SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?
*Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?
SAM: Well, it’s really a long ritual, but if you insist… It starts with three days of prayers to the Dark Gods of the Underworld. During this period, I sacrifice as much time as needed to poking my cats with a large wooden spoon until they go berserk and attack the nearest living creature. Also, each night I light a candle and use my warlock powers to curse the people responsible for Twilight to the Fiery Pits of Doom… I’m not sure it works so well. And on the fourth day’s morning, I wait in my balcony and try to target three elderly people to spit on. If they show up, it means the Unholy Lords have heard my prayers and accepted my gifts, and only then I start writing…
…Oh, you wanted the short version? I just make myself a cup of coffee and have it with a cigarette or two. Nothing gets those creative juices pumping like caffeine and nicotine.
SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?
* bonus question – If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto? A sharp-tongued rogue? A reptilian alien? Do they have a catch phrase?
SAM: Oh, right, the muse or… yeah. Truth is I’m somewhere in between. It starts with a concept and I just write until I get the story going. After that it all comes to me and I create in my mind a skeleton of the entire thing, then I start building on it. I tried to stick to the plan before and it didn’t work ‘cause all these characters and sub-stories popped up, so now I just draw the outline and fill it as I go.
Uh… Sometimes, very rarely, the ideas do come through my dreams. I believe it’s not happening more often because I do A LOT of my dreaming during the day and quite awake. I don’t dream, I get flashes of images that just look too damn cool not to be shared with others. I get ideas by watching a movie or reading a book – don’t get me wrong, I don’t borrow others’ ideas and work with those, but one word that I notice and it resonates in my head can become a full concept within minutes. Hell, in the last 2 days I got an idea for two whole series about pirates and Steampunk apocalypse survivors…
As for the demonic pacts… No, not my style. I leave that to my characters and other authors who are desperate for ideas. I’m pretty original, I think, even though I make use of concepts that are as old as the world. The thing is: at this point in history, it’s almost impossible to come up with something TRULY original, so I believe it’s how you make use of what you already have.
SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?
SAM: Many consider I’m arrogant when they take a shallow look at me and the things I post online. Sometimes I am and I regret it, but most times it’s just me being honest about who and what I am. And what I am is a maritime officer, a writer, a cook, a painter, a linguist, a gamer, a reader, a DJ, a dependable friend and a real man. And those are just a few I listed off the top of my head… What people fail to realize is that they too are, and if not, can be very special, very talented and be good at more than 1-2 things if they just tried to do it! I am not arrogant, I am lucky to have had the opportunity to do all those and discover I love them… So here’s your answer: how could I pick just one? I loved the “Vampire Lestat” and “Queen of the Damned” books, I loved “Hotel New Hampshire”, I loved a “Confederacy of Dunces” and I loved all the Terry Pratchett books I had the honor to read. But… If I were to choose one to describe how my soul looks like, I would definitely go with a Shakespeare sonnet or “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”. The Master’s is impossible to beat or replace, that’s for sure.
SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?
SAM: Pfft! First, my Akaba can kick Cthulhu’s butt any day. But supposedly he doesn’t… I’d write fantasy. I think somewhere along the way, a party grenade exploded in my brain and it’s like the Looney Tunes are going crazy in there. And they have been doing that for years… Could I write a deep story, full of meaning and feeling? Sure. But throwing away all the potential fantasy has would be a real shame.
SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?
SAM: I said it before: correcting. Going over my own text over and over and over again is driving me crazy. I hate the routine! Plus, I have ADHD and OCD, and that combination in the context of trying to fix everything and hating it at the same time… You can imagine. As an author though I have another frustration which is really bothering me these days: it feels like I sold the rights to my freedom of speech. As a published writer, I can’t afford to say things that might upset potential readers / fans. Which pretty much restricts the topics I want to chew in public… That’s really hard for me to accept.
Clichés? Yes, there is something and I hope the people involved won’t hate me for it. ENOUGH with the fantasy-erotica flicks! I’m sorry if you love them, but it’s just too much! My Facebook feed is flooded with either authors who write those or girl reviewers who swoon over them. Seriously, enough! “Gorgeous vampire falls in love with confused teen”. It was fun when Buffy was running and Twilight ruined it for everyone, so change the bloody subject already!
SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?
