Everyone in Aurelia has magic; it is just a matter of degrees. This can be as simple as playing music without an instrument or the ability to move mountains. At this time, the country is led by the Twelve Guilds of Aurelia, made up of different factions of mages that at one point or another have been at war with one another. They protect and help civilians or exploit them depending on the guild and the political strife between them is drawn from a civil war that happened two decades earlier. But that isn’t to say that Aurelia is only full of conflict and death. People love their lives and go through their own battles beyond the wars of their companions.
You self-published your book, right? Did you submit to trad publishers before doing so? Any plans to go trad in the future?
Yes, I did self-publish my first novel. I didn’t bother submitting it to a traditional publisher, as I know that as a debut novelist in a saturated market I would just be a number on a spreadsheet. The plan was always to build up an audience online and then transition to traditional publishing, but if I can get more people to read my stories online then I will certainly continue that. I have other novels that aren’t fantasy in the works that I would prefer to submit to an agent and a publisher purely because the market for them is more towards traditional novels.
You are from Australia aren’t you? Any chance we might see a kangaroo in your later books?
Haha, that’s a funny notion. Unfortunately no, there are no marsupials in Aurelia. In fact, there are very few ‘traditional’ animals at all. No cows, chickens, horses or anything like that. There are some bunny rabbits and insects though. Most of the creatures in my story are either mythological ones or ones of my own creation.
How was the process of publishing like for you? I mean the editing, cover designing etc. Did you get outside help or were you a one man army?
The process of publishing was slow at first, but a learning experience. I had a cousin who is a graphic designer make the book cover and I couldn’t be happier with her work. The editing was at first my own work, but after getting some feedback from people I am getting it professionally edited and will be releasing a second edition hopefully soon. You can’t edit it on your own, this much I have discovered.
What’s the best thing about the craft of writing?
Easily it is the freedom that you have. If I want to do something in a story I can, though I don’t have as much freedom over my story as I originally thought. I am as much a slave to my creation as anything. The fact that I can have people talking about something I created, enjoying my work and discussing characters that I have struggled with. The past two months have been a confirmation of what I had been hoping to achieve.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I think we’ve covered everything, thank you for the interview. I’m glad to share my experience with people and I’m glad people have been enjoying the read.
You can visit his blog at http://www.talesofaurelia.tumblr.com/