ROGUE SHEPHERD: HOPE is the first in Chris Vaughn’s ROGUE SHEPHERD SPACE OPERA SERIES, a science fiction space opera that feels like the Death Star ran into the Old Testament and discovered a story of characters and ships from Pirates of The Caribbean. If you enjoy those fast-paced, engaging stories then you’ll love this intergalactic adventure. I enjoyed it in one sitting and look forward to the sequel! I had some questions how the story starts but thankfully I received the prequel after requesting it! ”” The author’s loyal, and prejudiced friend.
Today I’m catching up with the author of one of today’s featured books ‘Rogue Shepherd: Wayward Hope’, Chris Vaughn. Chris, thanks for your heavily biased review that I’ve included above to introduce today’s interview. What are friends for if not to give one-sided evaluation of your novel. Borrowing from your friend, what caused you to pursue your adventures in the veins of Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean?
I originally had an idea for a pirate story. I’ve always loved the old black and white Errol Flynn movies, but I wanted a larger canvas for the story so I made it a space opera. My only regret, and I put a chapter in the book about it, is the cover doesn’t convey the ships like I wish. In the book they are space sailing ships. I’ll update them in the future.
Yeah, they are a bit more Star Wars style than space sailing ships. Did you design the book cover yourself?
I’m still at the point I do the basics myself, and get help and input from some graphic friends, but some things are hard for me to let go and I may not ever let it go totally, but I’m getting to the point I need to. Time is more important than doing it myself.
Very true, but just think of the quality of things like the concept art from movies like Star Wars, and I think that might help sway your decision to use artists. You mentioned that you find certain things hard to let go of and to me that suggests that you might be a fairly precise writer. Did you find it necessary to take on a large amount of research to make sure that the ideas in the book were solid?
Not exactly. I wanted to use more authentic nautical terms, but I have to wonder if some basic nautical terms will lose some readers, so I cut them out and just just use basic terms.
I think that’s a fair choice and will simplify the load on the readers. Was it important for you to include strong questions or ideals in book?
Somewhat. There are definite themes of obeying your father, and the honor to your family, and the conflict when options present themselves and you must make a choice… and in doing so you are considered rogue, or disobedient.
Was working through these feelings of disobedience or being labelled with having a roguish nature from your own personal experiences?
I believe everything that you write comes from experiences you have, so I’d say yes. Especially hearing the old stories that my father told me, and those I heard on Sunday.
Did those tales from your father and Sunday’s also form the genesis of your characters?
The actual personalities of the characters are based off of good and bad characters I’ve come to love. It’s hard though for me to write a completely bad, unredeemable character, because I believe that most people have good hidden down deep, but there are a few that slip through the cracks of redemption.
I like searching for that crack of redemption too! Sometimes it does seem like a truth you have to dig around for but I think it is the fun challenge of some characters. Now, did you end up with a favourite character you loved to write?
YES! There is one General in the story that I loved while writing, and he’s a brave man, but the story took I turn I didn’t expect.
Ooooh interesting. I like it when the stories diverge from the author, it makes it more fun. Has the strength of the connection between yourself and the characters lead to them visiting you in your dreams?
Not the characters yet, but the story, but as I begin to write the second book, they are in my head all the time, especially Luke and Hope. Again, I love pirate stories and the size of those ships, so I do find dreams of ships and battles in my dreams.
The enormity of space and those ships would lead to some pretty cool dreams. Now, for you what was the most rewarding aspect of writing the book?
I lace the stories of my childhood in the book, and the main character is named after my son, so it’s fun to picture him flying a space ship and killing the evil characters. ;-)
I bet he loves that too! You mentioned that you’ve started work on the second book. How is it progressing?
I’m finishing up now the prequel which will be available FREE to everyone who gets the book, and I’m outlining Book 2 now and hope to release it by mid-November to December.
Not long now. Good luck getting it completed! Has it been a long process to get your books to the completed stage?
About two months from start to finish I’d guess. I log my daily writing totals, and have been doing that for several years, but now I log to exactly what I’m working on. Most of the two months were some research, for about two weeks, but the last half of the book was finished in less than two weeks. Towards the end I couldn’t wait to write and hated to stop… I wanted to see how it ended.
It sounds like you have a solid system for working through a book. Are you very structured with regards to the writing process?
