Interview with Melanie Ifield

 

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It’s author Melanie Ifield on the blog today. She writes books for both adults (The Age of Corruption) and children (Chronicles of Novarmere, The Chicken Liberation Army) and has many books under her belt. Despite having long term illness she writes, and is easily the most positive person I have ever had the opportunity to meet online. Be sure to visit her blog https://melanieifield.wordpress.com/

1)Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in country Australia, where I have now returned after years away attending University and then working in both Sydney and Canberra. I studied journalism at Uni but ended up in the public service; a good occupation that gave me the chance to explore writing fiction in slow times. I started writing when I was very young, when my hand writing was so large each sentence took up a page! While I didn’t write so much for many years between then and now, being an author is really al I’ve wanted since I first picked up a book.

2) Tell us about your books.

I write both general fiction and fantasy for a mixture of age groups!

I wrote The Chicken Liberation Army (CLA), a general adventure novel for ages 7-10, after a friend commented that a fox had ‘liberated’ his chickens the night before, putting it like that so as not to upset his son. I quite liked the idea of liberating chickens, but by children with a desire to do what was best, not by foxes, of course! So I formed the CLA, a group of adventuresome children between the ages of 8 and 11 who know that something is going wrong at a new hen farm, so they set out to find the answers for themselves. It was incredibly fun to write, just allowing the children to have an action packed adventure, knowing they’d come home safe.

I also have a general fiction for adults called The Age of Corruption (AOC). This was a longer and harder project, but still enormous fun. It is all about a young woman who inherited a lot of money and turned to parties and alcohol to pass the time. However, she meets someone new, a dangerous someone who has a dark past and an even darker nature, who teaches her some valuable lessons in self-sufficiency and life. They are drawn into a web of hard men, international hit-men and drugs, but it is always told from the bumbling heroine’s perspective – giving the action and adventure a humorous edge. So while yes, it is about crime, it is also quite simply, just a romantic adventure.

Those two are my general fiction and I most certainly want to get back into that genre and both age groups. However, a lot of my time has been taken up with the release of my complete series one of the Chronicles of Novarmere.

The Chronicles of Novarmere is a fantasy series for the ages 12 and up. It has been read by those in their 20s 30s and older, and it appears to translate into the older groups as well as the younger. It is about a boy, an ordinary boy, who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances and has to find the hero within to save the day. It takes him from his home in our world and deposits him in the magical land of Novarmere, where his best friend is the little dragon Nilofar, who rides upon his shoulders, and the ranger Lan, who teaches him how to survive. It is great fun, with strange magical creatures, dragons, wizards and a war – everything I have come to love in fantasy!

3) You write fiction both for adults and children. How different is it to write books for children as compared to adults? Are there any additional difficulties?

I found that content is really the only thing that was mainly different for me. Of course, the children’s books had to have far more cliff hangers at chapter endings to get the younger audience to keep reading and stay off their computer games…! But in general, I write with a sense of fun always buried in my work, wondering what I’d do in any given situation and how much adventure could I handle? The content and themes, like the darker themes behind AOC, are what changes. It has to be age appropriate in danger levels.

The major difficulty is keeping a tight pace in the children’s books that will keep them interested enough to turn the page, want to read the next book, and stay away from the next box-set of DVDs! There are so many things that are clamouring for our time and attention, especially children who are learning concentration skills, it was harder to drive a plot that grabs them and doesn’t let go.

4) How’s a typical day like in the life of Melanie Ifield??

As some of you may be aware through reading my blog, I am not just a writer, but I am also someone experiencing a long term illness. So there is really no typical day for me. Each day is set up when I get up and my body tells me what it feels able to do. With an automatic nervous system disorder, my eyes are greatly affected, so the morning may be a little bit of social media, but screen time is hard and painful, so I limit it severely. I hand write most things these days, when able, typing on the screen as little as possible. A good day may see me able to spend an hour at the screen, a bad day sees me laid up on the lounge chair unable to look at anything.

5) How long do you take to complete a book? Do you edit as you write or after you have finished a draft?

When I first sat down to write the Chronicles of Novarmere, I wrote feverishly. I completed all four books and the CLA in an 18 month time frame. That’s not to say they were ready for publication, but the ideas were there and the characters were set. I’d write anywhere up to 6000 words a day, re-reading the last chapter and fiddling with it every day I sat down at the laptop. I like to edit ideas as I go, but my editor, who happens to be my sister, would say I don’t edit for spelling or grammar at all! Which is not quite true, she should read the first draft… I chop and change sentences as I go to try to make the action sleek, then go back over it all once I’m done to make sure there are no major inconsistencies, like a change of eye colour!

6) How is the publishing process like?

