What led you into writing?
Drawing, actually. I spent a lot of my life drawing. For a time, I was doing odd jobs in different countries, like portraits in Taiwan or castles in Germany, basically living the starving artist dream. My pen followed me everywhere, giving shape to whatever was in my head at the time.
Art was such a go-to outlet for me that I never had much luck expressing myself with words, haha. My friends actually used to rag on me about this, so I decided to start giving my drawings background stories to practice wordmancing. Nothing overly ambitious, just a sentence or two per drawing. Then the stories started connecting, and after a while, I had the bare bones of Burn Red Skies.
Burn Red Skies was my first writing endeavor, and I’m proud of how it turned out! It is my attempt to translate art into writing, and I’m excited to see how my author journey develops from here.
How does a typical day look?
I have a day job at a software company, so that eats up a good chunk of the day. Fortunately, I’m working from home, so I spend breaks getting household things done and enjoying some tea. Chilling with my guinea pigs. Thinking about chilling with my guinea pigs.
After work, I go for a round of Muay Thai to let off steam. I actually met most of my friends in my boxing gym (I only moved to this city a couple of years ago), so it sort of became my go-to for socializing. More recently, I’ve started doing Zumba, so I’m sprinkling that in between sessions. Tuesdays and the Saturday are my rest days.
I catch up on illustrating and writing after training, and a bit more on my rest days. In April/May, I’m going to start shifting my activities to focus a lot more on my third book. My current schedule just isn’t sustainable the way it is—I wake up at 8 and sleep at 2, so something’s got to give.
In what ways do your characters test your abilities?
Of course, it’s difficult getting into the head of someone so different from you, especially characters whose personalities are repulsive to you. But the hardest part, I find, is drawing the line between character development and, well, fulfilment fantasy. Like we have a beast of a warrior who can summon dragons, so I always have to check myself to sure her actions make sense for her, and not what I want them to be… say, if I personally had control over a dragon (and I’ve thought about this a lot). I make a mental list of things I would do in their situations, and a list of things they would do. The columns almost never match.
And truthfully, it’s more fun when they don’t match. It’s a greater creative challenge to write characters doing something I don’t personally agree with. It results in this delightful moral grayness, and that’s absolutely my jam.
What’s your setup?
I write on my laptop, so I don’t have a set spot. It lets me write during work breaks, or while I’m relaxing on the couch, or am waiting for things to cook in the kitchen. Even between reps at the punching bag!
What lasting effects have your favourite authors had on your writing and style?
The first thing I notice when I read books is sentence rhythm. I like books that are melodic, that have their own rhythm, whether they be short and sharp or longer and melodic. Some of my favorite authors use a lot of words to describe something. Some use no words as a way to describe something. So I always try to maintain my own rhythm.
The second thing I notice is the imagery. It isn’t very surprising, I think, because I base my writing off my art. Can I imagine these sentences as an image? If so, which parts are important and interesting to the reader? How much focus do I really have to give the trees in the background? Do they make for an interesting image? It’s an effort in staging, not unlike compositions for my sketches.
I personally try to describe only the key elements of a scene and leave the rest to the reader’s imagination.
What do you do for inspiration?
My drawings inspire my writing, but video games often inspire my drawings. I especially love concept art books for video games. My current favorites are League of Legends: Realms of Runeterra and The Art of Dragon Age: Inquisition.
What repeating themes do you find yourself pulling into your stories?
I’ve only written the Burn Red Skies series, but so far, I would say:
– interdimensional dragons
– airship smugglers
– elemental magic
– complete and utter moral grayness
– chaos and shenaniganry
How do you wind down?
A good round of Muay Thai usually does the trick! It helps me clear my head and gives me laser focus for like five minutes, which lets me reflect on things in peace.
What sort of challenges do you regularly overcome while designing your world/setting?
Trying not to have easy answers and cop outs. For example, there is a lot of elemental magic—and dragons!—so it would be easy having the dragon destroying everything, or fire magic burning everything down. But that’s not a fun story, or at least the fun would get old quite quickly if one side kept winning like that. So creating (believable) cracks in the world is always a challenge, but one of the most fun parts of writing, I think.
What are you reading at the moment?
The last book I read was Hall of Bones by Tim Hardie, and I’m currently reading Legacy of the Brightwash by Krystle Matar. Both are fantastic and wildly different from one another. I’ve read seven finalists so far, and they’ve all been tremendous.
Outside the SPFBO realm, I’m reading Witch Hat Atelier xD
What’s the most useful advice you could give to an aspiring author?
Try not to treat readership as a limited resource. In the writing community—especially the indie SFF community—a lot of your readers are going to be fellow writers, so it’s a community that thrives on solidarity, not competition. Don’t be that person.
But of course, that means it’s (generally) a very open and supportive community, so take advantage! Ask for help from fellow writers and don’t see them as competition. That might be a bit rich coming from someone in the middle of a competition, but actually, the other SPFBO finalists and I have a group where we share pie cake, exchange tips, boost each other’s books/projects, and freak out together.
In short, I would describe the indie SFF community as a creative, chaotic blob. Be one with the blob.
Tell us about the book you’re promoting.
Burn Red Skies is the first book in the Burn Red Skies series. Check it out if you’re into airship smugglers, elemental magic, and (interdimensional) dragons!
👋 Hi! I run Author Interviews
As a new writer I found myself itching to contribute to a thriving, creative community, so I made Author Interviews and I've met loads of wonderful people in the process. You can buy my debut fantasy RINGLANDER: THE PATH AND THE WAY from Amazon.