Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
I love the scope and flexibility of epic fantasy. I love how it can encompass all sorts of themes that may be outdated or just won’t work in other genres: honor, duty, courage, and sacrifice. There is always this “larger-than-life” feel in epic fantasy because it involves a lot of conflict, war, politics, and so on, but the genre also allows you to draw it down to a human level—especially with the fashion of multiple point-of-views. There is beauty in that, I think, and just so much potential. I can never get tired of both reading or writing it.
And of course, it goes without saying that the genre allows you to go crazy with your imagination. Dragons, wyverns, griffons, magic. I also love the worldbuilding aspect: I love making up magical laws and fantastic scenery. I also especially love creating cities and societies and imagining what everyday life would be for these people. I’ve actually created a lot more cities, towns, and places than I’ve shown in my novels—which is pretty common for a lot of epic fantasy writers.
What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre that isn’t so?
People think it’s just about sword fighting and magical creatures and so on—“childish” or “shallow”, I’ve heard some call it more than once. And I’m not denying that it could be.
But the medium allows for so much more than that. In fact, because everything is “make-believe”, it can allow you to explore subjects or themes that would otherwise be too dark or difficult if they were closer to home. The detachment works in creating parallels, and readers can sometimes find themselves entertained and informed at the same time.
Some fantasy has even crossed boundaries with literary fiction, providing social or political commentary, or just a peek into the human condition.
What are some day jobs you have held?
I’ve worked as a fast food cashier in my teens, a job I held for a good week before getting fired because I wasn’t fast enough/daydreamed too much. I’ve also worked as a veterinary hospital assistant, a doggy daycare attendant, and finally, as a civil engineering technologist in the field of municipal engineering (which helped so much in my own worldbuilding).
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I think I started out trying to mimic what other writers have been doing, which for a while involved a stint in trying to write like classic writers. I started experimenting with prose here and there until I’ve had my first few novels battered down by beta-readers and editors. Now, I think, I’ve got a fair idea of my own voice and write like “myself”, which has its ups and downs, but it’s made me a lot more productive.
What have you written so far?
I’ve got an epic fantasy trilogy, The Agartes Epilogues. The first book has been out since 2014, and the last two books will be released in April 2017. This series follows the personal timeline of three “minor” characters as they weave through a major epic fantasy plot and rub elbows with the actual “heroes”. It has a little bit of everything: magic, sword-fighting, assassinations, politics, love, and humor.
I also have Birthplace out, which is a YA horror/paranormal novel that I wrote on a whim. It involves aswangs, shifters from Philippine mythology.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
You’ve heard this one before: keep writing. It’s not about people admiring your work, it’s about what you can express from inside you, what you can figure out about yourself and the world. The only results you should be looking for is what comes out of those empty pages. The rest will figure itself out.
Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?
Sapphire’s Flight is the third book in The Agartes Epilogues and is twice as long as the other novels. It’s coming out in April 2017. It takes the three major characters through a whirlwind adventure across lands drawing heavily from both Asian and European settings, culminating in a war because it is, after all, epic fantasy.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Enosh Tar’elian, who is my version of an anti-hero. He is a selfish, charming (when he wants to be) womanizer, both a mage and a merchant, a somewhat-competent swordsman, intelligent (in his opinion), educated, and has big, big dreams. I love him because writing from his point-of-view is always amusing. It also lets me see things from another perspective, like how selfishness can sometimes be out of ignorance, and that some people still deserve second chances. Some of my quotes by, or involving, Enosh:
“You don’t find me handsome, Sapphire?”
“Because heavens forbid we talk about anything but you, your charisma, or your women when we’re passing time.”
“I am shocked,” Enosh said, “that you would dare suggest that someone out there wants to hurt me.
“I wish I could tell you this was the first time I woke up tied to a bed.”
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