Welcome to my weekly series – Author Interviews.
In these blog posts I interview authors and find out about the person behind the novel, plus I also glean some valuable insight on being a writer.
This week I am super excited as I am joined by the award winning author Nicholas Rossis.
1. Welcome Nicholas, tell me about yourself and the book / books you have written?
Okay, very quick summation of my life so far. Born in 1970 in Athens, Greece, I studied in Edinburgh, only to return to Greece in 2000. I’ve married my high school sweetheart, and we just had our first; a baby girl that’s as cute as cherry pie. With extra frosting.
As for my books, I’ve published a fantasy series, Pearseus; three collections of short stories; and two children’s books so far. They are pretty good, if I do say so myself. Some have even won nice, shiny awards. In fact, a reviewer said this about Pearseus the other day: “More subplots and surprises than Tesla has volts.” I’m not sure what he meant, but I loved it.
2. When did you write your first book?
I finished both my first two Pearseus books—Schism and Rise of the Prince—in 2013. They were a single book at first. I later separated them, as the story spanned an impressive 300 years and it just begged for some sort of break.
However, my first short stories were published back in 2009, in a Greek magazine and in an anthology.
3. How long did it take to write your first book?
Erm, probably a little over a year. Although the seeds had been there far longer.
4. What was your motivation to write your first book?
I had just finished Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series, and I picked up Jim Lacey’s The First Clash and Herodotus’ Cyrus the Great and Rise of Persia, which describe the fatal battle on Marathon between Greece and Persia in the 5th century BC.
Marathon Bay is a 20’ drive from my home, and I’d often visited the tomb where the ancient Athenians buried their dead, so I thought at the time, “wouldn’t it be great if someone did what Martin did for medieval England, only with the story of Greece vs. Persia? And in space? How cool would that be?” Then it occurred to me: so, what’s stopping me from writing it?
5. What writing issues did you encounter along the way and how did you overcome them?
I’ve loved reading since I was a kid. However, being a kid in the 70s means that my cultural references, as far as writing is concerned, were obsolete by the time I started writing. Passive voice or show vs. tell weren’t such big no-nos back then, and my first drafts had them aplenty. It took me a while to learn what was considered good writing in the 21st century.
6. Did you go through any bad writing patches during writing your book – what kept you going?
Not really. For some bizarre reason, my writing thrives under pressure. It’s only when I have too much free time that I stop writing, and I haven’t had that feeling in such a long time, it would just feel unnatural by now.
7. Are you a plotter or do you just write / see what happens?
Mostly a pantser. The characters reveal the story to me piecemeal, and I wait until the story is revealed in my head, then I put it down on paper. But I usually do this one chapter at a time. Which is why the plot often surprises me, too.
8. What is the best thing about being a writer?
I own a web development company. When I mention that to people, they nod politely and discuss the entrees. Then I mention that I also write books. That’s when the fun starts. I love watching people’s reaction to that—they range from the impressed to the ludicrous.
Plus, research. I can google anything I want, and not have to worry about explaining it to the cops. It’s just research, officer. Honest.
9. What is the worst thing about being a writer?
In my head, being a writer meant I’d write. Simple, right? Well, it turns out you spend at least as much time promoting as you do actually writing. You don’t need to, of course, but it helps if you want people to actually read your work.
10. Have you ever considered quitting writing and if so how have you worked through this?
I’ve been trying for years to quit writing, but I obviously lack the will to do so. Just think of the extra hours I’d get in a day!
11. What does a typical writing day look like for you?
I’d love to answer that, but I have no idea what a typical writing day is. Every day is different. Sometimes I’ll spend an entire day on a single paragraph; other times the words will fill my head and burst out of my fingers as soon as I touch the keyboard. It’s never the same, and to me that’s a big part of the appeal.
12. Do you suffer from procrastination and if so how do you handle it?
I go with the flow. When writing feels hard, I do something related to it, but that feels easier. For example, I might need to draw a map; come up with an idea for a book cover; or research a weapon or a battle. Since all of these need to be done at some point, I simply do whatever feels natural at any given time.
13. Which is more important – plot or characters and why?
To me? Characters. The greatest plot in the world can feel flat with cardboard characters. Conversely, a single great character can take the most mundane plot and transform it into a thing of beauty.
