Friday, July 15, 2016

Interview with Luke Edison, VALCARION: SACRIFICES



Can you tell us a little bit about your book and what you think makes it stand out in the vast world of Young Adult Fantasy Adventure novels? 
The Valcarion Series is a set of young adult adventure fantasy novels which revolves around the character who shares its name; Valcarion, and his brother, Renther (who really comes into more of a leading role in the second book of the series). The brothers are orphans – victims of a worldwide war – and they both kind of stumble into positions of power after being separated by war. The choices that the brothers make are really what sets them apart as upstanding and likable characters. Basically, both Valcarion and Renther wind up being characters with good reason to be spiteful, self-centered, power-hungry, even evil – but the first book, Sacrifices, shows both the quality and the cost of their choices to do what is right rather than what is easy.

Valcarion is special to me because he has two key qualities as a fictional main character. First, he is likable, has an established personality and style, and can kind of be relied on as a character. Second, and equally as important, though he is an established and personable character, Valcarion has an aspect of ambiguity to him – just a touch – so that readers can relate to his situation, his choices, his personality, experiences, and can imagine themselves as being in his place. When they are in the midst of a chapter and they read, “Valcarion considered his options” they will hopefully kind of feel like their name is almost swapped out with his.

I was quite intentional when I began writing as a teen to use what I had learned as a young person, what I had experienced, and what I had read to make my books better for a younger crowd. Because I wrote my first book, Valcarion: Sacrifices, as the age of 16, I believe it has an element of youngness and relatability that fantasy books by older authors can’t quite offer. I believe there is beauty in fast paced, easy-to-follow, straight forward, story telling. So part of what I set out to do with The Valcarion Series was leave cliff hangers – constantly make a reader want to read some of the next chapter, because I have always loved reading books that do that. What I don’t like is literary fluff – boring, drawn out story lines which make you wish they would “get back to the action” so to speak, so my work tries to be very enthralling and captivating, and people have seemed to really like that.

Do you have a favorite character?
You know, that is a difficult answer to give… I like several characters for a variety of reasons, but if I had to pick a single favorite, the first character who comes to mind is Renther Theoron, the older brother of our main character, Valcarion. Renther, to me, represents many aspects of an ideal leader, the man most guys want to be, and a well-developed, well rounded, stable personality. If there were one person in the entire series who is meant to be not predictable, but reliable, it is Renther. He’s kind of the rock – the home base – that other characters look to and return to in times of uncertainty. Also, I am probably biased personally, as Renther is inspired by and intended to mirror my older brother, who I am very close to and greatly respect. It is my hope that the reliable relationship between Renther and Valcarion as brothers will be both relatable and enthralling to readers.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
Man, there is a lot to say and I want to paint an accurate picture of my life experiences, my character, and personality. I suppose the essentials about me are that I grew up with one brother and three sisters, and I am extremely close to each of my family members. As a kid, I was the little boy who liked to run into the street, climb trees (probably higher than I should have), and cause trouble. After all the trouble, though, I liked to try to smooth everything over and be really nice to whoever I made life difficult for – it was like a game for me.

The one thing I didn’t do was treat girls like they had “cooties” – I liked girls for as long as I can remember! Hahah. In high school and college, my patterns kind of matured but the underlying thought process remained the same – I like to test people, to feel people out, I like to talk a lot (some people would say too much), and I love getting beneath the surface in regards to relationships and understanding how people “tick” – how they think, why they do what they do, all of that.  I suppose through my interactions, I developed and strengthened an imaginative mindset.

When I would read a book or watch a movie, I would think “Ok, I liked this, I didn’t like that, that was an amazing detail or plot twist, that aspect didn’t make sense…” and I would kind of use the stories I had heard and the experiences I had to develop my own stories, my own worlds, and my own daydreams. Eventually, I kind of narrowed down the focus of my imagination and began to develop each aspect as though it were part of the same world – the same story, and then I started writing Valcarion: Sacrifices!

When I’m not writing, I love to do things outdoors – swimming, hiking, hunting, skiing, water skiing, wakeboarding, boating, working on old collectable cars, paintball or airsoft, camping – those are some of my most favorite activities. However, my favorite thing to do would have to be having a good, late night conversation with a group of close friends or family – you really can’t beat that, in my mind.

