Tag Archives: Raymond Feist

Interview: Aaron Rosenberg

I’ve been saving this one for a while. You see, not only is Aaron Rosenberg in Keen Edge of Valor (which you can get here: amazon.com/dp/B09W91TP24/), he’s in the Eldros Legacy.

In fact, he’s got his first Eldros Legacy novel, Deadly Fortune, coming out next Tuesday. It’s a swashbuckling tale of pirates, mystery, and murder and you’re gonna love it.

And he’s pretty awesome too.

Aaron Rosenberg

  1. Why are you here? This includes influences, favorite creators, steps along the way, and dreams down the road.
Aaron Rosenberg
Aaron Rosenberg

Ha, why are any of us here? I got started writing when I was a kid, and got hooked when I won my school writing fair in third grade (beating out the fourth-graders, I might add). I pursued writing in college—I have a BA in Creative Writing and a Masters in English Lit—and my friends and I put out our first roleplaying game when I was in grad school, around the same time I started having stories and poems in small literary magazines.

Things snowballed from there—I was mostly doing RPGs for several years, then did short stories for various game-based anthologies, then tie-in novels, then educational books and children’s books, then original novels and short stories.

I’m a huge Mark Twain and Jane Austen fan, both of them were brilliant at characterization, setting, and narrative. For the more recent writers, I favor Roger Zelazny, Tim Powers, F. Paul Wilson, David and Leigh Eddings, Raymond Feist, Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, and Richard Kadrey.

I write pretty much everything, and I like to keep things varied, so I’ll do epic fantasy and then switch to mystery and then SF and so on.

The two areas I haven’t cracked yet and would love to do someday are film/TV and comic books—I’ve come close on the latter a few times, but never had one come to completion. But mainly I just love to tell stories that people enjoy.

  1. Describe your great Lab of Creation? This includes where you work, what do you listen to (if anything), things you have to have in your work environment, and stuff you’ve tried that haven’t worked.

I write mostly at home, particularly in the evenings (I have a full-time job). The corner of our basement family room is my office space, partially walled off by a set of bookcases in front of the desk and a redwood slab along the side.

Bones at Rest
Bones at Rest

When lockdown started, though, I wound up having to do my job from there, which meant by 5pm each day I was ready to be well away from the basement! So I switched to writing on my laptop in the living room—I sit on the couch right by the window. Now that my day job is mostly back in the office I’m alternating writing up there and back at my desk again.

I don’t listen to music unless there’s too much noise around for me to concentrate otherwise. If I do, it’s strictly instrumental, lots of soundtracks and strings, so I don’t have to worry about the lyrics distracting me.

I don’t really need much to write, just a comfortable chair, my computer or laptop, and my headphones if it’s loud. I’ve written in hotel rooms plenty of times, in airports, on trains, and even at my table at conventions. That last one’s a little tough for maintaining momentum, though, since I’ll pause whenever someone stops by.

  1. What are your superpowers? This includes things you like your creations, specific techniques you do well, and some favorite successes.

I’m big on worldbuilding, probably because so much of my early work was in creating RPGs. I need to know that a world makes sense—it doesn’t matter that the reader only sees the tip of the iceberg, I have to know the rest of it.

That’s especially true with magic—I’ve designed magic systems before, and for me it’s really important that they are consistent, and that there is an appropriate cost.

I’ve gotten into the habit, over the years, of building both a cast list and a glossary for my books—I’ll have those two documents open while I write, along with the manuscript itself and my notes. That way I can keep track of who everyone is, what they look like, their key traits, and also any unique words, place names, etc.

One of the things I’m good at, because I write very fast and can write almost anything, is pinch-hitting. I’ve been dropped into projects last-minute to salvage them when something has changed and they need extra help. It’s a fun challenge, getting up to speed on something quickly, finding the gaps and weak spots, and figuring out how to fill them. One of my first big RPG projects was like that, and I’ve done several novels and children’s books because an editor needed someone fast and good and knew I could deliver.

  1. What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you? This includes challenges you’ve faced that frustrated you, learning experiences, techniques for overcoming creative challenges, things you’d have done differently, and advice for new writers.
Focal Point
Focal Point

One of the biggest problems with doing tie-in work is that you’re at the mercy of the IP holder. They could decide to change something last-minute, and you don’t get to argue, you just have to adjust your work to match. I’ve had that happen more than once—it can be an interesting challenge, but it’s also really frustrating, especially if happens late in the process (like when you’ve already finished a book and they suddenly change key details).

