One day in a high school civics class, I wadded up a piece of paper and tossed it down on my desk. For whatever reason, I thought the wadded-up piece of paper looked like a pill bug holding a riot shield in one hand with a cannon strapped to its other arm. That inspired me to draw a picture of this weird insect-like creature and before I knew it, I’d started sketching the ants and hornets that the characters encounter in the novel.
Preston L. Marshall – 28 September 2017
The Back Flap
Every kid around his age had dreamed that they were one of the children born of the Paladin Project. But when Lumar Lee’s eighteenth birthday had come and gone without anyone taking him away to join the ranks of Adepts at Season, he knew he wasn’t one of them. Nobody from Sangent ended up being taken by Season. His entire generation was a disappointment. Even living with shattered dreams, Lumar knew life could be much worse. He’d dodged the draft unlike the other seventy-five percent of his generation, who were shipped out to god-knows-where to spend the rest of their short lives fighting an unending war.
At least after he turned eighteen he got to see daylight everyday. He had a job, and even an apartment above ground. He’d been born in the dark, living underground in hiding with the rest of Sangent until last year. Last year they let people move out of the bunker. The Government gave Sangent the all clear. The enemy had retreated. The nuclear fallout didn’t reach as far north as Kansas. They were safe. The fighting was far away. Their little town would never be a target.
But humans are prey and a predator can only be tempted for so long.
About the book
What is the book about?
When Darkness Reigns is the first book in my science fiction epic the Lion-Blade Saga. The novel follows the journey of Lumar Lee as he is swept up into humanity’s tooth and nail struggle against the unrelenting horde of the Sarsaul, creatures from another world that want nothing more than to devour all life on Earth. Lumar has to learn to cope with transitioning from civilian life to military life while trying to stay alive and get revenge on the Sarsaul for stealing his old life.
Breakneck action, blood, guts, military political intrigue, and a war in both the physical and supernatural world make When Darkness Reigns a gripping and fast read that leaves you hungry for more.
When did you start writing the book?
I’ve been working on the Lion-Blade Saga since high school so probably since 2005, almost twelve years ago. It took me a while to grow up and actually write a book well.
How long did it take you to write it?
By the time I graduated high school, I already had the rough draft of the first five books so honestly not very long, maybe six months or so for each installment. Taking those rough drafts from high school and getting them ready for publication took about a year.
Where did you get the idea from?
One day in a high school civics class, I wadded up a piece of paper and tossed it down on my desk. For whatever reason, I thought the wadded-up piece of paper looked like a pill bug holding a riot shield in one hand with a cannon strapped to its other arm. That inspired me to draw a picture of this weird insect-like creature and before I knew it, I’d started sketching the ants and hornets that the characters encounter in the novel. Before I knew it, I had devised an adversary and before long I started building a world and a story around fighting those creatures. Sadly, the pill bug thing isn’t in the books, but I think at some point, I might drop it in as an easter egg somewhere.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
The biggest struggle has always been keeping the thing from being too long. For whatever reason, I got it in my head early on that I wanted to write something like a science fiction Game of Thrones with massive 300k+ word volumes that only the extremely dedicated could ever sit through. Finally giving up on that unrealistic dream allowed me to create a much more palatable sized novel that I think reads fast and fun instead of the slow and arduous pace of something like George R.R. Martin’s work.
What came easily?
The action has always been the easiest and the most fun parts of working on When Darkness Reigns. A huge chunk of this book is a handful of battle scenes and they were extremely fun to write. Since I’ve been mulling this over for so long, I think it’s helped me keep a firm idea of where this story is going in my head so it’s really just fun to connect the dots and get this story finally on paper and in front of people.
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
They are mostly fictitious. I borrow names more than anything else. I’ve used names from people I know and have met in the past because I just liked the spelling or sound of their names, but I’m not really trying to put people I know into this story. One, because this story is pretty dark and there’s a lot of death and pain surrounding the main characters and two, because I wanted to create characters that weren’t colored by thoughts or ideas I have about people I actually know.
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?
C.S. Lewis and Garth Nix are my top two, but I’ve been heavily inspired by books, games, and movies like Ender’s Game, Starship Troopers, Halo, Gears of War, and Blue Gender. Basically, I take inspiration from anything that excites me in the futuristic military genre.
Do you have a target reader?
This book targets the New Adult age group. The main age group to me is the older teenagers through early thirties, but anyone who loves a good action-packed story will enjoy this series.
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
Yes, generally my process revolves around consistently scheduling my writing time. As long as I make a point to sit at my computer every morning with my document pulled up, something good will happen. Even if it’s no more than a couple sentences. Beyond that, if I get stuck, I skip ahead to the next scene I know I want to put in and then go back and fill in the blanks when I do the next draft.
Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
Yes, I have a fairly extensive outline of my series. I already have a pretty good idea that the Lion-Blade Saga will run ten books or so. I have titles for all of those and a list of major events and a few key scenes written out for guideposts when I get to those future volumes.
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
I believe heavily in doing several drafts before trying to publish a book, so I don’t edit as I’m writing. It usually takes about five drafts for me to finish a book. The first two or three are mostly adding content and “writing” while the last two are exclusively editing and tweaking scenes to make them read better.
Did you hire a professional editor?
Not personally, my publisher GenZ has provided me with editors.
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
Yes, when I’m writing those first drafts I listen to music as much as possible. I really enjoy metal bands and those intense lyrics and tempos really fuel the action scenes I write.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
I spent about two years reaching out to Agents with no success. After reading hundreds of websites, I feel like the majority of Agents aren’t that interested in people that have never been published before. Now that I’ve got some books out, I might start looking for one again and see if that makes any difference.
What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
It was definitely a gradual thing. I was hoping to go the more mainstream route with an Agent and then getting published, but it just didn’t happen that way. I found GenZ through Twitter and they’ve really done a lot to help me get my work presentable and get it out there.
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?
It was professionally done. GenZ has some artists they use.
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
I have a general plan that mostly revolves around pursuing interviews and reviews with websites like this. I’m also starting to get some book signings in my local area set up so I’m getting some exposure there as well. Right now it’s all about getting my name out there and trying to get my book in front of some people that will read it.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
There are three things I think everyone in this line of work needs to know.
One: Don’t get discouraged. You’ll probably get rejected a lot, but that doesn’t mean you suck or that your work sucks. This is the most subjective business on Earth. Everyone who tells you no is just saying that the book isn’t what they’re looking for at that moment.
Two: Have someone else look at your stuff. It doesn’t have to be a professional editor or anything, but anyone who reads a lot can give you great feedback to help you improve your writing and to flesh out the story.
Three: Be flexible. Whatever you’ve written so far may not end up being what you can ultimately publish. You don’t have to throw the whole thing out if people don’t want it right away. You can break it into smaller volumes. You can cut scenes that aren’t working or change a genre if it makes the story better. There really are no right or wrong answers about how to tell a story, so be open to explore different options.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the suburbs of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Where do you live now?
I moved away for a while, but I’m back in Oklahoma City. It’s not where I’d like to spend the rest of my life, but it’s not a terrible place to live.
What would you like readers to know about you?
I’m a giant nerd. I love anime, video games, board games, books, superhero movies and shows and just about anything else you can geek out over. I always enjoy connecting with like-minded individuals. You can find me around the web at:
Goodreads: Preston L. Marshall
What are you working on now?
Currently, we’re in the process of getting Regicide, the third book of the Lion-Blade Saga edited up. I’m hoping to have it all ready to go in early 2018. Beyond that I’m working on promoting the first two books and before too long I’ll get start on book four, The Waking.
End of Interview: