Ryan Swindoll Interview

November 28, 2019 at 3:53 am (Interviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

You did the cover art for Lost Legends, it’s beautiful. Have you designed other book covers?

I’ve designed a handful of covers, yes! I got my start in print design for Grafted Life Ministries, branding the books in their catalog. When our fearless anthologist Adam D. Jones’ recruited me for The Lost Legends, I took the plunge into fiction, so you might say this is my genre debut.

With The Lost Legends, it delighted me to explore the classy aged appeal of art deco in the unusual visual context of folk magic. I think the cover evokes the same eclectic feel that characterizes the stories inside.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug Adam’s newly released novel Marshal Law, which I also designed. The cover takes inspiration from science fiction westerns, but without the photorealism or lonely protagonist look so common in the genre. We wanted a fresh direction for the cover that provoked the imagination.

As a writer, I’ve heard you usually prefer writing science fiction; what inspired the The Problem With Elves and Tavernfall?

One of the boons of writing science fiction is that it need not be future-specific. When Adam approached me about contributing to his fantasy anthology, I saw a personal challenge to blend the setting of medieval magic with stories of alien encounters.

“Tavernfall” was born of a simple thought experiment: what would a medieval era conspiracy theorist have looked like? Not (merely) the town drunk or the madman in stocks, but the scholarly type. What could they have said to convince you that, say, all of human history was secretly the plot to the Lord of the Rings? I pulled out my old college notes in history and theater, and the story practically wrote itself.

I found writing “The Problem with Elves” more difficult. It began with a literal dream I had about an alien abduction, wherein they forced me to listen to a timeshare presentation. It was hilarious, but lacked substance. When I stumbled upon Grandmother’s mysterious epitaph, “Never throw out a rotten egg–I never did,” the whole story opened up. I was able to follow the protagonist’s relationship with Grandmother to its unconventional end. And we got fart magic out of the deal. Sweet.

You have two short stories included in Lost Legends, do you find short stories to be easier or more difficult to write than longer fictions?

I do find short stories easier, but all of writing is difficult. It just takes a long time.

What other things do you have publication?
Nothing yet! But working on a science fiction novel about an alien family that crash lands on a robot world, and the trouble that ensues because the robots don’t know the first thing about children, biology, or toilets. I have no idea how I’m going to market it.

You have a great sense of humor, have you always been clever and funny, or is it a skill honed over time? What were your favorite books as a child and how do you think they contributed to your wit?

I’ll never forget reading The Boxcar Children and getting far enough into the book series that the primary author changed–and all of a sudden, characters were “chuckling.” I remember reading on the toilet and thinking, “These people never chuckled before, and now they’re chuckling twice per page.” I never read another boxcar child after that.

I’m sure that answers your question.

Stephen King wrote in On Writing that writers should read a lot to keep their technical and creative tool box full. What are your favorite “tool box” books?

I enjoy James Scott Bell’s book The Art of War for Writers: Fiction Writing Strategies, Tactics, and Exercises. Easy to scan, read, or dive in.

Of your stories in the anthology, are there any you anticipate seeing spin off into other work?

I’ve heard rumors. If I could wish feature-length stories out of the anthology, I’d want to see more of the world in “The Luck Stone,” “Death of a Young Mage,” “The Door,” and “The Candlemaker.” Each story felt like a peep into a much larger world.

If The Lost Legends were to become a Netflix Original or Amazon Prime series, who would your ideal cast be for The Problem With Elves?

Gaten Matarazzo of Stranger Things fame would be a ringer for our fourteen-year-old protagonist. Grandmother is more difficult, but for some reason I like the idea of Octavia Spencer in the role. Good with her eyebrows, I think.

With your obvious artistic ability and creativity, do you plan to create bookmarks or other such “swag” to go with copies of the book that fans could buy?

At our release party, I distributed limited edition “I survived The Lost Legends release party” bookmarks, with quotes from the book attributed to the after-party, like “We were lit, all of us, and especially me.” If fans want to buy swag, I see no reason to deprive them.

What are you thankful for this week and how are you celebrating the holidays?

I am certainly thankful for my health, which falls under constant threat from having young boys. I’m also thankful for said boys and the endless inspiration of their wonder. And my wife, who listens to my monologuing. And my God, who also listens to my monologuing, and surprises me with a treasury of meaningful discoveries when I write.

I think I’ll be celebrating the holidays with a dismembered turkey, a nap, and a writing deadline. Should be fun!

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Marshal Law Hits the Shelves

November 9, 2019 at 12:57 am (Interviews, Press Release) (, , , , , , , )

Marshal Law is live on Amazon as a paperback, an e-book, and for anyone with Kindle Unlimited… Check it out.

This is a fantasy novel…but it’s a little different. Tell us about that.

Marshal Law is a fantasy story, but it looks like a western. It takes place on a world with two suns, which makes most of the planet a dry desert. So it’s a magic story set in a frontier world.

How does magic work in this frontier world?

Strange stones can be found deep underground, and there are various ways to coax power out of them. Some use these stones to build powerful machines, but there are rumors of men using them to perform wondrous deeds.

What’s your favorite part of Marshal Law?

The characters. I love the setting, the picturesque western scene, the dual suns and endless deserts, but the characters who fill the story really stole my heart. Early on, our hero meets a scientist named Dawn who’s run away from the Republic. She’s a genius who can turn the villain’s machines around and make concoctions that do amazing things. Really fun character. Then they meet a boy named Raine who’s on the verge of a breakthrough. His whole life he’s believed he could revive the old magic, even though no one’s ever taken him seriously.

Tell us about your protagonist, Marshal.

He just wants to enjoy his quiet life with his wife and kids, but good stories never let anyone get away with that, do they? Marshal has to leave his family to fight the war, but he ends up playing the role of a father figure to the motley crew that gathers around him, holding them together while they battle to save the frontier.

Is Marshal Law the start of a series?

I’ve got three books planned. The sequel, “Desert Raine,” should be available in the spring. It’s coming along great. Marshal Law does a good job of setting the stage, so in the sequel our characters can further explore the magic and the machines and really push the boundaries of what they know about their world.

Sounds like Marshal Law is a story with a unique setting. Is it similar to any other books?

Anyone who likes Stephen King’s Dark Tower series should find themselves right at home. Same goes for Sanderson’s Alloy of Law. It’s fun to writing at a time when fantasy stories are finding new settings, because, even though there’s plenty of steampunk books with magic thrown in, I can feel like I’m writing something new and not always following another author’s trail.

Did you have to do any research to write about this new world where your story takes place?

A little. Most fantasy stories don’t require research since we just tend to make up whatever we want, but I really loved the idea of planet with twin suns. I did just enough research on binary star systems to make sure the idea would work. Apparently, two suns would probably make the planet a very dry place, so most of Marshal Law takes place in a desert environment. Only a few spots on the continent benefit from nicer weather. Grass and trees are a rarity enjoyed by the wealthy and elite, but Marshal’s revolution may change all that.


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Interview with Author and Editor Adam D. Jones

September 27, 2019 at 8:31 pm (Interviews) (, , , , , , , , )

Adam D. Jones is a high fantasy author and editor recently responsible for publishing The Lost Legends anthology. Longtime writer, historian, and musician, Lost Legends is his first book.

Who did the cover art? How did you find them?
The very talented Ryan Swindoll handled that. You can reach him at ryan.t.swindoll@gmail.com if you ever need a cover designed. He also took care of designing the insides, the font, the cool little decals, and everything makes it fun to hold a book. Talented guy. Having a great cover is half of the work.

As a writer, what made you decide to pursue editing an anthology for your publishing debut?
At various conferences and writing groups I’ve met talented fantasy writers and always thought it was a shame they weren’t published. I also needed a project to learn how self-publishing works before launching my own novels. It turned out to be a good move. I’ve learned the ropes, but also got some really good stories into the hands of readers.


You have two short stories included in Lost Legends, do you find short stories to be easier or more difficult to write than longer fictions?
Are you kidding? I spent more than years working on Idna’s Journals and it’s only three pages! I completed two novels in that time.

Lost Legends is a fantasy anthology, what draws you to read and write fantasy? What is your favorite aspect of the genre?
It’s fun. I could go on about the mythopoetic origins of the grown-up fairy tale, the foundational works like Phantasties, and how fantasy helps us understand the abstract truths by taking place in another world, but the best part is that it’s just more fun than any other genre. I want to read about monsters and magic. Who doesn’t?

Did you always love fantasy? What were your favorite books as a child?
The Gunslinger by Stephen King is incredible, and I read it every year. I read all of the books every year until the last one finally came out, and I was up until 4 a.m. finishing that one. I read these books when I was…a little too young for them.
I also devoured the Dragonlance stories and always wanted to write something as big and exciting as those.

Stephen King wrote in On Writing that writers should read a lot to keep their technical and creative tool box full. What are your favorite “tool box” books?
Stephen King’s The Wastelands is a perfect study in “how to write a fantasy book with multiple characters.” Rachel Neumieier’s The Floating Islands has great descriptions throughout, and I often open it to the beginning where she explains scenery and somehow it makes for an incredible opening. And many scenes in David Coe’s Children of Amarid are dogeared so I can remember his neat tricks for making things work.

You’re in a writing group. What does that look like? (What do your meetings consist of?) How has this helped you as a writer?
The Milford Method, a critique approach pioneered by Virgina Kidd, is used every meeting. I can’t recommend it enough.

It’s helpful that the group includes science writers, fiction writers, and songwriters, so we all learn a lot from each other.

Of your stories in the anthology, are there any you anticipate seeing spin off into other work?
I’ve been asked to write more about Idna’s Journals, but I prefer to keep it self-contained, leaving the audience to wonder. When I write short works, I try very hard to avoid the temptation of sequels and spurring on further works, because that often leads writers toward bad work. If you’ve only got a few pages, there’s no room for breadcrumbs and easter eggs that lead to the next story.

But there is a place for that sort of thing. Sarah Bale’s evocative story, Thundermoon Bride, will tie into other works she has coming, and I think that’s a good example of using a short story to hint at something bigger.

If The Lost Legends were to become a Netflix Original or Amazon Prime series, who would your ideal cast be for The Candlemaker?
Interesting story. The protagonist was female in the first draft of The Candlemaker. A real dainty woman who looked as threatening as a sofa cushion, making it easier for people to underestimate her. I pictured someone like Emilie de Ravin’s role in Once Upon a Time. I switched the character to a man because my other story in this collection already had a female protagonist, and it was more fun to write about an awkward guy trying to be cool around a woman who obviously knows more than him. Grant Gustin could pull it off.

Jones has another book coming out in November 2019, called Marshall Law, the first in a fantasy/steampunk series, where the discovery of old magic empowers a few survivors to take on the wicked machines of their oppressors. This new voice in fantasy is here to stay.

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