Meet the Author: P.L. Stuart
Good Morning Bookworms,
Guess what time it is? Meet the author time!
I had the pleasure of having a digital sit down with P.L. Stuart, fantasy author.
He’s currently celebrating the recent release of his debut novel and first book in his series, A Drowned Kingdom.
Welcome to the fold and congratulations on your achievement, new author friend!
Alright peeps, let’s get this interview on the road!
I’m a Canadian high fantasy author, of Barbadian and Ghanaian descent, and author of A Drowned Kingdom, and The Drowned Kingdom Saga. I live in wonderful Chatham, Ontario, Canada with my lovely wife Debbie. Debbie is also the brilliant business and marketing manager for our authorpreneurial business, my partner, boss and CEO, and the love of my life.
P.L. and the Writing Process
How do you find inspiration to write?
P.L.: I have always wanted and felt the urge to write, to create stories, as long as I can remember. Inspiration just bursts out of me to tell stories. It’s just something you feel compelled to do, a drive, and an urge that you can’t explain other than to say, it’s inside of you.
Jonny: Whoa, it’s like you just stole my thoughts! I’m exactly the same way. I’ve written since elementary school (let’s not talk about how awful those stories were, haha!) and since moving to Kansas City almost a decade ago I had this insane compulsion to start writing again and never stopped. The urge to write is real!
What kind of setting do you write in most times?
P.L.: I have a writing corner in my house, with an old wooden desk I got at an antique place, a nice chair, near the fireplace, and a window. I like listening to soundtracks, to suit the mood of the scenes I write. For example, for a big battle scene, I might listen to the Gladiator Movie soundtrack.
Jonny: Oh wow, that’s awesome! I’m so jealous. Having a designated place is great, and I completely agree with you on the ambient music. I have an enormous YouTube playlist with hundreds of items for listening depending on what the scene calls for. For now, I’m stuck with my desktop in my room, but someday I’d love to have an entire room dedicated to writing and reading, a real place to escape.
I always find it interesting how authors lead multiple lives. What is your dayjob? Do you enjoy it?
P.L.: I’m in Federal law enforcement. I’ve been in law enforcement or security in one form or another for most of my adult life. It’s an incredible job, and I work with outstanding, selfless, extremely dedicated people.
Jonny: I didn’t see that one coming! That’s awesome that you’ve found what works for you outside of writing. Right now I’m working in Finance at a Legal Firm but I just submitted an application for Grad School in Library Science. I would just love to be surrounded by books all day and help spread the bookish love!
As a writer, what kind of goals do you set for yourself? How do you achieve them?
P.L.: Other now than nominal publishing goals, i.e. publish a book by a certain target date, I’m not one of those to set daily or weekly writing goals. I just write when I have the energy, time, and am in the mood. I am a maniacal writer in terms of “binges”. Some weeks go by and I don’t touch the keyboard. Some days I write most of the day. A lot I think has to do with my shift work job, and how my energy ebbs and flows, around that. I work afternoons, day shifts, night shifts. Your body is always out of flux, and so are your sleep patterns. So there is no “set time” you do anything. Neither do I have a set time to write. All I know is, some internal mechanism helps me meet deadlines – I know I have to get a draft done by, say June 1st, it’s getting done by June first. Can I chart how many hours it took me to get there, or which days I wrote on, or which days I wrote the most on? No way. I just make sure the sum of my writing is that the project is complete on time.
Jonny: Wow, you are very adaptable! It takes a lot to meet those targets, so extra kudos for you!
I’m super OCD with the timing of my day, so I don’t think I would do well with a shifting schedule. I typically get up at 4am (yes, I am crazy!) and go through the motions before work starts. My lunch breaks are pre sorted out, and so is some of my evening time as well. Color me a control freak, but I like to think it makes a difference and helps me get stuff done. 🙂
What is your favorite part of writing?
