Michael, thank you for joining us today at the Pen Dragon. It took a while, but finally our two dragons (Pen and Idris) figured out a matching schedule in our writings 🙂
Thank you so much for interviewing me, Elizabeth! I’m glad Idris worked out the schedule – I’ve learned never to argue with him!!
I was really excited to find out about you and, reading through your website, impressed by the depth of the world you have created – both inside and outside of your books. So let’s make that our first question of the day! What inspired and led you to start writing and create The Guardian’s Apprentice and related short stories?
I’ve always loved to read, especially as a child. There weren’t many kids in our community, so books were my friends – especially when I was a socially inept teenager! I devoured every piece of fantasy, sci-fi or mystery I could get my hands on. I always loved getting caught up in the stories, especially the world of Tolkien and then much more recently, the Harry Potter series. I started writing in 2002 – also known as ‘the year that must not be named.’ I had always wanted to write a novel but never attempted it. In 2002 I lost a parent and a grandparent, my then 3 year old had major surgery and (last but not least) I was downsized from my job. Writing provided an emotional outlet for me that helped burn off the emotions and save my sanity. After I found a new job my story sometimes went for months without me touching it, but finally in 2010 I dusted it off and determined to finish it. My sister and fellow author, Maeve Greyson, pestered cajoled and outright nagged me until I published it! I’ve found I love the writing process and it is still an effective outlet to deal with stress – my characters know to watch out if I’ve had a rough day at the office! 🙂
Speaking of inspiration, one of the characters in The Guardian’s Apprentice is a black cat. I would love to know if he got his personality from any of your world-domination scheming felines at home?
LOL! You are very observant! Acamar was patterned somewhat after Cookie – she has an arrogant manner and only allows us to pet her when the mood strikes her just right. Otherwise, our only purpose (in her opinion) is to feed her and tidy up the litterbox.
What part of the book creation offered the greatest challenge when writing and publishing The Guardian’s Apprentice? (Cover design, editing, etc?)
Although editing is a pain – I never seem to find ALL the typos – I’d have to say cover design is by far the hardest thing for me. The current cover for Guardian is actually the second one I designed – I changed it about a month ago. One thing I would highly recommend for all authors is to join a critiquing group. I joined critters.org last year and put my novel through the critiquing process with three other writers and that was such a valuable experience! In order to get your work critiqued, you must critique the work of others to stay in good standing – but the site is totally free.
One of the questions I love asking the most to my interviewees relates to social medias and marketing. What has been your experience in using online tools such as Twitter, blog, etc… and what tool would you recommend the most to a new author trying to promote their book online?
Although I do have a blog and a page on Facebook, I have to say I think I’ve gotten more exposure with twitter and visiting and leaving comments on other writers’ blogs. I strongly recommend twitter, though I have to admit sometimes I struggle with what to tweet about. 🙂
Your readers have put your books to the same level Harry Potter and Eragon. WOW! I’d love to say the same of my own! But putting aside my bit of jealousy, I’d love to hear about who/what exactly influenced you the most in your writing style and genre?
LOL – I am incredibly flattered to be compared to Rowling and Paolini, though I don’t think the quality of my writing will ever come anywhere near theirs (I can dream though…)!! I absolutely loved the Harry Potter series and loved the depth of detail Rowling weaves into her world – that is something I strive for in my writing. One of the most influential authors though would have to be Jonathan Stroud, author of the Bartimaeus series of books. I have always loved sci-fi and fantasy because it gives one the freedom to design their own world. Although there are rules and limits in every universe, you still have so much freedom to tailor-make the world you want.
Do you have a writing mentor or a favourite source of wisdom? What was the most valuable piece of advice you ever got relating to your books that you could share with us?
I am very fortunate to have a supportive sister, Maeve Greyson, who is also an author. She believed in my stories even more than I did, and pestered, threatened and nagged me until I published them. She gave me wonderful input after reading my first draft, and she was honest in her criticism. Best pieces of advice are:
- Join a writing group
- Network with other authors – you will make wonderful new friends!
