I hope you like the interview below with David Brown, author of Fezariu’s Epiphany, which forms the first novel set in the Elenchera universe. If you enjoy what follows, and are intrigued about the book, why not buy it and give it a try? David can be found at his site, www.elenchera.com and on twitter as @elenchera
Interview: David Brown
FS: Hi David, and welcome to fringescientist.com Thank you for agreeing to participate in this interview.
DB: Thank you for having me. It’s great to be here.
FS: Tell me a little bit about Elenchera. What made you want to create your own diverse Fantasy setting?
DB: Elenchera is a world that currently has 47,000+ years of history, spread across twenty-five ages known as Shards and comprises twenty-three individual lands. It will form the setting for all my future novels, each one focusing on the everyday lives of the many characters amidst a different historical period and series of events, some integral to world history, others minor incidences. I’ve always loved fantasy and when I decided to try my hand at writing it wasn’t a difficult decision selecting this genre. I was drawn to the idea of my own world, not just the challenge, but the luxury of defining all the rules and writing my own history.
FS: Which Fantasy settings from other works have been an influence on what you’ve done with the world of Elenchera? I suppose an obvious influence on any Fantasy writer would be Middle-Earth, but are there any others that have informed the creative decisions you’ve made with your own setting and world?
DB: My major influences and the reasons I became a writer were the Final Fantasy RPG series and from there Norse mythology. I’ve played many of the Final Fantasy games and have always enjoyed the characters and rich blend of storylines that you have to play through. Norse mythology was a revelation for me, so much darker and somehow more realistic than the Greek myths. You mention Middle Earth and what fantasy writer does not draw inspiration from our forefather, J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve also been inspired by Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, the Sword of Truth series from Terry Goodkind and Arthurian myths and legends.
FS: Do you think that it’s liberating having the stories be stand-alone entities rather than an on-going narrative? I saw somewhere that you’re at work on the follow-up to Fezarius Epiphany. I suppose you aren’t hindered by what’s come before, in the direction you take next.
DB: I prefer having self-contained novels that combined form the Elencheran Chronicles but are not designed to be read in any particular order. I prefer the freedom of being able to write about a new set of characters. I’ve lived with the characters of Fezariu’s Epiphany for a long time but it’s now wonderful to be meeting a new bunch in my next novel – A World Apart. I’ve had some people mention a sequel to Fezariu’s Epiphany but it will never happen. Fezariu’s story is finished by the end of the novel and given what he goes through during the story I would be very cruel indeed to force him to experience anything else.
FS: How have you found self-publishing your work? How successful has Fezarius Epiphany been?
DB: It’s been enjoyable but hard work at the same time. My wife, Donna, who is my no.1 fan and critic has been instrumental in helping me get this book out there. It’s a massive boost that she’s Internet savvy, which is always good. Self-publishing has you worrying about all aspects of the book’s creation but together Donna and I have overcome the many obstacles. Fezariu’s Epiphany has been self-published for just over two months and the feedback has been heartwarming to say the least. Giveaway competitions have proved very popular, I have blog tours planned this year, and at present the novel has a 4.5/5 average on Goodreads which is amazing. I had said before self-publishing Fezariu’s Epiphany that an average of 3/5 would be a job well done but to currently have 4.5 is sensational. Some reviewers have really embraced the novel and Elenchera as a whole, just the sort of impact I have long dreamed about.
FS: Something that a lot of Indies struggle with is the promotion of their own work. I suppose the internet is such a vast space to make an impact on, that it’s hard to get your voice (or work) heard. What avenues have you been exploring in promoting the first Elenchera story?
DB: My wife, Donna, has taken on many roles since the book’s publication and one of those has been the publicity element. We’ve tried a range of things from guest blogs, bookmarks, giveaways, a book trailer and blog touring. You can never do enough when it comes to promotion. Donna is a huge support to me here because I’m not the most assertive person but she keeps me focused on both promoting Fezariu’s Epiphany and also getting my head down and writing A World Apart. I’m already excited about the self-publishing and promotion for my next book as we’ve found so much out (the hard way) this time.
FS: For other amateur Fantasy writers starting out, what’s your advice? Would you say that it’s best to build from the ground up, so to speak, and work on the world and setting first, as you have done, and then write the stories that fit into that world and history?
DB: Starting with the world history is my personal preference. I started the history and drawing maps (500+ of them!) back in 1999 but although I was focused on that part I did try writing novels immediately. I struggled a lot because although I had maps to refer to I was faced with question after question about the towns and the lands that featured. When writing fantasy your readers won’t expect an encyclopedia of detail in your narrative but a bit of background will be required to set the scene. After the difficulties with early novels I knuckled down and devoted all my time to the world history. When I started Fezariu’s Epiphany it was easy. I knew the lands I wanted to feature, the period of history it would be set and all I had to do before writing was having a quick read through my timeline to grasp the historical context and zeitgeist. The result was a novel far superior to anything I have written before.