P.L.: Weirdly, I love writing the ending of my books. Oftentimes, I write the ending first, then go back and write other chapters. Endings somehow always resonate with me, and everyone always wants to know how a book ends, and as an author there is a lot of effort put into nailing the ending.
Jonny: Interesting. The ending really is super important, as that’s often what stays with readers. I myself like the beginning phase of the writing process, plotting and brainstorming. I love to swim in the possibilities of ideas, narrowing things down and setting things into place. I always feel like that little kid looking up at the clouds when I’m in that phase of things. Nothing can beat it!
What genre is your favorite to write in? Why?
P.L.: I am notoriously non-talented in terms of writing ability in any other genre. I am very limited that way. Fantasy is my favourite genre, and also the only genre I have interest and range to write in.
Jonny: Oh, I don’t believe that! I think we tend to be hard on ourselves sometimes. I know I am.
Fantasy is a great genre to go with, and I love reading those types of books. That’s actually the genre I first started out writing, but then things shifted and I started writing horror. I honestly never thought I’d write in that genre, but it turns out I’m not terrible! I guess it helps that I’ve watched hundreds of scary movies and love anything spooky.
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
P.L.: Currently working furiously on Book Two in The Drowned Kingdom Saga, which is entitled The Last of the Atalanteans.
Jonny: Yes, go for it! I’m glad that you’re continuing your series, and from a marketing standpoint it’s a very wise decision to make.
Not including family, who supported your efforts to become a published author?
P.L.: My work colleagues, for several different workplaces, and several different prior jobs, have been absolutely phenomenal in terms of their support of my book. It is entirely thanks to their encouragement, and purchasing my book, that I was able to achieve bestselling status so quickly. I am so grateful for them. They are marvellous people.
Jonny: Oh, that’s so great! I’m glad you have a wonderful support network. It really does make all the difference. I was super nervous about letting my friends know about my first book, but they loved it and now I feel a lot more confident sharing updates with them and new publications.
Who was your first publisher and what did you learn from them?
P.L.: FriesenPress is my Indie Publisher. They are, in my estimation, peerless in terms of Indie publishers in Canada – like the Mercedes Benz of Indie publishers in this country. We had the best team assembled that I can think of, like the Avengers version of Indie publishing! The team was led by my outstanding project Manager Liza Weppenaar, and included the amazing Geoff Soch and James Stewart who do design and marketing, and my wonderful editor Janet Layberry, I have learned so much from them. I came into this experience as a novice author. My partner in this venture, my brilliant wife, has a background in marketing. Still, she was new to the publication side. Lisa, Geoff, and James were invaluable in terms of helping to guide us through this crazy, delightful, confusing process of Indie publishing. We are still learning, of course, but the FriesenPress team certainly made things manageable, or else we would have been completely overwhelmed trying to figure so much out on our own. So, my wife, Liza, Geoff, James, Janet, and I combined to make an incredible team that got A Drowned Kingdom out into the world successfully!
Jonny: Haha, Avengers assemble! *pumps fist in air*
No but seriously, I’m glad that your publisher is so supportive and that you have a great team of creatives helping you navigate this new journey. There is most definitely much more to it than most people realize, so it really helps to be able to depend on certain people. And the best part is, it gets better with time!
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
P.L.: Since this is my first book, I think the answer is simple!
Jonny: Haha, yes indeed. First books will definitely have a special place in your heart, and I’m glad you took the journey and are sharing it with the world.
What do you think makes a good story?
P.L.: I’m all about character-driven plots. I want to read about lots of character drama, and family issues, obstacles, overcoming adversity. I want detailed, immersive stories. I want to know how the characters perceive the world. All five senses. I want to read books that make me think, make me lose myself in the pages, make me weep, make me laugh, make me think about them long after I turn the final page.
Jonny: All of that. Yes, yes, yes! Authors that incorporate all five senses in their works with great, original, and three-dimensional characters can step to the front of the line for me. I personally like a bit more plot-driven stories, but characters are undeniably a huge part of a book regardless. Without them a story wouldn’t be half as great.
How long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
P.L.: I think I spend a month or so making sure that I have no plot holes, conflicts, or glaring inconsistencies in terms of the history of my own universe that I have created! That would be embarrassing! Then, after I finish that research, I am usually pretty well ready to start writing.
Jonny: I’m glad that you make an effort to plot things out. Many people don’t, and just the thought of pantsing an entire book terrifies me. Then again I’m the control freak in the room, so there ya go, ha! I also spend time doing research, especially with my current project. It’s set in South America, and I’ve never been so a lot of things I’m constantly scratching my head about. The research most definitely shows in the finished product.
I use a method I call ‘half writing’ in plotting where I spell out the conversations, events, and descriptions in hopes that when I am ready to fully write, there’s a lot less work involved. It’s a weird quirk of mine, but it seems to work for me.
How do you select the names of your characters?
P.L.: That’s a secret. It’s a very original formula I have created, I think. Still, I can’t divulge much, save that the names of my characters are based on the cultures they hail from. For example, the haughty, supposedly-sophisticated Atalanteans, have very posh-sounding names, like Othrun, Aliaz, etc. The seemingly less lofty Acremians, have simpler, more straightforward names, like Hert, Wely.
Jonny: I totally understand. Your methodology makes sense to me. I usually either have a strong connection to using a particular name or I just plug some searches into Google until something clicks in my brain.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
P.L.: I can’t lie, I read them all. Most have been very positive, and even those with more sharp criticism still had some very complimentary parts. I’m a bit more sanguine about them now, than I was at first. I have come to truly understand negative reviews are virtually unavoidable to some degree. Yet, as long as you are receiving – generally – more positive than negative, I think as an author, without getting complacent, arrogant, or tone-deaf to feedback, you are doing ok.
Jonny: You’ll get no judgment from me! I read all of mine too, though I try to pace out how often I check. You made some great points. Not everyone is going to love your book, but as long as the general consensus is positive then I think you’re pretty much golden.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
P.L.: Coincidentally I write under a pen-name. It’s a combination of my name and my mother’s name.
Jonny: Aha! Very interesting. I know a number of fellow authors that use a pen name, but I don’t currently use one.
Describe yourself in three words.
P.L.: Kind. Supportive. Optimistic.
Jonny: Love all three of those! I’d say I am ambitious, contemplative, and very gregarious.
Fun Facts About P.L.
Pancakes or waffles?
P.L.: Pancakes all the way!
Jonny: Nice! Okay, so I’m usually a waffle guy, BUT I think it’s really just that I don’t enjoy the conventional pancake breakfast experience. That really just means I need to explore more savory options, like adding bacon, eggs, and peas to the equation and topping it with hot sauce (I looked it up. Apparently it’s a thing!). I can totally get behind that!
What’s your favourite place that you’ve travelled to?
P.L.: Barbados, where I am also a Citizen. Deb and I plan to retire there, and I consider it my second home. It is one of the most picturesque and peaceful places in the world. My mother lives there.
Jonny: Ooo, Barbados! And you have family there? Sounds perfect.
I’ve never been outside the states unfortunately, but I hope to do so in the next few years. Over the past several years I’ve been dialing down my travel to small out of the way places instead of big cities in hopes of finding the perfect quaint town to settle down in one day.
Are pineapples on pizza blasphemy or no?
P.L.: I LOVE pineapples, including on pizza. My pizza is open to almost any type of topping. It’s pizza. You can’t mess it up.
Jonny: Haha, fair enough, but I’ll keep my pineapples separate. That said, I’ll take a cheeseburger pizza anyday!
If you had to choose one type of food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
P.L.: I’d have to say fish! It’s one of the healthiest options as a protein, and it’s so tasty.
Jonny: You know, I’d have to agree with you. One of the types of food I always love is sushi. I don’t eat it all the time but I crave it pretty frequently. I make sure to stock up on the nori every time I go to the grocery store.
If you could choose to be any supernatural creature, what would you be and why?
P.L.: I’d say a dragon. Probably one of the hardest creatures to combat, you get to fly, and breathe fire. What’s not to like?
Jonny: Right? They’re darn near invincible! Today I’d say psychic/energy vampire for me. Unlike normal vampires, they don’t even have to bite people to get their life force.
If you could meet anyone who ever lived, past or present, who would that be?
P.L.: I would say Dr. Martin Luther King. He is one of my biggest heroes.
Jonny: Oh, I love that. For me I’d say any one of my scribe tribe (writer friends) that I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting in the flesh. We would have so much to catch up on, but everyone’s spread out so far I’ve rarely gotten the chance to meet any of them.
What are your favorite tv shows and movies?
P.L.: Anything on Netflix, and anything fantasy / historical fiction is a hit with me. Love The Last Kingdom, The Witcher, The Crown, for starters. Plan to get into Bridgerton – sounds fantastic.
Jonny: Oh my gosh, don’t even get me started on The Witcher! Such a great first season! I’m a sucker for anything fantasy, scifi, or horror, much like my books. I’m so predictable! Recently my favorite has been Invincible on Prime. Very good if you like superheroes (rated 18+, just so you know!).
What kind of music touches your soul?
P.L.: Rap, R &B, jazz, and classical can all move me.
Jonny: Awesome! I’m eclectic myself, so what genre moves me depends on my mood. Typically I surround myself with ambient, but I love a trip back in time to the 90’s and 80’s. Careful though, because if I do that I’m gonna be singing at the top of my lungs!
Marvel or DC? Come on, that isn’t a choice! Marvel rules!
Jonny: Totally! I still have hope that DC can turn things around with their movies but after the last Wonder Woman movie I’ve focused more on Marvel.
Who are your favorite writers?
P.L.: Amongst the iconic ones: Tolkien, T.H. White, N.K. Jemisin, Bernard Cornwell, George R.R. Martin is my top, I believe. I have some Indie writing friends that are also amongst my favourites, including Elizabeth Eckstein who I already referred to. Zack Argyle, Eve Koguce, Nigama RV, Rebecca Mickley, Beth Hudson, Murray Sheehan, Bjorn Larssen, they are all brilliant authors.
Jonny: Thanks for sharing, especially the shout out to indie authors. That’s what this space is all about! Let’s see, my favorite indie authors are Emerald Dodge, Teri Polen, Tammie Painter, M.D. Neu, Thea McAlistair, and Iseult Murphy for a start. Each of them are expert wordsmiths in my eyes, and I keep up with all their new releases. All the love!
What are you reading now?
P.L.: As an Indie I am privileged enough to get a lot of ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) and be able to beta read for phenomenal fellow authors. I have three amazing ones in queue by the following and up-and-coming Indie authors whose names you will want to remember: C.S. Ratcliff, A.R. Valdez, and Danielle Ancona. Remember those names – they have red-hot talent.
Jonny: Oh, for sure! Thanks for the name drops! I am about to start an ARC by Tammie Painter that comes out in the next couple weeks, then the following week there are new releases by M.D. Neu and J.P. Jackson. Lordy, what a busy month I’ll have!
What is your favorite genre to read? Why?
P.L.: Fantasy, for the pure escapism of it all. In jobs like mine, disconnecting from reality in a healthy, non-addictive, and non-destructive way, is always the goal, and fantasy provides that.
Jonny: 100%! I mainly read to escape as well, hence why I always go with either horror, scifi, or fantasy in fiction. It’s usually far enough out there to get immersed in and forget the world. I have started reading a little nonfiction for learning more about marketing, etc, but 95% is still gonna be fiction. I can’t stay away!