Why and how did you begin writing Valcarion: Sacrifices?
I began writing the first book in The Valcarion Series, Valcarion: Sacrifices, at the age of six-teen. I wish I could remember the moment I decided to sit down and write, but I don’t remember it… What I do remember, though, is that I had been planning out the story for years in my mind, daydreaming about it frequently. I had always liked the idea of writing a story or making a movie, and after taking a creative writing class in high school, I decided to sit down and write the story I had mapped out for so long. I wrote the first draft of Sacrifices in just under two weeks, I was at the computer typing away for hours on end each day and at night I would stay up thinking of the plot details. The project kind of grew and matured as I went, but one thing that stayed the same all the way through was that I wanted my books to read as though they were a blockbuster movie – I wanted the readers to be drawn in and kept in the midst of the action, in a fast-paced and enthralling story. Hopefully that is the way everyone will feel when reading the books! I also remember my Mom scolding me at first for being on the computer so much – you know how it goes, every parent wants to limit their kid’s computer time. But when she saw that I was seriously writing and not sitting there playing RuneScape or something, she was like “go ahead, stay on as long as you want to”. My parents were always really really supportive and enabled me to do what I have done today, which is much to their credit in my mind.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Well, from a goals standpoint my ambitions are pretty simple and pretty big! I would love love love to be a successful, household-name, author. The NY Times Bestseller List is certainly what I am aiming at, and beyond that, I would be blown away to see my book made into a motion picture some day, and I kind of wrote it with that idea in mind. Dream big. Hahaha.

From a more thoughtful, abstract, almost philosophical standpoint, I would say I want the ability to influence others in a large and far-reaching way. Many people want money, and money is great, but what I think is even more important than money is influence – so if I were to ever achieve a low paying deal with a great marketer who helped me to build an influential public platform, I would be fine with that.

I believe we are at a time in our world where people – specifically young people – are looking for and longing for inspiration and direction. Many times, sadly, that comes from the wrong or negative sources, in my opinion. As a result, I would love to use not only my work, but my public personality to connect with and influence young people for the better. I think of the power that successful young musicians, actors, athletes, and stars have – its astonishing and some use it for good and some not so much, but I would love to partake in that field of work.

What message and themes are behind your adventure novels?
The messages which are behind my writing flow directly from my personal beliefs and kind of fit in line with my goals as a writer. Writing is interesting because it offers stories which, whether the writer realizes it or not, say something about how the writer sees the world and how he or she thinks. Whether they acknowledge it or not, every person has an ethos – a set of rules, standards, and beliefs – lenses through which we see the world. Part of my belief system is that in the end, the good guys truly do always win. Now, to go along with that, though, is a great saying I heard once that goes, “If you want to tell a story with a happy ending, it’s all about where you stop telling the story.” I think that quote is right, so then, from a writer’s standpoint the question becomes; where do I stop telling the story and what does it mean for the good guys to win? The answer certainly lends itself to creative license, and in a book about war, there is plenty of opportunity for sacrifice and hardship in order to achieve the greater good; the ultimate victory of the good guys.

Other messages behind my work are that there should be no price too high to pay in order to do what is right, in order to help others, and especially to help those whom you love. Family is the most important thing in life, those bonds are forever and ought to be preserved and respected. And on a lighter note, adventures are fun, challenges are a good thing, and teens who dream big and work hard can achieve truly great and world changing goals.

