Where am I from… that’s a really good question. There are those who claim that I’m the product of chaos and madness. There are those who feel that my origin is some other planet, and yet there are those who feel that I was created from the ether. The truth is that I was born in California on a particularly stormy day many years ago. I’m a half-n-half kid; I grew up half in the San Francisco Bay Area, and half in the Sierra Nevada foothills. So, one might say that I have an unsettled past. I currently live in the fertile Sacramento Valley in California – which is on the west coast of the United States.
When did you start writing and what was your first book?
I’ve been writing most of my life, but only realized it was what I wanted to do with my life when I was the last years of college. I seriously began working on writing projects starting in nineteen ninety four. It was then that my college roommate and I took up writing short stories to entertain ourselves. In those days he and I frequented the large Northern California Renaissance Faire that was at Black Point Forest in Vallejo California. In those carefree, happy-go-lucky days, we’d consume copious amounts of ale, feast on faire food, and cavort with the wild-eyed bodice enhanced lasses at the faire. On one occasion my roommate wrote a short story about our faire characters (we’d created detailed characters for the event) traveling to the Queen’s Faire c.1565. Now mind you, we really were drunken loutish rakes in those days, and so it stood to reason that my roommate would make the fictional characters epically more rake-ish. The next time we went to the faire, I tried my hand at writing a short story; and so it went, we wrote back and forth exchanging short stories, until we had a pile of them. I then suggested that we make a book, and since the characters and setting were always the same, we should forge our short stories into a novel.
The novel that we created and had published is titled Tales of Mad Cows and Brothels (published 2000 by Pulsar Publishing). It’s a story of three anti-heroes who become embroiled in a plot to assassinate the Queen of England, who in turn was plotting to invade France. The three anti-heroes, Leofric de Longnor the deposed son of nobility, Kenton McMuir the wanted Irish pirate, and Jacques Perrault de Lyon a disgraced cult priest, find that while they act with complete narcissistic compulsion, fate guides more than they know. The story is irreverent, violent, savage, and tongue-n-cheek, not to mention quite cheeky. There is topnotch political intrigue, a complex plot, and a hilarious ending, that I guarantee any reader will not see coming. Also, it’s free on my web site www.boarerpitchford.com if anyone wants to download it. It’s in Apple e-pub format and Amazon mobi format. I also must warn the readers that this story is very rated R, if not X – so download it at your own peril.
My favorite author? I can’t pick just one. In science fiction I love Dan Simons, Larry Niven, and Philip K. Dick. In fantasy I am a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, and Robert E. Howard. For the classics I love Homer, and Dante Alighieri, John Milton, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as the great Louis Carol.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s a simple story, almost as if he wrote it to be a children’s fairy tale, but the imagery and pace of the story is absolutely epic. It was the first novel that I read that took me into a fantasy world. It made a significant impression on me. When I finally began to shape myself into a writer, I was able to reflect on the style and pace of Tolkien’s story, and appreciate the subtle way it drew me into it, and allowed my imagination to make the world real. For high fantasy it really is what I believe to be the benchmark.
Favorite character from a book you've written?
My favorite character is Leofric de Longnor the troubled, and perhaps brain damaged son of a murdered nobleman. His plight in the story is compelling, and he is the deeply flawed character that those who have read the book cheer for to achieve redemption. He is all the things that make a fantastic character; he’s flawed, and must struggle to grow, his cause is worthy of success, and those who wish to him harm are true villains. While none of the heroes of the story are likable, they are the underdogs who are pursued not only by those who want to murder the Queen, but by the Queen’s own agents too. Thus, Leofric is not in control of his own destiny, and part of his charm in the story is that at no time is he trying to take control. Like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole, he accepts his place along the path he’s set on. He’s consumed by his own narcissistic behavior, but there is a moral compass to him, I’ll be it, not a very good one.
What do you do when you have writer's block?
In the past I could address writer’s block by shifting from writing project to writing project. Recently though, I found myself struggling with deep depression and a lack of motivation to create. All I wanted to do was come home and rest. Of course I have a day job, where I work as a professional, and after spending 8-10 hours at work, then an hour commute, then once home preparing for the next long day – the creative urge in me suffered. Finally, I found a cause when a writer friend told me about Create Space. Create Space is a print on demand publisher. I thought, it would be nice to see my four e-books turned into paperback. Once motivated, I was able to focus on the four e-books that I published through Amazon; The Lantern of Dern Blackhammer, In the World of Hyboria, Thadius, and Sawbones, and format them for paper. They were in need of some re-editing too [the plight of the contemporary Indie-author] and thus I embarked on quite a journey. Over the course of eight months, I reread the works, did some extensive copy editing, committed the edits to the e-copies and created the paper copies. Now they’re all available on Amazon, Smashwords, and CreateSpace (and other distributions such as Barns and Noble). Once this weight was lifted from my shoulders, my creative mojo came on, and I have been chomping at the bit to get back to my new writing projects.
Any tips for revising a manuscript?
Yes, number one, have your work professionally edited. Number two, once done writing your project, set it aside for a couple of months, then reread it. Number three, print it out when editing. I found that adding one of my manuscripts to CreateSpace and making a proof copy paperback version, my edits became much more efficient and precise. Lastly, cut out crap from the work. Don’t try to make something you wrote work when it clearly won’t.
Any advice for new authors?
Critique of your work will be forth coming and at times harsh. Prepare you self by saying, “It’s business, and not personal” – even though it may be a direct attack on you personally. I’m an industry of one. I want to make my product and process better, so I need input from my customers. Critique is essential to the artistic and business end of what an author does. As you shop your work around, remember that the rejection letters (or emails) you receive are telling you something; 1) you may need to do some serious rewrite; 2) the agent or publisher doesn’t think he or she can sell the manuscript to a publisher (remember that writing is a business first, and an art second); 3) bone up on your business skills; 4) good writing is driven by emotion – so be in touch with your emotional side; 5) write because you love to entertain, make art, or just have a story to tell, not because you think you’re going to make a fortune.
Anything you want to say to your readers?
As an Indie-author I rely on your patronage, word of mouth marketing, and your feedback. It is disheartening to have the many people who buy and read my work, never take the time to give comments on Amazon, or Smashwords, or provide their thoughts on the work. Without your input (good or bad) I don’t really know how I’m doing. For any author, please take the time to write some comments and rate their work. If you like what I write, let others know.
Give us your elevator pitch for your latest book.
My latest work is a steampunk science fiction piece that is set on a faraway planet. The story takes place in a nineteenth century setting (as do most steampunk stores). An aggressor nation has invaded its neighbor and the young adult main characters become find themselves on the run from the invaders. The main hero falls madly in love with the heroine as they flee toward a mysterious region called the White Desert. They meet up with a rogue sky-ship captain who helps them escape, and they all head to an outpost called Harrows Gate. There the main character’s friends are captured by the enemy, but he is saved by an alien race called the Desert Ghosts, giant human like beings who dwell in the harsh White Desert. He becomes connected with an alien oracle that helps guide him to some ancient technology that helps even out the playing field. This alien technology allows him to go back to the enemy and mount a rescue of his friends and family who have been taken hostage. I’m at chapter 14 now and expect the story to top out in chapter 17 or 18. Also, there’s plenty of steam technology, dirigibles, exotic settings, and intriguing characters.
Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me and have me on your blog. I must say that knowing you is a treat and I love your work and wish you the absolute best as you grow your craft and audience. Thanks again Nycole, you ROCK!
"And thank you for chatting with us today!" K.N. Lee