Head over to Goodreads to enter into a draw to win a paperback copy of Jak Phoenix 2: The Markazian Deception, the sequel to the space adventure novel Jak Phoenix, by Canadian author Matt D. Williams.
Author Matt D. Williams was interviewed by fantasy author Tracy Falbe where he discusses his inspirations, writing in general and the character of Jak Phoenix. Check it all out!
|With two novels and a short story to his name (and a few good reviews) Canadian indie author Matt D. Williams reveals what he likes about his low-achiever hero Jak Phoenix and his writing goals.|
1. Why space opera? What elements of this genre do you enjoy most as a writer?
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been attracted to sprawling space opera-type tales with an inherent lighter tone. There is just something about an action packed pulp story told on a grand scale that gets my heart pumping and my mind racing. The big heroes, the diabolical villains, the explosions, the space pistols – fun stuff.
There are many very talented authors out there who are doing exceptional work with harder…
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The Jak Phoenix adventures are now available to purchase directly from JakPhoenix.com, for those of you looking for the paperback editions. There are 3 purchasing options available – Jak Phoenix and the sequel Jak Phoenix 2: The Markazian Deception are available separately or together as a bundle. To make sure you can also enjoy the adventures on your eReader or tablet, all purchase options include a coupon code for a free download of the corresponding eBook!
The purchase links are available in the right side bar from every page on this site, with convenient payment available through Paypal. If you would like an autograph or inscription of some kind in your book(s), just drop me a line or include a message with your purchase. Thank you to everyone for your support!
Matt D. Williams, author of the Jak Phoenix Adventures.
Fantasy author Tracy Falbe found the time to answer a few questions about her new book and life in general. Take a read – her answers will show you why she’s a writer…
MW: When we spoke last, I found out you had an adventure of your own this spring with a certain natural disaster. Would you like to share a bit about that experience?
TF: On May 29th a severe storm with 100 mile per hour winds hit Battle Creek, Michigan. I personally believe there were tornadoes in the storm but I don’t know if that was officially confirmed. My neighborhood was badly hit. Battle Creek is an old town and most of the neighborhoods are filled with glorious mature hardwoods. In a matter of minutes hundreds of them came crashing down as the storm tore a swath of destruction through the city, smashing homes and taking out utility lines. On commercial streets without the tree cover, businesses lost roofs and many signs were bent over and torn apart. Everyone is amazed and grateful no one died. A person caught outside in the flying debris could have easily been killed.
I think everyone heeded the sirens because of the many tragic deaths farther south this spring. The storm I experienced came incredibly fast and hit like a hammer. The storm did not so much as blow in as come down straight from the sky. Everything went white outside and I could not see beyond my yard as I rushed my kids into the basement. There was a massive roaring sound and I did not hear what must have been the terrible noise of huge oak trees crashing across my street. The storm plastered my house with chewed up leaves and small branches pierced my yard like spears, but otherwise my property was lucky. Four very large hardwoods, two oaks and two maples, directly threaten my home, but bless their woody hearts they stood firm while many of their mates succumbed all around.
What influence will this event have on your future stories? Are we likely to see some reference creep in?
The colossal power of Nature has always had a presence in my writing. I know that my puny humanity and technology are nothing compared to the chaotic might of a living planet. I’ve beheld the towering darkness of an oncoming dust storm in the Mojave Desert. I’ve endured the choking despair of wild fires while ash rained on my home. I’ve been saved from drowning by a stranger when he pulled me from a rushing river. I’ve watched funnel clouds go by and now I’ve cowered beneath one, so, since you asked, I probably should throw a tornado into a story.
This bad storm has also made me reflect on luck. You really can get lucky for no reason. (And doesn’t a hero in an adventure novel need that?) My home was unscathed. Elsewhere in my neighborhood I saw a property where three tall oaks came down and somehow managed to miss that man’s house AND boat as if a loving god were juggling logs for his sake. Across the street from the same place, vehicles were smashed and one house was about cut in half by falling oaks. Anything can happen and there is not much you can do about it.
