Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Interview with Josh Powell, DRAGON APOCALYPSE

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
Dragon Apocalypse is a funny fantasy adventure.  It follows a Gurken Stonebiter, a berserker dwarf, Maximina Nobility, an under-elven (Don’t call her a drow!) Jill of all trades and master of none, and Pellonia, a little girl who must learn to become a leader in order to complete their quest to save a small village from a rampaging dragon demanding sacrificial maidens.

It is the second in the series The Berserker and the Pedant.  It can be read on it’s own, but I’m a big fan of ongoing jokes, so many things in Dragon Apocalypse are funnier after reading The Berserker and the Pedant.  It’s hard for me to choose a favorite of the two, Dragon Apocalypse is about 1/3 longer so it has at least 1/3 more jokes, so probably that one.  Don’t tell The Bersker and the Pedant, it’s sensitive.

Do you have a favorite character?
Maximina Nobility is my favorite character because she is based on the aspect of my personality that learns very fast, but gets bored easily and moves on to the next challenge.  This shows up in my life with the way my wife and I play games together.  At first, I dominate the game, then over the course of a few games she gets closer and closer to winning.  After she starts winning, it never turns back.  She continues to win most of the time.  We have a large collection of games.

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Arthur Gimble, wizard of the tenth rank, pedant, and master grammarian was intended to be a minor character in The Berserker and the Pedant.  He was there to annoy Gurken and then get killed.  This was to tap into the frustration many people, myself included, feel when they are in the midst of an online “discussion” and are interrupted by someone who has nothing to add but a correction to their grammar.  Unexpectedly, Arthur and Gurken had an amazing interaction and I decided to save him from permanent death, which allowed me to have him killed again and again, after being resurrected each time, in many satisfying and hilarious ways.  It completely changed the path of the novel and the sequel.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I traditionally published a book on programming, so had some experience with that part of the industry.  I decided to go it alone with my fictional series because it gave me more control over what happens with my writing.  I’m not beholden to a publisher who maintains the rights to that work.  I’m considering going in for a mix of traditional and self-publishing because being published by a traditional publisher comes with an air of respectability that you don’t get being self-published.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
I usually get up very early in the morning, forgo a cup of coffee first thing so as to wake up naturally, and start writing. I do not listen to music when writing in the morning.  If I’m writing during the day, I listen to Deadmau5 4x4=12 continuous track because it’s mostly instrumental and it serves to crowd out the noise of the cafe.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
With Dragon Apocalypse, I wrote the first chapter without an outline, it introduces Maximina Nobility to the series.  She’s an under-elf Jill of all trades.  She

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Oh my goodness, yes. I can’t find most of my mistakes because I’m too close to the material. I consider myself a good writer, but writing a novel teased out some mistakes I didn’t realize I was making.  Then vs. Than was probably my biggest mistake, followed by using the phrase “begins to” or “start to” too much.  I also am constantly momentarily confused when doing possessive with “it”  That frustration actually appeared in the story in The Berserker and the Pedant when Arthur makes a fateful decision about the nature of magic.

What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
I’ve learned that while writing a book is a great accomplishment, the journey is only just beginning.  Getting people to read that book is even harder.  The Berserker and the Pedant has won several awards, is highly rated with a decent number of reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, and people seem to like it, but breaking into people’s awareness against all of the 10’s or 100’s of thousands of books published every year is difficult.  Then, many avid readers have a stack of books they want to read and the challenge is not only getting onto that list, but convincing people that your book belongs on the top.

Being a funny fantasy book, I have a strong advantage with a certain kind of reader.  If you love fantasy books and you like to laugh, then there aren’t a lot of books that cater to you.  Funny fantasy is a pretty small genre, so if people really enjoy The Princess Bride or anything by Terry Pratchett or Monty Python and the Holy Grail, then it’s much easier to get on the top of their list.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Not yet.  My plan right now is to focus on writing.  Marketing pays more dividends when people have more to buy.  If I spend $100 on marketing and only have one $3 book to sell, then I have to attract a lot more buyers than if I had a dozen books ranging from $3 to $9 or more collections.  I do some marketing now, like this book blog tour, to see what kind of effect they have and start to get my name out there and into readers consciousness, but right now my focus is on writing.

What’s next for you?
In 2016, I’m going to publish 2 more books, go to at least four conventions in bay area, and work on getting a short story published in a sci-fi/fantasy magazine or collection.  That will finish off The Berserker and the Pedant trilogy and start the next one, get my name out there with the local fantasy community, and reach out to a broader audience.  It should be a pivotal year for me.

On their way to apprehend a temple thief, Gurken Stonebiter, a templerager of the temple of Durstin Firebeard, and Pellonia, a little, but infuriatingly clever, girl stumble onto a quest to save a town from an evil dragon. The dragon is demanding sacrifices of maidens, and the town is fresh out. Can they discover a way to sate the dragon's bloodlust and save the town?

Along the way, Gurken and Pellonia meet up with Maximina, a half under-elven woman that also happens to be a tad psychic, a ranger with a dash of necromantic ability, a smidgen of samurai training, and just enough time living as a rogue to acquire the ability to sneak up on and stab a foe in the back. Maximina is full of clever ideas on how to gain a tactical advantage over her foes, and on occasion they even work.

During their adventures, Gurken, Pellonia, and Maximina face a snarky unicorn, do battle with a terrible frost giant, contend with a rival adventuring party bent on their utter humiliation, and confront the end of the world in the form of an evil sorcerer and a teeming dragon horde. Can they save the world one more time?

Amazon buy link:

AUTHOR Bio and Links:
JOSH POWELL, wielder of the Sommerswerd, destroyer of the thread, expeditioner to Barrier Peaks, discoverer of his magic talent, and venturer into the Tomb of Horrors is known for having survived a harrowing adolescence full of danger and fantasy. He's gone on to write The Berserker and the Pedant and Dragon Apocalypse and is currently working on the yet to be named third book in the series.

He also spends some not inconsiderable amount of time wiggling his fingers over a keyboard as a software engineer.  He lives with his wife, Marianne, and two amazing children, Liam and Chloe, in sunny California, where winter is, most decidedly, never coming.


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