Today, I am honored to introduce a fantastic new author and blogger, Michael R. Baker.
What genre are your books?
My genre is generally fantasy, although I write short stories on horror too. But fantasy/epic fantasy is my go to, and the main one which I’ve been working on for most of my writing life. I’ve been trying to branch out into others though, especially dystopian.
What draws you to this genre?
The ability to create and mould your whole world. To build new creatures, bring magical systems from the ground of your mind and breathe life into my mad imagination has always been appealing, and has been since I was twelve years old.
What project are you working on at the moment?
I have several, but the most important one currently is the fantasy trilogy I’ve been working on since 2012 known as Counterbalance. As of this point, Book 1 is in revision/early editing stages (A phrase all writers hate and will grow to hate) but I am hopeful it will be published by the end of 2016. I have publishers potentially interested; it will be a very hard task, but I’m up for making my long-time dream a reality.
What’s it about?
Very good question. Counterbalance is set in the world of Rengar, a realm of my own creation and been in progress since I was around 10 years old. Originally a single novel (A very badly planned one) but now a trilogy, it covers a devastating war between the two superpowers of the known world, the Bale Empire and the Selpvian Dominion, and the morality of victory, as opposing sides stretch to the limits of humanity to find a way to winning the war. While this is going on, a fugitive necromancer joins forces with a homeless son of the Empire in a pact of vengeance. There will be a great deal of betrayal, politics and brutality, with a huge array of different factions and characters at hand, all with their own beliefs and inner goals. The name Counterbalance strives from an ancient and deadly branch of necromancy magic which the Empire is trying to reach, in order to win the war. The trilogy will explore the suffering of the world during the brutality of war and every side in the conflict.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is special?
While there are several very important characters in Counterbalance, I’d have to give the main character role to Tyir of Irene. He is commander of the marauding band of mercenaries called the Thousand Scars, and is a feared necromancer/fugitive with exceptional intelligence and knowledge; his specialty is he’s one of the very few in the world who has not just the knowledge but the capability to use necromancy (Magic is a very rare and costly thing in my world, as the primary race responsible for its use died out thousands of years earlier, followed by a brutal purge by its survivors the Pharos Order) The story is multi-POV, but the main two follow Tyir’s group the most, giving them almost a “protagonist role” even though the Thousand Scars are a brutal and very nasty bunch of people. Tyir is probably the most important character in Counterbalance and I love writing about him and his cutthroat allies. He’s a very dangerous character despite his protagonist viewpoint, but I make it clear early on that he is not someone to trust or to be messed with. He’s probably the most fascinating character in my series, not only because of his skills but his morality.
Have you written anything else?
I’ve written several bits during my lifetime. I’ve always enjoyed writing stories. I did a couple of fan fiction pieces which received some decent success, though I stopped writing those to focus on Counterbalance. I do write short stories, including one published by Profound Fiction in their Halloween anthology Project Corpse Candle. It was a minor publication but I hope to expand on it a lot more in the coming year. I’ve been working also on a large biography piece of my fantasy world, a slow process but nearly 70,000 words so far, basically covering battles and history of the world, character profiles and the like.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I haven’t got any huge ones. The main I’d say is to get my trilogy out there, at least hoping it’ll be well received and popular and to get more of my work out there. I’d love to show people what I can create, and hope people enjoy what I write.
Which writers inspire you? Too many to count, but off the top of my head:
George R.R Martin
Aaron-Michael Hall (writer of the fantastic Rise of Nazil series)
When did you decide to become a writer? Why do you write?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, since I was nine or ten. I write mainly because it interests me, I like making stories and characters, because it’s a great way to let off steam and immerse yourself into fantasy worlds which can be anything you want to be. I mainly decided to write my main novel during a period of severe depression. I felt lost and unable to escape through my own illnesses, being a patient of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but as I started to recover from my depressive episode, I looked over the fantasy world I created, and decided I would try and write a novel through it. Three years later, it’s gone further than I ever thought I’d dream, but I hope to get my magnum opus published and out there sooner rather then later.
Do you have a special time or place to write?
Due to my health restricting me, I write essentially when I feel able. I mostly do my writing at home on my laptop, or if I go to the library during the week I always try and get a computer to write there too. I work better usually when I’m away from home.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Most of my inspiration comes through my friends and family, especially the new writer friends I have made online the past 5-6 months. The biggest inspiration to me comes from my girlfriend Vicky; she means the world to me and I love her to bits; she is truly an inspiration to me in every way. She appreciates and supports my life and there is little greater than having someone who loves you for who you are.
Do you work on an outline or do you prefer to see where the idea takes you?
I do both. Sometimes I use an outline, sometimes I just write and see what my brain churns out. Both have their merits, I feel. For Counterbalance, my world is still being developed daily, so the “seat on the pants” writing approach actually works, for I discover new things about it all the time. Only a week ago I discovered an entirely new continent to the far north and new races, which suits the history of the world very nicely.
Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you overcome it?
I get writer’s block all the time, it’s constant and irritating. What I usually do is try brainstorm a way past the block or inspire myself from playing games to relax me. It’s always difficult to overcome, sometimes taking me months to get over it, but it is always possible to defeat. My worst case of writer’s block was when I had an 8 month hiatus on my fan-fiction, but I finally was able to overcome it by gritting my teeth and powering through.
What is the hardest thing for you about writing?
For me? It’s probably finding the energy to do it. Chronic fatigue is quite disabling at the best of times and a nightmare at the worst, and it severely cuts into my lifestyle. Writing for me while highly enjoyable is difficult because often I just don’t have the energy to sit down and write; it comes and goes for me. I’m quite lucky in that I have plenty of time to write, it’s just health holding me back most of the time. Another hard part about writing I’ve definitely found is the editing…oh god the editing. It’s hard but so worth it in the end. Hopefully by the end of 2016 I’ll have book 1 of Counterbalance out there.
How do you market your books? Why did you choose this route?
As I haven’t got anything really out there, I’ll probably skip this question. When I do though I’ll be using Twitter, Facebook and word of mouth.
How much research do you do?
Not as much as I should, to be honest. I’ve done the vast majority of my work through reading around my genre, studying historical events like wars and diplomacy to understand how they function, psychology (I was an A-Level student, and Psychology appeals to me naturally) to go into how the mind works in my characters. To understand my own cast, I do a lot more depth research to get into their heads, making mock scenarios and wondering “How do they act? What should I do in their position or rather what would they do?” My characters are pretty diverse and from vast variety of backgrounds, and I find interviewing them on a frequent basis really helps. To summarize, I feel I do a fair amount of research, but I really should do more, especially weapons and armour. It is going to be one of the things I plan on improving.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
I always use a computer; it’s far more convenient than writing by hand; easier to backup, easier to save and easier to edit mistakes, of which there will be countless. It’s just much more simple for me to use, as I know my way around a computer much better than my own handwriting, and it isn’t as hard on my joints. Laptops are easily portable too and you can take them anywhere.
What are some of your favorite books/authors?
I’d have to go with overall, George R.R. Martin, mainly because it was him who inspired me to write my own. His world and overall setting is fantastic, and while it certainly has its weaknesses, it has so much character development and versatility that it is a great read, and it has some extremely powerful writing at times. I like many of the indie authors, particularly the ones I’ve already mentioned. J.K Rowling despite the plot holes in her writing made my childhood, so she has a place as one of my favorite authors in spite of the flaws. Brandon Sanderson, Stephen King and Terry Pratchett are also high on my list.
Are you currently reading any books?
I’m currently rereading Song of Ice and Fire, as well as the Dune series. I also plan on reading The Rise of Nazil series now book two has come out (One of my favorite new series). I also started rereading the Harry Potter books, as I want to try and reach a new light with them and see the series strengths and weaknesses.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
There are several ways where people can reach me.
Originally interviewed by: dragonqueen3