I found the self-publishing process traumatic as first! But now it’s not so bad. I think I must have made every mistake in the book (pun intended!) and still do, but I am learning as I go and find there are loads of groups that have amazing members ready to help out.

7) How do you promote yourself as a writer?

Mainly through social media. But due to the limitations of chronic illness, I’m afraid I don’t promote myself enough! It is a fine balance between rest, writing, research and promotion – one I am yet to master!

8) You have some interesting posts on your blog. For how long have you been blogging?

Thank you! I haven’t been blogging long at all. Only this year. I try to mix things up. It isn’t just about writing and my books, but more how writing integrates into my life and how my life affects my writing; especially how illness prevents the feverish writing I use to do, as I am more likely to do 7000 in two months, then not be able to write for the next two months.

9) Which author and books have most influenced you?

Oh that is almost impossible to answer! I read so much and feel that nearly every epic fantasy author I’ve read plays a part in how I write, as I think everything we read percolates through our subconscious, especially if we loved it. Enid Blyton and Emily Rodda have influenced my children’s books, along with JK Rowling of course! I’d have to say Janet Evanovich had a big impact for my adult book.

 

10) So what’s going to be your next release?

I am working on a compilation of short stories set in the Novarmere world that will bring to light the background of some of the things that happened in the Dark Wizard Series. There are so many books I have in my files, sometimes I do not even know where to start! However, I cannot pin a date to that, as everything takes a lot more time in my world these days.

11) Anything you’d like to add?

Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity. I have enjoyed not only answering these questions, but reading your interviews of others. I can only add to other authors out there that there is so much joy to be had from seeing your books come alive, don’t ever give up!

Happy reading! Melanie


A. J. Chaudhury is a young author from India writing mostly in the fantasy genre. His historical low fantasy short “A Song of Blood” has released and is being acclaimed by reviewers.

To download his fantasy novella “The Drabird” for free CLICK HERE!

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On Writing a Novel in Three Months

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On August 21st this year, I embarked on an ambitious project, that of writing a full length novel in three months. To add to that, the novel belongs to a mix of genres: Historical, fantasy and science fiction. I have never done anything of this kind before. My last novel, yet to be published, was written in nine months plus an additional six months to type it up as I wrote the first draft on paper. This time however I am writing the book directly onto the laptop, another new experience for me. My goal is to make the novel sixty thousand words long at the very least. Initially, I had planned to do eight hundred words daily, but after a setback due to a computer crash, I am doing one thousand words daily to catch up and plan on continuing that trend. So far I have done eleven thousand words, which is over one-sixth of the intended length. The novel is coming out fast and I have already deviated considerably from the outlined plot– which is a good thing.

As for the novel itself, it takes place in ancient and modern Assam (well… technically…) It explores Reality for the most part. There are two characters who are connected across time and space and realities. There are black holes involved too! I hope the novel is going to turn up something different, at least that’s what my intentions are. But most of all, I hope the novel will entertain people like no other book and make them look at the world and beyond with a fresh new perspective.

The last date that I have assigned myself for the completion of the novel is the 21st of November. So let’s see how it goes.

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Interview with K. J. Simmill

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It’s author K. J. Simmill on my blog today. She is the author of “The Forgotten Legacies” series. Be sure to visit her amazing website https://darrienia.com/

 

1) Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a mummy first, and I always will be. My son brings me more happiness than I could ever express and more inspiration than I could ever reveal. He is my pride and joy, and will always be my greatest accomplishment. I’m also an award winning British author, qualified project manager, herbal practitioner and holistic therapist. Given various circumstances I have the great pleasure of being a stay-at-home Mum for the time being.

I love to read, I don’t remember the last time I didn’t have a book on the go, and I am a passionate gamer. I’ve been console (and sometimes PC) gaming since the Master System days. My first real RPG being Ultima IV, I love RPG games, and I am currently replaying Disgaea 2 as last time I didn’t get the l40 weapons.

2) Tell us about your ‘The Forgotten Legacies series.’

The Forgotten Legacies Series is a collection of four stand-alone epic fantasy stories. Whilst they build on the book preceding it to the ultimate climax a reader could pick any from the series and not feel they have missed something integral as everything they need to know is explained and the main plot completely wrapped up. The general concept is there are things in the World of Gaea’s Star even those living upon it are unaware of, legacies long forgotten. But nothing stays buried forever, and each one uncovered brings with it a danger which must be overcome in order to return the world to the path it must take to survive.

3) You first book in the series is quite long at 700+ pages. How long did it take to write? What about book 2?

Darrienia is indeed a long book, as the first based in this world there was a great deal of lore, mythology and world building needed, a lot of which was later cut out or not included. Writing Darrienia took me about a year, and was normally done during lunch breaks and after work. Revising and editing however took me a further few years, during which time I also took a break and wrote the drafts of the other three books in the series.

