Today’s featured debut author is William Kenney, whose dark epic fantasy made its debut last summer. I agree with William when he says that one of the most challenging aspects of writing a book is “keeping my facts straight.” In fact, next week’s writing tip will offer helpful ways for you to do just that.
Name: William Kenney
Name of book: A Dream of Storms (Book One of the In the Shadow of the Black Sun series)
Book genre: Dark Epic Fantasy
Date published: July 2011
What is your day job? I was actually laid off from my day job in November.
What is your book about? The leaves were falling in Elfwhere, but autumn had never come to the land of the Elves. It was a sign. The dark one, Mournenhile, had returned, reborn into the world of Kirkaldin. He was thought destroyed twelve years ago during the Battle of the Black Sun.
Hagan Marindel had emerged from that battle a hero. The world sang his praises and showered him with gifts. He had rejected it all, instead returning home and going into a drunken seclusion. He had become a hollow, wretched shell of his former self. Until now. The Stone Troll, Gorin, carried out an impossible quest, to retrieve Hagan and return him to Harquinn, where the mages rule. Hagan had sworn an oath, all those years ago, and Gorin would hold him to it. Can Hagan become that hero once more, redeeming himself and protecting the land from the coming horde?
Why did you want to write this book? I’ve always loved the fantasy genre, since I was a child. I started putting together my own stories when I was around 13 years old, so I suppose I have always had an interest in storytelling. This particular book is my homage to Tolkien, who started the fire, but it’s definitely not a Lord of the Rings clone.
What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? For me, working on a series, the hardest part is keeping my facts straight. I don’t want to end up contradicting myself or getting a date or character’s name wrong. It’s also a challenge to finally step back and say, “OK, it’s done.” I suppose with ebooks that’s not as big a deal, since the writer can upload new versions at any point.
Did you conduct any kind of research in order to write this book (visit certain locales, etc.)? The story takes place in a fantasy setting, so it didn’t require much research. Some of the characters’ personalities are based on people I know, so I suppose I researched them.
What motivates you to write? I love to tell stories and I love to hear the reader’s reactions to things that I have written. If I can produce an emotional response from the reader – be it fear, happiness, excitement, sadness – it’s a great feeling.
Did you experience writer’s block? I usually don’t have this issue. Before I begin, I always have a loose outline. It’s pretty easy for me to connect Point A to Point B and so on. Sometimes I will struggle with how to word something to get the exact point across.
How long did it take you to write this book? About 12 months, I think.
Why did you decide to self-publish? It’s become so easy now, and the author has 100 percent control over the finished product, the contents, cover art, price, etc.
Was the self-publishing process easier or more difficult than you thought it would be? The only thing that I had an issue with early on was formatting the book to each eReader’s specifics. Once I had that figured out, it was no problem.
What is the biggest misconception about writing a book? “Wow, you must be making a ton of money!” “When’s the movie coming out?” “Oh, I could write a book, too!” That last one is possible, but the first two are highly unlikely.
What was your favorite aspect of the writing process for this book? The characters and their interactions. I also love worldbuilding, creating the cultures and backgrounds of the characters that inhabit the story. When the original outline really takes shape and you realize that the story works, that’s a great feeling.
What tools/methods have you employed to promote your book? Promoting is not easy. All of the social media sites are great tools, but they are no guarantee. Plus, you don’t want to overdo it. Will people continue to follow you on Twitter, for example, if all they see are the same “buy my book” tweets? Doing interviews on cool sites like this could help. I can also be found on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and many other sites.
How has life changed for you since the publication of your book? I think that when you first publish a book, you are very uncertain as to the public’s reaction to it. Is my writing horrible? Have I told a story that’s interesting to someone out there? Getting great reviews and feedback from people has boosted my confidence and reassured me that I can write a good, entertaining story. Many people have asked for the next book in the series (which I am working on, I promise).
Do you find yourself obsessively checking sales stats? Yes, and I really need to cut that out.
What’s your second book titled? I am currently working on Shards of S’Darin, Book Two of the In the Shadow of the Black Sun series.
My favorite last question: Oprah once famously said that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Would you agree or disagree with regard to your own success as a writer? Couldn’t that “moment of opportunity” be considered luck sometimes? I’m sitting at a table in Starbucks, going over my latest novel, with papers spread out in front of me. A big-shot literary agent walks by, sees what I’m doing and says, “You a writer?” Seems like luck AND opportunity. Anyway, I don’t think one can expect to be successful at anything without preparation. You have to develop the skills first, right? If that moment of opportunity arises and you are not prepared to meet it, say goodbye to success.