The two trilogies represented in this special week-long tour are powerful testaments to that truth. There is much that writers of all levels can learn from both of these gifted authors. There were a few questions that had not yet been asked on the round robin-style, evolving interview that I wanted to hear their answers to.
The questions I asked and Jackie and David's responses are presented below, covering questions 13-16, with a recap of the first 12 questions and answers revealed on the other three stops of this building, multi-blogger interview. I hope you enjoy the interview and gain some insights from two truly amazing writers!
H. David Blalock's Responses:
13. If you were to name one or two themes that you really enjoy exploring in your work, what would they be and what brings you to explore them as a writer of fiction? More than anything else, I like exploring our reaction to evil. Each person sees evil differently and reacts differently to its manifestations. Some react with fear, some with determination, some with anger, some with courage. Some accept it as inevitable, some defy it. Some see it as necessary to life, some see it as an atrocity against life. Of all the things that motivate us in life, the way we look at evil and what we do about that leads to some of the most interesting and compelling stories.
14. What do you consider to be the most difficult aspects of pursuing a writing career in today’s publishing climate? Staying motivated to write. Although there are hundreds more publishers on and off line, this really amounts for many as nothing more than hundreds more places for rejection. Rejection is really the fiercest enemy of the struggling writer. Now, more than any time previous, a writer needs to cultivate a thick skin and learn how to deal with the fact that rejection is a real and unavoidable part of their career, but not something that should be allowed to defeat their ambition.
15. Looking back on your completed trilogies, is there anything about the books that surprises you looking back on them that you might not have seen coming when you began them? (Within the development of the story, or a particular character (s), the tone, a theme, etc.) Honestly, I don't think so. The theme behind the Angelkiller books is so basic, the struggle between Good and Evil, and so fundamental to human existence that it blocks out any side issues that might arise. Details about the struggle might insert themselves into the story but the main idea is so all-consuming it overshadows any attempt to distract.
16. Are you done exploring the worlds featured in your trilogies or do you have any ideas for revisiting them, whether in a short story, another series, a stand-alone novel, or something else such as a movie or game? I have had several requests to expand on the Angelkiller series but for now I don't think I'll be exploring that because of so many other projects pressing on my time and energy. That's not to say that in a year's time or so I might not come up with a short story or two about the Army members, expounding on their backgrounds and giving a little more insight into their personalities and histories. For now, that is still up in the air.
Jackie Gamber's Responses:
13. If you were to name one or two themes that you really enjoy exploring in your work, what would they be and what brings you to explore them as a writer of fiction? I think what compels me to write a story, above all else, is the exploration into what we see on the outside of people, vs. what is on the inside. Those themes are all over the place in my works. It's the sort of thing I don't put in there consciously, it's more what gets my thinkie-gears cranking, but inevitably it becomes a part of what I'm telling.
14. What do you consider to be the most difficult aspects of pursuing a writing career in today’s publishing climate? The most difficult aspect of a writing career these days, for me, is the fact that the book-writing world I aspired to become a part of, when I was a kid, just doesn't exist anymore. Sure, there are the big--hm, are we down to just three major publishers now?--but with the advent of digital publishing and Amazon, and the slow death of brick-and-mortar, and self-pub, the landscape barely resembles the career I thought I was creating. I read in a marketing book once that writers today aren't just competing for readers with our current peers, we're competing with every book ever made. And I'm no salesman, have no desire to be. It can be daunting.
15. Looking back on your completed trilogies, is there anything about the books that surprises you looking back on them that you might not have seen coming when you began them? (Within the development of the story, or a particular character (s), the tone, a theme, etc.) In the beginning, I didn't see a trilogy at all--just "Redheart". But then as the story developed, I came to see that the changes taking place needed more time and space, and that my characters still had growing to do. In particular, Jastin Armitage was a complete surprise to me in Book Two - he was meant to have his own book (I thought Book Three might be titled "Jastin") but then he had an encounter that shook him to the core, and I wasn't going to hold back, just to "save it" for later. I let the story lead me, and, in the end, it felt just the right thing to do.
