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IR Approved Jeff Konkol on his method: “One part planning, two parts writing, and three parts editing is my current blend.”

Citadel of the Fallen received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Jeff Konkol.

What is the name of the book?

Citadel of the Fallen 

What’s the book’s first line? 

Cedric slapped at the stinging ant, but it was no use.

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”. 

A group of teenage students, while exploring deep within the rainforest, barely survive an encounter with a wild boar.  In doing so, they discover that events have already been set into motion that threaten to destroy their entire civilization.  Their journey throughout the story represents a true coming of age, as they are forced to grow up quickly and step into the roles their parents and teachers can no longer fill.

The Black Tide, the annual rampage of millions of giant ants through the rainforest, has been coerced by the Demon Queen to take a path that will send it tearing through the farmlands that support the Citadel. While the adults frantically race to prepare for the coming disaster, one of the students begins to experience violent visions of the past.  He learns that, ever since the encounter with the boar, he’s no longer alone in his own body.  His revelations lead his friends to discover that many of the strongest warriors within Citadel are similarly possessed, but to what purpose?  Will the Citadel itself survive long enough for them to discover the truth?

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event? 

The world itself is based on a Fantasy Role Playing Game I wrote and published back in the 90s. The characters that come to life within this story were inspired by the people who sat in my basement, every other Saturday night, for decades playing them.

I don’t think the book would have ever been written if not for my wife’s struggles and eventual death. I suspect there are millions of people out there who have a story within them that they promise themselves they’re going to write one day. I was no different.

Losing someone so important reminded me of how short life can be. Tempus fugit.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book? 

This book is just the tip of a much larger iceberg. I think, particularly in the Fantasy Genre, we’ve recently fallen in love with a few truly wonderful stories only to be left waiting…wondering if we’ll ever see the ending.

Citadel of the Fallen introduces an enormous world, filled with richly detailed magic, and an abundant wealth of characters. It’s certainly a violent world. Beloved characters will die to give my readers the suspense of wondering if other favorite characters will make it into the pages of the next book.

At the same time, I promise to be responsible with my readers. I’ll honor the sacrifices of those characters that fall along the journey. I’ll also respect my readers by striving to continue this story quickly and efficiently. Many readers refuse to start a series of books until it’s nearly completed for fear of being forced to wait years between installments. I’m hoping to release a new book in this series every ninth months.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of? 

Citadel of the Fallen is told from multiple points of view, but one of the characters, Malcolm, comes to be possessed by a very powerful soul from the past. This creates wonderful opportunities in the narrative.

The old soul provides insight well beyond Malcolm’s experience, including visions of the past, but everything comes with a price. At times, Malcolm is forced to struggle against the soul, and some of the bargains he makes dramatically transform him over the course of the book.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

Prior to writing Citadel of the Fallen, I wrote for a number of Role Playing Games. Most notably, I created and wrote the Fantasy Role Playing game system, Of Gods and Men, which I drew heavily upon when creating this novel.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

Don’t hate me, but I work for AT&T. All joking aside, I find my work fulfilling. I provide support and solutions for State and Federal Government agencies. I get to help design and support the most complicated and critical networks in the country.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

The precise amount of time is hard to quantify, but I shoot for 20 hours a week. That time isn’t just spent sitting at the computer writing, mind you.

I spend a great deal of time thinking through, planning and then outlining my chapters before I transcribe them to the page. Once I’m at the stage of writing a chapter, or a set of chapters, I try to push through at a pace of 400 words or so per hour, with the expectation that a lot will get rewritten during editing.  I think the lion’s share of time is spent on editing.

One part planning, two parts writing, and three parts editing is my current blend. I suspect it will change as my writing skills evolve.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?

Answering both halves of the question, ‘selling and marketing your vision.’

There is tremendous freedom in being an indie author. My publisher exercises very limited editorial control over my writing. The stories I’m writing are entirely mine, good or bad.

The tradeoff, of course, it that the stories I’m writing are entirely mine, good or bad. The responsibility for selling the value and quality of my stories to my potential readers falls squarely on my shoulders.

Am I saying that indie publishers don’t market? Absolutely not. I know Black Rose Writing spends significant time and money on marketing their authors. But ultimately, the story is mine. The publisher didn’t exercise editorial control to make my story conform to a more standardized product they can more efficiently market. Therefore, it’s incumbent on me, the author, to be heavily involved in marketing, and ultimately making the sale.

What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?

Dedicate time to developing your writing process.

By all means, write, but be mindful of how you’re doing it.

There isn’t one ‘right’ way to do it. Some writers prefer to let stories and characters evolve organically as they write. Others chart and plan things out well in advance. Some authors struggle with every word, dedicating hours to produce a single, nearly perfect paragraph, but save a lot of time on editing. Others push through a chapter to establish momentum and a clear picture of where their story is going with the expectation of spending significant time fixing and improving it via editing.

Some writers have stables of beta readers. Others rely on workshops. Some read their chapters out-loud to edit them. Others print them out and use highlighters and red pens.

As you write, invariably, you are going to find that certain methods work well for you. Others won’t be your cup of tea. Experiment. Make conscious decisions about how you want to approach your next section of writing. Afterwards, evaluate what worked and what didn’t work. Lather, rinse, and repeat.