Hey there friends.
We’ve made it to the weekend again – hallelujah!
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For tonight’s interview with yet another fantastic author in the ongoing Author Interviews series, I’m ecstatic to be introducing you all to RobRoy McCandless and his fabulous fantasy fiction world.
Enjoy the show and have a relaxing one folks 🙂
Hi there Rob, thank you for joining us to chat about your written works and helping us to get to know you a little better, along with sharing your writing passions and influences.
Thanks David. I really appreciate your time and the opportunity.
Let’s start with your urban fantasy debut novel “TEARS OF HEAVEN”, which you just recently re-released last month. Please tell us more about the paranormal themes behind your novel, the background behind your lead characters and what conflicts they will face across the course of their adventures.
People think they want to meet an angel, but they really don’t. The awful truth is that meeting an angel would be the scariest, most life-altering moment of any mortal’s short existence. How much worse, then, would it be to be a half-angel, Nephilim, and have to interact with angels on a regular basis. According to Biblical myths, the Nephilim were great, terrible heroes who proved too strong, and too ambitious. TEARS OF HEAVEN explores what happens after the Nephilim, specifically Del and her partner Marrin are taken in hand, and given the task of keeping the world safe from demons.
You also have had short stories published in “Nine Heroes: Tales of Heroic Fantasy”, “In Shambles” and “Gears, Gadgets and Steam”. Can you tell us more about the nature of these publications and where your particular stories fit in them, along with their own themes/premises?
We like to think that our protectors, our soldiers and law enforcement, are superhuman heroes, but it turns out they are just as fragile as any of us. THROUGH THE STING OF FAIRY SMOKE found in “Nine Heroes” is a fantasy story where one such Servant is drowning his heartache, while another Servant is trying to keep the world around her from falling apart. The question is can they overcome their own issues and rise to the occasion?
Steampunk is more than corsets and watch gears glued onto a top hat. It’s speculative fiction at its finest. Mixing elements of Victorian-era technology with a war hero who has become constable in a small community is the basis for both stories in “Gears, Gadgets and Steam” and “In Shambles”. GRENADIERS AND DRAGON’S FIRE introduces Lieutenant Aubrey Hartmann in a desperate charge, while AND INTO A WATERY GRAVE presents her with a serial killer unlike anything she’s ever confronted.
If your novel was to be made into a film (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?
Del is a unique combination of capability, charm and sarcasm that Natalie Morales would be perfect for. Morales’ characters have always been strong individuals who can put you in your place with the quirk of an eyebrow. I’ve follower her since the tragically short-lived THE MIDDLE MEN, PARKS AND RECREATION and the also tragically short THE GRINDER.
Marrin is that easy-going, uber-friendly, unfairly attractive guy that we all know and love to hang out with. He knows everyone, and everyone knows him. He has those Gannicus (from Spartacus: Gods of the Arena) qualities, and that same wide, loose smile, that make him very likable. Jai Courtney or maybe one of the Hemsworth brothers would be ideal for Marrin.
What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?
Telling a good story well and hitting some epic high note moments while not getting carried away from the reality of, say, a sword fight or a battle scene, into the unrealistic. Star Wars is a great example: Episodes IV, V, VI and even VII present the fights in a way that an audience can relate to—we don’t have the Force, per se, but we get the general idea of swinging a sword against another sword. On the other hand, Episodes I, II and III present the Jedi as nearly godlike and completely unrelateable in their fight sequences. Not only do you have to tap into the mystic powers, you have to become superhuman just to keep up. Keeping the physics of actions and reactions on target is something I really strive for and enjoy. This is especially enjoyable when readers catch the effort that went into making a fight scene exciting, but still within the realm of the real.
Dialogue and relationships are some of my favorite elements. I have to say that I love when a reader comes to me and says, “You bastard, I can’t believe you killed this character. He was my favorite.” They really aren’t mad at me, they’ve connected in a very real way with those characters, and that means I’ve achieved a realism of life between their mind and the story. That’s magic right there.
Who are some of the authors and historical figures that inspire you?
Elizabeth A. Lynn is my hero. No one has heard of her, but her prose, especially in A DIFFERENT LIGHT is unparalleled. Everyone should read that novella. Patrick Rothfuss makes a strong second. I’d love to develop a hate-hate relationship with him, but he won’t return my calls . . . or give me his real phone number. Bernard Cornwell, and Joe Abercrombie are great. I love history and fantasy with grit between the pages.
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
GRENADIERS AND DRAGON’S FIRE which was published in “Gears, Gadgets and Steam”, was a wonderful research project. Military innovations are almost always a war ahead, while the tactics are usually a war behind. During the American Civil War and the Crimean War were misused because tactics hadn’t caught up to the technology. Despite the advent of repeating rifles and increased range of ammunition, most of the strategy was still based on putting soldiers in a line and marching them toward the enemy position, then slugging it out. They were caught up in their own experience and training, and, as with all humans, had a tough time moving past and innovating.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
Fiction and fantasy are really reflections of our world, only better. Even dark fiction or dystopias tend to hand us heroes that rise up above the blackness and are able to make choices that sort out the good guys from the bad guys—they can decipher good and evil, right from wrong. That’s not always true in our own world, and so it’s quite a relief to sit back and be transported to place where considerations over extremism, and Ebola and politics aren’t realities. Or, if they are realities, they’re going to be handled, in one way or another, by the characters.
We also learn the most from stories, as examples of how to behave, or how we want to behave. When confronted with similar situations, while we can’t use magic, and probably shouldn’t use violence, we still look to our heroes for a means for how to act.
How would Kvothe or Aragorn, or Katniss, or Dumbledore deal with this particular scenario. Fantasy and fiction provide us with multiple perspectives for dealing with the realities of our own day-to-day lives.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
The fans and the readers are incredible motivators. Having touched someone’s imagination with a character, or a scene, or even a single line of dialogue is an incredibly worthwhile success. Further, most authors are motivated by the characters, stories or worlds that they’ve created. They like to visit the place again and again, see how things have changed and take notes. I’m compelled by any world where dragons can make an appearance. They don’t have to show up, but the idea that they can? Please and thank you!
You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Buy Amazon and Netflix stock? Make friends with Joe Abercrombie and Hugh Howey?
Probably the best advice is to do and to learn. The best writing is when it feels plausible and real, even if it’s not. The worst is when the reader knows for fact that the events couldn’t happen the way the author is describing. Experience is the best teacher, and barring that (like sharing wine with a centaur) research into
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
Writing is night job/break job/squeeze-it-in-at-the-scenes job. The worst part of being a writer is that you don’t ever actually stop writing—on a run, mowing the lawn, battling sprinklers—dialogue and plot points and bits of inspiration keep coming.
I do, however, make time to read, a little bit each day. Every writer should read, even if it’s not their own genre. It’s great to see what other authors are working on, sending out there, and how it can impact your writing. I also volunteer coach a high school speech and debate team, and occasionally wrestle with my three sons.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
This year is going to be big. Huge. Re-releases with new cover art will be available for TEARS OF HEAVEN and its sequel HELL BECOMES HER. In addition, the third and final volume of the series, COMPANY OF THE DAMNED, will also be available. I’m working on the edits right now and I can tell you it’s good. Really good. Additionally, I’m pitching my historical fiction novel set in early Feudal Japan, THE SECOND CUT, and my steampunk series CONSTABLE OF AQUALINNE, to a couple of interested publishers. It will be a shift from the urban fantasy with wholly new characters, but they’re all related, on a genetic level, to each other. If you’ve enjoyed Del and her world, you’re going to love Tomoe Gozen and Aubrey Hartmann!
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
No one gets out of this life alive. The friendships and relationships that you create should be the biggest and most important portion of your life. Draw from that. The themes of friendship, family bonds, treating others, and overcoming problems are what this life is all about. Make those the themes that become part of the motivation for your characters.
And that’s a wrap! Thank you for setting us up for an enjoyable weekend, we look forward to checking out your latest release (and when they are ready) more besides 🙂
Thank you again, David. I really enjoyed your excellent questions.
R.A. McCandless has been a writer both professionally and creatively for over two decades. He was born under a wandering star that led to a degree in Communication and English with a focus on creative writing. He’s the author of the urban fantasy TEARS OF HEAVEN winner of the 2014 Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Preditors & Editors Reader’s Poll and a 2015 EPIC eBook finalist, and HELL BECOMES HER. His shorts have appeared in IN SHAMBLES (with Kevin J. Anderson) NINE HEROES, and GEARS, GADGETS AND STEAM. He continues to research and write historical and genre fiction, battle sprinklers, and play with his three boys.
You can connect with him via the following Social Media channels:-
Blog:- The Blog of Author R.A. McCandless
Facebook:- RobRoy McCandless – Author (FB)
Twitter:- @RobRoyMcCandles (Twitter)
Website:- The Website of R.A. McCandless – Fantasy & Historic Fiction
You can buy his books here:-
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.
Still want more? Well, Rob infuses his books with a wide variety of fantastical elements, whilst keeping his heroes grounded in their ability to take relatable emotional action when the right time comes. For more articles on the theme of ‘Infuse’ then check out the links below:-
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