Hello everyone and today we have Joseph Robert Lewis in the world of Odealeous. We sit here in the sky as gods looking do
wn at the world that he has create.
I read the Elf Sage: Doomsday by Joseph and I was stunned by his imagination and creativity. I can tell he plays a lot of Wold of Warcraft or I could be wrong. However, he is a great story teller and creates fun characters that you will love. What I love about Elf Saga is the diversity. From mystical creatures to Steampunk. I think that is something many fantasy books lack. I dont want to give too much away but here we go guys.
1. So first question. What inspired you to write fantasy? Every author has some sort of inspiration either from childhood or some real life influence. What was yours?
Fantasy was an early love, probably just thanks to the general escapism of going to a beautiful world full of strange people and creatures, with magical powers and cosmic stories that all feels so far removed from the suburban life of the 1980s. I remember reading The Hobbit when I was 7 and the parts that I loved the most were right near the beginning when Bilbo is first setting out, meeting trolls and goblins for the first time. Beginnings have always been powerful for me, when you first meet new people and places, when everything is new and full of possibility. I also really loved watching The Last Unicorn, Labyrinth, Legend, Willow, The Neverending Story, The Dark Crystal, and so many more. The 80s had the best everything – movies, actors, hair styles…
2. Tell us more about the Elf Saga. I read the book and it was right up my alley, I love it. What can readers expect and what motivated you to write it?
I wrote the Elf Saga
series because I wanted to have fun. Just plain old fun. I was tired of taking myself seriously, and taking my books seriously, and taking reading seriously. It feels like we’re in this era of extremely dark, serious, grim, gritty, realistic fantasy media, from books to comics to TV to movies, and for a guy with a mortgage and an office job, the dark and gritty stuff is just getting so very boring. So I wanted to go back to the things I loved in the 1980s and 1990s, like Xena and Buffy, and just have fun, crack jokes, enjoy sex, make fun of things that deserve to be made fun of, all while saving the world from a Dragon Apocalypse. And yes, the main characters are all women elves, and they are a very deliberate collection of diverse ethnicities and sexualities, and it’s totally on purpose, and it totally works. Plus, the series evolves from classic epic fantasy
to dark horror-y fantasy
to weird Western fantasy
to… (shh, Book 4 isn’t out yet!). So it has everything I’ve ever wanted. Is that so much to ask?
3. With the magic of CG technology, where do you see fantasy films heading?
In the short term, I think we’re going to see a lot of World of Warcraft, meaning really expensive movies with lots of explosions and monsters, and horrible writing, and horrible green-screen acting. But, hopefully, there will be a Blair Witch moment, or a Deadpool moment, and Hollywood will realize that you can make a better fantasy movie for less money if you focus more on writing, directing, and acting, and just use the CGI as a tool. I wonder what that movie will be? Probably not an R-rated Harry Potter reboot, but never say never.
4. Why do you think people read fantasy?
Well, if I’m going to play psychoanalyst for millions of strangers, I’ll just do the safe and responsible thing and simply project my own thoughts and feelings onto them. People read fantasy because it’s exciting, and different. It’s about princesses and Chosen Ones and Dark Lords and thieves and heroes and monsters that you get to slay with big pointy metal sticks and funny made-up words. Fantasy is, or used to be, so far away from reality, from messy problems and complicated relationships and confusion. Classic fantasy was all about slaying the monster and saving the kingdom, nice and simple. Modern fantasy often embraces the down and dirty realities that we recognize in our own lives, but even then, the fantastical elements light up the world as magical exit signs, ways to escape from heartbreaking dilemmas (start a war!) or from toxic people (chop off their heads!) or just from confusing situations (love potion anyone?).
5. Albert Einstein spoke of parallel universes and dimensions. Do you think that in another realm, fantasy creatures such as unicorns and dragons exist?
To quote a more fictional genius, Mister Spock, I would love to think we exist in a multiverse that allows for Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, which would certainly include worlds with flying dinosaurs that burp fire, horses with one antler, people with pointy ears, and socks that never get lost in the dryer.
6. JK Rowling said that she uses her third eye to write her Harry Potter novels. How do you write fantasy?
I’m no optometrist, but three eyes sounds like too many. I just write with my hands, and my books tend to come together from all the random research I do every day. I love history, mythology, art, science, philosophy, language, and dumplings. And when I sit down to plan and write a book, it’s all about pulling together little snippets of ideas, things that strike me as beautiful or clever, or just things in danger of being forgotten that I think my readers might enjoy discovering. But more specifically, I just make sure I write 1,000 to 2,000 words every day, and then edit the crap out of my drafts until they’re funny and make sense and are good enough to earn my readers’ money, because they deserve some decent escapism.
7. Do you feel as though your characters have a lot in common with you?
Sooner or later, all of my characters are me. Sometimes they are me at different ages (angry teen, confused
child, self-righteous college student, sleep-deprived parent, grouchy warlock), and sometimes they are the avatars of the arguments I have in my head about politics, or sexism, or education, or the importance of chocolate cake. But the realest characters, the ones I really care about and really try to breathe genuine life into, are all facets of myself. No matter how bizarre or unique or different the character might seem from me (Nigerian elven princess with a love of butterflies and sexy pirates?), they are still me at their core (afraid of failure, tired of trying to fit in, angry at injustice, etc.).