We’ve all had failures. I wrote a book once—or started to—with a friend, and we thought it was going to combine the best of both our strengths but wound up being the worst of both our flaws instead. That was quite the learning experience!

And not just on my writing strengths and weaknesses but also on working with others. I also made a huge mistake, early on in my career, by biting off more than I could chew and not owning up to it. Now I’m very conscientious about letting my editor know if I have any issues with a project, as soon as an issue occurs.

That’s one thing I always try to tell beginning writers. There’s nothing wrong with turning down a project, and no one will ever think less of you for saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t think I can do that in the time you need.” What they will hold against you is taking the project and then blowing the deadline, turning in substandard work, etc.

If I could tell my younger self anything about writing? Huh. Probably “Stick with it, tell your editor immediately if you’re going to miss a deadline, and never put off revisions.”

My Kryptonite, though? That’s easy—just ask me to write something but tell me “it can be about whatever you want” and “turn it in whenever you like.” I’ll be paralyzed! Give me a narrow, specific topic and a tight deadline, I’m happy as a clam—leave both wide open and I’m blinded by the possibilities!

Oh, I don’t get writer’s block, though. I don’t really have time for it. I just push through, write that section the best I can, and if I have to go back and toss those pages and rewrite them, so be it—I often realize “d’oh, that’s what needed to happen there!” the next day, but I can’t see that unless I write through it the wrong way first.

Lightning Round
  • Actor/Actress You’d Like to Play Any Character You’ve Created
    Jack Black as DuckBob Spinowitz—he’s the lead character in my SF comedy series, a regular Joe who gets abducted by aliens and comes back with the head of a duck
  • Favorite Muppet?
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?
    The Weepies
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall?
    Fall, definitely
  • Favorite Superhero?
    Still gotta say Spidey
  • Best Game Ever?
    D&D, of course. 3 or 3.5.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show?
    The Six Million Dollar Man!
  • Do You Have Pets? (provide pictures if you want)
    Yep, one cat, Tuppence.

  • Favorite Weird Color?
    I don’t know about weird, but cobalt blue
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received?
    A Bag of Holding, Con-Survival Edition, from ThinkGeek. I use it whenever I travel, and it’s the perfect size to carry my laptop and pretty much everything I need for the day.
  • Favorite Sports Team?
    The New Orleans Saints!
  • What Cartoon Character Are You?
  • Your Wrestler Name?
    The Gryphon Rose
  • Your Signature Wrestling Move?
    Pinning people on their stomachs and pounding on their backs like I’m typing
  • What Do You Secretly Plot?
    My next book, obviously!
  • How Will You Conquer the World?
    Through my stories. Or my snark.
  • Best Thing From the 60s/70s/80s/90s? (pick your preferred decade)
    Saturday morning cartoons in the 70s
  • Favorite Historical Period?
    Edo period Japan
  • Person In History (Living or Dead) You Want To Hang Out With?
    Mark Twain
  • Steak Temperature?
    Medium to medium-rare
  • Favorite Chip Dip?
    Fresh guacamole
  • Beverage(s) of Choice?
    Unsweetened iced tea—unless I’m down South, in which case it’s sweet tea all the way!
  • What Actor or Actress Should Portray You in Your Biopic?
    Matthew Broderick

What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round?
What can I get you at the bar? [For me, Gin & Tonic or Rum & Coke)

Editor’s Note: I also enjoy gin & tonics. 53 years malaria free! Along with IPAs, of course.

What question(s) would you like to ask me?

If there’s one book you could go back and time and make yours, what would it be?

Rob’s Answer: I’m not entirely sure how to take this question. I mean, if we’re talking books I’d like to re-write or correct something, I’ve got a bunch of those. Some that come to mind are Cornwell’s Last Kingdom books. As a scholar of that exact time period, there are things in there that make my teeth itch. Also, there are a couple of authors who are fantastic in the first 80% of their book, but routinely don’t have that epic ending their story deserves. I like epic endings and I cannot lie.

And I really wish I could have written the Song of Ice and Fire. One, it’d be done. Two, his worldbuilding is fantastic, but his prose gets bloated and the pacing of the story struggles. I would also have split it into multiple series threads so you could keep track of things better.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

I’ve got a website, gryphonrose.com, but I’m sometimes bad about updating it.

My Wikipedia page is usually more current: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_S._Rosenberg

So is my Amazon Authors page: https://www.amazon.com/Aaron-Rosenberg/e/B001JRXM5S.

I’m pretty good at posting about my current projects on Facebook (facebook.com/gryphonrose) and on Twitter (@gryphonrose), and you can find a lot of my books at Crazy 8 Press (https://www.crazy8press.com/  ), Crossroad Press (https://crossroadpress.com/ ), Falstaff Books (http://falstaffbooks.com/ ), and of course New Mythology Press (https://chriskennedypublishing.com/new-mythology-press/ ).

As far as recent projects, I’ve had two new books already out this year, each part of an ongoing series. Focal Point is an occult conspiracy thriller set in Eastern Europe, part of the O.C.L.T. series from Crossroad Press—think The X-Files meets Mission: Impossible with some Supernatural thrown in.

Bones at Rest is the fourth in my five-book Anime-esque epic fantasy series the Relicant Chronicles from Falstaff Books—basically Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets Game of Thrones.

And where can we find you?

I’m going to be at Origins Game Fair in early June, Shore Leave in mid-July, and the GenCon Writers Symposium in early August.

Do you have a creator biography?

Aaron Rosenberg is the author of the best-selling DuckBob SF comedy series, the Relicant Chronicles epic fantasy series, the Dread Remora space-opera series, and, with David Niall Wilson, the O.C.L.T. occult thriller series. His tie-in work contains novels for Star Trek, Warhammer, World of WarCraft, Stargate: Atlantis, Shadowrun, and Eureka. He has written children’s books (including the award-winning Bandslam: The Junior Novel and the #1 best-selling 42: The Jackie Robinson Story), educational books, and roleplaying games (including the Origins Award-winning Gamemastering Secrets). Aaron lives in New York. You can follow him online at gryphonrose.com, at facebook.com/gryphonrose, and on Twitter @gryphonrose.

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?

What I’m working on next? That’d be a short story for a pulp anthology, followed by Book Five in the Relicant Chronicles, a Sherlock Holmes novella, and a drawing-room pirate romance-adventure novel. I’m sure other projects will come up, though. J

* * * * *

We are so honored to have Aaron writing at New Mythology Press, and after this interview, I think you can see why. And if that’s not enough, check out his writing.

Interview: Benjamin Smith

Benjamin is another author I’m looking forward to chatting with at conventions. He’s quite thoughtful, as you’ll see. Also, he said he really liked “Where Enemies Sit,” my story in For a Few Credits More, so clearly he’s a smart man.

Interview: Benjamin Smith
Benjamin Smith
Benjamin Smith

What is your quest?

My favorite stories are the ones that feature cool characters in an awesome setting, fighting against the odds with their fists and their wits. And you can find that in just about any genre, but especially in the realms of fantasy and science fiction. I started off reading Arthurian legends when I was a kid, and playing games like Final Fantasy II (IV in the correct numbering system) and Betrayal at Krondor for the PC. When I learned that Betrayal at Krondor was based off a book series by Raymond Feist, that’s what got me into reading as a full-time hobby. Looking back on it, the world of Midkemia is still my go-to example of what world-building looks like, and it’s what I try to emulate with my own stuff.

So, yeah. Cool characters in an awesome setting. With the Four Horsemen Universe, we’ve already got an awesome setting, so that’s half the work right there. It’s my hope that the characters and situation I came up with in “Return to Sender” are cool enough for the readers to enjoy! And if they do enjoy reading about Jackie and her Justin Timers, then let Chris know! I’ve got some good stuff already in the works.

Writers that I really enjoy include Raymond Feist, Brandon Sanderson, Larry Correia, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Dan Abnett, and — more recently — Mark Wandrey, Kacey Ezell, Marisa Wolf, Kevin Ikenberry, and the rest of the 4HU crew.

What is your favorite color?

I’d like to think I strike a good balance between action, dialogue, and description in my scenes, even scenes that are sometimes little more than the characters sitting around a table formulating a plan. By mixing a little bit of action and description into a conversation, it keeps readers engaged and makes the scene seem more alive. If all you’ve got is dialogue, it’ll basically just be talking heads in a white space. But, if you put too much description in, you’ll either wind up with paragraphs describing how a chair looks or loads of background information that’ll grind everything to a halt. A lot of writers call this the dreaded exposition dump. I try to describe just enough for the reader to get a sense of where and who, then through action and dialogue fill in the what and why.

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?

