Sunday, June 26, 2016

Tales From Virdura by: Graham Downs w/ Interview


Title: Tales from Virdura
Author: Graham Downs
Series: Kingdom of Virdura (Book 2)
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: June 1 2016
Edition/Formats: eBook
Source: Author via RBTL Book Promotions
Explore Virdura, a world full of fantasy, magic, and drama.
Find out what happens when a dashing young farmer's son swoops a neighbouring daughter off her feet.
Meet Queen Tricia and the Royal Wizard Solon. Or Queen Celeste, her daughter, as she continues to struggle to come to terms with her new role as queen after the death of her mother.
Or read about Tobin the Bounty Hunter as he takes down Jarvis, a merciless criminal who brutally slit a blacksmith's throat.
All these stories and more await you in Tales From Virdura, a collection of flash fiction stories that take you deep into the world and the lives of the characters who inhabit it.
If you enjoyed reading A Petition to Magic, this might just be your next read.
You'll find out more about old characters and meet new ones. You'll read prequels and origin stories, and you'll read original stories taking place in new locales within the Kingdom.
This book can be enjoyed as a companion to, or separate from, A Petition to Magic Book 1 in the Kingdom of Virdura Series.

This is a free story out of the collection. It’s called Runt Wizard, and it’s an origin story for Solon the wizard, a principle character in the book’s sequel, A Petition to Magic:
Young Solon stared stoically ahead as two of his tormentors held him down, and a third ripped off his shirt from behind.
He gritted his teeth as the thin reed stung his naked back. And a second time. And a third.
Solon vowed that he would not cry out. He was the son of the Royal Wizard, and he would carry himself as such.
Three other children danced around him, snorting like pigs and calling him names.
"Foolborn runt!" they chanted. "Where is your all-powerful magic now?"
The mocking continued, and the lashings went on. Seven now, and Solon could feel blood trickling down his back. He focused on the smell of the boys' sweat, mixed in with the dust of the dry, arid field they were in. Despite himself, a single tear ran down his left cheek.
"Oh, he's a cry-baby now too, eh?" said one of the boys. "Pathetic son of a useless mage."
Something inside Solon snapped. His eyes shot open, and under his breath, he began reciting an old incantation.
Another thwack of the reed.
"What's he doing now, do you think?"
"Speaking gibberish. I think we may have beaten him a little too hard, boys."
While his tormentors laughed, nobody noticed the storm clouds gathering overhead. Nobody paid any attention to the flash of lightning, and clap of thunder indicating how close it was.
Above a boy's head (the one who had insulted Solon's father), the sky crackled, and a blue bolt began to take shape, high up in the clouds.

Thank you for joining us today. I hope we haven’t interrupted your busy schedule too much.
Thank you for having me. I can assure you, the pleasure is mine!

Can you tell us how you came to be an author? Has it been an easy or difficult journey?
I’ve always been an avid reader, starting from a very young age. In Primary School I was regularly a year or two ahead of the “normal” reading level.
I’ve also always had a vivid imagination, and loved telling stories. I got into tabletop roleplaying in High School, and I always seemed to find myself playing the role of Game Master, inventing the stories, trials and tribulations that the characters would face.
When I was maybe eleven or twelve, I wrote a gamebook (I love gamebooks, my favourite being the Lone Wolf series by Joe Dever) about a spy. I can’t remember much about it now, and unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately, because I’m sure that it was really rubbish – it’s long lost. In those days, there was no Internet, there were no USB flash drives, and there wasn’t much education about backing up your work.
Anyway, the roleplaying carried on through High School, and a little after, but eventually, real life got in the way, and our little group wasn’t meeting very often anymore. But something was missing from my life – the desire to tell stories.
I didn’t know self-publishing was an option, and to be honest, I really wasn’t bothered to go through the mission of writing something, pitching for an agent, then trying to find a publisher, who would in all likelihood butcher my work beyond recognition. Over time, I gave up on the idea of writing.
Until 2012, that is. A Twitter friend of mine self-published a book, When Twins War, on Smashwords. I’d never heard of Smashwords before that point. I knew about Amazon, of course, but I didn’t know about KDP or self-publishing either.
I bought his book and read it; it’s actually quite good. It sparked in me a desire to write again, and knowing how easy it was to get my work out into the world was an experience of freedom, that I cannot explain.
One night, soon after, I had a dream about an old man, standing in a study, surrounded by all manner of bottles and flasks containing a wide variety of multi-coloured liquids. A massive tome lay open on his desk.
And so, my first ever published work, A Petition to Magic, was conceived.
Over the next several months, I learnt more than I ever thought I would know about marketing and publishing. I contacted one of my old school teachers (Hilary Keegan), who’s an artist, and explained my vision to her. A few months after that, I had my cover, and I was thrilled to see that it was exactly what I had in my head.
Since then, I’ve continued to grow, both as an author and a businessman. I’ve learnt a hell of a lot about marketing, and I’ve also learnt enough about the traditional publishing industry to make me believe that I made the right decision to self-publish.
As to the future, who knows? But I hope to be doing this for many years to come.

