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Yes. Building the world of Athule required that I also create different cultures, religions, societies and other features. The key to a good Fantasy tale is to make it believable. Tom Clancy said, “The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” Readers of Fantasy expect the story to be strange, but it must be possible in the realm of the world in which it exists. This means the world must feel real to the reader. They must be able to see the world–hear it, smell it, feel the wind and rain. To accomplish this I spent a great deal of time researching everything I could find on food; clothing; forms of travel; what trees, birds, animals existed for the area and time period; castles and other structures; common occupations; and hundreds of other facts. I incorporated all this, with some minor modifications as I developed my Fantasy world. To enhance this I even try to keep all the words I use, especially in dialogue, to words that originated before 1600. You will never hear one of my characters say ‘Okay’.

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For years all I read was Sci-Fi, but in recent years I have read a lot of Fantasy. I like the big epic stories that traverses three or more books. I also enjoy Alternative History–for instance I read a series once about what it would be like today if the South had won the Civil War. One of my favorites was a real good book called The Burning Mountain that told how the war would have gone in the Pacific if the U.S. had not dropped the atomic bomb on Japan. The story follows several fictional characters, both Japanese and American. The authors built the story line from research they had Japan’s actual plans for defending the homeland and the Allies plan for attacking the Japanese mainland.

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I base the stories on various Medieval lands (England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Netherlands, and others). I research the myths of these lands for some of the names, but for others I create names from the language that mean something related to the creature. For instance there is an old Welsh name Tesni that means “warmth”. Today it’s pronounced Tesnee.  I named a dragon in the Dragon-Called series Tesne. Another example are creatures that I call Surikats. They resemble large Meerkats, but with human capabilities. The Dutch word for Meerkat is Suricate.

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I’m not sure exactly when I decided to become one. I remember reading books and imagining how the story line could have gone differently and in some cases how I would have written them. This got me thinking, ‘I might actually be able to do this’. Over the years the thought pestered me and I even attempted several novels, but life just got in the way—I didn’t have the persistence or fortitude to make it happen. At some point I think I just had to force myself to sit down and write. There were many times I thought, ‘I can’t do this’, but eventually I did. Then I did it again and again. And finally, after discovering the necessary persistence, I knew I wanted to be an author.

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That’s a tough question. A lot of it depends upon what is going on in my life, how long the book is, and probably one of the most factors is how much I am being bothered by another story. As I wrote the second book in the Dragon-Called series (Betrayal of the Covenant), my mine kept drifting off this character called Rylan, a trainer of dragons, and a sarcastic dragon named Emerald. So in the middle of writing Betrayal, I wrote a smaller (300 page) book entitled The Dragon Whisperer–sending that around to Agents and Publishers at the moment. Regardless, it took me 3 years to publish Betrayal, though I do have to caveat this by stating that my family and moved twice in those three years and I had a cancerous kidney removed.

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Fortunately or Unfortunately–depends upon the day 🙂 Normally I have several stories running through my thoughts. This was the case when I was writing the Second book of the Dragon-Called series, Betrayal of the Covenant. I kept picturing this dragon trainer. A solitary orphan who gets involved with a sarcastic dragon and draws an odd assortment of characters to him as he tries battles a demon to save a girl and a kingdom. So I wrote The Dragon Whisperer, though I am still submitting it to Agents for representation. I’ve started the Third book in the series, but interrupted it and wrote the Novella, Ashes of the Dragon when a female dragon hunter, who was much more than she even knew. Right now I have three other book ideas and a couple of novellas running through my mine, but I’m really trying hard to focus on the Third book. Wish me luck.

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When someone talks to you, I don’t see how you can think of them as anything other than real. I can be watching TV, driving to the grocery store, working on another book, or any other daily activity when I suddenly hear one character or another speaking to me. It wouldn’t be so bad except I tend to have an internal conversation with them as if they were another person. They tell me about scenes they want to be in and how they think it should go, or how they would feel in a specific situation I’m thinking of writing–their emotions, how they might react. Sometimes they comment on another character. I realize that this is just my Muse, Willow, talking to me. But since Willow constantly changes her appearance–sometimes a woman, sometimes an Elfin, and even sometimes a dragon–I doubt if this is a whole lot better.

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I think I’ve always wanted to be one, it just took me a while to figure that out. I got hooked on Sci-Fi as a preteen reading Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land—I believe one of the greatest Sci-Fir writers. Later I became an avid fan of Medieval Fantasy when someone gave me a copy of Lord of the Rings.

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First off I try to write whenever I can, but I’ve found its necessary to get away from writing occasionally to keep the creative juices flowing. At these times I like to play golf—not that I’m very good at it, but at least I keep trying. I think that is the goal of golf. I really enjoy movies—it is how I visualize my own books, so I am excited to see how others have translated stories to the big screen. My wife and I walk 3+ miles nearly every day, and while I’m not always excited about this, I know it’s worth the effort. Unfortunately, I like to eat out as well. Not sure why this is?

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