My biggest failure early on was not pushing the emotional envelope far enough. I’m pretty laid back and reserved in real life, so tapping into extreme emotions (Whether sadness or rage or whatever) can be a little bit of a challenge. I thought it would alienate readers, and yet that’s what readers are wanting. It wasn’t until I read David Farland’s “Million Dollar Outlines” (Gimmicky title, but whatever) that I realized just how important emotional connection was in stories. I’d never really thought about it, but it was what I was most interested in as a reader.

I’ve gotten better about it in my more recent stories, but I think a huge reason why a lot of my earlier stuff went through the submission/rejection mill was because of this weakness.

My advice for anyone dealing with this is: take a risk! If a character needs to fly off the handle or fall to pieces, write it to the max, then dial it back in editing if you need to. When it’s raw, it’s real. And when it’s raw, it can be refined.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I’ve always heard that I’ve got a knack for dialogue in my stories, so I try to play to that strength. Rather than focusing on a lone wolf character, stories will usually feature a team of at least three individuals, most likely more. Witty banter between different characters makes scenes a joy to write, and hopefully to read as well!

That said, my rough drafts tend to be dialogue heavy, so any editing is usually spent trimming out unnecessary dialogue and creating a better balance between description and action.

I spend a lot of my pre-writing time coming up with backgrounds and personalities for a story’s main characters. In “Return to Sender” I’ve got fairly extensive backstories figured out for the lead character Jackie Warren, her right-hand man Marcus, and the team sniper Sayra. It’s my hope to flesh the others out as the story progresses, and to add in some new characters. In addition to a dropship pilot, I think Jackie’s team needs a dedicated driver for when they’re on the ground, not to mention a finance guy and logistics expert.

Another thing I try to nail down early on in story planning/writing is the flow of the plot. Larry Brooks writes about the 7-point plot format in his book “Story Engineering,” where he describes 7 key points in a narrative that have to occur to achieve a dynamite plot. He’s not the first to come up with this idea (K.M. Wieland talks about it, as does James Scott Bell, etc), but he was the first one I read where it really made sense to me. And once I started planning out my stories a bit better, more of them started getting accepted.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Do Rigel and Pilot from Farscape count as muppets?
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy chips. Creamy soups.
  • Favorite Sports Team? The Midway Monsters from Mutant League.
  • Cake or Pie?  Cake serves as a vehicle by which buttercream icing gets into my body.
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon on fried catfish. Lime in pie.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Hot Bacon Cheese Spread. Can’t be beat!
  • Wet or Dry? Both. Dry rubs for home-smoked ribs and pulled pork, then slathered in barbecue sauce once at the table.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Does Hatsune Miku count? She’s a little on the artificial side, but what singer isn’t these days?
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Bourbon-infused chocolate pecan pie. Oh, and barbecue sauce.
  • Favorite Superhero? All-Might from My Hero Academia.
  • Steak Temperature? Gray enough to know it’s dead, pink enough to be edible.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Dukes of Hazzard
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall.
  • Favorite Pet?  (provide pictures if you want) Long live the Calico Countess!
  • Best Game Ever? For console RPGs, gotta be Chrono Trigger for the SNES with Final Fantasy VI and Shadowrun as close second and third. For PC RPGs, my favorite is still Betrayal at Krondor by Sierra, followed by Baldur’s Gate and its many clones (Icewind Dale, Planescape, etc).
  • Coffee or Tea? Sweet iced tea, and nothing else.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? If I can only have one, then fantasy. Anything from sword and sorcery like Conan the Barbarian or Record of Lodoss War, to epic fantasy like Wheel of Time or Mistborn, with some urban fantasy like Dresden Files or Monster Hunter International. I like pretty much all of it. With sci-fi, I prefer the action-oriented and character-driven rather than the overly technical, and fantasy elements never hurt. Warhammer 40000, Shadowrun, Star Wars (Before the prequel and sequels). Basically, I like to know how a hyperdrive or ion cannon works, but not if entire chapters are spent dissecting one, unless it’s integral to the plot.

What question(s) would you like to ask me?

1. What’s your pre-writing and writing process for short stories and novels? I’m always refining mine, so any tips would be helpful!

Rob’s Answer: If I have a setting or a theme, I wallow in it for a week or two if I can. I started doing this with different medieval poetic types. I have written a bunch of SCA scroll texts, which I usually write in a poetic style to reflect the recipient’s persona. So, I might get one that would want a Shakespearean sonnet followed by something in Norse drottkvaett and then maybe something Mongol.

