Good to return with another SPFBO interview. These might slow down to once a week for a few weeks: work is getting heavy again and I’m editing two novels of my own, but I will try and get at least one done a week, if not two!
Today I bring you an interview with Nicholas Hoy, who brought his novel Guardian Blood to this year’s SPFBO5. Down below is a link to the book!
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
My name is Nicholas Hoy, I live and thrive in the extremes of the Alaskan wilderness and I’m crazy about most all things fantasy and science fiction. I believe science fiction is at its best when it has at least some element of fantasy built in. I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie and thrill seeker, which may account for many of the action scenes in my novel. My four years in the Air Force added to my love of aviation and adventure. Fantasy adventures are my favorite stories to come up with. Whether in a futuristic cityscape or a magical land of once upon a whenever, my books will always have magical threads.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
It depends. Sometimes an idea for a story will come to me and I’ll create characters to fit the situation. Other times I’ll come up with a really interesting character and then I’ll get to create a world or dilemma for them to interact with. Every plot I come up with has to be something I would enjoy watching on the big screen or read in a novel. I really enjoy adding elements of ancient history, conspiracies, and false identities.
Tell us about your current project.
I’m currently working on Primal Shadows, which is a contemporary fantasy adventure series. I created the series by asking myself a couple questions. First, what if everyone had magic? And second, what would that civilization look like in the modern world of skyscrapers and corporations? That’s how I came up with the idea for Crescent City. A tiered city, magically grown miles high where the most powerful mages rule and live on high in luxury while the weakest of mages live street-level in perpetual darkness. Three POV characters, one from each class of society. The vice magus of the largest of the apex corporations, bent on revenge, recruits an especially talented and unique young data mage to hack into the most secure vault in the world. The unsuspecting recruit wants what everyone wants, to ascend. Dragons, manticores, flying cars, floating islands, shapeshifting, illegal magic, corporate espionage, ancient conspiracies, and an entire global civilization built on a lie. Guardian Blood is book 1 of the Primal Shadows series, as well as my SPFBO5 entry. I’m also working on the first book of an epic, high fantasy/adventure trilogy that I’m very excited about.
Is this your first entry into SPFBO? If not, how many times have you entered?
Guardian Blood is the first book I’ve ever entered into any competition and I’m grateful for the opportunity and experience.
Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
Em 19 is the clear protagonist. She grew up in the dregs of society, a world without sunlight, and was forced into a life of crime far too young. The underworld gangs make a living off stealing Tech (magical technologies) from the corporations, and Em makes a living as a smuggler, best in the business, who doesn’t take shit from anyone. She finds herself swept up into something far larger than she ever could have imagined.
What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Read genres other than what you are working with. What the hell is this guy talking about, right?! What I’m saying is that if you’re writing fantasy, then try and read westerns, horrors, mystery, satire, crime and detective, etc. Expanding what we read expands our creativity.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
My worldbuilding was heavily inspired by societies that don’t care for their impoverished or sick. Where the impossibly wealthy live in excess while the rest of society suffers the more for it. The magically infused technology (Tech) in Guardian Blood was inspired by real-world inconveniences. That is to say, anything in our world that could be easier or better, Tech makes possible.
What inspires you to write?
Reading. Reading inspires me to write. So many authors pumping out gem after gem, each filled with so much wonder that I decided to get off my ass and get some of my own ideas down on paper. Authors like Mark Lawrence, Brandon Sanderson, and Michael J. Sullivan build so many wonderful worlds of fantasy for all of us to enjoy, from the beautiful new frontiers to the utterly grimdark, and they are all my inspirations.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The hardest part of writing this book was simply finding the time. I, like most people, am one busy son of a gun. But like they say, “A page a day gets you a novel in a year.”
What is your routine when writing, if any? If you don’t follow a routine, why not?
The only way I found the time to write was by waking up at four a.m. every day to write at least one page. Whenever I slipped, I’d make up for it over the weekend. I need complete isolation from all things fun, interesting, or familiar. It’s kind of a pain. I really wish I could just sit on the sofa while my kids run around and write page after page, but for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, that just never seems to work out for me.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I really enjoyed writing the final showdown. I knew roughly how it would turn out, but I had no clue how exactly it was all going to go down. Writing that scene was like reading in slow motion.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
I learned that writing a book is possible. To just plow through it, get it done, and fix what needs fixing later. Taking the time to edit is critical. Oh yeah, and no matter what anyone says, your cover matters.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? A gardener or an architect?
I like to plot a rough outline of the story, to include the finale, but I keep it very general. The majority of the characters, a lot of the locations and problems, and all of the dialogue is made up as I go.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
I try to answer a series of question for each character I create. What’re their likes, dislikes, ticks, habits, vices, etc. That’s a lot of fun, and as I introduce the characters into the story, I already know how they’re going to react to any given situation.
What are your future project(s)?
Guardian Blood is book 1 in the Primal Shadows series. I’ve knocked out the first few chapters of book 2 and mapped out the story through book 4. I’ve also outlined an epic, high fantasy/adventure trilogy in a vast world of new races and old gods. I have a few other stories I’ve begun outlining that I’m looking forward to finding the time to dig into.
What is your favorite book ever written? Who are your favorite authors?
The Riyria Revelations is a great story. I love the Hadrian/Royce duo. And the way it all comes together at the end was masterful. A handful of my favorite authors are Michael J. Sullivan, Stephen King, Mark Lawrence, Jim Butcher, and Brandon Sanderson.
What makes a good villain?
Good villains gain your trust. Great villains make you their best friend. It’s not just about what happens when the villain pulls the rug out from under you that’s important, it’s also about how they do it and with what expression.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Read, make up stories, skateboard, snowboard, and play with my sons. There’s a small possibility that I ‘rearrange’ my SG-1, Firefly, Voltron, Back to the Future, and Supernatural figurines while making super sweet sound effects.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
An archaeologist or anthropologist. Both rock!
You can travel to any planet or moon in the Solar System. Where would you go, why and what would you do there?
I’d snowmobile all over the face of Enceladus while looking up at the super-sized rings of Saturn. I’d build a sweet igloo mansion or ice cave community up on a massive mound or mountain suitable for some killer, low-gravity snowboarding.
Pick any three characters from a fiction novel. These are now your roadtrip crew. Where do you go and what do you do?
My crew consists of Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry), Peregrin Took (Pippin), and Tom Bombadil. We’re going to camp our way through all of the national parks and protected sites while stopping off at the liveliest pubs and inns along the way.
Finally, 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)?