What motivates you as an author?
Book sales.
No, I’m joking. Well, only half-joking. Seeing people purchasing and downloading my work (even Billy’s Zombie, which is my free book) is so inspiring. I can’t believe that people actually want to read what I’ve written.
A very close second (or perhaps it’s even a first) is seeing those same people write reviews for my books. It’s amazing. Not only are people reading my work, but some of them even take the time to tell me what they think. Even when the reviews are bad, they’re motivating… maybe more so for a bad review, because the bad reviews (if they’re written in a constructive way) help me to become a better writer.

How do you deal with rejection and setbacks as an author?
I think I’ve answered that a little above, but let me elaborate a little bit.
Let’s be honest, a review that says some variation on “this book sucks”, and doesn’t go into any detail, really… well, sucks.
I try not to dwell too much on those reviews. I think they’re written by trolls who’re just looking for a response. Which I never give, by the way.
A review that says some variation on “I didn’t like this book” is perfectly fine, though. My writing’s not going to grab everyone, and those people should feel free to request refunds from wherever they bought those books. No hard feelings.
Ah, but a review that says “I thought this was a bad book, because of….” Now, those are gold. I gobble up those reviews, taking note of every single piece of information in them. I internalize the reasons those reviewers give, consider them carefully and prayerfully, and one way or another, use them to improve my own writing.

How do you deal with writer’s block?
It’s tough, don’t get me wrong.
I find it useful sometimes, to close the manuscript I’m busy with at the time, and write something else. Be it a blog post, an opinion piece, a private journal entry which nobody but me will read. Anything, as long as it’s completely different to the one that has me blocked.
Other times, I’ll get up and move away from the keyboard altogether. When that happens, I will just sit, and force my mind to wonder. I’ll analyse the plot of my work in progress, the motivations of the characters, and try to figure out where they want me to go. It’s important to know exactly what’s going to happen in a scene before you write it. It makes the process go a lot easier, I think.
Note that this doesn’t mean I’m a “planner”. I generally don’t write any outlines down, but only keep a general idea in my head. But before I write any one particular scene, I have it mapped out more-or-less perfectly in my mind (just like what happened with that dream I had, which became A Petition to Magic).

Do you have any motivational books or websites which you find useful from time to time?
Hmm, not really. My Twitter feed and writing groups on Facebook keep me motivated. I have such wonderful, supportive friends, and there are always things to read about the writing journey, or how to be inspired.
I particularly enjoy Joanna Penn’s tweets, YouTube videos, and blog posts, though. I guess that’s as close to a direct answer to your question as I can get. Joanna is a career indie author, and she’s always writing stuff and doing videos aimed at helping other authors make successes of themselves.

Who has been the biggest influence upon your writing?
My readers. Hands down. When the general public reacts to something I’ve written, I listen, Even if I don’t follow what they want me to do, I’m a better writer for it, because it means I’ve considered something and consciously decided not to do it – and I know why I’ve decided not to do it, too.

