Monday, March 21, 2011

Interview of R. L. Copple, author of Reality's Dawn

Please join me today for an interview of R. L. Copple, author of Reality's Dawn.

Who do you think would like your book? (Or alternately: Please tell prospective readers why they’d like your book.)

Young Adult and Adult fantasy lovers, with a twist of fairy tale, humor, horror, and romance. And while the characters are Christian as are the themes consistent with that worldview, readers who don't mind values shared by many religions being illustrated without getting preachy about it, would enjoy this as well.

What is your favorite thing about your story?

There are so many that it's hard to pick just one. But if there is one aspect of it I find most interesting, I think it is Sisko's inner journey itself. He starts off as a naïve and trusting fourteen-year-old, but the gift he's been given and how people treat him over time start to change him, allowing pride to creep in. It illustrates the danger of weilding power without being corrupted by it. A constant issue for those who become popular and gather large followings. But even more than that, God's mercy in dealing with him through that journey.

Do you remember how long it took you to write? How about to edit and find a publisher?

Well, this book is actually an expansion of a previous published novella titled Infinite Realities, published by Double-Edged Publishing back in November 2007. That book consisted of five short stories that leap-frogged over several years between stories, spanning Sisko's life from fourteen until he was twenty-five.

The first story was written in the summer of 2006, "Steamy Realities," and ran in the Sword Review that December. By the time it had ran in the magazine, I had written three more of the stories, and they were all accepted to run as a series in the Sword Review. Bill Snodgrass, the publihser of DEP and the magazine, wanted to put those stories into a book, and I wrote one more story later that fall that he added to the book, to make a total of five. That fifth story, the second chapter in the book, was never serialized, and so has only appeared in Infinite Realities.

Among the reviews and comments I received on that book, people wanted more of the story. These five short stories simply weren't enough. So I'd had it in my mind for some time that I wanted to eventually go back and write some more stories for that book and fill it out more.

Last summer I thought I had a publisher lined up to print the third and final book in this trilogy, and I remembered my desire to fill out this book. I figured if it was going to happen, it needed to be now. So in late August of 2010, I decided I would add ten more short stories to the original five. I had written one the previous Christmas as a "Christmas gift" to my readers on my blog, so I had nine more to write.

During the months of September and October of 2010, I wrote nine more short stories, which greatly added to not only Sisko's characterization, but also his friends Josh and Seth. I kept thinking during that time that the idea well would dry up and I would get bogged down, but as I finished each story, a cool idea would arise in my mind for the next one. It kept going that way until I finished.

And while having the restrictions of the two novels that are sequels to this having already been written, not to mention a spin off novel, it gave me the opporuntity to tell stories that explain more why things are as they are in the later novels.

For instance, one of my favorite stories in this book involves how Joel, a key character in the next novel, became involved with Sisko and his future family. He is such a fun character to write. I think that's why I've kept him returning in all these books.

I finished writing those a day before National Novel Writing Month started, and I dove into the second novel of the second series. I think that's why I struggled through last year's NaNoWriMo, I was already heading toward burn out going into it. I barely crossed the 50K line before November ended.

After November's fun was over, I edited the stories in December and sent it to my current publisher, Splashdown Books. The owner of it had written a positive review on the novella, so I had a hunch she would like these new stories, and I was right. We signed a contract toward the end of January and she decided to fast track this book. So on this one it has all happened rather quickly. Started writing in September 2010, book comes out in February 2011: six months.

What is your favorite type of book to read? Do you have any favorite books or authors?
My favorite is both space opera and fantasy, which I guess is why I write mostly those two types. I like the pacing to not drag, not get bogged down with a lot of details and introspection. I like a plot that surprises me while being internally coherent, and characters that are well drawn and interesting.

Most of the authors I've read, like Asmov, Heinlein, Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and their like go counter to a quick pace sometimes. However, my favorite has to be "The Runaway Robot" by Lester Del Ray, though that was ghost written so he didn't actually write it. But that book has two of the things I most enjoy about a book: an unusual world and life (in this case, living on a moon and going to Mars) and humor/fun! It was also the book that introduced me to science fiction as a pre-teen, and my reading habbits have never been the same since.

To me, the most important thing a book needs to be, in one way or another, is "fun." Call it being entertaining, keeping you on the edge of your seat, however the author does it. What I want to say when I read the last page and close the book is, "Wow, that was fun. I enjoyed that." The Runaway Robot was just that, extremely fun, even for adults.

Anything interesting in your past you’d care to share? Like have you ever worked as a rodeo clown, for instance? :)

No rodeo clowns. I was an ordained minister. I guess that's close to a rodeo clown. (Just kidding, folks!) As a teen I jumped my bike over trash cans, imitating Evil Kenival. As a college-age young adult trying to impress my future wife, I tried to jump my 1966 Chevy Malibu over a small ditch and ended up hitting a tree. For some reason she still married me. Ah, memories.

What’s your favorite movie or TV show?

I used to watch sitcoms. Home Improvements and the Cosby Show were a couple of my favs. I used to watch Star Trek the Next Generation religiously in the 80s. But few sitcoms really interest me these days, and I don't end up watching a lot of TV. Mostly I'll watch American Idol and America's Got Talent primarily to spend time with my wife and kids. But usually I'm at my computer rather than the TV. I've always got some writing work to do.

