Thursday, April 25, 2013

D.P. (Derek) Prior - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author D.P. Prior. Derek is a best-selling Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer. He is noted for his Shader epic fantasy series, and the Chronicles of the Nameless Dwarf.

Author Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Health, Mind & Body

Website: D.P. Prior
Author's Blog: D.P. Prior Blog
Blog: Google +
Twitter: @derekpprior
E-Mail: derekprior [at] yahoo [dot] co [dot] uk
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
LinkedIn: Check Out LinkedIn
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:
I was born in the South East of England in the late sixties, just in time to get a good sniff at the Summer of Love.

I spent most of my childhood immersed in fantasy and SF novels as well as Marvel comics. I also had an unhealthy obsession with D&D and was, for a long time, a member of the rather dodgy wargaming society at the Archery recreation ground.

After studying theatre at Lewes I did a season as Father Christmas, worked as a lighting and sound technician, and then trained for three years to be a Mental Health Nurse. I started in one of the Victorian asylums but ended up at the University of Sussex.

Once qualifying, I was immediately off to Aberystwyth to study for a BA in Drama. I also studied Classics and Medieval History and ended up specializing in Acting and Intercultural Theatre.

I gained twenty years of varied experience in mental health, working in acute services, crisis resolution, management of violence and aggression, and eating disorders. This was interspersed with a five month postulancy with the Carmelite Order in Melbourne and further studies at the University of Notre Dame in Western Australia.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I'm currently about a third of the way through a total redraft of Shader book 3, The Unweaving. This has been on the cards for nearly three years, but now I've completed the Nameless Dwarf I'm finally able to dedicate my full attention to it. I hope to have it ready for release by the end of the summer. That will bring to an end the first Shader trilogy. A single volume of the trilogy will be released shortly after The Unweaving. This will contain brand new illustrations by Patrick Stacey and a great new cover by Anton Kokarev. The first book of the second trilogy is already mostly complete in first draft. This is titled The Archon's Assassin and brings Shadrak the Unseen into sharper focus. It should be ready for release by the autumn. If all goes to plan, I then hope to release a novella-length Shader prequel called The Seventh Horse in December -- this deals with a major battle in the Templum's war against the undead armies of the Liche Lord.

Even more exciting is the news that Anton Kokarev is working on a Nameless Dwarf comic. He's still reading all five books in Russian at the moment, but I'm dying to see his first sketches.

How important have your social media relationships been? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?

I belong to a few groups where writers share information on all aspects of self-publishing, particularly promotion. From time to time I run into people via social networking and we are able to help each other out. I've found a couple of artists this way, as well as cover designers and formatters. I don't have a very large social media platform. Quite simply, I don't want anything to eat into my writing time to the extent that I fear it could. I get a fair few page views on my blog, which provides a nice landing site for anyone curious about what I do, and other writers often connect with me via Goodreads or Kboards, which is always a good thing. I think it's important for writers to have a presence on social media sites, but not to do too much shouting.

Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

The only book signings I do are for giveaways that are hosted online. I've been invited to a couple of conventions over the past few years but I've yet to show up to any of them! It's certainly something I'd like to do in the near future.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

I work with two cover artists, mostly. I start with a basic idea -- a scene or a character that is central to the story. I usually get three or four basic compositions back and then enlist the help of my family to pick the one we think works best. Once the final painting is in, I send it on to a wonderful designer who does several mock ups. We tinker with these for a while until we get something that works well -- particularly as a thumbnail.

You have done a book trailer. (See link below.) Do you know how much impact they have had on your book’s success? Tell us about the process that you used to create your trailers? They look very professional. The trailer features the song "Departure Lounge" written by you. Are you the singer?

I've only made one book trailer, and at the time I didn't have a clue what I was doing. My son and I simply put together some still photographs using a basic editing program and then added the soundtrack. He's since developed some pretty impressive film-making skills, including 3D modeling and Adobe After Effects. We've been talking about making a short Nameless Dwarf film or trailer for some time, and about a year ago we made a few experimental Shader clips. I don't think my Thanatos Rising trailer has had much impact on sales, but a special-effects laden Nameless Dwarf short might work wonders. We'll have to see what the future brings.