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
P.L.: I return to Quicksilver and Brimstone by Elizabeth Eckstein. When the masses realize how good a writer she is, she will be akin to the next J.K. Rowling. Elizabeth is that good.
Jonny: Thank you for sharing the bookish love. I’m sure she’s a wonderful talented author. 🙂
I’m just gonna keep things vague and say that virtually all of the highly rated indie books I’ve reviewed are underrated. Indie authors don’t get nearly enough attention out in the world, and that’s another important reason why I do this.
If you could take a vacation anywhere, where would you go?
P.L.: Of course, Barbados, my second home, and see my mother and Aunt June.
Jonny: For sure! I’d go to Canada in May. I hear they have (or had, not sure with Covid) a lot of festivals around that time, and it’s my birthday month! Even if they don’t, I’d still love to go to Canada and just experience what it is like. I’ve been wanting to for years.
Star Wars or Star Trek? OR Doctor Who?
P.L.: Star Trek. Without question.
Jonny: Same here. I was raised on all three, but Star Trek the most, so that one will always win out in the end.
If you were a tree, what kind would you be and why?
P.L.: A Ginkgo Biloba tree. It’s one of the world’s oldest, and longest-lived types of trees. It’s uses, from extracting from this tree, include a lot of amazing health-related benefits. I’d like to be old, and still useful.
Jonny: Great pick. I’d choose a similar one, a giant redwood tree! They basically can live forever if they luck out, and I’m already a tall ginger, so it fits!
How would you conquer the world?
P.L.: With love.
Jonny: Loving the positivity! I would conquer the world with tickles. I mean, they are REALLY incapacitating! As a kid, that’s how I would defeat my siblings.
What did you read as a kid? What stuck with you the most?
P.L.: I think the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis was the most impactful stuff I read as a child. The combination of fantasy, religious allegory, and beautiful writing, really hit home.
Jonny: Love it! I have a copy on my bookshelves, and though I only read the first five or so, I can see why you would pick that. I usually read Goosebumps or Animorphs when I was a kid. I recently re-read Animorphs for nostalgia’s sake and loved it!
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
P.L.: I would say, “Simplicity.”
I think at my core, I’m a pretty laid back and simple guy, with simple wants, needs and aspirations – other than the complex goal of being a great writer, that is.
Jonny: Nice! Mine would be ‘Man of a Thousand Hats’. I feel like I’ve already lived several lifetimes, and I’ve been all over the map with my career. Luckily, writing has stuck!
What has been your most bizarre life experience?
P.L.: I would say my current job has provided some fairly bizarre life experiences over the years. Too many to speak of, and some I can’t divulge for various reasons. It’s been an interesting ride.
Jonny: Oh, I can only imagine. You’re not alone. One of my most bizarre life experiences was being visited by the shadow people. I know it sounds nuts, but they used to follow me around and scare the crap out of me! They’ve calmed down quite a bit in the past 5 or so years, but their existence is something you can never forget.
What do you think would be a fitting epitaph on your gravestone?
P.L.: I would say, “he tried kindness first, and when all else failed, he tried it again”.
Jonny: All the points for positivity. I’ll go with a little funny yet morbid one. “He faceplanted through life until he met a set of stairs.” Lol, I couldn’t help myself!
If you could be any superhero, who would you be?
P.L.: Black Panther. He’s a noble king, he’s Black, and he is kind, thoughtful, and an amazing role model who protects others, and leads his people. Something to aspire to. Love seeing superheroes of diverse and racialized backgrounds.
Jonny: Yes, I love that superhero. Noble, strong, and doesn’t back down! I’ll go with Storm. Her powers are awesome, and from time to time her people need her and she always makes them a priority, not forgetting where she came from. That’s so important whether you’re a mutant or not!
If you had the chance to live any life you want, what life would that be?
P.L.: The one I am living now, with my wife Deb at my side, and the wonderful seven children we have between us, and their partners and children. I am very blessed. I want no other life than my own.
