TEMPERANCE: Up until now, I’ve interviewed Scott about his upcoming vampire novels. Now suddenly he drops this piece of fantasy fiction in my lap. What is this all about? This sounds totally nuts.
S.E. GORDON: Thanks, Temperance. What is this? The third interview you’ve done for me? You’d figure that one of my other novels would be out by now, but good things are in store for my readers. Good, maniacal chaotic things that could only come a disturbed mind like yours truly.
But The Sweetest Stalk represents something else entirely. First and foremost, I would consider myself a fantasy author. Though I love horror, science fiction and thrillers, it all started with my love of fantasy epics such as Lord of the Rings. If you’ve been following my blog and reading all the mayhem, you might think that I’m a horror writer and nothing more. But that is merely what’s ‘hot’ right now. As is cliché, you must strike when the iron is hot, and that’s exactly what I’ve done with Enura and the Vampire Hunters series. This is an attempt to go back to my roots, and show readers what I can do in the fantasy genre.
TEMPERANCE: So what is The Sweetest Stalk? What can you tell us about it? Where did you get the idea for it?
S.E. GORDON: The Sweetest Stalk actually came to me while I was participating in Writers Weekly’s 24-hour Short Story competition. I thought it would be a great opportunity to show readers my skills, and pocket a little prize money (the top prize is $300). To say the least, it was a humbling experience: not only did I not win a prize of any sort, I did not even place in the honorable mentions. That goes to show you that there’s some stiff competition out there.
Months later, I dusted off the short story that I wrote (it was less than 1,000 words), and was surprised what I found (yes, writers with feeble minds such as my own oftentimes forget what we’ve written). Sure there were a few things that needed to be tweaked and expanded, but by and large the overall writing was good.
When I attempted to expand it into a larger story (even an additional 500 words would have sufficed), something strange happened (I know, I’m the king of strange). Though I tried in earnest to expand it out, I only succeeded in adding a couple hundred words, while also cutting out about half that amount. The net result was only about 10% more, which is when I realized that I had said all that needed to be said in this small piece of flash fiction. And then a dubious idea hit me: what I really needed was to do was write the short story that comes after it, so I jumped in and pounded out another 3,000 words.
This left me with an odd dilemma: first, even though I was giving away the first short story for free on my website, it did not appear to be the right medium for people to actually read it. I read in one of my books on blogging that the idea length for a blog entry is approximately 500 words, anything greater than that and you’re stretching it.
Further research also brought some other interesting statistics to my attention. One such website (I forget the name, but not Project Guttenberg) offers complete novels that you can read online. By publishing these works online, they’ve found that most readers only read up to the first 10% of the novel, and then use that as a deciding factor to purchase the print version. I’d imagine that this also holds true with e-books in a sense. Ultimately the readers don’t want to read it on a blog wrapped in a bunch of hyperlinks and ads. They want a ‘clean’ version on their medium of choice (print, e-reader) that they can take with them wherever they go, regardless of whether or not they have network connectivity.
So taking that all into account, I decided that the best way to get people to read my work…(drumroll)…was to get it published. (What can I say? I have a very hard head.) But even with a combined 4,000 words, I did not feel that I had a complete product, so I decided to write one last short story, and add two small poems in between to tie it all together. Once I did this, it really came together, providing all the necessary back-story for my future fantasy novel Goblin Story.
TEMPERANCE: Ooh, another fantasy novel! You must tell us more about it!
S.E. GORDON: I would certainly love to, but even I don’t know a whole lot about it yet. Goblin Story is about three goblings living with their uncle Ganqua. One day Yeka comes across a magic eye in the swamp and brings it back to her uncle. Annoyed at the disruption, he swallows the magic eye, and goes back to his work, thinking that will be the end of it. Of course, that’s where all the fun begins.
TEMPERANCE: I’ve noticed that on your blog (segordon.blogspot.com) that you have a fantasy novel in the works called The Key of Neverhence. The cover art is awesome, what can you tell us about that one?
S.E. GORDON: The Key of Neverhence was actually the first thing that I wrote when I decided to take a stab at being an author five years ago. Over the span of a couple months, I tapped out 77,000 words of faery mayhem. When I went back to read what I had written, I realized that writing the rough draft was on the proverbial tip of the iceberg. A massive editing job awaited.
So I dove in, editing chapter after chapter, not really sure what I was doing. I’m a perfectionist of sorts, and I soon realized that this was having an adverse effect on the editing process. I would comb through my work over and over again until I could not find any errors. Of course, all the rereading slowed me down to a snail’s pace. After getting 10% of the book edited, I gave up. “When does the editing end?” I proclaimed. Inevitably it does not.
You only get better at editing through practice and knowledge. Knowing grammar inside and out, and having other writers point out bad tendencies helps cut down the amount of editing that is needed. And also, I can’t stress this enough because I’m terrible at it: good organization can cut out entire drafts. Organization helps you produce work more effectively. I realize all of this is a lot for a new writer (and in many ways I am still a novice), but if I were to focus on one thing just to get my feet wet in all of this, it would be to be consistent and write every day. One way or another you will learn the grammar, and how best to tell a story, but you really need to get the exercise so that you can form the necessary connections to be a writer. Once you establish this mentality, you can add to it, and sculpt yourself into the writer that you want to be.
Oops. Didn’t mean to go off on a tangent there. Now what was I talking about?
S.E. GORDON: Oh yeah, I probably didn’t tell you what that’s about, did I?
S.E. GORDON: Let’s see if I can remember. Oh yes, The Key of Neverhence is a comedic fantasy set entirely in the faery kingdom of Timara. (After all, when am I going to finish this? Timara, I always say.) Our main character, Yvan Frollingswyrth unwittingly brings the Key of Neverhence into Holloway Springs, a dangerous magic tool that opens doors between the lands of cloud and netherfaeries. But this is the least of the old geezer’s problems. While visiting the dragon lands, he’s duped into marriage with a cloud faery. Due to his advanced age, the last thing that he wants to do is to be pestered by pack of ravenous, pecker-headed kids. Will he ever find the peace and quiet he seeks? Hopefully I can throw a few wrenches in his plans.
TEMPERANCE: Wow, that sounds…insane.
S.E. GORDON: Par for the course…
TEMPERANCE: I love it, tell me more!
S.E. GORDON: Well, I don’t want to give too much of the story away. Let’s just say that all doesn’t go quite according to plan. He encounters an evil dark faery named Kymira, and becomes aware of an equally dark force called Myzeroff. There’s humor, intrigue, and plenty of spankings to go around.
TEMPERANCE: Sounds great! Like The Sweetest Stalk, is this the first book in a series?
S.E. GORDON: Oh boy. What a question to answer. Not only is this the first in a series, it’s the first book that kicks off a series of series. This first series is called The Withered Ones, which includes The Key of Neverhence and two other novels. I may slip in a couple novellas (including his dubious honeymoon exploits), but the main course is 3 books long. Series two I know less about—it will probably be 3 books as well. Then we get to the real meat of the adventure—The First Light of the Sword, a five-book series told from five different perspectives. Each of these books will be enormous. Dare I say each will top 100,000 words? So it will be awhile until these are done, but thankfully there’s plenty to do in the interim. Series 4 I know a little more about, and it will continue the use of multiple viewpoints over 5 books. Then there’s Series 5 which I know nothing about, and probably don’t want to know anything about, because I’ve also devised side-stories (or “gaidens” to the Japanese) and subseries. It’s enough to make one’s head explode. So I’m just focusing on The Key of Neverhence for now.
S.E. GORDON: Yeah.
TEMPERANCE: Do you have a life?
S.E. GORDON: A very good one, if I can support myself on writing alone.
TEMPERANCE: Real quickly, for those who have not read the other interview, and are not aware of your vampire novels, tell us about those.
S.E. GORDON: For those brave hearts that desire a darker adventure, I would suggest that they check out my forthcoming novel Enura. It’s a dark tale about the town of Vissorouy, a haven where humans and vampires alike live in harmony. A dangerous transient called Enura comes to their lands and begins killing everything in her path. To rid themselves of her evil presence, a vampire hunter is brought into town. If they are to survive, they must put aside their differences and band together, otherwise everything that they know and love will be extinguished.
If you enjoy Enura, I also have a novella that will be released around the same time called Vampire Hunters: Prelude, which is actually a prequel to Enura, and features the exploits of Vampire Hunter Lawson Parker. It’s the same mayhem, but one a much smaller scale (about 100 pages). Actually, you might want to start with Prelude first to know what you are in for.
Beyond that, who knows? I plan to follow up Enura with Half Light in the future, and continue the Vampire Hunters series with Vampire Hunters: Calamity, Vampire Hunters: Forsaken and Vampire Hunters: Enigma.
If only there were enough hours in the day.
TEMPERANCE: No kidding. That all sounds great, Scott. Anything that you’d like to say before you go?
S.E. GORDON: Only that if you want to accomplish something great, the first thing that you must have is belief in yourself. As your belief in yourself goes, so does your productivity. Certainly my plans are ambitious, and perhaps there are more books that I want to write than I actually have time for. But one thing at a time, one day at a time, and all dreams can come true, no matter how outlandish they seem.
You heard the saying, “How do you eat an elephant? A little at a time.” It’s the same for writing. By doing a little each day, you can accomplish many great things. Here’s an easy example: if you were to commit to writing 1,000 words a day, and do this consistently over the span of a year, you’d have over 365,000 words, or the equivalent of 7 novels. If you did this over a period of 10 years, you’d produce at least 70 books. Not bad output for someone who ‘only’ writes 1,000 words a day. But it’s not about the speed, it’s about consistency; and if you have that, then you will be truly prolific.
Thanks for having me, Temperance. And good luck with your own novels. I have the feeling that we’ll be doing this again soon but with the roles reversed.
TEMPERANCE: Indeed. Take care, S.E. Gordon, and thank you for taking the time to speak to me about your novels.
S.E. GORDON: Always a pleasure, Temperance.