Middle of November. Days are starting to get really short, helped along by losing Daylight time. Have you had snow yet? I mean, accumulating snow?
Well, this week we have Sean Valiente, author of The Lightning Knight, and so let’s jump right in!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
In high school I really started to flesh out the idea for a character, and from there over the years I kept taking notes on more characters, ideas, plots, etc.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
The most surprising thing I learned when creating my books was how new characters would suddenly pop up in my story that I had never thought of before. It was super fun because it was all brand new to me, and then these characters would become their own person with their own motives and personalities. I thought going into writing you knew everything you wanted and then you wrote it, but for me, it was like, “let’s get from point a to point b and see what happens in between!”.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Write, read, and write some more. Writing is like anything else, it takes practice. Some people are naturals, and some need a bit more help, but at the end of it all, the only way to get better is to do the work. Reading helps you understand how writing works, and writing helps you practice what you’ve learned.
What do you think makes a good story?
Characters are what makes a good story. You could have the coolest world, the most interesting magic system, the most wonderful writing style, or even an interesting plot. But none of that matters if the readers don’t connect to the characters or care about the characters.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
A little of both: you need a big ego to even start writing. Think about it, you’re trying to put words to a page and tell people, “Hey, this is good enough for you to take the time to read.” That takes a whole lot of self-confidence. But on the other hand, you need to understand that nothing is perfect and you need to be able to take constructive criticism. At the end of the day, not everyone will like your book, just like not everyone likes a certain food. That’s okay, and you need to put your ego aside.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I try to be a bit of both – I love the idea of taking what readers know and love, giving it to them, but also adding a special flavor to it.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
For my Knights of Nine series, I see each book as its own season of television, and while there are arcs that end, there are lots of arcs that continue and you need to read the next book to find out more.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
A professional editor! I may have read my novel 734 times and I was so in the weeds of it that when I paid for a professional editor, she made my book go from just okay to amazing! It’s the one thing you shouldn’t skimp on. It’s the difference between a bad novel and a great novel.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I grew up going to church, so from a very early age I learned the power of words and meaning and how they could affect people. The simplest phrase can affect each person differently, and that is a powerful feeling to have and a massive responsibility to use that power for good.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I think Redwall by Brian Jacobs is an amazing book that has gotten a little lost in the history of the genre. I remember reading that for the first time and becoming so immersed into the world – it’s what made me love reading.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I like to think my spirit animal is a wolf, mostly because they are my favorite animal. But also because the wolf, alone, is a formidable predator and often a key-stone species in the environment. But as part of a pack, a wolf can be so much more, and that’s how I feel, especially as a writer. Alone, I think I do okay, but with the help and support of my family and friends, anything is possible.
What does literary success look like to you?
If my stories can help anyone in anyway, whether that be they take away from it something special or it allows them to escape reality for a little while, then I’ll consider myself successful.
How can your fans connect with you?
I’d love for them to drop by my website, that’s https://www.seanvaliente.com, or they can reach me on social media.
Thanks for coming by!