Thursday, August 2, 2012

Author Interviews: Terry C. Simpson

I haven't done this in a while, but every so often I will interview a peer of mine to talk about their books and their journey. Today, I welcome Terry C. Simpson to the hotseat. Terry is a fantasy author living near New York City and is someone you really need to read.

And without further ado--and I don't mind if I do--here's Terry.

SS: Over the past few years, you’ve put together a rather well-developed—and shall I say original—fantasy series. And as I read the first book, ETCHINGS OF POWER, I noticed five distinct storylines. How did you first conceive this tale, and second, what do you believe was the hardest part in keeping the storylines straight?

TCS: Thanks, Sean. That means a lot to me. I would have to say it was a combination of reading so much fantasy, playing MMORPGS and simply having these dreams of worlds. They kept coming and coming, and many a night or day, they all felt so real. For years, fantasy and gaming were a part of my life, so much so that you could say I practically lived it in my waking hours. I jotted down my ideas into notebook after notebook. I have about 30 notebooks in all.

The hardest part of keeping the storylines straight was trying to make sure everything made sense, at least to me. What ended up happening was that without realizing it, I developed continuity between the characters, which was my biggest worry. The most complicated part and one I struggle with to this day is that initially all my characters know the basics of the world’s magic. Being able to relay that and the world’s history without infodumping has been incredibly hard.

SS: Your books have mythical-yet-realistic characters. Of the characters in ETCHINGS, Ryne Waldron is by far my favorite. Can you tell me what inspired him to come onto the page, and what is it about him that readers find so dynamic?

TCS: Originally, the book was about Ancel. It was the typical farm boy story. After several critiques from my group, they all liked Ryne’s character. So I rewrote the book and made it more about Ryne as the main protagonist. Ryne is inspired by a bit of my father, Lan and Rand from Wheel of Time, the character I played in World of Warcraft as guild leader, and a touch of myself.

I think readers find Ryne dynamic because although powerful, he’s a man with flaws, which makes him relatable. He is good, bad, righteous at times, he makes mistakes, he’s a no nonsense kind of guy, who may just be insane, and well when he finally unleashes himself, he’s a badass.

SS: THE SHADOWBEARER is the second book in this AEGIS OF THE GODS series. Tell the readers a little bit about it.

TCS: The Shadowbearer basically delves into how the world became what it is in Etchings. It’s about one man’s struggle to keep an oath, while trying to do something he himself realizes might be impossible: save the soldiers he loves, his own people, and his newfound family, knowing full well he may have to sacrifice not only himself, but his dream of being a father to his children. It’s about Ancel’s father, Stefan Dorn, in the years before the King he loves becomes the Shadowbearer, a man despised across the world for the devastation he caused. I wanted to do Stefan’s POV in Etchings but then the book would have been 200k words. I felt he was an intriguing character with some mystery and pain surrounding him, and well worth the introduction.

SS: I know you’re very close to finishing the first draft in the third book. How much further do you think you can take this series?

TCS: I would say five books total.

SS: You’re known throughout Facebook circles as being a workout-aholic (ladies, I know he’s married and all, but this dude is seriously CHISELED). Do you figure that your strict workout regimen has helped you stay focused as an author?

TCS: Yes it has. Going to gym and getting from 230 pounds down to 185 took discipline. I apply that same discipline to my writing.

SS: Tell us about your upbringing in the Carribean, and how that affected your writings.

TCS: I lived with my father most of my life in Barbados. We read constantly. He has a pretty big collection of books, ranging from Don Pendleton to Louis L’amuor to Asimov. For him the biggest thing was my education. That translated into me graduating the top of my class, and with my three favorite subjects, History, English language and English Literature. I loved to write and back home when given a project we were encouraged to write a lot, to cover every nuance. I’m talking at the age of thirteen through sixteen, I was writing projects of 50 pages or more.

SS: Man United? New York Yankees? Could you be more of a front-runner?

TCS: Haha. Actually I only root for the Yankees when they aren’t playing the Mets. I’m really a Mets fan. I know, I know, I see that look on your face. Don’t worry, Yankee fans drive me nuts too. Man United happened since Barbados.

SS: Which authors have inspired you?

TCS: There are so many. I’d have to start with the ones I read first, Don Pendleton and Louis L’amour. Then there’s the ones who really got me into fantasy that I might emulate a bit. Of the older ones, there’s Tolkien of course, Robert Jordan, George R. R. Martin, Brian Lumley, David Gemmel, Mickey Zucker Reichert, C. S Friedman, David Drake, Raymond Feist, and Glen Cook.
The newer authors of whom I’m a rabid fan, and make me want to get better whenever I read them would be Brandon Sanderson, Jim Butcher, Mark Lawrence, Jon Sprunk,
Adrian Tchaikovsky, David Dalglish, Douglas Hulick, and believe it or not, you, Sean. Your work rate never ceases to amaze me.

SS: What are you reading at the present time?

TCS: Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt, and Daniel Abraham’s The King’s Blood.

SS: Any advice for an up-and-coming author?

TCS: First, don’t give up ever. Perseverance goes a long way in this. Put out the best book that you can. Read, write, rewrite, then rewrite some more. Learn all the basics and then find your own style. Practice is your greatest ally. Finally, develop a thick skin. Not everyone will like your work, but if your writing is good enough and you keep at it, you will develop a following. Oh and one more thing, in this day and age, marketing is important.

For more information on Terry's work, check out his Facebook page.