This week I’m very proud to be able to bring you Fantasy In Motion’s first ever author interview! I’m hoping to feature a lot more of these on the blog in the future – any interested writers out there need only go to the About page to learn more. I really hope you all enjoy this post and please do leave your feedback and comments at the end.
Our interview today is with Carl Alves, an author of fantasy and horror fiction. His debut novel is called Two For Eternity and it follows the story of two immortal beings and their battle through history.
* * * * *
Hi Carl, thank you for joining us.
When did it first occur to you that writing was something you wanted to pursue?
I first started writing in high school. After about a year I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t very good at it, not to mention that I majored in Biomedical Engineering and had no time to write. I restarted about five years later when my wife urged me to start writing again. That was the point where I got serious about learning how to write and pursuing it professionally.
Which authors would you say have inspired your writing the most?
Stephen King is probably the writer who has most inspired me. His early horror is masterful. On the fantasy side, Robert Howard and Terry Brooks are the writers that I have always looked at in terms of style.
When ideas and inspiration strike you, what do you usually do next to transform this into the premise for a story?
For me it’s a mental process. I spend a lot of time tossing and turning the concept in my mind, developing characters and thinking about how the story is going to work out. For me that’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing.
When it comes to planning, do you prefer to plan everything out in fine detail or are you the kind of writer who has a rough idea of where he wants to go and dives right in?
I do virtually no outlining, other than maybe a two or three sentence high level overview. I am constantly working out the story in my head. Usually I’m looking at the next two or three chapters, figuring out the plot details, the dialogue, any action scenes. I also work out in my head longer term what’s going to happen in the story, creating characters and working out the story arc. By the time I sit in front of my laptop, the writing tends to flow easily because I know what I want to write and how I want to do it. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this method to other writers. I think writers who insist that you should outline or insist that you should never outline are misguided. It’s whatever works for the writer.
Have you ever been gripped by “writer’s block”? Is it a real obstacle to writers or a sign that the plot may be derailing?
I don’t have time for writer’s block. I work full time as an engineer at a pharmaceutical company, and I have two small children. My wife is a physician and I frequently have to take care of the kids. I write whenever I have the opportunity to do so. If that means a few minutes here and there, then so be it. I personally think writer’s block is an excuse for not having the ethic to work hard. I couldn’t imagine telling my employers in my day job that I’m not in the right frame of mind to do my work. Writing is like any other job. It’s work. It’s not glamorous. It’s not the romanticized notion that some people have. You need to plant your butt on your chair and get to work.
I notice from checking out your website that you’re a father of two. How easy (or difficult) has it been to find time to write as well as being a parent?
It’s certainly not easy. Raising two small children is a job in itself. But what it does is it makes me focus. I know I have a very limited amount of time to write, so I have to make that time productive. If I was a full time writer, I think my writing would be unfocused. I do my best work under pressure, so it works well for me. Not that I wouldn’t mind have an extra three or four hours at night to do some writing, but I do what I can.
What do you like to see when reading fantasy fiction and what don’t you like to see? Are you sick of elves, rings and dragons or does the more traditional fantasy setting still appeal to you?
I like all sorts of fantasy, whether it’s epic fantasy, urban fantasy, dark fantasy or anything in between. For me the specific subject doesn’t matter much. I just like a good story and good writing. I’ll read just about anything other than romance if the story is good. Elves, dragons, vampires, zombies, they’re all welcome. I’m an equal opportunity reader.
If you had to give one key piece of advice to new writers, what would it be?
I can’t just give one piece of advice because I think there are two things that are equally important. One thing is to improve your craft. I look at my early work and I cringe at how awful it was. The only way to get better is to keep writing, have your work critiqued by more experienced writers, and even more importantly critique the work of others. When you break down someone else’s writing in detail, you can see what works and what doesn’t work. It’s an invaluable tool to improve your own writing. The other piece of advice is be persistent. Don’t give up. It doesn’t matter if your story has been rejected a hundred times (trust me, I’ve experienced my share of rejection) it only matters that your story has been accepted once.
Where can readers find your published work and could you share with us what you’re working on at the moment?
The print version of my debut novel Two For Eternity through Weaving Dreams Publishing is currently out now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and bookstores. The ebook version is scheduled to be released in May, 2012. My novel Blood Street will be released this November by True Grit Publishing. I am hoping to announce another book deal very shortly so stay tuned. My short story “Alone Again” is currently the featured story at short-story.me. My story “Richfield Court” is out now in the Behind Locked Doors anthology from Wicked East Press. As far as my current projects, I work on about three or four different novels/short stories at any given time. I am working on a novel that I have entitled Beyond Ragnarok which is a post apocalyptic version of what takes place after the Battle of Ragnarok from Norse mythology.
Carl, thanks very much for your time.
* * * * *
Carl’s website can be found at: www.carlalves.com
Thank you all for tuning in!