I’ve just published my first novel, Fezariu’s Epiphany. I intend this to be the first in a series of self-contained books set in the world of Elenchera and encompassed by the title The Elencheran Chronicles. The novels will not need to be read in any specific order; they’re more about revealing the different lands and periods of history in Elenchera than telling a chronological story.
Tell us something about yourself.
I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and began writing in 1999 when attending college. I began drawing maps and compiling the history of Elenchera to begin with but soon branched out into short stories and novels. I completed four novels prior to Fezariu’s Epiphany but they weren’t ready for submission to publishers and in the end I abandoned them. Developing Elenchera further gave me the confidence to go back to novel writing and Fezariu became the first book I had complete faith in.
What inspired you to write this book?
While developing the history of Elenchera one of favourite institutions was the Merelax Mercenaries. With Elenchera having its fair share of conflicts, the Merelax Mercenaries are often called into service but they were always in the background of any stories I thought up. I wanted to write a novel that explored them in more depth and Fezariu’s Epiphany was the result of that desire.
How did you choose the title?
The title came to me very early and I wanted it to be something that captured the essence of the novel but would also intrigue the reader at the same time. My hope is that anyone that sees the title will ask the question what is Fezariu’s Epiphany? The answer comes near the end of the novel but everything that precedes the revelation is crucial in shaping it.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
The first draft of Fezariu’s Epiphany was completed in September 2009 but I didn’t self-publish it until May 2011. That substantial gap can be explained by the fact that it took six drafts before the book was ready. After five drafts I handed the manuscript to my wife who isn’t afraid to question and criticise my work. The sixth draft soon came together and both of us were finally at a point where we could say enough was enough. Work and college commitments impacted heavily on our time and delayed the novel’s completion but once the manuscript was ready we decided to self-publish on Amazon.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
Since my early teens I’ve enjoyed reading fiction and always loved fantasy but it wasn’t until college that I started writing. I first discovered Final Fantasy VII which became my favourite console game at the time and its depiction of gods led me onto Norse mythology which changed my life. A combination of those two discoveries and a previous passion for fantasy were enough to convince me to begin drawing maps of Elenchera, building a world history and starting to write novels and short stories. It’s the dream of many of us to earn a living doing something we enjoy and I couldn’t imagine anything more enjoyable than writing for a living.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I don’t tend to write in silence, I like to have music or the TV on in the background. A home with six cats running about the place makes for an interesting and challenging environment but I’ve found the means to block them out while writing.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
The process often varies. I sometimes invent names from scratch, combining letters together and selecting names that sound good. I like to use names from history as well, whatever seems appropriate to the character in question. Striking words I come across I try to hold in reserve for characters that befit the definition. For example, the word “Internecine” was used in Fezariu’s Epiphany for the name of a rebel leader that Fezariu and his fellow mercenaries face in battle.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
The editing of Fezariu’s Epiphany was a long process but I was conscious about not making the mistakes I had done with previous books. My first three novels I didn’t edit enough before I wrote to publishers/agents about them while my fourth novel was edited so much I gave up trying to perfect it and never got round to submitting the manuscript. Fezariu took a lot of work to edit but I was thankfully able to reach a point where I could say enough was enough. My wife has been pivotal in the self-publication of Fezariu’s Epiphany and together we’ve learned that pleasing readers is more important than satisfying agents and publishers. Writing Fezariu I’ve always been focussed on a story that many readers will enjoy and if I get a positive response then I’ll be satisfied with the job I have done.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
Much of the promotion for Fezariu’s Epiphany has come after its publication date. If I could turn back the clock I would have begun the promotion just as the final edits for the book were being put in place, creating anticipation for the book’s release. The response has still been positive but I think the book would have progressed even further with pre-publication promotion.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I enjoy a variety of fiction (fantasy especially, of course) but I do feel a little lost if I haven’t got a good history book to look forward to on the horizon. My favourite novel is Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood but my favourite author is probably JRR Tolkien, one of the fathers of fantasy fiction. I also enjoy the work of George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Ernest Hemingway, Terry Goodkind and Terry Pratchett.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I’ve started planning the second of my Elencheran Chronicles novels. A World Apart will be set at a later time period to Fezariu’s Epiphany and will focus on a love triangle involving two men and one woman. It will initially be set in Himordia, which features in Fezariu, but the novel will take place in many of the colonies in West Elenchera and will offer the reader even more insight into the world.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
The best advice I can give is to find someone to be a critic for your work. I’m lucky that my wife isn’t afraid to correct my mistakes and it has certainly helped me become a better writer. A partner, friend or family member who you can trust is essential as they are just one of the millions of readers out there that will make or break your novel, so listen to them! I would also recommend starting a blog if you haven’t already. Writers blog about almost anything so you shouldn’t be short of ideas and it’s a great way to share your work online, hopefully building up a fan base and keeping your writing varied and sharp at the same time.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
I’m aiming to please fantasy fans first and foremost but one of my hopes for the Elencheran Chronicles is that I can make the genre more accessible to readers that wouldn’t normally be interested in sci-fi/fantasy novels. Even if a handful of readers pick up Fezariu’s Epiphany and then decide to try another fantasy novel then I’ll have fulfilled my main ambition.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
You can find out more about the Elencheran Chronicles at www.elenchera.com. I have accounts on Twitter (@elenchera) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/elenchera), while my blog, The World According to Dave, can be found at www.elenchera.com/blog .