Please welcome my guest, Andrew Q. Gordon! Andrew’s a wonderful writer, a great companion for conferences (we’ve had some great times together), husband to a sweetheart of a man, and “daddy” to one of the sweetest, smartest, and cutest little munchkins I’ve ever met. Andrew is on tour promoting the re-release of The Last Grand Master from Dreamspinner Press Publications, Dreamspinner’s brand new imprint! Don’t forget to check out the super cool blog tour giveaway, as well as an exclusive excerpt from the book.
Shira: So, Andrew, I’ve always been fascinated by how writers find inspiration for their work. How do you find your creative mojo? How do your ideas become a fully-fledged plot?
Andrew: I used to think I was weird until I started talking to other writers, because I’d see something or listen to a piece of music and I ‘see’ stories come from them. I’m not sure I can explain it other than once an image or idea takes root, I can run with it in my head forever. It might not end up being a good story, but it’s there.
How these jumbled thoughts get to be a full-on plot is something of a process. Typically, I have to write a ‘chapter or two’ to get the ball rolling. The act of putting the idea to paper requires fleshing it out and from that, the story grows. I’ll be honest, I don’t always know where the story is going. And I’m not going to say the story has its own life, but in my mind it will change as I write it. Maybe the original idea doesn’t work out with all the pieces, so I change it up and that sends it in a new direction.
This can be a bit of an issue with a series like Champion of the Gods if you haven’t finished the series before you start to publish the books. If you decide to move in a different direction, you can’t go back and un-write those books. In those cases, you can’t always go where you want.
Shira: How much preparation do you do before you start to write? What sort of things do you do to prepare to write?
Andrew: Very little, typically. While writing, I’ll stop and research things, but generally before I start I don’t worry about what I can and can’t do. My thinking is, books are fluid. I’m very apt to change things up before I get to the things I’ve researched. Better to look for it when I needed it, then waste my limited time. This has, however, been a problem when what I think is right isn’t and I’m forced to go back and re-do whole sections. But those are the exceptions, generally this method works for me.
Shira: When you’re working on a story, have you ever changed plot or character direction unexpectedly? What made you change?
Andrew: As I’ve said above, yes, probably all the time. Why? Hard to say. Most times it’s because what I intended to do doesn’t work. Either it’s too pat or contrived, or it’s not as interesting as I thought it would be once I wrote it down
Shira: When you submit a manuscript for publication, do you let it go until the editing process, or do you continue to tweak the manuscript until you start edits?
Andrew: I put it aside and work on the other hundred or so characters in my head. I figure they’re going to give me a slew of edits anyway, so why mess it now?
Shira: What is your favorite time and place to write? Why?
Andrew: With a three year old, any free time I get is when I write. It’s not ideal, but it’s what I have to work with. After ‘lil q was born, I started to write in the little office I have upstairs so I could hear her. Ideally, I find I get my best writing done in a coffee shop. There are far fewer interruptions and usually the wi-fi sucks so I have fewer distractions on-line too.
Shira: Did you hit any roadblocks in writing your new release? What were they and how did you overcome them?
Andrew: Most of the ‘problems’ stemmed from something I hadn’t researched (ironic that you asked about research, no?) when I began the story. To me, fantasy stories were long—as in three or more books long—and I had no idea about word counts. Stories were as many pages and words as they needed. And in truth, now that DSP Publications is around, those notions are not so far fetched. But when I started book one, there weren’t that many places you could publish LGBT fiction and most of those were MM Romance publishers. While I didn’t need to change the story to fit into the MM Romance Genre, I did need to change the word count.
As originally written, The Last Grand Master was more than twice as long as its final version. Editing in general might have cut a third of the words out, but getting it to a max of 120K required something of a re-write. It got harder fitting into the number for book two. Fortunately, DSP Publication has given me a greater word count for the remaining three books so I’ll be able to do more with books three through five.
Thanks for having me, Shira.
Shira: Thanks for stopping by and letting me pick your brains! Best of luck with the release!
BLURB: In a war that shook the earth, the six gods of Nendor defeated their brother Neldin, god of evil. For three thousand years, Nendor and the Seven Kingdoms have known peace and prosperity and Neldin’s evil was nearly forgotten.
But then Meglar, wizard king of Zargon, unleashes the dark magic of the underworld and creates an army of creatures to carry out his master’s will. One by one, the sovereign realms fall as a new war between the gods threatens to engulf Nendor.
Leading the opposition to Meglar is Grand Master Farrell. Young and untried, Farrell carries a secret that could hold the key to defeating Meglar—or it could destroy the world.
Farrell is joined by Nerti, queen of the unicorns and Miceral, an immortal muchari warrior the Six have chosen as Farrell’s mate. As Farrell and his new allies make plans to counter Neldin’s evil, Meglar forces their hand when he invades a neighboring kingdom. Rushing to help their ally, Farrell and Miceral find themselves in the middle of the battle. Cut off from help, Farrell attempts an untried spell that will either turn the tide or cost he and Miceral their lives.
Here’s the link to Andrew’s blog tour giveaway:
Master Thomas stared at Miceral before bowing his head an inch.
“Master Thomas,” Farrell said, stopping an arm’s length from his teacher. “This is Miceral, son of Horgon, Chief of the Muchari. He’ll be joining us from now on, as he’s staying with me.”
As Farrell put on his jerkin, the older man gave no indication he cared about Miceral or whom he slept with. Extending his arm, he said, “Pleased to meet you, sir. Kindly stay out of our way while I work with the prince.”
Miceral nodded and unwrapped his own swords. Farrell watched him select two similar blades and swing both in a twirling motion. A firm slap on his ass from the flat of a sword elicited a short yelp.
“Stop watching your friend over there and concentrate on your own practice.” Master Thomas’s voice held nothing except the business at hand. Rubbing his “wound,” Farrell began to limber up, performing the stretching routine he’d been taught as a boy. When ready, he picked up his sword and bowed to his teacher.
After a perfunctory bow, Thomas attacked. Farrell used a lighter sword that played to his wiry build and natural quickness. After a few passes, Thomas stopped and lowered his sword.
“Your arm is too low.” Thomas moved Farrell’s sword arm approximately three inches.
Feeling foolish at the almost negligible adjustment, Farrell barely paid attention to the additional instructions.
Master Thomas moved in front of Farrell, and they resumed practice. Without warning, Thomas changed his attack, stopped, and repeated the drill of showing Farrell what he’d done wrong this time. Farrell chafed as the lesson continued. He wanted to show Miceral his skill with a sword, but his trainer consistently focused on his weaker points.
“Boy!” Thomas slammed the point of his practice sword into the ground, signaling a stop. “What in the Eight Gates of Neblor are you doing? Trying to show off for the pretty lad sitting over there?”
Farrell turned beet-red, glaring at his instructor.
Undeterred, Thomas scowled back. “We’re here to work on where you’re most vulnerable, not to do fancy moves to impress someone you hope to get in your bed tonight. Trust me. I saw what he can do. You’re not going to impress him. You aren’t that good.”
Humiliated, Farrell ground his teeth, eyes barely open. If this fool thought to insult him in front of Miceral without consequences, he—
“Master Thomas.” Miceral’s voice broke into Farrell’s thoughts. “If you wouldn’t mind, may I talk to Farrell a moment, please?”
The two locked eyes for an instant before Farrell saw his teacher nod.
Putting a hand on Farrell’s shoulder, Miceral drew them aside. “He’s correct. I am a distraction. I shouldn’t have come. I’ll go back to the rooms to wait for you.”
“No.” Farrell grabbed Miceral’s arm. “It’s not you, it’s him. I’m a much better wizard than he is a swordsman, and this is his way of humiliating me.”
Shaking his head, Miceral gripped Farrell by the biceps. “That’s not true. He’s trying to teach you how to work around your weaknesses. It makes no sense to work on what you’re good at and ignore where you need help. You were in the wrong. Master Thomas is a fine teacher. If you want me to stay, you need to apologize to him.”
Farrell’s head snapped back. “Are you joking? He’s a surly, grumpy old man—”
“Who’s trying to save your life by making you a better swordsman. He was right to call you out just then. He might have been a bit mean, but he got your attention.” Miceral suddenly smiled at him. “It was sweet of you to try to show off for me. I’m impressed. You’re a much better swordsman than I thought. But if you really want to impress me, then learn what he’s trying to teach you.” He kissed Farrell’s forehead. “Go on, apologize and get on with the lesson.”
AUTHOR BIO: Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write.
He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his partner of nineteen years, their daughter and dog. In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. ‘insiders’, Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day.
2/10 – Cate Ashwood
2/11 – Susan Mac Nicol
2/12 – Tali Spencer
2/13 – Shira Anthony
2/16 – M.A. Church
2/17 – Charlie Cochet
2/18 – Raine O’Tierney
2/19 – RJ Scott
2/20 – Sue Brown