Today is a very exciting day, bookwyrms! We have a very special guest interview today. Please welcome to the blog David Milton Samuels, author of Three Nights in Faral-Khazal, Of Steel That Stings and Other Sharp Things, and I, Exile.
David and I first met through an online writing and critiquing community, Scribophile. So, I know firsthand just how amazing his writing is! Let’s get started with some questions.
Hi, David! Welcome to the blog. Now, you write a lot of fantasy set in the world of Euvael. Can you tell us more about this world, the stories and character that live there, and what inspirations you had creating it?
Oh, man. Where to begin?
Sophomore year of high school, that’s where! Growing up on World of Warcraft, Elder Scrolls, and Final Fantasy, I wanted to create a world of my own. One with rich cultures and lore inspired by real-world history. Minecraft helped me put my ideas into a visual medium. (Pic below is a model of Faral-Khazal, a city that survived an apocalyptic flood).
From there, ideas branched off from each other. Once I built Faral-Khazal, I explored their enemies (Flaurians). Then I explored how Flaurians survived the Worldflood, and so on.
But I tried not to get too caught up in worldbuilding. All too often, writers spend all their time on creating the world and not enough time telling stories within it. Plot, characters, tension — these are the things that will get the reader to pay attention to your world in the first place.
Take George RR Martin, for instance. Westeros was a blank slate when he started Game of Thrones. He only had the Starks’ dire wolf scene in mind, and developed the world AROUND the story rather than the reverse.
What does your writing process look like on a typical day?
Oh, God. I’m quite bad at daily productivity. I spend my weekdays reading and only write on Fridays. Still, I aim for 2,000 words a week. It’s a solid, achievable goal that shows steady progress over time.
A lot of writers struggle with time management and motivation, especially in the time of COVID-19. Has the coronavirus impacted your writing schedule at all? How do you cope?
Motivation, not so much. It’s time management that’s the issue. I LOVE sleep. It’s the best flippin’ thing in the world. If I don’t bully myself out of bed, I’ll wind up sleeping 12-14 hours a day. Can’t help it. Just call me Sleepy Dave. Or don’t.
What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite part?
My favorite part? The moment when, after tinkering with a sentence, I get it JUST right. Could take days. Could take weeks. But it never fails to give me a gratifying glow when I fill in the missing piece.
Least favorite part? Killing my darlings. Especially when I make a HUGE change earlier in the book, which then ripples out to almost everything else. So many contextual details get thrown out the window in the process.
Have you had any experience with Writer’s Block? What’s your strategy for keeping your muse where she belongs?
What’s Writer’s Block? Nah-nah-nah, I can’t hear you! La! La! La!
What projects are you currently working on? Anything new coming out soon?
I’m currently working on BLOOD ON THE CANVAS, which follows the careers of two rival painters. It’s a little less action-packed than my previous works, focusing more on the painters’ day-to-day lives. Think Amadeus meets Dr. Strange and Mr. Norrell.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
Deep down, I always knew. But I started pursuing it professionally around 2014.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
Tons of platitudes come to mind, but I’ll keep this short. Constructive feedback is vital to any new writer. Not only does it point out the weak spots, but it sometimes serves as encouragement. I recommend Scribophile.com, where I actually met Rachel originally!