Stephen Zimmer interview

Seventh Star Press has been really kind to me allowing me to interview authors and review a couple of newly released books. I have a review that I will be doing for them soon but today I have an interview with author Stephen Zimmer to share with you all. Stephen and I are facebook buddies so check him out and say hi.

Thanks Stephen for taking part in the author interview on my blog much appreciated.

Hi Jessica!  I really appreciate you having me here as well.  It is a real privilege!  Always an honor to be back in the Lone Star State too, even if virtually, LOL!  I finished my college degree in Abilene at Hardin-Simmons, and I do have a great affinity for Texas and the Dallas/Ft. Worth area!  We definitely need a Whataburger here in Kentucky too!

Could you tell us a little about your new book?

The Seventh Throne is the third installment of The Rising Dawn Saga.  It is true epic-scale urban fantasy, and this title simply explodes with action and major revelations for the saga, including a huge reveal at the end of the book.

Just to give you an idea of how much happens in The Seventh Throne, this one entails a revolution, a major modern day war set in the Far East, a pandemic, a quest into the Abyss, astral traveling warriors, the introduction of Ares and Set, and much more.  I’ve got shape-shifters, fairies, a shadow government run by elites, and giants.  It really builds on the foundations and developments built in The Exodus Gate and The Storm Guardians.  I really had fun with this book, and my editor Amanda DeBord, was extremely happy as well, indicating that this was her favorite installment of the series.

It is like I tell everyone, these are not light beach reads, but they harbor loads of depth and will pay off on many levels for the dedicated reader, with new things to discover every time you read them.  The Seventh Throne continues that tradition and will be very rewarding to anyone reading and enjoying the saga.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m not too fancy, just a hard-worker, loyal friend, and dreamer.  I love anything involving the imagination, as the imagination is where the amazing things in life are generated, whether in music, science, business, or the arts.

For me, storytelling and crafting worlds for people to escape into are my focal points. My outlets in this regard are as an author, and as a filmmaker.

As an author I have two active series, both from Seventh Star Press.

One is the Rising Dawn Saga, which is epic scale urban fantasy.  This one leans more heavily on the dystopian and the supernatural.  In some ways, it is a real blender of elements, as I’ve had people point out that it has elements of science fiction, thrillers, and other areas, centered around an urban fantasy core.  I believe that fans of Jim Butcher and other similar writers would really enjoy this saga.

The other is the Fires in Eden series, which is epic fantasy, with the slight twist of having modern day characters involved in the story. The world of Ave, in terms of its history and geography, are very heavily developed, and the reader will be exploring a wide range of lands and characters over the course of the series. I think fans of authors such as George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan, and the like would really enjoy this series.  It has the scale, depth, and kind of complexity that epic fantasy fans thrive on.

I have also been writing some steampunk stories around a character named Solomon Maccabee and his cat Harvey, two of which are featured in the Dreams of Steam and Dreams of Steam II: Bolts and Brass anthologies, from Kerlak Publishing.  One is set in a Smokey Mountains type scenario, and the second story is set in an Alaskan-type environment. I definitely am pulling from my own travel experiences for these tales!

As mentioned previously, I am also a filmmaker, and enjoy directing and screenwriting, and to some extent being a producer.  I have a supernatural thriller of feature length called Shadows Light, a horror short called The Sirens, and my latest, the fantasy short film Swordbearer, based on a segment of the H. David Blalock novel Ascendant.  I hope to be ramping up a Viking-age dark fantasy feature in the not-so-distant future.

How did you get started writing?

In terms of getting started, I just began to sit down and type out some stories that I had swirling around in my mind during my high school years and early college years.  These became the basis for about three novels of a series that may or may not see the light of day.  Oddly enough, I was drawn to novel-length writing far more than short story writing, though I did several of those as well during that time period.

Even though I haven’t done anything with those novel drafts or that series concept, I think it was really good to go through the process of writing a few books of a series.  Looking back, it really was about just sitting down and giving it a shot, and seeing if I could complete a novel project.

It gave me a lot of perspective that ended up helping immensely in crafting the two series that I have now. After high school and college, I had the first elements of what became The Rising Dawn Saga and the Fires in Eden series in mind, and I was able to approach them in a much better way than I would have had I not been through the process of writing a novel before.  Nothing was wasted!

What is your work space and work routine like?

My work space is quite a mess, haha.  Loads of CDs, space for a Monster Energy drink, an area that gets reloaded frequently, and an old computer that I still use for writing.  I often have piles of research books stacked near me, depending on the project I’m working on.  It is a complete mess, but an orchestrated mess, I like to think.  At least I know where everything is! LOL

The music and workspace help me to get into my zone, and at the least I try to have one main writing session a day.  In recent years, my main writing period has been in the morning, though in past years I was pretty consistently a night writer.  When I’m not too tired I will have a second long writing session at night.  There are a few days when I go from morning to night straight through.

I should mention that this work space is used only for writing.  I think having a dedicated space really helps, because it is not tied to anything else, and I can quickly get into the right mindset when I sit in that chair.

I love the days when I can go full throttle, and do a 10 or 12 hour writing day.  I’ve turned out some pretty big word counts on days like that.  A 10,000 word count day is not uncommon when I really hit a good zone.

How do you spend your time when not writing?

I really enjoy traveling, reading, and outdoor activities in mountain and ocean settings. I do get to travel a lot due to having a very active appearance schedule.  I’m a film enthusiast as well, but the price of movies these days holds me back from enjoying as many as I would like, LOL.