FS: How do you write? Are you a plotter?
DB: I do like to plot my novels but I never seem to have an entire story laid out before I start writing. I’m working on A World Apart at the moment and although I knew about the beginning and the ending there are many gaps in the middle of the narrative that I’m still unsure about. The good thing is as I’ve started writing the novel some surprising elements have crept in that are already shaping later events, something I hadn’t anticipated in the planning stage. I like to have a rough idea of where the story is going to go. I couldn’t just start writing and see where I end up, I need a bit of guidance.
FS: Have you planned out many books in advance?
DB: I have a Word document with novel ideas and having written the world history of Elenchera some elements have been highlighted as possible storylines. The outline for my novel ideas are just bullet points summarizing the main events but they would still require some plotting. I must have at least a dozen of these ideas ready and waiting to be written. If my ideas ever ran dry I would simply go back to the world history and start reading from the beginning through to the end. I’ve no doubt many ideas would come to me.
FS: What do you do when you’re not writing?
DB: I enjoy reading (fiction and very often history) and watching films (world cinema and anime most of all). When not engaged in my favourite hobbies I’ll spend a lot of my time engaged in a daily battle of wits with the six cats Donna and I own – Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Frodo and Bilbo. You may not believe me here but of our six rescue cats we’ve only named Charlie and that’s because his original name was John which just didn’t seem to work for a cat!
FS: Would you like to write full-time, given the opportunity?
DB: It’s my ultimate dream. I can think of few things more enjoyable than writing whether it’s novels, short stories or blogs. My perfect life would be a small house out in the country surrounded by land for the cats to roam free and safe from roads. I could take a country walk in the morning then settle down in the afternoon for a few hours of writing. It would be a sweet life and, you never know, it may happen one day.
FS: Okay, David. I’m going to ask you 5 questions.
1. Favourite Book/Series of Books?
DB: Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood.
2. Who would play you in David Brown: The Movie?
DB: Probably one our cats. I could have a taste of the easygoing life of eating and sleeping that they gloat to me about on a daily basis.
3. If you could stipulate a totally inappropriate song choice for your own funeral, what would it be?
DB: Ugly Kid Joe’s Everything About You would be a good choice but failing that how about the delightfully cruel Say Hello Wave Goodbye by Soft Cell.
4. Which website(s) would you say you visit most often?
DB: I use Twitter and Facebook a lot to interact with friends and fellow writers but I do enjoy listening to my favourite songs on YouTube and keeping an eye on my home football team – Barnsley FC – on BBC Sport.
5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? Or what do you see yourself doing?
DB: I’m due to start a new job in a couple of weeks so I imagine I’ll still be doing that if it turns out to be a good company. A World Apart will have been self-published and I may even have written and published my third novel from Elenchera. I’d like to think the Elenchera novels will be continuing to grow in popularity in the next five years. I’m not a greedy person when it comes to money. I’m quite content for my writing just to be able to pay the bills but the most important thing for me is having readers come back and tell me what they honestly think. Not everyone has enjoyed Fezariu’s Epiphany and any criticisms I’ve received so far and in future will be duly noted for A World Apart. In five years time I will have improved as a writer and hopefully my latest novels will reflect that.
FS: Before we go, I read a review of Fezarius Epiphany on somebody’s blog prior to this interview, and the one thing they noted was the lack of a map to visualize the areas of Elenchera described in the novel. Have you considered getting someone to turn the maps you created in the process of brainstorming Elenchera into a graphic for the web and the books? One of the things I always loved about Middle-Earth and the Narnia Chronicles growing up was the maps in them. I don’t know if it’s just something that goes hand-in-hand with Fantasy, but there is something mystical and enticing about looking at a map of a fantastical land and then reading about what takes place there. There are a lot of people on twitter (Peter Saga of @SFFEZINE being one of them, for example) who are graphic designers. I’m sure that one of them will jump at the chance to be involved.
DB: That review was very informative and helpful and, yes, maps appearing in future Elenchera novels is something I would certainly consider. I’m the same when it comes to fantasy novels. You can’t beat those maps, can you? I would definitely need someone with a bit of graphical ingenuity about them considering the appalling maps I have in my folders as reference. Whoever takes on the challenge will do deserve a knighthood. A fantastic illustrator (Jack Knight, Knight Time Illustrations) has done some character illustrations for us, which are fantastic so seeing Elenchera in a more visual format is definitely a long-term goal.
FS: Well we’re at the end now David. Hopefully we can have a chat again. Thanks for participating!
DB: Thank you again for the interview. I really enjoyed the questions and I would certainly love to return, especially when A World Apart has been published.
David Brown was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and first conceived the idea of Elenchera in 1999 while still at college. Fezariu’s Epiphany is his first novel. You can find out more about Elenchera and Fezariu’s Epiphany at http://www.elenchera.com.
Buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Fezarius-Epiphany-ebook/dp/B00515BM9W