I recently took part in a book blog tour, and answered a few questions for readers. Here is the Q&A:
- What are your top ten mythology stories?
1. The Iliad - Easily my favorite of all mythological stories
2. Paradise Lost - Classic story
3. Jason and the Argonauts - Classic movie
4. Hercules - Any book, movie, or story based on his life.
5. O Brother, Where Art Thou? - Coen Brothers are amazing
6. Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Because, why not?
7. Stargate - Yes, alien myths can be included, right?
8. 300 - Beautiful cinematography
9. The Bible - Whether true or not, this book has provided the basis for many stories
10. Theseus and the Minotaur - Because I’m studying this story for my third novel
- What inspires me the most
I remember, as a kid, huddling under my covers with my flashlight and a book. It was a time that I could escape into another world. What inspires me most is the joy from a kid who has read my books and has escaped into the world of Sonora. That excitement and enthusiasm has meant more to me than anything I’ve ever done in my life.
Another inspiration is passion, and the freedom to explore. Growing up, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I tried many different things in school, but nothing really clicked. That didn’t change when I got to college. Had I listened to myself, I would have found that I loved telling stories, but my mind became too practical. I had to find a career where I could support myself. I started out in real estate, which ultimately ended with the recent economic crash of 2008. I also jumped into recruiting for corporations, which I loathed. I believe that if you give yourself to your passion, then you can build a career at it.That is where I’m at today, and I will continue on that path no matter how difficult it becomes.
- What are your top ten favorite authors and movies
1. J.R.R. Tolkien
2. J.K. Rowling
3. Edgar Allen Poe
4. Brian Jacques
5. C.S. Lewis
6. Ernest Hemingway
7. Gertrude Chandler Warner
8. Daniel Quinn
9. Roald Dahl
10. Dr. Seuss
3. V for Vendetta
4. Star Wars
5. Forrest Gump
6. Indiana Jones
7. Finding Nemo
8. Lord of the Rings
10. Fight Club
- How I came up with the idea for my novel?
A dream. I had been immersed in a dream that was so real, I thought I might have lived it in another life. It centered around a royal baby, and her journey out of this world and into our own. I awoke one spring night in 2009 and began writing furiously onto a yellow notepad for 4 hours. By the time I was done, it was 6am and I had written 40 pages about this dream. It was as if I was possessed with an idea. From there, I wrote for 3 months straight. I didn’t realize I was even writing a book until I was 100 pages into the story. I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew I had to keep going. The entire story begins sixteen years after this baby left the world of Sonora, and came to Earth.
The rest of the novel was created as I went through her quest to find the truth. I derived a lot of the characters and framework for the adventures from my own experiences and those of my favorite stories. You’ll find a lot of inspiration from ancient mythologies in my novel, as well as aspects of my favorite books and movies. This will be a five-part series. I have a basic framework and outline for the whole story, but most of my creativity happens as I work through each book.
- What was your favorite part in writing this story?
I loved writing the comedic dialogue or humorous aspects of the characters. Also, I love coming up with a new interpretations of existing folklore, such as a spin on Greek mythology or popular stories told from a different angle.
- Do you have a favorite character that you wrote for this story?
Sas! He is a bumbling Sasquatch/Bigfoot. I would say he’s a mix of Harry Henderson and Chewbacca. I love that character!
- Did you get any writer's block while writing Sonora and the Eye of the Titans?
I never got writer’s block while working on the first book (Sonora and the Eye of the Titans). It flowed out of my head seamlessly for some reason. The second and third book have been a different story. They are much more difficult to work through because you really have to maintain a full grasp of the series, and the direction you want the characters to take.
- Do you have any new projects coming up and if so can you tell us about it?
This series is in five parts, so it will take a bit of time to complete, but I am thinking about working on a prequel series that takes place around the time of Zeus. That one should be fun to write!
- Tell us about the main character in Sonora and the Eye of the Titans. Who is Allora?
Allora is a shy, yet opinionated teenager who is unaware of her subtle beauty. She is coming to terms with her inner strength and otherworldly origin, while still trying to feel normal in the high school environment. Her confidence builds as the story moves along. The issues that she finds important also shifts. With that, the pressure of her lineage brings its own set of problems and she struggles to find the right path. She is also very strong-willed, intelligent, kind, and honest girl.
