It’s Christmas day! And of course being the 25th it’s time for Meet The Author. This month I have a fantasy author. I have so much respect for authors in fantasy/ paranormal / sci-fi genres. The talent needed to create a ‘new world’, is a whole new level of creativity. Let’s get to know Charles’ style….
Hello nice to meet you! Tell us a bit about you where are you from and other than writing what else do you enjoy?
Nice to meet you too and thank you for having me. I’m from Long Island, New York, which is that long pronged piece of land you see at the bottom of the state. People say it looks like a fish, but I think it’s more like an alligator with its mouth open.
Besides writing, I do low key stuff like reading manga, watching anime, and cooking the dinners around here. The reason is because I’m also the stay-at-home parent, so when I’m not writing, I’m wrangling with an 8-year-old. We read together, play with Legos, and just have fun once his homework is done. I find that most of my non-writing hobbies revolve around doing stuff with my son these days because I like sharing what I love to do with him. Oh, going to zoos, aquariums, and nature preserves are a big thing too.
How did you start writing? What was your inspiration to create?
It’s been so long that I can barely remember. Way back in 2nd grade, we had work stations that we rotated through during the week. One was a writing station and I figured out how to make books. These were mostly about animals, my toys, or jokes. They’re still in a satchel somewhere too, but this is where I fell in love with telling stories to others. People were interested and I felt like they were happy. I did hide under the table to keep writing after station time was done, which cost me that spot for a while. The thing is that I didn’t think of this as more than a hobby until high school. I’d read ‘The Books of Lost Swords’ by Fred Saberhagen and just felt like I could do that. I was always dreaming up stories and adventures, so putting them to paper ended up being a natural transition. Been doing it ever since and I grab inspiration from just about anything around me.
So you’ve published a series, what is the series about?
Legends of Windemere is a fantasy adventure series that follows six young warriors who are destined to save the world of Windemere from an ancient evil that had been erased from history and mortal thought. It begins with only one of them, Luke Callindor, stumbling into his first adventure and learning that he has a long way to go to be as successful as his famous ancestors. From there, more heroes join and their true path is uncovered with each of the 15 volumes having its own adventure. Much of the story also deals with how these characters grow knowing that they have to fight for the world and that their destiny only says they enter the battle. There’s really no assurance that they’re going to win, which makes them repeatedly wonder if they are doing the right thing or should plan for the future.
As deep as that is, my series is primarily a fun action adventure with tons of magic, humor, and characters that I hope people connect to.
What was it like creating back to back stories that link?
It was fairly nerve-wracking at first, but having each book contain its own story helped out. Most of the links are through the characters evolving and growing into what they need to be for the final battle. I felt like the heroes and villains should be the ones to give the story a natural progression instead of forcing the connections. Also, I do a lot of planning, so I had outlined all of the books beforehand. I knew where I was going and would just alter stuff to accommodate any changes that happened when I was actually writing. Keeping myself fluid in thought really helped make this project a lot easier to put together.
Have you ever thought about writing in a different genre? If you could what genre would you like to dabble in?
I’ve dabbled in a few other genres with various levels of success. Long ago, I tried my hand at horror with a slasher/psychological story that I still published for some reason. My second attempt has gone better and I’ve done three volumes of this story that I post on my blog throughout October. It starts with a young man going to a mental health facility where strange things happen and then goes from there. It’s hard to explain without doing the big spoiler of the first book.
I also have a dystopian action comedy series that I have a lot of fun writing. The United States has been cut off from the rest of the world by walls on the borders and an international navy. Soon after that, someone nuked D.C. and everything fell apart to create the Shattered States. The series follows a young woman named Cassidy who is traveling with a serial killer who she let out of prisoner to help her travel from NYC to San Francisco. Her mom was killed after a decade of protecting her and she promised to toss her ashes off the Golden Gate Bridge. I like playing in this world because I get to cut loose with the language, violence, and everything else since it’s an R-Rated story. My fantasy tends to be more PG-13, so the Bedlam Series is a great release of both stress and imagination. Especially since I can make so many odd villains in a world like this.
What has been your most proud moment as an author?
This might sound strange, but I would say when Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero got onto the Top 100 lists soon after it debuted. I had no idea what I was doing in terms of marketing and blogging. I didn’t even know about blog tours and hadn’t touched Twitter at this point. To this day, I’m not sure what I did right, but it gave me a great foundation to keep going forward and push through a lot of obstacles. Is it right to be proud of a moment that could have just been dumb luck?
