For the first time since I launched my interview series, I’m featuring two authors at once. Charles David Carpenter and D. W. Jones have co-authored a YA fantasy series. Rather than my introducing them, it’s simpler if I allow each one to fill you in on his own background.
Charles D. Carpenter: Welcome to my mind’s eye view of the world. Besides being a writer, I am an actor and martial artist who was born and reared in sunny Southern California. Yes, I am the rare native who was actually born here. See, we do exist.
As a martial artist, I have learned how to fight people. As an Angeleno, I have learned how to fight traffic. Traffic is tougher, by far. I attended California State University Northridge, but my father instilled in me my love for writing. My family has always said, “Before he could talk, he could write.” Thank you, family.
My love and passion is writing novels. To be very specific, fantasy novels. Although, D.W. and I have written various works together in differing genres, fantasy is the genre that moves my heart.
D.W. Jones: Spending my formative years in Washington, D.C., I know about cold. I was accepted into the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts in high school and several years after graduating from Northwood High, I made my way to Los Angeles, where I have lived for the past ??? years. So now, I know about sunny and warm. Um, sunny and warm is better.
Stories of daring adventures in faraway places with action and romance helped me to avoid the pitfalls of the streets, inspiring me to dream bigger and reach farther. Those stories still inspire me today.
In 2005, I joined creative forces with Charles David Carpenter and began collaborating on various writing projects, including the very successful original comedy series for the Internet called CAN WE DO THAT?
Like night and day, we are two uniquely different authors who came together to form what we feel is a dynamic writing team. After several screenplays, TV pilots and commercial copy we embarked on writing our first novel series.
Humanity teeters on the edge of chaos as war looms imminent and natural disasters strike the world of Tarune. The Necromancers, knowing their time is running out, intensify their plot as they close in on the Pride. As Velladriana struggles to control her growing powers, the blossoming emotions between she and Corwyn threaten to tear them apart. Only time will tell if hope will survive.
Tell us about your most recent release.
CDC: Before I do that, I want to take a moment to thank you for your EXTRAORDINARY patience, as well as for honoring us with this invitation to your interview series. We are huge fans of your work and are humbled by this consideration. So, thank you! Now, on with the show. Storm of Shadows is the third novel in series. It is difficult to give too much comprehensive detail about this novel without compromising the surprises waiting for you in the first two books. That having been said, I am really proud of this installment. I guess I’d say I have pride in this Pride. Anyone? Hello…is this thing on?
DWJ: Unfortunately for us, it is. Anyway, the action is fast paced as the world of Tarune heads to the brink of a war between both human and supernatural forces.
CDC: That, though, is just the backdrop. It is the interpersonal relationships and how they are developing that we truly love about this book. For us, characters and their motivations hold the true heft and power of any story.
DWJ: These characters are real. Their lives and needs are real. As such, the world they inhabit is real. A lot of surprises await the characters we hope you have come to love… and hate.
What was the inspiration behind your series?
CDC: For me, the original inspiration behind these books was to create a world in which people could immerse themselves and feel safe. You see; I was bullied as a kid. I didn’t have many friends in this world, so I sought them in other worlds. Most specifically, I found them in the pages of the novels that allowed me to escape my tormentors. Now, not to worry, I got through it and have a rich and bountiful circle of friends today, but those books did help me through some dark times. So, my inspiration was to create a world that would allow any child going through what I did to find a magical place of solace.
DWJ: Also, we have a lot of voices constantly talking, singing, chanting and squabbling inside our respective minds. Writing lets others hear those voices, too.
What other novels have you written?
CDC: We have written the first two installments of the series: Quest for Elderstone and Tides of War.
Have there been any awards, productions, videos or anything else of interest associated with your work?
CDC: Actually, Quest for Elderstone is currently required reading for Diversity and Social Justice in Counseling class and Internship in Clinical Mental Health Counseling for the Department of Counseling at Johns Hopkins University. I think that is pretty darn cool.
DWJ: As a matter of fact, we will be the keynote speakers there for a symposium on bullying at the end of the month.
That is seriously cool! How did that happen?
CDC: Quest for Elderstone was discovered by a doctor named Marsha Boveja Riggio and she reached out to D.W.. Her complete title is Dr. Marsha Boveja Riggio, LPC -S (DC & MD), NCC, President, Maryland Association of Marriage & Family Counselors Executive Director, Maryland Counseling Association, Board Member, William V.S. Tubman University Foundation.
When D.W. told Dr. Riggio about the books we had written, she had the idea of using the books for her classes, as she is constantly looking for new client cases for her students to analyze and conceptualize as part of their clinical development.
She read the books herself and loved them. She said she was not really a fantasy fan, but our books touched her on a number of levels, and now she is very interested in exploring the genre.
Quest for Elderstone seems to be a successful integration. The characters give the students strong archetypes with well developed life histories for reference. Dr. Riggio may be adding the other two books as required reading, as well.
As I said, this is seriously cool, as well as an unexpected reader base. What else are you working on?
CDC: Along with the fourth and final novel in series, we are writing several short stories based on the characters we have introduced in the series. Corwyn, Reese, Dolthaia, most of the Companions of the Pride, in point of fact, will have eventual origin stories about them.
DWJ: Also, we will give origin stories on the different character classes and groups unique to our world, like the Oslyn and Weavers, to name a couple.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
CDC: When we are involved in the heavy lifting of the writing, meaning we have set the basic, loose outline and chatted at length about the world’s development, writing is best accomplished by setting aside hours in the morning. D.W. and I have schedules that are a bit more flexible than most. Personally, if I can keep my mornings clear, attacking the novel after a super early workout gives me a feeling of true accomplishment.
DWJ: The most important thing, though, is to put your proverbial butt in the seat and write something everyday.
Do you create an outline before you write?
CDC: We loosely outline. Since there are two of us, we need to be on the same page. We know the basic direction of where we want to take storylines and plot twists. That having been said, we really do allow the characters and the stories to speak to us as we go. It lets the life of the world grow on its own.
DWJ: Sounds artsy-fartsy, I know, but it really does gives us some interesting twists and turns in the creative process.
Why do you write?
CDC: Same reason I breathe.
DWJ: Wow, that is the shortest answer he has ever given. It is the truth, though.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
CDC: Writing is a collaborative art form. People talk about the lonely life of the writer. Well, it may be true that it is a solitary endeavor but, at some point, you need other people.
DWJ: Developmental editors, copyeditors, beta readers; you need help. We have learned to listen to others and openly accept and utilize their input and critiques.
Is there anything you want to make sure potential readers know?
CDC: Yes, this is a story about real people. Some of their powers and abilities may be unique and unusual, some may not even be completely human, but their motives and desires are the same ones that drive us all. We didn’t set out to reinvent the wheel. We just wanted to paint it our own color. From teens to adults, I truly feel this series has something for everyone.
DWJ: Also, check out our site, necromancerspride.com. We have great gear, from shirts to beanies to hats, which we think you will really like. We want your experience in the world our Necromancers inhabit to be immersive and interactive. The books are just the beginning…
Do you have another job outside of writing?
How do you pick yourself up in the face of adversity?
CDC: It’s not how, but how often. We will all fall at some point, most likely at many points. We all make mistakes. The biggest mistake would be to stop getting back up. DWJ: We are here for each other in that way. Everybody needs a hand.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
CDC: My wife, daughter and son.
DWJ: My son.
Before I provide our visitors an excerpt from Storm of Shadows, as well as book buy and social links, I’d like to thank you both for taking time out of your busy schedules to participate in The Write Stuff. It’s been an honor to have you aboard. I’m sure our visitors are curious by now, so here is a taste of Storm of Shadows:
Zara was somber as she looked out across the rolling landscape of the Locksdale Foothills. Here, so close to the border between Canodria and Medioc, the two great armies assembled for war. This beautiful countryside would bear the full brunt of the destructive might of both kingdoms. Neither would be foolish enough to willingly wage battle on the scorched earth of the Kerathic Plains. No, it would be this rustic setting, as well as the Flat Lands to the south that the war would ravage. The peoples of these lands would suffer, and many innocents would die. It was a morbid proposition.
The sweeping beauty of the land always made her reflective. The many canyons, gullies and undulating hillocks of the terrain often made her contemplate settling there when her time as a Herrod was done. The Flat Lands had their own subtle charms: windswept bluffs that opened onto vast savannahs leading to the shore. But something about the Foothills of Locksdale always held her heart.
That thought so burdened her soul at this moment.
She focused attention from the landscape and back to the situation at hand. The sounds of battle preparations filled her ears. Had she her way, only the sounds of music, reverie and song would ever reach her ears. As a Weaver, that was her passion. There were songs here, of course, but they were different. As the battalions marched past, the horns would blast, and the soldiers would sing. Theirs, though, were not songs of beauty. Theirs were rousing, bawdy songs of glory in battle and of crushing their enemies.
From her position on the wide hilltop, to her left, she watched the gleaming armor of thousands of men marching down into the large, open flat below. Banners streamed in the wind, and sunlight glinted off armor forged by the finest smiths in the southern kingdom. To her right, cavalry marching six abreast moved into their positions. The soldiers set up camp. They dug latrine trenches and erected tents in neat, tight columns. They had set the horse lines and put feed stations into position. They fortified the positions of the ballistae, which hundreds of heavy beasts of burden pulled.
The songs of war, she thought sadly as a particularly boisterous contingent of archers marched past. “What a sad refrain they do make,” she whispered aloud.
“Mistress Herrod,” a small voice behind her called. “My Lady?”
Zara saw Danth, a young boy, approaching her. He could be no more than seven winters, or perhaps eight. His eyes were brown and sparkled with the cheerfulness of youth. His smile was wide, with a large gap where his two upper front teeth used to be. He wore a doublet of brown leather much too large for him with the Cougar of Canodria emblazoned in red on the chest and a motley colored jester’s cap that slumped over his thick eyebrows.
“King Forlmorlaine wishes to see you now,” he said with a smile.
He always seemed to smile. He was obviously well pleased at having so important a task as to call the Herrod of the South to have audience with the king.
“Lead the way,” she said with a grin, her smoky voice sweet and comforting.
The boy ran back toward the large tent erected as the king’s residence while on the march. Supported by three 20-foot tent poles, the huge burgundy canvas structure looked regal indeed in the final light of day. The golden rays of early sunset had broken through the clouds, sending rich yellow beams across the fields. The royal tent was bathed in it. The banners of Canodria blew majestically in the breeze from each tent pole, and several other banner stands had been set about the field.
Smaller tents of multiple colors surrounded the main royal lodging, the mobile residences of the nobles and generals that comprised the upper echelon of the army’s ranks. Cast in the dramatic rays of the sun, the scene had quite a noble and heroic feel. It evoked images of the tales of battles of long ago. For those Weavers who excelled at composing battle hymns, it would strike a most inspiring vision. For Zara, whose tastes leaned toward love and nature, the scene rang far more of melancholy than majesty. Where others would see future glory, she only saw inevitable death.
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