- Is this a standalone novel or will it be part of a series?
This is the first book in a five-part series.
- The book looks like an interesting mesh of urban fantasy, mythology, and science fiction. Tell us a bit about how they blend together in the story.
The books are definitely a mesh of all three genres. I’ve tried to create a world where magic is explained through science, while also making magic unexplainable, just as spirituality requires us to believe in that which we can not see. Regarding mythology, I always wondered why the ancient gods of our stories were so flawed. That made no sense to me, unless those beings were really just mortals with special gifts or abilities beyond human comprehension at that point in time.
- What are you reading right now, or what was the last book you read?
Last two books I read were Red Rising and I Am Pilgrim. My reading selection is rather diverse. I love all books - even romantic comedy ;)
- If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would you entertain? What would you serve?
The Mad Hatter! Oh, god, that would be hilariously fun! I would serve coffee instead of tea just to see what he would do.
- Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you or your novel?
I’m actually heading out on a 6-month book tour starting in Portland, OR at the end of May. I’ll be wandering around the US going in a clockwise circle on the outer states and visiting indie bookstores along the way. If you follow the book tour site, it’ll show where I’m heading next!
- Where can readers find you online?
- What is your favorite part of the story, SONORA AND THE EYE OF THE TITANS?
There are so many parts that I love, but I think that my favorite would have to be when the main characters are in the Ape Caves, running from spiders and play hopscotch in the lava river.
- How long did it take you to write SONORA AND THE EYE OF THE TITANS?
It took me 3 months to write the first draft, and then 2 years to get a final draft completed.
- If you were stranded on a desert island which of your characters do you want by your side?
I would have to say Baymar. He’s a jellyfish man with the ability to breath underwater. He would come real handy on an island. Not a very good conversationalist though.
- If you could be best friends with one of your characters, who would it be?
That is an easy one. Sas! I mean, who wouldn’t want to be best friends with a bumbling Sasquatch that hordes camping gear, lives in an awesome cave, and can shoot lightning out of his hands!
- What is your favorite book that you wrote?
My first book: Sonora, and the Eye of the Titans.
- What's your favorite book-turned movie?
Frank Herbert’s - Dune (and not the remake mini-series)
- How do you overcome writer’s block?
I like to sit in the shower and think of new ways to go with my stories. Another trick is to start writing a whole new story or character description.
- What book are you reading now?
I’m reading Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck right now because I’m going to be travelling around the US for the next 6 months on a book tour of indie bookstores, so I thought it was an appropriate read before the trip.
- What do you prefer paperback, hardcover, or ebooks?
Paperback. I love being able to read anywhere and everywhere.
- Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Don’t stop dreaming. Your soul is leading you down the wanted path within your dreams. You’ve just got to have the courage to follow!
- Did you always want to be a writer or did that come to you later in life?
The short answer would be, I came to it later in life. I was about 25 years old when I awoke from a dream and started writing. It wasn't until I found so much joy in the process that I realized that the writer's path was how I wanted to spend my life. But I had realized that so many years before. When I was about eight years old, I had written a story about a mouse and his adventures on a farm battling rats. I was a big fan of The Secret of Nimh and Brian Jacques' Redwall series. They influenced a lot of my writing at the time. Unfortunately, I never kept pursuing that path. So much of my youth was spent focusing on a "practical" means of living my life. This would exclude writing and anything artistic. I would come to regret that decision, but I've always believed that our destiny will lead us toward what we are passionate about. My passion has always been stories, whether that is in books, movies, plays, or even live storytelling (one of my favorite platforms).
The Idea - There are many ways that people come up with their first idea for a plot. It could come from another book or a movie. Some find it from their personal experiences, and others may just snatch it right out of the air while they're bored at work. My first idea came from a dream. All my ideas have come from dreams (yes, some are day dreams).
Brain Explosion - Write the damn thing out! Yes, my suggestion to you is to just start writing. Whether that be a first draft, a basic outline of the story, character synopsis, just the ending, or an overview of the concept. Once you've got an idea, the best choice of action will be to get everything from your mind/brain out on paper. What you will write, will be crap. Don't worry about it though. You just need to get all the nuances of the story out of your head so that you can play around with different aspects of the plot, character development, etc.
