Author Interview: Zacharias O’Bryan

Right, I’m back in business, although I don’t get internet at my new place for a while yet 😦 So, we have a brand new interview for you today. I really hope everyone’s enjoying this series and getting as much enjoyment from it as I am. Next week, I’m going to leave another short break and I’ll put up a special article instead. Following that, however, we’ll have two more authors on the blog which you will not want to miss! Please enjoy.

Zacharias O'BryanZacharias O’Bryan is the author of Spirit Thorn, a scifi/fantasy story which brings together some interesting and original elements. Keep reading for more from Zacharias and to find out more about his writing!

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Hi Zacharias, thanks for being here today.

A true privilege, James. Your invitation has introduced me to Fantasy in Motion. Fine work.

When did you first decide you’d write fantasy fiction? Was it something you knew you wanted to do from a young age?

Let’s say I’ve long held the fantasy of writing fiction. Seriously, I began producing amateur comic books at fourteen, eventually completing a college degree in creative writing. Life intervened—a father must earn a living—so my scribblings were limited to shorter works, mostly songs and plays. My earliest fantasy tales were fashioned for my children. The children seem to have survived but the stories did not.

If you had to give only your favourite three authors, who would they be?

I’d include Hermann Hesse, a German/Swiss symbolist from the mid Twentieth Century. Several of his tales, such as Steppenwolf, border on magical realism, but I believe his real gift was capturing myth and fable in all human experience. For the uninitiated, try Narcissus and Goldman, in which a scholarly Medieval monk and a sensuous artist become lifelong soul-mates.

Homer also places in my top three. The Iliad and The Odyssey are as readable today as 130 generations ago. Can you imagine Western literature without jealousy, conflict and the historic quest? In written form, it begins with Homer.

And for mainline fantasy buffs, I’m one of those Tolkien nerds who has enjoyed The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings seven or eight times apiece. Tolkien interwove the heroic quest with Western culture’s other pillar: the tragic sacrifice which lies at the heart of Christianity.

What is your process when you come up with an idea for a new story? Do you get characters down first, dive into worldbuilding or do you focus on the plot itself?

Believe it or not, I simply begin writing. My own belief is that our deepest stories—the ones that move our souls—exist in the subconscious. It’s our job to excavate them.

What about your planning methods? Are you a heavy planner or a “write first, ask questions later” sort of guy?

Although I wish I could sit down and wing the entire process, the air currents are too bumpy. Detailed outlining, too, has proven ineffectual, rendering the storylines too predictable. What’s left? I’m stuck with diving in and paddling. But have you ever dived into an empty pool? It hurts. After the first chapter—or even the first scene—I begin refining. The upshot is, I have banished literally hundreds of pages to wherever dead pixels go.

Some authors dread the second draft while others find this the most enjoyable part of writing. What about you?

Finishing the first draft relieves the pressure. Some of my favorite scenes have been invented then plugged into the story long after I’ve typed The End. Very enjoyable.

In your opinion, do you think there is a “winning formula” for fantasy fiction or not?

If it exists, it eludes me.

What would be your best piece of advice for new writers out there who are taking their first steps into the genre?

Take a running leap past the quicksand of making yourself the main character—even a cleverly-disguised copy named “Will” when your name is “Bill.” Few writers are either objective or creative when writing about self.

Could you tell us a little about your book, Spirit Thorn? Where can people find it?SpiritThornCover

Spirit Thorn, a Tale of Parallel Worlds was written for so-called “young adult readers,” ages 11 to 16; but has been more widely embraced by true young adults, ages 17 to 30, who have downloaded over 30,000 copies.

The action takes place along a wild river in Western America, a river that leaps into existence out of nowhere. An alien girl persuades the fourteen-year-old hero that only by following that river can he locate his parents, who have vanished into a parallel universe.

They face dangers aplenty: surging rapids, hungry vultures, insubordinate cougars. But they also find unexpected shelters and kindnesses: a shaggy green monster that sings worlds into being, a droopy-lipped harmonica player who assists with a jail-break, and a cave where the ghost-saints of the multiverse’s cultures reside as Blue Minds.

The gun-toting villains are comic because the true villainy lies within the self-centered protagonist. He has much to learn.

Spirit Thorn (ebook only) can be downloaded at Amazon, Amazon,UK, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Diesel eBooks, KoboBooks, Smashwords and Sony eBooks. At several of these vendors, it’s currently on a $1 special.

Are you able to share details of what you’re working on next?

Titled The Cyclops’ Eye, it’s definitely not about a Cyclops in the mythological sense. It’s more of a dark prequel to Spirit Thorn, but the words “prequel” and “sequel” signify nothing within the space-time vagaries of a multiverse. Taking a cue from my experience with Spirit Thorn, I’ve aimed the book at late teens to thirties. Perhaps it will it find a home with ninety-year-olds.

Zacharias, thank you very much.

Once again, James, my pleasure.

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