Category Archives: Author Interviews

Author Interview: Lisa Hofmann

Author Lisa Hofmann is a planner, and she loves doing on-site research, taking her children to every castle within driving distance to spend hours exploring the grounds, embarrassing their family at any given moment whenever taking a guided tour, because she’s the woman who’s always got just one more question for the guide.  Please give her a warm welcome to No Wasted Ink.

Author Lisa HofmannHi, I’m Lisa Hofmann. I’m 43 years old, married, and a mother of three with a houseful of pets. I was educated in Germany and in Ireland, which has certainly shaped who I am today.

By day, I’m an elementary school teacher who works with migrant children and refugees. At night, I turn into a rabid dark fantasy writer who survives on cappuccino and cheese snacks.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing when I was still in school, but only seriously pursued it much, much later, when I was in my late thirties and discovered that I could actually do this on my own with no need of a publisher. I believe traditional publishing has its merits, but it’s not for someone like me who’s on a tight time-budget. I’m not a full-time writer. I work a lot of extra hours in my daytime job as a teacher, and I have three children who have my full attention. That means, I steal time to write whenever I can. I can’t imagine having meet tight deadlines for my novels or fulfill contracts for possible further books of a series within a certain time frame. I’d constantly feel pressured, and to me, writing is meant to be a pleasurable activity. It’s what I really love doing, and I’m my own boss in that area. I define my own standards, and I want to keep writing the books I myself would like to read, and not have to write to please an editor who’d like to see me change my content to suit someone else’s tastes. That’s why I always shied away from offering my work to traditional publishing houses, and I never looked for an agent. So far, I’m quite enjoying doing this my way, in my own time.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I started aimfully writing my first book, Stealing the Light. I loved the whole process or writing and publishing it. It felt right, and I knew immediately that this was something I was going to be doing for a long time to come.

Could you share a little about your current book with us?

My current work in progress is a third book of a series, titled “Gates of Eventide”. It’s being edited as we speak, and I’m very excited to get it out there. The series is about a community of outlaws with magical abilities who are hiding in plain sight, operating a fair that sells magical items and puts on shows. The Fair’s biggest problem is one of their own, so to speak – a woman with dangerous magical Talents who grew up outside the community, was rejected by it, and has gained a powerful position among the humans who are out to destroy the Unnaturals. I hope to release this third book in late summer, perhaps earlier, depending on how long the process of getting it ready with my editor and cover artist it will take.

The book I’ve most recently released is titled Trading Darkness. This is a stand-alone novel that’s set during the time of the witch trials in the late medieval period near my home town. Some of the events that I described in it are real, and a few of the characters as well. It was a lot of fun to research, and even more so to finally write it, since the initial idea for it was stewing for about twenty years, since my studies of local history.

What inspired you to write this book?

The series was an idea that arose from a piece of music I’d been listening to. I was talking to a friend one Saturday about it, and she encouraged me to pursue the thought. It was more a joke than something serious at the time, since we were playing around with characters from a TV series, discussing how so-and-so would handle a complete disaster like the one I was imagining for the storyline, and what such-and-such a person would do, but then I sat down and started making character charts for original characters and began outlining. The idea kept growing and getting bigger, and I suddenly found myself completely captivated.

The stand-alone novel is a book that I’ve been wanting to write ever since my time at university. I studied women’s history and I visited one of the sites where witches were executed in the course of a class I was taking on the witch trials. Standing on “Gallow’s Hill” sent shivers down my spine, and I remember thinking that life certainly writes the most fascinating stories.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The series title is the title of a piece by Mozart – Dies Irae, The Requiem. The idea of light and darkness was already in the first two book titles, so Gates of Eventide is a variation, basically, that tells the reader that we’re heading toward a place where shadows lie in wait.

Trading Darkness has to do with the bargain one of the main characters makes with the devil. He’s trading one darkness for another, but it’s a deal he’s going to regret for the rest of his life.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I think my style is pretty much my own. I don’t try to imitate other writers, but I do read a lot of good books, so there are always bound to be traces of other author’s styles somewhere in what I’m doing. But I do think my voice is my own.

Is there a message in your novel that you want your readers to grasp?

I think my style is pretty much my own. I don’t try to imitate other writers, but I do read a lot of books by great authors whose work I love and have been reading for decades, so there are always bound to be traces of those authors’ styles somewhere in what I’m doing. But I do think my voice is my own.