Rys Rising: Book I is launching my second epic fantasy series. The story is in the same world as The Rys Chronicles but I have gone 2,200 years back in time. I’ve created the ancient civilization of Nufal that was an extinct ruin in my first series, and I’m detailing the early days of the rys and the rise of Onja and Dacian as that race’s Queen and King. Much of the action also involves the western tribal kingdoms and the human character of Amar. This epic was a challenge for me to write because it has three races and two civilizations. Also there is a rivalry between religious sects in Nufal to further complicate things. I’m styling the Rys Rising series as a complex epic told from many angles. It also has a greater emphasis on the bad guy. The fantasy genre for me is about having fun and exploring facets of society even if they are deviant. Rys Rising: Book I has a big focus on outlaws, like the main character Amar. My husband even insists that Amar IS the hero despite his lack of good deeds.
Where does this book fall into the chronological order with the rest of the Rys Chronicles?
Rys Rising is a prequel series, so it is the beginning. Because rys and tabre can live for thousands of years and hibernate, readers will get to meet some of the magical characters from the first series and see their original adventures.
Why did you decide to release this in the weekly serial format?
In addition to making Rys Rising: Book I a free ebook download at my websites, I decided to serialize it chapter by chapter to help market the novel. Every time I post a new chapter it gives me something new to talk about in my marketing efforts. Instead of constantly saying “download my free ebook” I can also say something fresh like “go read this chapter.” I also want to make it easy for people to check out my fiction. Reading a blog post is basically effortless compared to downloading an ebook. People like to read excerpts before committing to actually downloading a file.
I’m also hoping as time goes by and more people read the novel that the blog novel version will serve as a place for readers to comment and discuss the content.
Can you give us a hint of what to expect in the next volumes of the Rys Rising series?
Maybe these hints are best expressed in a tag cloud….adultery, awesomeness, bachelor party, betrayal, burning idols, dancers, drummers, duel, dungeon, enchantments, execution, funeral, magic, monsters, politics, religious war, sacrifice, siege, slaughter, swords, vengeance, wedding…Is this epic enough for you?
What kind of a timeline are we looking at for a release?
I can confidently say that Savage Storm: Rys Rising Book II will be published in October. I wish I could commit to getting New Religion: Rys Rising Book III published in time for Christmas, but realistically it could be January. Book IV that is untitled right now should be out in the last half of 2012. It’s half written.
What kind of format will the next installments arrive in?
Ebooks will be the format of first publication. By far I reach the most readers with ebooks, so digital is my priority. After publishing the ebooks I will develop print-on-demand paperbacks and hardcovers at Lulu.com. I just made the hardcover of Rys Rising: Book I live at Lulu http://www.lulu.com/product/hardcover/rys-rising-book-i/17146690 and the paperback version will be live as soon as I examine a proof copy that is en route to me.
What are you enjoying about your independence in the publishing world?
I love most that I am building a business around my dearest creative passion. I love also that I am writing stories straight from my soul and reaching an audience. This is infinitely better than trying to attract the interest of a publisher, which I wasted four years (2000 -2004) doing. Life is too short to leave my dreams in the hands of others.
Are you writing full time now?
Well, writing for me is not a 40 hour a week thing. If I actually write for two hours in a day, it’s a good session. So maybe that is full time for me. I try to write everyday although right now I am immersed in reading, editing, and proofreading Savage Storm and New Religion. I need to get those two novels fine tuned before I can return to writing the final part. This process allows me to absorb the middle of the epic and ponder the nuances so I can draw everything together in the conclusion. I know from experience that finishing an epic is very hard. Writing The Borderlands of Power: The Rys Chronicles Book IV was very challenging. Plus with every subsequent novel I write I push myself to do better. Although readers will make their individual judgments about each novel, I must always be satisfied that my latest novel is my best yet. An artist must always strive to improve.
What else have you been up to?
I have a ridiculous range of interests. I grow and preserve a lot of food for my family, so I’m busy in the garden and the kitchen. I’m always researching organic gardening and experimenting with plants. My goal is to make my yard as productive as possible, and I’m enjoying a good deal of success with that. I’m also an estate sale addict, which means I go shopping in dead people’s houses. Through the winter I plan to start making some upcycled décor from vintage items. I even have a quilting project.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for the interview and I wish you much success with Jak Phoenix.
Free ebook Rys Rising: Book I http://www.falbepublishing.com/braveluck/free-fantasy-ebook-rys-rising.html
Also 99 cents at these retailers:
Amazon Kindle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005FYSSSC
Look up top…you’ll see a “Characters” tab! Check it out for an appetizer on the main characters in the space adventure novel, Jak Phoenix by Matt D. Williams. As always, a super thanks to Jeff Thomason for his character artwork! Or click here http://jakphoenix.com/characters/
Jeff Thomason was good enough to make another series of character sketches, this time adding his touch to Baxter, Cyan and Murdock. Here is a posting he put on his blog:
So Matt, the creater of Jak Phoenix, liked the drawings I did so much, he wanted more. And I was glad to draw more. I’ve been interested in this kind of space opera style scifi for a while and have wanted to do something in this style, but I never had a good reason for it. Until now.
The characters were again drawn with a brush dipped in Sumi ink on Strathmore Drawing Paper (the yellow cover), then scanned into my iMac on a Canoscan printer, and digitally colored in Corel Painter X. I really liked the end result. This may be the process I use for all my art for a while.
Awesome work Jeff!
From left to right: Baxter, Jak, Cyan & Murdock
The amazing Tracy Falbe has chosen Jak Phoenix, the space adventure novel by Matt D. Williams, as her monthly ebook giveaway in March 2011. All you have to do is sign up for her reader list and you’re automatically entered for the draw.
So drop by this link: http://www.falbepublishing.com/braveluck/monthly-giveaway-details.html
While you’re there, download her free ebook, Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I and check out her other work!
Good luck in the draw.
- Great Jeff Thomason art in the top corner.
- My name is now Matt D. Williams, a huge change from Matt Williams. I’ve decided to start using my middle initial (stands for David) in my work to avoid confusion with other authors named Matt Williams. Not that big a change, but enough to isolate my books from other similarly named authors.
- I’ve finally added a review snippet at the bottom from Feathered Quill Book Reviews.
It will take weeks for this change to spread out to all the retailers and I will be changing the printed book cover in the near future. I’ll let you know when I do.
Thanks for your support!
Jeff Thomason was kind enough to create a couple of amazing Jak Phoenix character sketches – and I love them! He was able to perfectly pin down the character and I am very impressed to say the least. Here is a post from his website where he discusses his excellent work:
Character Sketch: Space Opera
It’s been a while since I’ve put up a character sketch, so I thought I’d put one up. This one was commissioned by Matt Williams, the author of Jak Phoenix, a fun space opera available from Smashwords.com and other fine retailers. Matt has even released a short story that is currently free so you can check out his universe.
I tried something a little different for this one. I used my usual brush and Sumi ink, but instead of drawing it in my sketchbook, I used Strathmore 70lb Drawing Paper which gave me a cleaner line than the sketch paper. I like a textured line, but the one I’ve been getting was a little too rough. This one was much cleaner while still having some character. I had a few sheets left over from drawing One Thing Right by Colin Shanafelt, a children’s storybook which should be released in the next couple of months. I colored these sketches (and One Thing Right) with Corel Painter X on my iMac. I’m really happy with how it turned out.
I’m not sure if Matt is though.
The original article can be found on his site at http://atouchofjeff.blogspot.com/2011/02/character-sketch-space-opera.html#links
Needless to say Jeff, I am ecstatic about how they turned out!
I put Jak Phoenix 2 aside today for the opportunity to speak with Tracy Falbe, an outstanding independent fantasy author. Her work is exceptional and her presentation of everything from book to website is very professional. If you’re a fantasy fan, I urge you to try one of her novels on for size.
Here is the interview…
MW: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
TF: I grew up in rural Michigan which exposed me to nothing exciting. I can’t remember a time when I did not entertain myself with adventuresome daydreams. I was always a princess leading the rebels while dangling over lava pits when I was a little girl. And I always knew that I wanted to write novels when I grew up. When I was in grade school I would draw pictures, write stories on the pictures and then staple them together. I’m a natural born publisher.
After growing up in Michigan I spent most of my adult life in Nevada and Northern California. I earned a journalism degree from California State University, Chico. It’s a good degree for someone who wants to be a writer. Then in 2009 I moved back to Michigan. Living in the Midwest is weird after being out West for so long. I call it rustbelt living. The traffic is light and you can always get a parking space. I sometimes feel like I’m in the witness protection program.
Today I appear to live an ordinary life. I have a husband, kids, dog, and cat. When I’m not writing, I enjoy growing food, bicycling, swimming, boating, and watching depressing documentaries. I read a lot of nonfiction, especially history, economics, spirituality, current affairs, and environmental subjects. Unlike most people I meet, I write novels and sell them on the internet, and I love doing it.
Could you give us a rundown on The Rys Chronicles?
I’m the type of reader and writer who likes characters that are not purely good. Character flaws are interesting. The world is a hard place that is constantly pushing people to do bad things. From this perspective I try to summon characters who have room to improve and then use fantasy adventure to push them into moral dilemmas, like a rebellion needs to be started to defeat evil but many people will die in the bloody conflict.
The two main heroes in The Rys Chronicles are the human warrior Dreibrand Veta and the rys Shan. Rys are the magical race in the novels. The most powerful among them are capable of remote viewing, mind reading, levitation, and even seizing the souls of the dead. The series covers about seven years of the characters’ lives. Dreibrand is a violent man with mighty ambitions but he gradually develops past his pride and greed and tries to accomplish the greater good. Shan ascends to supreme power and is corrupted by it, but eventually grasps redemption.
I try to have each novel in the series tell a story and deliver reader satisfaction while propelling the overall epic. I’ve created a large fantasy world of two east and west cultures that have long been divided by an empty wilderness protected by the enslaved souls of the rys Queen. The Rys Chronicles tells the story of the breaching of this geographical barrier and the resulting conflicts.
The Rys Chronicles is medieval style fantasy, but my primary historical inspirations come from my American heritage. Empire, colonialism, racial tension, slavery, frontier, and freedom all percolated through my imagination as I created the fantasy series.
I make it easy for fantasy readers to sample my fiction and decide if it’s their style of entertainment. The first novel Union of Renegades is always free at www.braveluck.com.
What draws you to the fantasy genre?
I like the escapism. Fantasy worlds aren’t the lame one I live in. There’s magic and I like the ancient or medieval feel of fantasy. In fantasy, the characters get to really confront their problems. They fight the monsters, kill the bad guys, save the villagers. They can take bold action, unlike the real world where your mistakes go on your credit report and you get laid off and just have to suck it all up. I also very much enjoy how fantasy can provide illuminating commentary on real world social ills like slavery, religion, patriarchy, war, tyranny, etc. The characters deal with these burdens and their struggles are heroic.
What type of readers will enjoy your novels? Are they geared toward seasoned fantasy readers or will someone curious about the genre find enjoyment as well?
I think that someone curious about the fantasy genre might enjoy my fiction if he or she was willing to go along with typical fantasy conventions like the world is not historically real and there is a magical race. I believe most of my readers are seasoned fantasy fans, but that’s the audience I market to. What I know of my reader demographics, I can estimate that men and women almost equally read my work. I might skew a little toward the male, but I wrote with both audiences in mind.
