Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Book Tour: The Dragonkin Trilogy by Michael Meyerhofer (Interview)




Title: Wytchfire (Bk 1)
Series: Dragonkin Trilogy
Author: Michael Meyerhofer
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Publication Date: April 28, 2014
Genre: High Fantasy

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In a land haunted by the legacy of dead dragons, Rowen Locke has been many things: orphan, gravedigger, mercenary. All he ever wanted was to become a Knight of Crane and wield a kingsteel sword against the kind of grown horrors his childhood knows all too well.

But that dream crumbled—replaced by a new nightmare.

War is overrunning the realms, an unprecedented duel of desire and revenge, steel and sorcery. And for one disgraced man who would be a knight, in a world where no one is blameless, the time has come to decide which side he’s on.

Title: Knightswrath (Bk 2)
Series: Dragonkin Trilogy
Author: Michael Meyerhofer
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Genre: High Fantasy

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Rowen Locke has achieved his dream of becoming a Knight of the Crane, and he now bears Knightswrath, the legendary sword of Fâyu Jinn. But the land remains torn, and though Rowen suffers doubts, he would see it healed. His knightly order is not what it seems, though, and allies remain thin.

When Rowen and his friends seek an alliance with the forest-dwelling Sylvs, a tangle of events results in a midnight duel that teaches Rowen a dangerous lesson and leaves him with a new companion of uncertain loyalties.

The sadistic Dhargots still threaten the kingdoms, but another menace lurks in the shadows, playing a game none can see. As Rowen struggles to prove his worth—to his allies and to himself—chaos raises its hand to strike. A price must be paid, and not even the wielder of Knightswrath will remain untouched.


Interview: 

Where did the ideas for Wytchfire and Knightswrath come from?

I was born with some birth defects that made me the target of a lot of bullying and teasing when I was younger. So as a child, I felt something of a kinship with people who were different, who were disliked or even hated simply based on the lottery of their birth. Eventually, this formed the basis for the discrimination that underlies the story and various conflicts of the Dragonkin Trilogy.

As the books evolved, I put more and more of myself into the various characters (good and bad sides alike), but a lot of what I wrote was also inspired by people I’ve known and things I’ve read about—both in the newspapers and the history books.

On a lighter note, I’ve always loved reading fantasy, the way it tingles the imagination and quickens the blood. So, in spite (or maybe because of) all the work I put into them, writing these books has also been incredible, indescribable fun!  

What are some themes you built into your books that you’re hoping readers will notice?

I’m really interested in issues of social justice, but a fantasy book should be a book, not a sermon. So even though I think my books are making some statements about discrimination, gay rights, and the ongoing problem of violence against women, it was very important to me that these statements be part of the natural flow of the story, that they advance the story itself and not just be thrown in to score points.

Additionally, I have a substantial background in poetry so I found myself working in a lot of imagery and (hopefully) subtle little metaphors and actions. As a writer, I think you hope that readers will pick up on these, but if they’re subtle (as they should be), they’re also easy to miss or even misunderstand. Personally, I know that every time I go back and reread a favorite book, I discover a little detail that I didn’t catch before. I suppose that’s the beauty of books: they take on a life of their own and, in so doing, they never stop giving.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve finished a rough draft of the final book of the trilogy, tentatively titled The War of the Lotus, though it still needs some editing and streamlining (and maybe a diet, since it currently weighs in at about 300 pages longer than the other books).

I’m fairly prolific but I also like to spin a lot of plates at one time, so I’m also about a book and a half into another, completely different trilogy, plus I’m about halfway done with a YA novel (which, partly as a personal challenge, I’m writing from the point of view of a plucky female adolescent).

I’m also a poet and just released my fourth poetry book, What To Do If You’re Buried Alive, and I have two more poetry manuscripts that I’m finishing up. I really love writing in more than one genre at one time—personally, I feel like it puts more tools in the mental toolbox—so I tend to have a small library’s worth of yet-unpublished stories, essays, and poems. Ah, the writer’s life! ☺

Have you ever had an imaginary friend?

Yup! As a little kid, my best friend was an imaginary boy with the highly original name of the Invisible Boy. He watched me constantly but turned invisible whenever someone (including me) turned to look at him. Hmmm, I probably shouldn’t examine the psychology of this too closely…

Any weird things you do when you’re alone?

Why are you asking that?! WHAT HAVE YOU HEARD?!  Oh, wait…  OK.  Well, one thing I do is talk to myself. Sounds strange, probably, but I’ll talk out the different sides of a problem (sometimes a writing issue, sometimes real life) and analyze it. I think all writers are anxious people but I feel like that goes triple for me, so I do what I can to make sure I have as few loose ends around me as possible. One good result of that is that (hopefully) my stories never have any totally forgotten or abandoned narrative threads… even though I sometimes choose to wait until later to bring them full circle.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

The other day, I randomly tried Butterfinger Ice Cream and it was kind of like coming home.

