Interview with Arthur Daigle   2 comments

 

Today’s interview is with fantasy author Arthur Daigle. It’s nice to have you visiting the blog, Arthur. Tell us something about yourself. 

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, and I earned a biology degree from Champaign Urbana (what can I say, it seemed like a good idea at the time).  I’d like to say I pay my bills with my writing income, but that’s a filthy lie.  I’ve worked at a variety of establishments, including Brookfield Zoo, Morton Arboretum, Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, grading tests and working at a garden center.

 

Nothing wrong with that. Real life experience makes us better writers, in my opinion. At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer? (When did you write your first story, for example?)

I started writing for fun in high school.  My work then will never see the light of day, and that’s a good thing.  (Lela laughs in agreement) I attended the College of DuPage where I had to write a paper for every class except math.  I later learned this was a deliberate move on the part of the college to get their students better prepared to write when they were employed.  With their help I got to be pretty good at writing.

I continued doing minor writing after that for fun. I joined a writers group based out of my local library. The group was a lot of fun and the members offered valuable advice. I eventually wrote a full length novel, William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins.  Friends and family members encouraged me to publish it. I eventually did so, and while it’s been a struggle to get it noticed I remain hopeful and have even published two sequels.

 

Tell us about your writing process.

It starts by taking walks. Not what you were expecting, I know, but it works for me.

 

Bradshaw King of GoblinsI hike in bear country, so it doesn’t seem strange to me. How do your walks work for you?

I take long walks with no company and no electronic devises, just me and a plastic bag to collect recyclables.  I come up with my best ideas during these walks.  No idea how it works, but it does.

The ideas come to me like movie clips running in my head. Each ‘clip’ would last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes in an actually movie. Once I have enough of these mental movie clips, I sew them together in my mind into a finished story. I then sit down at my computer and actually start writing.

When I write, it’s mostly just fleshing out the scenes I came up with during my walks. I sometimes come up with new scenes while I’m writing, and new jokes too, but I figure 80-90% of it is just copying down what I already have planned.

 

What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

I write fantasy mixed with comedy. I also write a bit of science fiction, but this is in the minority. When I’m reading I actually prefer non-fiction. I enjoy histories, biographies, gardening and biology related books, military and war books, and occasionally stranger stuff like books on jade sculptures. Odd as this must seem, I don’t like reading fantasy or science fiction anymore. I used to love them, but I got a long string of bad books. This is actually one of the main reasons why I write. I’m trying to create the books I wish I could buy at the bookstore or check out at the library.

 

I know what you mean. What are you passionate about?

I’m a devout Catholic.  I’m also interested in preserving the environment.

 

What is something you cannot live without?

Bradshaw Faint Hope.jpgI need green and love gardening. I couldn’t survive in a dry or very cold environment where I couldn’t grow things or walk in forests. I also need to create. I once tried not to in college when my grades were dipping in Latin and I needed to focus on my classwork. It felt awful. I was miserable until I got back to drawing and writing again.

 

When you are not writing, what do you do?

I draw monsters, robots, aliens and other typical guy stuff. Some of these things find their way into my stories. I also garden, with an emphasis on growing stuff I can eat. These include tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, green beans and blackberries.

 

Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

The trite answer is everywhere, but it’s true. I’ve gotten story ideas from books, movies, songs, dreams, TV news, even back of the box video game descriptions. Often times I will see something with promise that was poorly executed and wonder how I could have fixed it. I keep working on the original idea and changing it until it is unrecognizable from the source material. Other times I honestly don’t know where this stuff comes from. I’ll be minding my own business when an idea shows up, no idea where it came from.

 

I’ve had similar inspiration experiences. What sort of research do you do for your novels?

Here’s where comedy and fantasy really shines! I do very little research for my books. I get some ideas from books I’ve already read, but in fantasy I can make many of my own rules. My goblins don’t have to be replicas of mythological goblins, nor do my trolls, dwarfs, elves or dragons. Since the books are supposed to be funny I can get away with even more. My dwarfs work in corporations, my trolls act like soccer hooligans and my elves fight one another more than anyone else.

 

That sounds like fun reading. If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

Bradshaw WarI shoot for silly. There’s a line in the original Clash of the Titans where a former playwright says he used to write tragedies until he realized there were enough of those in the world. I kind of took that for my motto. If you want to cry a river then all you have to do it turn on the evening news. I want my readers to laugh out loud and feel better when they’re done with my books.

 

That’s refreshing. Do you have a special place where you write?

That’s changed over the years. I used to write in a spare bedroom, but lately I’ve done my work in the basement. Both places are fairly quiet.

