- What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now? Richard Lee Byers. Born in Columbus, Ohio. Currently live in Plant City, Florida.
- Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be? I was interested in writing from a very early age.
- When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"? When I sold my first story. It was to a small-press magazine and the pay was minimal, but I took the event as validation.
- Did it take a long time to get your first book published? It sold in about two years and came out about a year after that.
- Do you work another job as well as your writing work? I do online teaching part time.
- What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say? My latest book is The Impostor #1: Half a Hero. It's the first volume in a post-apocalyptic superhero series. You could call it a comic book in prose.
- Who is your publisher? or do you self publish? I write Forgotten Realms novels for Wizards of the Coast. I contribute short fiction to anthologies from various publishers. I'm also self-publishing some eBooks.
- How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it? Four months. I can do it in less to make a tight deadline, but I don't enjoy life very much when I'm pushing that hard.
- Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others? I can't really say. Every project presents its own headaches, which, honestly, I tend to forget after the work is done. I've published over three million words of fiction since the mid-eighties, and things start to blur after a while.
- What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre? I'll be doing more Forgotten Realms novels (which, for those who don't know) are heroic fantasy.) I'll be continuing The Impostor and doing more horror. I would also like to break into urban fantasy.
- Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series? I'm currently working on the second volume of The Impostor. I have more Forgotten Realms novels on my schedule. I have plans for an urban fantasy whenever I get around to it.
- What genre would you place your books into? I've done fantasy and horror. The majority of my books are for adults, but I've also written for younger readers.
- Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favourite? My favourite is usually the one I'm currently working on or the one I finished most recently, which I think is probably a healthy way for a writer to think.
- Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite? I don't have one favorite. Again, I tend to be particularly fond of characters I'm currently working with or have used recently. That means that the Impostor and Aoth Fezim, the hero of my recent Forgotten Realms novels, are pets of mine at the moment.
- How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write? I played around with writing starting in the fifth or sixth grade. I started trying to have a professional writing career in 1986. I suppose I was inspired by my lifelong love of fiction and all the authors who wrote stories I enjoyed.
- Where do you get your book plot ideas from? Everywhere and nowhere, I suppose. I realize that's a somewhat cryptic reply, but this is a tough question to answer. Sometimes ideas just come to me. Other times, I make a deliberate attempt to come up with them by thinking about some topic or other. Often, I'm thinking about common genre tropes and conventions and what sort of story might result if I did things differently.
- Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them? By "reviews," do you mean comments on what works and what needs changing? When I'm writing for a traditional publisher, my editor reads them. When I'm self-publishing, I have a friend read them.
- Do you gift books to readers to do reviews? Yes, depending on who the reader is and what we mean by "reviews." I'm likely to give a book to someone who has a book-review blog. I'm not likely to give a book to someone who simply promises to post a review on Amazon.
- Do you read all the reviews of your book/books? I don't read all of them. I'm not always aware that particular reviews exist.
- What was the toughest/best review you have ever had? I can't really pick. I've had some very kind reviews and been slammed a number of times, too. The weirdest review I ever had was a bad one. The reviewer slammed me at considerable length for a scene he didn't like. The weird thing was that there was no such scene in the novel.
- How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books? Making up titles isn't my strongest skill. The publisher often changes the titles of my Forgotten Realms novels. When I'm trying to think of a title, I just grope around until I find something I like. I prefer titles that create a mental image in the reader's mind to more abstract ones, and I sometimes find that if I go over the story or novel again, I'll find a line that will work as a title. When I'm writing for a traditional publisher, the publisher handles cover art and design. The covers on my self-published eBooks are by a talented artist friend of mine named Elaine Polk. (She's for hire, by the way. Other writers who need covers should get in touch with her.)
- How do you market/promote your books? I blog. I've blog-swapped. I write a monthly column for Airlock Alpha, the online science-fiction news magazine. I'm active on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and more specialized social media sites. I get the Help A Reporter Out emails and pitch when I would make an appropriate source. I've done podcast interviews. I attend science-fiction conventions. I've given away T-shirts with my eBook covers on them and CD's with samples of my work on them in PDF format. I give away copies of my eBooks for review.
- What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller ? A strong hook, a substantial marketing push from the publisher or self-publisher, word of mouth, and luck.
- Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"? I've never suffered from horrible, crippling writer's block. Sometimes I get stuck partway through a story and lose a couple days of writing while I figure out what should happen next, and once in a while my brain insists that I take a week or two off.
- What do you do to unwind and relax? I fence and play poker.
- Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you? Sure. I think most writers do this to one degree or another. But when you write fantasy and horror, real-world people and events are likely to become unrecognizable due to all the weirdness you put in.
- Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..") I believe that fiction inevitably ends up expressing implicit themes because it automatically ends up reflecting the author's worldview. But most of my work was written to entertain, not to drive home a moral point.
- Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing? There are many. Here's a partial list: Robert E Howard, Fritz Leiber, H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Gardner F. Fox, Stan Lee, Jack Vance, Poul Anderson, Karl Edward Wagner, Roger Zelazny, and Raymond Chandler.
- Which format of book do you prefer, ebook,hardback, or paperback? Hardback.
- What is your favourite book and Why? Have you read it more than once? I love so many books that it's hard to choose. I read the Gray Mouser and Fafhrd books by Fritz Leiber over and over when I was younger.
- Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst book to movie transfer? Some books certainly do. The Maltese Falcon is a great one, and so is The Big Sleep. I don't know about the worst, but for me, one of the most disappointing was The Relic. It works fine as your basic monster movie, but there are two great characters in that novel, Pendergast and Smithback, and neither of them made it into the film.
- What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback) I'm reading Wastelands, a collection of post-apocalyptic fiction. There's some good stuff in it. It's a trade paperback.
- Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books? Yes, pretty much. It may take a while, but eventually, the only new printed books will be speciality items for collectors.
- Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing? No. Teaching online, I've discovered that many of today's high-school grads read poorly and write worse.
- Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish? There's a fantasy novel called The Worm Ouroboros. It's considered a classic, but for my taste, it's very slow and written in an excessively ornate style, and I just couldn't make it through.
- Are there any New Authors you are interested in for us to watch out for? and Why should we watch out for them? I don't know if he actually still qualifies as a "new author," but Charles Stross hasn't been around all that long, and I only recently discovered his work. He's really good. His work is everything that, for my taste, SF should be.
- Is there anything in your book/books you would change now if you could and what would it be? I hope that if I went over them all again, I'd find many things I could improve on, because I hope I'm still improving as a writer. The one thing that springs to mind is that a number of years ago, I wrote an X-Men prose novel called Soul Killer. Every one of the X-Men characters I used got at least one moment to take center stage and shine except for Cyclops. I just couldn't see a way to do that with him. But after the book came out, I realized how I could have, and I'd fix that if I ever had the chance.
- What do you think about book trailers? I haven't had one created for my own work so my experience is secondhand. I think they can be effective, but I think they're like everything else writers do to self-promote. Eventually, there will be a zillion of them on YouTube and wherever if there aren't already, and the glut will cause most of them to go largely unnoticed.
- What piece of advice would you give to a new writer? The great science-fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein offered four rules. It's hard to improve on them so I'll give them here for anyone who isn't already familiar with them. 1. Write. (This means regularly, not just when you feel like it. If you're like a lot of us, you may not feel like it very often.) 2. Finish what you write. (Don't be one of those writers who has a zillion fragments and no completed stories. Make yourself solve story problems and push on through to the end.) 3. Market what you write. (Identify the appropriate markets and submit again and again until somebody buys the work or you run out of places to send it. Or, if your plan is to self-publish, actually do that and then self-promote.) 4. Don't rewrite. (I don't believe Heinlein meant you shouldn't revise and poliah a story. He was saying that you reach a point beyond which tinkering is counterproductive. Don't monkey around with one story forever, and don't rewrite it when it's rejected with comments unless an editor specifically says that if you change such-and-such, he'll look at it again. Keep moving forward.)
- Do you or would you ever use a pen name? I haven't. I might if my agent recommended it or a publisher requested it.
Your blog details? http://rleebyers.livejournal.com/
Your web site ? I'm actually between sites at the moment. The old one is defunct, and the new one isn't in place yet.
Your facebook page? Richard Lee Byers
Your Goodreads author page? Not in place yet. I need to get around to that.
Your Twitter details? rleebyers
And any other information you wish to supply?
I'm on Google+ as Richard Lee Byers
Read Astrojive, my monthly column on Airlock Alpha: http://airlockalpha.com/
My books are available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Richard+Lee+Byers&x=0&y=0
And on Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/richard-lee-byers?r=1
And on Smashwords: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/richard-lee-byers?r=1
And on iTunes.
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