First Draft - Once you've got the basic story outline, start writing the first draft. I normally go from start to finish. Now, this won't be a very good piece of writing. Even Steven King has trouble with his first drafts. There will be plot holes, grammar and spelling mistakes, character flops, and parts of your writing that will ultimately need to be erased. Don't fret. Just get a first draft done.
Editing - This is where most of your book will evolve. Editing is where you will truly write your book. There will, most likely, be MANY rounds of editing. I'd start by doing a basic round of editing first. Then, once you've realized how crappy your first draft is, you'll need to do a chapter overview, and start moving around your plot so that it follows a more climatic flow. If your first chapter isn't catchy, then find where the action starts, and use that as your first chapter. Many readers will throw your book aside if they are not hooked in the first couple pages.
The Internet - Since you've decided by now that this book is not going to just be read by yourself, you'll need to start thinking about book marketing right away. You could start by gaining a following on sites like Wattpad or Smashwords. You could post a first chapter (only when you know that it is almost perfectly edited). I would think about getting a blog or website. Definitely sign up on Goodreads, and start interacting with other authors in your genre. There are also many Facebook groups that are helpful for first-time authors. Also, you should gain followers on Twitter, Bookbub, Facebook, and YouTube.
Final Draft - Once you've gone through your 20th round of editing (that is not an exaggeration), I would suggest finding a skilled editor to look over your book. Make sure to find a specific professional who knows what they are doing or use an editing service to work over your final draft. Yes, you'll have to shell out the dough (money). Also, make sure you get a contract signed with that individual or service company that outlines what they'll do, when it will be completed by, and how much it will cost. Trust me, this is a necessary step.
Traditional Publishing - There are the big 6 publishing houses in NYC that would be great to get signed with, but it is difficult to get their attention. A literary agent will be necessary to get your manuscript in front of one of those publishing houses. To do that, you'll need to write a very intriguing query letter (a synopsis of your story) that showcases your writing acumen, and the greatness of your book. Find a specific literary agent that represent books in your category or genre. Make sure to look at their specific submission guidelines.
Self Publishing - Now that you've received numerous rejection letters (I've got about 50 so far), you may want to think about self publishing. This is the part where you need to decide how much you want to be an author. Now, after numerous bottles of wine and pitty parties, you are now ready to be a self published author! Yes, this is the more difficult path to author success, but a very rewarding journey. Start by finding a self publishing service. There are many out there, but I've found that Createspace is the best for me. They were acquired by Amazon, so it gives you a direct platform to distribution through Amazon.
Cover - You know that saying? That one about judging books by their cover. Well.... EVERYONE DOES IT! Yes, it is true. Now that you know, your best option is to find a great cover artist to get it right. At this point, go into Goodreads or Amazon and take a look at other covers in your genre that are selling really well. Go to the best seller list and get a feel for what looks good. Some prefer a person on the cover, and some don't. You'll need to decide how best to sell your story from the cover. It's not an exact science, and you can always get a new edition done with a different cover, so don't fret. Just understand though, the cover design is one of the most important aspects to sell your book.
Formatting - Make your book interior look like a book. What I mean is that you should pay for a service to get the font, chapter titles, interior design, etc. done properly. Createspace has a service that you can utilize (its kind of expensive).
Launch - Book launches are tricky. I always suggest trying to get a few reviews online before the actual launch. You could start by doing a Goodreads giveaway or send a copy of your book to friends and family. Reviews are going to be important so that people can see the legitimacy of your work. If you enroll in the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform, you can do free giveaways of your ebook to kindle users. Amazon giveaways are a great way to get it into reader's hands. If its a part of a series, and you've got the other books published, you can price the first book as perma-free, which will draw in more readers to your series.
Aftermath - At this point, you're a published author. Pat yourself on the back. Congratulate yourself. Throw a party! But now, your journey has just begun. Get ready for the gut-wrenching feeling when you get your first one-star review, or when you look at your sales for the month and you've sold one copy. Having pretty much drained your savings, you are now a broke author with only a dream. Hope will be your guiding light at this point. If you believe in the power of your story, other people will follow. There will be times that you'll look in the mirror and wonder what the hell you're doing, but don't let doubt creep in. You can never fail if you never give up.
Find additional info here: www.sonoraseries.com
My name is T.S. Hall. I'm a young-adult urban fantasy author. I grew up in Portland, spent the last few years in the mountains of Idaho, and now I'm bringing my new book series to the world.