Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
I do, and they’re wonderful. They’re fellow authors who I mostly know through Google+, and their critiques have helped me write a far better book than I started with. There’s nothing like having a knowledgeable extra set of eyes on your story.
How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?
I use the Seven-Point Structure popularized by Dan Wells from the Writing Excuses podcast. It’s useful for both plot arcs and character arcs, and I find it creates a very satisfying and believable path of change without seeming at all formulaic. One advantage of using it is that it makes it easy to give secondary characters their own arcs, which I think gives the story more depth.
Are the names of the characters in your novels important? How and why?
They’re very important. I didn’t want to take either of the two usual paths for fantasy character naming. One is to use common names from our world, which if you’re writing a secondary-world fantasy that has no shared history with our world makes no sense to me. The other is to make up names, which is hard and can make them difficult to remember.
My solution is to use real words, which is something we sometimes do in our culture too. My characters are called things like Grace and Clement, which are familiar names, but also Determined, Steadfast, Admirable and Amiable, which are mostly translations of real names from different cultures.
The trick is that some people live up to their names and some don’t, and you won’t always know which is which right away.
What are the hero and heroine of your story like?
Determined is a young man, unsure of himself, who’s been thrust unwillingly into a leadership role and then ignored by the people around him when he tries to exercise it. He’s highly intelligent in a bookish way, but he’s also driven by a mistake he made a few years ago that gives him a personal stake in the political manoeuvrings that are going on.
Victory, his political ally and mentor, is a little older and a very experienced and competent leader. She’s even more intelligent than Determined, if anything, and has the kind of personality that shapes the world around her. People love her or hate her, but they all respect her, and nobody ignores her.
Entice us, what future projects are you considering?
I’m currently working on a book about the technical people behind the scenes that make the events of Realmgolds possible. They have their own hopes and fears and goals and struggles, the same as the important political people in the first book. I have a few more ideas, too. One is a voyage of a military skyship, scouting a new trade route into unfamiliar territory. It’s a kind of steampunk Star Trek.
Where are your fans most likely to find you hanging out?Google+. I talk a lot about writing there, not just my own writing but other people’s (I’m a very active book reviewer). You’ll also see the occasional post about kayaking, which is something else I love to do. There are a dozen places within 20 minutes of my house where I can launch into a beautiful bay or stream, and it puts me in the best mood.
The Human Purity movement is growing in power and influence in Denning, attacking dwarf businesses and caravans and inciting popular rebellion against the central government, with the passive or active support of many of the ruling Golds.
Opposing them almost alone is the Realmgold, a young man named Determined. His problem is that, even though the Realmgold is meant to be in charge, nobody is paying much attention to him.
Victory, who rules neighbouring Koskant, would love to support Determined, but an ancient magical treaty between their realms means she can’t send in her troops, her skyboats or her pressure guns. What she can do, though, is share a new magical communications technology – and her elite corps of Gryphon Clerks…
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He’s almost certainly the world’s only steampunk-fantasy author who holds a master’s degree in English, a certificate in health science, an Advanced Diploma of Hypnotherapy and a certificate in celebrant studies (rituals for transition through crisis). He's worked as an editor for a major publishing house, which is just one of the reasons he has no interest in being published by a major publishing house.
Goodreads (book page)