Stephen S. Arends first novel : Soul Searcher is out now and his second work is in the writing process. We talk to Stephen about the path to becoming an author and what drives his work. Q: How long did it take to write your first novel from start to finish and what sort of commitments did you have over that time that becoming a writer might get you away from now you are finally classed as self-employed (work/college/etc)? A: It took me over 16 months, as I was working full-time and attending a graduate course. I spent many Friday nights at home working on the book, whilst my friends were hitting the town, but in the end it was worth it. Q: Being a first-time novelist can be hard when submitting your first novel to the scary world of publishers . Did you ever reach a point along the way where rejections from them hit home hard. A: Yes, the rejections were many and at some points I focussed on other projects. But, my family would see this and remind me to get going, so I would. Having their support was valuable and I love them for it. Q: Setting scenes visually are usually inspired from real memories. What are your favorite scenes from the book and where was the inspiration from? A: I like the scenes in the Know Complex, because I love books and writing those scenes reminded me of my time in Dublin when I visited the local university and their libary. The Long Room smelled of antique books and that memory has stayed with me. And I loved seeing the Book of Kells. Q: Your first published work, is it a standalone or the first of a series? will the world you've created for your work be used for further works? Is the world or characters borrowed from other published works as a franchise/public domain, or totally original? A: SOUL SEARCHER is the first of two books. The second, SHADOW COURT, is in the editing phase. As for the fantasy world, I spent quite a few hours researching material to create it, and you had better believe I will keep using it. That was a lot of work, plus I like it. Q: How much life experience do you fall back on to provide physical reality in cenes? social interaction, physical scenes and even political/religious overtures. Are parts of yourself leaked into the characters and policies in the story? A: I use a lot of my experiences from my time in the military, because there is large amount of differing emotions from that period. I experienced futility, physical and emotion fatigue, adrenaline rushes, and many others. I can be writing a scene and look to my old journals to refresh my memory about similar situation. Also, I draw upon my own religious beliefs to leak into certain points of view. It is what I know. Q: How did you decide your first novel was actually finished and any further editing would do more harm to the whole? Did your publisher/editor request any lterations or reverse any changes you wanted to make for the good of the books sales? A: I predominately work from an outline, so when I reached the end, I let the work sit for a month. Afterwhich, I began editing, and I knew it was done when I felt the same sense of completeness I feel when I read one of favorite author's books. It felt right. However, an editor did find ways to tightened up the book, and the suggestions worked very well. Q: Character depth is so important, even more so than plot for many novels, how have you tried to make up real characters without getting too close to amily/acquantances and potentially causing embaressing problems typecasting your characters with obvious nuances of people you know? A: Yes, I put in a great effort to create real characters. I actually have a four page character profile I use, and I spend hours to days filling in each character point. nd yes, I lament over each detail until they come together to create the persona I want. Q: Which authors made you love the genre you now write in and which authors have had the best effect on the determination to actually write a novel to completion and then follow through to publishing? (they might be different!) A: Terry Brooks was the first person I read in this genre, and he is still one of my favorites. However, R.A. Salvatore and Raymond E. Feist are two of my favorites as well. I like all three for various reason, so I can say they all had an influence in my decision to try a novel. Q: What environment works for you when actually writing? the calm of a study, music/tv in the background, a bench by a river, a crowded commuter train all work for some people, although we all know that several kids clamouring for attention in a house isn't condusive to good concentration! A: I prefer to be in a room alone. And when I write, I use different CD's as background music. I prefer Chant when I am writing dialogue and or when I am describing the world in which I write, but I love the soundtrack to Highlander, track 7 when I am writing a battle scene. That one track really gets the blood pumping. Q: Trying to find a publisher that will publish you isn't the same as one capable of supplying the high street stores or independent outlets where your work will actually sell well. obviously a previously unpublished author doesn't eally get to pick their publisher so how much did/do you worry about sales potential when submitting your work to various publishers, maybe in some cases having to turn round and not deal with a publisher as you don't feel it will do your work the best deal? A: I did not look at potential sales as a litmus test for choosing an author. I just wanted my work out there, knowing full well I would have to become good at marketing. That aspect writing is challenging, but I am learning. For me, writing and being published was a personal goal, a way to express my views and morals, so sales came as and after thought. If things go well, that will be great, but if not, the journey has been one to remember. Stephen S Arend : http://www.ssarend.com publisher: http://www.publishamerica.com editor: http://www.millenniumediting.com The book can be purchased from the publisher (on-line), from the author himself (on-line), from amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com (on-line), or from any brick and motor bookstore (use the ISBN to order: 1-4137-3672-6).