I decided that a weak point of most writers is that first chapter, in getting readers engaged right off the bat. So I wrote the first chapter for a number of different stories, to see which ones earned the right to have a chapter 2.
Kris Kramer – 28 January 2013
The Back Flap
In 9th century Britain, chaos rules as kingdoms splinter, Vikings invade from all corners, and lives and fortunes are lost to those with the biggest sword and the smallest shreds of morality. When a young priest, Daniel, witnesses a lone warrior save his village from savage raiders, he believes he’s seen a miracle, and he follows the reclusive warrior on his mysterious trek across the island, hoping to find his own path in this brutal and unforgiving world.
Daniel’s journey takes him to places he’d long since left, forcing him to face his past, along with dour dwarves, canny druids, and an army of Viking warriors. When he meets a captive woman with strange abilities amongst the ruins of humanity’s savage and unforgiving past, Daniel will face his true enemy, a powerful demon, who waits for his dominion over man to be complete.
About the book
What is the book about?
Well, the blurb would say that the book is about a priest in 9th century Britain named Daniel, who’s looking for his way in a cruel and unforgiving world. And when he sees a single warrior drive off a horde of raiders attacking his village, he thinks he’s found just that. But this story is bigger than just Daniel’s journey. It’s actually an examination of the religious and mythological forces at play in that location during that time, when Christianity was pushing up from the south like a juggernaut, the old gods and the Druids were fighting to hold on to what little hold they still had over the land the people, and the Vikings and their norse gods suddenly arrived to cause even more chaos. I really wanted to dive into that unique mixture of people and beliefs, and by making it a fantasy series instead of historical fiction, that allowed me to play even more with the mythologies.
When did you start writing the book?
I think I wrote the first chapter in the summer of 2011, as part of an exercise. I decided that a weak point of most writers is that first chapter, in getting readers engaged right off the bat. So I wrote the first chapter for a number of different stories, to see which ones earned the right to have a chapter 2. Once I wrote the first chapter, I let the idea of it simmer in my mind for a good six months or so before deciding that I could make it into a whole story. Actually an entire series.
How long did it take you to write it?
About a year and a half, with a few 2-3 month gaps in between.
Where did you get the idea from?
I’d read some historical fiction about this particular time period, and as noted above, the concept of these three ideologies, Christian, Norse, and Celtic, all coming into conflict, really seemed appealing to me. So I took the concept and turned it into a fantasy story, which allowed me to show things like angels and demons, norse gods, druid magic, and Celtic legends.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
Most of it, to be honest. I had a pretty solid, detailed outline for this book, but of course once I started writing, things got messy.
What came easily?
The first chapter. I managed to knock that out pretty easily. Also, the last 25% or so of the book happened pretty organically. All the rest of it took some work, though.
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
All of the main characters, and almost all of the secondary characters are entirely fictitious. However, since this story is based on a real time period, I’ve used certain key people from history to help set the stage. As for borrowing from people I know, I do that for almost every character I write, but I don’t have one particular character that’s heavily based on anyone in my life. At least not in this story.
We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
I read a lot of different books from a lot of different authors, and I like to think that I borrow a little bit from each of them. But as far as influence, Bernard Cornwell sticks out. His Saxon series of historical fiction books is what inspired the original concept of this story, and the sequel to Sanctuary, which will feature a focus on the Vikings in this particular tale, are heavily influenced by the depictions he gave in his stories.
Do you have a target reader?
Not especially. I’m a writer, so my target is anyone who likes to read. When I write, I try to think about how the story comes across to people who typically enjoy certain genres, and hopefully I can make the story appealing enough to a broad spectrum.
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
I try to outline pretty heavily at first. I start with a one sentence description, then I expand that into 2-3 sentences, then a paragraph, then a page, then 20 pages. I think by doing it that way, I get a good feel for the flow of the story without losing the original core concept. Once I have the outline, I just start writing whatever part interests me. I rarely write in order. I tend to jump around a LOT and then fill in the gaps.
Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
Pretty extensively, as noted above.
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
I edit as I go, usually because my writing is pretty raw in those early drafts.
Did you hire a professional editor?
No. As part of the4threalm.com, I’m able to pass my manuscript around to the other writers and they’re gracious enough to do some of the editing for me.
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
Sometimes. It all depends on my mood. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of The Black Keys and OK Go, but I’ll throw in some old-school 80s hits or some 70s rock, or even classical music.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
Yes. But not to a lot. Maybe ten or so.
What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
I’ve wanted to be indie from the start, to be honest. I think I’m just a contrarian in that respect. But I pitched to agents anyway because I wanted to at least prove to myself (and others) that I had the skill to be doing this. One agent read my manuscript, and even though she told me she wasn’t the best person to represent this story, she was complementary of my writing. That was good enough for me.
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?
Professionally done. I’ve actually built up contacts with several artists lately, and I’ve been happy with the work each of them has done for me.
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
I released this book as part of a slate of books through the4threalm.com, and myself and the other authors have a marketing plan for the books as a whole, although I can’t vouch for how useful it is at this point. For all I know, we could be winging it. But we have specific sales goals for this first year, and we’re working on marketing the books at some conferences and expos throughout the year. We’re also creating some web ads, and some youtube commercials. Most of the books this year are fantasy and science-fiction, so we’re targeting that specific demographic.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
Ignore all other advice except this – write a good story. Here’s why. Think about the stories you read as a kid, or a young adult, or even last year. All the ones that really stuck with you. Now ask yourself why you remember them? Is it because they were paperback instead of ebooks? Or because they had a good editor? Or the cover art was exceptional? No. I’m betting that 99 times out of 100, it’s because of the story. Something about it touched you. Those are the ones you remember, and those are the ones you recommend. So write a good story. All the rest of the stuff you can worry about later.
Where did you grow up?
Where do you live now?
McKinney, TX (a suburb of Dallas)
What would you like readers to know about you?
That I’m a pretty decent guy, who enjoys writing, and talking about writing.
What are you working on now?
A science fiction novel called Olympia. It tells the story of how the Greek gods returned to earth in the future to save us from our descent into war and chaos. They reshaped the world into a new society, with new nations and strict rules, under which humanity has prospered for five hundred years. Olympia tells the story of a soldier in the army of the nation of Athens, who rises through the ranks to become a powerful leader. But once there, he discovers that this new society, Olympia, isn’t quite what he thought it to be.
End of Interview:
As Kris mentioned in the interview, he is a member of The 4th Realm, an author collaborative. You can find out more about him and his fellow collaborators on their website.