For my first author interview of the month, I am super-duper excited to introduce to you today one of my favorite Indie Published authors, Frank P. Spirit!
Frank and I met via a readers/writers group on Facebook. If I remember correctly, he asked me who helped with the editing of my book. I gave him my editor’s contact information and we pretty much hit it off from there! Honestly, I think between the two of us we could take over the world… BUT, that is another story entirely.
Mr. Spirit, I am so please to have you as my first author this month! Would you please tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Do you have pets? Family? Imaginary unicorn friend?
F.P. Spirit - I am from New Jersey, the Jersey Shore in fact. And no, I’ve never seen those TV shows, “The Jersey Shore” or “The Sopranos” before you ask. I live with my very understanding wife, and the two coolest teens anyone could ask for. Why is my wife understanding? Well, she married me. Why are my teens so cool? They put up with my wife and me without too much of a fuss. Seriously though, I have a wonderful family. My life mostly revolves around them. Other than that, I have a job which I really like, and a group of wacky, creative, fun friends.
Awesome family and wacky friends: what more could a person want in life? Other than a cookie? So, let’s talk a little about your writing. When did you start writing, and why?
F.P. Spirit - As I said, I really like my job. Still, I’ve been doing the same thing for over 30 years now. That’s a long time to do any one thing! I needed another creative outlet. My boys and I began roleplaying with our friends a few years back. They are very creative, even having their own worlds developed from years of doing so themselves. My friend, Tim, had created the world of Thac for just this purpose. When we started up, we created characters, backgrounds, family histories, and stories about them. There was a lot of sharing of those over the space of the last few years. There ended up being so much after a while that I decided to see if I could weave these all together into a novel. Three years later, with much encouragement and support from my friends and family, the Heroes of Ravenford were born!
Role Plays are pretty much the bomb! But I must say, until now, the thought had never occurred to me of turning one into a book… Hmmm. *puts thought on the shelf for later consideration*
Well, I am sure our audience would like to know if you write for a particular genre, or do you cross genres? If so, what is your favorite genre to write for?
F.P. Spirit - I write basically sword and sorcery type fantasy. I’ve always loved fantasy and sci-fi. It is fun and exciting to escape to different worlds and realities, to go to places where we could never visit and do things we could never do in real life!
*Unfurls my "Fantasy Rocks" flag and begins singing "We are the Champions"* Ahem... anyway. Are you a planner or a “pantser” – do you plan out your books meticulously or do you write by the seat of your pants?
F.P. Spirit - Planner. I outline my books before writing them out. I have a lot of stories about these characters and worlds amassed. If I didn’t plan it out, I wouldn’t be sure how to fit it all together.
A planner, huh? Excellent. You can be the brains of the operation when we take over the world... Moving on now! What is the most difficult part of writing for you and what is the easiest part?
F.P. Spirit - The most difficult part of writing for me is balancing out all the characters. I have quite a few in my novels and keeping it even is always a challenge. The easiest part is writing Seth and Donnie. I always can count on Seth to be sarcastic and Donnie to rush in headlong, d*mn the torpedoes!
Oof! Juggling all the different characters is proving to be a challenge for me as well. However, you have WAY more characters than I do and are very skilled at keeping them all involved, so I 've been taking notes as I've been reading your books.
Well, do you listen to music or watch TV whilst you write? Do you do anything unusual while your write?
F.P. Spirit - Oh, this will get me in trouble! I need quiet when I write. Sometimes I lash out when I’m in the middle of an important scene and somebody turns on the TV or something. That is why I set up a room upstairs where I can go hole myself up. It’s not fair to anyone else in the house to expect them to keep silent just because of the obsessive writer in the house!!
Yes. OWD: obsessive writer disorder. My poor siblings have taken the brunt of my OWD more than once.
So, is there a message conveyed within your writing?
F.P. Spirit - Compassion, tolerance, teamwork and doing the right thing. That is what the Heroes learn as the story unfolds. It’s what causes everyone to band together behind them.
I love reading stories about teamwork... and elves… which your book has both of in plenty. Speaking of reading, most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading?
F.P. Spirit - I am currently reading The Vision Stone, Book 3 in Natasha House’s Jade series. It is a great series, so creative and descriptive. The way she portrays characters and her world makes you feel like you are there. I so love her style.
I have read Natasha’s books as well! I totally understand where you are coming from. Her characters and story are very cool and so unique.
Can you name your favorite traditionally published author?
F.P. Spirit - David Eddings, hands down. His fantasy series the Belgariad and Mallorean are by far my favorites. I love the depth of his characters, and especially the way they interact. They are not your typical iconic fantasy characters. They are real characters with flaws and the like. And they are constantly “busting each other’s chops”. They are a very entertaining read no matter what the characters are doing. I always admired that, and try to emulate it in my own books.
David Eddings, huh? *scribbles note down on To-Read list* And now, to play devils advocate, who is your favorite indie/self-published author? *smiles deviously*
F.P. Spirit - You’re getting me in trouble again! I can’t name just one. I have three I like for different reasons: Natasha House for her lush, inventive style and worlds, Shannon Pemrick for her awesome characters who I’ve come to know almost as well as my own, and yourself, Kathryn, for your Tales of the Wovlen, the first in a creative series that has so much potential – I am so waiting for your second book!