SAM: I haven’t had the chance to write the story I want to live in. I know it sounds like I don’t trust my own novel and stories, but that’s not it. I write about werewolves and vampires and demons, and quite frankly, as fun as it is to read about them and as cool as my visuals are, I’d rather not force luck’s hand and die prematurely. On the other hand, the world I’m going to write about also has its dangers, but it’s more colorful, exotic and it has pirates! Gotta love pirates! And sure, I’d take the loved ones with me. I think they’d have a blast on those tropical islands, sipping rum cocktails and talking about treasure. Enemies? Nah. I wouldn’t banish them to any of my stories – they’re too excited. It’s more satisfying to let them struggle with the boredom of every day’s life, heheheh...
SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?
SAM: Yeah, I do think it’s possible to write something that’s a sure sell. It has been done and, every time that happens, many other authors try to copy the formula. I can’t do that and I don’t need to. If I want to make big money, I can sail for a few more years, take my exams, become a captain and get a salary of at least 10,000$ / month, so I don’t want or need to copy anyone’s success. I want to make it through something special that I write and I believe CRUX can be the next big thing if only given the chance.
SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?
SAM: Hey, I just turned 30 two weeks ago – you make it sound like I’m an old Chinese Kung-Fu master… But you’re right: I do have something to share on that topic. I don’t know if it’s wisdom, but it’s just as good because people need to know this is not just fun and games Oftentimes it is believed that writers have it easy and what they do isn’t a job, but a hobby – WRONG! Fun as it may be to write, it takes a lot of patience and focus and physical effort even to write a good book. It takes 4 hours for me to write 2 pages and be satisfied with it. It takes hours and hours to go over a whole novel and fix what you did wrong. And it takes months for a story to go through proof reading, text analysis, reviewing, editing and formatting before the final product can be found on virtual and actual shelves. So don’t think we have it easy! Even after a book is ready to be sold, you have to promote it, attend / organize events and actually give interviews as I’m doing now – this one’s my 8th or 9th. In conclusion, my advice is this: if you’re serious about it, then make sure you can commit to your project and stick with it ‘cause, my friends, you are definitely going to be tested.
SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.
SAM: I don’t have to. I write Dark Fantasy mixed with what I’ve been told is Christian influence. You can’t pick on the genre I chose – it’s too exciting and better authors than me have made a case for it long ago. Come on, everybody loves Tolkien, Rowling and Pratchett! Not to mention “Game of Thrones” is one of the most successful TV shows out there. Sure, mine is a mixture of medieval, steampunk and modern fantasy, but all the better since it includes concepts used by the writers I just mentioned plus it has that “World of Darkness” (White-Wolf game series) feel to it. I have it all and it will keep you reading until the last page. That’s a promise!
SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?
SAM: Wow, good question… Well, sure, I want people to like me. Who doesn’t? But… I don’t care about them liking me as a person as much as I care about them enjoying my writing. I want people to say “Oh! Him? I loved his last book! I can’t wait for the next!” Or “I hope he lives forever and never stops writing ‘cause I’m addicted to his series!” …Which is kind of what I said about Johnny Depp in regards to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series.
SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!
SAM: Oh, okay… I’m working on a sequel for CRUX. The novel’s called HELLBENT and it’s meant to take the characters even further, while revealing their dark side, their secrets and pushing them to their limits. I thought my series – The Angellove Society – as a trilogy, so while CRUX is epic, HELLBENT it’s meant to be dramatic and offer some insight, so then I can write the third part which is… more fantastic and fun, even though the ending will shock everyone. I’m also writing some short stories, including the second intro story for CRUX. My publisher suggested that I should add these as bonus material to the novel so the readers will get a taste of things while also understanding the characters’ backgrounds better. Unfortunately, the first story is still not up for some reason. I hope it will be added to CRUX on Amazon and the other websites A.S.A.P. In the meantime, since it is and always will be free promo stories, if any of your readers are interested, they can contact me and I will send them the PDF version immediately.
The mysterious planet Crux suffers silently with a terrible ancient curse. Holy entities and scheming lords of Hell manipulate their children like pawns in an agonizingly long game of chess, while the first Cherub Innanna, creator of the realm and savior of the Nephalem, is shackled inside a pocket dimension in eternal exile. Meanwhile a savior – the mysterious Nilithar – is summoned to Crux.
The events to follow haven’t caught only the attention of the Cruxians, but the Angellove Society’s as well. The fabled group investigates the ancient prophecy through Thomas and Andrew, a powerful half-vampire and a mage of unthinkable potential, who travel across galaxies to find the girl.
Forces beyond imagination will clash in an epic battle of Light versus Darkness, as Crux changes not only its landscape, but its inhabitants as well, and the strangest and most unlikely of heroes will rise and stand against complete annihilation.