MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR C.A. BRYERS
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
I use the name C.A. Bryers, mainly because I think that shortened version sounds better than my full name. As for genre, I consider it Fantasy, but there are definitely some elements present that could steer it toward Sci-Fi and even Paranormal…minus the Romance, but I do have bits of that sprinkled in here and there.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
The book I’m working on now is a novella that I’m planning to use as a new launching point for the series. It takes the place of my current series starter, THE 13th PARAGON Part I: SCRAPPER, which, as much as I still think it’s a good book, isn’t quite as representative of the direction the series is heading as it should be.
When I come up with an idea that I could work into a complete story someday, I jot those ideas down in a slush file that’s full of those sorts of half-baked concepts. I decided to write this book at the last minute, so I went to that file and found an idea I had for a powerful spirit that can harness and amplify the weather and the tides. The concept was sort of like a disaster movie, where the people involved are trapped in this isolated location in the middle of the ocean and not only have to survive the storm somehow, but also figure out a way to stop it.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
I started off reading Fantasy with Terry Brooks’ SHANNARA series. After reading THE SCIONS OF SHANNARA I thought I’d give writing a try, and wrote a really bad 200-page sequel to it. I was 13 or 14 at the time. After that I wrote five more books in an original series, and I use that term loosely, since the first three books especially were still very much in the Brooks mold of storytelling. It was all practice to get to where I am today.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I haven’t done any research for a good while, but when I was first starting out this series, I dived headlong into learning a lot about obscure deep-water species of fish. I knew right off the bat that I wanted to explore the idea of humanity’s evolutionary branches, where some evolved above water, while others evolved below. So, I took what I’d learned about how fish and whatnot evolved in such hostile environments and imagined how people might’ve evolve down there and called them the “underraces.”
Can you tell me about your Series?
Absolutely! The way I’ve structured the world of Odyssium—my little sandbox—is that I started with the concept that every story I’d like to tell can be done under the umbrella of this series. If I want to do a big story where the world is at stake, I can do that. If I want to do a smaller story where one life is at stake like a murder mystery, I can do that too. And I decided early on that I didn’t want to go in the more Traditional Fantasy direction. I wanted the setting to be more tropical, and free of the limitations of swords and bows and arrows and all that, so the technology level is comparable to what we have today.
Right now, the bulk of the series follows a character named Salla Saar. When we first meet him, he’s a scrapper, or a pirate of sorts. He’s not in that role for long, and where he is now is working alongside a mystical Order he once considered to be enemies. Dark, powerful spirits are a rising threat in the world over the last many years, and it’s now his job to figure out how to deal with them.
Do you have a favorite book out of this series?
I’ll spare you the typical author response of all my books being like my children. I do have a favorite, and its one of the most atypical stories in the series. It’s a novella called A SONG OF SILENCE, and it can be found in the collection I released this year called IN DARKNESS AND LIGHT. Part of the novella was inspired by a nightmare, and another part of it I drew inspiration from a pair of musicians I admired. I hate the editing phase of my books ‘cause I have to read and re-read everything oodles of times, but A SONG OF SILENCE I just can’t put down.
Where did you get the inspiration/idea for your series?
It started off in the early 2000s, I think. I was struggling for ideas and couldn’t stick with writing something long enough to finish it anymore. I forget what it was, but something reminded me of how much I used to love the ocean when I was younger. Since I was tired of writing Fantasy with that sort of medieval Europe setting, the ocean played a big part in letting me find my footing on something new that I could stick with.
Was it always meant to become a series?
Yes. I’ve always liked the idea of telling big stories, and since the ocean epiphany I had, I knew I wanted this to be at least a trilogy. So I started writing what would become Book One. That book ended up getting scrapped, but it laid a lot of the groundwork in my head at least for what the series would become.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
Since I’m an indie and not yet particularly fantastic at marketing myself, I have to hold down the old day job for the time being. Add in a wife and two kids, I wind up writing whenever I can find the time. Usually it’s at the end of the day, leaving myself only five or so hours of sleep before going back to work. I have a writing space in my new house, which is nice, but not as nice as the two writing trips I take up to the cabin where I sit out on the deck and go for as long as I can.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
If all goes well, I should have two new books out in the first part of next year. The first is ISLE OF THE SLEEPING GODS, which continues Salla Saar’s story, and it’s the longest book I’ve written so far. The other is the novella I mentioned earlier, which no matter how much I’d love to drop the title, it doesn’t have one yet.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
I tend to agonize over character names. If it doesn’t feel right with the character, it goes. I don’t really think too much about the meaning behind them, though I have once or twice used variations of a name or two to use as a tribute to people I know.
Where do your ideas come from?
Coming up with ideas is a LOT easier nowadays than in the beginning. More often than not, I’ll finish a book and have concepts for two more just from the process of writing the first. For example, in my second book, THE 13th PARAGON Part II: FROM ASHES OF EMPIRES, I had a verbal exchange where one character told another about an expedition to learn the truth about a legendary assassin called Cary the Hollow-Hearted. The next book I ended up writing was a novella called THE HOLLOW-HEARTED, which took that little bit of dialogue and told the full story behind it. I like to pepper my books with little nuggets like that. Some of them I file away to expand upon one day, while others it’s just fun to let the reader dream up that story on their own.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
Not really, because I’ve been able to toy with so many elements borrowed from other genres that I don’t feel the need. The only thing that comes to mind is that I’d love to write a book I’ve had in mind for close to ten years now, and it’s one that just won’t fit in the Odyssium mold. It’s a dark comedy in the vein of the movies The Hangover or Very Bad Things. I’d LOVE to do it, but if I do, it’ll probably be under a different pen name. It’s so filthy, but funny too.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Finding time. Ideas are no problem. There’s just never enough time.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a book trailer, but haven’t taken the plunge yet. I don’t know if I’ve seen a lot of evidence that having one leads to an audience finding your work, but something is often better than nothing.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
To be honest, just getting something out there that I can be proud of is the best thing, really. Writing and publishing was always just a dream that I figured I’d never reach, but here I am with what…three novels, four novellas and a short story all released? To me, that’s just bonkers.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Hearing back from readers is always wonderful, whether it’s in person at a convention or in a review. As a writer starting out, you wonder if anybody will like what you’re chewing up all your spare time with, and to find out people actually really, really like it? Mind-blowing.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Well, according to my release schedule, I’ll be publishing the third book in a trilogy that that’ll be explosive in not only an action sense, but also as far as the political climate of the region I’m currently writing about. It’s set to really shake things up, and it’s not even the biggest shake-up I have up my sleeve. I have two more lined up even further past the ten-year mark.
That said, my release schedule is hardly rock solid—it has more of a pudding-like consistency. So we’ll see where we are at that point.
Have you always liked to write?
As long as I can remember. Way back in Elementary School, there was this weird new computer program that came out that would be very quaint by today’s standards. It kind of let you script a play with different characters to use onscreen. When we were done and it was ready to play out, the teacher would pick kids to read the dialogue of each character aloud. I still remember mine was the longest and had the most dialogue.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Start off writing what you love, not what you think will sell. Give yourself time to hone your craft, to learn how to tell a story before you start thinking about publishing. And if writer’s block is an issue, outline, outline, outline to save yourself the agony later on.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
If I had the head for science and all that, I’d love to be a marine biologist or some job that required me to work in or on the ocean. More recently, I’m wishing I’d have gone to school to become a Creative Writing teacher, but it’s probably a bit too late in the day for me to do that now.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I do read my reviews, but the common philosophy among indies is not to respond to them, particularly if they’re bad. Fortunately, I haven’t gotten smacked with much in the way bad reviews, but it’s still early in my writing career, so we’ll see how I handle it. I imagine the fetal position might get some use!
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
That’s got to be the marketing aspect of it. I mean, figuring out how to get the most out of advertising, site algorithms and all that…it just makes my head spin. My brain’s just not wired for that, but I’ll be putting more effort into sorting it out before the next two books launch.
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m doing some self-edits on both ISLE OF THE SLEEPING GODS and the prequel novella, while at the same time brainstorming more ideas for the next novel to further flesh it out.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
It has a little bit of everything that the series touches on: lots of wild action, fun characters that are given some time to develop, a bit of humor, a small splash of romance, plot twists, an unbelievably powerful supernatural threat, and probably my craziest underrace species to date.
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
I write in Fantasy because that’s the genre that grabbed me first, I think. Besides, I get enough reality on a day-to-day basis, so I like the idea of escapism. Living in another world suits me just fine, even if it is just in my head.
Where did your love of books come from?
I’m not sure, to be honest. I can’t say I was pushed to read too much as a kid, but with fewer forms of entertainment and distraction back then, me cracking open a book was bound to happen sooner or later. Once I did, I was hooked, though nowadays the only “reading” I get done is through audiobooks.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
I’ll always owe a debt to Terry Brooks for getting my butt behind a keyboard. I still enjoy his work, though my style has definitely gone in a different direction from his. I love his Word/Void series, though I still keep up with his SHANNARA stuff. One strange book that’s one of my favorites is the audiobook novelization of the Schwarzenegger movie True Lies, read by the late Bill Paxton. I listen to it at least once a year.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
Favorite book of mine, I can do that just fine. Favorite character? That’s really tough, since I’ve whipped up a good few over the years. I tend to love the villains far more than the good guys. It’s just so much fun to imagine diabolical ways to be bad in a world where you’re supposed to be good. Kitayne from the two 13th PARAGON books was my first favorite. She was so sneaky and underhanded, used her sexuality to manipulate, and in the end, really had no moral fiber to speak of. I’m really looking forward to seeing what she’s been up to four or five books from now.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It totally energizes me. It’s the one thing I do in life that makes me feel vital and important.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
I don’t know if I’d call it Kryptonite, but I’d say it’s what I’d consider to be my undiagnosed ADHD. I have a really tough time sticking to what I’m working on at the moment. Way too often I’ll be busy plotting out a book I can’t write for another five or so years, because other important events have to happen in the timeline first.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I don’t worry too much about whether something’s been done or not, though I’m always mindful that if I’ve been influenced by something, my job is to rework and reshape it until it’s my own. I have a feeling I might lose a few readers here and there because there’s always a natural tendency for people to want a slightly altered version of the last thing they loved from you, and I’m not really interested in doing that. I love shaking things up, otherwise I tend to get bored.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’m not friends with too many, because I’m your stereotypical introverted writer. I’m not terribly social, but I have a few writers I chat with on social media from time to time. Taylor Saville, author of JAGGED MIND, is one because we both love writing and video gaming when a sliver of time opens up.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
I suppose I’d call it SERIOUSLY, READ MY FICTION INSTEAD: A MEMOIR THAT YOU COULD PROBABLY GO WITHOUT READING AND BE JUST FINE.
What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
“How did you manage to sell more books than J.K. Rowling???” That would be an amazing one, but I don’t know if I have just one question that I’ve been waiting to pounce on. I’m honestly more than happy answering any question. Talking about my books always makes my day, because I don’t get the chance to as often as I’d like. I mean, that’s what’s great about the modern age of indie publishing. If you love an author, chances are you can chase them down on social media and badger them for answers!
Where can your fans find you and follow??
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤️
Thanks for having me; I had a lot of fun with the questions!