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IR Approved Author Ross Hightower: “I write because I love my stories.”

Spirit Sight received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Ross Hightower.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

Spirit Sight, September 15, 2022.

What’s the book’s first line?

Minna stood on a hill above Fennig, the village where she lived her entire life.

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

I have a variety of pitches, depending on how much time I have to deliver it, but this is the elevator pitch:

Cursed with extraordinary powers, Minna is branded a witch and resigns herself to a lonely life. But titanic forces are at play in the Empire, forces with Minna’s fate in mind, and in her early teens, she must leave her small life and step onto history’s grand stage.

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

I often have trouble turning my brain off at night. One night, four years ago, the topic keeping me up was how authors of fantasy novels come up with unique and interesting magic systems. Pretty nerdy, I know, but I’m owning it. Normally, I forget whatever was romping around my mind by the next morning, but one question from that night stuck with me: What would the lives of the magically gifted be like if their gifts caused pain in other people? What led me to write a story to answer that question is lost in the mists of memory. But when I finished, I knew my life had changed. I was going to be a writer.

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

I could list several reasons, but the recurring theme I hear from everyone, whether they are friends, anonymous people on Amazon or professional reviewers, is how invested they become in the characters. As Edward Sung wrote at when speaking of the main character, Minna, “…her path to mastering her abilities is a fun, engaging storyline, and it’s almost impossible not to be fully invested in Minna’s quest…”

It’s a long story, but it’s long because I have few throwaway characters. The characters who affect the story are nuanced, fully realized individuals. At least, that was my intention.

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

I wanted Minna to be like Nona Grey from Lawrence’s Book of the Ancestor trilogy or Vin from Sanderson’s original Mistborn trilogy: a powerful young woman, angry and defensive because of the hardships she’s suffered at the world’s hands. I find the softening of the hard edges in those types of characters compelling. But Minna refused to be like that. Despite her hard life, she’s forthright, open-hearted, with a strong sense of right and wrong. And Minna is the best sort of fantasy hero. She’s humble despite her power, resourceful, moral and never fails to rise to the occasion when called.

It might be hard to understand how a character can come out other than what the author intended, but that happens to me all the time.

When did you first decide to become an author?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I never believed I had the talent to be one. It wasn’t until after writing that story four years ago, I decided to make myself a writer. I threw myself into it, determined to make the words match what I saw in my mind. I’m not the writer I want to be, but I’m on my way.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

Yes. In fact, it’s the first piece of fiction I’ve written of any length.

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

I’m a professor of information technology and run a center that hosts software professors use to teach students business processes. I know, right? Writing is my refuge from the stresses of that job.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

I try to write every day, often having to squeeze in a few minutes when I can. On weekends, I write two to three hours in the mornings before family time calls. I look forward to the day I retire, so I can spend hours everyday immersed in the Spirit Song world.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

Who doesn’t want fortune? But realistically, I write because I love my stories. I want to find out how Minna and her countrymen win their freedom. That’s a powerful motivation, but not the only one. My partner, Deb, and I wrote a prequel to Spirit Sight, called Argren Blue. That book appears May 2023. We had so much fun, we’re already planning the next book while I work on the second book of the Spirit Song Trilogy.


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