Book two, the Severaine, is about 100 pages shorter and took around six months to write in draft and a further year in edit and revisions.

4) Was there any difficulty that arose due to the length?

There were two main ones, the first being if I wanted to employ an editor, due to the word count, the quotes I received spanned the region of 5-12k, certainly not affordable. I considered splitting the book into two, but it would have not only cost my readers more to buy but also detracted from the book. As a reader I love a good cliff hanger, but there is a difference between a cliff- hanger and the book simply being cut to force a second book out of what should be one.

The second was only a slight problem I had was with pricing. As an indie author I set the price of my paperback books as low as possible. The publishers create a price based on production cost and ensure they receive a good profit, then anything after this goes to the author. Given the length of the books the price is higher than I would have liked, although fitting with similar size works. I opted to round their set price up to the nearest 99p/99c I would much rather my readers have a more affordable book than line my own pockets.

5) You practice herbal medicine?

Yes. I have been studying herbal remedies and lore for nearly twenty years and first found an interest in this  as a teenager. I’ve always found it fascinating and this year I passed my exam to become an official herbal practitioner. I’ve not only practised herbal medicine for a long time, but I have also explored other uses for herbs, such as those detailed in my non-fiction book Herbal Lore.

 6) You have collaborated with other authors in the past. What was the experience like?

I have indeed. I’ve had the pleasure of working with two collaborations, both for charity.

The first one published was a book titled Camels and Cake: Tea for Three. This was a really fascinating exercise. It was initially pitched as a project by Karen Gray, author of the ‘Saga of Thistles and Roses’, and is a collection of flash fiction. Each author was given 12 prompts and a word count for each. It was a fun challenge and served to show the diversity of the authors involved. They were a very friendly group of people and I remain in contact with some of them to this day.

The second I was invited into last year, and is a continuation of Ian D Moore’s vision. This collaboration has already released one book, You’re Not Alone, and I was honoured to be invited on board for the second which I believe is due out later this year. I find the group amazing to work with, we all help each other to ensure the work we are producing reaches its full potential.

7) How do you promote your books?

I don’t have the greatest marketing budget in the world, in fact, I don’t have a marketing budget at all. My main means of promoting is social media, specifically Twitter, although I spend more time promoting other authors than myself.

I have had some amazing art work created for me, and use this with teasers in hope to generate interest and I also have the support of numerous authors who help me to promote. I am a strong believer in supporting authors, and have fortunately crossed paths with a number of like-minded people.

8) You have any amazing blog with many subscribers. How did you make your blog so popular?

To be honest my blog is a tool I use to support other authors. I review books, both officially for, Readers’ Favorite, and unofficially for things I read, as well as provide author interviews. Any success my blog enjoys I believe to be the product of those who I feature.

9) Which books and authors have most influenced you?

As you may tell from the size of my own work I love a thick book. I can attribute this to authors such as Raymond E Feist and Janny Wurts, but there also some books I have read which have a special place in my heart. The Tower of Geburah by John White, The Keys to Paradise by Robert E Vardeman, and for a long time I was a devout fan of L.J. Smith and her works. These days however about 90% of the things I read are written by indie authors.

10) So what are you releasing next?

My next book released will be Remedy, book three in The Forgotten Legacies Series, this one, unlike one and two focuses around a completely different cast of characters. I am also looking at a possible joint release, dependant on how the revisions and editing goes, of The Grimoire, a book centring around the antagonists of my first and second books, and their adventures before Darrienia as they seize the Grimoire to return their power to Night.

11) Anything you’d like to add?

I would like to thank you for the interview.

The only thing I can add personal to me is that I donate a percentage of royalties from each of my books to charity.

Darrienia donates 10% to the UHNM (University Hospital of North Midlands) for use by the neonatal department.

Herbal Lore donates 15%, and The Severaine 10%, to the DMWS (Defence Military Welfare Service.) who provide medical welfare support to the Armed Forces Community and other Frontline staff, across the UK and abroad. They are the only charity to deploy to areas of conflict alongside troops on the frontline, and are the first welfare service that service personnel will see when they are wounded, injured or sick.

Both charities do an amazing job and I am honoured to be supporting them.


A. J. Chaudhury is a young author from India writing mostly in the fantasy genre. His historical low fantasy short A Song of Blood has released and is being acclaimed by reviewers

To download his fantasy novella “The Drabird” for free CLICK HERE!

