Hello everyone and welcome to our latest author interview for the 7th annual Self Published Fantasy Blog Off! I’ve been working on reaching out to each of the authors who have landed in our batch of books for the competition to see if they would be interested in being interviewed or contributing a guest article in an attempt to drum up a little extra excitement for their book and (hopefully) get to know them a bit better.
Today, we are joined by the author of A Season of Ravens, J.R. Snyder!
Thank you so much for joining us for this short Q&A! Before we get going, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Thank you for having me! For a bit about myself; I’m an indie author, new dad, and lover of all things fantasy and folklore! I live near Seattle, WA and spend most of my time trying to balance writing with all of my other obligations.
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of reading/writing? Do you care to elaborate?
My wife has described my main hobby as dabbling in every hobby so I’ve got a lot that I split my time between. Lately I’ve been working on designing a video game with a friend, improving my art skills, and gardening.
Tell us about your road to writing. What made you want to become an author?
A few years ago, I was leaving my local book store with a bunch of books in hand when I saw a little shelf they had dedicated to displaying books by local authors. Something clicked in my head and I was like I want to be on that shelf! and after that, I went home and started writing an outline for a story I had in my head.
Writing is a hard and lonely affair in the best of circumstances, but it can be even more so as a self-published author. How do you achieve a good work/life/writing balance?
I probably don’t do as well as I should because I’m definitely rather monk-like when I write! Lately with so much going on, I’ve been trying to go easier on myself. As an indie author, I have no real deadline I have to meet, and it’s not like I have legions of fans knocking down my door for the next book, so I just try to relax and write the story I want to tell.
Is this your first book? If so, what lessons have you learned from writing it? If not, what lessons did you learn from writing earlier books that you brought into this one?
This is my first novel-length book but I had written a few short stories before this one. I think my earlier short stories helped me define a good writing process that I brought into the larger book. I also learned some valuable lessons on pacing and worldbuilding that helped when I went to write the longer stories.
Do you usually write to background noise, music, etc. or do you prefer silence?
I usually try to match the music I have to the scene I’m writing to help get me in the right mindset. I’ll find fantasy music compilations online and listen to things like fun, jaunty music for a tavern scene, or something more dramatic if I’m writing a fight scene.
Is this your first time entering SPFBO? Why did you decide to enter this book?
This is my first time! I’ve followed SPFBO for a while and just wanted to throw my hat in the ring. I think going in with low expectations has helped me stay stress-free about the process. Just having a book to enter is an accomplishment, so I’m just taking each step as it comes!
What made you want to write in the fantasy genre? Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
I’ve primarily read fantasy for most of my life, and I think it’s just such a fun space to write in. Literally anything can happen! I’ve always wanted to write some sort of historical fiction mystery novel as well, but the level of research required for that has put me off so far.
There are so many roads to releasing a book these days (which is wonderful!). Why did you decide to self-publish?
When I started writing, I had no idea if I could even finish a short story, let alone a full book, and past that, I had no idea if anyone would even like my stories. For me, writing is something that I love doing but I want it to be on my own terms. I think if it became a “job” I would risk enjoying it less and I don’t want that to happen.
Are there any advantages or disadvantages to self-publishing rather than going the route of the traditional or independent presses?
I think control over everything is the main advantage and disadvantage. I love the freedom to control my own writing schedule, cover art, title, etc. But that also is far more work than a lot of people have time for. So it’s a bit of a double-edged sword.
What is one thing that you love about the current state of fantasy and what is one thing that you wish you saw more of?
I love how diverse the pool of authors are right now. There is just such a variety of stories, there’s something for everyone! One thing I wish I saw more of was casual, folksy stories. So many fantasy stories have some epic storyline and I just want to read something a little more down to earth.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I used to describe myself as a plotter, but as I write more, I’m definitely somewhere in between. Plotser? I start with a fairly detailed outline, but give myself plenty of room to explore new ideas as I go.
For those who haven’t read A Season of Ravens, give us the elevator pitch.
A Season of Ravens is about a wizard named Asher and his raven partner Aethon going around and fighting monsters, breaking curses, and solving problems for ghosts. The book is a collection of 8 short stories that all flow together into an overall plot, with reoccurring side characters and locations. Reviews have described it as a pretty cozy read; a kind of palate cleanser between more intense books.
What do you think is the overarching theme?
I think there’s two major themes in my book. The first is that things are usually far more complex than they seem at first. An evil witch might turn out to be friendly, or something mundane might turn out to be a dangerous cursed object. I’d say the second theme is perseverance. The main character, Asher, isn’t the strongest wizard or the best fighter, but he is very good at just putting his head down and getting to work even in the face of a dangerous challenge.
What can you tell us about what’s coming up next for you?
I’m currently working on the sequel to A Season of Ravens, although I haven’t set any sort of deadline for when it will be finished. This one will be more of a typical chaptered novel than a collection of stories. I’m really excited to share Asher and Aethon’s next story with everyone!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! I always enjoy this little peek behind the curtain. Do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to leave for our readers?
Thank you for having me! I’m not usually one to dispense any sort of wisdom, but one thing I’d say is that if you’re thinking about writing or think you might like it, give it a try! Go in and just write the story in your head. It’s certainly changed my life for the better and I’d encourage anyone to give it a try.
About the Author
J. R. is an American fantasy author, living near Seattle, WA. His debut novel, A Season of Ravens, is the first in the Sin Eater Tales series.
When he’s not writing, he spends his time hiking in the mountains of western Washington, playing hockey, and traveling abroad, stocking up on local folklore books.
Author site: https://www.jrsnyderauthor.com/