Interview with Author Ian Gregoire

A few weeks ago, I reviewed The Exercise of Vital Powers. This book was a semi-finalist in SPFBO3. I'd heard so many great things about it, and I was not disappointed! Gregoire has created a unique and diverse world, and he was kind enough to share a bit about his creative process with us today.

What inspired your world building process? 
I tend to develop the world building for a story while I am writing it. With each draft it gradually evolves, becoming more fleshed out and coherent, until I have it all set in stone when I write the third (final) draft.

Inevitably, my world building is inspired primarily by the creative works of other writers, whether those stories were told in the pages of books and comics, or via the visual medium of film and television, or in the recordings of audio dramas.

With regard to my first novel, The Exercise Of Vital Powers, the world building was influenced a great deal by the book Shadowfall by James Clemens, and to a lesser extent, the Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan.

Who are you writing for and why? 
For as long as I can remember, I have always written for myself (who better to write a story I’m guaranteed to like?). So, even though I’ve known since early childhood that I wanted to be an author, it wasn’t until the last four years or so that I actually started writing with the intention of having my stories read by persons other than myself. But I remain the primary audience for my stories, if other people enjoy them I consider it a bonus.

As for why I write: I guess it’s in my nature to be a storyteller. Since I was a young child I’ve had a very active imagination, and been prone to daydreaming about the make-believe. I think that’s the only way to make sense of why I feel compelled to write the stories constantly playing out in my mind.

What do you do to recharge your creative energy? 
I like diversions that will boost my creativity by happenstance. So when I need to take a break from writing I enjoy reading, listening to music, and when time allows, watching films, bingeing TV series, or playing games; all these things invariably contribute to my creative output.

Sometimes, I also like going for long walks just to clear my head.

What reactions do you hope to inspire in others? 
It would be nice if my stories inspired self-reflection in my readers: to get them to contemplate why they think the way they do, why they feel the way they do, why they do the things that they do. Failing that, if they are entertained by what I write then that is still an accomplishment.

Ultimately, I hope that my work will kindle an appreciation for storytelling that will inspire future storytellers to want to write and share their own stories, in much the same way that the writing of C.S. Lewis inspired me when I was a child.

Where is your writing taking you? 
Hopefully to a bank balance that will make J.K. Rowling envious. If that isn’t a realistic prospect, I would like to reach the point where I earn enough money from my writing to allow me to write full-time. I have many unfinished stories to complete, and even more yet to be started ideas to begin writing.


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Review: Darkfall by M.L. Spencer

The invasion of the Rhen has begun! Darien Lauchlin is determined to find a refuge for the people of Malikar by any means necessary—even if it means conquering the nations he formerly swore to protect. Wielding the most powerful magical talisman known to man, Kyel Archer stands opposed to him. And there could be no higher stakes—the reversal of the magic field is only weeks away, heralding the destruction of all the world’s mages and the long legacy of magic. Only one side of the War for the Rhen will emerge victorious, and the survival of an entire population hangs in the balance. 

Darkfall is the fourth and final novel of the epic fantasy series The Rhenwars Saga. If you like morally gray heroes, page-turning action, and mind-boggling plot twists, then you’ll love Spencer’s award-winning series.

5 of 5 stars!

A fitting end to a thrilling series. Loyalties are tested and characters are pushed to the limits of their fortitude and resolve.

Time and again, Darien's fate has been fraught with hard choices. In this final installment of the Rhenwars Saga, everything is at stake—the fate of the world, the fate of the magic field, the fate of the Well of Tears, and the fate of Darien's soul. How much strife can a man endure before becoming vengeful and evil? At what point will Darien break?

Darien has been willing to go through almost any means to reach an end he sees as righteous, often with honorable ideals in mind, though not always honorable in method. In this volume, we see a clear contrast to Darien through the character of his former acolyte, Kyel Archer. Kyel has long been a voice of reason, unwilling to compromise his integrity and forever optimistic in his worldview. Where Darien leans toward isolation and distrust of others, Kyel upholds a sense of reliance on the goodwill of those he works with. These two dichotomies play against each other remarkably well here, where the inherent advantages and disadvantages with each stance inevitably play out, with sometimes shocking results.

