Inspired by some recent AMAs (Ask Me Anything posts on social media), I thought I’d tackle a few questions I get about me and my writing. These are presented in no particular order, except they seem to come up quite often.
#1 – Yes, that’s where the book ends
In literature, after the climax of the tale, you have the closing action, the denouement. I hate it. I loathe protracted, involved closings and what have you. The last thing I want to read about after the heroes complete their perilous journey is that they then had to get up on Monday morning and go back to work. Denouement sucks and will rarely be a part of my stories.
#2 – Yes, I dream in anime
While anime used to be a bigger influence on me than it has been in recent years, it still remains probably the single biggest creative influence in my life. Whether you are talking about character-types narrative style, or what have you, anime has been and continues to be an absolutely critical aspect of my personal and creative life.
#3 – No, I don’t read that much
I actually don’t really like a lot of fiction. I have a few favorite authors (Tee Morris, Robert Howard, Brian Clevinger when he isn’t taking himself too seriously), but for the most part, I tend to think most fiction is too ponderous and slow-paced. I also find the subject matter often horribly lacking. I feel like many books take their cues from, well, books. Artistically, that’s like painters only taking inspiration from other painters. There’s a lot more art out there, which is why my books take cues from some literature, but also comics, video games, anime, pro wrestling, and so on.
#4 – Writer’s Block Isn’t Real
Writer’s block is a vague, holistic term for a symptom: the inability to write. It has been experience and observation that when a person cannot write, it isn’t some unique form of blockage that is impending them but something more mundane. Sleep deprivation is a surprising cause of writer’s block, as is stress. It’s amazing what a nap can do for your writing woes. But in truth, often, many are simply bored with what they are writing, or they are bored with the process of writing. Many a writer aspires to be a successful author, not an actual writer itself, which leads me to my next point.
#5 – Success and Excellence are not the same…
Most aspiring writers don’t really want to write, but to have written. They don’t enjoy the process and if they had the option, they’d skip passed putting words on the page and jump right to having the HBO series credited to them. All artforms have this, so it isn’t exclusive to writing. In performing, you can aspire to be a great actor, or you can be a movie star. In music, you can be skilled, or you can be a sensation. The two are not mutually exclusive, but when push comes to shove, most people want to be one more than the other. It’s okay to be the popular and/or richer one. Just be honest about it.
#6 – …But They Do Overlap
Everybody’s heard ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. The literary world is absolutely no different. Nepotism, celebrity, and connections, make ALL the difference in the world. Literary success is a game all it’s own, with the same frustrating rules and gatekeepers as any profession. That said, talent and skill can make a big difference. No matter how well-connected you are, at some point, somebody is going to open the book and if what’s there isn’t at least halfway decent, your career won’t survive.
Likewise, the literary industry is a meritocracy. You sink or swim based on how successful you are, and memories are very short. Bestseller’s don’t stay on that list for long. Agents and publishers have a vested interest in finding the next big thing. So if you don’t ‘know’ anyone in the industry, focus on being somebody worth knowing. The industry will find you eventually.
#7 – RocKaiju was meant to be a video game
Back when Rock Band 3 came out, a bunch of friends of mine dusted off their Rock Band kits in anticipation for the new installment. The game is fun, but the kits were expensive and it stunk that there was only one game you could play with them. RocKaiju was inspired by the idea to marry Rock Band with a giant monster game, akin to Rampage or King of Monsters. Might still happen one day, who knows?
#8 – What is Rhest’s ethnicity?
There’s been some confusion about Rhest due to some comments I’ve made in the past. I am exceptionally pro-diversity, especially when it comes to casting in roles for television, theater, and movies. I’ve spoken in the past about how I was very receptive to the idea of Rhest being played by ____. I still am and hope to never change that position. That said, Rhest as described in the books is a white guy. So Rhest is a mixed-race white guy. The thing is, he just doesn’t have to be. Anybody who gripes about the canonicity of a casting decision or depiction of Rhest seriously missed the boat on the purpose of those stories.
#9 – There will be a sequel
I tend to write books in blocks of three or more. RocKaiju is currently slated to have three books in total, as will Proton and a few others. Typically, my books will have at least two sequels, if not more (meaning it’s part of a larger series). When books don’t have sequels (Ghee, Samifel), it’s because they tie into a larger series. And then there’s Rhest, for which there will be books until I get bored with sarcasm and explosions.
#10 – Where do I get my ideas?
The short answer is I don’t know.
The long answer is I get inspired by a lot of things, from music to movies to video games to even seemingly mundane things like television commercials and food. Inspiration can come from anywhere. But I don’t like to wait on inspiration. In those cases, I will take a general idea of the kind of story I want to tell, and then try to merge two different things I like. I did this with Zeta Danger, where I merged mecha stories (read: Transformers) with TV westerns. It produces really unique stories that often will reach audiences that might not otherwise check out my writing, and it provides me with a literary challenge to write something I enjoy but might not have that much experience with.
So yeah. Hope that was fun; I enjoyed it. Got any other questions? You’re welcome to email me.