What films or books inspired you on a creative level?
When I was a teenager I started reading the Dune books by Frank Herbert. The grand scale of his novels with the multiple characters, multiple settings, and intricate societies impressed me. I emulate his style a little by writing from multiple points of view and weaving together action from various locations. Of course, like most people, J.R.R. Tolkien ignited my love of the fantasy genre, but the Conan stories by Robert E. Howard probably inspired me more because I liked their willingness to be violent and sexy.
I also like the novels by George R.R. Martin although I finished writing The Rys Chronicles before I read his work. I like his gritty style. There’s no sugar coating.
What lasting impression would you like to leave on your readers?
My foremost goal when writing is to create a story that has action and characters people can care about. I want to entertain, and beyond that I hope that people might ponder some of the themes I work with, like lust for power, the temptation to do bad things to achieve good ends, and breaking free of oppression.
How would you describe your experience so far as an independent author? Do you have any desire to make contact with a traditional publisher?
I started publishing The Rys Chronicles at the end of 2005, and it’s been a bumpy road mostly because I did not know what I was doing, but I’ve learned a few things and feel much more confident about my business now. Even in the beginning, I always had sales trickle in and the occasional nice email from a reader. To think that out of all the hundreds of thousands of novels out there that someone chose my work and liked it is just so amazing.
Life as an independent author has become much easier and rewarding over the last couple years because I can now be included at major online retailers. A few years ago, self publishers were not allowed. Now the ebook retailers are willing to let readers decide what they want to buy instead of limiting their online catalogs to only what traditional publishers think is good.
I make no efforts to contact publishing companies. If some big company were to come at me with a proposal, I would certainly look at it. A publisher who could put my books in bookstores might be worth doing business with.
Where do you see the publishing business in the next few years?
I’m not an industry expert, but it looks like in the future publishers will have to get a little more active about finding talent and rewarding it. Authors don’t have to wait around for rejection anymore and humbly place their manuscripts in a closet. Authors can take their works directly to the market and make money if readers find them worth reading. But traditional publishers still have massive market share, so I hardly lay awake worrying about them. Publishers still have broad access to offline retail outlets for print books, so that’s a strength for them. Except for that, it seems inevitable that publishing will shrink a little as an industry as authors weed out middlemen.
Are you able to tell us a little bit about what you have in the works?
I am writing another four-part fantasy series. It is a prequel to The Rys Chronicles set 2,200 years earlier. There are significant historical events I refer to in the first series, so I’m delving into that past. I have three of the novels written and will soon start writing the fourth and final part. When they are all completed to my satisfaction, I will publish the series and then have 8 novels for readers.
My latest update about this fantasy work in progress is at this page:
Where can people keep up to date on your work?
My blog Her Ladyship’s Quest www.herladyshipsquest.com is the place where I’ll announce news about future novels. Until then, I write book and movie reviews, interview authors, feature books old and new, write articles, host blog tours, and try to publish content that readers will enjoy or find useful.
Another option for following me is to join my readers’ list at http://www.falbepublishing.com/braveluck/free_ebook.html. You get to enter a monthly ebook drawing and download Union of Renegades for free too. I won’t send you many emails, but you will someday get an announcement about my new novels.
Thank you so much for agreeing to answer these questions. Do you have anything else to add?
Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my work, and I wish you much success with Jak Phoenix.
Fantasy readers can sample the first novel Union of Renegades by downloading a free copy from her website www.braveluck.com. Paperbacks available too.
All my fantasy novels are also widely available at major online retailers.
Barnes & Noble Nook http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Union-of-Renegades/Tracy-Falbe/e/2940000720509/
Google Ebooks http://books.google.com/ebooks?id=ifNnT44l-KIC&dq