It is easy for authors to feel isolated - all those long lonely hours spent at the keyboard are not conducive to an active social life! But contact with, and support from, other authors is important, so how can we achieve this? One of the best ways is to join an online community, where you can share ideas, writing experience and motivate each other to keep going when the writing gets tough.
The best online community I have come across is SFF Chronicles, which is a Science Fiction and Fantasy Community. Through the forum I have been able to connect with other authors and readers, and as well as finding support and encouragement, there are also a host of topics covering books, films, games, politics etc. If you are an indie author writing SF / Fantasy books, (or just a fan of the genre), I strongly recommend joining this community - from my own personal experience, when I published my most recent book, This Sacred Isle, the SFF Chronicles community were very supportive; a nice morale boost at a tricky time!
So, I am very pleased that author Brian G. Turner, the founder of SFF Chronicles, has kindly agreed to an interview discussing the community and his own writing.
What motivated you to start SFF Chronicles?
It was originally a support forum for my writing. However, by 2003 I realised that I wasn't going to be published any time soon, so decided to broaden the forums remit - and also host it separately.
There's been a huge amount of work behind the scenes over the years. Trying to make a success of a forum is not for the faint-hearted. I've seen plenty die-off because the owners couldn't retain an interest, allow for the time needed for maintenance, or handle technical problems.
How can communities such as SFF Chronicles help indie authors?
The most surprising way is the professional contacts that can be made - for examples, editors, artists, and beta-readers.
There's also the ability to get critical feedback on your writing - I've had so many useful and insightful comments over the years. By that I'm not talking about plot, character, and spelling / grammar, but more serious technical points of POV use, emotional development arcs, and structure, for example.
Then there's the ability to connect with readers once finally published. Frankly, without the forums, I would struggle to reach readers when the marketplace is so flooded with new books.
What have you found to be the most rewarding aspect of running SFF Chronicles?
Probably the social aspect in meeting people with similar interests. Writing is a solitary and often lonely job. I don't mind that, but the chrons forums helps provide a social outlet I would not easily have.
I also don't know many people in real life who read regularly - let alone in the genres I'm interested in. So it's great to be able to connect with other people in the forums to talk books, whether it's favourites, ones that I'm reading, or others that I've read.
I also enjoy seeing links to interesting stories, features, or articles. I have a big interest in history, and so do some of our members. It means I find information I wouldn't easily come across.
You’ve recently published Gathering, the first book in your Chronicles of Empire series – what can readers expect from the novel?
The basic premise is that it's an epic fantasy - but it has far more of an historical feel than most. There's also a major science-fiction element to the plot, which is revealed in the opening chapter.
After that, the story develops with what appears to be a fairly familiar and traditional band of adventurers.
However, not long after that, I start work on challenging the tropes, stereotypes, and expectations that a reader might normally expect of such a book.
By the end of the story, the reader should be left feeling that they've read an original and entertaining story, that defies easy comparison with other novels.
You've developed a whole fantasy world for Gathering – what kind of research did you carry out?
I came up with the idea for the series in the 1990's, but I wanted a sense of historical detail to make it feel more authentic. So I began researching as much as I could about ancient and mediaeval history. I haven't stopped.
So anyone who picks up Gathering can easily find all sorts of references to Ancient Rome, Byzantium, and Mediaeval Northern Europe. However, the details are in the living history rather than political history.
So when the reader enters the city of Corianth with the characters - the setting for most of the book - they will be experiencing something analogous to what a Mediterranean city might have felt like in Mediaeval times.
When will the next book in the Chronicles of Empire series be published?
I'm aiming for a Dec 2018 publishing date. However, it's very difficult to write a true multi-character story.
Most novels feature a single protagonist, perhaps with a love interest and best friend and a couple of supporting points of view. The result is that the main character goes from point A to point B, then C, etc. It's a simple and linear progression.
With multiple characters, while one is going from A to B, another is going from A to C, another from B to D, etc., and all the time their stories are intersecting and impacting each other. It makes it much more challenging to write. I can totally appreciate why George R R Martin takes so long with his epic series - then again, he has a lot more characters!
Thank you, Brian.
To find out more about Chronicles of Empire, go to: http://www.chroniclesofempire.com/
And there is a Chronicles of Empire discussion page at: https://www.sffchronicles.com/forum/brian-g-turner/