Whether or not I was familiar with the genre, wallowing in it helps make the writing process flow. Every genre or culture has word choices and rhythms that are sort of expected. Not having them jars me as a reader, so I believe it’s important to other readers. It would be like going to an Italian place and finding they’d never heard of basil.

What I’m looking for in any short story is a bit of a twist. The ending has to be at least a little unexpected. The writer who did the best in my opinion was Randall Garrett. Once I have the twist, and the feel, it’s merely a process of putting words into that particular hole.

Novels are trickier. I usually start by creating a few interesting characters and a situation they have to deal with. I’m not good at outlining, but part of character creation is my expected end result for those characters. I don’t lock myself into those endings, because sometimes the story demands otherwise. I had a character in I Am a Wondrous Thing that I designed to be a longer term character but, uh, well, uh, I could never figure out a way not to kill them.

2. Mind giving us a tag line for your story in the “Luck is Not a Factor” anthology coming out next month? I really enjoyed “Where Enemies Sit” in “For a Few Credits More.”

Rob’s Answer: Thank you very much. I’m actually awful at taglines. I tend to explain too much. So, just for a change, I’ll try to explain too little.

“A Sword for Striking”: What story will your choices tell?

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

  • My blog is at BenjaminTylerSmith.com, and there you can find links to the short stories I’ve had published over the years, as well as updates for the couple of books I’m working on. I try to post a few times a week (The operative word is “try”), mostly about books, audiobooks, games, and anime. Feel free to post comments! I’m always happy to discuss whatever I write about, or to take the blog in different directions.
  • I’m also on Facebook as Benjamin Tyler Smith, and on Twitter as @BenTylerSmith. And I’m following Chris Kennedy’s guide to indie publishing by getting my Amazon author page up, so you can find me there, as well.
  • A few of my most recent publications can be found in the following places:
  • “Return to Sender” in Tales from the Lyon’s Den in the 4HU. Sci-fi action. “When an emergency weapons delivery goes sideways, a young and tenacious arms dealer stops at nothing to save her team, her client, and her bottom line.”
  • “A Salt on the Rise” in Issue 30 of On the Premises Magazine. Dark fantasy, in my own universe featuring an undead city called Necrolopolis and all the shenanigans that go on within its walls. “An overworked necromancer struggles to prevent a war between opposing factions of undead.”
  • “Bag of Tricks” in the Sha’Daa: Toys horror/dark fantasy anthology. This one is also dark fantasy, about a magician who wields magical paints and holy .357 magnum rounds against demons and mindless college kids threatening to destroy his hometown.
  • And while it is still seeking publication, my short story “Ash-Eater” (Set in the same fantasy world as “A Salt on the Rise”) earned itself a finalist spot in the 2018 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award contest. So, if you enjoy “A Salt on the Rise”, please look for “Ash-Eater” to appear somewhere at some point in the timeline! Wish I could say something more definitive, but it is getting shopped around.

And where can we find you?

Barring any sudden life changes, you’ll always find me at LibertyCon in Chattanooga, TN. It’s a bit of a drive, but well worth the journey! It’s where I first found out about the 4HU, so that alone makes it worth the journey!

Do you have a creator biography?

By day Ben earns his bread keeping track of the dead with digital cemetery maps, and by night he corrals the undead into whatever story he’s working on next. While the focus of his writing is typically in the realm of fantasy, he has a taste for science fiction, and the more action-packed the better. Married to a saint of a woman, ruled by a benevolent calico countess, he can be found at BenjaminTylerSmith.com.

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not? 

The lightning round should include the greatest of all internet questions: “.45 or 9mm?” I can only assume you didn’t include it because it’s largely a rhetorical question, as .45 is the one true answer. (Rob’s Note: I’ll add it in the next version)

And the obligatory “What are you working on now?” question is always a good one. To answer that, I’m working on an unnamed Jackie Warren novel. In it, the fate of an entire planet will rest in the hands of our young, yet resourceful arms dealer. This has not yet been accepted, and I haven’t even completed the proposal for it yet. But, it’s in the works, and if the Lord is willing, the book will get finished and hopefully there will be more to come!

I am also working on a novel set in the aforementioned Necrolopolis universe. It will be titled “A Soulful Job” and the tag line is: “Souls are vanishing from the city of the dead, and it’s up to an overworked necromancer to find the culprit before he gets the blame!”

Thanks to Benjamin for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: https://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell