It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Been swamped with work. I’m back with another interview this time with T. Norman, author of Blood Stained Heir.
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
Well, my name is T. Norman and I write epic fantasy. It’s somewhere between YA and New Adult. There are young characters and old, so it’s not really YA, and it has many adult themes present but if it were a movie I would rate it at PG-13.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
There are a few key ways. First, I read a lot. I don’t read to steal anyone’s characters but instead to just get creative juices flowing. Sometimes while reading a good book, I will have a spark of inspiration for my own project. I also watch a lot of TV and movies. This really helps to learn about character development. Right now I’m rewatching Breaking Bad, and even though it isn’t related to fantasy Walter White’s story arc is so well done and there’s a lot to learn from it to making a character love-able and hatable. Lastly, for really diving in to my own story, I use voice memos on my phone while driving. If I’m stuck with a certain scene or character arc, I will just talk to myself (recorded) and work through all the options.
Tell us about your current project.
Right now I’m working on the fourth book in the Ascent Archives, my debut series. It’s the “final” book in the series so there’s a lot going in to it. I’m about a third of the way through (thank you NaNoWriMo) and I still have a lot left.
Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
This is hard, because I write from multiple POV’s and there are many main characters. So I will tell you about the one I consider to be who the story “follows.” Rysh Trell is a former soldier turned city guard. His wife died during childbirth, leaving him to raise his ambitious son alone. Rysh is deeply loyal to his closest friends and family. He takes promises very seriously, and at the start of my first book, Blood-Stained Heir, he makes one very important promise that he struggles to achieve through the entire series.
What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Write, write some more, and then keep writing. That’s the easy thing, honestly. Don’t feel pressured to write at a speed you aren’t able to sustain and don’t compare yourself to others. There are a lot of writers out there who are pushing out a full length novel every 3-4 months. Where as I write in small bursts, and will sometimes go a couple weeks without writing but then the next week I will write a couple thousand words a day. The other big piece of advice is network. I’ve made some connections with fellow authors and creatives over this journey. They can be a great support and have all the advice you could need. Don’t be afraid to reach out to big names as well. Many successful authors are willing to help us little guys out, all you have to do is ask.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
This is not something I’ve really thought of. For an upcoming project I’ve taken some of the political structures from the Iroquois people, which I’m really excited about. As for my current works though, it’s mostly based off the Middle Ages.
What inspires you to write?
It all started when I was young and would play toys with my brother. We loved creating characters and stories, putting them through different trials and obstacles. I’ve always had a story in my heart, and only recently started putting it together in to something coherent. As I said above, reading and watching tv/movies also inspires me. I love seeing all the creativity out there and it makes me want to keep producing more new content.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Well, I’ve talked about parts of the entire series so I will answer it in terms of being a whole unit. The hardest part hurting characters I cared about. Very early on, I killed a character off and it really stuck with me. This person wasn’t a main character and was never going to amount to much, but the death hurt one of my main characters because of how close they were. Sure, writer’s block is hard and looking at my work with judgement is also a problem, but those come and go. I’ve spent countless days putting this story together and investing myself in to these characters. Hurting them is necessary but very difficult.
What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Okay, this might really contradict what I wrote above, but the end of the third book was my absolute favourite so far. Something big and crazy happens, and it hurts many main characters, but writing it was unbelievable. I teared up during the chapter, but felt so confident in the story.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
I learned that I’m a writer. It might seem odd, but I started my first book in the fall of 2013. I published it in the summer of 2017, and only recently have I actually felt like I’m a writer. I’ve written over 300,000 words in the Ascent Archives, and I have a lot left to go. I’ve created theses characters and stories of epic proportions. I’ve had a lot of self doubt, but in the end I realize now that I am a writer and will continue to be a writer.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
I like to put myself in their shoes, and think “how would I react to this situation?” Each character is different in their responses, because of upbringing and history, etc. I have over a dozen POV characters so there are a lot of people to keep track of. I have a master excel document that has detailed notes on every chapter as well as character data for everyone in the book. This is helpful to go back and look at how a certain person responded to a situation and what they’ve been through.
What are your future project(s)?
First, I’m finished book 4. After that, I have a lot planned. I am rocking on a book of novelette’s following different minor characters to give them some more background. A lot of events are hinted at, so this is giving me a way to dive in to them. I also have a prequel book planned, that I’m really excited about. Once I’m done with those, I have a trilogy offshoot that takes place right after the end of book 4, and then I’m also planning another series to take place sometime in the future (15ish years). I plan on staying within this world for a while, developing these characters and cultures further.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
Are we talking dream jobs here? Author is definitely top of the list, but if it wasn’t that I would say an NBA coach. I love basketball and coaching, and I spend most nights with a game on in the background. I think it would be a ton of fun, as well as super stressful, but I know I would enjoy it.
What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
I have a few different ways to stay in touch. First, you can find my website with lots of basic info: jntcreations.org
I also have an instagram that I’m trying to use more:
I have a facebook page that doesn’t get as much use as it should:
Then I have a twitter where I post random thoughts:
You can also give me a follow on Goodreads: T. Norman