- Use the criticism you get to become a better writer. Criticism is hard to take, but keep an open mind. Yes, it hurts, but sometimes there are kernels of truth that need to be explored. If someone thinks your dialogue is weak – try to read it from their perspective and try to adapt and make it stronger.
- Write often.
- Don’t give up.
- See #4 again.
I see that aside from cats, you also harbour Dragons as pets. Was it allowing Idris to supervise your writing that prompted you to write Scale of a Dragon? Tell us more about your short stories and how they fit in The Guardian Apprentice’s world.
Idris is indeed a tough taskmaster! The short stories came about because I couldn’t turn my brain off. I keep a separate Word file with notes, ideas, characters, creatures, etc. that I have come up with while writing Guardian. Not all of that made it into the novel. On Christmas break last year, I started thinking about the main antagonist in the story and wanted to give him some history – to show just how long he’s been going down the dark path. That led to my first short story, Tears for Hesh. Scale of a Dragon was written next, because I really wanted to introduce the dragon Dahk’ra or ‘Darkfire’ as she is called by humans. She will play a prominent role in the 2nd book of the series, Bloodstone – The Guardian’s Curse (due out this fall *maybe*). I have to admit though, my favorite short story is Forsaken, which tells the story of Nisha – one of the characters from Guardian. I really like her character and wanted to show how the choices we make in life are not always black and white, and do not always lead us down the path we expect.
I’ve also discovered I really enjoy writing short stories – it is a challenge to fully develop characters in just a few thousand words!
I must admit I chose self publishing out of frustration. I sent off numerous queries to agents and publishers, most of whom didn’t have the courtesy to even respond. Once I discovered how easy it was to publish through the two platforms you named, I dove right in. I actually did all of the editing and cover design myself, and I have to say artwork almost drove me insane! Editing is hard because no matter how many times I re-read Guardian, I still think about tweaking it – I eventually had to force myself to stop or it would never have been published!
Incredible! You are one talented cover artist! One last question for you: Of all the characters in your books, which one do you identify with the most and why?
Oh now that is a tough question! Although Acamar and Nisha are two of my favorite characters, I probably identify the most with Keegan. Keegan has an untapped potential if he will just believe in himself. Although the power is within him, he lacks the confidence to bring it out. I can relate to that, I believe. When I finished writing Guardian, I didn’t think anyone else would care to read it – this is where my sister’s nagging kicked in. She kept telling me that my story WAS worth reading and that she wasn’t going to quit pestering me until it was published. I am SO glad I listened to her – I have received so many kind comments from readers and fellow authors, and I’m thankful now that I published it.
That’s it 🙂 Thank you so much for accepting to be interviewed and best of luck with your writing! Until next time… don’t let Idris be too bossy! (Unless you get rewarded in gold!)
Thank you so much, Elizabeth! This has been great fun! Please give my regards to your dragon – and Idris sends his best as well! 🙂
The Guardian’s Apprentice is Radcliffe’s first full length published novel. He has another 3 titles under his belt, which can all be found on his website, Smashwords and Amazon. The reviews for The Guardian’s Apprentice all indicate a magnificent novel, riveting story and mesmerizing characters. Here is one directly from Amazon:
The Guardian’s Apprentice kept me on my toes with every twist and turn. Radcliffe’s description of each character stimulates the imagination and allows the reader’s mind to develop vivid pictures, bringing the characters to life and making the read all the more enjoyable. In particular, the dragons are so incredibly detailed that one could almost imagine the awe felt by Keegan when in their presence. The personalities of the characters shine brilliantly. It was almost impossible to choose a favorite! However, I believe I was finally able to determine a suitable candidate on completion of the final chapter. I will not divulge my decision, but allow other readers to come to their own equally worthy choice. The book comes to a conclusion that leaves the reader begging for more! The gears of my devious brain are spinning trying to devise a plot to get Radcliffe to kick it up a notch so that I can get my greedy little hands on the sequel!
An avid reader of fantasy and science fiction novels all of my life, I published my first novel The Guardian’s Apprentice in 2010. I live with my family in the rural hills of Kentucky along with our four cats. When not acquiring cats for my wife’s plan of world domination (cat armies are terribly hard to train), I enjoy spinning stories from the wisps of magic around me.
I can be found through the following websites: