Hey there. Insiders!
Today we’re tossing questions at fantasy author J.T. Williams. J.T. Williams is the author of the Saints of Wura trilogy and the Half-Elf Chronicles. When he isn’t writing, he wages war in his backyard with his children having make-believe battles against the orcs invading from next door.
Break the ice and tell our readers who you are and what kind of thing you write.
I consider myself normal by some degree. I’m not sure what that degree actually is so I could actually be quite crazy or rather boring depending on you.
I just celebrated my anniversary with my wife of 7 years. It’s was super romantic as we tried to dodge our five kids and actually have a meal at the same time while juggling the kids, dogs, cats, etc… my life is generally crazy and writing happens at some point in all of this!
I work a lot and while I won’t go into exactly what I do, I’ve seen more blood and tissue than the average person and frequently find myself up at all hours of the night… so there you have it. I could be an assassin, a necromancer, or perhaps I work in the emergency medical field.
How do you approach your stories; do you plan everything out before starting, or are you more a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of a person?
Both. Generally I know the ending and I work out how I get there. I typically have an overall “quest” but where the dynamic planning comes is the random events that happen as I write.
I.E. Random character dies, somewhat betrays the main heroes, or secret magical device doesn’t work…
It is the random events that actually lead me on some fairly cool plots I couldn’t have thought up in my initial planning. My characters tend to take me on joy rides but sometimes they get a joyride and we both fight over the wheel a bit. I like twists and forcing characters into situations where maybe they didn’t plan for everything that could happen. It’s fun to see where the story goes but to keep it on a certain path so it all makes sense.
Tell us about your most recent release, and why the heck our readers should give it a shot:
Reckoning in the Void, the final book in my trilogy. Well first, you need to read the two proceeding books, Winemaker of the North and Arcane Awakening. Book three without the first two would leave you asking “what the heck” a whole lot.
The story itself twists who the bad guy actually is, sees the betrayal of the heroes by a close friend, and plenty of large scale battles akin to mixing Spartacus, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings together… no joke. Roman-esque legions, mages, beasts of war, horsemen, you name it. It’s hard not to give away plot points but it definitely hints to a much ancient race and the lead in to my next series while happily ending the main story arcs.
What’s the biggest influence on the kind of thing you write?
Ancient history and religions ( late Roman history and Norse myths in my latest books).
The Lord of the Rings and other works by Tolkien are a large influence in my work. My books have a few songs and poetry interwoven into the narrative, something I haven’t seen done too much in most modern fantasy. So far, I haven’t had any complaints. 😉
This is difficult. Dare I say The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars?
What was your favourite book as a kid?
Talking elementary age here: Goosebumps
What comes first for you with a story, concept or characters?
Concept and then story/ characters. My most recent books stemmed from a thought of “what if?” from ancient history.
When the Romans expanded north into Germania and Gaul, they destroyed and many of the tribes and cultures. Skip forward into history with the spread of Catholicism: There was a rumoured “book of magic” somewhere within Europe that supposedly was destroyed as an attempt to end particular pagan religions. I wondered if “magic” was used earlier and if that book was more powerful than just a religious text, could Rome of been destroyed at its height? What would that of looked like?
This of course evolved much differently within my books but the idea came from this random idea.
What are you reading/watching/playing/hiding from right now?
Reading: Theories and beliefs on Eastern Religions/ meditation. Kind of researching for my next series to be honest. Fiction wise: I have a few. Black Dragon by Salvador Mercer comes to mind right now.
Watching: I just finished Star Wars: The Clone Wars series. It is a series that follows Anakin and Obi-Wan between movies II and III. If you are a Star Wars fan at all, I recommend them. It goes into the lore of ‘The Force’ much deeper than the movies. It also makes you hate Order 66 more but helps you understand how and why that happened from a few different POVs.
Playing: The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim. I’ve been playing this for around three years. For one, this game is bad if you like to go on random adventures… I’ve completed more side quests than I can count but keep only slowly progressing in the main story line.
For two, games get in the way of writing… So I’m trying to avoid playing unless I had a very productive writing day.
Hiding: Orcs. Considering my representation of them in my upcoming series, I expect them to come after me… hold on, someone’s at the door…
…Okay, not orcs… just my delivery of ballistae bolts. Don’t judge me! Dragons can attack at any time!
What made you decide to go indie, and what do you see as the benefits of indie?
It seems to slowly becoming the new *traditional*. It is a complete gamble if you can get an agent and/or contract. I would rather gamble and potentially find my readers than spend months going on and on sending query letters while my work collects dust.
Will I ever seek representation? Yes, I think so. I believe the term is called “hybrid” but don’t quote me on that. At this point, I enjoy the freedom to connect with readers at will and write what I hope others will find entertaining.
Who is your favourite fictional character, be it from books, TV, comics, movies or games?
O’Neill from Stargate SG-1. Witty one-liners and a courage to protect his friends even at his own expense.
D’you listen to music whilst you write? The TV on in the background providing a pleasant white-noise babble? Or d’you DEMAND SILENCE WHILST YOU CREATE FROM NOTHING.
What is silence? I’ve written first drafts while holding fussy 2 year olds… I’m actually not sure what silence is. Is there a book about it?
In all seriousness, I’m used to some type of noise. When I’m editing, I tend to lean towards symphonic or folk metal. Nightwish is one of my favourites (both old and new). I also really like Eluveitie (folk metal) while editing my newest series.
Which of your own works are you proudest of?
My first completed trilogy. Saints of Wura consisting of Winemaker of the North, Arcane Awakening, and Reckoning in the Void
What’s you’re writing schedule like? Are you super regimented, butt-in-chair every day, tip-tapping away for hours, or an airy-fairy ‘when the muse strikes’ sort of a person?
I killed my muse… so there is that. Dang thing was worthless. Here one day, gone the next… I don’t have time for that. Due to my work schedule, I don’t have a “schedule” but I do write a first draft in about 15 days (60- 80k words). So I will carve out time whenever I can and write like crazy NaNoWriMo style anytime I’m planning to write a book. I will actually begin writing book three of my series in around 10 days in this exact fashion.
What’s your number one piece of advice for anyone reading this who is considering going the indie route?
If you’re writing fantasy: Do a series and don’t waste time with short stories as your primary work. I did this for a “test” of how to indie publish but now use the stories for other means. Also, have one or two books ready before you publish your first one. Trust me on this one.
Tell me a ‘classic’ book that you’ve not been able to get through:
I can’t stand To Kill a Mocking Bird. I’ve never read it on my own and had it shoved in my face more than I wanted in middle/high school. I never liked it then and don’t care for it now. I get the message it has (and it is a good one) but no, I don’t care for the book.
So what treats do you have in store for readers next?
My newest series consisting of a planned five books with the following titles:
Blood Elves Rising, Burning Prophecy, Shadow of the Orc Star, The God Blade, and Ascension.
With plenty of twists, magic, and even a very old and powerful lost culture (akin to Atlanteans or Annunaki in some ways) These books are set in the same world as my other books but many hundred years before the events of Saints of Wura.