Jonny: Love it! Very happy for you, my friend. I wouldn’t want much to change for myself, just maybe more time to write. Other than that, I pretty much have all I want.
What would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
P.L.: I have several in mind, but probably an Elephant. They are these huge creatures, empathetic, mysterious, beloved. Who doesn’t love elephants?
Jonny: Yeah, and they’re super peaceful too when not taunted. I love elephants. 🙂 I will go with a Genet, which is a mongoose-like animal that resembles a cat. I mainly went with this because I’m a broken record and almost always go with cat. I just really love cats!
If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?
P.L.: I would say, it will be a crazy ride ahead, but you will come through to the other side of peace and wisdom, from turmoil and immaturity. Don’t fret. Stay positive. Persevere.
Jonny: Totally! My message would be similar. Stop caring what other people think. Most won’t matter in the big picture of things, so be yourself without apologies.
What were you like in high school?
P.L.: I was pretty well the same personality and behaviour wise as I am now. I started off fairly geeky, in my opinion, and somewhat bookish. I gained a lot of strength and athleticism later, so while I did not consider myself a “jock”, I loved and played a lot of sports. I think I was fairly popular, or at least popular enough not to feel like an outsider to any particular group. High school was one of the best times of my life, full of amazing friends, great times, lots of laughs, parties, and somewhere in there some actual school work.
Jonny: Nice! I also belonged to a number of groups. I started out being a little geeky, then I hung out with the popular kids and got tired of that, so I became a choir nerd, all the while keeping all my friends from each group. So I agree with you. High school was wonderful. I always had tons of friends and got away with a lot. I was so mischievous!
P.L. and His Works
Tell us about your new book.
P.L.: Once Second Prince of the mightiest kingdom in the known world, Lord Othrun now leads the last survivors of his exiled people into an uncertain future far across the Shimmering Sea from their ancestral home, now lost beneath the waves. With his Single God binding his knights to chivalric oaths, intent on wiping out idolatry and pagan worship, they will have to carve out a new kingdom on this mysterious continent―a continent that has for centuries been ravaged by warlords competing for supremacy and mages channeling the mystic powers of the elements―and unite the continent under godly rule.With a troubled past, a cursed sword, and a mysterious spirit guiding him, Othrun means to be that ruler, and conquer all. But with kingdoms fated on the edge of spears, alliances and pagan magic, betrayal, doubt, and dangers await him at every turn. Othrun will be forced to confront the truths of all he believes in on his journey to become a king, and a legend. When one kingdom drowns, a new one must rise in its place. So begins the saga of that kingdom, and the man who would rule it all.
Jonny: Oh wow, what a synopsis! That sounds like quite the epic journey!
How did you come up with the title for this book?
P.L.: A Drowned Kingdom was an easy title to come up with, because this book is centered around the destruction of my version of Atlantis. I wanted to pay homage to Plato’s Atlantis myth, with my own unique take on what such an island would have looked like: its inhabitants, its culture, traditions, government, military, etc. I wanted there to be a sense of epic tragedy, of loss, of not just the physical island, but of most of a complete society, wiped out in an apocalyptic disaster. The title is also symbolic of a “drowning” so to speak of preconceived notions, expectations, and beliefs by Othrun, the main character, and many of his followers. The “drowning” is a rebirth, and re-emergence, too. Water is a great metaphor for a washing away of things, making way for fresh perspectives.
Jonny: That’s awesome that it works on multiple levels. I don’t know much about Atlantis but I’ve always been intrigued by the concept.
What inspired you to write this book in particular? Is it part of a series?
P.L.: This book was always going to be the opener in a long planned group of books about the universe I created in A Drowned Kingdom. This particular first series, The Drowned Kingdom Saga, will have seven books.
Jonny: Holy moly! Wishing you all the best on this long-term project!
What was your favorite part about writing this book?
P.L.: My favourite part of writing the book is the in-depth conversations where you really gain insights into the various personalities, and their thought process and motivations. I love writing the political intrigue, and complex plot lines woven together. Absolutely love writing family drama pieces too. And of course, I enjoy writing the battle scenes, for the pure thrill of it. I don’t mean to glorify war and death. They are horrible. Still, the paradox is, I can’t lie about the fact that the juices really get stirred up when you are writing about a big fight.
Jonny: Yeah, I love great dialogue that shows a lot of personality and character. And fight scenes? I live for them! I had a bunch of them in my novel Reaper: Aftermath and it was so exhilarating. Such a rush.
Do you have a favorite character in your new book? Why are they your favorite?
P.L.: Othrun is the hero of the story, and he is what my books are about, so he is my favourite. He is so complex, so layered. I love that about him, and any character. He’s moody, vain, bigoted, myopic, privileged, homophobic, misogynistic, intolerant of other religions, patriarchal, and a whole assortment of other negative traits and behaviours. Yet, he’s brave, honourable, devout, very intelligent and highly capable, a great leader. I find him so compelling, and I think others will too. They will hate him, love him, be fascinated by him.
Jonny: Flawed characters are what it’s all about. It sounds like he has a good balance of things going for him, and I’m sure his shortcomings will make the journey even more interesting.
What did you find was the hardest part about writing this book?
P.L.: Editing is always the hardest part of me. You become blind especially to your spelling and grammatical errors, after you read your own work so many times.
Jonny: Oh my gosh, tell me about it! Editing is the worst for me too. Plotting and writing the first draft are relatively easy, but going over things so many times can really drain you. A necessary evil, yes, but not my favorite!
How much of your book is based on your own experiences or those of someone you know?
P.L.: There is a bit of me, and many people I have known through my life, interspersed throughout every character in the book. There are bits and pieces of me in every character I create. There are a few characters that are largely based on family members, and those family members know who those characters are. In terms of experiences, yes, much of the tough themes, like racism, colonialism, religious intolerance, homophobia, political intrigue and family drama / dysfunctional relationships, etc. comes from work experience, and general life experience.
Jonny: I like to think that with our characters we put a little shard of ourselves in them, so I’m glad you did that with yours. When I first started out writing, the characters were very similar to my real-life inspirations, but over time they evolved way beyond that and became their own person.
What kind of research went into writing your book?
P.L.: Most of my research involved what was feasible in terms of lifestyle, technology and warfare in ancient times. I have a background in Medieval Literature, and history, so a lot of the research was fine-tuning some of what I already knew. That’s the benefit of fantasy. Most of your research is likely only used to augment a sense of realism, rather than so painstaking because you are writing about real-life places or things, the way a historical fiction writer would have to potentially do copious amounts of research.
Jonny: Oh wow, I bet you’re a powerhouse of knowledge! This is the perfect use of your background. I bet that really reflects well in your world-building.
What criteria did you use when selecting the cover for your book?
P.L.: My book covers must reflect a central theme to that particular book – ideally representative of the title itself, or as close as I can achieve that. I like to keep my covers simple, elegant. I love and drool over those amazing, complex covers with all kids of artwork and multiple images, animated covers, etc. But for my novels, I want the reader to be left with ONE main image that remains with them about each book, so that they can easily distinguish one book from the other. So, with A Drowned Kingdom, it’s the gold Triangle and Circle Icon, set over the greenish / bluish water, against a greenish / bluish sky. I think that makes the Triangle and Circle stand out. That cover represents the drowning of Atalantyx, the mysticism surrounding that drowning, what caused it, what remains after that drowning. I love that cover! My future covers will be similar – a central image, and a complimentary background that is meaningful, tied into the central image.
Jonny: Very nice! I like where you’re coming from on covers. I also prefer to keep things a bit simple, but with my genre sometimes a simple cover is still gonna be crazy!
Was there a message in your book that you were trying to convey?
