A bit later than planned; I’ve recently returned to working back at Grimlore Games so these will be a bit slower. I bring you an interview with Zack Argyle and his pimping book cover!
STARTING OFF WITH A BANG
Introduce yourself! An easy question to start off with. Who are you, what do you write?
I am one of the very few who have been born on Antarctica, thanks to my seismologist parents. We moved when I was two but visited every few years. I even had a pet penguin named Cobblepot! Growing up, my mom always said, “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.” Oh yeah, none of that was true, other than the quote. I’m from Seattle, studied computer engineering, and currently work full-time as a software engineer. I write epic fantasy in the limited spare time I have between work and two cute kids.
Is this your first time in SPFBO?
Yes, it is!
What book did you enter into this year’s event?
Voice of War, book one of an epic fantasy trilogy!
Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
They all do in some small way, but Chrys was a big driver behind the creation of the book. After I had my first kid, I knew I would do anything to protect him. That is Chrys’ story. How far will he go to protect his family?
What was the inspiration for the story? What are your future project(s)?
I guess I already answered that a little, but “family” was the biggest inspiration. I wanted to see a story where the husband, wife, and kid were all alive, and how they had to all work and struggle together for the greater good.
What are the key themes and/or messages in the book?
One of the biggest themes is that you cannot do it alone. Chrys is scared to share his struggles with his wife with how it might change her perception of him. Laurel refuses to admit her addiction. And Alverax wants so badly to not be alone.
What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
The biggest struggle was that this was my first novel, and I outlined it as a trilogy, which meant there was SO much to keep in my mind at all times in order to foreshadow and world-build while still keeping it engaging. It’s getting easier as I work through book two!
What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?
Oh, yes. Nearly every review for Voice of War ends with “I can’t wait for book two!” The characters are just getting started, and they’re in for a whirlwind.
MORE RAMBLES ABOUT WRITING
What is your favorite book you’ve written?
Well, Voice of War is the first, so I suppose it is also my favorite!
Who are your favorite authors?
I love the worlds of Brandon Sanderson, the characters of Brent Weeks, and the ridiculously-quotable prose of Mark Lawrence.
What makes a good villain?
I love a villain that I can empathize with—one that is not evil for the sake of being evil. I want to understand why they’re doing what they do, even if their perception of reality differs from my own or the protagonist’s.
Do you have any writing blogs you recommend?
I’ve recently been loving the musings of Whispers and Wonders.
Do you have any writer friends you’d like to give a shoutout to?
My writing group: The Fantasy Forge. They’re all incredibly talented! David Viergutz, the grimdark god. S.A. Klopfenstein, a weaver of absolutely epic stories. Jason Nugent, our resident dragon tamer. Blake Severson, who I’m pretty sure lives in an RPG. And Danielle Pederson, making mermaids cool again.
Did you learn anything from writing your latest book? If so, what was it?
For Voice of War, I learned all about shallow-rooted plants, which turns out to be quite crucial to the city of Zedalum where Laurel lives!
Are you a plotter or a pantser? A gardener or an architect?
I plot out each chapter but leave the details of the chapter to be pantsed. It keeps it fun and interesting with a clear goal, but sometimes leads to the story taking a different direction than planned, but always in a good way!
If you had to give up both snacks and drinks during writing sessions, or music, which would you find more difficult to say goodbye to?
I generally only write at night after my children are asleep, and don’t snack or listen to music while writing! There are times when I’ll throw on some epic music to get me in the mood, so I guess I’ll go with music.
Which is your favourite season to write in, and why?
Winter, and anyone who says otherwise is chaotic-evil.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
Perhaps it is smart, perhaps it is lazy, but I often project portions of myself into my characters, and it makes it much easier to understand how they would act and what they would do. When that isn’t enough, lean on your alpha/beta readers. For example, my wife has been invaluable in helping me write Iriel Valerian, who has a newborn child in her arms for much of the story.
What is your writing process? Do you have one? What is your workspace like?
Since I work full time, my writing is all on off-hours. Before the quarantine, I would often write during my commute to/from work, as well as once my kids are asleep. Now, I’m lucky enough to have a writing group to do writing sprints with as well.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Lots of disparate places. Family, friends, religions, Pinterest, other stories, and on and on!
How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
I have a few projects I’d love to get to one day. One of them is based on a magic system of collective belief. If you can convince enough people that something is true, then it becomes true. I’d love to write a novella with my plot ideas around it!
Do you have any new series planned?
I always have ideas, but I’m currently hyper-focused on finishing the Threadlight trilogy.
MORE ABOUT YOU
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m a huge nerd, so, when I’m not writing, my free time is spent playing Dungeons and Dragons, Overwatch, or any number of board games with friends.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
I really do love my full-time job as a software engineer, but, if I could make as much as an author, I’d probably swap it and do software on the side!
Coffee or Tea? Or (exult deep breath) what other drink do you prefer, if you like neither?
Vitamin Water Zero — lemonade flavor!
You can travel to anywhere in the universe. Where would you go, and why?
Wow! I would absolutely go to another planet, but I haven’t done enough research to decide which!
Pick any three fiction characters. These are now your roadtrip crew. Where do you go and what do you do?
My roadtrip crew would be Adolin Kholin from Stormlight, Matrim Cauthon from WoT, and (yes, they are one person) Troy and Abed from Community. We would have a blast just driving through the country and stopping at random places!
What superpower would you most like?
Teleportation, absolutely. So versatile!
What are two of your favorite covers of all time? (Not your own.)
- 10th anniversary Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
- Birth of the Dawnhawk by Z. Apollo / M.J. Northwood
If you could invite one person to dinner, who would it be and what would you cook?
I would love to hang out with Brandon Sanderson. He seems like such a good person and I’d love to nerd out about his cosmere with him.
Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.
I was once the love interest in a country music video! If you’re really nice, I might even tell you where to find it on YouTube.
It’s a very difficult time right now for the world. When quarantine and pandemic comes to an end, what is the first thing you would like to do?
I want to jump in a plane and go visit my family. Oh, and Disneyland. Okay, maybe Disneyland first, then my family…
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)?