The year is 1671. René Gilbert’s destiny glints from the blade of a slashing rapier. The only way he can protect those he loves is to regain the power and knowledge of an ancient lifetime. From Bordeaux to Spain to Morocco, René is tested and with each turn of fate he gathers enemies and allies, slowly reclaiming the knowledge and power earned centuries ago. For three thousand years a secret sect has waited in Morocco.
What will happen in Morocco? To uncover the truths and secrets awaiting in Morocco, Elliot Baker has kindly returned to ItsWriteNow.com for the third time to chat about ‘The Sun God’s Heir: Return’. I’ve mentioned it a few times before, but I’ll say it again, I love seeing authors progress with their writing careers, so I’m so glad that you’ve taken a few minutes out of your busy schedule to chat me. What’s been going on since we last caught up in September 2017 with The Sun God’s Heir?
The Sun God’s Heir has won a couple of contests which is a hoot. Book one has remained in Amazon’s top 10 Free books in its primary category of Sea Adventures and in the top 20 in Historical and Fantasy since it’s launch in January of 2016. It has enjoyed over 27,000 downloads.
That’s fantastic news! What a great testament to the quality of your work! With fantastic feedback from both contests and the reading public, I’m sure you’ve had great motivation to keep yourself working hard. What’s been keeping you working hard since September?
Exploring the strange and challenging world of book marketing. Does a tree make a sound when it falls in the woods if no one is there to hear it? I’d like to thank the readers of The Sun God’s Heir for listening. I am also beginning to write the next book continuing with these characters only in other lives and time periods.
I’m very eager to hear about your new book, and I’m sure the readers are too, but first let’s chat about that strange world that is book marketing. What have you been doing with marketing? Have you been playing around with social media or your own site to kick things off?
I am slowly learning the ropes. I’ve been a member of Instagram since my start, but will soon begin to inhabit the page. A picture is definitely worth a thousand words. I had a graphic artist render René and Akeefa and the drawing of Akeefa is very close to the picture in my head. Who knows. She may show up. Hard to decide whether to leave people’s images of my characters alone or share mine. If you want to see what she looks like in my head, or think I should put the image up on Instagram, use the contact form on my website and let me know on https://www.elliottbaker.com/
That is a tricky one. Pictures of the characters are great and can look fantastic, but some readers do get disappointed when the pictures don’t match what’s in their head, but personally, I think it would be a great idea to show a little taste of how you see life in ‘The Sun God’s Heir’. Are these characters who you have in your mind when you write?
I keep my mind as open to my characters as I can. I don’t think my characters are alive, but their patterns, which I’ve thought about a lot, are. If I’m open to it, the pattern makes a raspberry sound in my mind when I consider having the character do something contrary to their pattern. There is always the overarching ‘why.’
As a reader, you always hope there is an overarching why! Looking back on it, what do you think was the greatest why or what you want readers to take from your characters in ‘The Sun God’s Heir’?
The accumulation of power will not bring you joy. It will not even bring you security and the escape from that which you fear. Fear and its manifestation, anger does not lead to joy which is the only reason to play this game. Good thing we get to choose.
Indeed we do. Was the exploration of these ideas of power, security, fear and joy what you had in your mind when you first started writing or did you have another target that you were working towards?
There are three books in the Sun God’s Heir trilogy. I had a general idea of how I wanted to finish, but the actual story of the main characters did not present itself until near the end of the writing. I had a couple of what if it doesn’t moments, but for the most part, (I don’t know why) I was confident that it would show up. I’m very pleased with the ending. After you’ve read over eleven hundred pages, the ending better be satisfying.
I completely agree. There’s nothing worse as a reader or writer than to be emotionally invested in a story, and finally get to the ending and find that it is rubbish. What steps did you take to make sure that the ending was satisfying for both readers and yourself as the writer? Did you bring in elements from your life to make the overall story solid?
Writing is a funny thing. We all enter the zone. Olympic athletes train to do it. So do yogis. Most of the time it’s unconscious and fleeting and we’re not even aware we passed through the state. A writer or musician or artist experiences the zone after a time of concentration. Stuff comes out that seems to be better or beyond what the writer or musician feels capable of. I think that we touch our subconscious and download patterns that we’ve unconsciously put together. The output seems brighter and though we take credit for it, we are always a little dubious of our ability to have created it. There are characters in The Sun God’s Heir from whom I learn as they speak. One of my greatest motivations to write is to get them to speak so I can listen. Sounds pretentious, but I’m glad for the help.
Sometimes I feel that getting to the zone of great work can seem like entering a mystical and magical realm. What do you do when you sit down to write to help yourself get into the zone faster?