I find writing in my particular genre a bit of a challenge since it’s not strictly sword-and-sorcery or epic fantasy, but something that I would consider more “soft fantasy”, for lack of a better term. There is magic, and there are magical creatures, but the story is very much more character-driven than a typical sword-and-sorcery might be. I don’t do formula writing – I don’t write for a market of readers who would expect a storyline to develop a certain way per se. I write for readers who love intense characters and intense story development, rather than expect epic battles with dragon-riders and orcs on every other page of the book. My books have characters who are people of their time in a world parallel to ours, only with the premise that magic is a reality and not a superstition. There are real people’s conflicts in a medieval setting based on that premise, and there’s good and evil and every shade of gray in between.

What other authors have most influenced your life?

This is going to sound funny, but I read a lot of different kinds of things. I could name a lot of authors as having influenced my life and my writing. I think Stephen King would be one of them – but in contrast, I would also say Cornelia Funke. What I admire about King is his drive and how he’s managed to keep producing good books over a period of so many decades now. What I admire about Funke is her determination even in the face of personal tragedies, and her ability to evolve. She made a name for herself as an author of children’s books, but what she really is, is a very gifted fantasy writer for all ages. She’s proven that with her Reckless series.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Giuseppa Lo Coco designed the covers for the Dies Irae Series. She’s very talented, pleasant, and easy to work with, and she came up with the images to the words as if she was seeing what I was. That’s magical!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

In terms of the writing as such: practice your Art and stay humble. Writing is a craft that you need to hone and work hard to move toward as high a level as you can get. Plan what you’re doing, and rewrite and revise as often as necessary. I also believe it’s ever so important to work with professionals. Get in touch with a good editor, even if you’re thinking of having your work agented and publishing traditionally – polish your manuscript and make it the best you can before you put it in front of an agent or your readers.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for enjoying my books. Tell your friends about them and support indie authors by leaving an honest review, if possible. It’s what keeps us going.

Stealing the Light E-Book FINAL VERSIONLisa Hofmann
Siegen, Germany.

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Stealing the Light 

Cover artist: Giusy Lo Coco

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Author Interview: Jennifer Brozek

Award-winning author, editor, and tie-in writer, Jennifer Brozek has spent over a decade doing what she loves most: writing about interesting worlds with unique characters and creatures.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Jennifer BrozekI’m an award-winning author, editor, and tie-in writer. I have four cats, one husband, 1500 books, and no children—just the way I like it. An avid reader and sometimes crocheter, I enjoy playing ARGs (like Ingress and PokemonGO) and tabletop RPGs—current favorites are Pathfinder, D&D 5E, and Shadowrun. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I am both a Pluviophile (a lover of rain) and a Gluggaveður (a lover of window weather). My favorite words are: Peril and Thwart. I just really like the sound of them. One of my goals in life is to eventually live on a bluff by the ocean. Probably in Oregon.

When and why did you begin writing?

I wrote casually for my RPG characters in the 1990s. I started writing to get paid in 2000. I got serious about it in 2004. Then I quit my tech job to become a full-time author in 2006. I wrote then and I write now because I have stories to tell. I’ve written for free. I’ve written for pay. I always write for joy. Joy + pay = a good life.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think it was when I was hired to write on the Dragonlance sourcebooks: Legends of the Twins and Holy Order of Stars. That’s when I started writing fiction to someone else’s schedule. I met my editor, Sean Everette, on a text-based RPG game. He ended up hiring me to write for his magazine. When he was hired by Margaret Weis as an editor for her company (Sovereign Stone at the time), he brought me along because he liked my writing and knew I could hit my deadlines.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

It’s called BattleTech: Iron Dawn. It is book one in the Rogue Academy trilogy. This is the first YA BattleTech trilogy from Catalyst Game Labs. It’s about a pair of orphaned siblings who won their way into the Ritza Academy on the Federated Suns border planet of Emporium, and what they decide to do when the Draconis Combine come to invade. Jasper Roux is a MechWarrior cadet while Nadine Roux is an infantry/tanker cadet.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was asked by Catalyst Game Labs if I’d be interested in writing a YA trilogy for them. They wanted a high action YA series that could bring younger heroes to a new audience. I wrote the first ever BattleTech YA novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, back in 2014. It was well received and won a Scribe Award for the best YA tie-in for that year. After some brainstorming, we came up with an idea I was excited to write. It is a bombastic coming-of-age-while-at-war story. It’s about the relationships between people, the family we’re born to and the family we choose. Also, there’s a lot of ’Mech-on-’Mech battles.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I try to write page-turners. Sparse but evocative location descriptions and body language to convey emotion. I’ve been writing long enough to understand that I still have a lot to learn—and I learn more with every novel I write. I start in media res (in the middle of the action) and try to end every chapter on a mini-cliffhanger; the metaphorical equivalent of a man bursting into the room with a gun.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I was looking to recreate the feeling of the military/invasion movies from my past (child of the 80s) like Iron Eagle and Red Dawn. I ended up merging the names because “Iron Dawn” seemed to evoke the beginning of something in a military sense. It also fit well within the Rogue Academy trilogy’s sense of time. Book two is called Ghost Hour while book three is called Crimson Night.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Sometimes you need to act when everyone tells you not to. Sometimes you do know better… or at least what’s right, but you can’t go it alone. Think, consider, then act.

A lot of the time, adults are faking it. They don’t know what they’re doing any more than teens do, but they also have the added complication of being in charge and being responsible for the people in their care. It’s why, a lot of times, it seems like adults refuse to listen to their children or the teenagers they are responsible for. They feel they can’t shirk their duty or show fear.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The sibling fights. Sometimes, siblings fight just because it’s what they’re used to doing. At the same time, family is often the one thing you can rely on to back you up. As a military brat, I moved around a lot and the only stability I had was my siblings. They were familiar—both friend and foe. Above all, they were family.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

My goodness. What a list. Neil Gaiman, Mercedes Lackey, Steve Perry, Seanan McGuire, Stephen King, Susan Cooper, Mary Robinette Kowal, John Scalzi, Cat Rambo, Annie Bellet… the list doesn’t stop. Each of them brings something to the table for me: a writing technique, the lyrical phrase, effortless worldbuilding, cliffhanger chapter endings, distinct voices, and amazing storytelling. I learn something from every novel, novella, and short story I read.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Susan Cooper and her Dark is Rising series. If I had not read that as a lonely ten-year-old in a foreign land, I don’t think I would be an author today. Her series opened my eyes to the magic of reading and writing. I reread that series about once a year.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The cover artist is Marco Mazzoni. He was assigned to the novel cover by the BattleTech Line Developer and based it on my art notes. He did a marvelous job. As an aside, there is another Marco Mazzoni who is an artist, lives in Italy, and does beautiful pencil work. That’s not this Marco Mazzoni who lives in America and illustrates a lot of BattleTech games and novels.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. You may take parts of the journey at a neck-break pace, but there will be hills, mountains even, that you’ll struggle with—plodding (and plotting) as slow as molasses. Just remember to keep putting one foot in front of the other, one word after the other, and breathe. As long as you’re still moving you’re doing the right thing. Also, write the stories you want to read. I always do my best work when I’m excited and interested in the story I’m writing.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for reading what I write. I appreciate it and you.

Iron Dawn Cover for displayJennifer Brozek
Bothell, WA.

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BattleTech: Iron Dawn

Cover Artist: Marco Mazzoni 
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs

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Author Interview: Paige L Cristie

Author Paige L. Cristie claims to be not much of a plotter. She prefers to start with a character or an idea and let the story take her where it will. A slow writer, she types “terribly”, and edits like mad. Writing many more words than ever in up in the story.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Paige CristieHi! I’m an opinionated Yankee who loves to read, write, dance, laugh, cross country ski, and snuggle with my 3-legged cat, Timmy. I was raised in Maine and currently live in the Western North Carolina Mountains where I am the Executive Director of a non-profit. I practice middle eastern stage and folkloric dance, enjoy good wine, good books, and good friends. I’m also a founding member of the Blazing Lioness Writers. I am caretaker of 2 dogs and 3 cats, and they all like to crawl over the keyboard when I write—which gets really interesting when it’s taken into account that one dog is a 60lb coonhound…

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing when I was about seven years old. I was a horse crazy child and a lot of my stories where horse adventures – usually from the horse’s POV. I don’t recall the why of it, I just had stories to tell.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have considered myself a writer for as long as I can remember. What I never considered was that anyone might want to read any stories I wrote. I have always written because I couldn’t not write. But, having grown up when publishing was a great mystery that happened in large cities to people who knew how to outline novels (so I thought), it never occurred to me until 2015 to try to get anything I wrote out into the world.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I am finishing up the third of four books in my Legacies of Arnan series. It’s feminist high fantasy with old west overtones and dragons. Because of course dragons! The books are about the power of friendship, and story, and the inner strength it takes to forge a way in the world despite any odds. The first book is Draigon Weather and the second is Wing Wind. Book 3, Long Light, will be released in the fall of 2019. Storm Forged will be out in late 2020.

