In addition to presenting me with various questions about my book, Hannah Shouppe decided it would be a good idea for readers to get a feel for me as the author! I’m not exactly shy about it or anything, but if you keep reading the only thing I can really say is, “you asked for it!”
1) How did you first get into writing?
I’ve been writing ever since I was in middle school. I went through a bit of a rough childhood, so I think I had been subconsciously searching for an outlet or escape all my life. A friend of mine named Greg Hale was the first person to show me I could use prose to do just that, and he showed me in a very interesting and surprising way. To this day, he probably doesn’t realize the impact he had on my life when he sat me down in front of that computer and pulled up America Online.
For those of you not born in the eighties or nineties, America Online was a chat-based program where you could seek out chat rooms with like minded people and just talk. But Greg opened up an entirely new world to me when he introduced me to text-based roleplaying using that program.
Most of my descriptive writing style and storytelling was born through countless hours roleplaying stories created by hundreds of people all across the country with nothing more than text and my imagination. I roleplayed characters in genres from completely made up fictional stories about medieval warmongerers, to fan-based adaptations of the Legend of Zelda video game series. It was a blast, and it really helped to increase my vocabulary, polish my style, and sharpen my imagination.
Fun fact: The AoL roleplaying community had its own little subculture, and it based a lot of how “cool” you were by how “cool” your screenname was. I eventually ended up with crazy “hip” names like “Chained Divinity,” “Artillery Addict,” and “Silver Calamity,” but I’ll never forget the days I started with Greg. Him as Zer0Lit and me as Finder8p. Oh, man…
2) Writing an entire novel can be cumbersome and take a lot of time, how did you get it done?
I like to think that I’ll never forget the start and end dates for my first series. I started writing NANO November 5th, 2012, and wrote the last line of my epilogue on April 1st, 2014 (And man, after six months of telling people “I’m almost done,” it was really hard to convince most of my friends and supporters that my announcement wasn’t a lame April Fool’s joke!). A little over a year and a half went into writing the 530,000 word first draft of the story. And several more months of cutting those 530,000 words into 4 digestable books followed. I just finished editing my first book, and am formatting it for Amazon. Even as I write my responses to this interview, the last formatting touches for book 1 of 4 are being worked on by my tech-savvy friend, Jonathan Pace.
That being said, I wish I could say that I got it done because every day of writing was filled with fun and inspiration, but that would not be the case. Some days I was completely drained of all creative energy and didn’t want to touch my story, some days I was writing a part in the book that I knew was necessary but hated writing it which made me want to rip my computer out of the wall, and other days I was so full of inspiration and creative juice that there were not enough hours to get it all out!
But I wrote every day. I wrote on the days that I felt drained, even if only a little. I wrote on the days that I hated the material. And, of course, I wrote on the days that I was full of all the right mojo. Some days I wrote 500 words; other days I wrote 3,000, but I wrote every single day. And while it probably sounds like an oversimplification, that’s really how I got it done. There was nothing more and nothing less to it than that. And I want to stress the “nothing less” part, because it’s a feat that’s so much easier to say than to do.
3) Who is your favorite author?
Believe it or not, my favorite book in the entire world is a book called The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emma Orczy. It is a work of historical fiction that has nothing to do with the science fiction genre I write in, but the story and characters were so impacting and the tale was so romantic! I’m a sucker for a good romance.
Aside from that book, J.R.R. Tolkien has a special place in my heart. The Hobbit was one of the first “thick” books I ever read as a middle schooler, and the subsequent Lord of the Rings trilogy kept me engaged for quite a long time after. Considering so many stories I read were written in real-time behind a computer screen, I’d be remiss not to mention that some of my favorite “authors” are ones on the aforementioned AOL community that will never have their names on a best seller list. I don’t even know their actual names, myself!
For the cutting edge stuff, I’m not as well read as I should be. When I started writing back in November of 2012, I stopped reading since I felt that I might subconsciously alter my style after reading another author’s. I have a lot of catching up to do. I hear that Mr. Martin fellow is all the rage these days.
4) What are your future plans for your writing?
The NANO series takes place in a universe I’m calling An Era of Dusks and Dawns. There are several more series set to take place in that universe. Some may be chronological, others not so much. My current plan involves finishing the editing and formatting for NANO Archive 01: The City of Fire; after that I intend to go back and finish cutting up, editing, and formatting the other 3 books in the series. You can look forward to NANO Archive 02: The War for Uriel probably within six months of Archive 01’s release.
Once the four book installment is available for purchase (Over the course of the next year to year and a half) I intend to write the universe’s second series. The current working title for that series is The Dawn Maiden, and you can expect it to be a trilogy or more in itself, likely following the same naming scheme as NANO. Other than continuing my An Era of Dawns and Dusks universe, I have thought about dabbling in a few other genres. Namely the science fiction/paranormal romance genres. It’s a niche genre that has always interested me, and I may one day try my hand at contributing to it.
5) Where do you write? Do you ever use traditional pen and paper, or is it all done on your computer?
I primarily use my computer. I would say 90% of the 530,000 words for NANO were written on my computer in a program called FocusWriter. If you’re a writer looking for a good, free program to help you focus on your writing, I highly recommend it.
The other 10% of NANO was written on my cell phone. This became more of a thing toward the end of the project, when my day-job hours kicked up and I was working shifts from 5 am to 9 pm. My job involves sitting in the back of an armored truck for a large part of the day, so in between service locations I would pull out my phone and jot down my ideas or conversations between characters to make sure I kept the continuity right. I didn’t want to sit and think about all the plot points coming together and then forget about them later, so I did some of my writing on the phone. I tell you, though, I type on a computer so much faster than I text that it was oftentimes a frustrating experience for me!
I never did use traditional pen and paper. This is largely due to the tail end of my response in the previous paragraph, haha. I type pretty quickly, and I can usually keep a steady stream of ideas, dialogue, and action running through my imagination at a pace that works well with my typing. I can’t imagine how frustrated I would be if I had to scribble everything down with a pen. I tip my hat to the authors of old.
6) Tell us something personal about you, that readers may be surprised to know:
Aside from being socially awkward, a complete anime addict, a video game nerd, and a roleplayer? I suppose if that doesn’t surprise my readers, they might be surprised to know that one of my favorite outlets for creative energy was/is participating in tabletop roleplaying games as a Dungeon Master.
I love anything that serves as a storytelling outlet, and DMing for tabletop let me do that. I started off playing a character, but it didn’t take very long for my friends to adamantly request that I be the DM for all our sessions. I ran several “stories” called campaigns, and no single campaign lasted less than a year. I’m not talking about a year-long campaign where we gathered together once a month to play for a few hours, I’m talking level 1-20 Dungeons and Dragons edition 3.5 playing once a week, all day long, for over a year (sometimes two!)
Out of all the tabletop gaming I’ve done, my favorite is Dungeons and Dragons. But I would say that Dark Heresy is a very close second; I love the combat system in that particular game. Plus, everyone dies in Dark Heresy. And it’s usually in the most gruesome way you can imagine. It’s like the Game of Thrones of tabletop gaming.