16. Are you done exploring the worlds featured in your trilogies or do you have any ideas for revisiting them, whether in a short story, another series, a stand-alone novel, or something else such as a movie or game? I'm the first to say "never say never", so Leland may come round again and tap on my shoulder, who knows? And I wouldn't say no to a movie deal, are you kidding? But for now, I feel closure. I like to write to explore many worlds and characters, not the same ones over and over again. I have a lot of stories in me to tell.
Here are the first 12 questions and author responses as featured on the blogs Rage Circus Vs. the Soulless Void, The Official Writing Blog of Deedee Davies, and Trip Through My Mind.
H. David Blalock
1. What originally drew you to writing? Reading. It's that simple. I was inspired by the writings of people like Heinlein, Bierce, Lovecraft, Bradbury, Clarke... the list goes on and on. I wanted to be able to tell a story as well as they did and determined early on I would do my best to accomplish that.
2. When you first started your respective trilogies, did you plan for them to be a series or was it a result of the developing story? Truth to tell, the Angelkiller Triad was never intended to be a trilogy. I wanted it to be a single volume but the story decided to be a bit more than I expected. It developed into a trilogy of stand-alones. I don't particularly want to write a series. I don't want to leave my readers wondering what happened if I unexpectedly leave this mortal coil.
3. Writing fantasy, what is your secret of making the story real enough for readers to engage and relate while still creating the fantasy elements? Fantasy is reality exaggerated. By taking something mundane and making it grand or stretching its limits, you bring the reader along with you. They believe with you as you believe. If you can't get them to ride along, then you've missed the point of writing fantasy.
4. What most inspires your stories? I prefer to take the basic questions that confront us daily and turn them around. War? There's a reason for it. Famine? Necessary. Disease? Essential. Then I ask why? From there, the story develops on its own. Sometimes it stops at flash fiction. Sometimes it goes on into novel length. But it finally gives up its answer and with any luck the reader gets to the end and nods, saying "Yep. That's right." Or "I hated the way that ended, but it made sense." I want to have the reader feel what inspired me, to share that inspiration in all its wonder or terror.
5. Which writers inspired - or continue to inspire you - to write? I have always admired the work of the writers of the first part of the 20th century. People like Lovecraft, Howard, Bradbury, Norton, even Asimov. It was the psychological impact of their writings more than the plots that affected me. It's been said there are really only a few story lines and all fiction is merely variations on those themes. How those writers took those common themes and presented them in a way that evoked a nearly visceral impact inspired me to want to join that company.
6. Do you have a special time of day that you prefer to write? I write as often and whenever I can. My favorite time, though, is while it rains. I like to sit on my porch and listen to the rain and wind. There's a certain music to that which makes it easier to hear the muse. Not sure exactly why.
7. Do you have any tips on overcoming writer's block? I find that working on more than one project at a time makes it easier to avoid writer's block. When you're writing several stories if you find yourself stuck you can always set that one aside for a bit and work on another. A little time away from the blocked story does wonders to cure the problem.
8. Are you an e-book person, or do you prefer to own a hard copy? Personally, I prefer the feel of a real book. I understand the appeal and convenience of the e-book in a society addicted to its portable computers and smart phones. Nevertheless, the tactile satisfaction of the weight of the book, the smell of the page, the knowledge it won't disappear with battery failure or break if dropped, all those things make me prefer hard copy.
9. Are you a planner/organizer when you write or a seat-of-your-pants writer? I much prefer to organize and sometimes outline my writing projects. It does wonders in avoiding writer's block. It also makes it easier to meet deadlines, provide proposals to editors, and generally facilitates the process.