What inspired you to write this book?

Draigon Weather started with a question – What if the woman chained to the rock waiting to be eaten by the dragon wanted to be there? Why would that be? What would it mean to those tasked with saving her? What would happen?

Do you have a specific writing style?

Other than slow? Seriously, I’m a slow writer. And I tend to like flowing, complex sentences that evoke image and emotion. I’m a little bit literary, but not ‘fancy’. I’m not sure how to describe it, but there is definitely a unique tone to my words when I get rolling.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Well, the book is at heart a dragon book, so I always knew that would be part of the title. And not only do the dragons control weather in the series, but all the characters ‘weather’ a lot as the story goes on. So, it’s a bit of a wordplay in that respect. Then, once I decided on Dragon Weather, I did a quick online search. Which, of course, revealed another book of that name. That’s when I changed to the Celtic spelling: Draigon, and thus was Draigon Weather born.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Oh, there are several. Not the least of which is the power of story and education to change lives, and the dangers of being unwilling to look beyond the obvious expectations of society.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Well here’s a list that can get long in a hurry…but to narrow things down, Janny Wurts is a huge influence – her unexpected use of language and the depth of her storytelling and character development are things I can only strive toward. Also, Robert B. Parker for his brilliant, tight dialogue and unique character creation, Robin McKinley for her fabulous feminist storytelling, Ursula LeGuinn for her ability to make readers think beyond themselves, Orson Scott Card for the rhythm of his writing, Peter Straub and Dan Simmons for the depth of their plotting, Max Brand for his intense character creation, Gloria Naylor for her ability to make the simple seem magical, Leslie Marmon Silko with her skill at making her characters bear witness to truth…Yeah…I could keep going for about four hours.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Well, the list of writers above have all been mentors in their own way, just mostly from afar, just through my reading and studying of their works. I have been lucky that both Janny Wurts and David B. Coe have taken an interest in helping me along toward a real career as an author, and I am greatly honored by their willingness to help and answer all my inane questions.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The cover of my books are designed by ARTE RAVE in conjunction with my Publisher, Prospective Press.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write. Write. Write. Write. READ – as much or more than you write. Take advice when it’s offered, examine it, filter it, use what makes sense to you. Be willing to learn, always. Edit like your life depends on it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you! I never really thought, growing up, that my works would ever have readers, so the thought that people take their time and energy to read my books still boggles my mind. I am more grateful than I can say for people giving my books a shot – and even reviewing them! Readers rule!

Draigon Weather Book CoverPaige L Christie
Bryson City, NC

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Draigon Weather: The Legacies of Arnan

Cover Artist: ARTE RAVE w/Prospective Press
Publisher: Prospective Press

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Author Interview: Jennifer Arntson

Author Jennifer Arntson is a dreamer first, a writer second, and a sworn enemy of Caillou forever. Please give her a warm welcome to No Wasted Ink.

Author Jennifer ArntsonA typical day for me starts like any other: I rush kids off to school, feed the dog, and the such, but what happens after that can be just as random to me as it is for anyone else. Sure, I’ve got a laundry list of tasks to be completed, but there are times that list goes untouched because of rain, feral pigs, or the local wandering domesticated dog pack we call ‘the puppy squad.’ Why? Well, I live on 160-acre ranch in southern Texas. Did I start here? Nope. This summer I moved from the Pacific Northwest (Go Hawks!) to follow my dreams. As such, I hunt pecans, pigs, invasive species vegetation, and shade in the triple digit weather.

When and why did you begin writing?

Like so many other authors, I had a dream I couldn’t shake. I never thought it would turn into anything, honestly. Because I’m a list person, I thought if I wrote my ideas down I’d be able to forget about them and go on with my day. As I did, the story flowed from my mind, down my fingers, and into page after page on my computer. My mom called me one afternoon and asked what I was doing, and when I told her, she asked to read it. It wasn’t done of course, but I sent it to her anyway. She called a few hours later and asked, “Where’s the rest of it?” There was no more, though. “Then I’m hanging up. Go write more.” So, I guess you can say my mother made me do it.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Oh…the day I held my book in my hands. I still remember the smell of it. You know, that new book smell? It was like that only better. My name on the cover made my head spin. In fact, my husband recorded the moment I opened the proof copy (and posted it online, ergh) and I said, “It’s real.” That’s when I knew. Looking back on the whole experience, I realize I was a writer long before that. The moment I sat down at my computer was when I became a writer. Silly how we need proof.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My new release is the fourth book in the Scavenger Girl Series. Each of the novels follows a Scavenger named Una for a single season. She and her family have been convicted by the Authority and forced to live in the fringes of society, and as things change…so does she. When asked to describe the series I tell people it’s as if Twilight and Hunger Games had a baby delivered by Christian Grey, in a hospital run by Quentin Tarantino. While you won’t find vampires, shapeshifters, or child assassins, you will find a world that breaks the boundaries of traditional genres. Full of suspense and mystery, Una’s world is shrouded with classic dystopian elements and of course a bit of romance!

What inspired you to write this book?

At first, I wanted to get it out of my head. Now, it’s as if the characters themselves want their story told. They won’t let me be until I do.

Do you have a specific writing style?

No, not really. My writing style is thinking things up and writing them down. I know I should have something eloquent about which author has inspired me, but that’s like saying which dish made me like the taste of food. All of it, none of it. Honestly, I write what I like to read. Perhaps that’s why it’s so hard to stay within a single genre.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Here’s a secret: This wasn’t the original title! My initial beta readers kept referring to Una as ‘that Scavenger Girl’ and it stuck. Since each book is about a season, we added that. In an effort for people to know what order to read them in, we put roman numerals on the cover and the rest fell together easily.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Many people say a person’s future is what they make of it, but that’s not always true. It’s also not the most important thing. Family, honesty, friendships…these are the true treasures worth pursuing.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Much of what you’ll read from any author is an amalgamation of their experiences, worldview, and assessment of things happening around them. While Scavenger Girl isn’t about a specific person or place, it is about the spirit and strength that we all share, and the parts of us we try so desperately to hide. I believe what we see in others is a product of their experiences and we judge it through a filter we’ve spent our whole lives creating. Perspective and grace go a long way.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I’m a huge fan of fantasy, though I sometimes get bogged down in the details. In the last five years or so I’ve discovered some extremely talented indie authors that dance in multiple genres. They are the ones that gave me a long leash to explore. My love of reading flourished once I started writing. I started eating, breathing and sleeping books. I think the stories that took me out of my daily grind were best. Our world touched with a bit of magic…that’s what I like. Still, I’m looking for fairies (even though I’ve learned they are trouble!)

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I consider everyone I read to be a mentor. It’s funny…when you’re a writer, you’re not reading only to be entertained or to find an avenue for escape. When I read, I’m actively learning. What do I devour? What makes me wince? Is a turn of phrase they use to provide an essence I find missing in my work? Oh, that word is perfect; I’m going to use it. It is said that art inspires art. I now understand what that means.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

My husband and I did. We have backgrounds in graphic art and prefer simple statements in creative communication. The standalones that are coming out this year have a bit of a different look, though.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing. Don’t listen to your doubt. Pay for a good proofreader.
I’ve been lucky to have a huge on-line support group of highly talented people. That has been the best gift, really. Early on I realized there are a lot of people out there willing to take advantage of new writers and the seasoned professionals I met through Facebook groups and the like, made all the difference.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I have nothing but gratitude for everyone who has invested in my work. As an author I know I’m asking for two of your most valuable resources: your time and your hard earned money. Because of that, I promise I will always provide you with my very best, and I will never forget that it is because of you that Una lives. Thank you for taking this journey with me!

Season of Atchem Book CoverJennifer Arntson
San Antonio, TX

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Scavenger Girl: Season of Atchem

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Author Interview: Kai Wai Cheah

Author Kai Wai Cheah is Singapore’s first Hugo and Dragon Award nominated writer.  I am quite honored to include him among our featured authors here on No Wasted Ink.

Author kai wai cheahI’m a Hugo and Dragon Award nominated writer from Singapore, writing under the names Kai Wai Cheah and Kit Sun Cheah. While specializing in fantasy and science fiction, my personal writing preferences lean towards lean, dynamic and authentic, combining the finest traits of modern fiction and pulp stories from the early 20th century. I’m also a member of the PulpRev movement, which seeks to revolutionize fiction by gleaning lessons from the pulp masters of the past. Other than writing, I also enjoy reading, movies and gaming, and practice the Filipino martial art of Pekiti Tirsia Kali.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing at 12 years old because I was bored.

As a child, I was a bookworm. I routinely devoured books much more advanced for my age. Physics, biology and chemistry encyclopedias; folklore, myths and fairy tales (not the watered-down versions for modern children; but stories of good and evil and horror and bloodshed); books about the military, war, firearms and technology. I started reading adult novels in primary school, and never looked back.

One December morning, I found myself with nothing to do. The Primary School Leaving Examination was over; I was just killing time waiting for the results and my secondary school posting. I’d already read every book I had in the library. I decided I could write a book of my own. I fired up my computer, grabbed research material, and wrote the opening chapter of what would become a 300-page military science fiction epic.

The novel was also utterly terrible, but I kept writing and never looked back.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Shortly after beginning work on my novel, I decided it was something I wanted to do as a career. I began referring to myself as a writer at the age of 13, soon after completing the first draft of my first novel.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My latest published novel is titled Hammer of the Witches, the second novel of the Covenant Chronicles. The story follows deniable operator Luke Landon, who is tasked with investigating international vigilante network Hexenhammer to determine if it were responsible for a major terrorist attack on a refugee camp. However, he quickly discovers a conspiracy that will stop at nothing to rule the world. And behind that conspiracy is the Unmaker, a fallen angel who aims to drag all souls into the Void.

The Covenant Chronicles is one part spy thriller, one part dark fantasy, one part military science fiction, set in a world where magic and daimons exist, but not gods… until they awake.

What inspired you to write this book?

Like all my stories, inspiration came from many sources. The first major source came from the thriller authors I read in my youth: Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Daniel Silva, Greg Hurwitz and Stephen Hunter. Harry Turtledove showed me the possibilities that lay in the genre of alternate history, while Jim Butcher influenced my approach to worldbuilding and writing, and John Ringo introduced me to military science fiction. The physics-based magic of Larry Correia’s Grimnoir trilogy was a significant influence on the magic system of this series — but I also stole ideas from Dishonored, Final Fantasy, and Alan Wake.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing style varies a lot. I find that it morphs to fit the kind of story I’m writing. The Covenant Chronicles series trends towards dark and introspective, with bouts of high-octane action; my upcoming A Song of Karma series is a little lighter and contains poetry; another story I’m working on focuses heavily on atmospherics and senses and technology. Other things like structure, dialogue, formatting also morph to fit them.

For the Covenant Chronicles, I’d like to think of it as what would happen if Tom Clancy and Larry Correia collaborated to write a futuristic urban fantasy series with strong espionage and counterterrorism elements.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Hexenhammer quite literally means ‘Hammer of the Witches’.

It’s also a reference to how the group (and Luke Landon) sees themselves: a hammer to crush the (metaphorical) witches threatening civilization.

A pity I couldn’t include a literal hammering, but that can wait for Book 4.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The entire series is a shadow war between good and evil — but the dividing line between the two quickly becomes blurred. To navigate these treacherous waters, and to keep his soul (and the souls of others) from falling into Hell, Luke Landon must develop a moral compass and stand true to his principles. I would like readers to understand the value of having firm ethical principles, of refusing to compromise with evil, and to understand that all actions have long-term repercussions.

A secondary message is that evil outcomes can arise from actions motivated by good intentions — and that good outcomes can also flow from evil actions.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No, but I drew many plot elements and technologies from current affairs and modern-day developments. These include the European migrant crisis, quantum computing, brain implants, fake news, and more.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Everyone I mentioned above as inspirations. They bring different strengths to the table: prose, plotting, characters, research, worldbuilding, and more. I study their stories to improve my own.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I don’t have any mentors. However, I am studying the business practices of Silver Empire, Chris Kennedy, Nick Cole, and Jason Anspach. Marketing is one of my weaknesses. I think these authors and publishers have an excellent grasp of marketing, and there is much to learn from them in this regard.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Scott Vigil. I didn’t select the illustrator; Castalia House did.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write. Don’t stop until you’re done. Then, write some more. This is the secret to achieving your writing goals, whatever they may be.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for reading my books. Please look out for my upcoming stories Hollow City and Dungeon Samurai.

Hammer of the WitchesKai Wai Cheah
Singapore

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Hammer of the Witches

Cover Artist: Scott Vigil
Publisher: Castalia House

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