Was there ever a time you wanted to pick up your laptop, and then launch it out the window with frustration?
Never because of what I was writing, but I have a touchy relationship with technology. For example, my new laptop needed to go back to the manufacturer twice for repairs before I had it for 6 months. Problems with the sound system. I’ve had hard drives crash because of Windows updates, printers burst into flames, and full system wipes without any warning. Those usually lead to me wanting to Frisbee through my laptop off the roof.
Kim: haha ‘ through the roof.’
Are you a “plotter” or a fly by the seat of your pants “pantster” as a writer?
I’m such a plotter that I plot about plotting. I usually start a project with a story blurb to get the general idea and then I make character bios. These help me establish subplots and basic evolutions. Then I do a chapter by chapter outline that simply tells me the goal of each section. It helps me because I live in a house where distractions are common, so having this to work off of means I can move in and out of a story with more ease. Basically, it’s became a survival tactic because I’d get nowhere if I didn’t do a lot of legwork beforehand.
Kim: you sound a lot like me, I do bios and chapter outlines too! Help rid any plot gaps.
Am I the only one who gets hung up on commas? Do they make you go blah! when you’re writing?
Commas are an odd thing, but I remember an English teacher once sat me down to explain them. The reason was because I never used them beyond lists and when mentioning who you’re talking to in dialogue. What I was told is that you put a comma when you hit a point where you would naturally pause if saying the sentence out loud. Even with this rule, I miss some because people talk at different cadences. It’s funny too because I’ve been accused of not having enough and using too many. Now, if we’re talking semi-colons, that’s where I run away screaming.
Kim: Lawrd, I understand all of that. I was taught the same rule and try to follow it. I’ve learned people breathe and pause at different speeds, so my commas are always moved around by my editor.
What three tips would you give any aspiring writer?
- Write what you love because that love will come through your words.
- You are the only who makes the final call. Ask for advice if you’re stuck, but don’t think you have to take it because only you know the story in your head.
- Not matter what you think, you can improve your skills. Just like your characters, you are always evolving and developing until the end of your adventure.
Kim: good advice there I like all that.
What are you working on now? What will you release next?
Well, I just released Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age, which is the final book of the series. So, I’m kind of feeling a little lost since I started working on it in 1998. I already finished the first book of my next series, which is War of Nyte. This looks into the rise of the Dawn Fangs, which are a new breed of vampires in Windemere with magical powers and the ability to walk in daylight. I’ll probably tackle the next one because I like keeping my writing ahead of my publishing.
All that being said, my next release will be the 3rd volume of my Bedlam Series. I typically do that in February.
So… where can we get your books?
All of my books are available on Amazon for Kindle. You can check them out on my author page HERE. (After all these years, I still feel weird doing blatant self-promotions.)
What does “success” look like to you? When would you say “damn, I’ve made it baby!”
This is a really tough question because most people think it’s financial and they’re very quick to tell me this opinion. Personally, I think success is when you publish your book and people read it. Hearing that somebody loved one of my characters or stayed up late with my stories feels like a better victory than making a fortune. As far as saying I’ve made it, I don’t know if I’ll ever fully believe I have. There always seems to be a new level to reach for whether it be in style or career.
Kim: I think I agree with a lot of that. Financial is good, but nothing beats making a connection with readers who really enjoy your work.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
I love this question because ego is seen as a negative so often. Yet, we need at least some to help us move through the slings and arrows that come with being a published author. I think a big ego can protect an author from the cruel comments and help them push forward with their own vision. Yet, it’s also dangerous because letting it call every shot means you ignore good advice. It’s like wielding a very large sword. It can help you in battle, but only if you maintain control.
Kim: what a comparison 🙂 swords and egos!
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
With my fantasy stories, I don’t do much research beforehand because I created the world. Much of my research was done back in college when I designed the basics. Many of my monsters are made on the spot and I’ll look up certain weapons when I need them. A lot of times I have to go back to my own notes, which could count as research. Now that I think about it, I probably spend more time on names than anything else. This is the opposite of my dystopian series because I work within Earth.
For Bedlam, I’ve had to research all manner of modern weapons and check to see how far from reality I’m going with certain ideas. The big thing for this series is planning the characters’ route because their adventures always involving traveling. So, I spend a day or two looking up towns within the states that they’re passing through. I love finding small ones with a quirk that I can build into a strange culture like a town that worships peanuts or one that is a strange mix of Egyptian and Norse.