My favorite movies will probably tell you all you need to know about me. Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Airplane (spoof), George of the Jungle, and Rat Race. Not that I don't have others that I've liked, but I guess I enjoy a good laugh more than anything. Which is why I keep putting humor in most of my stories.

Can readers contact you?

I have a contact form on my website:

If you were alive in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, etc., did you have any hairstyles that now make you cringe?

I certainly had a 70s look as a teen. Don't know that would make me cringe. What probably came closest to that was my perms in the 80s. When I started losing hair with each perm, that made me cringe and I stopped doing that. Now I have very little hair on top to do much with. So it just sits up there, trying to look like it belongs.

Is there anything else you’d like your prospective readers to know?

Please share a synopsis or blurb, and a brief excerpt from your book.

From the chapter "History's Perspective"

I placed my card on the table. "Ah ha! My king trumps your joker."

Jake, my sandy-haired, ten-year-old brother, stared at his cards. A smile grew on his face. "But not this." He slapped a card on the table.

An ace. An ace added to any card above ten created a combo, but alone meant nothing.

He put his remaining cards on the table. "Blow up. I win."

I fingered my cards for a moment. "I don't think I have any cards to counter." I sat the them down. "You win." I shook his hand. "Congratulations, brother. Ready for another?"

He started to speak but a knock echoed from the door.

"Sisko, would you get that?" my mother yelled from the kitchen.

"Yes ma'am." I rose and opened the door.

A clean-shaven man carrying a five-year-old girl stood before me. "Is this the home of Sisko?"

I glanced back at Jake sitting at the table before nodding. "Can I help you?"

He held out the girl. Her short, brown hair swung under his hands. "This is my daughter. She is crippled and can't work. She'll live in poverty her whole life. Can you help her?"

I recalled Jake used to be crippled before I entered the steam house. It granted me the ring by which I could help others. I checked, and I felt God wanted me to help her.

I placed my hand on the girl's legs. "Father, please make these legs whole and strong."

The feet that dangled from his arms straightened. The man slipped her feet first to the porch and gingerly let her put weight on them. A grin grew on the girl's face as she bounced on her toes, and then took a step.

She flung herself upon me and hugged tight. "Thank you, Sisko."

The man couldn't hide his joy. "If I could, I would give you all I possessed."

I smiled at the rejoicing; my favorite part of using this gift. "I couldn't accept any gifts if you did offer them. But can you tell me something?"

The man fixed his eyes upon me. "Anything."

"Where are you from, and how did you hear about me?"

"We're from Siloth, and I heard about you from a circus that passed through town a few months ago. Upon confirming the reports, I decided to seek you out. And am I glad I did." He held his daughter close as she stood by his side.

"Do you have a place to stay? And food?"

"Yes. We've been living on the road for the last month traveling here. We don't want to be a burden to anyone. You've done enough. Thank you so much."

I smiled. "You're most welcome. Have a good trip back."

He and his daughter hugged me again, then they turned and left, his daughter skipping down the road ahead of him.

My mother entered the room, wiping her hands on a towel as I shut the door. "Who was that?"

"Another person who needed healing."

She stared at the door. "They're the third ones this week. As many as came in a whole year before. You're getting known, son. The number will grow, I dare say."

"This one was from Siloth. About a month's journey to get here, he said."

"At this rate, we'll need to rent an office for you."

I laughed. "I've already heard rumors that I'm putting the doctor out of business."

She gave me a half smile. "What I really need from the great Sisko, the healer, is to go to the market and get me some fresh tomatoes. You think you can handle that with your busy schedule?"

I shook my head. "Mother. I'm not that famous."

"But you will be." She held out her hand. "Here's the money to buy them."

I pocketed the coins. "I'll be right back."

She nodded and returned to the kitchen. I told Jake I'd return soon for the next hand and then headed out the door.

I strolled into the center of town and circled the church as I dodged people and the occasional wagon. I entered Reol's small market. Mostly they sold produce, as many took the non-perishable items to Holoroth across the mountains.

I spotted Josh staring at some cucumbers and sneaked up behind him. "Looking for a fat wand you can eat?"

He jumped before turning around. "Sisko. It's never smart to sneak up on a wizard, you know. I could have turned you into something horrible."

"You're more dangerous when you think you know what you're doing."

He bopped me on the head. "Not funny."

I patted him on the back. "Only for you. So did your mother send you here to get something?"

"My mother? No way."

"Let me guess. You grew bored of casting spells and decided to entertain yourself with vegetables."

He grunted. "Not even close. I'm filling Milore's shopping list."

"Oh, I see. My mother sent me for some tomatoes." I spotted them. "And there are some. I'll see you later."

"Very well. But don't bother running to me next time you need some magical help. You obviously don't appreciate it." Josh thrust his nose into the air.

I laughed then headed to the tomatoes. I purchased three ripe ones and returned to the house. As I opened the door, I felt an unsettling knot in my gut grow.

"Mother? Jake?" No one answered. I entered the kitchen and placed the tomatoes on the counter. Then I noticed a note. I picked it up and read.

Sisko, if you wish to see your father, mother, and brother alive again, come one mile down the road leading to Siloest and leave your ring on the stump you find there. Come alone, or they die. You have til sundown.

Thank you for your time, Rick, and best of luck with your book! :)

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Rick Copple said...

Thanks, Alice, for the fun interview.

Manoj said...

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