As mentioned before, I am a music buff, especially when it comes to hard rock and metal.  Great stuff that goes well very with fantastical genres!  I sometimes put “theme” music on when writing a particular scene such as an epic battle, or an especially intense sequence.

What are you reading now?

I like to read both major press and small press, and right now I am reading three fantastic, and very different, novels, and one single-author collection.

One is Eric Wilson’s Field of Blood, Book One of the Jerusalem’s Undead trilogy, a fabulous, inventive, and original take on the vampire mythos.  A real breath of fresh air when you’ve gotten used to seeing vampires done the same way in books over and over, and over again.  Very recommended.

I’m also reading A Dance With Dragons, by George R.R. Martin, who is one of my all-time favorite authors.

I am about finished reading Flank Hawk, by Terry Ervin, a book by an excellent small press called Gryphonwood Press.  Flank Hawk is a great blend of genres and concepts, with some really interesting takes on magic systems.  To give you an idea of some of the unexpected things in this book, very few books have dragon-riding protagonists having to be concerned with World War II era Stukas, the latter being part of the arsenal of a Necromancer (who also has Panzer tanks to wield too)!  Quite simply, a very cool, original, and well-written book!

And speaking of short stories, I’ve just gotten into Robert Krog’s The Stone Maiden and other tales, which is a single-author collection.  I loved the title story, which has a little bit of a Lovecraftian flare to it.  Can’t wait to read more of this single-author collection.  He’s an excellent writer of speculative fiction.

What about the fantasy/horror genre is it that you enjoy so much?

Your imagination is your limit, which, in a sense, means there is no limit.   In strict hard science fiction, historical fiction, and other such genres, you are still limited in many ways by the laws that govern the physical world or historical fact, in terms of what you can or cannot have in your tale.  In fantasy and horror you are unbounded, and can transcend those things, so even the sky is not the limit. I always like things that point toward infinite possibilities, and more than any other genre fantasy and horror allow that!

I see that you have written short fiction steampunk. I recently read my first steampunk anthology. I loved it. Do you think you’ll write more steampunk? More short fiction?

I think you would really enjoy Dreams of Steam, and Dreams of Steam II: Bolts and Brass, for sure then.  They contain my first and second Harvey and Solomon stories, which have gotten a really nice response.  I’ve loved writing them and can see many more adventures with the two characters, both in short fiction, and possible novel or novella spheres.

2012 will also see a horror short story, and most likely at least one fantasy short story hitting anthologies.  I definitely want to write more short fiction, and may well be part of something involving some tales set in the worlds of The Rising Dawn Saga, and Ave from the Fires in Eden series.

Why do you think short stories aren’t as appreciated in the publishing world? ( I myself love them )

I love short fiction and believe that the eBook world is going to be very friendly to it.  Anthologies are great ways for newer authors to be exposed.  I just think that previous publishing models titled more towards the development of an author as a brand, in a manner of speaking, and short stories are not as conducive to that model for marketing purposes.  Newer models of publishing with heavy eBook components are going to offer much more opportunity as you can release a single short story at a cheap price point, which is something that was not very feasible in the traditional publishing world.

I read about an author who spent half her earning almost 5 of the 10 thousand she made on promoting her book. Is promoting the hardest part after getting a publisher to agree to publish your work of course.

The work gets harder, not easier, after the book is ready for the shelves.  A lot of authors think that once a book is out they can let down their guard, but this is a big mistake.  Getting out and promoting your work is critical.  Unless you are a New York Times best-selling author with dedicated marketing departments and publicists behind you, much of the awareness-raising lies squarely with the author, even with mid-list authors on major presses.  Use every tool available, many of which are free, and enlist the help of your die-hard readers to help spread promotional materials and get the word out.  There are people willing to help your cause if they like your work a lot, and I’m incredibly grateful and appreciative of the ones that have been helpful to me.

Is it easier for authors today though with social media to promote? Book blogs, twitter, facebook and the like to get the word out.

It is certainly easier than ever to connect with readers, and with the literary blogosphere it is a much friendlier climate for small press authors to introduce themselves.  But it is still tough to get the word out, because there is simply a flood of content on the internet.  More and more is being generated all the time, and you just hope that those that would enjoy your work find their way to you.

On the author’s end it involves a lot of outreach and work, but you can carve a spot for yourself if you stick to it.  There is no single tool, in my view.  Make use of as many tools as you can manage without sacrificing your writing time.  I have a blog, website, and presences on FaceBook, Twitter and Goodreads.  I am trying out Google+, but that’s it, no more please! LOL

Are book signings and meet and greets with readers still important or as important as they used to be? Or is twittering to a fan more the way to go?

I always think it is best when an author has a chance to meet a reader face to face.   Whether at a genre convention or book signing, authors should always work hard to make themselves available to their readers in person.  When your reader gets a chance to talk to you, and look you in your eye, they can get a better sense of the person they are supporting.  The personal connection is still really the best way to go, but definitely use the online tools available to you as well.

What future works do we have to look forward to?

Next up is the 3rd Fires in Eden book, and I will also have some new short fiction, one horror, one fantasy, and at least one more Harvey and Solomon steampunk story on the horizon.

The two main series will be 7 or 8 books in length each, so there’s quite a bit more to come.  The general timetable on those is about every 7 or 8 months, alternating the two series.  I have two different editors for the series, and have no trouble maintaining this schedule.

I do have thorough notes and some outlines done for some other novel projects, but am not ready to move forward with those just yet.

Thank you Jessica for letting me visit and for the great questions, and I look forward to visiting with you again, if you’ll be so kind as to invite me back!

If your readers would like to connect with me, they can find me at any of these places:
I am on GoodReads and Google + too.

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