How did you hear about SPFBO and what have your thoughts been since entering?
I learned about SPFBO from my writing group, where 5/6 of us entered this year (the other author submitted the previous year). It was fun to sweat together, complain together, and commiserate together. Honestly, the competition has been amazing. Even if I had never been honored as a semi-finalist and then finalist, I’ve met some incredible authors that I truly consider friends now. The quality level of the stories this year (not to mention the incredible covers) is off the charts, so I really could not be any more humbled to have made it to the finals.
Have you read any of the other SPFBO entrants? If so, which ones did you enjoy?
I’ve read 8 of the other SPFBO entrants so far (but no Finalists) with plans to read many more! There were two that stood out to me for very different reasons. First was A Dark Inheritance by Todd Herzman, which was a semi-finalist for Fantasy Book Critic. I’m a sucker for a good ending (and a bitter reader for a bad one), and this one really came together well for me. This is also the reason I’m so interested to read The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson which has such an impactful ending for so many reviewers. Second was The Jealousy of Jalice by Jesse Nolan Bailey, which was a very unique story in many ways. I thought the world-building was fascinating—I call it Horizon Zero Dawn meets Alien…but fantasy. I thought the twists were unique and well-executed, and don’t get me started on how much I love the cover.
On your facebook account it lists you as being a former software engineer at Playstation, Pinterest and Facebook – but you’re currently self employed. What was it like working for playstation, what were you doing at pinterest? What is your self employed career now?
For my day job, I work as a Software Engineering Manager at Facebook helping to build Messenger. Before that, I helped build the Pinterest website as well as the on-console store for the PS4! It’s been a very rewarding career and has given me a lot of flexibility to pursue other passions…like writing! The self-employed part is as an author 🙂
In August you posted very excitedly that you were moving to the Pacific Northwest – what about this area most appeals to you? Where would you tell people to go and visit?
I grew up south of Seattle, and all of my family is still in the area (parents and three siblings + spouses). My wife is also from the PNW, so moving here was always in the plans. We are the kind of weirdos who really love the rain. I mean, what better excuse is there to stay inside and read?! The best part of the PNW is nature. Hiking, and climbing, and skiing, and exploring all of the wildlife in the forests and mountains is so refreshing and beautiful.
You’ve got a couple kids – names – pics – favorite story/anecdote about them?
I have two kids! Parker is five and is obsessed with Pokemon (which I may or may not have encouraged) and the Dragon Masters series by Tracey West. Lillian is almost two and is just the silliest kid I’ve ever met. My wife is an even more avid fantasy reader than me, and recently started her own fantasy booktube channel (Bookborn)!
It looks like you’re a Brandon Sanderson/Cosmere fan – which Sanderson character would make the best quarantine companion?
Hmm. Ideally it would be someone entertaining (but not annoying) and interesting. For this one, I’ll go with Hoid. How cool would it be to sit back and listen to his stories and learn about his life from Yolen all the way to Roshar.
What is your favorite cosmere fan theory?
I am REALLY hoping that Maya, Adolin’s deadeye Shardblade, gets healed and bonds with him.
It looks like you’re also a fan of Brent Weeks and Lightbringer? Is it the complicated and hard magic systems that draw you in?
I definitely loved the ideas behind luxin and chromalurgy, but it’s the story and the characters that keep me coming back to a series. I found Gavin Guile to be one of the more interesting characters in fantasy (no spoilers), and Andross was incredibly well done (I absolutely devoured the books every time they played a game of Nine Kings). That said, I did feel a bit of character assassination for a few folks later in the series. But overall, I really enjoyed it.
You have a fairly structured magic system in your own books. Should you start on another series should that be an expected theme throughout your works?
Most definitely. I have the trilogy for Threadlight outlined, and am really excited for people to read the ending to it all. But afterward, I have quite a few ideas that all involve magic central to the plot.
Would you rather be an unimportant character in the last movie you saw or an unimportant character in the last book you read? – who would you be?
The last book I finished was The First of Shadows by Deck Matthews, and I think it would be an awesome world to live in, but only if I owned my own flying airship!
Do you find that belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) affects your writing style/themes/characters? If so, in what way?
- The parts of ourselves that we hold most dear certainly influence all aspects of our lives. However, fantasy worlds are not real, and the truths we hold dear in this world don’t necessarily have to extend to another. What I find most interesting about fantasy is the chance we have to diverge from our world and to explore an alternative. That said, I’m sure that my religion does come through in my writing in ways that I don’t recognize, and I think the central importance of family, and the universal principles of repentance and “enduring to the end” are quite prevalent.
- “Redemption isn’t something that can be obtained or withheld. It’s a commitment you make.” — Voice of War