P.L.: I would say the possibility for change and evolution, and the need to have empathy, and not be entrenched in one’s views, is a huge message that will be conveyed throughout the book and the series called The Drowned Kingdom Saga. We humans all believe we are coming from a place of moral superiority. We are very infrequently right about that. We need to understand others, see their points of view, open ourselves to other contrasting / competing opinions. It does not mean we will ever necessarily agree with those views. Just that they are as valid as our own, and need to be considered. There are also a lot of other messages about societal issues, but I put them out there more to incite discussion, rather than to take a particular side. Because, there are always multiple sides to issues such as racism, etc. For example, I believe racism is a scourge on society. But it’s a complex issue. It should be simple. Racism is horrible, destructive, don’t be racist. The end. But it’s not. So it all starts with a conversation, exploring what racism means, its genesis, how it manifests, how it can be defeated, IF it can be defeated, to what extent it can be extinguished, etc.
Jonny: I like that you bring these important subjects to life in your book. I agree with you that issues should be simple, but like you said, there’s multiple sides to every story and everyone is entitled to an opinion.
Is there anything you would change about your book?
P.L.: Not this one. I feel I wrote the story I wanted to write, and I actually love A Drowned Kingdom, and how it turned out. Every writer wishes in hindsight “oh I wish I would have said this like that, and that like this”, but you have to let it go. Overall, I am quite pleased with the book. The only thing is, I would have loved my book to be absolutely pristine in terms of absence of spelling and grammatical errors. I know that even big-name authors with traditionally published books have those issues, however I would have loved complete perfection in that regard. Alas, I caught a spelling mistake in my book post publication. I hope there’s only one – I doubt it – but it still bothers me it’s there.
Jonny: Darn those pesky grammar and spelling goblins! I totally understand. Even to the very end point right before publication my readers and I are constantly picking up tiny little things that evaded me. The struggle is real, but we can only try so hard, ya know?
If your book would be made into a film, who would you like to play the leads?
P.L.: I would say Brad Pitt for Othrun, my protagonist, just maybe need a younger actor to play the younger Othrun. Someone like Chord Overstreet? Jude Law for Erthal. Jeremy Irons for Atalan. George Clooney would make a great Wely, and someone soulful and cerebral like a Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Uthlen. Leo DiCaprio for Glathan. Chris Evans for Hert. Maybe Jessica Alba for Aliaz, Gal Gadot for Lysi, and for sure Ian McKellan for Yedwol.
Jonny: Nice choices! I can totally see these actors together in an epic movie. You really thought this one through!
What other projects do you have in store for the world to see in the future? Anything you can share with us?
P.L.: The Drowned Kingdom Saga, of which A Drowned Kingdom is the opening salvo, is a series of 7 planned books. Then, once completed, I will write two separate prequel trilogies, each based on characters that lived long before Lord Othrun, who were Othrun’s heroes. Then, I plan to return to the story, to pick up where The Drowned Kingdom Saga ends, for another seven books.
Jonny: Whoa, huge plans! Best of luck with your writing pursuits in this universe! I’m sure it’ll be an amazing ride.
Alright, P.L., it’s time we wrap things up. Before we go, do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events, and special offers?
P.L.: My website is http://www.plstuart.com! You can easily find links there to purchase my books. I write a monthly blog, which I publish there, with motivational posts, and writing tips. And of course that is where you can find all my media posts (interviews, podcasts I participate in, newspaper articles written about me, etc.). It’s a great place to keep up on the world of P.L. Stuart and my writing, what books are coming out next, and any other news pertaining to me.
Jonny: Thanks so much for that info, and again for joining me on here.
That’s a Wrap!
All righty book worms, that wraps up my interview with P.L. Stewart. I had a wonderful time chatting it up with him, and I hope you enjoyed the experience too!
If you’d like to learn more about P.L. and his work, he can be reached at the social media links provided below.
Thank you for stopping by, and have a great day!
Social Media Links
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