10. Are there specific character traits you find yourself giving your characters and what are they? The characters get the traits they need for the story. I don't believe I have any one set of characteristics assigned to multiple characters, although I suppose there has to be a similarity between them since they are all the product of a single mind. I make an effort to give each character something unique depending on their importance to the plot. The main characters need the most development, of course, but secondary characters deserve something to identify them from the furniture in the background.
11. Do your characters speak to you and do you lead them or do they lead you? Early on, my characters tended to wander away and do their own thing. As I grew as a writer, I learned to herd them in the proper direction. Finally, it became clear that those characters who strayed from the plot too often or too far became very mortal. I haven't had much trouble since.
12. If you could sit and have dinner and convo with any writer from any time who would you meet? Undoubtedly, Heinlein. It was his work that first inspired me to write and I never lost my fascination with his writing. Although his later work suffered a bit because of his failing health, I still maintain he was one of the greatest writers ever.
1. What originally drew you to writing? For as long as I can remember, I have written stories. In elementary school, I was writing plays and "books" that I would illustrate myself and glue together, and as a teen I had so many of those blank journals filled in with angsty poetry that I ran out of room to keep them all. As an expression, writing has been a part of me, and I can't honestly say what draws me to it; maybe it's similar to how athletes are drawn to compete, and scientists to explore.
2. When you first started your respective trilogies, did you plan for them to be a series or was it a result of the developing story? My first ideas for "Redheart, Book One" were too vague and tenuous to be anything except a rough concept. Eventually, as I let the world of Leland grow and become a part of the book, the real story kicked in. I thought at first it was a single novel, but came to understand there was more to it than a single generation could tell.
3. Writing fantasy, what is your secret of making the story real enough for readers to engage and relate while still creating the fantasy elements? I'm not sure I have any real secrets to storytelling; for me, it's all about characters. I didn't at first set out to write a fantasy, I had a character who is a dragon. To my dragon, Kallon Redheart, the story isn't a "fantasy", it's his world, and his world is a part of who he is and how he came to be. His story couldn't be told any other way. That's the part I hope readers sense as real: my characters.
4. What most inspires your stories? My stories come from a place of exploration. The word "why" is a strong motivator for me. In that breathing space between "why would he/she be like that?" and "because", that's where many of my stories develop.
5. Which writers inspired - or continue to inspire you - to write? I'm a huge Ray Bradbury fan. I have a specific memory, while reading "Fahrenheit 451" of thinking, "I want to write like this. I want to do this." It took me years to work up the courage to give it a try, but Bradbury's influence definitely had a hand in it.
6. Do you have a special time of day that you prefer to write? I love to write first thing in the morning. In fact, I'd say I'm driven to the laptop, most occasions, before I'm even fully awake. I often wake up already thinking and puzzling, and bursting to figure stuff out.
7. Do you have any tips on overcoming writers block? I can share my personal experience with writers' block as something very real. I know there is raging debate over whether or not it exists, because some writers never experience it; but to me, that's like saying no broken bones exist because "I've never broken one." I have experienced it more as a cork, as though words are all bottled up behind it, and I can't seem to access them. I find it to be a symptom of something else, something amiss in my personal life, whether it be physical, emotional, or mental. I've learned to take it as a sign to something deeper. When I address that issue, the words flow again.
8. Are you an e-book person, or do you prefer to own a hard copy? I'm totally both. I love e-books for the immediacy of it; when I'm in the mood for a new read, I can shop and have it in my hands in moments. That, my friends, is a miracle. But I have bookshelves full of hard copies, too. I like to run my hands over them, smell them. I can see them everyday, they become part of my environment, and I believe they feed my mind with possibilities, even when they are sitting still.
9. Are you a planner/organizer when you write or a seat-of-your-pants writer? When it comes to writing, I'm a sort of hybrid. I have a general plan of where I'm going, what I want the ending to be, some plot twists that need to make it happen - then I let 'er rip. I often surprise myself, and sometimes I follow a conversation or action that, in the end, just doesn't work and can't be used ("delete" is a painful process), but I like to follow my storytelling instincts to uncover things I wouldn't find any other way.
10. Are there specific character traits you find yourself giving your characters and what are they? I imbue characters with traits that make sense to their own personal journeys. My "bad guy" needs realistic motives and process, just as my protagonist and other characters. If I have patterns in my stories (I think most writers do), I don't put them in consciously.
11. Do your characters speak to you and do you lead them or do they lead you? My characters often speak to me! Stories, for me, develop with tiny flashes; of a scene, a line of dialogue, a face. When it sticks, it's because a character begins to surface, with a story to tell. I used to wonder if I had some shadow of schizophrenia--eh, I'll be honest; I still do wonder. But I care less now about the why of this weird process, and more about how to honor it, and the story that comes from it.
12. If you could sit and have dinner and convo with any writer from any time who would you meet? Ray Bradbury. I've admired the man's work since I was a teenager; he was one of my biggest inspirations. The more I discovered him as a person, through media interviews and things, the more I admired him. He loved books, he loved libraries, like me. He was a dreamer, and a do-er. I sometimes drafted emails in my mind, introducing myself, assuring him I'm not a psychopath, and inviting him to lunch. I never scraped together the courage to actually do it.
More about Jackie Gamber and H. David Blalock:
Author Links: Jackie Gamber Website: www.jackiegamber.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jackie-Gamber-Story-Artist/334783969938507 Twitter: @jackiegamber
H. David Blalock Website: http://thrankeep.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Writer.HDavidBlalock Twitter: @Hdavidblalock
Tour Schedule and Activities
9/8 SpecMusicMuse Review
9/8 The Rage Circus Vs. The Soulless Void Multi-Blogger Interview Part 1
9/8 Horror Tree Guest Post (Blalock)
9/8 Elizabeth Delana Rosa ~Book Lover & Creator of Worlds~ Guest Post (Gamber)
9/9 Jorie Loves a Story Guest Post (About Gamber)
9/9 I Smell Sheep Interactive Thread with Jackie and Dave
9/9 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author Guest Post (Blalock)
9/10 The Southern Belle from Hell Art of the Angelkiller Triad (Blalock)
9/10 The Official Writing Blog of Deedee Davies Multi-Blogger Interview Part 2
9/10 Seers, Seraphs, Immortals & More Jackie Gamber Interviews H. David Blalock
9/11 Seers, Seraphs, Immortals & More H. David Blalock Interviews Jackie Gamber
9/11 Workaday Reads Guest Post (Gamber)
9/12 Vampires, Witches, & Me, Oh My! Guest Post (Gamber)
9/12 Trip Through My Mind Multi-Blogger Interview Part 3
9/12 Beauty In Ruins Guest Post (Blalock)
9/13 Jess Resides Here Review
9/14 Willow's Author Love Guest Post (Blalock)
9/14 Fantastical Musings Multi-Blogger Interview Part 4
9/14 Jorie Loves a Story Guest Post (Gamber)
Tour Page URL: http://www.tomorrowcomesmedia.com/trilogy-tour-featuring-jackie-gamber-and-h-david-blalock/
Amazon Links for Redheart, the First Book of Jackie Gamber’s Leland Dragon Series:
Kindle Version: http://www.amazon.com/Redheart-Leland-Dragon-Jackie-Gamber-ebook/dp/B004VFNJIA
Print Version: http://www.amazon.com/Redheart-Leland-Dragon-Jackie-Gamber/dp/0983108676
Amazon Links for Angelkiller, the First Book of H. David Blalock’s Angelkiller Triad:
Kindle Version: http://www.amazon.com/Angelkiller-Triad-Book-1-ebook/dp/B006CR84AI
Print Version: http://www.amazon.com/Angelkiller-H-David-Blalock/dp/0983740232
Kindle Version: http://www.amazon.com/Angelkiller-Triad-Book-1-ebook/dp/B006CR84AI
Print Version: http://www.amazon.com/Angelkiller-H-David-Blalock/dp/0983740232