Departure Lounge is a song I wrote in 1998. I've written close to a hundred songs and recorded dozens of them. Back in the early 90s I fronted a band called Sergeant Sunshine. When we split (somewhat acrimoniously) I performed in duos and as a solo artist for years. These days I play mostly acoustic guitar and seldom write songs (I did write something for my daughter Cordelia last year, but that's about it). My guitar still travels everywhere with me. When I moved from the UK to the US I traveled by sea for two weeks and Ol' Mr Spud (my Martin D41 acoustic guitar) was with me all the way.

What kinds of writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I used to dip in and out of Kboards a fair bit, but it's rare for me to use forums these days. I get a lot of help and support from a small Facebook group run by some pretty successful authors, and I'm in regular email contact with a couple of writers and editors. In terms of feedback, I tend to get that from my wife (who's not only an intellectual match for the Mekon, but she's also a writer of crime fiction), but I'll occasionally query Harry Dewulf of Denswords if I need a fresh pair of eyes.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, editing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

My schedule has got a lot easier since Cordelia (one-year old) started day care. Before that, I had to get up at 5 AM to write, and editing would have to wait for those brief periods in which she took a nap. Currently, I still get up early, make breakfast for everyone, get Cordelia ready for day care, and then go to Mass. My working day always starts with reading over what I'd written the day before and then continuing with the current draft while I've still got the energy and drive. I don't normally spend more than a couple of hours on first drafting as it's mentally exhausting. I then take a break -- go for a walk, play some guitar or whatever, and then spend most of the afternoon editing (often other people's work, but when I'm finished with a first draft, it'll be my own work). I try to keep evenings free, but if I have a lot of work on I do sometimes work into the night.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

When it first started, KDP Select brought a surge of sales at the end of a freebie run. That soon dried up, however, so I no longer use the program. I have mixed feelings about free books. I'm all for having thousands of new readers, but how many people actually read free books? I've picked up a few reviews from freebies, but not much else. I prefer time-limited discounts, but only if I can get a big site to pick them up. I still use a number of smaller sites from time to time, just to get the brand out there and build some confidence in it, but generally there are only a handful of sites that make any real difference at this point in time.

I noticed in my research, you have published a map of your fantasy kingdom. Does this help you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?

I have three maps of my fantasy worlds in all. They help very much with keeping the sense of real world geography. This lends to an epic feel, rather than simply having the action jump between one location and the next without any sense of a journey. I sometimes get ideas for new stories simply by looking at the maps and focusing on a particular town or region. They map of Aethir has been through several iterations. It began life as a rough sketch. My son (then 8 years old) improved upon it a couple of times, and finally I commissioned Jared Blando to draw the polished version. I don't use software to track my books, but I do have heaps of notebooks and a massive timeline detailing the chief events in my universe over the span of thousands of years. That is a lifesaver when I'm working on the Shader books as there are some very long-lived characters in the series, as well as events from the remote past that have a serious bearing on the present.

It's rare that the maps serve to keep the plot going. I tend to use a loose outline and then see where the characters take things. I did use the map approach a bit more with Bane of the Liche Lord. For the latter part of the book I took an idea from Steven Spielberg's approach to the screenplay for the film Duel -- I drew a linear map of the course of the climactic "chase" sequence and plotted various incidents along the way.

The larger world map came in handy once during an edit. I was glancing at the map whilst editing a journey sequence and realized that the character had gone in completely the wrong direction. None of the beta readers noticed, so I had time to re-write and pretend it never happened.

You publish under two names and several different genres. Does changing hats create any problems? Any tricks you can share with us? Which genre did you enjoy writing the most? Does moving from one to the other give you some breathing room?

I started publishing under Derek Prior but later changed to D.P. Prior on a whim. Some of the Derek Prior titles are non-fiction, so I may well stick with that if I write anything of that ilk in the future.

I write mostly fantasy because that's the genre I read most in my younger days. Fantasy, for me, is the platform for whatever I want to explore about relationships, philosophy, religion, human nature etc. Thanatos Rising was a bit different -- I guess it's some sort of dark urban fantasy/horror. It was a purely experimental piece with a lot of stream of consciousness writing.

