In our latest in Authors in Isolation, I’d like to welcome Michael Ross to the Scars den. He’s an awesome guy with a lot of different talents!
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
I come from an acting background, but got into writing six years ago. I’m multi-genre, comedies, true-life, children’s, young teens, young adults.
But by far I like fantasy, particularly epic fantasy.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
To be honest, my characters have been flying around in my mind since was six, and the good news is, I still have the mind of a six-year-old! I grew up reading classics like Charles Dickens and Jane Austin, character breakdowns and descriptions in those are amazing, and they have helped me develop my characters.
Tell the world about your current project!
I recently published a 4 book epic fantasy, The Wand Chronicles. We watch as humans and elves meet for the first time. We are introduced to the most powerful wand in the cosmos, Elvina. Then we follow the elves and the bumbling humans as they join forces to help protect Elvina from other forces and species from other worlds and dimensions. But can the humans and elves hold up to some of the most powerful forces ever known? Could it spell the end of Earth and the humans?
Who would you say is the main character of your latest novel? And tell me a little bit about them!
Ahhh. There is a very lovable Chinese man called Ding Ling. He is tiny, brave, and is always upbeat. He brings a little humor to every dark situation. The elvish sorceress, Elfistra, scares the daylights out of him, so when she is around he tries to hide, much to the amusement of Elfistra. He is aide to the main hero, a British General, Hugo Brough, and loves to give advice quoting Confucius. For example, Hugo was considering two plans of action, and Ding Ling knew they would clash. So Ding Ling told him, “Master, Confucius would say, don’t take a sleeping pill, if you have already taken a laxative tablet!”
Have you been to any conventions? If so, tell me a little about them!
Yes I have, but since I am UK based, have been local ones to me in the North West. They were ok, but too general. In other words every genre under the sun would be on display, so looking for ones that are fantasy or epic fantasy specific
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I went to a clairvoyant several years ago. She kept insisting I write, so I did and haven’t looked back.
If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?
Difficult one. I have done that with my present series. It is where I live in the hills in the UK. There is a forest called Wimberry wood, where a portal appears to the elvish dimension. So I have written the whole series less than a mile from where the adventures begin.
What advice would you give new writers?
Go down the self-publishing route. Technology is getting better by the day. The book cover design, the formatting, the printing etc. can all be done quite easily now, and it is getting better all the time. Remember, you will be richer if a regular publishing company are not fleecing all the royalties. What I would say is, do not put all your eggs in one basket, in other words, don’t do what I did, and rely solely on Amazon KDP, who can make monumental mistakes. Also upload your books to Draft2Digital, kobo, Goodreads, iBook’s etc.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding?
My books all have moral messages in the adventures. Paying attention to our planet and not abusing it for example. Being compassionate, forgiving, and also knowing that your world can turn upside down in a millisecond, also are woven into the stories. Even though I am creating elves and fairies and a multitude of other creatures. Some of the species have none of the above and can be difficult reading, but will make you realize that we need good things in life as well.
What inspires you to write?
As already mentioned, my first inspiration was a wise young clairvoyant. It is then I started to let my creative imaginative mind come out to play and then it becomes written down.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
It could be an established character that needs to be written out? And coming to the last chapter of the last book, knowing it is time to move on to new adventures. However, there are a handful of favorite characters that I try to bring in to my new adventures, albeit briefly. I think it is good to have a little continuity somewhere, from series to series.
What is your routine when writing, if any? If you don’t follow a routine, why not?
I follow a very ‘lazy’ routine, but does have a hint of discipline about it eg. Coffee, check emails, write, another coffee, dog walk, write, eat, exercise, write, eat, write…zzzzzzz
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write in any of your books, and why?
My wife was murdered 14 years ago and left me and our 4 and 6 year-old-boys. I wrote a true life story called ‘Just Five More Minutes’ that went on to be a best-seller, and helped thousands of people around the world with its positiveness. The whole of that short book will always be my favorite ‘Chapter’
Did you learn anything from writing your latest book? If so, what was it?
Yes, that I could fall in love with my characters. They became very real and some very complex, but they are all believable and genuine. It also gave me the confidence to know that all those characters flying around my head I could flesh out when I wrote them down onto my laptop. They suddenly become exciting real-life characters.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? A gardener or an architect?
Most definitely a pantser. At first it worried me. I thought I was the only author in the world who was a pantser. I tried the standard route. Think of a plot, work out the characters, write out the chapter headings and so on. But I found it destroyed my creativeness. Hated it. So I tried just having an idea for a chapter, and the very basic outlines of a character, but then I would start writing, straight onto my laptop. As the story developed, so did the characters, and the plot , and new characters started to appear. I get lost in my imaginative world and just write. Of course I wondered if my writing was any good, because I wasn’t going down the apparent ‘tried and tested route’. This is where blogs, professional reviews, accolades with reader’s favorites, and the every-day public would praise the books, told me all was well with my writing.