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The Invisible Entente by Krista Walsh

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“If you’re reading this note, I’m already dead. I find even more pleasure in the idea that one of you will soon join me.” At the precise moment of warlock Jermaine Hershel’s death, seven strangers are transported into a magically sealed room with only a letter from the dead man to explain. If they want to go home, the way out is simple: discover the murderer — and kill them. Tensions rise as each stranger reveals their connection with Jermaine, but the puzzle isn’t so easy to solve. At least one of them is lying. In an unlikely alliance, they have to act quickly to unravel the mystery before the murderer acts first.

GRAB IT ON AMAZON!!!

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Interview with Douglas Jackson

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It’s author Douglas Jackson on the blog today. He is the author of many historical fiction novels and thrillers, the first of which was Caligula, the story of Rufus. Be sure to visit his website www.douglas-jackson.net/

 

1) Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders in the summer of 1956 and educated at Parkside Primary School and Jedburgh Grammar School. My first job after leaving school involved the restoration of a Roman marching camp at Pennymuir in the Cheviot Hills, where I had a glorious two months turning turf, avoiding the occasional adder and dreaming of legionaries. Later I joined my local paper as a cub reporter and for the next 36 years worked in local and national newspapers in Scotland, including the Daily Record and the Scotsman. I left the Scotsman in 2009 after nine years as assistant editor to become a full-time writer, a decision I only ever regret on pay day. I’m married to Alison, and I have three children, Kara, Nikki and Gregor, who never fail to make me proud. Nikki and her husband Greg have just brought granddaughter Lily into my life and provided me with a new kind of happiness.

2) Tell us about your books.

My first novel was called Caligula, and featured a slave called Rufus, who was the keeper of the Emperor’s elephant. I’d planned it as a trilogy, but my publisher thought Rufus had run his race after the second book, Claudius. My editor asked me to come up with a more mainstream hero, so I came up with the character of Gaius Valerius Verrens, a young tribune destined to return to Rome and a rather dull life, who gets caught up in the Boudiccan rebellion and realises that his destiny is to be a soldier. That novel became Hero of Rome (my editor’s theory was that novels with Rome in the title sold well), and I think it took my writing to a whole new level. Six more Valerius novels have followed, with two to go, and he’s met up with Nero, Seneca, St Peter, General Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo and his daughter Domitia, the future Augusta, the future Emperors Titus and Domitian, and the Emperors Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian, as well as a host of minor characters, many of whom meet grisly ends. I have two more Valerius novels to write, which will take him full circle back to Britain and on campaign with Julius Agricola.

I’ve also written four thrillers, under the pen name James Douglas, featuring the urbane art recovery expert Jamie Saintclair. They’ve all been well received and I’m very proud of them, but my publisher decided they weren’t commercially successful enough and ended the series. It’s a crying shame. My own view is that they didn’t push them hard enough. They’re great light summer reads for anyone who likes a mystery with a bit of history.

3) How did you first get interested in Rome?
When I was restoring the legionary marching camp at Pennymuir. The Forestry Commission had ploughed it up to plant trees – this was in the 70s when panacea was a land covered from coast to coast in Norway spruce – until someone pointed out they were destroying a scheduled historic monument. We used mattocks and shovels to turn four feet wide slabs of peat turf back into the holes they’d come from. It could be an eery place, full of grouse and curlews and adders, but there was a gap in the hills where Dere Street entered the valley and in the quiet of the evening you could imagine the legions marching through it and the impact they had on the local population. I think that’s what draws me to the Romans in particular. Two thousand years ago they laid their stamp on the known world and almost everywhere you go the signs are still there. That said I only started writing about Rome by accident. I’d decided it was time to write a book, but had no idea what about. They say: Write what you know, but what I knew was deadly dull. So I came up with write what you love. I realised that what I loved was history. I also just happened to have Simon Schama’s History of Britain on the radio and the actor Timothy West suddenly intoned ‘And the Emperor Claudius rode in triumph on his elephant at Colchester to take the surrender of eleven British tribes’. I went home that night and sat down at the computer and a new career was born.

4) Can you remember the first piece of fiction you wrote?

It would be an essay at school. The only thing I was any good at were English and history (I only discovered recently that I suffer from something called Discalculia – numerical dyslexia – give me a string of numbers and I’ll always transpose two of them, which can’t have helped). My English teacher was also my form teacher. He didn’t like me and after the prelims he said I’d never amount to anything. I decided to leave, but when the exam results came in my English mark was one of the, or possibly the highest in Scotland and he pleaded with me to stay on. I said no. My first proper piece of fiction was a novel I started when I was about 27, rattling it out on an old portable Olivetti in an attic room. It was a thriller, very much of its time, IRA dirty bomb, Mossad, the SAS and a spy who knows this will be his last case. In those pre-internet days I decided I didn’t have the time or the money to do the necessary research to make it authentic, so I gave up and concentrated on raising a family. I found it recently among the junk in our present attic and was astonished to see that I’d actually written 80,000 words plus and it wasn’t bad.

