Interview with Indie Author J. R. Tomlin

In honor of Summer Solstice Free Fantasy, I have an interview today with author J.R. Tomlin, writer of fantasy and historical fiction.

What is it about historical fiction and fantasy that makes you write in those genres?

I suppose the main reason is that I read them. I love both genres. I started reading historical fiction very early, by the time I was ten years old I was plowing through The Three Muskateers and then writers like Nigel Tranter. Later, like a lot of people, I fell in love with Lord of the Rings. I’m not sure if that I read them is why those are the genres where I feel that I have stories I want to tell. After all, it’s all about telling the story, isn’t it?

When you write fantasy, how do you go about world-building?

I have a co-author in writing fantasy, C. R. Daems, who does a lot of the world-building. I am better at figuring out the characters. He’s good at maps and the technical side. We make a pretty good team because we have very different strengths.

What kind of magic systems do you use in your fantasy?

It varies. I don’t like to do the same thing over and over, although I’ll do a sequel to Talon of the Unnamed Goddess next year. That is what I would call a light-magic world. The magic enhances their strengths such as making them stronger or smarter but there are no fire balls taking out the enemies.

What made you decide to become an “indie” author?

Complicated question. I really resisted. Victorine Leiske, who I knew from a forum, was doing very well and Joe Konrath was preaching the “indie revolution” but I’d started writing when self-publishing was an admission of failure. It took quite a while to get past that and realize that now indie publishing is just another choice, a perfectly valid one. About that time my agent had been pitching my historical novels to some big publishers and although I’d gotten interest from them, they didn’t feel that they’d be a good sell to book stores. But I was absolutely convinced that these were stories that would find a readership so I decided to take them straight to the reader.

What do you think are the advantages of indie publishing? Of traditional publishing?

Traditional publishing puts you in book stores — for a few months at least. But you give up almost all control of things like covers and pricing. I’m a bit of a control freak, so I love being able to control those things. Also, to be honest, I think it is easier to find a really good editor at a traditional publishing house. I always have my indie novels edited, but the quality of editing isn’t always as good. There are good freelance editors out there but finding one who is right for your work can be more difficult.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

It depends on where you are. Very few authors don’t have to write a couple of novels before they learn what they need to know. Be willing to learn by doing is my basic advice. Understand that your first novel may not be good enough to make money whether you go indie or traditional. You wouldn’t expect to play the piano well enough to go to Carnegie Hall the first time you sat down. The same is true with writing. Get feedback on your work and read some of the standard works on the craft of writing such as Stephen King’s On Writing.

For a writer further along, I’d just say to keep your options open and educate yourself on the changes that are taking place. We writers have more choices than we ever have before and it’s a shame to not take full advantage of that.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on another fantasy, well, I suppose actually a paranormal called the Voodoo Seer. It’s set in modern day New Orleans and the main character is a young woman who is a Vodou priestess.

You can find J. R.’s novel Talon of the Unnamed Goddess along with 29 free ebooks by 23 authors as part of Summer Solstice Free Fantasy. Check it out!

4 thoughts on “Interview with Indie Author J. R. Tomlin”

  1. Hey… great summer solstice gave me a few new books – including Shadow of Stone 🙂 Heaven knows when I’ll get to read them all though. Really enjoyed this interview… some good advice. And that Vodou Seer sounds interesting too. X

  2. Really refreshing interview Ruth; I enjoyed it. There is an honesty in the interview regarding writing and what it requires of all writers. I appreciate the straightforward tone of the questions and the answers.


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