Beyond basing Poe on his real-world counterpart, the Leigh character, and her mental challenges, are a composite of several individuals I have encountered over the years while working with students who have special needs. I was always intrigued by the fact that they were incredibly fragile in terms of their disability, and yet incredibly strong when it came to overcoming that very same disability.
R.L. Ostrandder – 10 November 2017
The Back Flap
Leigh wants stability in a life where she is losing her job, her relationship, and her mind. Edgar wants vengeance on the man that imprisoned him within his own dreams for the last 160 years. Ikelos wants to delight in the suffering of others and drink in their fear.
Someone’s not going to get what they want…
Leigh Starling is a mess, the most difficult moments of her life memorialized in a set of scars that adorn her arm. When she discovers an ancient book that allows her to manipulate her dreams, she hopes that it will help her build a sanctuary from the chaos that is her life.
Instead it leads her to Edgar Allen Poe, imprisoned in the world of dreams over one hundred and sixty years earlier. Now returned to life, Edgar enlists Leigh in his plan to stop the man who trapped him all those years before… Ikelos, the self-styled god of nightmares.
But can a man who knows of nothing beyond what existed in 1849 and a woman with a tenuous grip on her own sanity really stop a god? And what happens to the world if they can’t?
Never/More is a modern fantasy novel, presenting a world where dreams can be more than experienced, but built; designed to delight or terrorize the dreamer. A world that is always a split second away from becoming a nightmare.
About the book
What is the book about?
The book is about the struggles between Edgar Allen Poe and a being known as Ikelos, the self-styled god of nightmares. Their conflict begins in 1849, before jumping to the modern era, where Poe teams up with a fragile woman named Leigh. Together, they hope to put an end to the nightmare lord and his millennia long reign of terror.
When did you start writing the book?
I started writing the book in 2015.
How long did it take you to write it?
The initial draft took about three months, at which point it remained a rough draft for nearly two years. It was edited into its final form in early 2017.
Where did you get the idea from?
A friend of mine and I are a big fan of Poe’s work, so I’ve wanted to write something that highlighted his fiction for years. After watching several films and television shows that feature a character who has traveled through time and become a fish out of water in a different era, I thought the idea might work for Poe himself, rather than just his writings. This was made even easier due to the fact that his death occurred under fairly mysterious circumstances.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
For me the most difficult aspect of the book was trying to keep Poe’s dialog authentic to the 1800’s, while also making it flow well while he is in the modern world. For example, I wanted Poe to remark that a computer keyboard is similar to typewriter, but typewriters had not been invented until after Poe’s death. It was also difficult to have him use the word broadcast, although the origin of the word refers to casting seeds into a field, which was period accurate.
What came easily?
To me, the core of the book is the relationship between Poe and Leigh, and I found their conversations with each other to be incredibly easy to write. It was almost like I could just sit back and watch as their uneasy alliance turned into a friendship, and eventually something more.
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
Beyond basing Poe on his real-world counterpart, the Leigh character, and her mental challenges, are a composite of several individuals I have encountered over the years while working with students who have special needs. I was always intrigued by the fact that they were incredibly fragile in terms of their disability, and yet incredibly strong when it came to overcoming that very same disability. I tried to make sure that dichotomy was present within Leigh herself.
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?
More than anyone else, I have been influenced by Stephen King. I read everything he wrote from about junior high on, and have continued to do so throughout my life. In addition, his guide for authors, “On Writing” is the only book I’ve read on the subject. In addition to King, I would say that Dean Koontz, Neil Gaiman, Steven R. Donaldson, and Dianna Wynn Jones, have all influenced what I write today.
Do you have a target reader?
Given that I write in several genres, I can’t say that I have a specific reader in mind for the entirety of my work. But to entirely contradict what I just said, I know that for me, I practically devoured science fiction and fantasy books from about age 13 to 26, so I would say that demographic would be a good fit for my work.
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
I do have a process, which starts with writing down every story concept that pops into my head. I never hope to just remember a good idea, I put it on paper as soon as possible. When I’m actively writing, I try to shoot for at least 2000 words a day, written in a stream of consciousness fashion.
Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
I always outline, to the point where I don’t think I’d be comfortable without one. Most of my plots involve either a fair amount of world building or a twist that refers back to earlier events, so I really need to see the big picture before I can really start to write. Usually my outlines are a few sentences for each major scene, unless I’ve thought up something specific that requires further detail.
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
I try to edit as little as possible during the initial draft. I don’t want anything to get in the way of putting fresh ideas on the page. Once the first draft is complete, it’s usually in pretty bad shape, at which point I do a full second draft before I start getting feedback on my work.
Did you hire a professional editor?
Yes, I am fortunate to have an editor in my extended family, and he has worked on all my books to date. Usually, I provide him with my third or fourth draft and his edits create the next to last version. At that point, I read the book one last time from start to finish, making sure everything flows as I’ve intended it, and typically make a few tweaks that become the final draft.
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
I do not listen to music while I write, but I have to have a TV on in the background. Sometimes it’s showing things I’m interested in, in which case fewer words hit the page, and other times it’s just background noise that helps me focus on my writing.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
I did about ten query letters for my first book and another ten for my second, none of which got me a response I was happy with.
What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
For me, it was a hatred of the query letter/agent system. While it sounded great at first, as any writer could have a way to have their voice be heard, I get the impression that agents are receiving thousands of queries, which means most of those voices get lost in the roar of the unpublished masses. I wish I could say self-publishing fixed this problem (which it doesn’t) but at least it gets my work into people’s hands.
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?
I worked in the graphic design field for years, so all of my books feature my own artwork. I tend to have a fairly minimalist style, which I hope will continue to do a good job representing my work. I am especially happy to say that of all the covers I have done to date, I like the cover of Never/More the best. I think the idea of Poe’s face being comprised of ravens which are slowly dissolving him as they fly away is a perfect fit for the novel itself.
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
I do have a basic plan, which is a grassroots campaign to build up support for the novel, followed by a paid marketing campaign to bring in new readers and grow my social media presence.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
I think it’s important they realize that self-published authors are a segregated and disparaged class of writers in terms of promoting your work. The majority of book web sites/blogs/services will not accept self-published work. Be prepared to spend far more of your day promoting yourself then actually writing. If you have no interest in self-promotion, I suggest you limit yourself to a single form of it, the writing of the perfect query letter.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in central New Jersey.
Where do you live now?
I currently live about five miles away from my childhood home.
What would you like readers to know about you?
One of the greatest pleasures in life is hearing a reader talk about something you wrote. I encourage anyone who has read one of my books to tell me what they thought about it, even if their opinion is a negative one. I can’t grow as a writer without criticism, so please feel free to reach out to me on social media, or write a review of my work.
What are you working on now?
I am current working on the third draft of a Sherlock Holmes novel that is tentatively titled The Great Game. It’s what I am hoping is a unique take on the concept, featuring a female Sherlock Holmes as a mental patient and Dr. Jane Watson as her therapist.
End of Interview: