It’s always fun to go “behind-the-scenes” and see what makes another author tick. I got to do just that with Robert E. Christopher, author of The Tower: Anya’s Story.
From your bio, I see that Dungeons and Dragons has inspired you to create deep characters. Are there any other places you draw your inspiration from?
I read a lot of fantasy novels, and though I enjoy the themes of good versus overwhelming evil, I often feel let down by what I see as thin or clichéd characterization. What inspires me is when I discover a series like the Books of Babel by Josiah Bancroft, which feature flawed but very human characters doing their best in extremely difficult circumstances. This is what I set out to achieve when I wrote The Tower: Anya’s Story.
What inspired you to write The Tower?
The original idea for The Tower came from a very long running game of Dungeons and Dragons that I’ve been involved in for over thirty years. Over that time, the story has grown to include the fate of kingdoms, worlds and gods, with the consequences of character choices spilling out across the universe. The central concept of the arrival of a mysterious tower is one such consequence. I thought it would be fun to explore the possibilities such an event could have.
In addition, it was very important for me to make sure the central character, Anya, was as real as possible. My eldest daughter was twelve when I began writing, and I imagined all the discrimination and difficulties that she and other young women could still face in the twenty-first century and applied it to Anya.
This long-running game of Dungeons and Dragons game sounds intriguing. Can you tell me more about that?
Our Dungeon Master, Simon Williams, runs a unique game with enormous depth of history, characters and even physics. He has started a new branch of the story with us playing live on Twitch. It’s called The Ruined Keep and features a gang of thieves and smugglers reacting to an encroaching evil. You can catch up with us at 8pm GMT every Tuesday.
What’s your writing process like? Do you outline or are you a pantser?
I definitely outline. With short stories, I may launch into them with nothing but a single idea, however, the idea of beginning a novel without the security of a framework fills me with dread. I like to consider what themes are important to the overall story, so they can be baked into each chapter, if possible. An outline may take a few months to get right, but it saves much more than that in editing. For me, an outline also gives me reassurance I already have a story to tell and there isn’t an endless blank void of empty pages challenging me to fill them.
Coffee or tea?
Neither. I’m a social pariah in England for not liking tea, but I was never brought up on it. As far as coffee is concerned, I’m honestly unsure why anyone would drink it.
Are you reading anything right now?
I’ve just started reading The Hunger Games. We watched the series of films together as a family, and I was so impressed with the themes and construction of the story, I borrowed my daughter’s books to see how Suzanne Collins does it.
Are there any other writers in your family?
My mother’s cousin has written a children’s book based on stories he told his own children, but I don’t know of anyone else.
What’s your favorite time of day?
I am certainly not a morning person. It’s a little ironic, because my writing routine for Anya’s Story was to get up whenever I woke and write, so I would often be up and typing at five thirty when the rest of the house was still asleep. I think I would have to say that the evening is my favourite time because that is when I can spend most time with my family.
Do you have any future books in the works?
Like many writers, I have several ideas rattling around in my head. My next project is another Tower story. I wouldn’t call a sequel, instead, it is a linked, almost concurrent tale set in the same part of the universe as Anya’s story. I hope to be able to explore different, real world issues in two more novels before bringing the different characters together for a climactic conclusion.
Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.
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