Monday, April 16, 2012

QnA! #1 -- The D.P. Prior Interview!

Hello fellow plotters and Romy-ites!

Today I have a VERY special treat for you.

A fellow fantasy writer and all around great guy D.P. Prior has agreed to sit through a (virtual) interview for my little ole blog!

Let me just say this up front -- D.P. is incredible.

While spinning out great novel after great novel in his “Shader” and “Nameless Dwarf” series, D.P. somehow finds the time to edit others work AND fulfill his duties as a husband/father/etc. etc. Read on and find out just how busy this guy is!

D.P. will be offering “The Scout and the Serpent” (Nameless Dwarf 3) FREE starting April 18-21 in preparation for the release of his next NEW novel “The Ebon Staff” (Nameless Dwarf 4).

Here’s the cover for “The Ebon Staff”:

Stay tuned to D.P.’s blog for exact dates and updates on his books and releases here --

Believe me, this is one author you REALLY NEED to keep your eyes on. Read his blog AND his books.

You will be very happy you did!

Thanks SO MUCH D.P. for taking the time to share a bit about yourself and your work. I promise to buy a round as soon as I am in your neck of the woods in the U.K.!

And now... ON TO THE QnA!

Q.     Tell us a bit about yourself and the secrets of what you're currently working on.

Hello, Paul and thanks for having me on your blog.

I’m the author of the Shader series of epic fantasy books and the Chronicles of the Nameless Dwarf. I divide my time between writing and editing ( I’m always updating about my works in progress, reader feedback, cover art etc on my blog

I’m currently working like crazy on the last two books of the Chronicles of the Nameless Dwarf, a 5-novella fantasy series. The plan is to bring all five books out in one volume called The Nameless Dwarf (The Complete Chronicles)during the summer. 

I’m also gearing up to recommence work on the third book of the Shader series, The Unweaving. This story is in total redraft and brings the first Shader trilogy to an end. The Shader books are much broader in scope than the Nameless Dwarf books and take a lot more careful construction.

Interestingly, the Nameless Dwarf books are a spinoff from the Shader series and pick up from where Nameless leaves the story. They started off as a light short story (which was published in Pulp Empire) but rapidly grew into an idea for a story arc of epic proportions. Whereas Shader is quite dense and at times cerebral, the Nameless books are in many ways a throwback to the old style sword and sorcery I grew up with, but with an emphasis on rich characterization and close point of view. They’ve become my most successful books to date.

Q.     How did you get into writing in the first place?

I started trying to write a novel at about the age of nine. I tried desperately to hide it, but the early attempts were all ripoffs of The Hobbit. I remember writing about these little people with hairy feet who were not (under any circumstances) to be called hobbits. For a few years it was all Tolkien rehashes and then I gave up. 

My next attempt came years later with a novel called The Trials of Ignatius Grymm. This was the tale of a holy knight fighting undead and witches as told by his squire. That novel reached about 80 pages before it was scrapped. It later formed the basic idea for The Resurrection of Deacon Shader, which features a cameo from Ignatius Grymm towards the end.

I finally started to take writing a little more seriously when I rented a property in the outback and worked daily on Resurrection. I made all the mistakes new writers are prone to and thought the first draft was a masterpiece! It went through two editors and only then did I realize the whole book needed to be rewritten from scratch. That’s when the Shader series was born. Resurrection became the seed of something vast -- six full length novels, two of which are already published. Books 3 and 4 are planned for release later this year and 5 and 6 will follow next year.

Surprisingly, Tolkien was not much of an influence for my writing beyond the age of 13 or so. My chief influences are the writers I grew up reading: Robert E. Howard, Lin Carter (Thongor!), L. Sprague de Camp, Michael Moorcock, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Stephen Donaldson, and David Gemmell. More recently I’ve been influenced, at least stylistically, by Joe Abercrombie.

Q.     What motivates you to create such colorful characters? 

My chief motivation came from the utter lack of characterization in my first attempts at writing novels. The characters were two-dimensional talking heads who spoke merely to explain things to the reader, and of course they all used that bizarre version of English known as fantasy-speak, replete with Yoda-esque passive voice and pseudo-Shakespearian constructions.

I discovered the hard way that characters are the key to everything in fiction writing and so I started to allow them to breathe. I continued to outline plot, but the characters were no longer bound by it. I’d put them into situations and see how they responded. Sometimes that meant the plot had to change in some surprising ways.

I hope the characters are sketched broadly enough for readers to identify with at least some aspects of them. The Nameless Dwarf, for example, may have started out as a D&D character in the 80s, but in the books he is quite different. He suffers from manic-depression, has horrific past deeds to atone for, and even combines elements of Hilaire Belloc, Druss the Legend and Falstaff.

Q.     I am always amazed at folks like you who not only write but also find the time to edit for other writers. On top of taking care of little ones! How do you do it, and what other hidden talents do you possess that we might not be aware of?

I have to try to balance editing commitments with writing and, as you mention, childcare. Sometimes I have to close to editing commissions while I am finishing off one of my own books. It then often follows that I have a lot of back-to-back editing jobs during which I scarcely write. This proves useful for a number of reasons. During these periods I still make notes for the books I’m planning to write, and the pause from actual writing allows ideas to gestate. If I was continuously writing I’d probably not take the time to let themes, plot, and character grow in such an organic fashion. 

Also, editing requires a different (although closely related) skill set to writing. The scrutiny of the text, the objectivity, but also the attempt to see how the work comes across to a reader, helps to expose the craft of writing and makes me much more aware of these things in my own work. As a result, I think, my first drafts have become much better, allowing subsequent drafts to focus more on bringing out depth of character and thematic issues than the basic mechanics of story-telling.

My family are very much involved in the redrafting process of my novels. I tend to read scenes out loud to Theo and Paula and have to field a lot of cries of “Word repetition!” or simply “Eh?”. They’ve both been really helpful with the development of ideas. I often walk into a room and start blathering on about some exciting plot revelation I’ve just had and they ask all sorts of questions that take the ideas further. Theo even made up a few characters when he was 7 or 8 and they slowly crept into my Shader stories.

Besides writing and editing I still train a couple of clients in the gym (I’m a certified personal trainer, virtually retired!). I homeschool my son Theo and will be primary carer for my daughter Cordelia once my wife’s maternity leave is over. I also record and perform music, although that’s taken a backseat lately due to all the writing commitments. There’s a bunch of my songs up on iLike. 

Q.     Aside from the next installment of The Nameless Dwarf, what can we expect from D.P. Prior in the future?

Nameless book 4, The Ebon Staff, is currently being revised and edited and should be released in 2-3 weeks. After that I’ll be starting work on four editing commissions whilst transferring the detailed notes for Nameless book 5 to a scene by scene breakdown. I’m hoping to divide my working day between editing and starting the first draft as there are some exiting developments unfolding for the series that are dependent on all five books being completed,

After that it’s on to The Unweaving. My schedule for the year also includes completing The Archon’s Assassin (Shader 4), a Shader short prequel, The Seventh Horse, and the start of a new series of Nameless Dwarf adventures,Tomb of the Shaman. To achieve all that I’m shifting my study into the attic and buying a globe drinks cabinet.

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