14. What have been your 3 biggest learnings during your writing career?
1. The writing community is great. I had no idea other authors would be so generous and, well, fun. Case in point, my present blonde company.
2. My memory is like a sieve. If I don’t write it down, it’s gone. Probably forever.
3. Despite my initial dreams, I can’t live off my writing—not yet, anyway. There is a chance that I never will. But I’ve learned to live with that, and found out that it doesn’t make writing any less fun to me.
15. How do you manage social media as a writer?
Poorly—unlike you, who seem to be great at it. There is a Pearseus page on Facebook, and a Tumblr blog that I seldom visit. There is only so much time one has in any given day, and I’ve found it more important to form real relationships than to have X amount of followers.
In fact, I was just reading a great post by Dre on that. She mentions being too scattered on social media as one of the classic mistakes people make when building a brand. As she points out, you have a choice:
1. You can give a little bit of your attention to several things.
2. You can devote all of your attention to one thing.
It really boils down to a dig deeper vs. dig wider mentality. Think about it this way:
How likely would you be to invite someone over to dinner simply because they lobbed wine and cheese coupons across all of your social feeds each week?
Not very, huh?
On the other hand, how likely would you be to invite someone over for dinner that shared laughs and favorites with you on your wine and cheese loving pictures every day on Instagram for months?
How likely do you think you would be try this second person’s wine recommendations?
It’s the same with everything—including social media and books.
16. Do you have any tips or advice for budding aspiring authors?
Be patient—and don’t quit your day job just yet. I know a lot of aspiring authors (myself a lifetime ago included) dream of the day we can write full-time, but it might take longer than you hope. If you start with an unrealistic goal, you will only get disappointed and quit. As I constantly say, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Having said that, nothing beats reading an unexpected review and realizing that your words have touched someone you’ve never met.
And there’s something very satisfying about Amazon depositing a few bucks in your account each month. In fact, I’ve now made enough to buy a brand new Porsche.
A Porsche? That’s impressive! Do you keep it in your garage?
No, top drawer of my desk.
17. Do you suffer from writer’s block and if so how do you overcome?
Oh, my sweet, innocent blonde friend. With a 4-month-old baby and a fuller-than-full-time day job, who has time for writer’s block?
Seriously, though, writer’s block is just a way for the story to let you know that it’s not ready to be revealed to you yet. Be patient (I seem to say that a lot, don’t I? Probably because I’m so impatient myself). Work on another aspect of your writing career, like research or promotion. Things will get resolved in your head first, then you’ll be able to put them down on paper.
18. Do you ever think of the next book whilst writing?
Yes. So much so that I usually work on 3-4 books at the same time. Right now, I’m working on Pearseus: Endgame—the fifth, and last, book in the series; on Emotional Beats—a non-fiction writers’ help book explaining how to use beats; on my fourth, as yet unnamed, short stories collection; and on Valiant Smile—my third children’s book.
19. What do you wear to write?
I count myself lucky. I work from home, so I can work whatever I choose. That usually means a nice, comfy, fleece M&S tracksuit. I buy them in bulk by now, so it’s either that or my tartan PJs.
I clean up nice, though. If you don’t believe me, check the photo. It’s probably your only chance of ever seeing me in a tie.
Thank you for that image Nicholas…..goodness me what a dashing young fellow you are!
I get the feeling you are not finished and need to talk some more. Please carry on….we have all day…*star struck*
Nicholas C. Rossis lives to write and does so from his cottage on the edge of a magical forest in Athens, Greece. When not composing epic fantasies or short sci-fi stories, he chats with fans and colleagues, writes blog posts, walks his dog, and enjoys the antics of his baby daughter and two silly cats, all of whom claim his lap as home. His children’s book, Runaway Smile, has won the Gellett Burgess Children’s Book Award.
Wow – what an interview! I am all of a fluster now.
Thank you so much for sitting in my red chair.
Well, where do I start….
- Your writing days sound more interesting than mine; creating maps, weapons and researching battles. You don’t get this sort of pleasure with ChickLit.
- It is great to know another pantser writer.
- It is great to know another writer born in the 70s! I think the best writers were born in the 70s – sigh!
- I like your tips on Writer’s Block and the need for patience.
Much appreciated 🙂
You can contact Nicholas by hopping over onto his blog by clicking here.
Next week author S.K. Nicholls graces my chair.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/79577679@N00/5448848999″>the chair in the attic</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>