The fantasy world of Udalara lies within the pages of The Crystal Eye, the first Book of a series released in 2020 (read more here).
Continue reading for my interview of endless questions with the author, Blake R. Wolfe!
What attracted you to writing? What’s your favourite thing about the process?
I’ve actually been dabbling in writing for most of my life, but I never really got very far with it. As a kid I found that drawing got me more attention, so writing became a pipe dream in the background. I always wanted to write a book, but I just didn’t think it would ever happen. Then in late 2018 I got divorced and found that my love of creating art had pretty much died, so I turned to writing for an escape. A year went by and I was playing with the idea of a novella about a lake monster. By April 2020 the novella was completed and formatted, ready to be published. Then people actually liked it… so I wrote another and then another. Now I find that writing is an intrinsic part of my day and I really enjoy it! My favorite part is definitely the thinking. I spend a lot of long car rides just thinking about what could happen in the worlds I’m creating.
What inspires you: your characters or the world you’ve created?
Both for sure. Usually I come up with the characters first and then let their interactions fuel the world around them. However, I also throw things into the worlds I create to make their lives difficult and cause turmoil. However, I think characters are what makes a story. A cool world is like a pretty picture, but the people who live there are what shape it.
Are some of your characters based in reality or out of your own life?
Almost all of my characters draw influences from real life because I want them to be believable. If I tried to make someone up that I’d never met, seen, or spoken to before, I don’t think I’d be able to make them convincing. Stories are lies we make up to tell the truth in the most impactful way we can.
Who are the authors that you admire and why?
Absolutely Neil Gaiman, he is a master of character, whimsy, world building, and story flow. I could read his books all day. I really love Michael Crichton as well who is a master of suspense and horror. There is just something about his work that’s so instinctually terrifying. Of course I liked Tolkein since I write fantasy. Beyond them, I’d say Brom is a huge influence with his books Krampus and The Child Thief. His writing is unlike anyone else I’ve ever read and it’s just beautiful from every perspective.
What is your favourite book/series and why?
My favorite book is definitely the Jurassic Park/Lost World duo. Talk about terrifying. I have nightmares for weeks after reading those books and I just can’t get enough of them. It’s scientific, it’s scary, it’s fantastical, and the characters are as real as you and me. Anyone who wants to write good characters, believability, and sci-fi should read Michael Crichton.
Your current book series is fantasy. Do you or have you ever considered writing in another genre?
My first book, Lake Arcadia, is actually horror about a lake monster. It’s a series of eleven short stories from eleven different characters who live around the lake or come into contact with the creature. I want to write another horror again sometime for sure. My second book, Jonathan’s Letter, is an LGBTQ+ Coming of Age story with a hint of romance. I love that book dearly, but I cried so much writing and editing it that I don’t know if I ever want to write anything like that again. That book was mostly therapy for me and it seems like it’s doing the same thing to my readers.
At what point did you decide to write a series instead of a stand-alone story?
Well I knew I wanted to write a good old fashioned fantasy trilogy and so I planned it. However, the story has continued to grow and it’s now scheduled to be at least six books. I actually can’t wait to keep diving into this world!
How do you approach planning and writing a book series?
Well, I wrote out a very thin outline for each book to begin with, which is useless by now, haha, but the main points are still there. From there I write a brief 2-3 sentence outline for each chapter when I begin writing a book. After the book is finished I do all my editing and take notes on what things I left unanswered. Then I rinse and repeat for the next book while trying to answer some of those things.
After writing Book 1, do you know your main character inside and out, or are you still learning and molding?
I’m still learning about him. I’m surprised how he reacts in some situations and sometimes I have to force him to be a little less emotional. I don’t think I could ever know him inside and out just like I could never know a real person inside and out.
Now that you’ve begun writing the subsequent book(s), do you have any regrets about Book 1 or anything you wish you’d tackled differently?
No regrets on the first book. I feel like I did a decent job of keeping most of it on track. I’ve wandered off a little and created a little bit of complication here and there, but nothing I can’t wiggle my way out of later. I actually love how the story has become more than what I anticipated!
What’s something you wish you knew now that you didn’t before you started writing Book 1?
I wish I had known not to start writing Book 2 before my edits were back for Book 1. That was a mistake on my part that caused some stress.
Are you working on anything else outside of this series?
I’ve got a couple of ideas bubbling around for different pen names. Nothing crazy and I’m not even sure if I’ll do it or not, but it’s an option. I treat it more as a “break” between books to write those things.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
Finish. Your. Project. You can write everyday of your life, but if you don’t have a finished project, all you have is a bunch of ideas. If you can train yourself to finish things and make it a habit, you will be so much better off. Leave your perfectionism behind and just get it done.
Without providing spoilers, what’s your favourite thing or moment in Book 1 or the world you’ve created in general?
My favorite moment in book 1 is when the main character meets Juniper, an old woman at a village. Without giving too much away, she becomes a large reference point for how he feels and makes decisions for quite a while. We also learn some cool backstory about her towards the end of the book!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers, something important they should know?
Udalara is a passion project. I really love this world and the stories in it that are still being created as you read this. I just really hope you enjoy it as well and want to get lost in the Sky Islands or in Emerald Deep. There are so many places to explore.
Share an interesting fact (about you or just something in general that you find interesting).
I am a HUGE Muppets fan. Muppets Christmas Carol is my favorite and Treasure Island is a close second. Rizzo is the best muppet followed by Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Gonzo. That’s not an opinion, it’s fact. 😉
I want to thank Blake for taking the time to answer my questions so thoughtfully.
Working on your own manuscript? Need a second set of eyes to help catch those pesky mistakes?
Contact me for proofreading and editing help!
Thank you for sharing this time together. See you again soon.
Editor’s Note 1: I’m Canadian, so I’ve used Canadian English spelling in my questions. Blake is not, so I’ve left his answers as he wrote them in U.S. English to make life interesting! Stay tuned for a future post on English spelling variants!
Editor’s Note 2: I was not involved in the creative/revision process of this book, I just stumbled upon it, read it, and wanted to share. I hope you enjoy!