What are 5 things within touching distance?

Coffee, orange Mt. Dew (I like to add some variety to my caffeine addiction), my smartphone, a 60 lbs dumbbell (I’ve been addicted to weightlifting since I was about 14, even though I have the world’s worst diet), and a black cat the size of a direwolf who drools when you pet him.

What do you think you’re really bad at?

Patience. It’s funny because I’ve been a college instructor for over ten years, and I can be very patient with students, but I have absolutely no patience whatsoever when it comes to myself or things I have to do. Just finished Book I in a trilogy? Better outline and start writing the next two books THIS VERY MINUTE! Need to turn in a form next month? Better do it now, then drive to campus and have the security guard open the door so you can slide it under the office door of your boss who’s out of the country until Thursday, anyway. Like I tell my students, I’m the world’s worst Buddhist.

What are some things that readers can do to help the writers of books they enjoy?

Write reviews! I didn’t realize this until I started publishing but reviews are extremely important. Just one or two good (or bad) reviews can make a big difference on Amazon, when potential readers are trying to decide whether or not to buy your book. Reviews get noticed by publishers, too.  

Over the years, I’ve talked to a lot of readers who feel a bit anxious about writing reviews, almost like they’re a form of homework. Actually, reviews don’t have to be super-long and complex. Since they’re being read casually, they can be written casually, too. Just a few sentences will work, something like “I like the characters” (or “I hate the characters”) and maybe an example, or “This book reminds me of…”.

Another thing you can do is contact the writer him/herself. That might sound strange but as a general rule, writers love to hear from readers… especially happy ones! Royalties are well and good, but the real reason writers write (in addition to personal satisfaction and catharsis) is to hear those seven magic words: I read your book and loved it!  

Beyond that, another simple thing you can do is mention a good book on Twitter or Facebook, and/or plug it with a sentence or two on your blog, or give it some starry love on Goodreads. All these things get noticed and can make a big difference.

What is your favorite quote and why?

"Learn the rules, and then forget them." -Matsuo Basho

Basho was the first haiku poet and this quote is one of my favorites because it shows respect for the rules and establishment that came before us, but it also says that we shouldn’t be limited by them. In Basho’s case, he invented the haiku form by modifying an older, venerated form of Japanese poetry. In other words, he made something new out of something old, but he didn’t do it by disrespecting those writers who had come before him. Instead, he did his homework, and knew when to break the rules.

What is your most favorite word?

Taut. My poor editors had to go round and round with me, trying to get me to use that word less in my books. Taut features, taut situations, taut everything. I haven’t checked yet but I suspect there were probably about two thousand uses of taut in each of the original rough drafts.

What is your least favorite word?

Moist. Seriously, I’m a very open-minded person, but I can’t say (or type) that word without grimacing.

Describe your editing process.

Most writers dread editing, even though it’s critically important because that’s how and when a tarnished product gets polished into something worth buying. It’s tough to edit your own stuff sometimes because you’re attached to it but also, as the author, you know what a given passage is getting at. One way I get around that is by feeding the whole manuscript into a text-reading program and following along as the computer reads it back to me, then pausing to correct anything that doesn’t sound right. This is basically the same as having a friend (albeit one with a strange voice) slowly and patiently read your entire book out loud, and all you have to do is listen for typos, inconsistencies, are things that sound just plain stupid. Doing that sped up my editing process tenfold.

Also, one of the many reasons why Red Adept Publishing is wonderful is that they have a highly skilled, uber-patient group of editors who go over the manuscript line-by-line, several times, and then we work together on corrections. I’m happy with Wytchfire and Knightswrath for more reasons than I could count, but one review of Wytchfire that really made me smile was that the reviewer hadn’t noticed any typos or errors, and from that, could really tell that I cared about both my readers and the story I was telling. That’s a good feeling.

Michael Meyerhofer 1AUTHOR BIO:  Michael Meyerhofer grew up in Iowa where he learned to cope with the unbridled excitement of the Midwest by reading books and not getting his hopes up. Probably due to his father’s influence, he developed a fondness for Star Trek, weight lifting, and collecting medieval weapons. He is also addicted to caffeine and the History Channel.

His fourth poetry book, What To Do If You’re Buried Alive, was recently published by Split Lip Press. He also serves as the Poetry Editor of Atticus Review. His poetry and prose have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Brevity, Ploughshares, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Rattle, and many other journals.

He and his fiancee currently live in Fresno, California, in a little house beside a very large cactus.
AUTHOR LINKS:
Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Publisher Page
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This tour was organized by Good Tales Book Tours!

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