Blogging about writing and mental health is all fine and good, but burning through them makes coming up with new ideas a very trying thing. I’ve decided to turn my blog into something that covers a wider range of topic and articles.
So, I’ve been planning something the past few months. I got the idea to start interviewing indie authors one day, but wanted to add something unique to it. My first interview is with M. Howalt, author of Aconitum and Conviction, two big hits on JukePop Serials. I hope you enjoy!
Aden: Hello everybody, and welcome to the first of hopefully many more ‘Author of the Month’ interview! The interview will have a little twist, in that aside from just having the author with us, two of their characters from their stories will be sitting in. This month, with the conclusion of the Summer Writing Project, I have with me, author M. Howalt, Hector, and Iliya! Would you three like to introduce yourself?
M: Thank you very much, Aden. Can I just say that I’m very excited to be a part of this? And thank you for letting me bring two of my characters...
M: Right, I’m from Denmark in Europe, and when I’m not writing, I work as a translator and teacher. I’m the author of two serials called Aconitum and Conviction on the website JukePop. I mostly write fiction with fantasy elements or a supernatural twist, and I try to create believable characters and emotional realism.
Hector: “Supernatural”? Well, my name is Hector Rothenberg. I am a certified werewolf hunter. I live in Frankfurt, Germany, but I am often on the road as part of my job. Thank you for wanting to interview us, Aden.
Iliya: I’m Iliya Radov, and I’m… a former infantry assault wizard of the Geranian army. Due to unfortunate incidents, I am no longer a soldier, nor a wizard. M is my biographer, if you will, and I, too, would like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us.
Aden: Well, I am very glad to have you all here. Let’s get the ball rolling with a generic question, shall we? M, with just one chapter left in Conviction (as of the interview), and with Aconitum’s serialization complete, do you have any plans in the near or distant future for more serials? Maybe even something that features returning characters? Or will you be going the route of directly publishing completed novels?
M: Oh, I have a few of stories in the works already and ideas and notes for a lot more. Currently, I’m working on something a little lighter than the stories featuring these two gentlemen, but I’m also plotting sequels and spin-offs to both Aconitum and Conviction. There is a lot to explore in both worlds and a number of characters whom I’d love to write more about. I’ve enjoyed writing serial fiction so much and found the community surrounding JukePop so amazing that I’m pretty sure I’ll be back soon, whether it’s going to be with one or the other story. However, I do hope that I can also transform Aconitum and Conviction into paper books, so I will be looking into that as well.
Aden: I’m sure a lot of people are looking forward to those two coming out as paper books. Now, a question for M and Hector. Royer from Aconitum has become quite a fan favourite, even inspiring fan art. What are your opinions on Royer?
M: To begin with, I think some of the readers were a little suspicious of Royer, and I can definitely see why. So I was very happy to see people responding well to him as the story progressed. I personally like him very much, and he was an important part of the story and to Hector’s development, so it was crucial to me to portray him well – not least because he was actually introduced to me by a friend and fellow writer to begin with. So yes, I really like him and his open and honest nature.
Hector: To me, Royer has become a valuable companion.
M: You can do better than that.
Hector: Hm. To begin with, I was not certain what to make of him. I had never met anyone like him. But we quickly formed a bond, and I found that I trusted him easily. Now we are partners. He is a hunter, in a different way from me, but an accomplished hunter in his own right. I consider myself lucky to be with him. We have become very close.
Aden: A quick question here, but probably with a long answer. By the time this interview goes out, the final chapter of Conviction would have been released. Will we see more of Iliya in the future? His fate in Conviction seems pretty stuck in stone.
Iliya: I’m not dead.
M: Yes, Conviction does seem quite conclusive, but Iliya is right. He isn’t dead, and a lot can happen where we leave him at the end of that story as well as, perhaps, later and in other places. I won’t say too much, but I don’t think his story and his personal journey end there.
Aden: Alright, here’s a question I just thought of. Can Iliya do funny? Can he bring the stomach roll? Is the death whisperer capable of the ‘hahas’?
Iliya: I don’t think death speaking prevents anyone from having a sense of humour. The question, really, is whether there is a reason to laugh. In any case, you may find it hard to believe, but I have been known to make people laugh. Sometimes even on purpose.
M: He really is quite funny. Especially, between you and me, when he’s had a few drinks.
Aden: That’s…really hard to see at this point, but I guess I will take your words for now. Now, for the two guest characters, what are your opinions on each other? And of course, what are your opinions on M?
Hector: I’m afraid I don’t know Iliya so well, but from our brief conversations, I find him honourable.