 

Do you find yourself returning to any recurring themes within your writing and, if so, are you any closer to finding an answer?

A recurring theme in my books is racism and bullying. My goblins are considered the lowest of the low. They’re looked down on, belittled and robbed by just about anyone. They live in garbage dumps, wastelands and other undesirable places because larger and more powerful races pushed them from the nicer locations. As the series progresses, Will gets the goblins to realize they can fight back, and they can win.

 

Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

Plot.  I honestly don’t see another way to do it well.

 

I think it’s all depends on how your mind works Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?  Why?

As described above, I do a sort of mental outline.  I’ve tried doing the discovery method and it falls apart in the first few pages.

 

What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

I do third person for most of my work.  It gives you the option to go to another character when necessary.

 

Do you head-hop?

Only a little.  William Bradshaw gets most of the airtime in my books so it’s mostly told from his perspective. As a bonus, Will is a normal person on a crazy fantasy world, so he’s the one readers are mostly likely to understand. When necessary I give another character a few pages if the story requires it and Will’s not around for that scene.

 

I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

Curse you and your Robinson Crusoe abandonment!  I can’t grow tomatoes in Alaska!  (Insert violent grumbling here).  Okay, gardening is out since it’s Alaska and their summers are too cold and short for anything except cabbage, which I am not eating.  That means it’s hiking and exploring time.  I’ll enjoy the forests as much as possible.  Books would include the Bible, anything about Jim Henson (he’s a role model for me), and geology books.  I’m told they’ve found some pretty big pieces of jade in Alaska, so if I’m being dumped there it might be a good time to go prospecting.

 

We do have lovely jade, which kudos for knowing. Talk about your books individually.

William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins:

Will Bradshaw is desperate for work when he accepts a management job from the law firm of Cickam, Wender and Downe. Too late he learns that his job is to ‘manage’ the goblins on the world of Other Place as their king. His goblin followers are short, stupid and mildly crazy. They treat his commands as well-intended suggestions, and setting traps is the national pastime. Will’s kingdom is a former dwarf strip mine, which is still recovering after 90 years. Will can get home if he can find a loophole in his king contract with the lawyers.

That’s soon the least of his worries when he accidentally starts a war with a neighbouring human kingdom and their fashion obsessed monarch, Kervol Ket. The only way Will is going to live long enough to get home is by winning the war, a tall order when Kervol has archers, foot soldiers, knights and siege weapons. Worse, goblins haven’t won a war in recorded history, and they have no interest in winning this one, either.

William Bradshaw and a Faint Hope:

Will Bradshaw is still King of the Goblins whether he wants the job or not. He’s just learned that the legendary Bottle of Hope is hidden somewhere in his rattletrap kingdom. The bottle is highly prized, for even a single drop of its water can heal any injury or illness.

This is not a good thing. Thieves, adventurers and treasure hunters are flooding into the kingdom to steal it, and an army is not far behind. An ancient evil is also coming to destroy the Bottle of Hope. Will and his friends have to find the Bottle of Hope and get it out of the kingdom while they still have a kingdom.

William Bradshaw and War Unending:

Will Bradshaw still has a kingdom to rule despite the best efforts of both his enemies and his friends. His hectic life soon gets worse when a dwarf brings him a wounded goblin. The poor goblin has learned that a horrible evil long though contained has escaped its prison. An army of immortal madmen are on the march and coming after all the races of Other Place. Goblins, trolls, elves, dwarfs and even other men are in danger.

Will and his goblins aren’t going to be enough to face this threat. He’s going to need help from new friends and old enemies to win the day. There’s just one question: how do you beat men who can’t die?

 

There’s a Bruce Campbell sort of feel to those descriptions. They sound like fun reads. What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

Laugh!  Laugh so loud that people stare at you and wonder if you’re okay. Laugh so long that your troubles are pushed to the background where they belong.

 

What influenced your decision to self-publish?

Desperation, pure and simple. I was originally published traditionally. I found a small publisher who liked my work and gave me a chance. It worked out great for the first 9 months or so and then began to sour. We parted ways shortly thereafter.

Problem was, publishers don’t want to touch previously published books. There are a couple reasons why, but a big one is if it didn’t do well once it’s not worth risking their money on. I couldn’t find a new publisher and didn’t want to abandon my book, so I went to CreateSpace and got started with them. I’d still like to have a publisher, but that’s not an option so I forge on alone.

 

Since you have experience with both traditional and indie publishing, compare the two.

