I'm happy to be talking with Troy Jackson today, the author of The Elementals, a fantasy novel. In addition to the standard interview, Troy also took the challenge and answered my Dirty Dozen. Troy is also my 100th post on this blog. Thank you, Troy!
About the book:Upon unifying the seven warring states under one banner, the First Emperor of China began solidifying power for what he envisioned as a thousand-year reign. Using those he conquered, the Emperor began a series of arduous projects, including the first Great Wall, the Linqu Canal, and a national system of highways. Ignoring the physical and emotional toll exacted upon the people, his insatiable desire to further his own power has led to a growing, and secretive insurgency. One such organization is the Dragon's Spite who wishes to usurp control of the throne by nearly any means. But first they must marshal their forces strewn throughout the kingdom. More importantly they seek out three extraordinary girls who hold vast supernatural powers that can tip the balance in their favor. But do these unknowing heroines realize the talents that they possess? Will the Dragon's Spite reach them before the agents of the Emperor?
Interview with Troy
How long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I have been writing ever since I was a child. I have always enjoyed writing books. But professionally, I would say the past few years.
What do you like best about writing?
Putting pen to paper, and when a scene goes according to plan.
What’s your least favorite thing?
Editing. I cannot STAND editing. *shiver*
I'm totally with you on both accounts! How did you come up with the title of your book?
The supernatural twist to The Elementals is that certain individuals hold vast powers within them in the form of the primary elements (in Chinese lore they would include Fire, Earth, Water, Wood, and Metal) or secondary elements (lightning, spirit, and others). The three young heroines unknowingly hold these powers, and they must be guided or risk destroying themselves. Through training they will transform themselves into The Elementals (which is along the same vein of a comic book story).
How would you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters or less.)
As one reviewer of The Elementals once said, “This novel has something for everyone!” So I would saying along those lines.
How did you create the plot for this book?
The novel always played in my head as a movie. The opening scene played out like a scene from the movie ‘300’ with someone leaping high into the air in slow motion. From there the pieces fell into place rather quickly. After doing the research I was able to plot things out, and as it turns out I had enough material for at least three books!
Cool. Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?
When I first attempted to write The Elementals I tried to plow through it without any outline, and it was a total disaster. It was terrible. So after about 5 or 6 chapters, I stopped and made the decision right then and there to plot it out. This took me about 8 months to come up with, and some of the scenes/chapters I nearly wrote as I plotted it out. It was also where I realized I had more than one book on my hands.
Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it? Tell us about the artist.
Having self-published my novel, I could have used certain templates for my book, but I never once considered that. From the very beginning I had a vision for it, including the exact cover that is on it today. A friend of a friend was a graphic artist (Scott Bradford or Bradford Ink) and after telling him what I wanted he was excited. After a few weeks, and going back-and-forth a few times we had the finished cover. He absolutely nailed it! Outside of having a sound, entertaining novel, the cover is probably the second most important part of any book. Some might even say #1A, because it is the first thing that a potential reader sees. So having a cover grab someone’s attention is HUGE, and I think Scott did a fantastic job. Wait until you see book 2 and 3’s covers!
What books have you read more than once or want to read again?
The Wheel of Time series (all fourteen books!), The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit are the ones I have re-read. It’s a very rare occurrence that I re-read something. It’s just how I am.
What’s your favorite line from a book?
“There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.” ~ One of the opening lines of each novel in the 14-book Wheel of Time fantasy series.
When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?
When I started writing The Elementals, I did have each character planned out. Because I plotted out the entire trilogy ahead of time, I know most of the characters that will appear in all three. However, as I write book 2 there are some minor characters that I had not originally planned on including that have been written in.
Which character did you most enjoy writing?
The Meng brothers – Meng Na, Meng Fei, and Meng Wen. They are cunning and lethal adversaries.
If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?
I am a listener, much like Jin Wei (known also as Master Jin). He is the spiritual leader of the Dragon’s Spite.
Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
My favorite scene would definitely be the very first chapter in the book. It is what replayed in my head thousands of times over the course of the years it took to put it all together. It played out like an epic scene in a movie.
What song would you pick to go with your book?
I like many different types of music, and I always listen to something while I am writing. For the opening chapter, a song called Points of Authority by Linkin Park would play in my head over and over. If this were a movie, then Aurora Borealis and Through the Gates by Celldweller could easily be used as trailers for it. And while the ending credits are rolling, Play With Fire by The Birthday Massacre.
Who are your favorite authors?
J.R.R. Tolkein, Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, and a host of others.
What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I read this when I was young, but after finally finishing The Wheel of Time series recently, I caught the fantasy bug and decided to pick up Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings (which is book one of The Belgariad series).
Is there anything in particular that you do to help the writing flow?
I watch movies that inspire me and conjure images that remind me of my own book, such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero, Road to Perdition, American Beauty, and others. I also listen to music by certain artists such as Steve Roach, Thomas Newman, and Robert Rich.
What’s one of your favorite quotes?
Funny quote: “Evil will always triumph, because good… is dumb!” ~ from the movie Spaceballs
Serious quote: “He who knows, does not speak. He who speaks, does not know” ~ Lao Tzu (which is quoted at the beginning of chapter one of my book).
What three books have you read recently and would recommend?
Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson.
The Secret History of the World: As Laid Down by the Secret Societies by Mark Booth
What are you working on now?
Book two of The Elementals.
About the author:Born in 1974 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Troy Jackson moved to the great state of Georgia with his family at the age of three where he has lived ever since. Currently he resides outside the city of Atlanta with his loving wife and daughter. His passion for history, fantasy, and science fiction began at an early age with a little nudge from his older brother. Attending Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia, he received a Bachelor's Degree in History and a Master's Degree in Teaching. In his spare time he enjoys being with his family, watching and partaking in sports. Although new to the profession, he intends on writing about subjects that have always fascinated him, including fantasy, adventure, science fiction and history.
The Dirty Dozen Daredevil Award!I am happy to give Troy my very first Dirty Dozen Daredevil award for his bravery in answering my dirty dozen questions.
2. If you could only keep one book, what would
3. Your last meal would be…
4. Would you rather work in a library or a
5. You won the lottery. What’s the first thing
you would buy?
A new house.
6. Would you rather be stranded on a deserted
island or the North Pole?
Island – I would rather take clothes off
then bundle up.
7. You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?
8. You’re driven to a private plane and told it will take you anywhere your want to go.
Where would it be?
Australia – always wanted to visit there.
9. You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
Gandalf the Grey in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
10. Where would your dream office be?
11. If you could do only one, would you rather read or write?
12. One of your main characters has to die. Which one would you kill off?
I’d rather not say, because he/she just might!