Let me answer that in the context of an indie author and the debut novel/series to make it more specific. Faith, believing in yourself. Most likely you shouldn’t believe because chances are you are not that good. Sometimes you are, but still, you waste energy and most of your faith daily on marketing, trying to convince people. Get published, get this and that right, do marketing, make connections. None of this has anything to do with the quality of your writing. You tend to forget to get back to the manuscript and edit one more time. But that’s the #1 thing you(I) should be doing.
Can you give us a short synopsis of this book?
This is a synopsis not a back cover so it is full of spoilers.
On his 32nd spring, Da-Ren arrives at the island of the Castlemonastery to redeem the life of his wife and daughter. The monks decide to listen and write his story. Da-Ren was raised as an orphan in a barbaric tribe. At age 12 he enters the Sieve, a 40-day trial. Children perish during the trials, including his best girl-friend that is sacrificed by the Ouna-Ma priestesses. Da-Ren endures, but he learns that the day he was born is cursed and the Ouna-Mas will never favor him. He is chosen second behind Malan, his main adversary, to join the five-year training of the Uncarved. The Uncarved is an elite group of thirteen that are trained separately with only purpose to breed the next leader of the tribe, the Khun.
Most of the other Uncarved are eliminated through the next three years. They are trained in bow, horse, blade and are fed the tribe’s myths every night. At age 18, Da-Ren has emerged as the most likely to become the next Khun of the tribe.
Da-Ren secretly saves a peasant girl, Zeria, from the Ouna-Mas’ sacrifice and falls in love with Zeria. He returns to his tribe, but it’s too late, and Malan soon becomes Khun. Da-Ren saves Malan from death, and the new Khun rewards him by sending him to command forty Blades.
Conspirators try to kill Malan, Da-Ren has no choice but to save him once again as Malan’s death would bring his own too. Malan makes Da-Ren Firstblade, leader of all the Blades and announces that the tribe will leave for a campaign against the Southeastern Empire. Book II ends with Da-Ren bidding farewell to Zeria.
What inspired you to write this book?
A dream. It is the ending of book 4 and the series. It was very vivid and very violent, I saw it many years ago, but I kept it as a path that I had to enter and walk backward. I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
It then found a purpose, describing the story of a man born on the wrong side of the battle. We’ve read so many stories about the knight or the chosen prince who is destined to fight evil. What intrigues me is the story of an orc (ok, a handsome orc) who one day says: “the heck with an evil Sauron and all this, I had enough.” How does one make such a choice when he is born on the wrong side of the battle? Without wizards to help him. What is the price to pay for crossing your tribe when you realize the wrong they are doing? Is love enough of a driving force to transform you? Drakon is a dark epic fantasy story, but it is also a love story. It is a story about understanding our enemies.
How many hours per day do you spend writing?
Writing is the easy part. If I spend three hours for three months, six days a week, I can complete a 100,000-word book. But that is 10%-20% of the work. I have to do a lot of research, work on structure, read the drafts and edit them many times, work with the editors, listen to the book (it is very useful to listen to it, rather than just read it), go back and revisit it after months, get peer reviews. Hopefully, don’t throw everything out the window and restart. So the whole effort translates to something like six hours a day, six days a week, eleven months a year. But it is lots of fun.
Name your top five favorite books.
Dune by Frank Herbert
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
And a mostly unknown surprise I read last year, Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman
What are you working on now?
Drakon Book 3 is finished (pub. June), I am doing the final corrections, and Book 4 needs another two months of editing work (pub. October or November). This is the top priority. Then I have a lot of research for the new series which is completely different story and world-building challenge.
Book I “The Sieve” is Book I of the epic fantasy novel Drakon.
“I am here to redeem the lives of my wife and daughter. I’ve brought the offering.” Da-Ren, an infidel barbarian, arrives at the Castlemonastery, his only offering a jar of honey. Baagh, the Cross Sorcerer, follows him there under orders of the Emperor, demanding from the monks to transcribe the warrior’s story. Book I chronicles Da-Ren’s early years, growing up in a tribe of archer riders and pagan witches, camped north of the Blackvein River. He enters the Sieve, the forty-day initiation trial that determines the fate of every boy and girl. Many of his comrades will fall, the strong will join the warriors, and an elite few will be marked for leadership. Da-Ren learns to endure the elements, to obey the Truths, to keep standing when all hope is lost. He swallows the legends of the OunaMa witches, learns to hate all other tribes, and conquers fear. And yet there is one trial that will bring him to his knees. The Goddess’s favorite daughter. “Brown-haired, brown-eyed. Brown was the first color of the day.” The journey begins for the man who will become the First Blade of the Devil. A brutal, poetic, first-person narrative of war, death, and love. Book II
“How do the Uncarved die? They bleed to death. Always.” Fourteen-winter-old Da-Ren joins the Uncarved, the chosen few destined to lead the Tribe. More than forty children train and compete for the next five springs; only one will become Khun and fulfill the Tribe’s destiny. Da-Ren’s ambition and strength will keep him alive but can he overcome his most powerful and cunning adversary, the one favored by witches and men? The Goddess and the Ouna-Mas will try to nest in his heart, but is he prepared for the one woman he is brought up to hate? As war and hunger strangle the Tribe, the stakes of love, duty, and betrayal are higher than ever. A young man’s first kill. A young man’s first kiss. A coming-of-age tale with non-stop action.
C.A. Caskabel started writing Drakon in 2013 and completed the 350,000-word epic series in 2016. He plans to release the books gradually in 2016 and 2017 while he researches and writes his next series. He also works with a passionate small team that publishes primarily children’s fiction and fantasy fiction.
Prior to 2013, Chris was a serial technology entrepreneur. He has founded and led a number of start-ups in businesses such as digital marketing and renewable energy. He has led creative departments, marketing, and software product organizations in New York, San Francisco, London, and Athens.
He holds a BSc and a BA from Brown University and a PhD in Engineering from Boston University.