Are you currently under a traditional publishing contract for future books or do you have manuscripts that you will self-publish?
I am currently working with a plan to self publish my entire series, however, if a traditional publisher who I thought was capable and fit my style well came along, I would certainly consider working out a deal there. The two biggest benefits I see of traditional publishing are one; the ability to mass produce hard copies of a book, which are just great. Even though I have a kindle and enjoy using it, and my book is currently solely sold as an eBook, I do prefer the overall feel that a real book with pages and that new book smell offers. Maybe I shouldn’t say that, but hey, that’s the truth. Hahah. Two; traditional publishing offers more connections, networking, and marketing growth opportunities, which is fantastic.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
I will occasionally listen to music, though silence usually is best for me. I like to think over a book, a story, characters, and plotpoints in my head for quite a long time before formulating an official written adventure. For instance, I had been thinking about several sections and characters in The Valcarion Series from the age of 12 or so. I usually have a few plotpoints in mind and have an overall story-arch I want to complete, and then I just sit down and write as thoughts flow naturally. Sometimes, I find myself unable to sleep because many of my best ideas come to me at night. What I’ve learned to do is to write down the ideas I have as I think of them, and establish an overall outline with the essential developments, quotes, and happenings of my story.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I actually outsourced a lot of my editing – I believe that any artist, any athlete, and business person has to know their limitations and has to be wise and humble enough to accept help when they need it. In my case, I can write a story and make a plot I am satisfied with, but I can not bring the fresh viewpoint and set of ideas that a new content editor or grammatical editor can present. As a result, I had one content editor, Kristiina Negron, and two grammatical editors – LeAna Negron and Brooke Bozarth. Though I wrote the original and first draft of my book in about two weeks, I spent about two years going through my book editing and polishing it. Now, some people will similarly outsource their book cover design, but I believed that I had a pretty well executed design, so I created my own.  A book cover is, as many people will tell you, one of the most important aspects of publishing a novel. A cover kind of sets the mood and establishes a certain feel for the writing as a whole. A cover is also the first and last part of a book that most people will see, and it can establish the look for an entire set of branding in future books and other book related merchandise, so a cover has to be unique, sharp, and recognizable. 

After looking around at several sources of popular products, specifically with young adults, what I saw was that simplicity and sleekness were important and were well responded to. As a result, I wound up designing the Valcarion cover with a sleek black backdrop, lettering that kinda pops out, and some double exposed smoke framing the cover – smoke which, by the way, came from a fire in my very own backyard!

Greatest lesson learned for other writers?
The greatest lesson I have learned as a writer is probably this; whether you’re self publishing, traditional publishing, or any mixture thereof, writers can not afford to just be writers. The best writer doesn’t sell their writing alone – they sell their personality. The greatest of writers has to be a writer, a marketer, a public figure, and a likeable personality.

Website:  www.valcarion.com








Blurb:
Valcarion: Sacrifices is an enthralling adventure from the start as readers are cast into the expansive fantasy world of Frais. A tale of great battles, loyalty, and sacrifice is told through the eyes of Valcarion Theoron, an orphan from the age of three, who is well acquainted with the deep-cutting consequences of the war that has been ravaging his world. Until the age of sixteen, however, Valcarion was seen by the world around him as unimportant; just another body on a quickly changing planet. As the story unfolds, Valcarion’s past troubles and worries are swiftly forgotten when he finds a mysterious sword: one of the legendary Blades of Seraphic. From the moment Valcarion touches the decorated hilt, he is forever changed.

In a world full of lore and mystery, Valcarion will need something more than luck to rise to the challenges he faces as a young wielder. Unknown to Valcarion, the only other dangerously powerful blade is held by none other than the malevolent king, Grostine, who leads a battle hardened army in a campaign of darkness. 

As war begins to affect Valcarion on an increasingly personal level by claiming his remaining family and threatening his freedom, the young hero has his dedication and strength of character tested at every turn. Though loyal friends join his cause along the way, in the end it is Valcarion who has to decide just how much he is truly willing to sacrifice.

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Author Bio:
Luke Edison is a twenty-three year-old author who grew up in southern New Jersey alongside four siblings in a home that was never lacking adventure.  During his sophomore year of high school Luke began writing a story that he had mapped out in his mind several years earlier, Valcarion: Sacrifices, as the first book of The Valcarion Series. Though Luke enjoys multiple art forms such as pencil sketches, song writing, and acting, his love for story telling is his most prominent and well-favored artistic interest. When not writing or working his post-college position, Luke enjoys activities such as terrain-park skiing, wakeboarding, surfing, camping, and hiking.

Though he has many passions in life, Luke’s primary goal may be found in his desire to positively influence the lives of many readers by successfully making a name for himself. His desire is to use his writing as a tool to reach teens and young adults and to build his public personality. Like the protagonists in his writings, Luke hopes that his actions as a public figure will impact the world around him in ways which encourage and inspire people across the globe.

Website:  valcarion.com