Tell us about a typical day for you. Do you have any special routines which you strictly keep to?
I have a day job as a Software Developer, and when things aren’t too hectic, work ends at four-thirty in the afternoon. Because of a hereditary eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa, I can’t drive, so I need to wait for my wife to come and pick me up from work.
It’s in those quiet times, when everyone else has gone home, and I’m waiting, that I work on my writing career.
I try to get actual writing in as often as possible, but there are lots of things that you need to do when you’re an author, so I use this time for marketing, writing, networking, and the like.

How have family and friends reacted to you as an author? Are they supportive?
Very much so! My wife has supported my decision from the very first day I told her I was working on A Petition to Magic. My parents and siblings, and indeed everybody else, had no idea until I announced that it had been published. They were bowled over, and very impressed!

Do you have a muse? If so, please could you tell us a little about him/her?
No, no muses in the traditional sense. Sorry. Just my own experiences and imagination. And of course, my dreams. Almost all of my books come from dreams, all pretty much as detailed as that first one was, about A Petition to Magic.

What have been your biggest projects so far this year?
Well, I’ve just published Tales From Virdura, and I am marketing it harder than I’ve ever marketed a book before. That’s taking up a lot of my time – time I’d rather spend working on my next project, to be sure, but the marketing is important.
I hope to start my next one soon, though!

Going forwards as an author, what do you realistically hope to accomplish?
That’s a difficult question. I would like to reach the point where I’m selling a book a day. I think that would be cool.
I know what you’re expecting to hear: something along the lines of me wanting to quit my day job and write full time. But that’s not true of me; I love my day job, as much as I love writing, and both are an equally important part of me. It’d be nice to be able to scale back the hours at my day job, maybe. And to be able to pay off my house early would be awesome… but I’d need to sell a lot more than a book a day to achieve that!
Of course, I’m not going to be working that job for the rest of my life, so I hope that one day when I retire, the writing will remain, and will keep me sustained for the rest of my days.

Graham Downs is a South African author. He was born in Alberton, in Gauteng, South Africa, and now lives in Germiston with his wife. Aside from being an independent author, he is a computer programmer in Rivonia.
Since publishing his first book (A Petition to Magic) in 2012, he has published four more, including his latest, Heaven and Earth: Paranormal Flash Fiction. This is a collection of six flash fiction stories, ranging from straight-up horror to downright weird.
Although he has always had a passion for writing, it wasn't until December 2012, at the age of 32 that Downs finally decided to unleash his imagination onto the world at large. The result was A Petition to Magic, a short fantasy story about a wizard who cannot perform magic, and a queen who demands his help.
Following on the success of A Petition to Magic, Downs was asked by fellow author Darren Worrow in 2013, to contribute a story to a charity anthology called I am not Frazzle, benefiting the Devizes Community Centre for Children, in the United Kingdom. He eagerly accepted, and penned Stingers, which was included. The anthology was released in December of 2013. (Stingers was released as a stand-alone story on 16 June 2014.)
While I am not Frazzle was being prepared for release, Downs released his second story, Heritage of Deceit, on 1 December 2013. It's a modern day thriller, and tells the story of a man working in an office, who stumbles across what he believes is a relic from an old genocide.
In October 2014, in time for Halloween, Billy's Zombie was released. It is a very short horror story, about a high school boy whom everyone thinks is a freak. In an effort to exact his revenge on his tormentors, he borrows a book on necromancy from the library, which he successfully uses to raise a zombie from the dead.
Wanting to continue his foray into the horror/paranormal genre, he went on to publish Heaven and Earth: Paranormal Flash Fiction in April 2015. This is a collection of six flash fiction stories in the horror/weird fiction genre.
His newest work is due for release in June 2016, and is now available for pre-order. It's called Tales From Virdura, and it continues the Flash Fiction format. However, he decided to revisit his roots, so to speak, as this collection expands upon the world and characters introduced in his first published story, A Petition to Magic
In addition to his published works, Downs has written many free flash fiction stories and essays, in a wide variety of genres. They're all available for free on his blog. You can also find a monthly crossword puzzle there, sometimes with prizes for solving it correctly. Find both his free writing, and the monthly crossword puzzle, by visiting his Blog.
Graham Downs is always working on new stories, in a variety of different genres, and he hopes to go from strength to strength as he releases better and better writing, and his popularity continues to grow.

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