Interview with John Sloat
John T. Sloat was born in 1970, Des Moines, Ia., and was ensnared by the Sci-fi/Fantasy genre somewhat before fifteen years of age. Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke, the “Big Three” of science fiction, were only the beginning. Stephen R. Donaldson along with Ed Greenwood, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman (within the fiction category of writers) solidified his adoration of a good story with developed characters, colorful imagery, and solidly portrayed realms. A martial artist, Wiccan, and honorably discharged veteran, he is currently a full-time student pursuing his Therapeutic Massage degree at IBMC college in Colorado.
1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
My own desire to write a book was sparked around 1984, I believe. I’d grown up in the initial explosion of RPG’s and their novel offshoots, first and foremost being the AD&D genre. About five years ago in 2010 I began laying the groundwork, the foundations for my fictional world of Ea’dred, but even then it was more of a hobbyist, because-I-want-to sort of endeavor. But it kept getting bigger and, in my opinion only, better. The exact date I realized I could and would become a published writer was October 1, 2014, and Book I of the Novantumus series became available in electronic format on 11/22/2014.
2) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’d have to say my penchant for deliberately placing the Protagonist into no-win, impossible scenarios and finding a viable, creative solution for then pulling his bacon out of the fire. I get such a thrill out of that!
3) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
The degree of parallels I’ve noted within my current life that directly correspond to that which I wrote years ago, if that’s not too squirrely of an answer. Fictional characters I originally conceived of years ago, I have real-life friends and acquaintances now who are nearly a virtual match. Some in name, some in personality. That’s just a tad bit freaky-deekie and every once in a while gives me the shivers.
4) Where did you get ideas for your books?
Everywhere, lol! I use everything. Kernels of ideas generated from everyday experiences. Mythology. Science. The works of other creative minds, regardless of their professional direction, that ignite a creative offshoot of my own. Beliefs, convictions, and mortality. Moments of inspiration and direction are all around us.
5) Out of all the books you have written which is your favorite and why?
I wrote two or three “practice” novels before beginning Book I of the Novantumus Series in 2010, but the second of the series is my current favorite. Book II deals with the refinement of Makennan Novantumus, of the man himself who was tossed into the deep end of the metaphysical pool of a dark god’s manipulations within Book I. The second of the Novantumus series is my “little darling” because Makennan comes into his own and delivers righteous, juicy, medieval-style vengeance unto a deserving Lich Lord of Corruption who desperately deserves it.
6) What age group do you think best describes your reader? Why?
Young adult all the way up to “You’re not dead yet.” Why? Because I deliberately wrote in a fashion that excludes no one, despite the fact my novel falls solidly within the (High) Fantasy genre. I’m sure there are some who would say that isn’t possible. I disagree. At the core, Book I is a love story of the lengths a man will go for what he truly adores. War, magic, politics, spies, grand battles, friendship and betrayal are regular features throughout. Horrendous suffering, brilliant victories and breathtaking descriptives. Granted I used a bit of non-traditional vocabulary here and there, but I refused to “dumb down” what I believe readers of most ages want to read and are capable of reading. A mathematician can pick up my novels and find a reference, a hint, something he/she will ‘click’ with. So will a physicist or fashion designer, a paramedic or short-order cook. And I did it on purpose so as to NOT have only a single market niche.
7) What do you think makes a good story?
Details. Conflict, both internal and external, that relates directly to both the written characters themselves and the reader. But MOST importantly, that “impossible moment”. When a character is painted into a corner and there’s no way out…as per the written/unwritten rules of every genre out there…and the character makes it happen anyway.
8) Who are some of your favorite Authors?
Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, specifically for the Dragonlance Chronicles. This series literally changed my life and to the positive. I would very much like to thank these two individuals personally, one day. Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein, the “Big Three” of Science Fiction. Vastly intelligent writers who have literally influenced the Science of our times via their science “fiction”. Ann McCaffery for ‘Dragonriders of Pern’ and the ‘Pegasus in Flight’ series. Stephen R. Donaldson for ‘Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever’ series. Katherine Kurtz for the Deryni Novels. John Varley for ‘Titan’. ‘Dune’ by Frank Herbert and his Heir, for excruciating detail that nonetheless remained interesting yet vital. These and more, but every single one of them proved to me Anatole France’s statement as truth: “To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything.”
9) If you could pick one actor to play a character in your book in the movie version, who would it be?
Liam Hemsworth as Makennan Novantumus. Being male, I couldn’t really decide this one. So I took a poll of the Ladies here at my college, described Makennan’s character, and this was the unanimous shout-out. THEN I looked him up, and this guy IS Makennan!
10) What song best describes your book and Why?
‘Soulforged’ by Blind Guardian. This song was inspired by the fictional character of Raistlin Majere within the Dragonlance Chronicles. For those who are unfamiliar with the Dragonlance Saga, Raistlin is a black-hearted user, a manipulator, and evil to the core. BUT…his character never, ever quit no matter the obstacles. That trait is the core of Makennan Novantumus within “A Sorcerer’s Onus….”
11) Who are some of the people that influenced your love of writing?
Hands-down my friend and first mentor, Robyn Eggers, for her one single phrase that has stuck with me all this time: “Be the hero of your own story.”
12) If you had one piece of advice for an aspiring Author, what would it be?
You’ve got your background, research and foundation(s) prepared for your novel. You’re sitting in front of your keyboard. It’s first draft time, Chapter 1, page 1. You lift your hands, wiggle your fingers in preparation…do not think! Feel it, be it, see/feel/taste it, but don’t think. Thinking is for later, for details, for editing and consistency. And there will be a lot of it. For your first draft, never ever think.
13) What would you like to say to friends and family of writers (not just your own)?
You are fair game for basis of character(s), survivability not guaranteed. 😉
14) What projects do you have up and coming?
Book I of the Novantumus Series is currently released. Book II will be ready for a final go-thru in a short time, its final edit after I’ve left it simmering for a few months. I currently have tentative plot points drafted for Book III, taking me about a third of the way through that particular novel. Ideally I would like the Novantumus Series to conclude with five novels in total and then begin branching out from there. Exploring/detailing other lives within the world of Ea’dred is my eventual goal.
15) Is there anything else you want to share with your readers?
One word: “Research.” For Book I of the Novantumus Series, all told…and I mean everything…I’ve spent 80% of that time in research and the remaining 20% in writing. I looked up the names of portions of medieval style castles. There’s mention in early chapters of an ancient elven game of strategy called ‘Shatranj’, that’s of Arabic origin, as well as the fashion of elvish greeting given within Chapter 4. Magic, in my view, works similarly to quantum physics. I researched that as well, and in Book II, Makennan constructs his new home out of what amounts to dark matter. Different shades and hues of the vastly overdone “blue dress” or “red jacket”. Bo-ring! My personal friend, the Thesaurus. I. Love. This. Thing. I enjoy detail, just not overwhelmingly so. Except for the aforementioned Herbert’s.
“Only a moment had passed for him after thrusting Óirgeal into the woman and pedestal behind her. He had kept up the great outpouring of Amber Flame, more than he’d ever dared attempt and for far longer. The sating of V’rook Nerissaadi had been naught but a trickle compared to this. When he’d brought it to bear against the Ebony Dark it had taken time to replenish. Now he was overspending the limits of his body, drawing deeply as the Amber Flame fed upon him to fuel the torrent.
It hurt immensely. His flesh was withering upon itself, skin and muscle sunken as he became more and more emaciated. He would not stop. Mouth set in a hard line, he closed his eyes against the rising pain and drew harder. Something popped inside his head. The mage’s eyeballs had burst from the strain of so much all-consuming magic coursing through him. He screamed, almost losing hold of the divine fire he was forcing out of himself. With my last breath I will serve thee, beloved Vishanti. Mak latched a death grip of will onto that spark of his goddess within his innermost soul and held on. My…last…I will not…fall!”