Meet the author of the FOUNDLING WIZARD and the APPRENTICE TO MASTER series, James A. Eggebeen!
I just finished reading Wizard Foundling, the first book in the Apprentice to Master series and loved it. You can check out my review here. But now I’d like to take some time to introduce you to the author, James A. Eggebeen.
Thank you so much for being here today James! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a high tech executive, or at least I was for most of my life. I have been a full time writer since last fall when the company I was working was restructured after raising money. I found myself unemployed and decided that this was the perfect opportunity to take on more writing while I looked for a job. So far I have done a lot more writing than I expected and want to try to make the full time writing work out by supplementing it with part time consulting (software).
Great way to pursue your dreams! What do you do when you are not writing?
I go to writer’s groups, I take care of the house, and I read. My kids are grown and my wife works, so I get to spend quiet days writing and doing the laundry, the dishes and housework. Oh, and I cook, I love to cook. And if Doctor Who is on. I’m there.
Ah, a fellow Whovian! LOL! So when did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing in college many years ago. I needed an English credit to graduate, and I hated English. I signed up for “Chief Modern Poets of Britain and America” and when the textbooks came, I ran for the Dean’s office begging for something else, anything else. She said there was an opening in Creative Writing and I could take that. I am (and always have been) an avid reader, so writing sounded like a reasonable alternative to all the poetry. I took the class and fell in love with writing.
I participated in an on-line writing group at the dawn on the internet and enjoyed it immensely. I sat down to write my first novel in 2011 when my wife went to the Philippines for two months and left me home alone. I needed something to do, so I took one of my short stories and turned it into a novel. I found a good editor and worked with her to get it ready for publication, and got my son to design me a cover in his graphics class and published the Foundling Wizard in august of 2012.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I was a big science fiction fan, but fell in love with Fantasy a number of years ago. I decided to write Fantasy because that is the genre I know the best. I have dozens (probably hundreds) of Fantasy novels all over the house and in my personal library. I love the idea of creating these rich fantasy worlds, and can’t think of anything more fun than writing scenes where Wizards battle with magic.
Where do you get your ideas?
At first it was hard. I couldn’t come up with problems and situations for my characters, but the more I write in my fantasy world, the more it comes easily. Lately, I seem to come up with ideas faster than I can write them down. People always ask me where I get the ideas. All I can think to say is they just come to me when I sit and think about them, although I’ll have to admit, sometimes I sit back in my writing chair to visualize a scene and fall asleep, so maybe I dream them up while I’m sleeping.
Dreaming up ideas 😀 I like that concept. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
When I’m not sure how things will work out; I struggle to write much. When that happens, I take out my outline and start looking over what I had planned. I usually find a problem that doesn’t fit with what I already wrote. When I fix that, the words start to flow again.
So you work with an outline? Tell us more about how you do it.
Oh, I am a heavy outliner. I use the Story Engineering model (surprising isn’t it coming from a software engineer) to build my rough outline. Then I use the snowflake method to go back in and increase the level of detail until I have a good model for the whole story. I usually have each chapter outlined up to the mid-point of the story and then I start writing. When I get close to the middle, I finish the outline so I have a map that will take me all the way to the end. I would be totally lost without my outline.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Arthur C Clark, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein as a kid. As an adult, more Orson Scott Card, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournell. I read a lot of Terry Brooks and Robert Jordan. The Hitchhiker’s Guide and Terry Pratchet of course are a must.
Oooh, Robert Jordan is one of my faves too! Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I think the hardest part was learning how to work with an editor. I found someone who was willing to work with me. I send her my “polished” manuscript. She read through it and told me that there was something terribly wrong, but she was not sure what it was. We spent several days discussing what she felt and finally came to understand what I had missed. I put together a plan to fix everything she noticed, and then did a fairly significant revision. It was a great experience, and a lot of work, but I’m glad we did it. I learned so much from that experience.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
Not really. I was pretty happy with the whole process. I have a great relationship with my editor, and was able to stop in and visit with her in person while my wife and I were in the UK for our anniversary. We’re from California and getting to meet my editor in England was a real treat. It definitely helps build that relationship for future work.
What a treat! How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
You aren’t going to like my answer here. I don’t market my work beyond putting it on Amazon and doing a Goodreads giveaway. I tried a few things in the beginning but nothing seemed to work. I am a big fan of Dean Wesley Smith. He says write more books. That is the way to get visibility. I have found that each new release drives sales for my whole catalog of books, so I mainly focus on writing more in the series and not so much on marketing.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
I have a science fiction book I wrote about one of my favorite characters. I tested it with a couple of Beta readers, and they didn’t like the character. I really want to get that character out there, but I have to figure out why they didn’t like her as much as I do. Until I get positive reader feedback, she stays on my hard drive. I have really been focusing on getting the fantasy series complete before I take on the science fiction one.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
Master Wizard is the third in the series (not counting the prequel) that wraps up Lorit and Chihon’s journey. It’s the culmination of their growth and maturity and the end of their trials. I am starting revisions soon with a target to have it ready for publication by June. It’s aggressive, but I think I can make it.
Good luck with your goal! Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
I think the relationship between the characters draws on real life. I am a rather even keeled type of guy. I’ve been married for twenty-five years, and depend on my wife for a lot. We discuss everything of importance, and I rely on her for more than I let on. I think this shows in my characters. The female characters in my books are all strong and intelligent, sometimes more so than the males. My editor says I write the women better than I write the men.
You’ll have to admit, women are quite fun to write about! Haha! So what was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I love to write very descriptive battles and magical scenes. In my upcoming novel, I used a vision to show the main character as a dragon, and let the reader experience firsthand what it would be like to be a dragon. I drew heavily on my experience as a private pilot to illustrate the freedom and peacefulness of flight. I loved that scene and it shows.
Oooo Dragons! I can’t wait to read it! How did you come up with the title?
The Foundling Wizard title was just sort of obvious. I sat down and decided that I needed a title, and that was the first thing that came to mind. I shared it with a few people and they thought it was cool, so it stuck. The other titles are all based on “Wizard” something, so they’re not as imaginative as they could be, but it helps tie all the books together in the series.
What project are you working on now?
I’m revising Master Wizard, the completion of the Apprentice to Master series.
Will you have a new book coming out soon?
Master Wizard is set for a June release.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I used Lorit and Chihon in the main series. I decided to take a closer look at the genesis of the old wizards, so I write Wizard Pair to delve deeper into their beginnings. I have a new character introduced in Master Wizard who is going to get at least one book of his own. One thing that L.E. Modesitt did that I loved, was to write two books that covered the same story. In each one, the protagonist was the antagonist from the other book. It was great in that it showed that both of the characters were acting in what they thought of as the best interest of society and their own order. I loved it, and would like to do that one day. Take one of the evil Priests and show his story and motivation. Maybe when the main series is done.
What a cool writing style! What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
Right after I published Foundling Wizard, I got a scathing review on Amazon from someone who hated the book. It really hurt, but I learned that not everyone likes what you write. I try to take criticism as a means of helping me improve, so I don’t take it too much to heart.
The best criticism is a review that said the reader loved the book and was going to buy the next one right away. That pretty much sums it all up. I don’t really get much feedback from readers. I think fantasy readers are pretty subdued. Some authors have huge readership with lots of feedback from their readers. The only think I know about my readers is that they buy from Amazon.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Read a lot and write a lot. Get feedback on as much of your work as you can. I do a lot with local writer’s groups and have found them to be a great learning environment. Make friends with other writers and trade ideas and learning. But, most of all, keep writing. The more you write, the better you will get at it.
Great advice James! Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
I’m so excited to see that people enjoy my work. I had no idea what to expect when I published my first novel, but I am encouraged by how many people are reading it. I particularly love to hear folks talk about my characters as if they were real people. That says I am portraying them well enough that they seem real to someone else besides me.
Thank you so much James for sharing about yourself and your work! Loved having you!
And to my readers and fellow fantasy fans, take a minute to check out Foundling Wizard and the rest of the books from the Apprentice to Master series here. Already read one of James A. Eggebeen’s books and loved em like I do? Leave a review here.