8. What is your favorite fantasy movie or TV show thus far?
Oh, I hate this question! It’s so impossible. I read so much and watch so much, the best I can ever do is lump things into piles like “Loved it!” and “Liked it but probably won’t see it again” and “HateWatchedEveryEpisode!!!”. I guess top favorites would include Buffy and Xena, Jim Henson’s Storyteller series, and of course Farscape. What? But Farscape is science fiction, you say. Not really, not to me. Farscape is about characters, about being lost and lonely, creating friendships, falling in love, creating families. And muppet-y space monsters. It doesn’t get much better than that.
9. Self publishing is becoming very flooded. How do you feel about the competition and the visibility in self publishing?
Should I give the new standard answer? There is no competition between authors because it’s not a zero-sum game. If someone else writes a great fantasy novel, then that just brings more fans into the genre and makes it more likely that they will discover me, and vice versa. Fantasy fans will read dozens if not hundreds of books per year. We love the word “epic” and will read a 12-volume series without stopping! So the most important thing is to keep the genre healthy and engaging. The only real competition in publishing is for casual readers, the ones who pick up the latest thriller at the airport on the way to a vacation spot. They only buy a few books, so John Grisham and Michael Crichton and James Patterson need to fight for that sale. But I don’t! And as for self-publishing visibility, my books are on Amazon right alongside GRR Martin and JK Rowling and Stephen King, so I’m just as visible in the global marketplace as they are.
10. Do you cosplay or go larping at comic book conventions?
I don’t, sadly. As a single father of two young girls, I’ve been pretty limited in the sorts of fun I can invest my time and money into. But my oldest daughter and I have been learning to sew, and she loves graphic novels now, so I’m hoping to start taking her to conventions soon!
11. What is your favorite animal and why?
Pffft. So easy. Barn owl. Because it’s the best, obviously. It has amazing vision and hearing for tracking prey, it can fly completely silently, it can turn its head around at crazy angles, and it was featured (in horrible CG) in David Bowie’s beloved Labyrinth movie.
12. If you could challenge one celebrity to arm wrestle who would it be?
Wow, I’m sure my answer to this question would change from week to week. But this week, I’m going to say Gal Gadot, because who better to lose to than Wonder Woman herself?
13. If you could be one fantasy creature (besides a dragon) what would it be?
That’s a hard one, like asking what superpower you would want. (Telekinesis!) I think I’d want to be a gnome, because they protect gardens, and seem like fairly easy-going hobbit-like fellows. Plus, you get to rock an awesome beard and vintage pointy hat. And according to one of my favorite childhood cartoons, David the Gnome, you get to ride a fox named Swift!
14. Do you watch anime and if yes then what is your favorite one?
Oh heck yes, I used to watch all of the animes, back when I had hours in the day. For me that goes back to the original Gundam series (and most of the ones that followed), Akira (which you really need to see in the original grainy VHS), Ninja Scroll, all the Ghibli and Miyazaki movies, Ghost in the Shell, and Yuyu Hakusho, Big O, Neon Genesis, .hack//Sign, InuYasha, and so many more. Vampire Hunter D, Witch Hunter, Berserk, I’ll stop. Aeon Flux. Dragon Ball. Fullmetal Alchemist. No, I’m done, seriously. But my favorite has always been Cowboy Bebop, hands down. And Samurai Champloo, of course.
15. How do you go about writing your story? Do you think of the characters first or do you think of the world or plot first?
As I mentioned above, I am constantly reading and researching all sort of random topics. I can spend hours on Wikipedia and TVtropes just discovering names and events and ideas, and then go chasing across the web for details and original texts from history, mythology, and classic literature. And over time, I get this backlog of exciting ideas about characters or plots or settings, and eventually enough of them line up that I get an idea for a new story that brings those ideas together. At any given time, I have pages full of notes for a dozen new books, some of which I’ll eventually write, and some of which will get folded into other books. But the characters and worlds and plots all emerge at the same time and I just sort of massage them together into something coherent as I come to understand them better.
16. What words of encouragement would you give to people and authors who are just starting?
Write every day. Finish what you start. Listen to feedback. Don’t respond to feedback. Write more. Expect to fail. Learn from your mistakes. Remember that your books are not your babies, they are your work. Writing is work. If you want to actually sell books, then you need to write books that people will actually want to buy. Don’t chase fads, but do research your genre, and market, and audience. Take a stand, make a statement – you’ll connect with people who agree with you passionately and you will piss off the people who disagree with you passionately, that’s how you know you’re doing it right. And if you ever stop enjoying the work, it’s okay to stop and find something else that you’re passionate about. You’re allowed to grow and change! Don’t let anyone tell you what a “real” writer is, or does. Writing is just a thing that people do, it’s not an identity. Have fun!
Check out Joseph’s books