After missing my original posting date (bad Sarah!), I finally have my interview with Troy Jackson, author of The Elementals, a fantasy story set in ancient China.
How did you become interested in Chinese history?
Going way back, I’ve always been fascinated by history. I can point to a few classes I took when I was working on my undergraduate degree that were about China, and I found their history complicated and amazing. I’ve always enjoyed action (yes, like cheesy Kung Fu movies), fantasy, sci-fi (I did grow up with Star Wars and Star Trek after all), and adventure. So I decided to mesh the two things together – Chinese history with an action/fantasy angle. Picking through Chinese history I came across a few tales during the reign of the First Emperor and found him to be a dynamic figure. The trick was, that there wasn’t a whole lot written down about the time period (this is a good 2200 years in the past). Come to find out, he was one of the main reasons for this. I won’t say why, as it is written into the book. Let’s just say that it allowed me a certain kind of freedom in writing it. I could take actual events that happened back then and twist it with my own story.
How much research about the first Emperor of China did you have to do?
I did at least 100-150 hours of research on the time period, but focused mainly on the First Emperor.
Where did the concept of the “Dragon’s Spite” come from? Was it modeled after something in Chinese history?
Not to bore you with too many details, but throughout Chinese lore you hear of dragons (much like the one masterfully created on the front cover). The tiger was also used, and became a symbol and one of many nicknames for the First Emperor (“The Tiger of Qin”). In my series, the Dragon’s Spite battles the Tiger of Qin and his agents by whatever means necessary. Wait until you see the cover I have planned for book two!
You’ve always been interested in history, but have you always wanted to be a writer?
I actually have been interested ever since I was very young; perhaps 7 or 8 years old, when I drew/wrote a book series called “Sammy Strikeout.” That poor kid could have easily been me as I played baseball, but struck out all the time. Unfortunately that, along with a number of other things I wrote when I was young, never survived (or maybe that’s lucky for me). I have always had grandiose ideas for novels, but never acted on them. That is…until now. I have a lot to bring forth to any that are willing to listen.
Is a sequel to The Elementals in the works?
This is actually going to be a trilogy! I don’t get as much time to write as I’d like, but such is life! I hope to have the second installment ready by late 2013. And after that I hope to finish the trilogy by 2014 or 2015.
Are any of your characters inspired from people in your everyday life?
I wouldn’t say the characters in my book are reflections of real life people. More like characters in the many books and movies I have witnessed over the years. I’m certainly a sucker for kung fu movies (think Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Jackie Chan) and wuxia (such as movies like ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon‘ and ‘Hero‘). My trilogy plucks ideas from all over the spectrum.
What was your publishing process like and how will you go about marketing?
The publishing part has been easy for the most part. I did a lot of research prior to picking Virtual Bookworm and really liked what I saw and read good things about them. Once I finally contacted them, it’s been quite a smooth process. As for marketing I have been lining things up for the past 4+ months, such as setting up a Twitter account, a Facebook author page, my own website that will encompass not only my first release but hopefully ALL future releases, a blog on my website that I post on about every two weeks, and many other websites.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Just write whenever you get the chance. You’ll know when you’re “done.” Re-write and edit several times until you get sick of it. Hand it off to a few friends who are willing to spend a good bit of time bleeding on it and tell them to be brutally honest. It especially helps when you have someone read through it who is not familiar with the topic or genre at all, as I did. As you are doing all of this, begin your research on whether traditional or self-publishing is best for your work. Whichever route you take, prep yourself for a LOT of marketing, because the book doesn’t always sell itself. If you’re a brand new author you must keep in mind that no one outside of friends and family know who you are. So get out there!
Anything you would like to add?
I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of this process. It is a long, arduous journey, but in the end it is well worth it!
Born in 1974 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Troy Jackson moved to the great state of Georgia with his family at the age of three where he has lived ever since. Currently he resides outside the city of Atlanta with his lovely wife and daughter. His passion for history, fantasy, and science fiction began at an early age with a little nudge from his older brother. Attending Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia he received a Bachelor’s Degree in History and a Master’s Degree in Teaching. In his spare time he enjoys being with his family, watching and partaking in sports. Although new to the profession he intends on writing about subjects that have always fascinated him, including fantasy, adventure, science fiction, and history.
Upon unifying the seven warring states under one banner, the First Emperor of China began solidifying power for what he envisioned as a thousand-year reign.
Using those he conquered, the Emperor began a series of arduous projects, including the first Great Wall, the Linqu Canal, and a national system of highways. Ignoring the physical and emotional toll exacted upon the people, his insatiable desire to further his own power has led to a growing, and secretive insurgency.
One such organization is the Dragon’s Spite who wishes to usurp control of the throne by nearly any means. But first they must marshal their forces strewn throughout the kingdom. More importantly they seek out three extraordinary girls who hold vast supernatural powers that can tip the balance in their favor. But do these unknowing heroines realize the talents that they possess? Will the Dragon’s Spite reach them before the agents of the Emperor?