*Blushes* Yeah. I’m waiting on my second book too… *glares at my uncooperative characters before shouting “Go play in the street, kids!”*. Ahem! Now then, where were we? Oh yes: Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books?
F.P. Spirit - A lot. I have been labeled as writing classic fantasy. Well in fantasy books with spells and monsters and fantastical places it is too easy to say “oh that’s magical so of course it works.” I don’t buy that and don’t expect my readers to either. I believe it should all make sense, that there should be some basic principles behind magic and the like. So I go to great pains to explain it all. Even visualizations are important. I mean, I could just say, Glolindir cast a ball of fire spell. Boring! That is why I describe things as if the reader is watching what is happening:
Glo reached into a bag at his waist and pulled out a pinch of sulfur. He began to move his arms in an intricate pattern, making a wide arc ending with his palms faced outward in front of him. A single word passed his lips, “Augue”, a small, bright red ball of light appearing between his palms. It hung there pulsing for a split second, then shot away up toward the top of the tower. The angry red ball streaked toward its target and in less than a second it traversed the distance to the catwalks above. As it reached its target, the ball suddenly expanded, now ten times its original size. It hung there for a fraction of a second longer, and then exploded! Bright red light flooded the top of the tower accompanied by the whooshing sound of the expanding flames.
That is what I like to do, paint a picture with words for the reader.
Fiiiire… wait, what? You paint? Sorry. I got distracted by the fire ball exploding. I like fire. Fire is my friend. And this scene in the book was just awesome...
Okay, back on target… so, Frank, do you self-edit? If so, why is that the case?
F.P. Spirit - I do a double, or sometimes triple pass myself. Then I pass it off to my “alpha” reader. She catches stuff I don’t see and sets me straight if I goof on continuity issues and the like. Once done, I send the draft out to a few beta readers to get their opinions. When all is said and done, I send it to my great editor/cover artist, Melinda Tipton Martin.
I tried self-editing my first book and… well… *gives Melinda a virtual squeeze hug* I love you Melinda!! On the same topic, do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited?
F.P. Spirit - Yes. I do. A good pro editor will point out things that an untrained person will not see. Another writer is also good, but they need some experience with editing at the very least.
How true that is! I didn’t even realize my issues had issues in my book until Melinda got a hold of it. So, I am curious, what was your experience with getting your book published? How did you start out? Did you have help?
F.P. Spirit - It was a disaster the first time through. The cover was amateurish, it was too long and there were lots of grammatical mistakes and run on sentences. I lucked out by connecting with Natasha House and her Robot Review club. I met a few other folks there, and that led me to Melinda. She reedited my book, I cut it in two, and got a great pro cover done. Now, book one is doing pretty well on Amazon. It has been in the top 10 a few times in Fantasy > Sword and Sorcery.
Top 10?! Man, that is awesome! Did you find marketing difficult? What strategy do you use, if any?
F.P. Spirit - It is the worst! I’ve tried ads at a few different places, and also some free giveaways through KDP select. I also joined Clean Indie Reads last month and Tamie Dearen gave a great presentation on how to use Twitter for ads. I’ve been doing that ever since and it has worked pretty well for me.
Ugh. I missed that class… drat! So, sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…)
F.P. Spirit - Great characters, solid plot, world building, technical perfect. The characters are the most important. Without interesting characters to identify with, no plot is going to keep a reader’s interest for long. With great characters, you now need a plot to lead them through. Even if the reader likes your characters, without a strong plot, they are not going to read an entire novel. Worlds paint the background for the characters and the plot. Without a solid built world for the characters to live in, the plot will eventually break down at some point.
I would have flipped the first two around and said solid plot THEN great characters. But I see your point there!
Now, if you could change anything in an existing book, or series, of yours, what would it be?
F.P. Spirit - The Ruins on Stone Hill, Book One of the Heroes of Ravenford. I got tagged a few times for not having strong female characters. If I were to rewrite it, I would probably have changed one of the character’s genders. How does Glolinda sound instead of Glolindir? Seriously, I gave thought to changing Delgron to a female warrior similar to Alana from the end of book two. Alana is a really big part of book 3 by the way.
Glolinda? No. No way. I wouldn’t have the fictional crush that I have now if that were the case! (elves are my weakness. Note to Mom: find me an elf, and I might get married) Anyway, speaking of book 3… What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
F.P. Spirit - My current series is Heroes of Ravenford. The first two books are The Ruins on Stone Hill and The Serpent Cult. The third book, The Dark Monolith, is scheduled to be released in 2015. It takes up where book two left off. Just when our heroes think it is safe, dark things start rearing their heads again. It looks like the Serpent Cult was not vanquished after all. The cult is still very much around and is after the works of the great Golem Thrall Master, purported to be hidden in an ancient monolith in the Darkwoods far to the west. But first, our heroes must clear their good names, for the Duke of Dunwynn has accused them of a crime that could have them banished or worse. Get ready for an epic battle between Lloyd and Sir Fafnar, the haughty Lieutenant from the City of Dunwynn. Add some new and mysterious allies, with secrets of their own. Mix that with a long journey, dangerous monsters and treacherous traps and you have a wild ride that leads our heroes far away from the town of Ravenford on a mission that could affect all of Thac.
