IndieView with E.Y. Laster, author of Of Captivity & Kings

I wrote a book I would love to read! I love period films and books and if I found a great action movie set it in the past, I was all over it. 

E.Y. Laster – 6 July 2017

The Back Flap

The laws are different in the Kushite ruled Kingdom of Nabara. The penalty for involvement in the slave trade is death, and if the King fails to provide justice and order under ma’at, the High Priests can order him to commit suicide. When a Roman slave ship wrecks off the coast of Nabara, peace is shattered. Ancient caravan routes and nomadic hunters are threatened by kidnappings, robbery, and murder, forcing Nabaran High King Amkar Kashta to invoke the power of the six-kingdom alliance that is Nudolla. Each member of the ruling families finds themselves thrust into the rising slave trade and the corruption of everything and everyone it touches. It is an adventure told from the secret sanctuaries of the desert fathers in the Scetes desert and the massive pyramids of Meroë to the Skeleton Coast and towards the Great Barrier Mountains of Apedemak. Here, kings and queens, princes and princesses, slave traders and gladiators, high priests and slaves, scribes and warriors, caravan robbers, and hermits collide under the thread that links them all – Captivity and Kings.

About the book

What is the book about?

Of Captivity & Kings is the first installment in a series about the Kushite Kingdom of Nabara ruled by King Amkar Kashta and Queen Samya Kashta. With increasing piracy on ancient trade routes, drought, and a rising slave trade threatening the land, Nabaran High King Amkar Kashta invokes the power of the six-kingdom alliance that is Nudolla. Each member of the ruling families finds themselves thrust into the rising slave trade and the corruption of everything and everyone it touches. It is an adventure told from the secret sanctuaries of the desert fathers in the Scetes Desert and the massive pyramids of Meroë to the Skeleton Coast and towards the Great Barrier Mountains of Apedemak. Here, kings and queens, princes and princesses, slave traders and gladiators, high priests and slaves, scribes and warriors, caravan robbers, and hermits collide under the thread that links them all – Captivity & Kings.

When did you start writing the book?

I started writing the book in March of 2013 until September 2013.

How long did it take you to write it?

It took me about seven months in total to write the book. In 2016 I decided to publish and began the editing process.

Where did you get the idea from?

I wrote a book I would love to read! I love period films and books and if I found a great action movie set it in the past, I was all over it. I loved learning the history behind things, partly because my Mom and Dad told me so many stories as a kid and were endless sources of history. It always started with “Did you know…?” and I was all ears! This period of history always interested me because of the richness of the number of languages, ancient writing like Meroitic and Nsibidi script, and the trade among various empires.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

Definitely. One thing about Africa is that the continent, while rich in history, has always been subject to people wanting to mine its resources. Sculptures were destroyed, cities were burned, and history itself was denied despite (quite literally) the writing on the wall. It was not always easy to find books or information on kingdoms that existed prior to the 14th century. Much of my research involved creating timelines, mapping out various kingdoms, groups, and religions that were around so I could use the history in telling my story. Using the reliefs on pyramids as well as archaeological evidence helped immensely and the Smithsonian was an excellent tool. Librarians are a necessary and underutilized resource!

What came easily?

The characters. I knew exactly what type of characters I wanted in the book so the fiction of their storyline came easily. I wrote the book so fast I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into, but I could see the scenes happening in my head once I got an idea and ran with it. I’d wake up in the morning, jump on the train to commute to work, and be typing away on my phone! Sometimes I’d be on a run and I’d start thinking of an idea and stop the music on my phone to use the voice recorder so I wouldn’t forget. I’d usually start scenes not knowing how they would end, but being certain I had to include it.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

Both apply here! The majority of my characters are fictitious, but many of them originate from real kingdoms that existed in the fourth century. It also discusses and includes real people in history such as King Ezana of the Aksumite Empire, Abba Moses the Black, Constantius II and Ambrose the theologian.  You may see these as point of view characters in Book 2 – the epilogue will provide an answer there as well! Lastly, I definitely put traits of people I know into the book. Three characters in the book have the names of people I know in real life because the character was so well suited for the name. I did some research into the meanings of names while I wrote so it worked perfectly!

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?

It’s hard to name particular authors who influenced how I write because this is my first novel. I grew up writing very short, modern stories about my sister and I before college but I’ve always written poetry. Other than that, I would read anything my parents gave me and later anything that I could buy and get my hands on. What I love most about authors I read is their ability to create dynamic characters that are flawed. When I read their works, the words come alive and I can see a picture in my head of every detail. Everyone in this world has more than one side to them and that’s what makes stories compelling.

Do you have a target reader?

I don’t have a target reader. Hopefully anyone who loves a good story!

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I don’t have a writing process, but for me it always starts with the characters and their place in the world. Once I decided their personality and can see them in my mind I run with it and make it up as I go.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I definitely outlined for this book! Especially once I realized I would need an index of characters. One thing I started doing once I had at least one hundred pages was to jot down notes on my phone with the name of a character and one or two sentences about the scene I wanted to write or a character I felt should be included and what they were bringing to the story.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I wait until I’m finished.

Did you hire a professional editor?

I did! I used Writer’s Digest Critique services. The editors were extremely helpful in looking over my manuscript.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

No, I don’t listen to music while I write. I watch television while I write. All the time.  It’s probably a bad habit, but I don’t find it distracting.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

No, but eventually I would like to!

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 liked the immediacy of self-publishing and the fact that it would allow me to continue working full time. Of course, once I got into it, I discovered the amount of work that went into getting a book ready. It was daunting, but also exciting to discover how much information was out there.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

I used a professional.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

I have a website that went live as soon as the book was available for pre-order. I’m not all over social media, but I do enjoy speaking with other indie authors about their work or resources they are using or just giving them advice even if it’s to tell them to not give up on their story! For my website I’ve created a mailing list and a blog to give resources to writers and respond to people who have questions, comments or just enjoy the book!

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Do what works for you, push away the doubt, and don’t give up. One of my favorite movies is Inception and I will always remember the lines spoken between Leonardo DiCaprio and Ken Watanabe. I ask this of my friends all the time when doubt pops up in their lives no matter what area it is. Do you want to take a leap of faith? Or become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone?

About You

What do you want readers to know about you?

If readers have questions about the book, sign up for my mailing list or want to leave comments they can view more information and Frequently Asked Questions at www.ofcaptivityandkings.com. A random winner will be chosen from the first 100 people to sign up for the mailing list. They can also email me at info@ofcaptivityandkings.com.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on Book Two in the series!

End of Interview:

Get your copy of Of Captivity & Kings from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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