I've got plans on the back boiler to completely reboot that series using a much more recognisable style. I think that's important as the world of Thanatos is actually referenced in my Nameless Dwarf and Shader books, and there's a planned Shadrak novel in which he travels to Thanatos.

Does being from the UK present any unique selling and marketing situations? Where is your biggest audience? How is your audience abroad?

I am no longer in the UK (muah, muah, muah). I actually found the UK market to be rather slow compared with the US. My UK sales tend to be about 1/10th of my US sales. I seem to sell reasonably in Australia, and I get a trickle of sales from Canada and Germany, but it's the US that has been kindest to me (which prompted me to render all the Nameless Dwarf books in US English (the Shader books will be following suit this year). I'm now living out in the country in Florida, which is the perfect environment for writing.

Author's Book List
The Nameless Dwarf - The Complete Chronicles
The dwarves have gone! Thousands have been slaughtered in the blood-drenched streets of their ravine city by a demonic axe in the hands of one of their own. The survivors have fled beyond the mountains, heading into a realm haunted by the nightmares of a twisted god. When Nils Fargin, son of an underworld boss, is hired to find them, he travels with his client to seek the advice of a lowlife mage. With what he learns, he should have asked for more money. The trail leads them to the domain of the terrifying Ant-Man, who is rumored to eat the flesh of anyone refusing to pay his toll. And as if that wasn’t enough, it turns out Nils’s client is none other than the Nameless Dwarf, better known to his kind as the Ravine Butcher. The Nameless Dwarf is an epic tale of remorse and redemption that pits a whiskerless thief, a guilt-driven assassin, a consumptive wizard, and an amnesiac dwarf against the worst imaginings of a craven mind. But the companions bring troubles of their own, not least of which is an ancient grimoire that leads them inexorably towards a forest of tar and an evil that threatens the existence of an entire race. The last hope of the dwarves comes from the unlikeliest of sources: a mythical city beneath the waves, an axe from the age of heroes, and the Nameless Dwarf, in whose veins flows the blood of legends. The Nameless Dwarf: The Complete Chronicles contains all five books of the Chronicles of the Nameless Dwarf: The Ant-Man of Malfen The Axe of the Dwarf Lords The Scout and the Serpent The Ebon Staff Bane of the Liche Lord
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - Amazon-UK
Best Laid Plans
The reavers are swarming and this time their prey is the supreme ruler of the Templum, the Ipsissimus himself. With Shader dead and his piece of the Statue of Eingana in the hands of Shadrak the Unseen, the threat of the Unweaving of all Creation is one step nearer. Dr Cadman realizes he’s in too deep and there’s nothing for it but to go on the offensive. If he’s to survive the coming war for the statue, what better allies could he have than an army of the living dead? As Sektis Gandaw closes in and a clash of cultures threatens the land of Sahul, the philosopher Aristodeus still has ideas of his own that could decide the fate of all existence. But with the passage to the heavenly realm of Araboth covered by the Abyss, nothing is as it should be. Aristodeus knows that even Shader’s death can be turned to his advantage; after all, it’s a long game, and he holds all the cards. But even the best laid plans … Best Laid Plans is Book 2 of the epic Shader series by D.P. Prior.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - Amazon UK
Cadman's Gambit - Book 1 of the SHADER series
Book 1 of the SHADER series. Dr Ernst Cadman has led a quiet life, but that’s how he’s wanted it all these hundreds of years. With a secret like his, anonymity and caution are the best friends a man can have. Nothing could tempt him from the safety of his parasitic existence at the heart of the city of Sarum—at least nothing this side of the Abyss. Cadman stakes everything on obtaining the artefact that once destroyed an entire civilization, but in so doing he draws the gaze of a sinister presence from beyond the stars. Meanwhile, Deacon Shader, veteran of the war against the undead armies of the Liche Lord, has one last fight in him. This time it’s just a tournament, with the prize a sword steeped in myth. Win or lose, Shader intends to defy his Templum master and retire to the Abbey of Pardes. When a horror from the past wrecks Shader’s monastic dream and leads him to plague torn Sarum, he finds an ancient power unleashed that imperils more than he could possibly imagine—a power now in the hands of Dr Cadman. Gods tremble, and worlds will fall unless Shader can conquer his personal demons and accept the fate he’s been prepared for since birth.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - iTunes - Amazon UK
