This is my first novel. It’s a comedic fantasy called The Adventure Tournament. If you’ve ever read Lord of the Rings, played Dungeons & Dragons or video games like Legend of Zelda, Dragon Warrior or Final Fantasy, this world will be familiar to you. But it is a comedy, so expect a lot of laughs. Though it does have its serious moments, it is at heart a light adventure story with lots of action and humor.
But it’s not just appealing to fantasy fans. Many who have read it don’t read fantasy, yet still enjoyed it immensely. I think that has to do with the world presented. It may be on a technological level with Medieval/Renaissance Europe, but the people speak and think a lot like we do today, so that gives it more of a contemporary, mainstream tone. I also think a lot of the themes in the book are universally felt, which allows anyone to get behind the characters.
Tell us something about yourself.
I grew up in Bellbrook, Ohio, which is right outside of Dayton. Even before I knew how to write, I was still telling stories. I expressed myself through drawing back then, so I would draw the pictures and tell my parents what words to write down. I started thinking about it seriously as a career choice when I was about twelve, and always kept the dream. (I turn thirty at the end of this year.) I attended both Ohio University and Wright State University as an English major, to follow that dream.
If you read The Adventure Tournament, it will be obvious that I’m also a lifelong fan of pro wrestling. For about three years, I did video production work for some major independent companies, such as Ring of Honor, Full Impact Pro and SHIMMER: Women Athletes… my work spanned DVD trailers, music videos and live event commercials. After that ended, I concentrated on my writing a lot more and eventually finished this book. But you’ll see the influence in there; one of the characters is a former pro wrestler, and the next book’s plot directly involves wrestling!
What inspired you to write this book?
I’m a big fan of comedy and fantasy, so naturally I wanted to combine the two. Comedic fantasy isn’t very well represented, I feel. There’s Piers Anthony and Terry Pratchett, and not anyone else of much note. I also used to be into anime pretty heavily, comedies included, so a lot of that style of slapstick is present. Actually, when I imagine the scenes and characters in my head, I don’t see them as live action figures, but as anime characters.
How did you choose the title?
The Adventure Tournament is a major event in the story, so obviously it made for a fitting title. It’s a concept the ruler of the kingdom of Bolognia implements to rid his country of some of its problems and add to his own legacy at the same time. It’s open to professional and amateur adventurer alike. As you can imagine, all sorts of crazy quests and odd treasures await those who venture forth.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
Well, the first and most obvious is my general lack of attention span when it comes to finishing a story. It took me six years to get it done, but it felt like a major hurdle had been cleared when I did it. Now writing seems to come much easier.
The other is the fact that no one in the “industry” seemed to want to read it. I couldn’t find an agent who even wanted a full manuscript, and any writer out there can probably recite those form rejections by heart, so I won’t go into them. I had the novel done finally, but I seemed to have hit a brick wall. What do you do when you hit a brick wall? You don’t continuously bash your head against it and hope it falls over. You have four choices: go around it, dig under it, climb over it or get a wrecking ball and smash it to bits.
When I heard about the self-publishing services, I was intrigued but waited a while doing the submitting thing, since I knew that’s what writers were “supposed” to do. But ultimately, self-publishing drew me in with the level of control it offered, not just over the writing, but over things like formatting, marketing, the cover, etc. From following the wrestling business my whole life, plus working in it for three years, I feel like I learned a lot about how to market a product to an audience. It’s not really my background, but I think I can do well enough at it to build my own following without having to wait on some suit in a corporate office to green light my book and tell me I’m worth something.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I think I pretty much covered how I got started. I don’t think there was any one moment I knew I wanted to write. It’s just sort of what I became.
Do you have any writing rituals?
None really come to mind. Some people like music when they write, but I’m the opposite. I like complete silence. So I guess my rituals are my lack of rituals.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
Remy, the main character, is a young university student whose dream is to be an adventurer. Unfortunately, he’s also kind of a dumb ass. The name Remy always sounded like a bumpkin to me, so I went with it. I thought I might change it later, but ended up keeping it. The name of Bleg, who is the former-wrestler-turned-swordarm in Remy’s adventuring party, just came about because I wanted a barbarian-ish name that sounded like someone coughing up phlegm. The knight, Sir Gorgomar, was just something I came up with that sounded threatening yet ostentatious. There are others I could reveal, but their names are somewhat symbolic of their background or role in the story, so that would be spoilers.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
It takes a lot of attention to detail! If I had any kind of a life, I would never be able to do this.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
I’ve read a lot of fantasy, naturally. I read a lot of Robert E. Howard, Piers Anthony and David Eddings growing up, and when I was a teenager I discovered George R. R. Martin. I also enjoy Robin Hobb, J.K. Rowling, David Gemmell and others. I like each for different reasons.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
The successor to The Adventure Tournament will be called Babyface Fire, and it is finished and ready to edit. I don’t call it a sequel because I plan for each story in this world to be standalone, so Babyface Fire has a new main character and a new story. Basically, Loebo Anders (who is introduced in the first book as a minor character) goes into hiding and falls in with Bolognia’s top wrestling troupe, and hijinks ensue. While he’s running around with them, his friends are off on their own quest trying to get Loebo out of the predicament he’s in.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Just do it. Whichever you’re getting stuck at. Even that 800-page novel will get finished eventually if you keep at it. It helped me a lot if I got stuck to skip to a later point in the story and come back to finish those scenes later.
If you’re self-publishing, don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed. Take it one step at a time. Work on getting a cover done one month, then format your book the next. Once you have everything ready to go, then worry about marketing. I haven’t even started on the ebook yet, and won’t until I have the print version off and running.
I also made a “practice book” which just consisted of unedited short stories I put together. It’s not up for sale, but I used it to get acclimated to the process.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
The target audience is probably people about my age who grew up with the things that I reference and parody. They’ll get all the jokes and inside comments. And since this is a story where a theme is “follow your dream,” I think those in my age group are at a point in their lives where they’re either following the dream or settling for what they may feel is doable, and they’ll probably relate to the characters very well.
I also think teenage boys will enjoy a lot of the humor, especially some of the cruder stuff. But again, I’ve had a lot of people I didn’t expect really enjoy it. So I don’t know if there is a “perfect reader.”
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
I have a fan page on Facebook. It doesn’t have a real URL yet, so just search for Nicholas Andrews – Independent Author. It has all the purchasing information for The Adventure Tournament, and I have some other things up like a map of Bolognia and an excerpt. I prefer the book be purchased through me. You’ll get it personalized and I’ll get more profit! It is also available on Amazon. For the Facebook-challenged, I have a blog site at thenykkshow.blogspot.com. There’s not much there yet, but there is a page where the book can be purchased, and I plan on adding more to the site in the coming months.