But it would be exceedingly generous to call the random scribblings of a fifth-grader a ‘book’; instead, it was some basic ideas and a few characters. Since then I’ve written a few versions with varying levels of completeness.
T.C. Metivier – 25 November 2015
The Back Flap
For eight hundred years, the Federation of Worlds has reigned supreme over the galaxy. Under its banner, eleven sentient races have put aside their quarrels to work towards their common prosperity. But now something stirs. A hundred worlds have broken free from the Federation fold. They have made no demands, no threats. There is no evidence that their movement is anything but benign.
And yet the whispers have already begun. Whispers that the fires of revolution have been stoked. Whispers that war is coming.
The planet Tellaria is the birthplace of the human race and the backbone of the Federation. Admiral Drogni Ortega leads the finest planetary fighting force the galaxy has ever known. But now he must confront an enemy unlike any he has faced before, a foe who wields ancient power infused with infinite malevolence…and is seemingly determined to exterminate all life from the face of the galaxy.
About the book
What is the book about?
At first, it presents like a reasonably straightforward battle of good vs. evil played out on a huge multiplanetary scale. However, my goal over the course of the series is to twist or otherwise subvert every single one of the reader’s original expectations, with an ending that is more morally ambiguous but—hopefully—also much more satisfying. A few hints and clues are already in the first book, but they are deliberately subtle—just enough to be noticeable to someone re-reading who already knows the punchline, but not enough to spoil anything for a first-time reader.
When did you start writing the book?
If you’re going all the way back to the very first seeds, that would be nearly fifteen years ago. But it would be exceedingly generous to call the random scribblings of a fifth-grader a ‘book’; instead, it was some basic ideas and a few characters. Since then I’ve written a few versions with varying levels of completeness. I began the most recent draft, which eventually became the finished product, about 7 years ago.
How long did it take you to write it?
The majority of the work was completed in about two and a half years. But I did several reasonably large overhauls in the four years between when I first ‘finished’ and when I published. These included axing an entire storyline and replacing it with a different one that was more focused on the main conflict and didn’t include so many extraneous secondary characters.
Where did you get the idea from?
I get ideas from all over the place. Mostly other books that I’ve read. The essential structure is based on themes from epic that are thousands of years old, but there are plenty of modern influences as well. For instance, the Mass Effect and Master of Orion video games played a key role in my decision to use a handful of well-differentiated alien species (as opposed to the chaotic mess of Muppet-like creatures from Star Wars or the unending conga-line of humanoid ‘aliens’ from Star Trek).
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
Oh, certainly. Towards the beginning there is a scene where two of the main characters travel to a nearby world and try to talk the planetary leader out of joining the secessionist movement. I ended up writing the entire thing from scratch several times. It was very frustrating but ultimately led to a finished product that I’m pretty happy with.
What came easily?
I enjoy writing action scenes, particularly small ones with only a few participants. The last fifty or so pages comprise a raid on an enemy fortress by a small team of soldiers, which flowed fairly easily. I think the whole thing took maybe two weeks and only required a few minor revisions.
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
I try to keep them as completely fictitious as possible. But I’m sure that real life people whom I admire have bled into the character/personality/morality/etc. of my protagonists. I’m fairly certain the antagonists are all purely fictitious; I have no wish to demonize anyone I know by molding a fictional villain around them.
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?
When I was a little bit younger I was a huge fan of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Many of the first books were terrible, but eventually it found its stride. Two authors in particular had big influences on my writing. The first is Karen Traviss, whose Republic Commando series gave me a lot of insight into sci-fi combat from the perspective of the ‘grunts’. The second is Matthew Stover, who wrote one of the finest novels I have ever read in Star Wars: Shatterpoint. That book in particular is full of stark metaphors and raw emotion, with a clear depiction of the interplay of the different moral systems that arise under different circumstances. More recently, Steven Erikson’s Malazen Book of the Fallen series has wonderfully flowing prose that helped me indescribably (though I fear it also gave me a disposition for excessive semi-colons).
