Featured Friday! P.H. Solomon
P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. His first novel, The Bow of Destiny was named 2016 Book of the Year by Fantasia Reviews and is the first book of The Bow of Hart Saga. The sequel novel, An Arrow Against the Wind, was released in April of 2017 and was named Fantasia Reviews 2017 Book of the Year. The third book of the series, The White Arrow, was released October of 2017. P. H. is also a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).
What’s your favourite part of the lifestyle of an Author?
Launching a book for the readers. So much goes into writing and releasing a book, it’s a thrill when it goes live to the public. The process is months of hard work being creative and coming up with a way to tell a story in a unique way. Then it’s fun to interact with readers, especially when they make direct comment about a book.
What made you start writing?
When I was younger, I had stories floating around in my mind, so I dabbled with writing off and on for years. In the last decade, with the arrival of viable self-publishing, I returned to writing because the interest never left and there was opportunity to publish books like never before that time. I’ve always enjoyed being around books, even working at a bookstore when I just out of high school so I love stories, especially SF&F.
Is there an Author that you consider your inspiration?
Honestly, what fantasy author has not read Tolkien? I still go back and read those books out of enjoyment. But there are many others I’ve enjoyed over the years from Patricia McKillip, Ursula K. LeGuin, Anne MaCaffrey and many more. In the 90’s forward, I really loved reading Robert Holdstock and Robert Jordan. Now, I find inspiration from writers like Brent Weeks, Brian McLellan and Brandon Sanderson. The list is very long.
What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?
Aside from digging in and writing, I would say to pay attention to building an audience of readers by means of short fiction that you submit to magazines or self-publish on Amazon or a blog. Demonstrating your work to readers builds interest in your work and you need it to self-publish. Otherwise, read the works of others, understand how they write and why, then hone your own craft from what you learn.
What type of book do you like to read and does this differ from the genre that you prefer to write?
In addition to science fiction and fantasy, I tend to read some mystery, espionage, adventure, non-fiction (subjects vary widely) and some paranormal. I mainly stick with SF&F about 80% of the time. While a solid character is important, I also look for a solid beginning that’s believable. For instance, an opening where someone gets killed and the blood flows on and on and the victim talks a lot is just not believable unless there’s obvious magic involved.
Which one of your characters would you most like to spend time with?
Hastra – she’s got a long tale filled with both despair and hope. She wants to do all she can as a Withling, an order of mystics that almost extinct. She keeps going through good and bad, willing to lay it all on the line to see an old promise achieved.
Which book do you consider a must-read?
From The Bow of Hart Saga, book two: An Arrow Against the Wind is pivotal and ties so much together between The Bow of Destiny and The White Arrow.
Books that I’ve read that I feel a must-reads are Armor by John Steakley and Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock (it’s a series, but the first book is wonderful). The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan is a must-read series and the last few books to finish it were well-written by Brandon Sanderson.
What’s been the hardest edit that you’ve had to make? Why did you want to keep the material in?
The Bow of Destiny/An Arrow Against the Wind is the toughest edit I’ve had. The original book was several decades old when I decided to cut my self-publishing teeth on it. As such, the first manuscript needed an overhaul even though it was once offered a contract by a small publisher. It took splitting that original into two books and then heavily updating the storyline and writing style. As part of that, I had to drop a few opening events or compress them to keep the plot moving at a somewhat decent pace.
If you could live in a book, which one would it be?
Lord of the Rings – Middle-earth seems like a place of wonder to visit though rife with peril. Someone once noted they likely wouldn’t want to live in fantasy worlds given how dangerous they are which has some truth. But there is some good in all of them and worth a visit if it were truly possible. Otherwise, I’d like to visit Earthsea from LeGuin’s trilogy of the same name or the setting for The Riddlemaster of Hed.
If you could pick an Author to write your biography, who would it be?
Brandon Sanderson since he did so well as studying Robert Jordan’s work just to finish Wheel of Time. It shows he puts in the time to know his subject when needed (he is a very meticulous world-builder). I doubt he’d spend time as a biographer though.
Is there any conflict between what you want to write and what you think your readers will like?
I would say that issue more likely exists between what’s hot in the market at any given moment versus what I’m writing. Once upon a time, everything was Celtic and now it appears to be gamelit (especially with harem mixed in). The market shifts but people tend to drift back to some of the mainstays as well. If you write a book that’s enjoyable then people will read.
What effect can a review have on you, if you read them at all? Both the good and the bad.
Very few of the bad have had merit to me. I welcome honest criticism regardless. It’s good to get any review that’s honest. I read through them and glean what I need from the expressed perspective then move on with the day. Good reviews stick with me much longer as I disentangle from bad ones as quickly as possible aside from useful information.
Can you sum up your life story in ten words or less?
He cut and pasted like mad, then went for a nap.
What’s exciting you about your next project?
Actually, I have about six projects in the works including a sequel to The Bow of Hart Saga. There are two projects otherwise that grab me, and I hope I have time to publish both this year depending on what happens with submissions to publishers. I don’t want to share much about those two since they are under consideration by editors, but they are codenamed, “Glove” and “Mage”. They are both departures from my more traditional epic fantasy and heavily invested in magic realism and cross with other genres.
And finally, you have one quote to be remembered by, what is it?
“Luck (chance or fortune) favors the prepared.”
Originally Louis Pasteur. Edna Mode quoted in The Incredibles and it stuck with me.
Thanks to P.H. Solomon for his interesting answers there. It’s good to see some lesser known works get a shout out as a must-read book. That’s what we’re all about!
You can find out more about P.H. Solomon and The Bow of Hart Saga all around the web. Check out the links below!