I try to write everyday, but not always. Life, work, and kids can sometimes take precedent. I always like to write a thousand words a day which I can do in an hour usually, but have cranked out fifteen hundred in an hour when the words are coming quick. I love writing on my back porch, and tend to write late at night after everything is done for the day.
That sounds like a nice relaxing way to finish the day, just tapping away at the keyboard. I am assuming correctly that you type?
Yes! Thank God my Father told me to take typing in high school.
Learning to type is such invaluable advice. Are you a fast typer?
I can type fast but not as fast as I think or speak. I sometimes dictate, but my thoughts are really slower when dictating, and then it’s a great editing issue. My mind hasn’t trained itself to dictate punctuation as well as I should, and I’m from the south! Sometimes Dragon Dictation doesn’t do well with that accent.
I’ve heard that general comment that dictating punctuation can be messy, but I guess I never thought how much it would effect the editing process. Aside from not using dictation, how do you try and reduce the editing load?
Before writing a chapter I cycle back and read what I wrote yesterday and edit it, and always use some editing software too, to help me check my grammar and spelling. I also have several beta readers who get everything before I ever send it to an editor and get their feedback on the story and any errors. Unfortunately something always fall through it seems. Editing is a nightmare to me. LOL
Has your distaste for editing lead to any great tips?
Write, and do it everyday, and then always backup it up.
Never forget to backup! Do you have any top tips for other authors wanting to self-publish?
kBoards! It’s better than a college level education in self-publishing. The greatest help from some of the greatest writers. I’m always amazed at the people who post and help on kBoards. They are some of the most helpful and giving people. I’d say if you want to start self-publishing start with kBoards. Read it daily and watch what people are saying and what is working, and more importantly…. don’t reinvent the wheel.
And have those tips have led to you landing positive reviews?
My first one was encouraging, and it was followed by a bad one… I felt more like a writer after the bad one!
*Laughs*. That’s the mark of a good writer a negative review because it means that you’ve invoked some level of though for the reader. Are you lucky enough to be able provoke others by writing full-time?
I’ve made my living for the last thirty years as a speaker, and currently serve as a Pastor in Atlanta, GA. My whole life has been about communicating a story and my Mother was a master story teller. She could entertain a room of people with her stories, and thankfully I inherited her gift. Writing lets me put the stories onto paper and that’s more lasting than the spoken word.
That’s really lucky that you’ve been able to combine that gift of storytelling with the permanence of writing. Aside from your mother have you also taken notes or influences from other great storytellers?
Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, early as a child. Love the stories Tom Clancy wrote early, but the detail of his stories could lose me. How many pages do I need to know the workings of the Mark 14 Torpedo… Clancy wrote more than I needed. I love Perry Mason novels by Earle Stanley Gardner! They are so fast paced! There is a reason his stories were so read! I don’t know if his stories would sell today as much as most were only 40,000+ a little in length, but I love that length! I like epics don’t get me wrong, but some epics are a story with excess padding, and since I don’t like to read that style, I don’t write that style either.
Are you currently reading anything from a great storyteller?
The Case of the Lame Canary – Earle Stanley Gardner The Caves of Steel – Asimov Out of the Silent Planet – C. S. Lewis
What was your favourite book as a child?
The Three Musketeers by Dumas!
Great choice. You gotta love the Musketeers & d’Artagnan. Who is your favourite literary character?
And now we’ve reached my favourite section of the author interviews where I essentially throw a barrage of questions at you and watch you throw back your most inspired responses.
If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?
Eagle and Lion
Can you stand on your hands unassisted?
If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
Wouldn’t do it!
Can you curl your tongue?
Is there a book that you wish that you would have written?
The Shack by William P. Young – It made tears run off my face and onto the book.
What is your favourite quote?
Loyalty above all else, except honor!
Which are cooler? Dinosaurs or Dragons?
Dragons… they shoot fire.
I like that reasoning. What’s the most unusual name you’ve ever come across?
Shenandoah – although in a sense it’s not unusual, I love the rhythm of it.
What is your favourite word?
Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
What you sow, you will reap! So always do good to others.
What is your favourite quote from another author?
Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public. – Winston Churchill
I like that one. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we fling this into the public arena?
Not really…. I ran for U.S. Congress in 2012, and that was full of questions on every subject!
I don’t think we need to get into that level of questioning today! Chris, thanks for joining me today and I wish you the best of luck with your promotion and the release of book 2.
Want to find out more about Chris Vaughn? Connect here!