Hector: You admit your mistakes and seek to redeem yourself. I respect that. I admit that I don’t know anything about magic, but I find Iliya a lot more forthcoming and reasonable than some of the soldiers I have met. I’m sure Royer would like him. He likes most people despite their flaws. I am not a writer, but I think that M did well writing down my story. We worked together on it, and that was a good experience. Sometimes M can be a little … nosy. But overall, it was a good process.
Iliya: I agree with Hector. M allowed me to tell my story in a way that let my side of it be heard, and I am grateful for that. People will make up their own minds, but M gave me a voice, and I think I probably needed that even if it wasn’t always very pleasant to talk bout. As for Hector … Well, he has just proved his open-mindedness and good nature. He works hard for what he believes is right, and he seems very skilled. I would trust him.
Aden: Look who’s popular with the boys? Now M, similar, question, is there any character that you’ve written that you dislike in any way? If so, how do you go about writing them?
M: I bribed those two before we came on here… Just kidding. Sort of. But the thing is that every character in a story, just like everybody else, has good and bad sides. There are things I find endlessly annoying or frustrating about some of my main characters, but they make up for it in other respects. Sometimes I start out disliking a character, but as I get to know them, I grow to appreciate them. And actually I find it more interesting to write about people who have different opinions or views from my own. Iliya and Hector are playing nice here, but they have both been really frustrated with me sometimes, and I have with them too. But despite our differences, we have some things in common, or a common goal.
Hector: Well, there was that time when M insisted on questioning me about some very personal issues…
Iliya: Oh yes. I can relate to that. And second-guessing me when I said that I felt in a certain way.
M: Anyway! I think the key to writing characters that you dislike is to attempt to understand them. Get under their skin and find out why they are the way they are and how they are going to work in their given story.
Aden: Hah! That’s a really healthy outlook I think, not just in writing, but in life as well. We’re down to our last two questions here, and they are going to be a little more serious than the previous ones. Tomas versus Royer. Who’s better? Go!
Iliya: I know that Royer is the wolf-man that Hector talks about all the time, but who is Tomas?
Hector: …Tomas was my partner. Years back.
Iliya: Past tense. I see. I suppose I should say…
Hector: Thank you. But it’s a long time ago. I don’t… I don’t think that they should be compared. I was very close to Tomas, and he was a good partner. But I can’t know where he would have been today, Royer obviously has some hunting advantages. Over anyone. And our relationship is constantly growing. I’m sorry, I don’t think I can answer your question.
Aden: Well, now I feel bad for asking. So much for having my fanboy moment.
Hector: Please don’t. I take no offence.
Iliya: You looked a little offended.
Hector: Surprised. I looked surprised.
Aden: Last question though, and I’m really going to make it a good one. M, what are your thoughts on writing, the impact it has on your life, and how your life might have seeped into your stories?
M: Right… Wow, that’s a big question. How much time do we have? No, seriously… I started really writing when I was eleven. I remember that the other kids were feeling all grown up and didn’t want to play so much anymore, but I had all these stories and characters in my head, and I wanted to give them life. So I started writing because that was the best outlet that I could think of. I’ve tried telling stories in other ways, too, but writing is what I’ve always returned to. I find that it’s the best way for me. As for the impact… Well, it’s a very important part of me and of who I am. I can’t imagine not writing. It’s a little funny, really, that it can be something of such a huge personal value as well as something that I very much want to share with others and find an audience for. Writing is my happy place, but it can also be frustrating and open a lot of difficult or painful subjects that need to be faced. And it can also be exciting and great fun and entertaining. So how my life has seeped into my stories… I think it goes both ways. I’m not the kind of writer who writes funny stories when I’m happy and sad stories when I’m upset, but my view of life as a multi-faceted and complex thing probably shines through in what I write… What, Iliya?
M: No, I insist. Go ahead.
Iliya: I’m not going to call you pretentious, but …
M: You kind of just did.
Hector: Well then! Iliya is capable of being funny, after all.
M: Nicely saved, you guys.
Aden: Well, how about that, he really is funny. And with that, we’ve come to the end of this interview. Thank you all for coming here for this. Any last words from our guests to our readers?
M: With the risk of sounding pretentious once more, I’d like to thank you again, Aden, for inviting us over. It was great fun! And I would also thank my readers for their support and feedback. It means a lot to me.
Hector: Thank you for your hospitality.
Iliya: Yes, it was very nice to… get out a bit.
(M. Howalt is a cat lover who tweets @MHowalt. She also blogs at howalt.wordpress.com.)