How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
When I first started writing back in 2017, I started five or six different books. I wrote 60 or so pages for each one, just enough to get the story moving. When I got bored or stuck with one story, I just moved on to the next. That’s actually how Mystics of Fortune came to be. Each time I got tired of one of the other stories, I usually came back to Mystics of Fortune.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
A lot. Most of the science fiction aspects of Mystics of Fortune have some component of actual science behind it. I want the audience to read and say, “you know what, that can probably happen some day.”
Do you find writing therapeutic?
Very much so. The therapy behind writing is why I continued Mystics of Fortune. I initially had little interest in publishing, instead opting to write the book for a bit of mental vacation. Even while writing book 2, I find the whole process of writing relaxing.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I wrote Mystics of Fortune for me, without really considering another audience. Writing was relaxing and I just sort of wrote the story as I went. Granted, there were several revisions after I decided to publish.
As I write book 2, I’m definitely more aware of what my audience may or may not like. With that in mind, I don’t see a scenario where my writing style changes much.
How do you select the names of your characters?
For this book, many of the names came from 13th – 17th Latin America, a few from Western Europe. The protagonist, Jayden, didn’t come from any particular source or era. I wanted a semi futuristic name that readers could also relate to in the current time.
I know some authors choose names that may correlate to someone they know, but at least in Book 1, there’s none of that.
How did you decide which form or genre was right for you?
Science Fiction, Fantasy, Military Fiction, and leadership / business books are the genres I know best and can relate to. I feel like I could write multiple books on business strategy, management styles, and general knowledge on corporate America.
At this point in my writing adventure, writing about my experiences in business doesn’t excite me. For now, I write for the fun and pleasure of the experience. Writing science fiction is therapy and I think writing about business would feel more like work.
Would you rather read a book or watch television?
There are very few shows that I enjoy watching on TV. Even sports doesn’t have the same attraction it did ten years ago. I prefer reading to watching shows by a large margin. If a book has been turned into a show or movie (Dune), I’ll generally give it a shot.
I’m no expert in the entertainment industry, not by a long shot. I feel that the industry has sacrificed the quality of stories for volume. There’s plenty of action but story development and character development seem to suffer. At least with the books I read, the authors have continued to create great stories with depth; that’s something I enjoy.
Tell us some more about your book.
Mystics of Fortune is a science fiction book at its core, with elements of fantasy and military fiction. It’s the first book in a series of four that follows the trials of three main groups. The powerful mystics, the conniving Elasus Reeves of the Reeves Corporation, and a small band of Thoba (nonmystics) just trying to survive.
After centuries of civil war on Earth, the mystics are exiled to Ojult, where much of the story takes place. As the series progresses, these three groups engage one another more frequently and the plot zigzags and twists in unexpected ways.
MoF doesn’t portray each side in terms of good and evil. Although its clear who the protagonist and antagonists are, there are no faultless heroes or perfectly warped villains. The MoF universe creates a realm of gray, reflective of the world we live in today. It’s relatable and not so far fetched that the reader tosses the plot in the category of the impossible.
What inspired the premise of your book?
There wasn’t a particular moment or action that inspired the book. Instead, Mystics of Fortune is the product of many ideas and short stories coming together in one epic adventure. I enjoy many genres, but my experience lends itself more towards business and science fiction.
I enjoy science fiction and fantasy books that are in the realm of possible. For instance, if an asteroid storm were to hit Earth, it’s easy for me to visualize a few highly placed executives and politicians controlling the rebuild. In the short term, their network, resources, and assets would be welcomed by the reeling society. But what happens after that? MoF, I think, takes a stab at detailing one potential outcome of this new world.
How many rewrites did you do for this book?
Oh wow… a lot. My first version probably had ten or so minor rewrites which led to a 285,000-word novel. I sat on this version for almost a year until a few friends read the draft and encouraged me to take it one step further. It’s here when I decided, “okay, I might have something that others might enjoy.”
I took the best parts of version one and created the second version, which was nearly just as long. At this point, the title of the book was, The Ojultan Authority. This is the version that my editor, Jonathan Starke, took and really polished. Editing this juggernaut took almost five months but by the end, we had a manuscript at just under 185,000 words.
Version two was still a beast, but it was polished. I took this version and outlined what I thought the entire series may look like if I decided to publish. After outlining the series, I needed to adjust book 1 and version three was born. This version came out at around 175,000 words. Versions 1 and 2 had Tayla’s character much more involved, but looking at the series overall, I decided to reduce her influence by a lot.
As a first-time writer, I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I just started writing without a true outline or idea where I wanted to go. Now, with the series written and book 1 under by belt, I’m hoping I can be a bit more organized and efficient with the rest of the series.
Which character was most challenging to create? Why?
Jayden, by a long shot. As Jayden’s purpose in the series came to fruition, I realized that I had created a very dark protagonist. I had to lighten his character up a lot without negating his past. He really doesn’t know how big an impact he’s having on the universe until the very end of the series.
Are any of your characters based on real people you know?
I’ve gotten this question a lot. I know some authors create characters based on friends, family members, etc. I get this and can appreciate the gesture. For me, at least in book 1 and book 2, none of my characters are based on real people.
Which scene, character or plotline changed the most from first draft to published book?
Tayla. In the first two versions, Tayla’s character played a much more significant role. However, I needed to trim down the book and her character was the sacrifice.
How does your faith life/ethical outlook inform your writing?
I’ve been asked if Elasus Reeves is somehow related to me or people I’ve worked with. Given Elasus’s ethical… issues, I can see why I get the question. No, Elasus is not built upon any one I know or done business with. I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with some great leaders during my twenty years in the healthcare industry.
Regarding my faith, MoF doesn’t have a strong religious component to it. It’s not that I shy away from it, but that element of my life just didn’t fit into the story. I am a Christian and if I wanted, I could have forced that idea into the series, but that’s just not how I wrote the story.
How did you decide on this title?
During the entire draft and editorial process, the original name was, The Ojultan Authority. I still sometimes refer to it as this, but people had a hard time pronouncing Ojultan (O-Joolt-Ten). Three days before submitting it for publishing, I changed the name. Changing the title was the single most nerve-racking experience of book 1 and I still wonder if I made the right decision.
What’s next for you?
I’m about done with the Book 2 outline. With any luck, I’ll begin writing in the May / June timeframe. Book 2 won’t be as long as Mystics of Fortune, but it will still be around 150,000 if I had to guess. I’m planning on a full year to write it, so perhaps by August of 2023, I’ll have the next book ready for readers.