The Ant-Man of Malfen - The Chronicles of the Nameless Dwarf (First Chronicle)
Some names are best forgotten ... The Nameless Dwarf follows the trail of the last of his race to the mountains bordering Qlippoth, a wasteland born from the dreams of a craven god. But the survival of the dwarves depends on his willingness to confront the bloody deeds of his past, and the ruler of the brigand town of Malfen, who guards the pass into Qlippoth—an aberration known as the Ant-Man. The Chronicles of the Nameless Dwarf are a blend of Sword and Sorcery and contemporary fantasy, combining strange worlds, dark magic, heroic action and an astonishing depth of world building. The Ant-Man of Malfen reintroduces the Nameless Dwarf from the acclaimed SHADER series by D.P. Prior. Nameless is a manic-depressive pariah whose past is littered with atrocities. Possessing an almost elemental ferocity and a gift for violence, Nameless alternates between bouts of crippling depression and boisterous episodes of elation, which are usually brought on by the prospect of a good fight; and he has an eye for the women - particularly those under four feet tall. This story also introduces Silas Thrall, a student of the mantic arts with a dark secret that consumes more each day; and Nils Fargin, son of the most feared guildmaster in New Jerusalem.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - iTunes - Amazon UK
Thanatos Rising - The Memoirs of Harry Chesterton: Part I
Too dark for science and too evil for theology, but some secrets refuse to stay hidden. Postgraduate student Harry Chesterton uncovers a trail of dark science that leads to the old monastery above the Welsh town of Aberystwyth. With bodies beneath the cafe, residents oozing puss from puncture marks on their necks, and the disappearance of the University Chaplain, Chesterton's research into post-mortem consciousness is about to leap off the page. The Memoirs of Harry Chesterton were found by the author in an attic flat in Eastbourne along with Chesterton's final letter before crossing over into the world of Thanatos. Thanatos Rising constitutes the first volume of memoirs which recounts Chesterton's perilous investigations in Aberystwyth up until the time of his first disappearance.
Book Trailer: Thanatos Rising
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - Amazon UK
The Resurrection of Deacon Shader
"The Resurrection of Deacon Shader" was the original novel that paved the way for Prior's SHADER series, and has now been replaced by Book 1, "Cadman's Gambit". The publisher therefore recommends you only buy "The Resurrection of Deacon Shader" as a curiosity, to see how the ideas for the SHADER series developed. You are encouraged to leap straight into the story as told in "Cadman's Gambit". Plague strikes at the heart of Sarum and flesh-eating mawgs have been seen in the sewers. As Governor Gen struggles to save the populace, the Abbey of Pardes is attacked by an army of undead and a piece of the legendary Sun Stone is stolen from the Grey Abbot. The holy knight, Deacon Shader, is sent to the plague-city to retrieve it, but he is a man with conflicts of his own, and a destiny that will test his faith to the limits. If Shader should fail, the Sun Stone will fall into the hands of a being from the mists of pre-history who will harness its power to unweave all of Creation. "Rich and varied, touching, maddening, and addicting. Elegant, polished, and believable characters in an amazing world." Archelle Baker (eBook Alchemy) "Ever-widening in its scope - fearless in its telling. I cannot help but be reminded of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, not just in the interweaving of time epochs and worlds but also in the author's sheer fearlessness. From earth to heaven to alternate worlds, the story is unrelenting in its incredible vision." David Dalglish (author of "The Half-Orcs" series) "Complex and intriguing; intelligent and engaging; descriptive enough to invoke all senses. The style is a nice mix--fast-paced and contemporary, yet with classical prose and imagery to satisfy those of us who love the 'old masters'." C.S. Marks (author of "Elfhunter")
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Amazon UK
Author Recommended by: M.R. Mathias
Author M.R. Mathias is an award-winning self-published Fantasy Writer. He is noted for his epic fantasy novels and his prolific social network marketing activity.
Check out Mike's Author's Spotlight.

No comments:

Post a Comment