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Author Interview: Scott S. Colley, Author

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    Posted: Mar-04-2015 at 6:43am
Author Interview: Scott S. Colley, Author of Mythica, by Michael D. Griffiths

Michael:Let's start with the whole credits thing. What published works do you have out there and what side projects are you working on? (Also if you are members of any groups or work for writer types of things feel free to give them a little shout out here.)

Scott: Mythica: Genesis is my first published novel. I am currently working on a follow-up series to Genesis that will span several books, with the first installment, Mythica: Dark Uprising, slated for release in spring 2013. I have previously been a member of the International Fantasy Writer's Guild, and I stay in contact with some old friends from those days. I spend most of my time writing so I really don't get out much.

Michael: I just finished your most recent novel Mythica: Genesis. It is a High Fantasy novel. How do you feel about writing the Fantasy genre in general? 

Scott: I love the Fantasy genre. I believe that everything has a time and a place, but for me Fantasy is a way to explore and express the concepts and emotions that define our humanity in a setting that challenges our traditional view of the universe we live in. In fantasy, anything is possible.

Michael: Do you write in other genre's

Scott: Not typically, although I have written several shorts that delve into Urban and Dark Fantasy and Science Fiction. There may be a Sci-Fi project or two in the distant future that I've got some ideas for, but the Fantasy genre can be so flexible I don't have a desire to explore other venues. Although who's to say what will happen in the future? You just never know when the lightning bolt of inspiration will strike you or how.

Michael: What does this popularity of Fantasy say about us as a culture? 

Scott: I think it says that we, as a people, are eager to learn and explore new ideas, new places, and new things. It's good to see that the adventurer in us is still alive and well and thirsting for more. With modern science constantly pushing the boundaries of what we know, particularly in astrophysics, quantum physics, and the like, I think there is a more esoteric and spiritual side to our existence that is trying to keep up, and the popularity of Fantasy speaks to that in ways that science simply can't. It also says that Fantasy writers have been doing their jobs well in keeping readers interested in their work.

Michael: In your book the existence of Elves, Dwarfs, and even Orks are just assumed. Did you worry that the reader might like more of a personal explanation of their origins in your world? Did it also concern you to use another's author's creation (orks) so freely? 

Scott: During the process of outlining Genesis it became apparent to me rather quickly that there simply wouldn't be room for extended histories of how certain species originated. There is a story behind the origin of every species, but ultimately I had to choose to forego long explanations in Genesis because it would have taken away from the story I was trying to tell. There are some hints and brief elucidation of where the Orcs, Elves, and Dwarves came from, but I left it at that in the interest of not boring the reader. Someday the opportunity to explore those origins further may present itself, and I hope to be able to do that when the time comes.

As for the second part of your question, I assume that you refer to the esteemed J.R.R. Tolkien, who is generally credited with creating the original concept of Orcs in a Fantasy setting. Other beings' origins go so far back in human mythology and history that we simply don't know who came up with the original idea, like Elves or Goblins, for example. These species have reached a point where they are standard fare in Fantasy, and are used fairly freely pretty much everywhere. That said, my vision of the Orcs as a race, their history, their culture, and their future are far different than what has been done elsewhere. My main concern in using Orcs and other fantasy species was ensuring that my concept of them was unique, and it is.

Michael: Your novel had a high body count. Why did you feel the need to kill off so many of your characters and was it hard to kill your babies?'

Scott: One of my biggest complaints with Fantasy is when all the good guys survive. Come on! This is war, against some serious bad-assery. There's no way everyone makes it out in one piece! War has casualties, plain and simple. And sometimes the best heroes are dead ones. In some cases it was very hard to watch the characters I had created die, many in rather horrible ways. For some I literally shed tears when it came time for them to meet their destiny. It doesn't help that I base most of the characters I use on people I know in real life so in a way it was like killing off my friends and family. I knew from the very beginning who was going to die and when, and yet as the story progressed they evolved and grew, and I became attached. I almost changed my mind and let a few more live. Almost. 

Michael: I noticed you did try to bring in a humor element to your novel. Did you find this hard when things were so apocalyptic? 

Scott: Humor can be very difficult to pull off, but I think it adds a whole new dimension to characters and stories that shouldn't be missed. It's human nature to use levity to cope in the face of great tragedy or hardship. My general rule on humor is that if it makes me laugh, it will make others laugh. I think that is the best way to write, really. You can try to force humor, or anything, but it probably won't turn out the way you wanted it to. You have to feel it. If the joke you attempted actually makes you smile, then chances are someone else will get the joke and enjoy it as much as you did. All that aside, there are some inside jokes and little ironies in there that nobody will likely ever understand but me, but that's part of the fun seeing who gets what.

Michael: Why does Fantasy appeal to you as a writer?

Scott: Fantasy appeals to me because it has no limits. Whatever I can dream up, so long as I can present it in a way that fits and excites the reader, well then pretty much anything goes. With Fantasy, I am not bound by the laws of science and physics and sometimes not even logic. You can't get much freer than that.

Michael: What are some positive changes that you think could be made within the Fantasy Genre to improve it?

Scott: I think the genre could really benefit from the industry, from authors to publishers and everyone in between, not trying so hard to appeal to a demographic. There's this pressure in modern literature to pander to certain groups or interests, often at the expense of good writing. I think when you do that, you lose something that is hard to get back. What we need is less hype and more quality content. In this day and age of digital publishing, it is easy to be lured into that promise of instant publication, but there has to be a certain level of refinement and polish to published material, lest we risk losing readers to other forms of entertainment. I think that Fantasy, and the industry in general, benefits from healthy competition so the more stuff that's out there the healthier the genre becomes. However, I think it would be beneficial for authors to really do their homework whenever they find a prospective publisher or agent. There are a lot of scammers and predators out there, and every time someone falls prey to them, the business as a whole suffers.

Michael: Where has the contemporary Fantasy Genre gone wrong?

Scott: So much is going right with the genre these days, not just in books but in movies, art, and games, too. Wrong is a matter of personal preference and really is completely subjective to the individual reader. I sincerely doubt that I am qualified in any way, shape, or form to tell the world what is wrong with any particular direction that a work of fantasy has gone. I know what I like, and I know what lines should not be crossed for me, but I wouldn't deign to tell anyone where they should or should not go with their own work.

Michael: How do you feel about the newer related genres like Dark and Urban Fantasy?

Scott: I think any new development in the realm of Fantasy that enhances, rather than cheapens, the experience is a good thing, and I find them an appealing avenue to explore. My next few novels will be a bit darker in scope, though they'll still fall into the High Fantasy niche. Someday we'll see about a couple of Urban Fantasy ideas I've got floating around in my notes.

Michael: In you book the origins of Magic are sort of a given and not gone into in great detail. Why did you find this unneeded?

Scott: To me magic is an inherent force in the universe at large. It has its limitations, its pitfalls, and its benefits. What I really wanted to avoid was boring the reader with long descriptions of the mechanics of how I think magic works and the history of its development. In Fantasy, magic is a generally accepted reality, and unless the writer creates some inconsistency or untenable purpose behind it, magic can simply just be. I felt like I could include enough description of where it comes from and how it can be applied in little tidbits throughout the story and still satisfy the reader's curiosity without distracting them from the flow of the story.

Michael: Your book is on the long side (550 pages) in these days where most authors are being told that having a word count over 100,000 can be a death sentence, why did you take the risk to push this boundary so far?

Scott: When I started Mythica: Genesis I never really worried about how long it was going to be. I wanted to write an epic, and to do that you can't be worried about word or page counts or what the industry says you should do. In fact, I take it as a personal challenge from all those out there who say something can't be done. The original version of Genesis was about 200 pages longer, so there was a lot of trimming and paring, but that's just part of the process, and I think what emerged was a stronger, leaner, meaner story. Going back to what I said earlier about pressure within the industry to write a certain way, this stigma against longer books is just another example of that. Good writing has to include the writer being passionate about what he/she is doing and having the freedom to express that passion in a format that fits the story he/she is trying to tell. Not all books need to be 550 pages long, but in order to develop the characters and plots properly, Genesis had to be. I'm a fan of longer books anyway so I like to write far-reaching tales with interweaving plots and well-developed characters. It just takes a lot of page space to do that right, in my opinion. 

Michael: Is there any unusual way that you promote your fiction?

Scott: I am extremely fortunate to have a publisher that puts so much time and effort into marketing. We've run contests where winners get to appear as characters in a future book, and I thought that was really cool. What better way to honor your fans than to include them personally in the ongoing adventure? For me personally, word of mouth is the best form of marketing there is because it shows that I have done my job well, and it is the sincerest form of flattery.

Michael: Do you have a blog or other action available for people that can not get enough of your work?

Scott: My website is www.scottscolley.com, where fans and interested persons can go to learn more about my work and get inside my head a little. I'm working on a redesign of the site at the moment which will include sections where some of the details that don't make it into the books will be explored, such as the history of nations, a bestiary where readers can learn more about their favorite monsters, stuff like that. I'm looking forward to opening up that new dimension in the world of Mythica.

Michael: What are you writing goals for the future and can you tell us a little about where the ---- Brothers and Mythica might be going?

Scott: I'm currently under contract with Krullstone to write a follow-up series to Genesis that will span several books, titled Bloodlines, with the first installment, Mythica: Dark Uprising, scheduled for release next spring. This story will pick up ten years after the events of Genesis, where we'll find that things have taken a darker turn. There's a synchronicity and interconnectedness to the things that happened in Genesis, and starting with Dark Uprising we'll follow the Arkenstone brothers, along with some familiar faces, as they come to terms with the consequences of the war with the Daemon Lords and the Orcs and what follows in its wake. Let's just say that the fairy tale ending isn't always what it's cracked up to be. There's a darkness coming to Mythica, and there'll be some surprising twists of fate that come with it.

Interview by Michael D. Griffiths

Mythica, by Scott S. Colley
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