In my previous post I talked about Valhalla Steel by Sean Crow. It’s an awesome book and I highly recommend you all go read it (you can read my spoiler free review here). Having pushed the book I thought it might also be nice to introduce you to the author, so I ask Sean if he’d be willing to answer
ten terrifying ah, um, some questions.
And he said ‘yes’! Hooray.
To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born in Washington State, US, but didn’t stay there long. We moved just about every other year for most of my youth so I learned how to adapt to new places and people pretty quickly. Once I graduated from high school, I went to college at Eastern Oregon University where I earned my teaching license. I stayed in my college town, got married, and have three kids with the love of my life. Now I teach in corrections and really enjoy it.
What started you writing, and is it the same thing that still inspires you today?
I have always loved writing, but never took it super seriously until my first child was born a little over 7 years ago. Since then I have hyper-focused on improving my craft in order to get my work published. That said, my family is the biggest inspiration for me. I want them to be proud of what I accomplish.
How many novels/stories did you write before you published?
Whew… A LOT. In the time it took for me to feel comfortable enough with my wordcraft to publish a book, I had written three books, probably 40 short stories, and am always looking for more ways to improve.
What has your publishing journey been like?
At first I was fixated on traditional publishing. The book I wrote before Godless Lands was a huge undertaking and I sent out countless inquiry letters with no success. I had some good conversations with agents and authors in that time, but it wasn’t until I spoke with Anthony Ryan that I decided to go the self-publishing route. He convinced me and gave me some sound bits of advice that, I believe, helped Godless Lands take off like it did.
Please tell us about your novel, Valhalla Steel.
Valhalla Steel takes place in a dark, cyberpunk world and follows a clan of gun-running vikings in a turf war with chem-dealing Fae. There are seven stories which follow the members of Valhalla Steel and each is connected by an overarching narrative. The novella has an illustration for each chapter/story which were created by my friend, the very talented Anthony Valiukonis. All of it works as a stepping stone for the novel I’m currently working on: Quenched In Blood.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
Time management is easily the hardest part. With a solid routine, this becomes less of an issue, but I often find myself torn between balancing family time with writing and work.
What is your work schedule like when you’re in writer’s mode?
Usually I try to make time after work, but I spend a lot of time with my children and wife. They are always my top priority. Once things settle down I seclude myself and get in a few hours of solid writing in. Sometimes I hammer it out, other times it’s a struggle. On the struggle days I just remind myself that I made the effort and push on. A lot of writing comes down to making yourself go through the motions in order to build a habit, even when you don’t ‘feel creative’. I have found that if I use that excuse too often it becomes easier to do and, before you know it, I’ve developed a habit of excuses.
Do you use an outline when you write, or are you more of a discovery writer?
I’m a bit of both, but I lean toward discovery. Usually I develop most of the story in my head and know where I want it to go and how I want it to end, but I discover a lot along the way. The only time I plan things out is when I have too many ideas pulling me in different directions and I need to settle it down by writing out steps for each character in order to get them where I want them to be.
How do you balance what you’re reading against what you’re writing?
I’m terrible with this. Reading has become a big struggle, but one I try to slip in where I can. I only have so much time and I don’t always make reading a priority.
What advice do you give aspiring writers?
I see writing a lot like honing your body for athletics. Unless you’re a freak of nature, you’re not going to step out and be awesome at whatever you want to try. You need to start small and work your way up. If you’ve never benched 225 lbs, tossing on 315 lbs is a bad idea, if you’ve never ran 5k, you shouldn’t run a marathon. If you’ve barely written short stories to completion, it’s very doubtful that you will write an entire book that people enjoy.
Sean Crow, thanks for playing.