A few moons have passed since the last author interview. September has arrived, cooler weather is upon us, as well as football season and the end of another crappy year for the Cubs.
I had the honor of beign interviewd by Mark Tierno last month on his blogtalkradio program and he requested to have the interview favor returned so here he is. He wanted to be interviewed in his created world of Maldene but I told him you can’t be interviewed in a fictional place. He proved me wrong.
We are sitting in a pub near the sea, with the opening to this world midway between Florida and Cuba. A seemingly endless line of stone buildings stretch out along the shore. Around us, countless cultures and types of beings roam. The waitress is an elf. Tierno is having purple Kawa juice and I don’t trust the bubbling glass she set down before me. Egads! Onto the interview.
1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
I am Mark Anthony Tierno, and what makes me the most interesting person in my city could be the MS in physics, or it could be the 13-book fantasy series that I’ve written, or that nearly everyone spots me on my bike pedaling all over town, but I think it might be the fact that I’m one of those yoga people that can tie my feet behind my head.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
The fact that I HAVE written a 13-novel epic fantasy series… Of maybe it’s the fact that the closest thing to a girlfriend I’ve had was when I was 13.
3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as a deep sea diver?
Deep sea diving might give me nose bleeds. But that aside, I love SF and Fantasy, and that love of reading it grew into a fiery need to start writing something of my own. I remember making mental notes back when I was 12 about what aspects of one writer’s style of another that I loved, even though I had no idea then what I would write, or even if I would. Maybe I was just born into it.
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
I need to pick ONE?! There’s Heinlein, Asimov, Jules Verne, Poe, Andre Norton… I could go on. But, maybe dinner with the famous author that is me in the future so I can ask how I can get there a whole lot easier.
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?
Guaranteed it would keep you entertained and focused that entire time. It’s a long book, and I’ve actually had a reader lose a weekend reading my entire first novel. Of course you might have a problem in that, when some ship finally comes by to rescue you, of telling him to hold on while you finish up just one more chapter. Hmm… on second thought you just might miss your flight or stay marooned reading my book.
6. Share your process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.
Before I start on a book, I’ll do my prep-work first. Jotting down and organizing any notes I have in mind for it, come up with a basic outline that at least includes all the main points I want to cover, stat up the new characters in my database and make sure I have everything ready before starting in. this prep work ensures that I won’t get stuck midway through the story. Being as how Maldene is my own fantasy world, my research amounts to drawing out the maps and keeping a notebook full of cultural and world notes ready for as needed.
I start writing at 7:30 in the morning, the chapter outline having been written out the day before. First day of a new chapter it’s about 8-10 hours and 12,000-13,000 words on average. I have the music going while I type, and if the phone rings tend to scream in some poor guy’s ear for interrupting me; assuming I answer it at all. I’ll finish up 4:30 to 5PM (though I’ve been known to go a bit longer on occasion), break for health club (there’s a body attached to this great brain), then starting during dinner I’ll edit what I wrote that day, usually finishing up around 11 to midnight. Day 2 is me finishing up that chapter, which is usually only 5000 words give or take; done by Noon, edit at night. Day Three is what I call my “Chapter Edit” day, where in I go over the entire chapter once more, run the spell checker, then outline my next chapter. Next day the whole process starts all over again.
End of a second (my books tend to have 3 sections each) I run through the entire section to make sure any plot points still connect from one chapter to the next. Then at the end of the novel I give the entire book a general once over before saving and printing it out. A month later I’m back at it with the next book. It takes me now about 3 months to outline, write, end edit a 350,000-400,000 word novel.
Because I prepare my outline and notes ahead of time, and edit as I go along, as well as keeping copious notes about the story, world, and characters, I have never had to do what some writers do and drop entire chapters or do any major reworking after the book is nearly finished. I did have one scene back in Maldene 10 that I went back the day after I wrote it reworked some major elements of that scene based on some inspiration I had (better less generic ship and crew designs), but even then I didn’t need to change the plot around or drop entire swaths of pages.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
Well, if my process doesn’t work for you then I have no advice worth giving, not would I. In general though I would say this. Write what you love, NOT the market. You will only be doing your best if what you write is something you love, something that excites you just to be thinking about the doing of it, something that you just can’t- (reminds me: why am I answering these questions instead of getting back to my own stories? Need… to… write…). After that, being organized helps. They say there are two schools of thought: those who outline and those who right by the seat of their pants. Well, I happen to be both. My outline ensures I never get stuck, never get writer’s block, but that does not keep me from adding in new plot points and characters as they present themselves during the course of the writing (and indeed many spur of the moment additions have worked their way in as major characters or plot points).
8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?
Life is its own purpose.
Cryptic enough? That’s my man-on-the-mountain version of the answer. I got the scientific versioh of the answer as well but it amounts to this: If you are looking for the purpose or meaning of Life, then consider that the purpose of life is to LIVE. Nothing more complicated than that.
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?
Currently I have finished the following: Maldene: My big fantasy-SF epic, 13-novels, 5.3 million words, about 250 characters (see now why I use a database for them all?); the first novel is currently being released as Volumes One and Two. Cyberdawn: cyberpunk, fantasy, biblical conspiracy theory type plot, 5 books, 1.3 million words currently not yet released. The Inspector Flaatphut series: about 6 stories, the first being a short story, the rest falling between 60,000 to 101,000 words; cyberpunk noir with anthropomorphic characters; lots of fun, what I would call beer and pretzels storytelling; it’s what I do between the big epics. Maldene Origins: a 2-book prequel to the mighty Maldene series, somewhere around 650,000 words in total, this starts out at the very beginning of Maldene (as in, “In the Beginning…”) and answers some back-story questions.
Currently I am trying to solve a few personal problems, promote Maldene, and get successful enough so I can get back to my writing, because yes I still have more planned. I have notes on the next world to write, one with 16 moons, a Human-free mythology, and where normal water is dangerous (explosively so). I also have a general idea of a 6-book Maldene sequel.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
Just go to http://www.maldene.com/ There you will find more info on Maldene, a teaser chapter, a quick view on some of the characters, how to order, as well as a few downloads for registered users. See you there.