AHG! The excitement is about to kill me! I am totally rooting for Lloyd in the fight! *screams “BUST ‘EM UP BRO!” and waves a little “Go Lloyd” flag*
Okay: pull myself back together.
Tell us a little about the world your series, Heroes of Ravenford, is set in.
F.P. Spirit - This story is set in the fictional world of Arinthar, on the island continent of Thac. Arinthar is a world of magic. It is populated by a combination of humans, mystical races and monsters, all of whom uneasily coexist together in this world. Arinthar has survived many ages and numerous wars over the millennium, the last being the Thrall Wars nearly 100 years ago. The world has experienced an unusual period of quiet since then, but recent events have indicated this may be coming to an end.
The end of peace... I love it! Mwahahahaha! *chokes… coughs… gags* Ahem… okay. So, please introduce our audience to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
F.P. Spirit - Lloyd is the tall, red armored Spiritblade from Penwick who wields his fiery swords like a whirlwind. Tough as he seems, he is a very caring guy who would give his life to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
Glolindir is the blonde haired elven wizard from the hidden City of Cairthrellon. He is still new to the uses of magic in the "outside" world, and makes many mistakes. However, he learns and grows as the series unfolds, trying to help his friends and prove that people of different races can work together.
Seth is the mysterious, dark clothed halfling who may very well be an assassin, his knives only slightly sharper than his acid wit. He is always verbally jabbing his friends, but Seth will go to the ends of Thac to protect them if he must.
Aksel is the serious little gnome cleric whose healing hands are only matched by his love for all living things. He is wise and strategic minded, the role of leader falling squarely on his small shoulders. It is a heavy burden though, and it is sometimes difficult for Aksel to carry the burden.
Elladan is the always effervescent white clad bard whose good looks and sylvan voice are only rivaled by his skills with musical spells. The consummate showman, Elladan lives to perform. But when he meets the Heroes, Elladan stands by their side through peril after peril, helping however he can.
*Giggles like a fangirl* I love all of them! But, I think Glolindir is my favorite. Do you have a favorite character? *smiles deviously again*
F.P. Spirit - You’re getting me in trouble again. I cannot pick a favorite main character. They are all far two special to me in their own ways. However, I can pick a favorite support character. Ruka, hands down. The sarcastic teen appears to be a female copy of Seth at first, but we quickly find out there is far more to the fifteen year old than meets the eye. She is butt kicking in a fight, not someone you want to p*ss off, as Donnie soon finds out in book three.
An excellent reminder: don’t cross a sarcastic chick. Bad things WILL happen to you.
Do you have a character you hate/dislike? Why?
F.P. Spirit - Sir Fafnar. I think that was obvious. He is the ultimate pompous politician, trying to worm his way up the ladder in the Dunwynn chain of command. He is also quite obviously after the hand of the Lady Andrella. Fafnar is very easy to hate for all his intolerance and arrogance. He is the perfect foil for the Heroes as well because he is not someone they can just take out in battle. He is a noble of Dunwynn and has as much right to be in Ravenford as they do.
Political men and stuffy noblemen always make me snarl like a dragon. I will gladly lend a dragon out to the heroes to scorch the pompus windbag, simply for the pleasure of watching (though I have a sneaking suspicion that they will have a dragon friend of their own soon...)!
Anyway, back onto the subject: Are your characters ever based on real people?
F.P. Spirit - Funny question. My sons developed both Lloyd and Seth. They put a lot of their own personalities into those characters. So yes, I guess those two are loosely based on my sons.
Aha! That explains the great personalities those two characters have! And, have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? *Laughs like a wicked witch*
F.P. Spirit - Not yet. Debating on Fafnar though. Wink. Wink.
Do it. Like I said, I’ll lend you and the Heroes a dragon if y’all need it…
What formats are your books available in (E-book, print, large print, audio)? Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason?
F.P. Spirit - Ebook, and paperback. Audio would be fun. I have a friend who does voices (Matt, are your ears ringing?) I would love to have him read my book aloud.
GASP! That would be totally awesome! If you do it, I hope to be one of your first customers for the audio version! *grins*
Well, thank you so much for lending some of your valuable time, Mr. Spirit, and answering my questions. I had a blast! Oh… I had popcorn, by the way… did you want some popcorn? I eated it all, but… it’s the thought that counts, right?
For the rest of you reading this, thank you for visiting, and please feel free to leave a comment below! There is a dragon at every exit who will ask quite politely if you have left a comment… after that, you should totally go look F.P. Spirit and his books up! Here is the information:
F.P. Spirit’s Books on Amazon: http://bit.ly/FPSpiritAmz
Author of the fantasy series, Tales of the Wovlen, Kathryn spends a great deal of time in the world of her imagination, having tea with fire breathing dragons, writing books on flying space ships, and practicing her mad scientist laugh with gusto. However, on occasion,she returns to this world just to play with her dog and blog about her fun.
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