Today we have author James R. Vernon on the blog. He is the author of Bound to the Abyss series. You can visit his website at www.jamesrvernon.com/
1) Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are in your friends and family?
I am a married, high school teacher with two wonderful boys, one 4 years old and my second is only 6 months. Both my wife and I have large extended families which thankfully get along fairly well together. Being a father, teacher, and now writer hasn’t left me a lot of free time for friends, but I do still keep in touch with friends from as early as kindergarten to as late as college and work.
2) Tell us about the ‘Bound to the Abyss’ series. Were they the first books you published?
The Bound to the Abyss is a fantasy series follows a young man named Ean Sangrave and his friend, an imp named Zin. Through blind luck, Ean ‘acquires’ a book that allows him to summon creatures from the Abyss, a seperate world filled with dangerous and devious monsters. The series follows Ean as he comes into the powers he receives through dark rituals found in the book and how he deals with the temptations of power and control.
Bound to the Abyss, and the second novel, Descent into Darkness, were actually at one point a single novel. I felt that the story was too long, however, for an inexperienced and unknown author to release as his first novel, so I broke it into two parts. After a successful Kickstarter campaign to get everything properly edited and formatted, I released both novels within the same year. It was an exciting and intimidating process, but I feel that i learned a great deal and continue to learn with each new release.
3) Your covers are great. How did you first approach your artist? Or did you do the covers yourself?
Thank you! Unfortunately I can’t take credit, although I wish I had the kind of skill involved to produce covers like Mominur Rahman (Bound to the Abyss 1 & 2) and Roman Hodek (Bound to the Abyss 3). I found both artists through the website DeviantArt, just by searching through fantasy paintings and looking for artists that did commissions. Once I found Mominur, and later, Roman, I simply messaged them with my ideas and details and asked if they would be interested. Both artists were great to work with, gave me reasonable prices, and produced covers that I feel have helped sell the books immensely.
4) How many words do you write per day. Do you write daily or in bursts?
I try to get in at least 1000 words per day on something(whether its a current project or something I’m experimenting with on the side), but some days are easier than others. Just like in any other profession, I go through the occasional slump at times while other times I can sit in front of the computer for hours without slowing down. With Enemies and Allies (Bound to the Abyss Book 3), I just wrote whenever, which didn’t really work. It took a lot longer to get the third book out and the more often I got asked when it would be released, the guiltier I felt. So now I set goals and make sure that I’m moving along in the next book in the Bound to the Abyss series at a good pace.
5) How do you manage the editing of your books? Do you use paid editors or beta readers?
While writing, I have a couple of steps I go through. The first is to just get everything down; scenes, major plot points, emotional conflicts and battles, the meat of the story. Then I go back and try to expand on the scenes, adding much more detail about locations and character descriptions. With that step completed and a good first draft in my hands, I turn to outside help.
I have two amazing people I work with to really refine the story after the first draft is done. The first is my beta reader and critiquer, C.D. Verhoff. We found each other through GoodReads while both looking for someone to really rip apart our works. We send each other a few chapters at a time and get back documents riddled with suggestions, critiques, and sometimes even flat out rewrites. Any time I get anything back from her I know its going to be a dozen times better and I’m so thankful I found her and get to keep working with her.
The second person is Josephine Hao, an editor I found through a now defunct website. She gets the final draft of the story and makes sure it is fit to be published. She runs through two or three complete edits of the novel, restructuring sentences, fixing grammar, and finding any oddities or character and plot inconsistencies that need to be fixed. She has been great, holding my hand through some parts and giving me a swift kick when I continue to make the same mistakes. I’ve learned a lot from working with her and wouldn’t want to ever switch editors.
With out these two very important people, my books wouldn’t even be close to enjoyable.
6) Can you remember the first fantasy book you read?
I’m pretty sure the first fantasy book I read was Magic Kingdom for Sale-Sold! by Terry Brooks and the rest of his Magic Kingdom of Landover series. That then lead me to his Shannara series and I’ve been a fantasy novel fan ever since.
7) Who are your favorite authors and film makers?
I would have to say that Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Robert Jordan were huge influences on me growing up. Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, to me, was what the Harry Potter series was to a lot of other people. Anytime a new Wheel of Time book was coming out, I would reread the entire series again just to make sure I knew all of the different backstories going on. More recently, I’ve enjoyed the works of Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Lindsay Buroker, and Michael Sullivan.
As far as film makers go, I don’t really have any particular favorites. Anyone that can translate a great novel to an entertaining movie that’s true to the material, though, is always appreciated.
8) When did you first decide to write and why?
I think I’ve always had stories bouncing around in my head since I first started reading fantasy novels. I enjoyed writing small short stories for school assignments, although I often ended them with everyone just dying in the end (maybe that’s why I’m a fan of Game of Thrones now, haha). The desire to really give it a try came at a funny point in my life. I had been teaching for a couple of years and got transfered to a school that was almost an hour away. This, of course gave, me a lot of time to create the whole world behind the Bound to the Abyss series. Then it was just a matter of getting my thoughts down on paper.
9) Which is your favourite mythical race (dwarves, elf etc) ?
I don’t really have a favorite race. I think it all depends on how they are written. I enjoy classic takes on elves, orcs, dwarves, ect., but I also like when authors switch things up and step outside of the norm.
10) What is the no. 1 thing you would ask a new indie author to do?
Take your time and do it right! With self-publishing as easy as uploading a bland cover and a word document onto a number of different sites, their has been a huge boom in stories out there that could easily have been overlooked by brand name publishers. But easy doesn’t equate to being ready. Take the time to find one or two people you trust to read your story first. Then bite the bullet (and the blow to your wallet) and hire professional editors and artists. What I think sinks a lot of descent authors is a book full of editing mistakes and issues. You’ve put so much effort into writing the novel you deserve to release something that could run with the novels published by major companies.
11) How has writing changed you?
It’s just been a lot of fun. I love hearing back from people that like (or don’t like) the stories that I put out and it has made me appreciate the works of others a whole lot more. I hope I can continue to write for years to come even after I finish the Bound to the Abyss series.
12) Anything you would like to add?
This has been a lot of fun and I hope anyone that checks out my work after reading this interview enjoys the stories I tell.
A. J. Chaudhury is a young author from India writing mostly in the fantasy genre. His historical low fantasy short “A Song of Blood” releases shortly. Click here to download his fantasy novella “The Drabird” for free.