Welcome to an interview with Charles Yallowitz, author of The Legends of Windemere series, including Beginning of a Hero and Prodigy of Rainbow Tower. Charles is a prolific writer on his own blog, http://www.LegendsofWindemere.com as well as an editor and contributor at The Community Storyboard.
M: Charles, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed. I’m excited to be able to talk with you about your novels and the sequels you have planned.
C: Marie, it’s a pleasure. Thanks for interviewing me. I’m always happy to do these things.
M: Can I get you anything? A beer perhaps? Or … ?
C: I’m in a chocolate milk mood tonight. Trying to minimize the beer gut.
M: One chocolate milk coming up. It’s a pleasant evening so let’s sit out on my back porch. I don’t think the cats will be a bother. They’re having their usual after dinner nap.
C: Cats always seem to have the right idea.
M: OK, let’s get started. Now, you currently have two novels published and we will talk about those. But first, I would like to discuss a selection of your poems called Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale. This is the first of your published writing that I read and I loved it. I believe Bestiary was published after you had started The Legends of Windemere series? What prompted you to publish these poems?
C: Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale was published a few months after Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero. I was waiting on cover art for my second book and I was doing a lot of poetry prompts. At one point, I went back to look at Bestiary and put out a question about illustrations on Kindle. People were telling me that I didn’t need illustrations, so I thought I would try my hand at publishing poetry. I considered it an experiment in a new genre and with minimal marketing to see what would happen. I was hoping to learn a few things for when Prodigy of Rainbow Tower came out, but the poetry book barely sold even when I tried a few free advertising ideas.
M: Barely sold? I am surprised. The imagery of the beasts is so vivid. Well, let’s talk about the first two novels in your series, both of which are currently available for purchase. What inspired you to write these novels, to even conceive of writing a whole series?
C: I’ve always been a fan of series and dreamed of creating them. Whenever I tried for a single book, I would find myself developing subplots and putting various twists in the main plot. This always made my stories bigger than I initially intended, so I guess I think series more than solitary book. Basically, I think too big and don’t put much of a check on my imagination.
In regards to Legends of Windemere, it’s based off a Dungeons & Dragons game that I played in college. The story was fun and the guy running the game agreed to let me write the stories. Since games typically run for a few years, if you’re lucky, the idea of a series was necessary. Each quest was a book, so I added character plots and events that made more sense in the book. The problem with a game is that the characters are almost always together, so you don’t get much in the way of individual development or scenes with only one character. This is probably another reason I went for a series because it gives me time to let each of my main characters develop naturally instead of competing for attention.
M: Are any (or all) of your characters, Luke and Selenia and Nyx, to name a few, based on people you know? Did they spring from your imagination in whole cloth or have you woven bits of people you know, other characters you’ve read, into them?
C: Luke Callindor is all me because he’s the one I played in the game. Most of the villains are mine too because the game never delved into them. Many of the other characters are variations of the other players. For example, Aedyn Karwyn the priest had no personality in the game and was named Aidan Quinn. I had to change all of that. One of the things I learned was that not everything translates well to a book, so I had to make a lot of changes. As the series progresses beyond the game (it died before it could finish), more 100% original characters will appear.
M: One of the things I find fascinating with your particular story is the plan you have for your writing. I believe the series will consist of five novels, is that correct? So many authors, traditionally published authors, may take up to a year in-between publications. You have yourself on a fast-track. Why is that? Is it the nature of self-publishing? The genre of Fantasy that lends itself to fast and furious publications?
C: Actually, I have 5 novels of the series done with 4 and 5 needing editing. The series will be 15 books long and then I move on to a solitary to close up a secondary’s character story. After that, I’m going to tackle vampires and so on and so on. I have about 30-40 series in various stages of outlining.
I think self-publishing does allow for faster releases, but some indie authors sacrifice quality control for that. I don’t think I will keep up this publishing rate when my publishing catches up to what I have written. I try hard to edit my books and get second opinions before putting it on Amazon. Truthfully, I’ve been trying to get published for 18 years. So, the reason it looks like I’m ahead is because I continued writing Legends of Windemere and outlining future series while submitting to agents and publishers.
M: I’m glad you make the point that you’ve been writing and trying to publish for so long. This isn’t some fluke or casual, “hey I got an idea for a book. I’ll just self-publish kind-of-thing.” You sound like the quintessential writer who simply has to write because you have so many stories in your head. You know, so many writers are influenced by other writers. Are there writers who have influenced you?
C: Being a fantasy author, I have been influenced by Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Both of them created such amazing worlds that are still enjoyed today. I’ve also been influenced by Fred Saberhagen and John Flanagan because I love the memorable characters that they made. This fits into my goal of making a world and characters that people remember after they finish reading.
M: What is a typical writing day for you? Do you set yourself goals like word or page counts? What needs to happen for you to say that you’ve had a productive and satisfying writing day?
C: A typical day is getting a chapter edited or a chapter section written, depending on what I’m working on. I try to write a chapter or two a week when I’m doing a first draft. I have a lot of distractions at home, so I play it by ear a lot. So, I’m getting to the point where I need to get at least a few pages ahead to say I made progress.
M: Publishing, whether it’s self-publishing or traditional publishing, is very competitive. Writers who are coming out with their first novels or short stories may feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the marketplace. Do you have any advice for writers who aspire to be published authors?
C: Remain confident and promote your book on as many sites and mediums as you can find. Readers who see that you are determined and serious will take your book more seriously. Make friends with other authors of various levels to create a network of support. This is where you can get advice and can improve your writing skills by talking shop. The path of being an author isn’t one that you should take alone, so make friends and see it as a team sport.
M: Well, Charles, that’s great advice. I want to thank you again for taking the time for this interview. I encourage all my readers to immediately subscribe to your blog so they can stay on top of your progress and to purchase all three of your current publications. Would you like another chocolate milk before you head back?
C: I think I’ll get one to go. Marie, it was my pleasure to be interviewed by you. I’m looking forward to your next vict . . . guest.
M: (aside) Ha ha, Charles. Be careful I don’t spike your chocolate milk.
Well, that’s it, folks! My interview with fantasy author, Charles Yallowitz. Be sure to follow his blog Legends of Windemere and pick up your copies of Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale, Beginning of a Hero and Prodigy of Rainbow Tower at Amazon.com:
Please stay tuned for more interviews by 1WriteWay (aka Marie Ann Bailey)