Michelle: Hi Daniel, and welcome. Let's start with when and why did you begin writing?
Daniel: I began writing "voluntarily" back in high school, starting with a journal. I progressed on to writing background stories for my own Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game modules. The Creative Writing class I took in college turned me off of writing as a career, but a Technical Writing class showed me ways I could indulge my desire to write as part of my future programming career. Since that time, I've co-authored three non-fiction books under my other name. Now, fast-forward to January 2011. While playing a role-playing game on my computer, I was amazed by the detail they put into the story line, and I fantasized about what it would be like to write for a gaming company. Then I thought, "Why not just write a fantasy book?"That question changed my life. I bought books on fiction writing and gave it a try. Fiction writing is quite different from non-fiction writing, but I was pleased to discover that my technical skills transferred nicely. I still have a long way to go with regard to developing my storytelling skills, but I'm getting positive and constructive feedback from readers already.
M: Do you write in the same genre you like to read?D: Yes and no. I read several genres, including science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and thrillers. My writing is a combination of fantasy and mystery. If my first book were turned into a movie, it would probably be considered "fantasy action adventure." I don't have much interest in writing science fiction, but I definitely see integrating more mystery and thriller elements into my future fantasy work.
M: Do you have a specific writing style?
D: I suspect I do, but I'd be hard-pressed to describe it to you. I have an analytical nature, so I like stories to have a logical flow, and I want the characters to behave consistently. I'm also a sucker for a happy ending. I'm sure those reading preferences come out in my writing.
M: Do you have a writing schedule?
D: Absolutely: every weekday morning from about 5:00 am to 6:30 am. It used to be my gaming time, but I traded in my gaming for writing over a year ago. I write at other times too, but early morning is my scheduled "do not disturb" writing period.M: Do you plan your work or just go with it and start with the initial idea?
D: I'm a plotter, but I plot in stages. I start with a main character and figure out what the character's challenge will be. Then I plot the overall story, so I know the main beats and the ending before I get started. At that point, I start writing scenes that take me from one plot point to the next.That's when things get less structured. I plot each scene before I write it, but what I discover while writing a scene often influences what other scenes get created or how they will play out. Before I start a scene, I create character profiles for each new character who is introduced, and I lay out the physical surroundings (often with a map or drawing.) Those activities also influence what will happen during the scene and what happens in later scenes.
M: What are your current projects?D: My current project is "Vaetra Untrained," the second novel in my Vaetra Chronicles series. The first book is selling well, so I'm totally focused on finishing that series (it's a trilogy) before I work on anything else. I hope to get "Vaetra Untrained" into beta within the next month.
M: How do you come up with your characters?D: I wasn't very imaginative about the two main characters of the first novel. They were based on younger versions of my wife and me. For my other characters, I start by looking through images of actors from the various movies and TV shows I like. After I "cast" one of the actors in the role I need to fill, I create a character profile for them. The actor provides the physical description, but I build their behaviour from a Myers-Briggs personality type. I usually layer on a little history, some special skills or foibles, and define the character's own story goals before inserting him or her into a scene.
M: Favourite book?D: That's a hard question, but if I consider what books I've re-read the most, it would have to be "Dune" by Frank Herbert, followed closely by "Pawn of Prophecy" by David Eddings.
M: Do you have any advice for other writers?
D: Don't be afraid to experiment. That goes for your marketing as well as your writing. Also, do more of what works, and ditch what doesn't. I know we hear these things all the time, but it bears repeating. Breaking a comfortable pattern of behaviour and taking deliberate action to make your future different from your present can be difficult.
M: How do you perceive the world of self publishing?
D: Self publishing is a wonderful opportunity for all writers. It has completely changed the publishing industry, and I'm sure it will continue to do so. I'm proud to be part of the changes and grateful for the wonderful and supportive friends I've made along the way.
I would like to thank Daniel for his guest appearance on my block today, and for being brave enough to stand up at the front of the class and go first! What a fantastic start. f you haven't done so already, make sure you head on over to Amazon, or Barnes and Noble to pick yoursef up a copy of his novel Vaetra Unveiled.
Vaetra Unveiled on Amazon.com
Vaetra Unveiled on Barnes & Noble
The Vaetra Files (my blog)