November 2010 – Feature Article
The Harmony of the Othar Saga has been a work in progress, spanning nearly two decades. What possessed you to finally get serious about finishing the story?
I’m not getting any younger. The on-again off-again writing in fits and starts just wasn’t ever going to get the story completed. Years would literally slip away in between writing new material. I finally reached the point were I needed to take it seriously and dedicate myself to completing the story or abandon all pretenses of ever thinking I would finish it. I’ve referred to it as my midlife crisis. I woke up one morning and just decided to find a way to make it work around all the other things in my life.
What was the biggest change you needed to make to be able to write seriously?
It was really simple: write every day. Writing is a function of disciple more than creativity. If you wait until you feel creative, or wait until you feel like you have something to say, you’ll forever be on the side of procrastination. The main thing I have discovered over the last two years is that writing begets more writing, one idea begets another. Writing is not hard. Starting to write is hard.
You decided to independently publish. Was that a hard decision?
No, not really. I knew very little about it when I started researching it, but now, with a year’s worth of hindsight, it seems like the most natural thing in the world given the state of the publishing industry right now.
Have your expectations been met? How are the first two books doing?
I had no expectations really. I knew the difficulties and understood the very long odds of becoming a successful self-published author. I knew all the statistics that stated that the average self-published authors would only sell their books to friends and family. I was well aware of the struggle against obscurity. And no, as of now, I have not been able to break out of that obscurity.
With such long odds, why did you decide to publish independently?
Because book one was done.
Care to elaborate?
Heart of Hauden could either sit on the hard drive of my computer, or sit on Amazon and Smashwords. The former has no chance of being read, the latter has the possibility of being read. But equally important was the fact that I just wanted to move on to book two. I had already spent decades writing book one and I was just unwilling to spend another decade rewriting and rewriting it. Publishing it allowed me to move forward.
The Harmony of the Othar Saga is a very long and ambitious series, slated for eight parts. Has the length ever been a concern, and why is it so long?
No, it has always been outlined as an eight part story, and it is only as long as it needs to be.
There are a lot of characters in the Saga, and readers have expressed some concerns regarding their number and the ability to keep them all straight. In hindsight, was the number of characters too much for the average reader?
Perhaps. I never intended to pen a simple story with a few main characters, however. I knew I was asking a lot from my readers, but there are only enough characters required to tell the story. I’ve always been aware that this is not a “casual read” sort of series. Ideally, the story probably works best as a single volume, segmented into eight parts. While this would make for a very long book, especially in print, perhaps someday we will see the release of the saga as a single e-book volume.
How do you name your characters?
As foreign as many of my readers may find the names of my characters, I take great care in their creation. With very few exceptions, all the place names in the saga have a purpose or a meaning, although if one does not pull out their Anglo-Saxon or Mohawk dictionaries, many of the roots or literal translations will remain obscure.
I also kept to a few patterns in the naming, especially with the white characters. Generally, the highborn will have names ending in “an” for males or “ian” for females. The lower classes will substitute an “en” and an “ien” respectively. Examples can be found in the male names of Fysan, Eessan and Gerefen, while Laedian, Avanian and Bendian exemplify the female names. Blonhaft is a notable exception to the naming rule, but this was done on purpose, although it should be noted that his name does translate literally from the Anglo-Saxon root to “blond head”.
The natives usually have a name that can be translated literally from the Mohawk language. Atokwa and Onyare are two good examples, translating into “axe” and “snake” respectively.
I would like to make one note on the native names to assist in pronunciation. In the names Kwenhsa, Ohsonhsa and Ohstyen, the H’s are silent. While this may not strictly adhere to the proper Mohawk pronunciation, it is how I pronounce the names.
Aren’t you forgetting the Dasyu names here?
Yes, but my readers have not seen book three yet. They can pull out their Nahuatl (Aztec) dictionaries when the time comes.
Speaking of book three, when can we expect it?
As it stands now, you can expect book three, Tongue of Hauden, to be released mid 2011. The last seven chapters as well as the prologue and back material remain. Book three will be a little longer than the first two books in the series, .but I think this is pretty typical. I do, however, make a conscious effort to keep each of the eight parts roughly the same length.
Anything else you’d like to add?
No, other than saying that the last two years have been extremely fulfilling. I hope the next two years are just as rewarding personally, and I’d like to thank all my readers who have given the series a look.