There’s surprisingly little difference between the two. Most traditional publishers are bleeding money. They don’t spend the time and dollars on marketing, largely since 60% of their books lose money. Of course that becomes sort of a Catch 22, since books are pretty much doomed to fail without marketing support from the publisher. This means the author is not only writing the book but also marketing it. Many publishers expect authors to also have their books edited at their expense before they’ll consider reading them. Bottom line, you’re already doing most of the work of a self publisher.

 

There are people who believe that traditional publishing is on the ropes, that self-publishing is the future. Do you agree? Why?

I couldn’t say. Traditionally published books are seen as better than indie work, and there’s some truth to that. When they choose to invest the money, traditional publishers can market books far better than indies as well.

 

What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishing?

As I stated above, going independent was less a choice than a requirement after my old publisher dropped me. If there is any advantage to doing this myself, it’s that I have control over the final product.

 

Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

They lack the channels for marketing books as efficiently as traditional publishers.  Traditional publishers can also get reviews from professional reviewers whose names carry more weight.

 

With the number of self-published books increasing by such a huge rate, it is really difficult for authors to make their books stand out. How do you go about this?

No idea.  My best efforts at marketing my books haven’t been all that successful.  If you have any suggestions, feel free to share.

 

Why do you think I’m asking? As an indie author myself, you’re not saying anything I don’t know, but I ask hoping to gain the knowledge others have gain. Who designed your book cover/s?

This is going to be embarrassing.  My first book cover was designed by Aaron Williams, a fantasy artist and cartoonist of some reputation. I was very glad to get him.  Unfortunately when I did my second book Aaron was overbooked and couldn’t do the work. I hired a lady named Vanette Kosman for that one. When I was ready to publish book 3, Vanette was also unavailable and asked if I could wait 2-3 months. I didn’t want to wait that long and I was worried that the 2-3 months might grow, so I contacted my current artist Jon Hrubesch.

 

Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

Yes, and in some cases they can produce superior work. I’ve read traditionally published books that were garbage and left me wondering why someone didn’t take the author aside and club them over the head with a dead badger. Seriously, we’re talking bad writing, cardboard cutout characters, gaping plot holes and other problems.

Indie books need good writing above all else. Make it stunning and as original as possible.  After that the book needs beta readers. Find people who love you enough to say your book sucks and hand it to them. Flattery gets you nothing while an honest critique is worth its weight in gold. Next step, edit the book until you can’t stand the sight of it. Round after round of editing is needed to find the flaws and get rid of them. If you can afford it, get a professional to look at it, but only after you’ve worked hard at it yourself. Lastly, buy good cover art. Note I didn’t say expensive cover art. I met a guy who wanted $650 for a cover.  He’s good, no question, but that’s a lot of money and he couldn’t work in the style I needed. There are plenty of artists out there who are talented and affordable.

 

Do you belong to a writer’s cooperative? Describe your experience with that.

I didn’t know such a thing existed until you mentioned it. I used to belong to a writers group at my library. They offered great advice, but often times I was the only person who wrote anything. Many of them had wonderful plans for books they were going to write, but the next time we met there wasn’t a word written. Others got a chapter or two done, promising work, too, and then never returned. The group folded due to lack of attendance.

 

Do you write specifically for a Christian audience? Why or why not?

I write fantasy and comedy.  I feel a good fantasy can have important theological elements in the same vein as C S Lewis and J R Tolkien.  I’m not sure if I achieved that in my writing, but I try.

 

Do you find that the Christian reader community is accepting of speculative fiction?

 

By and large yes, but there are exceptions. I have met people who state theirs is a Christian household and fantasy isn’t welcome. Personally I feel there doesn’t have to be a division between the two, and most of my readers are religious.

 

 

 Where do readers find you and your books?

Links to books:

William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins:

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0986644358?keywords=william%20bradshaw%20king%20of%20the%20goblins&qid=1458598056&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

 

William Bradshaw and a Faint Hope:

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00XX6XRGW?keywords=william%20bradshaw%20king%20of%20the%20goblins&qid=1458598088&ref_=sr_1_2&sr=8-2

 

William Bradshaw and War Unending:

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1530530105?keywords=william%20bradshaw%20king%20of%20the%20goblins&qid=1458598126&ref_=sr_1_fkmr0_1&sr=8-1-fkmr0

 

Find Arthur Daigle on Facebook.

2 responses to “Interview with Arthur Daigle

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  1. Reblogged this on Daermad Cycle.

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  2. Pingback: Interview with Arthur Daigle — aurorawatcherak | sylviasanders51's Blog

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