Author Chad Ballard has released a very promising fantasy debut titled Sentinel which got a huge positive response on reddit /r/fantasy and became the top thread of the day. Here is an interview giving some insights about this exciting epic fantasy book and the author.
1. What genre are your books?
Sentinel, and the rest of The Ashen Court Series, are Fantasy. So is mostly everything else that I write. Every once in a while I’ll throw in some Sci-Fi or Steampunk when I write, but Fantasy has always been my go-to.
2. What draws you to this genre?
I think it’s the sense of wonder that you can get out of a Fantasy story. The whole genre throws the rules of reality out the window and lets a writer start with something completely fresh. You want a character that can throw fireballs and fly? You’ve got it. You want a character that swings around an impossibly large hammer like it’s a toy? Go for it. You want a race of people that have feet where their eyes should be and six hands on their arms? That’s just fine.
Another major part is the creation. I love to build worlds and characters and think through how a society acts around certain aspects of the world I’ve created. When I read, it’s the same way. I like to get into an author’s head and see what they’ve built.
3. What project are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m working on the sequel to Sentinel. I’ve got a few working titles for it right now, but nothing is set in stone. I like one-word titles, though. I’m all finished outlining it and I’ve started writing. I’m a few chapters in, but the hard part for me is done.
4. Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is special?
I have two. Callan starts off the story as an entitled rich boy, ready to inherit the world from his parents. He’s book smart and a quick learner, but he’s useless when it comes to keeping himself alive. The thing that makes him most special is his innate ability to lead others. He doesn’t know he’s got it, mostly because he has no interest in a leadership position…but the ability is there and it comes out when it needs to.
Pyra is the daughter of one of the most feared Lords in the kingdom. Her father isn’t cruel or overly aggressive like his reputation would suggest…he’s just intimidating. Pyra is doing her damndest to get some respect in her position, and it seems like her father is the only one willing to give it to her. She’s stubborn, capable, and working quietly to become a powerful mage.
5. Which writers inspire you?
A lot of them, and for a lot of different reason. J.K. Rowling, because I grew up with Harry Potter and fell in love with her work. I read the first book with my mom and never looked back. Brandon Sanderson for the sheer creativity of his books. He’s got the most unique ideas I’ve ever read. Jim Butcher for his ability to simply tell an engaging story. He might not have the most unique pretense for his novels, but damn are they good. Charlie Holmberg for teaching me that becoming an author isn’t some fantasy that won’t ever come true.
6. When did you decide to become a writer? Why do you write?
I don’t think I ever consciously made that decision. I’ve been writing since I was old enough to know what I was doing. I’ve always loved telling stories and it seemed to be a good fit from the beginning.
I write because I love it, it’s that simple. I enjoy it, it takes stress out of my life. I have these ideas and characters in my head that I need to get out on paper. So I write.
7. Do you work on an outline or do you prefer to see where the idea takes you?
I have a loose outline. I keep note cards for every chapter with bullet points for every plot point that I’d like to happen in that chapter. I fill in the stuff in the middle as I go.
8. What are some of your favorite books/authors?
Besides the ones that I listed above? George R. R. Martin, Django Wexler, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Steven Erikson…the list is pretty huge. I’ll leave it at those for now, for the sake of saving space.
9. I heard your main character is a female with leadership skills. Was it challenging to write such a strong female character as a male author?
Not really. The toughest part was making her seem genuine and not a strong female character for the sake of being a strong female character. I couldn’t ask myself “would a young woman do that?” I had to ask “Would a reasonable person in this situation do that?” It’s all about being genuine.
10. You have those lion people in your book, how did you come up with the idea?
It was mostly an effort to step out of the normal bounds of fantasy. I didn’t want the focus to be on Elves or Dwarves or Halflings or anything like that. I wanted a race of people that was unique to my story. I won’t say much about them specifically, to avoid spoilers, but I think that they’re a lot of fun. As much fun as 9-foot tall were-lion-things can be.
11. How can readers discover more about you and your work?
I try to update my Twitter as often as possible. @chadtastic92. I’m also on Reddit, and I hang around /r/fantasy pretty often. My username there is /u/chadtastic112. I’ll also have a blog up and running shortly. I’ll be sure to get the word out through either of those mediums when it goes live.