Spotlight Week: Author Interview with Monica Enderle Pierce

I’m always on the hunt a good read and always up for supporting indie authors. So when I heard that a fellow SCBWI board member’s daughter had independently published her adult historical fantasy novel, I asked for an email introduction right away.

Monica was gracious and happy to connect. She very kindly sent me a copy of her book for review, along with a postcard from the time period of her book’s setting. She also set up a very generous giveaway for the Friday portion of our Spotlight Week, which I’m sure all readers will be excited about.

Without further delay, I present the author of THE APOCALYPTICS series, Monica Enderle Pierce.

 

 

The Generous Monica Enderle Pierce

1. Tell us three random, unique, or weird facts about yourself.

a. I know how to juggle, though not very well.

b. I have one less vertebra than most people.

c. I laughed for 30 minutes straight after my wisdom teeth were removed. (My brother, who’d had his teeth removed that day too, did not find the experience as amusing.)

 

2. When did you know you were going to be a writer? What prompted you to take your writing seriously?

 

As you know, my mother is a published children’s author, so writing was always a part of my life. However it was a struggle for me until my daughter was born. Then something just clicked. The fact that I’m pretty good at writing and have produced something that my child can inherit prompted me to pursue this as a career rather than a hobby.

 

3. THE APOCALYPTICS SERIES is essentially about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the important characters who stand in their way. What inspired you to write this story? Did you always know it would be a series?

 

Originally conceived as vampire fiction, I switched gears after two full rewrites still left me feeling dissatisfied with the book. I wanted something different, unusual. So I started looking at alternate mythologies. The Four Horsemen was an “ah-ha!” moment. Yes, it was always meant to be a series, even in its earliest versions.

 

4. FAMINE: BOOK ONE OF THE APOCALYPTICS, is set in the late 1800’s, when the Victorian was giving way to the Edwardian era. How did you go about researching this historical period?

 

Many, many sources. Wikipedia, the local library, historical resource books, online historical map collections, historical groups. (You wouldn’t believe how many types of horse carriages existed.) Pinterest is a great resource for visual material and can lead to subject matter experts. The one resource I didn’t use (surprisingly) was the Bible; I didn’t want to become locked into someone else’s interpretation of the Horsemen.

 

5. Your main character Bartholomew Pelletier is a fifteen-century old Roman centurion, and his nemesis is Famine, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. How did you come up with your very intriguing cast of characters?

 

Bartholomew has been in my head for a long time, but I can’t really say where he came from. Placing his age was tricky, but he’s always seemed timeless to me. Once I’d settled on the Four Horsemen, the idea of making Famine raised too many opportunities for conflict with Bartholomew to be passed up. I love including unexpected elements in my books, and she certainly fits that bill.

 

6. Some of your chapters begin with old Western Union Telegraphs, which are supposed to be messages from Bartholomew’s allies. What was the inspiration behind these old time telegraphs and why did you decide to use them for your book?

 

The telegraphs were a last-minute addition and serve as a framework both for the passage of time and the movement of Famine and her cronies. I opted for telegraphs because they’re emblematic of the turn of the century. They harken to a time when communication was slow and imprecise. (And that helps build tension.)

 

7. Did you employ any particular techniques or methods in order to make the action sequences and training scenes in your book more realistic and visual?

 

Absolutely. (I love writing action/fight scenes!) I watched krav maga training videos for hand-to-hand combat reference, video demonstrations of Balearic slingers to understand how that weapon is handled, consulted a group of gun owners and enthusiasts for information on early Colt pistols, and studied reports of Roman warfare, weapons, and tactics to get a feel for how Bartholomew thinks and moves in combat. (Thanks to Youtube I can watch footage repeatedly to get moves and pacing right.)

 

8. If your series was optioned for film, which scene from FAMINE would you be most interested in seeing live on the big screen?

 

Oh, that’s impossible! Bartholomew catching the Overland Express? No, wait. The earthquake. Or crashing through the Sutro Baths glass roof? Maybe meeting Famine in the woods for the first time? Ack! Can’t decide!

 

9. Tell us about your path to publication. What would you say are the pros and cons of being an indie author?

 

I chose to self-publish my first novel, Girl Under Glass, because I knew a majority of the marketing would fall on my shoulders whether I went traditional or indie. And because I’m a control freak. The pro of self-publishing is total control of your product from start to finish. That’s also a con because you’re not just writing, you’re producing the book — procuring vendors (editors, designers, etc.), choosing distribution, setting price, choosing formats (and often doing the formatting, too), and then marketing and handling PR. All the production and marketing steps are necessary evils and take away from your writing/creating time. On the other hand, self-published authors keep a much higher percentage of their earnings that their traditionally published counterparts. I know many authors making a good living from sales of their self-published books. (I’m not there yet, but I plan to be.)

 

10. What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

 

I’m not very ritualistic when it comes to writing time; the only thing I require is relative quiet. Typically, I write in the day while my daughter is at school then take the afternoon and evening off to spend time with family, run errands, and do housework then I’ll return to work on my writing at night after she and my husband have gone to bed. (I’m trying to break out of the 1am bedtime habit. Five hours of sleep per night just isn’t sustainable.) On the weekends, I’ll often do ten to twelve-hour marathons on Saturday while my daughter and husband have “Daddy Day”. Sundays are reserved for family time and I only work if I’m on a deadline.

 

11. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies, sports, or crafts you like to spend time on?

 

Spending time with my family is the priority when I’m not writing. We love movies, reading, and going out for walks with our dog.

 

12. Are you a plotter or pantser? Are there any specific writing tools (books, software, a specific pen ) you use to work on your novels?

 

Both! I’m a plotster. I have a general idea of the beginning, middle, and end of a book and major plot points when I begin. Then I start writing and let it all flow. (I usually deviate from the original points, but I get where I need to go and, often, following a much more interesting route!)

 

13. Are you currently working on any other projects?

 

Several. I’ve been struggling with the sequel to my first novel (Girl Under Glass) and finally feel that I’ve broken through the roadblocks with that book. I’m about to release a new short story as part of that series (the Glass and Iron Series). I’m working on a fantasy/adventure short story to be included in an anthology which I was invited to contribute (very exciting!). I’m in the early stages on Death, the second book in the Apocalyptics Series. And I’m developing a short story (or two or three) to support that series, as well.

 

14. What tips or techniques can you give writers who wish to write in the Historical Fantasy Genre? How about writers who wish to write a series?

 

Like all historical fiction, accuracy is important, unless you enjoy being called out by readers. Take the time to research and do so deeply; all aspects of society will impact your setting and your characters’ interactions. However, the wonderful thing about historical fantasy is that the fantasy aspect permits you to take liberties. Knowing your historical period will allow you to bend and break the rules in ways that can further both plot and characterization. And that’s where the fun really begins.

 

15. What advice would you like to give to writers on the road to publication? What advice would you give to writers who wish to follow the indie path?

 

Don’t compare your path to other authors’. This is your journey and you cannot get to your destination by following in someone else’s footsteps. Nor should you compare your successes and failures to others’.

 

Pay for an editor and don’t be cheap. Same with a cover designer. (Poor quality in either aspect will kill your sales.)

 

Remember that writing is a long-tail process. The more good work you have on the market, the more chances readers have of finding you.

 

 

 

 

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Thank you, Monica for sharing your wisdom with us!

Tune in this Friday, as we end our Spotlight Week with a FAMINE GIVEAWAY!

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

The post A Plague of Giants appeared first on Elitist Book Reviews.

The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.

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