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Friday, June 10, 2011

Interview with Zach Richardson

Welcome to Jagged Edge!
Would you like to tell us a little about yourself?
Well, my name is Zachery Richardson, I'm 21 and turning 22 in August, and for some reason, my ability to write is at least somewhat tied to my Attention Defecit Disorder. Fun fact, every ADD medication I tried scrambled my writing abilities. I could still plan and come up with ideas, but I was incapable of putting them to paper. Understandably, I don't take medication for it anymore.

What inspired you to write?
I've always had a wild imagination, and that used to really get me in trouble with school because every time we'd have a writing assignment, I'd always want to embellish or add certain things to make it more interesting. I used to find writing frightfully boring. But then in 6th grade, my teacher gave us a creative writing assignment and it was like someone finally gave me permission to let out all these crazy ideas that were always flying through my head. I've been writing ever since.

What authors influenced you as a writer?
The two that most immediately come to mind are Tolkien and Matthew Stover, although I say Tolkien for a reason most people probably wouldn't expect. Lord of the Rings was one of the most difficult books I've ever read. Not because I didn't understand it, but because Tolkien got so overly verbose when describing things, it really dragged down the pace of the book. So I made a mental note to avoid doing that myself. Matthew Stover on the other hand, showed me things in writing that I thought were brilliantly effective in conveying meaning and emotion. Read his novelization of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and you'll see exactly what I mean. The way he writes fight scenes is also something that very much impressed me. If I could pick any author that I strive to be as good as, it would be him.

Your favorite character?
I couldn't pick just one, I've crossed paths with far too many for that. Anakin Skywalker is easily my favorite Star Wars character, followed closely by Yoda. Yoda is certainly someone I'd love to learn more about.

If you're asking about my own characters, I couldn't do that to my children. They'd never let me here the end of it! [laughs]. Jin Sakai from COTA is a lot of fun to write. Not only is he a wonderfully conflicted person, but he's an incredibly skilled fighter, and I always have more fun writing characters like him.

What is your favorite Quote?
Probably the one that inspired me to pursue a career as an author. "To be truly happy in life, find something you love doing, and then find someone who'll pay you to do it."

If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world, which would it be?
Oh man, I'm going to get in so much trouble for saying this, but I would love to be a vampire in the Twilight universe. Sure, the sparkling thing in the sun is a bit on the silly side, but their physical abilities and hyper acute senses would be so much fun to have.

I would also love to be a Dragon Rider in Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. There are so many things I love about the Dragon Riders, apart from being paired with a dragon, that I don't think I could list them all. I love the world of that series, and being able to fly around it on a dragon who was also your closest friend would be a wonderful experience.

What is the one thing that every writer needs to have or do?
Passion. Being an author is an extraordinarily difficult profession, and if you don't have an overwhelming love and passion for it, the rejections you will inevitably encounter could easily discourage you from continuing.

Are your books different to your personal favorite books by other authors?
Wildly so, in some respects. The books I like reading are typically light, optimistic works. Yet mine tend to cross over into some very dark territory and deal with the darker side of life. That said, I'm a die-hard believer in the light at the end of the tunnel.

What lead you to writing in this genre?
My own life. I had some serious anger management problems growing up as a kid. I was bullied almost every day from third grade to my Sophomore year in high school, and my home life wasn't much better. My mind wound up going to some really dark places because of it. If it hadn't been for my mother, I more than likely wouldn't be here today. As a side effect of all that, I developed an intense interest in fantasy. I loved reading about courageous and powerful heroes and losing myself in their stories. I used to feel that if only I could have their powers and their abilities, I could solve all the problems in my own life.

Because of all that, I really wanted to write stories about good people who have their own inner darkness that they must overcome. I think there's a really disturbing trend in society to bury or ignore that side of ourselves, and ostracize anyone who understands that. What I strive to show in my books is that even the best of us have an inner darkness, and that those individuals are as special as they are not because they ignore the darkness, but because they've faced it, they've accepted it, and they choose not to let it influence or control them. And on the flip side of that, I wanted to show people who might be struggling with their own darkness that you don't have to be a slave to it. That no matter how powerful it may seem, you can always chose to face it, overcome it, and be the master of your own life.

What inspires you the most when you write?
That's a bit of a tough question. I don't have any specific external sources of inspiration in general. Sometimes a song or movie will inspire an idea for a scene, and when I'm writing that scene, I'll set that song or movie on repeat to keep me in the zone. Generally speaking though, I just write. I love what I do, and that's really all the inspiration I need.

How long does it normally take you to write a book and go through the whole process?
That depends. I tend to write with the pace of the story, so if a scene or chapter is really fast paced, I can churn it out really fast. If it's a slower scene or chapter however, sometimes it can take a week or more for me to finish it.

The editing process is interesting for me, and it varies from book to book. I wrote three drafts of Revenge, Everything is Nothing before I was satisfied with it, and that process took years. But with my second book, which is not COTA 2, as I went back through it, I realized that I had already hit all the plot points that I wanted to hit, so it didn't require the same level of content editing that REIN did. That project probably only took about a year.

And that really comes down to the planning stage. I spent much more time working out exactly what kind of story I wanted to tell and building the world and characters it took place in. With REIN, I was pretty much thinking on paper, making things up as I went along, guided only by a vague idea of what the story was. Naturally, that led to the book requiring a much more intensive editing phase.

What are you most excited about this year?
Spreading the word about COTA: REIN. I've got a couple plans that I'm putting into action that will have some dramatic results if they work out. It's been a slow build to this point, but it finally feels like things are beginning to fall into place. Doing this interview has been tremendously fun and exciting for me, as was setting up my website (www.theauthorphoenix.com). Building that site and seeing the final, finished product were both incredibly rewarding experiences. I've even got it set up so that people can order signed copies of COTA: REIN if they want, so I'm especially excited about that.


What book do you wish to see come out as a movie? (of course all authors want to see their movie on the big screen but what other book would you like to see?)
I would love to see an Eragon movie done right! The world Christopher Paolini created in that series is one of the most engrossing fantasy worlds I've ever read. It's like a younger version of Middle-Earth, and I mean that in the best way possible. Yet the Eragon film that they did make is the second worst book-to-film adaptation I have ever seen, behind only Stanley Kubrick's butchering of The Shining. They cut out all of the details that make Alagaesia as rich as it is, and even made changes that directly contradict things in the later books!

As far as books that haven't already been giving a movie, I think it would be cool to see the Night Angel Trilogy adapted to film. Again though, I would only be interested if they did it right and stayed faithful to the book.

Funniest question you have ever been asked?
"Dude, can you rap?" I was asked that just out of the blue by a fellow freshman my first day of high school. I still laugh about it today just because of how random it was. Apparently, my being bi-racial (white mother, African-American father) was all I needed to be able to rap. And no, I can't. [laughs]

What happened while writing one of your books that you did not expect?
I wasn't expecting Chronicles of the Apocalypse itself! After starting and then abandoning the original incarnations of both REIN and COTA 2, I started work on a third story, and after the first chapter, I hit writer's block for the third time! And that's when I realized all three projects had one unifying theme, they all dealt with a demonic Apocalypse! So right then, I realized I could combine all three books, and then use them as a launching pad to something far bigger!

Do you read the review when they are good and/or bad?
That depends. I'll naturally read good reviews, but if a review is just bashing my book at every turn, I typically ignore it. That's happened once before and it was clear the person wasn't interested in the kind of book that I had written. I enjoy fair reviews, because those typically contain points that I can learn from and use to improve my writing later.

What's next in life for you?
Continuing my search for promotional opportunities for COTA: REIN, first and foremost. So if anyone reading this can help me with that, please feel free to contact me. Outside of that, I'm excited about moving into my new apartment. It's very nice two bedroom, two bathroom place with a wonderfully updated kitchen. I plan on using the second bedroom as an office, which should be a much more writing conducive environment than my living room couch. Once I get situated there, I can really dig in to COTA 2, as well as some other book projects I've been keeping on the back burner.

LAST QUESTION:
Was their a question you wish I would have asked but didn't? 
Nope, not that I could think of. :P

1 comment:

Denise Z said...

Thank you for sharing the interview today.

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