Richard H. Stephens

‘Durned elf.’

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In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

During the school summer break, when I was nine years old, I found the long summer days dragging out and becoming boring. One sweltering afternoon, while my best friend and I were reading Hardy Boy books, we had an epiphany. We thought, “We could write one of these.” And so, I did.

Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?

Definitely. Obviously, Franklin W. Dixon in the beginning, but it was Stephen R. Donaldson and Terry Brooks who were the catalyst to my love of Fantasy.

Tell me about your book.

A forgotten hero, scorned by a kingdom for the death of their queen, is called back to duty, but he fears that should he re-enter the fray, he may end up killing them all.

Soul Forge, is an epic fantasy about an embittered warrior, Silurian Mintaka, who has secluded himself away from society for fear of unleashing his vengeance upon a disillusioned people.

An old man reaches through his darkness, and convinces him the people’s need outweighs his loathing of them. Befriending a few eccentric characters along the way, Silurian Mintaka and company face a whirlwind of drastic choices, that once made, may lead them down a path of no return.

Embarking upon the greatest journey of their lives, they travel the uncharted waters of the Niad Ocean; not across, but beneath, on a fool’s errand to recover the lost enchantment of his fabled blade.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Several. My earlier stuff, sci-fi, and other genres will forever remain in a box. My focus going forward is the series, Soul Forge, due for release at the end of 2017, and its sequel, The 13 Eyes of Helleden is scheduled for spring 2018.

What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?

I am not well versed on this subject, but I think it is a tough call in this day and age. Unless it can be 100% considered hate literature, how can we judge someone else’s content? Just because I believe one thing, doesn’t mean you must also. Those decisions are best left to those people wishing to spend their energies on this matter.

Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?

We first meet Silurian Mintaka in Of Trolls and Evil Things (Published Nov 1, 2017) The book is about him and his sister, who find themselves orphaned and trying to survive the hostile environment of a seedy city, and the dangerous mountain wilderness surrounding it. The book illustrates that no matter how bad things get, Silurian’s good character always brightly shines through. Even faced with starvation and being beaten, he finds a way to walk the high road.

In Soul Forge, the reader finds this same person, a disgruntled, angry person who hates the people of the kingdom almost as much as they hate him. In the intervening dark years between Of Trolls and Evil Things and Soul Forge, life has managed to beat down this once morally upstanding citizen. After rising to the status of King’s Champion, a series of events spin the lives of Silurian,and those around him out of control, stripping everything he has, and everything he loves, away from him. Silurian’s need to discover those responsible for murdering his family and abducting his sister, finally breaks him. The epic fantasy series, Soul Forge is a journey of self discovery for his once beautiful, forgotten soul.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

Either. I decided to go Indie after a meeting with an Agent who asked to see more of Soul Forge, and then never got back to me. That is the frustrating part with traditional publishing. Especially after someone pointedly requests more information. How hard is it to fire off a quick email stating they aren’t interested?

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

For sure. Reading is a writer’s lecture hall.

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

The best: holding your work in your hands after it has been published. The worst? Hearing people complain about the price of a $2.99 e-book that took months or years to write, edit polish, and proof, and will provide hours of enjoyment and you will have forever, while these same people sip on their $5.99 coffee, that took five minutes to make, and will be consumed ten minutes later. Really? Come on, people.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

Oh, I am a total pantser. I can’t be bothered world building, or plotting, or whatever those organized people do. I sit down in front of the keyboard and simply make my character put one foot in front of the other. That’s all the work I need to do. From that point on, I just follow the character out the door into his or her world. I get to see the land unfold before their eyes at the same time they do. I get to feel their emotions, go through their hardships, when they do. If there’s a babbling brook up ahead, I’ll know it when we round the next bend.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Absolutely. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

Playing sports. Soccer, hockey, hiking, biking, kayaking, whatever.

What are you writing at the moment?

Soul Forge is nearly through its editing stage, then it’s off to my wonderful Beta readers. The 13 Eyes of Helleden has been idling over the lastcopuple of months as my main goal has been the publishing of The Royal Tournament, released in September, and now,Of Trolls and evil Things, scheduled for Nov 1.

What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

I believe there is some truth to that. There is a belief amongst some writers that they need to get as much out there as quickly as possible, and if their works are riddled with errors, oh well. I know. I have seen it said many times in different writing groups I follow. Sad really. There are also many authors who don’t have the resources to pay for a good editor, or quality cover art, and that, too, is unfortunate. You can’t tell me people don’t judge a book by its cover. Of course they do. That’s what gets the book noticed on the shelf, unless you are already familiar with the author. If an author wants to be noticed, the cover art and their polished work will ultimately be the deciding factor on whether they are continually successful or not.

What is your favourite genre to write, and why?

Fantasy. If I want to write in a purple tree, you can’t gainsay me. You have never been to my world. I like science fiction as well, but I am not technically knowledgeable, so I would be ripped a second one by those who would rather spend all their energy dissecting a story’s legitimacy than enjoying the ride.

If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?

No. I like my modern conveniences.

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

Yes. I listen to a variety of different music, depending on the mood of the story that I am writing at the time. Generally, I listen to heavy metal, alternative rock, and epic music. The song, Stand Up and Fight, by Turisas, would be the theme song for Soul Forge, if it ever became a movie.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

How easy it is to actually publish a book. I lost a little hair, but not nearly as much as I had anticipated.

Tell me three unique things about you.

1) Although I write about swords and fighting, I am squeamish when it come to looking at blood and cuts.

2) I am a terrible speaker.

3) I have one ear larger than the other. (My kids call me Nemo!)

Richard, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!