What was your hardest scene to write?
For Warlord of the Forgotten Age, I had a hard time with the entire book because I was saying good-bye to the characters. The toughest one has to be the final scene where closure is finally achieved. Although, the overall series has one scene that I would put above the others. I originally planned for a character to die a certain way in Ritual of the Lost Lamb, but it didn’t feel right until I went with my gut. The good is that it came out beautifully. The bad is that I can’t even read that scene with crying. Actually, I’m starting to tear up now because the visual is stuck in my head.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’m friends with a lot of indie authors through my blog and we comment on each other’s ideas. We also help promote each other’s books when we have a new release. Over the years, I’ve been very thankful to work with C.S. Boyack, John W. Howell, Nicholas Rossis, Olivia Stocum, Victoria Zigler, Sue Vincent, Don Massenzio, and the list will just keep going. Honestly, people can come to my blog and check the comments to final plenty of authors. There’s also the Rave Review Book Club where many indies can be found supporting each other. I highly recommend it to people who are starting out and needing a positive foundation.
Kim: Rave Review sounds good, I’m on my way over…
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Starting at the initial planning stage, a full novel can take me 3-4 months to get the first draft. This is on the high side because I’m factoring in school breaks, family gatherings, and weekends being busy here. It’s basically 2-3 weeks to get the first stage done and plan a little of the future to get an idea of where I’m going. 1-2 months to write the first draft. Then another 2-3 weeks to do a first edit. One thing that helps is that I spent 10 years doing the some of the initial work for most of my 30+ ideas. I use this stage as a break between projects too, so I’m always pushing ahead on some future project.
What would you like readers to know?
I write to entertain. That’s my biggest goal when I tell a story. To draw a reader into my world and take them on the adventure. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve gravitated towards Present Tense 3rd Person style . . . and people go running for the exits. This is something I have to be upfront about because it can be a jarring style since we’re all used to reading past tense. Probably should have started with this warning.
Kim: HIGH FIVE!!! In my genre present tense third person ( or even first) is so frowned at ( romance). Me being me, I did it, I still do it, and I’ll keep doing it if I’m feeling it for that story. * Kim sticks her tongue out.* There are no rules! Just your own. I love present tense third person for the exact same reason you do…. the journey. It also comes more naturally to me when I write. I love first person as well, a fast paced thriller/ crime story just works so much better this way sometimes, get up close and personal with the villains. * Kim sticks her tongue out again.*
What music do you like?
Various types of Rock n Roll and metal. Sort of orchestral if you count the video game music I listen to like Final Fantasy themes. Honestly, it’s a little hard to think beyond my first answer because Pandora is playing Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and my dad is giving me strange looks whenever I start singing.
Where would you like to travel to and why?
I haven’t done a lot of traveling, so there’s a long list. I’d really like to see Greece one day because I’ve had an interest in Greek mythology. Many of my Windemere deities were based around how those gods and goddesses acted. I’ve heard it’s a beautiful country too. Australia comes in a close second, but I have a really big fear of spiders and anything poisonous. Maybe I should just try for New Zealand and wave at Australia.
Tell us about how you develop your characters?
I start every character off with a flaw like a temper, reckless behaviour, a phobia, etc. This isn’t for them to get over it though because some flaws stick with you for life. They can be reduced, but I like having these key points rear up in certain situations. A reason for this is because I don’t think characters should only rise when developing. Real life is like a rollercoasters with ups and downs, so it should be the same for fictional heroes. They have losses and victories, which give them a natural evolution. As much as I plan where I want them to go, it’s the spontaneous reactions when I’m writing that really develop my heroes and villains. So, it seems the answer here is with a little guidance and then by the seat of my pants.
Which one of your characters is your favourite and why?
As much as I would love to say Luke Callindor because he started it all, I have to go with Nyx. This is a female caster who debuted in Prodigy of Rainbow Tower and has the power to lay waste to a small army. She started off with a nasty temper, but has softened over the course of the series. At times, it feels like the books are all about her development because she’s different from the other champions. Unlike the rest, Nyx was raised knowing she would be going into the battle, so this destiny is all she’s known. There’s a vulnerability to the character because she’s scared of thinking about a life without this ancient evil looming over her, which is something she’s never done before. It doesn’t matter that she can hurl powerful spells and is a character who will take a beating and get up to keep fighting. This human aspect of Nyx makes all of that secondary and rather appealing to most of the readers. It’s made her a joy to write and I don’t know if I’ll ever manage to make a character like her again.
Thinking about it, she’s probably the one I had the hardest time saying good-bye to at the end.
If you could do it all again would you change anything?
First, I wouldn’t have tried to take everyone’s advice on how to write. This cost me a few years because I had turned my first book into a hodgepodge of styles and concepts. Took me a while to fix it after I learned that I had to follow my gut. Second, I would have started in on self-publishing earlier. It’s hindsight now, but I feel like I spent too many years submitting queries and manuscripts. Fear was definitely the reason I didn’t jump at the chance when it started, so I kick myself for stepping up rather late in the game. Third, I’d not take negative reviews too personally. They happen and it’s best to move on even if you’re getting private messages about them. You can’t please everyone and even a friendly debate with someone who didn’t like your book can lead to a mess that takes time away from writing.
Kim: *salute* great learning curve.
Pick one: a one time “Bestselling author” or an author with longevity what would you rather?
Longevity every time. Bestselling author is nice, but I’d rather win at the long game than the short one. That means I can keep writing, which is what I need to do make this a lifelong career. After all, what’s the point of an award or title if that’s where your progress stops?
Kim: Amen to that. An award or crafting a best seller is just the starting point, and all the confidence you need to just keep doing your thing= writing. I totally agree longevity is the route.
Thank you so much for your time today, it has been a pleasure to meet you and hear your view point on a lot of things Charles.
Connect With Charles Here Social Media Links
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz
Excerpt: Luke’s Awakening
With a groan, Sari’s eyes flutter open and she bats at the beams of light that are striking her face. Rolling off the small couch, the gypsy lets her enchanted boots glide her to the floor where she remains for a few minutes. Ivy dangles from the ceiling, which she is sure had been bare when she passed out last night. Slipping off her boots, she enjoys the cool stone on her sweaty feet and lets the sensation ease her tense muscles. Holding up her arm, Sari can see that her dress is getting worn around the seams, the garment being the only thing she has worn for the last four days. The urge to change or take a bath still eludes her, so she pulls out a bottle of perfume to hide the smell that she is beginning to notice. Sitting up, the gypsy takes in the sight of the well-furnished bedroom and enjoys the strong breeze coming through an open window. Claiming a half-eaten cookie as her breakfast, the blue-haired woman flips to her feet and turns to face the canopied bed that she has refused to stray far from.
The food falls out of her mouth when Sari sees that Luke is sitting up, the blonde-haired forest tracker staring ahead like a zombie. Light bounces off the gold flecks in his chocolate brown eyes, but the glistening orbs hold very few signs of awareness. It is only when he reaches up to touch the pink scar crossing his torso that the gypsy finally accepts that she is not dreaming. Moving slowly across the room, Sari keeps her attention on Luke as if he is a wild animal that can be startled at any moment. Reaching a pile of pillows, she nudges an exposed arm with her foot in an attempt to wake her companion. All she receives is a whimpering moan and a gentle slap to her heel from the bronze-skinned limb.
“Luke is awake, Grasdon,” Sari whispers at where she thinks her friend’s head is. Sitting on the pile, the gypsy locks her body to prevent Kira from rushing to the bed. “Don’t make any sudden movements. He’s sitting up and staring at something. Not much blinking and no sign that he knows I’m here. I’m as excited as you are, but we need to be smart. Yola could have put a spell on him or maybe he’s possessed by a ghost.”
“Get your butt off my face, gypsy,” Kira angrily growls before pinching her companion in the thigh. Freeing herself from the immovable woman, the heiress crawls to a basin where she hastily washes her face and hair. “Hand me a clean towel and turn away because I’m changing out of my travel clothes. Luke woke up an hour after you fell asleep. Sorry I didn’t tell you, but it was . . . All he did was cry until he just stopped. No build up or slow down. He simply started weeping and it cut off abruptly. That’s why I buried myself under the pillows because I can’t see him like this.”
“You didn’t try to get a reaction from him?” the gypsy asks, stealing some of the basin water to clean herself. Caring very little about privacy, she changes into a clean shirt and new layered skirt while liquid tendrils run along her skin. “I know Dariana told us to be careful, but we can’t leave him like this. One of us has to be able to get through to him. I mean, he’s obviously awake, right?”