I am also a gardener, I plant ideas, they can develop or not, if they do, they can go left or right, or turn up at the most inopportune times. The writing then becomes exciting
If you had to give up either snacks and drinks during writing sessions, or music, which would you find more difficult to say goodbye to?
Hot drinks would be the most difficult to give up, especially a good hot mug of tea, well I am British after all!
Which is your favorite season to write in, and why?
Summer is great. My studio overlooks a sprawling valley, and when the sun streams in it re-charges me. Warm weather makes me feel good, makes me smile, and most other people too, and because of it, it does make me more productive.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
I call on my acting background. I’m a method actor, like Dustin Hoffman or Meryl Streep. Every single one of my characters I do my best to make as believable as possible, even though they may be elvish. With my human characters, I have some you will fall in love with instantly, and others you wish you could chop their heads off! For each of my main characters, I could tell you what they like to eat, where they like to go on vacation, where they like to shop, what car they like to drive. etc. Well, the human ones, but even for the elves, there are different characters and personalities, so that helps them become more believable. I have one character, a young girl who is half human and half elf called Kia.She is a very powerful empath. She becomes quite complex when her human hormones start kicking in when she is thirteen! Can you imagine a hormonal 13-year-old human/elvish girl that has magic in her fingertips? Scary.
What are your future project(s)?
I am writing a series currently called The Big Fairy Adventures. It is mainly about fairies, but orcs and humans and other species make appearances. Although, again, very believable. The heroine is a female fairy, who is rather overweight, but the bravest fairy you will ever meet and has a heart of gold. She is called ‘Tinker-Tanker’ and loves nectar. She is covered in little bruises, because of her weight, she finds it difficult to fly in a straight line. She bumps from one wall to the other. You can always hear her coming because she shouts out while flying things like, “Ouch!”, “Damn” and so on. I also have an Orc called Chard Bhum (because his Mother dropped him in some red hot lava when he was born, and he has a disfigured rear end) I make the Orcs out to be bumbling idiots who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.
For inspiration, I have built a magic fairy circle in a large area in front of my cottage, it now gets a constant stream of visitors. Children, teens and adults.
What is your favorite book ever written?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. The magic of the English language that could portray every human emotion in the written word is unbelievable. It is beautiful
Who are your favorite authors?
Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, James Clavell, Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, James Redfield, James Barclay, Terry Pratchett, Michael Moorcock and Asimov.
What makes a good villain?
These elements need to be in the mix: Cunning, clever, a lack of compassion and a general sense of bloody-mindedness. You can imagine them thinking one thing, but having a different underlying agenda.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I developed and I am CEO of a fitness system called KETTFusion, which was voted in the top three in the UK and is in 4 other European countries. I am also a Hang glider pilot and a ski instructor. I still have acting and modelling jobs
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
Be a world famous actor! I didn’t do too bad. Enough people know of me in Britain to stop me for an autograph when I go shopping. lol
Coffee or Tea? Or (exult deep breath) what other drink do you prefer, if you like neither?
It has got to be tea. But not any old tea. Special blends put together by a particular British company.
You can travel to anywhere in the universe. Where would you go, and why?
I would go to the moon. When I am there I would turn around and look at our beautiful planet that we live on and think, ‘ We all live on the same planet, why the hell can’t we all get on together?’
Do you have any writing blogs you recommend?
You mean besides my own? https://www.thewand.me/blog
Then I would highly recommend: https://curledupwithagoodbook.co.uk/
Do you have any writer friends you’d like to give a shoutout to?
Yes, a lovely Guy called Alan Hesse, an expert on climate change who is writing a series of comic books called The Adventures of Polo the Bear. A polar bear who discovers the fish stocks are depleting in the sea, so travels the world trying to find out why
Pick any three fiction characters. These are now your roadtrip crew. Where do you go and what do you do?
They are my own characters. A fairy called Tinker tanker, a brave Chinese man called Ding Ling and a beautiful elvish woman called Alana Yana-Ash. I’m a Star Trekker, so to go boldly where no man (or elf) has been before would give me the greatest of thrills.
What superpower would you most like?
I am writing a comic book of different type of superheroes. I will mention one called ‘Homeless man’. I would like to be him. He keeps to himself, but has the ability and power to make wishes come true for those less fortunate than ourselves.
What are two of your favorite covers of all time? (Not your own.)
- The Trouble with Peace: Book Two (The Age of Madness) by Joe Abercrombie
- Dawnthief: Chronicles of the Raven 1 by James Barclay
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’m an author and live deep in the countryside. If I turn right out of my door I can come across badgers, foxes, squirrels in areas that man hasn’t really touched. That is good enough for me, although, this is the first year I haven’t been to Southern Spain for a month’s writing retreat in a beautiful part of the world called Cabo Pino. I huddle in the sand dunes to write, listening to the sea and soaking up the warm sunshine.
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)?
Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/2ZPPWzd
Link to The Wand Chronicles series on Amazon: https://amzn.to/33IWuAO
Link to Book 1 of the Big Fairy Adventures entitled, ‘How It All Began..’: