Born in the flat rural terrain of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, I occupied my mind with the escapism of fantasy novels to explore the worlds created by Robert Jordan, Brian Jacques, and Christopher Paolini. Eventually, the image of a sword with a hilt in the shape of a dragon’s mouth came to me and inspired me to write what would eventually become the Ancient’s Armor series. The first book “The Dragon’s Rising” took several years to write while also attending veterinary school, but I expect the books that follow to have a shorter delay.
What’s your favourite part of the lifestyle of an Author?
My favourite part of being an author is simply sharing the world in my head with other people. There is not much that I enjoy more than when someone reads what I’ve written and engages me in a conversation about it because I sparked their interest.
What made you start writing?
I wanted to be a writer since elementary school. This actually pre-dates my desire to be a veterinarian, which I accomplished while writing The Dragon’s Rising, my first book. This came about as a result of my love for reading and imagining different scenarios that I could play out to entertain myself.
Is there an Author that you consider your inspiration?
I would say that I was initially inspired by Robert Jordan through his Wheel of Time series, which was subsequently finished by Brandon Sanderson, another author whose other work I have delighted in reading.
What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?
Write the book you want to read. When I go back through my writing for editing purposes and reviewing information to ensure continuity, I have to read and reread sections over and over. It would be quite a drag if I had to read and reread writing I wouldn’t enjoy as a reader.
What type of book do you like to read and does this differ from the genre that you prefer to write?
I read predominantly epic fantasy novels, as would be on brand for a fantasy writer. I greatly enjoy the different systems of magic that authors like Brent Weeks and Brandon Sanderson have come up with. However, I am currently reading Stephen Fry’s retellings of Greek mythology in Mythos and Heroes. I also recently read the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik which has the fantasy element of dragons but also moves out of the medieval era and is instead set in the Napoleonic Wars.
Which one of your characters would you most like to spend time with?
As much as I like my main character, Falkier Inalumin, it would unfortunately be too much like hanging out with myself because I did the creative writing faux pas of making the character essentially me. I would instead be spending time with either Swagin Faraneer or Shicaron. Swagin was written to be a bit of comic relief as the good-hearted oaf, so he would be fun to spend time with but not the easiest person to understand. Shicaron (the main Planesweaver in my Ancient’s Armor series) is a very good companion overall what with his ability to manipulate the threads of the universe and his drive to prove himself in spite of the handicaps forced on him.
Which book do you consider a must-read?
I am inclined to say The Dragon’s Rising, but that would be a bit conceited, so I will instead say Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. It does a spectacular job of introducing the concept of a complex magic system in an easy-to-understand format and start off a spectacular series.
What’s been the hardest edit that you’ve had to make? Why did you want to keep the material in?
The hardest edit I’ve come across was removing a large section of my first chapter of The Dragon’s Rising where I discussed Falkier’s relationship with his brothers before his imprisonment. I wanted it in there because fraternity is a theme I found myself coming back to over and over in my writing. I have the Gerra brothers, Jofalk and Swagin’s working brotherhood, the brother soldiers Falkier encounters on the road, and the sort of brotherhood shared between Shicaron and Namasery. While Falkier’s childhood relationship with his brothers would have fit into that recurring theme, the section ultimately slowed down the first chapter with information not immediately relevant to the situation.
If you could live in a book, which one would it be?
I am going to pick Shadowblack, the second book in the Spellslinger series by Sebatien de Castell. While the first book introduced the world to me, it was the beginning of Kellen’s frontier outlaw adventure that I was drawn into. Being out in the borderlands would be very exciting and I would love to spend time with an Argosi teacher like Ferius Parfax especially paired with a smart-aleck squirrel cat.
If you could pick an Author to write your biography, who would it be?
I would want Stephen Fry to write my life story. He could infuse some life into the boring details of my life with his brand of posh British humour.
Is there any conflict between what you want to write and what you think your readers will like?
While I generally do try to write the novel I would want to read, I do recognize that what other reader may like does differ from me. One thing I aim to do is try to thwart a reader’s expectation on elements of the story. Some things are not as important as the reader thinks they are and some things do not happen that most readers would suspect.
What effect can a review have on you, if you read them at all? Both the good and the bad.
One thing that a review can do for me is inform what I did right and what impact I made on a reader. In my beta-read and editing phase, the persons reading The Dragon’s Rising pretty consistently said they really enjoyed Shicaron the Planesweaver. I had invested substantial time into his character, but I was trying to mostly use him as a means of doing a good bit of world-building. His quest acts as a MacGuffin to keep Falkier’s quest going on a convenient route and explain the magic system of this universe.
Bad elements of a review can indicate things that I really need to work on. A note I received related to the dialects that I’ve given certain characters. It helped me reduce the thickness of the way I’ve written the dialect but also managed to give me an insight into what I was unintentionally communicating to the reader.
Can you sum up your life story in ten words or less?
Born nowhere. Became veterinarian. Wrote a book.
What’s exciting you about your next project?
I currently am working on both the sequel to The Dragon’s Rising as well as a novella prequel about the path the Ox Gauntlets took to get to Falkier.
In the sequel, I am excited to get to continue Falkier’s story as he travels across the continent of Naegleria and sets into motion the events which will lead to the series’ conclusion in my expected third book. I have plans for characters that will come across his path and either aid him or simply act as an Easter-egg type allusion to another work. Since I don’t write off of a solid outline, I am excited to see what I can do to accomplish my goals for this second book.
The prequel is exciting me because it shows the reader how the experience of being chosen by the Ancients is different for another person and elaborates on the relationship of Swagin and Jofalk. I hope that it will help garner interest in people that may not want to immediately spring to read the first book by an independent author.
And finally, you have one quote to be remembered by, what is it?
I wrote what I loved, and I hope readers love it too.
Thanks to Nathan for taking the time to answer our questions.
If your appetite has been whetted by his answers and you want to find out more about him and his work, then check him out on the links below!