5) What’s the main difference between writing thrillers and historicals?

I’m tempted to say how you kill people, and that would be partially true, but its actually more about the world your character is living in. In a historical novel you have to be certain about every detail of the street your walking down, what the people you meet are wearing, how they’d greet each other and what they eat and drink. In 1st century Rome you can’t have Valerius admiring a temple that wasn’t built until a hundred years later, and that’s more difficult than you’d think, because those kind of details are often uncertain and buried deep. That means research and more research. In a contemporary thriller the key to writing a similar scene is putting in the effort to make it interesting when your reader is perfectly familiar with everything you’re showing them.

6) How has your professional life as a journalist influenced your writing?

It was a huge help.l. I spent 36 years in newspapers and twenty of those in high pressure positions on major nationals. Standards were immensely high and we were taught never to waste a word and that has carried on into my fiction writing. My initial drafts tend to be clean and tight and my grammar and spelling tends not to need a lot of editing. Most of that time I’d be working in an open plan office amid mayhem (screaming confrontations, people throwing things, death threats: the normal atmosphere of a national daily newspaper) and I learned to focus despite what was happening around me. That made it much easier when I decided that the only way I was ever going to finish a book was by working on the commuter train between Bridge of Allan and Edinburgh. Previously I’d managed 500 words a day. Now I was doing 1200 or 1500 and the maths of producing a book started to add up.

7) How do you research your books? How do you balance between taking liberties and keeping the history as accurate as possible?

I’d love to say that, like Stevenson or the great western writer Louis L’Amour (“When I write about a spring, that spring is there, and the water is good to drink.”), I’ve visited every place I’ve written about. Unfortunately that’s not the case. I hate the internet. I’m of the firm opinion that it is a black hole that will eventually devour the world. But without the internet I could never have written a book. I have about two dozen bookmark files filled with several hundred web links. I could build a Roman flour mill or make a pair of caliga sandals. I know the range and power of a scorpio, the catapult the Romans called the shield splitter. I have the translated works of Tacitus, Suetonius, Dio and Plutarch. I know the rudiments of manufacturing a bomb, the sound of a Kalishnikov and how to fire it. All without leaving my desk. More importantly, thanks to Google Earth I can travel to the remotest places in the world, check out the terrain, the temperature, look at photographs and then link to blogs to get the first hand experiences of people who’ve been there. That said, there is nothing to beat being there in person. I’ve travelled to Rome, Madrid, Dresden and Berlin on research trips and it’s a lot easier to soak up the atmosphere than trying to evaluate what you see on a computer screen. Oh, and I have books, hundreds upon hundreds of books that cover my study floor like a sea.

8) Which authors have most influenced you? Which are your top three favourite books?

I think Robert Louis Stevenson would be the first. Kidnapped is a wonderful, simple story with captivating characters that takes you on a helter-skelter ride through the grandeur of the Scottish landscape. Alan Breck Stewart is the perfect flawed hero as the Jacobite who’s fallen on hard times and you can tell that Stevenson has visited every location and sketched it with words. I’ve always been drawn to thriller writers: Alistair McLean and Jack Higgins gave me the itch to write, because they have such a straightforward style. And the late, great George McDonald Fraser’s Flashman books taught me more about history than I ever learned at school. The fact that he wrote the first Flashman while he was still working at the Glasgow Herald was an inspiration to me. My three favourite books? Tough one, but I’d say Kidnapped, Flashman and the Great Game, and John Le Carre’s A Perfect Spy.

9) Any other hobbies aside from writing?

You sound like my mum. I’m always trying to convince her writing is my full time job. I like to annoy salmon if I can find the time. I seldom catch any, but there’s something wonderfully therapeutic about being on a river and doing physical exercise in the fresh air for hours on end. I love to watch rugby. I played it from my teens to my thirties. My proudest memory is scoring a try for Melrose Thirds in my last game when my leg was so badly injured I had to crawl up the stairs in the house when I got home. My wife almost choked laughing.

10) What is the one quality that you believe new author should possess to achieve both critical and commercial success?

I wish I knew. I seem to have cracked the critical side, with comparisons to some of the most successful writers around, but commercial success is harder to come by. I’d say be more savvy about the way the business works. if you’re going to be traditionally published use what power you have to squeeze as many guarantees about ongoing publicity, marketing, print runs and sales support from your publisher as you can. All debut authors are dazzled by the numbers, but it’s not all about the money. For independent and self-published authors it would be build up your back catalogue and maintain the quality of your writing and editing, which isn’t easy over a long period.

11) What is going to be your next release?

My next book, Saviour of Rome, is out on August 25. It takes Valerius and his sidekick Serpentius to the gold fields of northern Spain and a conspiracy to wreck the Roman economy at a time when Vespasian needs it most.

12) Anything you would like to add?

My best piece of advice to any writer would be: persevere.


A. J. Chaudhury is a young author from India writing mostly in the fantasy genre. His historical low fantasy short “A Song of Blood” has released and is being acclaimed by reviewers (grab it here!)

To download his fantasy novella “The Drabird” for free CLICK HERE!

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Interview with Davis Ashura

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It’s author Davis Ashura on my blog today. He is the author of “The Castes and the OutCastes” trilogy (set in a city called Ashoka!). Be sure to grab his books and visit his website www.davisashura.com

1) Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hmm. This one sounds like something from a college entrance questionnaire. I’m old enough to remember the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall. I remember the 1990s fondly and love grunge although my favorite band is U2. I grew up reading J.R.R. Tolkien, Arthur C. Clarke, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Stephen R. Donaldson, Isaac Asimoc, Anne McCaffery, Andre Norton, and many others. And now, I practice medicine but when time allows, I write epic fantasy novels. If I had even more time, I’d build furniture. I love the smell of cut wood.

2) Tell us about The Castes and the OutCastes series.

The Castes and the OutCastes is a classic trilogy comprised of A Warrior’s Path, A Warrior’s Knowledge, and A Warrior’s Penance. The story sweeps from the majestic city of Ashoka to the perilous Wildness beyond her borders. It is a world where the demon Suwraith rules and where Caste determines mystical Talents, the purity of Jivatma expresses worth, and dharma may be based on a lie. It is a world very much based on attributes of Indian culture, and into this world is born Rukh Shektan, a peerless young warrior who has always understood duty. He is expected to take part in the deadly Trials–to journey the Wildness where Suwraith rules and protect the caravans linking Humanity’s far-flung cities. Karma, however, is a fickle fiend. His caravan is destroyed by the monstrous Chimeras; twisted servants of their fearful goddess, Suwraith. While Rukh survives the attack, events force him along an uncertain path. Morality becomes a morass – especially when he encounters a mysterious warrior, Jessira Grey, a woman whose existence ought to be impossible. The holy texts warn against her kind: ghrinas, children of two Castes, abominations. They are to be executed whenever discovered, but for the first time in his life, Rukh defies duty. Jessira may be the key to his city’s survival.

Meanwhile, a secret society seeks Ashoka’s demise; foul murders cloak a deadlier purpose; and behind it all looms Suwraith. But it is the Baels, the leaders of Her Chimeras, who may hide the greatest deception of all.

The series is complete and is over 1600 pages of magic, mystery, romance, murder, and mayhem. Or at least that was my intention.

3) How do you go about the process of world building?

I knew I wanted the world to have castes, and I wanted it to be somewhat like the Indian caste system, but I wanted something even more firm. I wanted the different castes to have significantly different physical appearances i.e. some look Indian, others Oriental, etc. I also wanted no chance for interbreeding amongst the castes. That was the basis for many of the choices I made for the world. In terms of building the city of Ashoka-and yes, the name was chosen in honor the ancient Indian emperor-I wanted a beautiful city. For appearance, I looked at all sorts of ancient cities on the Mediterranean and Black Seas. I looked at fantasy cities. I wanted something gorgeous. And I wanted a culture that, despite the caste system, wasn’t grim dark. I wanted the people of Ashoka to be backward in aspects of their thinking, but I also wanted them to strive for something better.

4) How’s a typical writing day like for you?

After work, I come home and spend time with the family. Then at around 9 PM, I lock myself in my office and try to write some words that make sense. Some days are better than others.

5) Can you remember the first piece of fiction you wrote?

It was a long time ago in a galaxy…oh wait. That’s a different story. But it was a long time ago. It was when I was sixteen, and it was for by creative writing class in high school. It was not good. It really was awful. And the first book I wrote. Shudder. Be glad no copy of that exists.

6) How do you prepare your books for publication after completing the first draft?

The first draft is the most important draft. This is when you have your story down. As a much better writer than I has often said: you can’t edit a blank page. I write the first draft and then don’t look at the work for a minimum of two weeks. Then I print it out and start editing with a red pen. That process can be brutal. All those words I thought created a lovely story are often savaged. Sometimes the pages end looking more red than black. I enter those changes into the draft on my computer, print it out again, and keep going until I have a draft that I like. Then it’s off to the beta readers, and one or two final passes. Generally, I do six drafts. That’s not a predetermined number. That’s just what seems to be the case for me.

The rest of the preparation, like cover art and typesetting I farm out to those who are much more capable than I at those kind of things.

7) Why did you choose self publishing over traditional publishing?