Writing is a habit. We form and try to form habits all the time. Sometimes we hold on to one for a time, and then something comes up and we’re back to the chaos of our regular day. In order to write, you need to get your butt into the chair and keep it there long enough for something to accumulate. You can’t know if it’ll be worth the time or not. You just have to cast off and trust. For me, getting into the chair on a regular basis is the hardest part. “Oh, look, a bird.”
*Laughs* Those distracting birds! I hope that when you get to the editing stage your work is pulling you back to it and away from the birds. Or do you just turn your work over to an editor so you can sit back and enjoy the bird songs?
I have a kick-ass editor without whom all I’d have is a collection of words. It’s a back and forth process which in the end is very satisfying.
I’m glad to hear that you found satisfaction reaching the end, but I wonder if you had the same satisfaction at the beginning. What was the original idea behind your book that you wanted to continue to explore until you were fully satisfied?
The Sun God’s Heir began with a remembered dream. Like most folks, I don’t remember dreaming that often, but this one morning, I carried the dream into waking consciousness. It wasn’t the whole story, but there was the protagonist and antagonist as well as the germ of the story and the setting. The story stayed with me and refused to go away until years later, with the help of NANOWRIMO, I began to write it down.
Other than trying to conquer the challenge of NANOWRIMO, why do you write?
The easiest answer and the most trite is because I can. A great joy for me in reading a story is when I am transported somewhere else for a few minutes. When I come back to this reality, to my chair, I feel nothing so much as gratitude to the writer for having helped me take a break from the stress of this life. Often I feel recharged with the emotional energy from the scene or story. I wanted to do that. There is nothing so sweet as when someone tells me in so many words that they went somewhere for a few minutes.
I love that you’ve really dedicated yourself to transporting someone else to a different place through your words. Was giving the gift of transporting someone to another work the greatest reward of writing for you?
There’s energy in finishing anything, especially something that takes a while. Since my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Walker, read Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion to us in sixth grade, I’ve loved story. To be able to craft one is very gratifying.
Do you feel that your author voice or writing, in general, has progressed as you’ve continued to practice your craft?
We all have a voice in our heads. And we all have stories to tell. The trick is to stay seated long enough to access our authentic voice. Takes time and patience. Unfortunately it also often takes a support system to give the writer the energy that can’t be found in the moment. Just like listening to yourself in a tape recorder, you are often less than excited by the sound of your own voice. Stay with it.
Less than excited is probably not the description I would use when listening to myself on a tape recorder, I think that mortified might be closer. For others who feel closer to mortification, do you have any tips for authors who are struggling to stay with it?
Show up. Edit and polish until the work makes you smile. It’s not hard to get your work out there, and everyone is always in a hurry to do so. Force yourself to spend more time thinking, editing and deciding what you want. The actual publishing can be done in an hour.
Very true. The publishing process is fairly straight-forward if you set up your work well in the first place, which means that you can spend more time on the stuff that matters. The content! And speaking about the content and deciding what you want, earlier we touched on what you want for your current writing project. What are you working on at the moment?
Beginning the research for the next series of novels.
It sounds like early days then. As a writer at the beginning stage of a new project, I’m sure you’re asking yourself a lot of questions. I’m going to ask you a few questions now that you may not have asked yourself when you’ve been busy beavering away, but you never know your book might be better from answering a question like, if you’re in a vehicle going the speed of light, what happens when you turn on the headlights?
You run into less stuff.
Always advantageous when driving. Continuing onto the advantages, why isn’t there mouse-flavoured cat food?
Who would know what it tastes like?
I think the people who know what cat food tastes like have either lost a bet or a planning to win a dare. Either way, I don’t think that either situation is one that you want to be in. Now let’s go to a situation that Batman himself may not want to be in, what happens if Batman gets bitten by a vampire?
He puts a band-aid on it.
Go Batman! If you could invent a monster who is cooler than Batman or a vampire, what would it look like and what would you call it?
Yep, that’s definitely scarier than Batman or a vampire! What is your favourite word?
Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavour, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?
Because the paradoxes of life are what make it fun.
You gotta love those paradoxes. Looking back on the Sun God’s Heir, what was your biggest learning experience?
It ain’t over till it’s over.
And I’m sorry to say that today’s interview is just about over. Is there anything that you think we missed chatting about?
This has been the most in-depth interview I’ve taken. But you didn’t ask where do I find the spark to actually sit down and write a story I’ve had in my head for years? Don’t worry about the doing. Keep the thought, the desire in your mind. Keep visiting it, imagine what it would be like. It’s like knocking on a door. Sooner or later, the folks behind the door will get tired of your knocking and the door will open.
Elliott, I’m so glad that the door has already opened for your writing career, but I hope that you are able to open it wider and have so much more fun and success with it!
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘The Sun God’s Heir: Return (Book One) ( ASIN: B01MS3RCE0 )‘.
Want to find out more about Elliott Baker? Connect here!Elliott Baker