As we are going through our many health issues in our house. I have been growing bored of sitting and lying around from pain.blah, blah, blah... I decided to check my inbox one day, and I saw a message from someone I highly admire, S.E. Gordon. He wanted to do another interview, so I said ok. I mean I really have nothing else to do right now, and like I said I really admire him, he's great. So without further ado, here's my interview with the man with the plan.
TEMPERANCE: Up until now, I’ve interviewed Scott about his upcoming vampire novels. Now suddenly he drops this piece of fantasy fiction on my lap. What is this all about? It sounds totally nuts.
S.E. GORDON: Thanks, Temperance. What is this? The third interview you’ve done for me? You’d figure that I’d have one of my novels out by now, but good things are in the works, I promise. Maniacal, chaotic things that could only come from 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’s merely what’s ‘hot’ right now. As is cliché, you must strike while the iron is hot, and that’s exactly what I’m doing with Enura and the Vampire Hunters series. The Sweetest Stalk is an attempt to get back to my roots, and show readers what I can do in the fantasy genre.
TEMPERANCE: So what is The Sweetest Stalk? And where did the idea come from?
S.E. GORDON: The Sweetest Stalk actually came to me while I was participating in Writers Weekly’s 24-hour Short Story Contest. I thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase my skills and pocket a little prize money (the top prize was $300). It was a humbling experience to say the least: not only did I not win a prize of any sort, I did not even place in the Honorable Mentions List. Apparently, there’s some stiff competition out there.
Months later, I dusted it off and was surprised at what I found (yes, writers with feeble minds like my own often forget what they’ve written). Sure there were a few things that needed to be tweaked and expanded upon, but by and large the overall writing was good.
When I attempted to expand it into a longer story (even 500 additional words would have sufficed), something strange happened (and I’m the king of strange). Though I tried in earnest to expand it, I only succeeded in adding a couple hundred words, while also cutting out about half that amount. That was when I realized that I had put down all that was needed to be said. And then a dubious idea hit me: what I really needed to do was write the next short story that came after it, so I jumped behind the computer and pounded out another 3,000 words (it’s still not finished, but it is coming).
This left me with an odd dilemma: even though I was giving away the first short story for free on my website, it did not appear that I had chosen the right medium. One of my books on blogging mentions that the ideal length for a blog entry is approximately 500 words; anything greater than that and you’re stretching it. The Sweetest Stalk is 1,100 words in length; so indeed, I was stretching it.
Further research also revealed some other interesting facts. One website (I forget the name, but not Project Guttenberg) offers complete novels that you can read online. By publishing the works in their entirety, they’ve found that most readers only read the first 10% of a novel, and use it as a deciding factor in purchasing the print version. I’d imagine that this also holds true with e-books in a sense. Ultimately readers don’t want to read a novel on a blog cluttered with lists of links and ads. They want a ‘clean’ version on their medium of choice (print, e-book, etc.) that they can take with them wherever they go, regardless of whether or not they have network connectivity.
After taking this into account, I decided that the best way to get people to read my work was…(drumroll)…to publish the e-book. What can I say? I have a very hard head.
Although I had intended to release The Sweetest Stalk along with its sequel, The Sweetest Stalklings, I got an idea for a third story: Stalkers, Aren’t They All? When I realized that it would be awhile before all three were finished, I decided to move ahead and publish the first one by itself. Even worse, these three short stories comprise the back-story for yet another fantasy novel in development called 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. 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 to her uncle. Annoyed at the disruption, he swallows the eye and gets back to work, thinking nothing of it. Of course, that’s when all the fun begins.
TEMPERANCE: I’ve noticed on your blog that you have another 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 writing. 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 the rough draft I had was indeed that: very, very rough. A massive editing job awaited.
Initially it scared me off, but eventually I dove in, editing chapter after chapter, not really sure what I was doing. I’m a perfectionist of sorts, and soon realized that this outlook 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 threw up my hands in frustration. Inevitably it does not.
You only get better at editing through practice and knowledge. Knowing grammar inside out and having other writers point out your tendencies helps cut down the amount of editing that is necessary. 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 more effectively. I realize all of this is a lot for a new writer, but if I were to focus on one thing just to get started, it would be to write consistently every day. One way or another, you will learn grammar and how to best tell a story, but ultimately you need to put in the hard word so that you can build 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 wish to be.
Oops. I didn’t mean to go off on a tangent. What was I talking about?
S.E. GORDON: Oh yeah. I probably didn’t tell you what it’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 it? Timara, I always say.) Our main character, Yvan Frollingswyrth, unwittingly brings the Key of Neverhence into Holloway Springs, a dangerous magical tool that opens doors between the lands of the 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 into 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 away too much of the story. Let’s just say that it doesn’t all go according to plan. He encounters a dark faery named Kymira, and stumbles upon an equally evil 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. Do I have an answer for you...Not only is this the first in a series, it’s also the first book in a series of series. Series 1 is called The Withered Ones, which includes The Key of Neverhence and two other novels. I may slip in a couple novellas in between releases (including Frollingswyrth’s dubious honeymoon exploits), but the first series is three books long.
Series 2 I know even less about, but it will probably be three books as well. Then we get to the real meat of the adventure, The First Light of the Sword, a five-book series that is told from five different perspectives. Each of these books will be enormous. Dare I say that each will top 150,000 words?
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 the span of five novels. Then there’s Series 5, which I know absolutely nothing about and don’t want to, because I’ve also devised side-stories (or “gaidens” in Japanese) and subseries. Ugh!
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 continue to support myself with my writing.
TEMPERANCE: Real quick, for those who have not read the other interview and are not aware of your vampire novels, please tell us a little bit 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 set in the town of Vissorouy, a haven where humans and vampires live in harmony. A dangerous transient called Enura descends upon their lands and begins killing everything in her path. To rid themselves of her evil presence, a vampire hunter is brought in. 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 the prequel to Enura, and features the exploits of Vampire Hunter Lawson Parker. It’s more vampire mayhem, but on a smaller scale (about 100 pages). Actually, you might want to start with Prelude first to get an idea of what you’re in for.
Beyond that, who knows? I plan to follow up Enura with Half Light and Endolyn, 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 else 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 do is believe in yourself. As your belief grows, so does your productivity. Certainly my plans are ambitious, and perhaps there are more books than I actually have time to write. But one thing at a time, one day at a time, and all dreams will come true, no matter how outlandish they seem.
You’ve heard the saying, “How do you eat an elephant? A little at a time.” It’s the same with writing. By doing a little each day, you can accomplish many great things. Here’s an 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 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 truly be 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 with the roles reversed.
TEMPERANCE: Indeed. Take care Scott, and thank you for taking the time to speak to me about your novels.
S.E. GORDON: Always a pleasure, Temperance.