5-STAR Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Monday, March 31, 2014

Indie Author Interview: Coren Graves

Indie Author Interview with Coren Graves - Author of the Epic Fantasy / Dark Fantasy Well of the Elements (Return of Darkness).

Coren Graves born in a small town on the outskirts of St. Louis, has long been entranced by fantasy in all forms; Be it literature, film, or gaming. From a young age, Coren devoted his free time to developing his own unique niche of fantasy. As the "world" he designed grew, so, too, did his hunger for creating. By the age of 16, he had completed two table-top role-playing games, one of which was the original Legends RPG. His groundbreaking perspective of fantasy became infectious. As he shared his work through his community, the Legends name became somewhat of a Legend in it's own right.

Interview with Coren Graves

Author Coren Graves
Author Coren Graves
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
Coren Graves: I had a fondness for writing from a very young age. When I was little, maybe 9 or 10, I made my own comic strips. They were only a couple pages long but I enjoyed writing them so much. I really loved the "serial" side of them, making the story carry on through the different comics instead of just individual one-shots. As I grew older, I swayed towards short stories. I wrote some fantasy works, but most of my short stories were centered around vampires and demons and angels. They had a real urban fantasy feel.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
I don't think any fantasy writer can get by without making some kind of mention to either Tolkien or the works of Gary Gygax. For me it was both. Dungeons and Dragons, made by Gygax, had a huge impact on my idea of fantasy. D&D had a way of making the fantasy world feel endless, with all the different creatures and cultures. The Hobbit and LOTR series led me to a deeper view of how rich the history could be in a fantasy world. Every day I still learn new things about his Tolkien's world. I also fell in love with the Dragonlance series early on. I was always hooked by the way the story revolved from book to book. They weren't afraid to let main characters die and bring in new ones, something that is rare in fantasy literature.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
That's kind of a difficult question. I'm an ... eclectic ... person. I've wanted to do ALOT of things throughout my life. I went to college for a while to create video games. I've been a few bands that never really took off. I had an online metaphysics store for a short time. Through all this, in the background there were two constants: I always wrote fiction and loved doing so, and I always made games. Now I have started publishing my literature and I am expecting the release of my tabletop RPG "Legends" this winter.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The full story I wrote of any kind of worth was a three part series that followed an orphaned elf named Keltar. Through the stories, he searched to find the man responsible for his villages destruction. Along the way he transforms from a frightened, helpless child to a deadly warrior with an assortment of weapons he crafted by hand. The story was awful but it will always be dear to me.

"Then I hammer away at the keyboard."

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?

I'd like to say that I have a routine, but I don't. I don't have alot of free time so I write when I can, so long as I'm feeling inspired. I've tried to force myself to write but I always wind up deleting it the next day. When I do feel inspired, I put on a playlist with an assortment of music types: Loud and angry, intricate and cocky, sullen, energetic, whatever. Then I hammer away at the keyboard. If a song comes on that doesn't mesh with the writing at that moment I skip on until something does. Some nights I write 5000 words, sometimes only 500. It's all about inspiration.

Please, describe your desk/workplace.
I write on a laptop on a crowded desk in my crowded bedroom. I'm usually surround by empty water bottles and cans of Mountain Dew. To stay focused I wear my big clunky noise cancelling headphones. On a side note, SADES makes a GREAT product.

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
Well I am my own worst critic so I couldn't tell you what turns out the best but as far as what I feel comes easier and what feels like a chore, I like the action scenes. When the stories is getting heated, I can fly through pages. When its the down time between major plot points and its time to develop characters and foreshadow future things, I feel like each word is an effort. On the bright side, that means I try to keep the books exciting.

"When I can share my ideas with people and have them enjoy it and take something positive away, that's a great feeling."

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I've led tabletop RPG's for years so I've had creative outlets. I enjoy being able to create through the books but the best part for me is when I can present people I've never met with a look inside my mind. When I can share my ideas with people and have them enjoy it and take something positive away, that's a great feeling. I know how I felt when I was immersed in a good story, so when people feel that way while reading my work, it makes it worth all the effort.

Coren, please tell us a little about your novel "Well of the Elements".
As the first in its series, 'Elements' introduces four of our heroes as well as one of the series' major antagonists. The heroes find themselves roped into a quest to find ancient artifact. The seemingly stereotypical fantasy quickly spirals out of control as everything they thought they knew falls apart. I don't want to give too much away, but the heroes are brought face to face with the dark history of Valgarde (the land on which the story takes place).

Well of the Elements (Coren Graves)
Click to Read An Excerpt

What inspired you to write the book?
It is actually based on a long running game of "Legends" that I had led. My friends and I had always joked about taking one of our games and turning it into a book. This particular game was just what I had been looking for. I had planned to write these stories while creating the adventures for the game, though I had no idea how big the story would become. About a year after the game came to a close, I started writing the book. I changed details here and there and rewrote scenes. Some characters were completely rebuilt while others stayed fairly true to their in-game counterparts.