Laziness. Seriously. When you look into all the things that go into query letters and synopses and what every agent and publisher wants, I just threw up my hands and said, ‘No thanks’. Except my language was more colorful. Later on, I did submit to all the major publishers and agents and was turned down by every one of them. I might have gotten a contract if I’d sent those queries out before I self-published. It turns out that publishers generally don’t republish something already published unless it’s selling like The Martian. However, for my third book, Audible Studios did purchase the rights to the audiobook format, so in some ways, I’m not completely self-published any more.

8) What has been your best marketing tactic?

Telling people about the book and not being embarrassed to be enthusiastic about it. That’s key. I think writers in general are introverts, and we’re not likely to want to ‘brag’ about what we write. That was and is something very hard for me to overcome. So I told people about it on various science-fiction/fantasy forums, and tried to be positive about what I was writing without being over the top. Except in my review of my first book on Goodreads. That was all written very much tongue-in-cheek. I also had Kirkus review my first book, and thankfully, they liked it, so I was able to use their blurb all over the place. It also helps to have great cover art. People like a book based on the text, but they peruse a book when a bright cover catches their eye. And they purchase a book when the blurb catches their interest. All of those items: cover art and blurb have to be great to convince someone to take a chance on what you wrote. I wish it wasn’t the case, but it’s the world we live in.

9) Do you think self publishing has become tougher over the years?

I’d say it’s become more competitive. Some of what’s out there by authors like Jacob Cooper, Jonathan Renshaw, Phil Tucker, and Lindsay Buroker are as good as anything being put out by large publishing houses. It takes something special and good these days. Mark Lawrence’s self-publishing blog-off is proof of that.

10) Which are your favourite books?

Oh boy. Too many to list. Just off the top of my head, I’d have to say Lord of the Rings has to head any list. I also love the world of Thomas Covenant. Dune, Starships Troopers (or just about anything by Robert Heinlein). All the Pern books. The Riddlemaster of Hed. And so many more classics that I can’t include.

11) I believe you are a doctor too? How has it influenced your writing?

I have a lot of fun coming up with creative deaths for some characters. I also am able to give some characters true diseases and know the symptoms they would manifest. And knowing toxicology is always fun.

12) What are you releasing next?

Well I just released A Warrior’s Penance, the finale to The Castes and the OutCastes. Now, I’m working on a new series, that I hope to tie into the world of The Castes and the OutCastes. It’s an urban fantasy set in the 1980s with elements of the TV show Chuck that becomes a portal fantasy and eventually an epic fantasy. I’m deep into book 1 of a planned 5 novel series.

13) Anything you would like to add?

This was a lot of fun! Thank you so much for interviewing me!


A. J. Chaudhury is a young author from India writing mostly in the fantasy genre. His historical low fantasy short “A Song of Blood” has released and is being acclaimed by reviewers (grab it here!)

To download his fantasy novella “The Drabird” for free CLICK HERE!

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Interview with author Drae Box

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Drae Box is an author success mentor and fantasy author. From 2006, she has studied book marketing and awareness building strategies for fiction authors. Trained in email list building and product launches, she regularly observes and analyses the launches of successful books in the independent and traditional publishing sectors.

Along with her growing connections with successful independent authors, Drae is often on social media, chatting with other creative writers and observing the way in which big name, successful authors use them. She continues to run her own experiments on a monthly (sometimes daily) basis by using herself and her books as guinea pigs. When not studying the author industry or writing her own fiction, Drae is guiding other fiction authors with personalised and actionable steps they can take to grow their success.

Her experiments, training and research have served her and others well; her debut fantasy, The Royal Gift, shifted 10,038 in eight months and eleven days. More than once it has held second and third place in its Amazon rankings.

Grab YOUR twenty minute chat with Drae and grow the author success YOU want, by heading here: http://draebox.com/lets-chat

Tell us about your book

I’ll tell you about Threat, which is book two in The Common Kingdoms Series and is coming out soon.

In the previous book, teenager Aldora Leoma and young law enforcer, Royal Official Raneth Bayre, teamed up to locate and return the Dagger of Protection to Aldora’s village (one of six magic artefacts, this one being her village’s). Aldora was your average villager in the Giften Kingdom – she hadn’t much world experience, and she had no enemies. Meeting Raneth soon changed that – she ended up involved in the Bayre-Frey Feud, travelled some of the kingdom, saved her village and became a bit of a celebrity in the Giften Kingdom.

Threat picks up a year later. On a nightly patrol of her village, Aldora encounters the head of the Rivermud family, a murderous criminal family known for smuggling in Giften. She’s stabbed and left for dead. When she comes round in the village hospital the next day, Raneth is one of her visitors. They end up working together to arrest Rivermud, who is hiding in her village. As Raneth also goes on to misplace the king, they work together to find King Cray too.

