Robert W. Oliver II is a best-selling fantasy author. His novels include the popular Sign of Alchemy series, a top ten LGBT fantasy / mystery series on Amazon. In addition to his fiction work, he writes IT articles and technical / programming guides. He enjoys philosophy, music, nature, and caring for a menagerie of animals at home with his wife in the beautiful Shoals area of North Alabama.
What’s your favourite part of the lifestyle of an Author?
For me, writing is an outlet for the characters, plotlines, and themes that dance in my head. I dream of their adventures, I ponder their experiences, and hope I do justice in relaying their life’s story in my words.
The process of writing itself is grueling, but with the skillful assistance of my editor I distill that adventure into a readable work that I am proud of.
What made you start writing?
In my teenage years I started writing short stories about the adventures I had in video games. This triggered something in me to explore my imagination and attempt to transcribe it in a visceral way. I discarded my habit of writing for many years only to pick it back up randomly one afternoon. Since that day, I haven’t looked back.
Is there an Author that you consider your inspiration?
This may sound strange, but not particularly. I am inspired by people, by works of art, and the deliberation of ideas and the mystery far more than I am particular personalities. I have written entire scenes narrated by the range of emotions I encounter while listening to a song or created an entire story thread inspired by a painting I admire.
What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?
I’ve met two kinds of aspiring authors – the first has read hundreds, perhaps thousands of books and has one, two, or perhaps twenty pages of a book they have never finished. In this case, they must simply write and complete their book. There is no other answer or magic spell that will solve their dilemma.
The second wants to write but claims not to have the time. The only solution for that is to make the time. It will not come again.
In both cases- write!
What type of book do you like to read and does this differ from the genre that you prefer to write?
In fiction, I tend to prefer fantasy or sci-fi. The story needs to have some element that isn’t part of our common accepted reality. For non-fiction, I prefer philosophy, spirituality, or technical works. Since I write both, this is in line with what I like to read as well.
Which one of your characters would you most like to spend time with?
I would enjoy equally a long talk with Farius and a walk in the woods with Frasie.
Which book do you consider a must-read?
Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.
What’s been the hardest edit that you’ve had to make? Why did you want to keep the material in?
I have ditched entire chapters and storylines before because they weren’t in line with the theme of the novel I was writing. But they didn’t bother me too much. I learned early on it was fine to kill my darlings. There is no limit to good ideas, but there is a limit to the time in which we have to execute them.
If you could live in a book, which one would it be?
I would love to see, touch, and live in my novel Niv’leana.
If you could pick an Author to write your biography, who would it be?
Daniel Tidwell, or Neil Kramer. Both would write wildly different books and both be equally enjoyable.
Is there any conflict between what you want to write and what you think your readers will like?
Sometimes, yes. I’d like to soak on a scene a bit longer than I should. I must remember that the readers won’t be interested in the same exact things that interest me.
What effect can a review have on you, if you read them at all? Both the good and the bad.
I used to pay a lot of attention to reviews, but now I see them differently. I begin to worry if there are too many good reviews. A well-written bad review helps me grow far more than a quick “Loved it.” Don’t get me wrong, if you loved it, tell me so. But if you didn’t, I would honestly like to know why.
Can you sum up your life story in ten words or less?
A delightfully adventurous journey there and, God willing, back again.
What’s exciting you about your next project?
I’m currently writing Olivia, the third book in the Sign of Alchemy series. In it we get to explore the intricacies of the Skilla race. Niv grows even more powerful and deals with her addiction to the power of the Amulet, and Shareis reunites with her family. I’m excited to see how it ends.
And finally, you have one quote to be remembered by, what is it?
“Only the bravest of souls choose the most difficult paths. The pain they endure crystallizes into wisdom. Praise their courage and pray you can face adversity with a fraction of their dignity. When we have experienced the darkest depths of agony and the most brilliant peaks of bliss, we return home and share that wisdom with all.” -Farius, from Niv’leana, Sign of Alchemy
Thanks to Robert for answering our questions, a fascinating insight into his work.
If you’d like to find out more about Robert then check out the links below: