Our first guest this week is author Charles Yallowitz.
Charles is the author of the amazing Legends of Windemere Series. Keep reading for our Q&A session. Links for each book in the series are below
Legends of Windemere:
Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
What is your favorite part of writing fantasy?
There are definitely a lot of aspects of the genre that appeal to me, but I think the freedom of imagination is my favorite. Since I don’t have Earth as a setting, I have to create every aspect of my world from scratch. The landscapes, natural rules, creatures, races, and whatever else is tossed into the mix are mine to design. It does get difficult to keep all of my rules and creations straight, especially since I’m working on a long series. There will also be future series that take place in the same world, so I need to set the foundation for all of that. It’s a lot of work, but I think that’s a big part of the fun.
What books most inspired you to become a writer?
The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were big influences along with many years of playing Dungeons & Dragons. I read a lot of books based on those games too. Yet the series that triggered my desire to be an author is the Books of Lost Swords by Fred Saberhagen. I read it in 10th grade and I was taken in by the vivid world and memorable characters. To this day, I still remember some of the scenes and I haven’t read it in over a decade. I was really impressed with how such long series could evolve the characters and the way they weren’t always victorious. There was a tangible humanity to many of them because of this up and down development, which is something I try to do in my own books.
What is the hardest thing about writing for you?
Finding a quiet place to write is the biggest challenge that I have right now. Sadly, I’m an author without an office, a desk, or even a coffee shop to hide in. To be fair, I’m not a big fan of coffee and I tend to talk to myself when writing. That gets you some strange looks in public. So I carve out time when there aren’t many people in the house or use loud music to help me focus on my thoughts.
Now if we’re talking about the actual production of a manuscript, I’m going to go with the later edits. I enjoy the first and second run-throughs, but I get a little distracted around the third. My mind is already wandering to another project at this point, which leads to several breaks and a slow push to the end of the editing.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Legends of Windemere is 15 books long, so I’ll be on there for another 2-3 years. I sense people are already retreating, which is why I locked the doors. Seriously though, this is the series that will set the stage for several future heroes. I plan on toying with vampires, multi-act adventures, origins of some of the gods, superheroes, and several other adventures that I’ve jotted down over the years. I spent many lunch breaks fiddling with ideas, so I have a lot of playgrounds to run around in. Connecting all of them to Windemere has actually made it easier to organize and they fill in holes for each other, which was a pleasant surprise.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep writing and follow your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right then put it on the side and come back to it later. Maybe you simply weren’t ready for that plot twist or marketing path. Perhaps it doesn’t work for you at all. The only person who truly knows what is best for you and your stories is you . . . and possibly your editor. Never anger your editor.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
I’d like to meet Groucho Marx since I grew up watching his movies. They always made me smile and I catch myself trying to do wordplay jokes like he did. I’m usually unsuccessful, but I try. Though I’m pretty sure my reaction to meeting anyone famous will be open-mouthed silence and a sudden fear that I have something in my teeth.
How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
The easiest way to contact me is through my blog entitled LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE. Through that site, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. My blog posts tend to cover a variety of writing-based subjects and I like having discussions, so I’m always happy to get into a back-and-forth in the comments.
What is your favorite fantasy book or character?
This changes so often that I feel required to add ‘currently’ to my answer. Right now, my favorite fantasy book is the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan. It’s hard to pick a favorite character, but Horace the young knight is the first to come to my mind. I really enjoyed his development and how he had his own way of being smart that differed from the other characters. For some reason, I gravitate toward the characters that are heroes without being the main one.
Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
I don’t know if I’d say I have any unique talents beyond my imagination, which I’m sure isn’t that unique within the author world. When I’m the lone writer in the room then it helps me stand out. My hobbies used to include fencing, comic book collecting, video games, and playing various tabletop role-playing games. Those have kind of taken a backseat since I became an author and stay-at-home father. The 5-year-old keeps me on my toes when he isn’t at school. Guess you could say one of my hobbies is cooking since I’m always looking for new recipes to try.
Where do you draw your inspiration from for your writing?
Everywhere. TV, movies, books, video games, dreams, letting my mind wander, and whatever else has triggered an idea. I never know what will create a new idea in my head.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I don’t read as much as I should since I spend a lot of time writing. I’m also very slow when it comes to reading because I flip back through books to check information. There are times I even reread a few pages if I don’t think the information stuck. As far as favorite authors, I have a really long list. A few of them are Edgar Allan Poe, John Flanagan, Tolkien, several indie authors, and Robert E. Howard.
Most of my research goes into the monsters, character names, and a few nuances of Windemere. I have an encyclopedia of mythical beasts and a baby name book that I keep out when I’m doing an outline. This way I have the information ready for when I start writing. I also have Wikipedia on my browser toolbar in case I need to look something up quickly. For example, one of my books required that I do a little research on peacocks because I had no idea what they ate or how good they were at flying. Apparently, they eat snakes and can go for short distances. Another resource that I use is YouTube when I’m planning a fight scene because there are videos that help me with choreography. This comes in really handy for any characters with unique weapons like one who uses a kusari-gama aka chain and sickle.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
Try as I might to work off an outline after weeks of designing characters and locations, things always change when I start writing the actual book. So I do prefer to go in with a plan, which creates a general path to follow. Yet I’ve learned that the personality of the characters will inevitably take parts of the story in different directions. For example, there have been times where I had epic battles planned and one of the combatants simply isn’t in the mood. It sounds strange, but all of the events leading up the fight alter the mindset of the character and writing the scene I originally planned comes off as forced. This is where I have to step away, clear my head, and return to go with the flow.
What is your favorite quote?
“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”– Groucho Marx
If you could have any magical/supernatural power, what would it be and why?
Flight, but I’m undecided on if I want it to be with wings like Hawkgirl or without wings like Superman. I do like the idea of having a physical body part responsible for the power, but I imagine buying shirts will be expensive. As for why, I like the idea of being isolated above everything and just viewing the world from afar. If I could fly really fast then I could take quick vacations to get some me time and recover my energy. Coming in a close second is a heightened metabolism because I miss being able to eat more than two slices of pizza and not have to buy bigger pants the next day.