Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An Interview with R.T. Kaelin, author of Progeny

You, my friends, are in for a treat today! R.T. Kaelin, author of the epic high fantasy Progeny, is here for an author interview!

Now if you are a fan of fantasy, this is a book you need to pick up. At 672 pages it might seem a bit daunting at first, but I can promise you that this book is absolutely worth the read. It's amazing!

I'll have a review up very soon, but in the meantime I'll give the floor over to R.T. and let him talk. Enjoy!

1) Progeny must have been quite an undertaking! The book is amazing, but massive. What would you say was the hardest part about making it a reality?

Honestly, I think the hardest part about writing the book was the fact that I had never written anything of any significant length before Progeny. I had produced a number of short stories, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I said, “Hey, I’m going to write a book.”

I learned a lot about the writing process and storytelling while working on the novel. There were a number of false starts and large rewrites as I learned “my voice” as an author and discovered the type of book I wanted Progeny to be. I would compare my experience to a man stumbling about a very dim room for a long time, searching for a way out. Eventually my eyesight grew accustomed to the dark, giving me a better idea where I was and where I needed to go. Eventually, I stumbled over a flashlight and—boom!—I knew exactly what I wanted to do and how to do it.

While the overarching plot for the series has not varied from my plans, the full story within Progeny was very organic. Many of the characters morphed as I wrote, as they told me who they were instead of the other way around. I wrote scenes in manners that seemed natural and believable. Simply put, I put Characters A, B, and C into Situation Z and said, “Okay, what would everyone do to get out of this?”

The book is long because of this approach, but I think the story is richer and more “real."

2) Was there a specific moment that set your writing career into motion, or was it more gradual?

In a manner of speaking, both.

I liked to write when I was younger—back in high school—but once I went to college, I let it slip away. Life and other activities got in the way. However, my active imagination never stopped. I just did not let it out onto paper. Eventually, it forced its way out, though.

A few years back, I was going on vacation and needed something to read. I went to the bookstore and stumbled over a book I had read back in high school: Magician: Apprentice by Raymond Feist. I remembered really enjoying the book then, so I picked it up and went on my trip.

I absolutely devoured the book. I had to go pick up the second book in the series while on vacation. I tore through that one, too. Then I discovered Mr. Feist had written over twenty books in his world of Midkemia. I read them all, one after another.

When I was done, I moved on to the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. After getting though about half of the series, I looked for something else to read for a bit (Jordan’s writing, while phenomenal and incredibly detailed, can be a bit heavy at times).

That is when fate struck.

I picked up three “bad” books in a row. The plots were awful. The characters were one-dimensional and predictable. The writing was…lazy. I did not even finish two of them.

I made the comment, “I can come up with a better story than this.”

So, I did.

3) Is there anything that you obsessively collect?

Now? Not really.

When I was a kid, however, I collected baseball cards. Lots and lots of baseball cards. I still have them all in boxes in the basement of my house. A few months ago, I looked through them and wondered if any of them were worth anything. I am sure there are… I have cards going back to 1985 in there.

Yikes. That makes me feel old.

4) What is one book that you've read so many times, that you know it by heart?

Probably the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although, like any good book, I learn or find something new each time I pick it up and read it.

5) I saw in your biography that you were part of a local gaming group, so I'm going to try my hand at giving you a challenge. You're in a dark, dank dungeon. Directly in front of you there are three hallways. One in the middle, and one each on the left and right. You see light down the middle one, but there is a warm breeze coming down the one to the right, and a cry for help coming from the one to the left. You need to move soon, because you can hear goblins sneaking up behind you. Which pathway do you take?

Speaking of Lord of the Rings…this reminds me a bit of the Mines of Moria.

So, let’s see…

Since I cannot ask you any questions about the scene, I will give you a stream-of-consciousness response.

My first inclination is to go help whoever is calling for help. But I would only do so after asking a few questions: What does the voice sound like? A child? Is it even a person? Is there anything about the voice that might make me a little uneasy? 

The “warm breeze” one scares me a bit. If I am in a dark, dank dungeon, the warmth means there is probably fire or at least a group of individuals down that hall. I think I would leave that one alone.

The middle hallway—the one with the light—might be my answer, depending on if I have a light source with me. If I do not, then I would be more willing to walk down that one. At least I could see what was coming. If I do have a light source, then I am not sure I would care much for the middle hall. Again, light in a dungeon typically means people.

In the end, I think I would probably choose the hallway with the cry for help. Assuming the cry was not all creepy-like.



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