Who do you see as your target audience and where can we buy the book?
The book is targeted towards fantasy fans of all ages. Anyone who enjoys fantasy RPG's will be able to enjoy the series. The first book, "Well of the Elements" has been dialed down a bit to be suitable for a young adult audience. As that audience grows, the future installments of the series will become more intense and darker in nature. My hopes are that while the books will be enjoyable for adults, they will be able to grow along with the young adult readers giving them a nostalgic feeling while continuing to be a stimulating read.

"[...] its not just a story, its a window into a point in time and place in the world of Legends."

What makes your book special?
This book is special because its not just a story, its a window into a point in time and place in the world of Legends. When this story comes to an end (which is not in the foreseeable future), the overall story wont. The Legends world has been built from early primitive up to modern times and even into the near future. There are many continents in the Legends world and 10 realms. The timeline spans over several millennia, leaving room for more stories than I could ever write.

How would you describe the success of your book so far?
It's been 4 months since the release 'Elements' and it is currently in the hands of over 200 strangers in eight countries. For a nobody out of the ghettos of St.Louis, I'd say that's not too bad. I want to see the story grow tremendously, but it has definitely blossomed more than I could ever asked for.

How long did it take to write the book?
From start to release, 'Elements' took about 5 months. I had received a reply to a query letter requesting a complete manuscript before I had finished it. That caused me to work long hours to finish the book. After the rejection letter came (and be prepared for ALOT of rejection letters before your novel gets picked up), I had the time to go back and touch up the book, add some parts that I felt it needed, and clean up the ending. If it hadn't been for the request for it, there's no telling how long it would have taken me, or if I would have abandoned yet another book. Now I have a reason to complete my books. The first one is definitely the one that changes you.

"Keep at it. Above all else, keep at it. Write."

Can you give some advice for other Authors regarding the writing process?
Keep at it. Above all else, keep at it. Write. Even if it's garbage, write it. You can always go back and fix it later. There have been plenty of parts that just weren't clicking while I was writing. Going back later, reading through, it only takes a couple seconds to realize EXACTLY how you wanted it to read. Once you have your first completed book and you can see it, hold it, and share it, it becomes much easier to write the next one.

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am working on several other projects. As I said before, the Legends RPG is due at the end of this year. That will be in the form of a game handbook, like most tabletop RPG's. Also the next installment in the "Return of Darkness" series, "City of Blood" is nearing completion. 'Blood' is the sequel to 'Elements' and it should be available by June of this year. Along with all of the medieval fantasy Legends stories, I am extremely excited to get started on the urban fantasy series taking place in a modernized Legends world. The books will be full over cryptic subcultures such as Vampires, Werebeasts, Angels, Demons, Nephilem, and arcaic Magi. The books will have hints of an Underworld feel with a touch of Blade, Hellboy, and the Devil May Cry series.

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
As for myself, I will always prefer physical paper books. I'm a bit old fashioned and it just feels right. With the falling economy and the cost efficiency of modern technology, I definitely think eBooks will dominate. The cost comparison isn't even close and the ability to publish that electronic formats give to the indie author is a tremendous breakthrough. I don't think bound books will ever die out completely, but they're heading for a backseat.

What is your e-reading device of choice?
I prefer bound books, but my computer is my preferred e-reading device.

Do you write full-time or do you have a day job? When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I do have a day job. It's nothing glamorous. I work someplace very public and if you're ever in the OBX of North Carolina, there's a good chance you'll see me and never know it. When I'm not writing or working, I spend time with my wife and son. My boy is soon to be four and I couldn't be more proud of him. He's the funniest little kid I've ever met and he picks up on so much, it's unreal. I'm also a big fan of The Walking Dead and Supernatural. I never miss an episode of either one. I'm a Marvel nerd and a HUGE World of Warcraft gamer.

How can readers connect with you?
I love meeting readers. If a reader wants to drop me a line about anything, I want them to feel free to get a hold of me. If they play WoW, maybe we'll do a raid sometime. Readers can reach me on Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, or on the Legends website.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/corengraves
Twitter: www.twitter.com/coren.graves
Gmail: Corengraves@Gmail.com
Website: www.legendsfantasy2013.wix.com/legends
We also have a Facebook page for Well of the Elements and Legends. I'm always putting the latest Legends news on Facebook and Twitter as well as the Legends website.

Thank you very much for the Interview, Coren.

About the Book Well of the Elements (Return of Darkness)

Well of the Elements (Coren Graves)
Click to Read An Excerpt
Six centuries had passed since the land of Valgarde was torn asunder by the forces of the Undead Hordes, an army of nightmarish creatures ripped from the world of the dead. Though humanity prevailed in the final hour, evil had left it's scar on their world. The seductive power of dark magic had planted its seed. Over time, the stories of the past had fallen into legend and myth, mere fairy tales to keep children in their beds at night,...but evil cannot be silenced forever.

As four unlikely companions are recruited to search for an ancient artifact, hidden agendas begin to surface.

Who are the Shadow Sanctum? What do they want? Can they be stopped?

- "I was completely thrilled with this book from the first chapter. I could see a movie in the progress as I read. I really got to know the characters and cannot wait for the next book. This author has a great future ahead of him. I hope this is the first of many series to come from Coren Graves." - Robin Smith

Links to the Book

Link to the Paperback Well of the Elements with Excerpt on Amazon

Link to the eBook Well of the Elements with Excerpt on Amazon