Today I’m pleased to welcome Daniel Ionson as my guest today. I have had the pleasure of connecting with Daniel and was immediately drawn to his medieval fantasy book, After Life, which I am presently enjoying!
Daniel was certainly meant for the “Otherworld,” whatever that may be. At the age of seven he was pulled through the Wardrobe, and his heart has longed for a primeval paradise ever since. He fell in love with Middle Earth at twelve, and his fate was sealed—he belonged there.
Medieval fantasy is his primary love, but he has other serious mistresses on the side: Philosophy, horror movies, Sci-Fi, etc. He spent years delving for the secrets to the universe as he devoted himself to philosophy. He was a serious Christian until his mid-twenties, and was set to be a Christian Apologist (a philosopher who defends the Christian Faith with rational argumentation). In the process of that learning, he de-converted himself. (That was a lot of fun…) But philosophy remains a serious interest (epistemology, metaphysics, ultimate ontology), and he has a couple of book projects in that field on his workbench.
He loves Monty Python and Rifftrax (formerly MST3K).
SEVEN SPOTLIGHT QUESTIONS:
#1: Why do you write?
I can’t help it. I’ve tried, but I just can’t stop.
I love the narratives in my head, and long to share them with the world. Modernity sucks. Truly, it sucks our souls dry, making us weak, blind and…undead. I pine for the medieval fantasy worlds, where our sentience is strong.
#2: What was your earliest writing experience?
When I was twelve I began playing D&D (the “real” D&D by Gygax & Aronson). Within a couple of years I was writing little stories and drawing maps that would rival John Howe! Or not. (If my parents had been rich they could have published my little masterpieces!)
#3: Describe a day in your writing life:
Well, before I write anything I have spent considerable time musing, charting and planning my tale. That said, I devote as large a chunk of time as possible to my writing. If I’ve organized my week correctly, nothing should be bugging me.
I write in my basement where I (intentionally) have no Internet connection. I create an ambiance which helps my writing: I often play music that thematically matches the scenes I’m composing, I sometimes light candles at night, and I usually smoke my pipe (channeling Tolkien, perhaps).
I take minibreaks: standing, walking around the woods by my house, doing a quick set of bench-presses, etc. Writers have a tendency to forget that we’re physical beings. Getting the blood pumping helps our brains.
#4: What authors influenced you and how?
It’s a mix. As far as my world’s ontology, I am most affected by Tolkien. That will always be deep in my writing bones. But I don’t try to write in the same fashion as he did; he was a master of languages with a profound comprehension of mythology and history. (When authors try to copy his writing, it’s like toddlers with Crayons copying Rembrandt.)
My writing style is influenced by multiple favorites. I’ll narrow it to 2 other authors: David Gemmell (for his brutal realism) and Bernard Cornwell (for his rich understanding of the Dark Ages). While what I write is “Fantasy”, it is still realistic (see Tolkien’s essay On Fairy Stories).
#5: What are some things you learned to help with your success?
That discipline and humility are at the core of any skill-development, and writing is a skill. (I’ve always had stories in my head longing to leak out, but that didn’t mean I was de facto a good writer. I think many starting writers are under the same delusion.)
Discipline: I put myself to work learning the craft of writing. I read between 15-18 books on the subject, taking notes as I went, absorbing what I could from the experts. I therefore learned the structure of successful writing.
Humility: I worked to apply those lessons to my writing. I became increasingly harsh and honest with myself, and asked my reader friends to do the same. This process taught me to throw out what was objectively inferior in order to improve. I force myself to be open to the criticism of good readers and editors.
#6: Describe your writing method:
A good method is extremely important to all writers, whether we know it or not.
The short version of my method: I do considerable work before beginning Draft One. I incorporate all I have learned regarding the power of musing, the efficacy of subconscious programming, story-sketching, story-structure, charting, rough-draft planning and full-blown planning. I believe that an author is shooting himself in the foot by not planning all aspects of the novel before sitting down to write.
The full version of my method: I had recently posted on this very topic at: http://danielionson.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/%E2%96%BAmy-novel-writing-methodology-pre-drafting/ for pre-draft work and http://danielionson.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/%E2%96%BAthe-actual-writing/ .
#7: Tips for aspiring writers:
- (See #5 above.)
- Also, that those who wish to be professional writers take a serious look at what good writing is, and ask themselves if it’s something they want to devote their lives to. While it’s true that anyone can click a button on Amazon and be “published,” that isn’t an accomplishment.
- Becoming a good writer takes hard work, years of it. And you may never “make it big.” The publishing-house world is a capricious beast. The mark of a real author is to ask: “If I never get mass-published–if only a few people read my books–will I still write?” If your answer is ‘yes’ then you know you’re a writer.
Check out Daniel’s book, After Life:
After Life mixes genres: Fantasy, Horror and Mystery. It was inspired by a lifetime of walking alone in the woods by moonlight. One night in particular, a few years ago, Daniel walked by a snow-filled field under the light of a cold moon. “This,” he actually said aloud “is the Darkland!” (Fortunately, only the deer heard him.)
Kaemen and his fellow warriors, the Wolfhounds, have been guarding their kingdom against encroaching raids for years, and the battles are escalating. The seasonal attacks, however, are nothing compared to the return of their lost seer, Mecas, whose pained visions herald panic for the land. Their ally, the powerful Aerelians, sail to assist them as they prepare for open war.
But the kingdom’s preparations seem to have been for naught when Kaemen and his comrades find themselves in a place far more harrowing than the battlefield, for they have crossed over into the realm of the Darkland.
Where you can get After Life:
~All other formats & a long, free sample: http://tiny.cc/Afterlife3
Connect with Daniel:
Fan email address: Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org