Can you tell us about your life after you first took up the pen and your journey as a writer?

I started writing at the age of fourteen, though I started recording stories verbally on a cassette when I was eight, so I’ve been creating stories for years (nineteen if you include the verbal ones). In that time I’ve passed GCSEs, ASs, had six jobs, gained certification in motorcycle mechanics and continued to self-teach myself with the aid of books, courses or just pulling up my sleeves and getting stuck in (which is how I learned web design). I’ve had four gerbils, became adored by five cats (four of which aren’t even mine, haha), trained my brother’s dog, and had a rabbit nemesis. I started podcasting, published two books and have planned fifty-eight fantasy books so far, with eight fully finished and the others partially written by scenes. I’ve also learned the true value of loyalty and support from friends and family, and have learned a lot about myself, including how determined an individual I can be.

Which was the first book that absolutely blew you away and why?

I had reading and writing difficulties as a kid, and because of those, a bit of a speech problem too. I had to read every night to one of my sisters to practise, so for some years I hated reading. It was only when someone introduced me to K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs that I discovered my love for reading for pleasure, so this question is a little hard to answer – none really stand out as blowing me away. I overcame my difficulties through determination and practise, and during my last middle school year read the Lord of the Rings, and before that, Jungle Book.

Now, if you want a book that really got me fired up, it would have to be Sabriel, by Garth Nix. I first found out about it in my upper school’s library, when they used to do postcards designed around new upcoming releases. I grabbed the one for Sabriel because it caught my eye, so when it came out a few weeks later, I had my mitts on a copy.

Do you have daily word goals? Do you self edit everyday or after you have reached the end of a story or novel?

I have an unofficial goal to beat my previous year’s total, and to finish fourteen first drafts I started in my teens for the Common Kingdoms Series. As a rule of thumb though, I try to write one thousand words a day for my fiction books. A lot tends to stay uncounted though; everyday I also end up working on fun pieces I do set between the books, non-fiction writing I do to help those in Writers’ Club, or my author clients who are getting the one-on-one mentoring and help with their author goals.

If I’m writing the fiction scenes in sequence, I will sometimes read the last three pages of the day before, so I can pick up where I left off, and keep my writing style consistent (as it tends to be a little different per series except for short stories). Otherwise at the moment I don’t edit until the end. I then edit using Kobo by converting the unedited version as an epub and uploading it onto my tablet, and a printed copy. My editor gets it next for structural edits.

You have an amazing blog that is also very popular. How has your blog helped you to promote yourself? How did you set it up in the first place and get your first readers and blog subscribers?

My author website, Drae Box Books, is the platform I used to continue building my following – it didn’t start there but it is where it grew. I combined it with an exhaustive list of personal methods and experiments and grew it to what it is today. A quick tip I will give your readers: if they want to grow a following, they must bring value and be visible online.

Do you have a mailing list? If so, how do you interact with your list subscribers and how frequently?

Yep, two! Writers’ Club and Readers’ Club. I’m in regular contact with both, and I interact with them sometimes one-on-one. No matter what I’m doing, I make sure to be personal, and to be me. Subscribers to my email list and I are in fairly constant contact, as they email me back quite often and have a good natter with me.

Where do the majority of your subscribers come from?

My hard work. I don’t wait around to be discovered. I go out of my way to be.

Any fantasy film (except LOTR and Harry Potter) that you found great?

Solomon Kane and Season of the Witch. I like these for the sense of other world feel they have.

How do you go about the process of preparing a book for publication?

This is a really big question, because there’s a lot that goes into it. I’d say the number one piece of advice I can give here is don’t rush it. Stay calm; don’t let excitement make you press publish before you’re ready.

Can you describe your favourite character in fiction in ten words?

Hmm. Nope. I would gush more than ten words.

What are you currently working on? When is it releasing?

Keeping in mind I wrote this in June 2016… Right now I’m working on my podcast, book eleven in The Common Kingdoms Series, the launch of book two and I’m rewriting book three in the same series. Tomorrow I may be working on different books – I jump around which writing project I’m working on. Every day I’m doing something to build awareness though – that’s the one constant project other than helping clients.

Anything you would like to add?

Yeah sure. I love helping other fiction authors, and that’s why I share my knowledge and training with my clients. Anyone serious about being a successful fiction author is welcome to book a twenty minute chat with me for free at http://draebox.com/lets-chat


A. J. Chaudhury is a young author from India writing mostly in the fantasy genre. His historical low fantasy short “A Song of Blood” has released and is being acclaimed by reviewers (grab it here!)

To download his fantasy novella “The Drabird” for free CLICK HERE!

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