Do you have a target reader?
My target readers are probably in their late teens to early-20s. Possibly even early teens; some of the action gets a little intense and complex, which might be overwhelming to younger readers, but there’s nothing sexually explicit or excessively gory. There’s a good mix of action, sci-fi, and fantasy. Anyone looking for a major romantic element should search elsewhere.
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
I suppose I do. Unfortunately I have a hard time staying focused on anything for long periods of time, so my writing sessions often consist of furious spurts of output broken up by intervals of thinking, or playing minesweeper, or some similar activity. I also tend to jump around within a scene rather than starting from the beginning and marching methodically through it. For example, I might write a couple of paragraphs at the beginning of a new section, then two sentences in the middle reminding myself where I’m going, then back to the beginning, then a few lines of dialogue from the end. It gets a little chaotic sometimes.
Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
I generally try to have a plan before I dive into a new chapter/section. Usually it’s not much—just a couple of notes and reminders to myself. If I’m trying to introduce a new character or conflict, or if the section in question is fairly plot-heavy (as opposed to a scene that is primarily action), I’ll usually plan it out more. Of course, I don’t always stick with the outlines; sometimes I’ll get partway in and get on a roll and realize that the scene is not going where I thought it would.
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
A little bit of both. Often if I’m stuck in the section(s) I’m currently working on, I’ll go back to earlier parts and edit/proofread. But the majority of the work comes at the end.
Did you hire a professional editor?
Veil of Darkness was originally published with a small press that has since folded. They did hire an editor for the first and second books (the second was in the final stages of pre-release when the press went under). I’m not sure what I will do for the remaining books in the series. I suspect I will probably hire an editor, but that will depend on a lot of things and I can’t say for sure right now.
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
Nope. Music is far too distracting. I have a hard enough time staying focused as it is without adding audial distractions to the mix.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
No. If I could go back and do it again I would probably try to find an agent. But at the time I didn’t have the energy to wade through the lists, nor the knowledge of what to look for in a good agent.
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 guess it was more of a gradual process. I did submit to a few major imprints early on and got rejected. And rightfully so—the drafts that I sent in were not ready to be published at the time. By the time I had a product that I was truly satisfied with, I wasn’t at a point in my life where I wanted to wait through the lengthy delays associated with submitting to most major publishers. So I went with a small publisher, and when they went out of business I self-published. Later down the road I may reconsider that decision and make another push to try and get a contract with a big publishing house, but for the time being I’m content having full control over my work.
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?
Yes, the cover (both for this book and for the sequel) was professionally done by the excellent Dawne Dominique (dusktildawndesigns.com)
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
A little of both. I’m not by nature an extrovert, and I rarely use social media. I signed up for Twitter and I occasionally tweet promotional stuff. I have been looking into other marketing options and will likely utilize some kind of professional service, but at the moment I’m focused on getting the second book ready for publication.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
Don’t expect it to be easy; the moments where you want to give up and never write another word will be many and they will strike when you least expect it. Be prepared for them; often, all they mean is that you’re having a rough day for other reasons, and they’ll pass on their own. Also, don’t go into it unless you are fully prepared to take a net loss on every book you publish. I’m not saying you can’t make money as an Indie author—sure you can, especially if you’re good at marketing yourself. But plenty of great books wallow in obscurity. The reason to become an Indie author is because writing is a passion and you want to share that passion with others, not because you’re counting on it to turn into a viable career.
Where did you grow up?
Just outside of Buffalo.
Where do you live now?
Same as above.
What would you like readers to know about you?
I love sports, both as a spectator and a participant. I particularly enjoy football, soccer, and tennis. I also ran track and field in college and currently coach at my local high school.
What are you working on now?
I’m mostly working on the final three books of this series. But I’m also doing a fair amount of worldbuilding/groundwork for two other writing projects. One is a swords-and-sorcery epic fantasy, while the other is a more free-form, character-driven science fiction saga.
End of Interview: