Words with Samuel Z Jones Author of "The Star of Silveneir"

Can you tell us a little bit about "The Star of Silveneir?"

"The Star of Silveneir" is the first book in an ongoing saga; "Star" and its first sequel "Far Hrinor" are available on Lulu.com as free downloads; there are currently two further sequels in draft, and three more in progress.

Every Fantasy world has, somewhere, its greatest swordsman; "The Star of Silveneir" deals with the rise of that man, Montesinos DeKellia, and his part in the wars that bring him to prominence in his world.

It's Fantasy, what more can I say? Wizards, warriors, dragons, monsters, magic swords, journeys, quests and battles. There are no elves, no dwarves, no orcs, and definitely no boy wizards playing hockey on broomsticks. I believe that Fantasy should be epic and sexy; that's what I like to read and what I like to write.

What's your background with writing?

I grew up reading Fantasy, and eventually tired of the reliance on Tolkien's work as the default model for a Fantasy world; I was sick of elves, orcs and dwarves, and while Tolkien's prose is masterful, many of those who've followed him are just too bland in their writing. In short, I started writing my own Fantasy because I needed something new to read.

I've been working on "Star" and its sequels for at least five years; probably closer to ten. In that time I've done a range of freelance writing work, from proofreading and editing to B2B and scripts for Indy films and Music Videos (yes, music videos have scripts...). I was also commisioned to write a historical novel about George Washington, which has been through several agents and may eventually be available in the future.

Who are your inspirations/influences?

E.R Eddison; "The Worm Ouroboros" in particular highights just how vivid langage can be and sets the benchmark as far as I am concerned for heorism in Fantasy.

Hugh Cook; "Chronicles of an Age of Darkness" is a brilliant and little-known saga, wherein the plotlines of each novel interweave and characters from one book frequently wander through the others, interlinking the entire series in a broad tapestry which, although not a cohesive as might be hoped, reveals a grand attempt to tie ten seperate novels and hundreds of characters into one epic tale.

CS Lewis: I love the way Lewis combines vivid imagery with brevity of prose; some people who've read my work think I'm too terse, others that I'm too long. I'm aiming for both; to express detail in sparse prose, giving my full meaning but allowing the reader's imagination space to operate.

Stephen King; I've never read anything by King, and I hate all his films. I list him as an influence, however, because he is the most prolific writer on Earth, turning out a massive 1,000,000 words per year; I make that my target, and when life permits I'm able to write 10k-15k words per day consistently. So far, my record is about 500,000 words in a year.

John Boorman: "Excalibur" is my favourite film. The dialogue is the perfect balance of formality and natural conversation, with not a word wasted. The imagery, pacing and music of the film also speak to me strongly as the definitive on-screen version of the Arthurian myths.

What was it like working with Lulu.com?

I am, as yet, entirely self-published; my books are available via Lulu.com, but "working with them" puts the relationship too strongly; Lulu expressly do nothing other than host the site that allows authors to make their work available via PoD.

Who was responsible for the cover/book design?

That would be me, and rather shabby I think it too. It's a maxim that "What sells fantasy books is a good butt on the cover..." and I'm still looking for an artist or other source of good butts to try and boost my readership.

What are you doing in terms of marketing/publicity?

Talking to people, on-line and in person; it's not what you write, but who you know. The more people know who I am and what I write, the more people are likely to actually read it.

Do you have any stories from book signings/radio interviews/etc.?

No, although I was once approached to write a biography for a Kung Fu teacher in London; initially he offerred £5k, but it became rapidly clear through meetings and discussion that he thought the mere privilege of his company was payment enough. He ran his dojo like a cult, and eventually challenged me to a fight only to back out when I accepted. He was a funny guy.

I've also done a bit of work on scripts and short films for the Indy scene; most of it is available on YouTube, and I periodically post links on my Facebook page.

Do you have a blog?

I don't have a blog, although I have a large number of articles on-line on various topics, and often engage in long discussions on my Facebook page.

What projects do you have planned for the future?

I'm currently focusing on editing the third book in the Fantasy series, and finishing the first draft of the fifth book in the series. There are two more sequels in fragments and notes, and another one planned. I'm also putting together a sub for Wizards of the Coast. I'm available for freelance work, but currently have nothing going on in that field.

Is there anything else about you we should know?

Besides writing, I teach martial arts; I've studied multiple styles, both unarmed and using weapons. I do actually know something about sword-fighting, which is very useful in a genre so reliant on fight scenes to resolve conflicts and progress the plot.

I live in a small village on the south coast of England, and I beat writer's block by taking long walks along the cliffs.

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