What is one of the best things a writer can do? Learn from the experts!
This is the first of many author interviews in my Author Reveal series. Many thanks to Dr. Jason VanHorn, for allowing this interview, but moreover for the selfless sharing of advice that he has provided to me.
I first e-met Jason during a weekly hashtag event called #StorySocial, on Twitter. Immediately, I became a fan! His answers to the #StorySocial topics, are always on point! He has a great sense of humor and a positive attitude! Exactly the kind of combination a fellow writer looks for within a writing community.
Without further ado, check out my Author Reveal on Jason VanHorn, author of Alabaster Dangermond and The Serpent's Blade. The first in the Alabaster Dangermond series. (Link to the book's website below)
1. How long ago did you first set out to write Alabaster Dangermond and the Serpents Blade?
I started writing the Serpent’s Blade in late July of 2016. I was pretty determined to get it all out by my birthday on September 24th and I finished the first draft by September 22nd. It was about 52,000 words at that point. I edited the manuscript for about a year and then it went to an editor after that.
2. What is the inspiration for your story? Was it deeply-seated, hiding in your head until you let it out? Or did it jump at you one day out of the blue?
Oh! My kids inspired the story. One night after reading to them, they wanted to hear a made-up adventure story, so I created Alabaster, Turnkey and my antagonist, Dr. Zerick Moonshae. That was about six years ago. Often they would ask me to tell them another Alabaster mission, so they really helped me form Al’s world and additional characters. After a while, I began to write down the missions, so when I started writing, I had the ideas already worked out.
3. Your book is published by Goldenwood Press, an Independent Publishing Imprint. Why did you choose this publisher as a partner?
I was full steam ahead with traditional until I had lunch with a friend who shared some of the virtues of indie publishing. I was querying agents and had nice feedback about the book concept, but no one joined me. I decided to go the indie publishing route and began to submit to various presses, directly. My wife, Kellie, started Goldenwood and she made the call to accept Alabaster Dangermond. I’m still open to traditional publishing, but at least for now, I’m really glad to go indie to retain all the creative rights to my work.
4. How long was the wait? From the moment that there was an agreement to publish your work, to the first copy reaching your hands.
The project was accepted in September of 2017 and I had the first copy in January of 2018. It was an incredible moment holding my book in my hands for the first time!
5. Is this your first written work? Are there any other intriguing pieces we should know about? Short stories, blogs, university papers?
This is my first novel, but I’m published in the academic world with several papers, mapping projects and datasets. Not sure if my readers would be interested in those boring university papers, but I sure do love them! Maybe the most interesting would be a paper on how to construct and analyze a 3D computer city to protect people and place from sniper fire, which was published in 2010.
6. What was the hardest part about writing this book?
The slow pace of editing was tough. Specifically, the action scenes were hard to write because I wanted them to be realistic, fast-paced, and generate emotion for the reader. After editing and rewriting scenes multiple times, sometimes you lose the emotional connection and that makes it hard to know what kind of emotion the reader will feel the first time they read it.
7. Tell us about you! Your day job, your family and your hobbies!
Me? I’m a professor of geography and I’m a homeschooling dad. My family spend all of our time together, which is mostly great. One of my hobbies is making furniture. It brings me a lot of peace, quiet, and time to think. I like the math that comes with measurements.
8. How do you break up your schedule to make time for writing?
It’s tough and I’ve had to say no to things I love to make room for writing. I write after my kids are in bed and I do it almost every night that I can.
9. You and I share a love for Jane Austen books! What other books or movies carried inspiration for you?
Yes—Jane Austen is the best! For Alabaster, the Hardy Boys books were a big influence. I love that the Hardy boys are brothers and share a deep friendship, so I was determined that Al and Turnkey would be best friends with a bond as strong as real brothers would, even though they come from different families.
10. How far along are you with book two in this series? How long before we get our hands on it?
I’m 31,000 words into Astrid’s Jewel already and I hope to have it published by January 2019. Before then, I have a secret area on http://alabasterdangermond.com (readers of the first book figure out how to access the secret website area from the hidden clues in the book), so you might find early chapters and other content on the upcoming book there.
Alabaster Dangermond and The Serpent's Blade is an imaginative story. I fell in, right away! I love stories with brave characters that aren't afraid to break the rules, for the right reasons!
Check out Alabaster Dangermond at alabasterdangermond.com
You can also follow Jason on Twitter: @Dr_VanHorn