I do think this book would benefit from one more round of line editing. There were no glaring errors, just a bit of repetitive word choices that were sometimes distracting.

The epilogue was the absolutely perfect way to close out the series, and to me came across as extremely poetic.

I want to thank the author for the focus and dedication exhibited throughout the series and building into its conclusion. I have nothing but high praise for this extensive endeavor. Thank you for this world, for its villains and heroes, its pain and its beauty, and for bringing all of it to life for readers.

Darkfall can be found here on Amazon and here on Goodreads.

Interview with Author C.T. Phipps

C.T. Phipps is a prolific SFF author I've had the pleasure of reading several times. You can click here to browse my reviews of some of his books. I can always count on them to be quick, entertaining reads. I'm so pleased to have him here today, sharing with us more about his work.

What inspired your world building process? 
Generally, I envision what sort of world I would like to write in before anything else. "I want to write a Fallout meets Cthulhu story." "I want to write a dark R-rated Star Wars story." "I'd like to write a James Bond meets cyberpunk story" "I'd like to write a parody of superheroes." From there, I start throwing in everything I love about the genre into them.

For me, the central thing to always remember when writing a book is to always focus on the characters and their personalities first. The rest of the world is really a backdrop for their adventures, interactions, and development. If you can get to “know” your characters really well you can write an entire book solely on their reactions to the events around them and what they choose to do next.

Who are you writing for and why?
I write primarily for myself. I want to make stories that I want to read and share my enjoyment of mixed genre combinations. I think that you should never write for markets or to try and capitalize on a craze. For me, you have to believe in what you're writing. When I wanted to create Cthulhu Armageddon, it was because I wanted to experience the wonderful post-apocalypse world of my imagination with that of one of my favorite authors.

I also got to have a little fun with the characters as my image for John Henry Booth, the protagonist, was Idris Alba. That meant a Lovecraft pastiche, which often is done in a 1920s style, starred a black man. Victor Lavelle and Matt Ruff having done the same as a critique of the original inspiration's somewhat problematic elements.

What do you do to recharge your creative energy?
I do my very best to immerse myself in the genre of the worlds I create. Stephen King had the statement that "writing is like milk, it smells like what it's kept next to in the fridge." You're always going to be influenced by what you experience. So, I find it helps to try to become as familiar as possible with vampire media when doing a vampire book, epic fantasy when doing fantasy, and so on. Sometimes, ironically, I get inspired by stuff that has little relevance to my chosen form of media. The Agent G series, for example, is a cyberpunk novel but I took heavy influence from the Bourne Identity.

What reactions do you hope to inspire in others?
I generally just hope my readers have a good time reading my stuff. Some authors want to make big statements but I generally just want to entertain my readers first and foremost. I do think every author brings a bit of their politics to their work, however. Mostly, in my case, I keep it the very simple, "Kill Nazis" and "being tolerant is good." Otherwise, I expect my readers to enjoy the books for what they are with characters having wildly different (but entertaining) views of the universe.

Indeed, one of the things I love about writing is that I can explore different viewpoints as well as have my characters make arguments against ones I might normally support. Cassius Mass in Lucifer's Star is an unrepentant feudalist turned space pirate. John Henry Booth from Cthulhu Armageddon was a fascist raised in a cult-controlled city-state but has been re-educating himself on some harsh wasteland truths. Like, say, people deserve to be free as well as not eaten by monsters.

Where is your writing taking you?
My next work will be a third novel in the Cthulhu Armageddon. I’ve also got a new book called Tales of the Al-Azif coming out. It’s a short story compilation containing works by myself, Matthew Davenport, David Hambling, David J. West, and David Niall Wilson. Folks who liked my Straight Outta Fangton novel will love that its sequel, 100 Miles and Vampin’ is also out.


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