#SPFBO7 Interview – Michael E. Thies

Michael, welcome to Lavender Lass Books. Thank you for agreeing to this interview and best of luck in the competition!

The Trials of the Core: A Fantasy Adventure Novel is the first book in the Guardian of the Core series. Here’s the blurb:

Destiny calls to them all. Only one can seize it…

Prince Hydro Paen longs to escape his disdainful mother. So when the Guardian of the Core announces a contest to become his apprentice, the young man leaps at the invitation to participate. Determined to prove himself and uphold the family legacy, he swears not to fail.

Orphaned at a young age, Eirek Mourse doesn’t believe he’ll amount to much, so when an invitation to participate in the Trials arrives, he doesn’t know what to do. Under the encouragement and advice of his uncle, he enters. But without any skills in combat, he has no idea how he will survive.

Zain Berrese is a haunted man. Convinced he’s responsible for the death of his girlfriend, he longs to make amends by becoming the next Guardian. Hoping to outdo his adopted brother, who is also accepted, he makes a decision that accidentally kills his sibling just before the Trials begin, crushing his spirit.

With trials increasingly complex and dangerous, each contestant must face his or her own fears as well as their crafty opponents. And with lives on the line, one of them will make an extraordinary choice…

Will one of these would-be heroes find the inner strength and wisdom to emerge a champion before they all perish?

The Trials of the Core is the first book in the gripping Guardian of the Core adventure fantasy series. If you like ensemble casts, imaginative worlds, and unpredictable twists, then you’ll love Michael E. Thies’s thrilling tale.Buy The Trials of the Core to accept the challenge today!

And now to the interview:

1. Is this your first time entering #SPFBO? Why did you decide to enter this book?
Yes, this is my first time entering the SPFBO and I’m super excited. I decided to enter this book because two of my friends encouraged me to do so. Also, I had just cleaned up the book for errors in the last months and had a new cover designed in an attempt to rebrand my book and start taking my job as an indie author seriously.

2. Why do you write in the fantasy genre? What make this genre particularly appealing to you?
In fantasy we can create worlds to literally transport themselves into. We can create religions, magic systems, political parties, etc. We can create anything. I love that freedom. Probably the reason why I write in it. There are no rules, only the rules we create within the world(s) we create. Moreover, through that freedom, when we develop our story with a theme, I think it becomes a timeless tale that can really hit home to many hearts.

3. Why did you decide to self-publish?
I self-publish in order to do exactly what I just did: Rebrand myself. Pivot. The great thing about being an indie is that we can continually maneuver the marketplace on our own terms, not tied to any publisher or the sort. If I want to be in KDP Select, I can be. And if I want to go wide, then I can do that, too. I am responsible for my own success or failure which I like.

4. Are there advantages to self-publishing? What about the challenges?
As I mentioned before, the reason I went into self-publishing is for the freedom. That, in and of itself, is the largest advantage. We don’t have to change our manuscripts according to some editor or agent. We can choose just how much to market and what to do. We get to keep all the royalties!

That being said, the challenge that is prevalent I think amongst indie authors is the vast amount of time it takes to become successful. This is my first year of really taking my self-publishing career seriously, even though the book I entered was originally published in 2013. I don’t actually expect to make a viable shift to full-time indie author until at least another five years down the line. There is just so much to learn. So much to get good at. And it takes time, above all else, to grow a backlist and a following. The real challenge for being indie authors is being patient and consistent.

5. As a reader, and now author, how has the fantasy genre changed over the last several years? How has it stayed the same?
I think there is much more of a push to be original and to kill people off. George R.R. Martin flipped the fantasy world on its head when he killed off Ned Stark in Book 1 of Game of Thrones and that very fantastic ending in Book 3, Clash of Kings. The fantasy I read up until that point was nice, but there was nothing really at stake. I read all of Harry Potter and I knew Harry was going to live through it all. Same with Eragon. Game of Thrones on the other hand, I had no idea what was going to happen. I just finished The Raveling series by Alec Hutson (another SPFBO contestant) and his Crimson Queen had the same feeling at its climax—I had no idea what was going to happen. Readers are looking for surprises, and not surprises of the obvious kind. It means writers really need to hone into their craft and look for the “setup” and “payoff” for each novel. Hopefully, that’s what I’ve done for my book in this contest, because it’s something that I try to do throughout my whole series—always keep the reader guessing.

No matter if we’re talking about the early days of fantasy with Tolkien or now, fantasy writers have to write good books. There has to be some sort of quest undertaken or trial overcome so that the characters in the book are forced to adapt and to grow.

6. Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
Besides the fantasy series I am writing, I am currently writing a non-fiction memoir about finding our purpose in life. Something that may seem totally off the path of my fantasy novel, but in fact, the themes of both are identical as our identity is directly tied to our purpose in life.

7. What do you look for in a story? Especially in the fantasy genre? (Original ideas, plot lines, character development, world building, etc.?)
I absolutely love world building and original(ish) ideas. I don’t think we can ever have a truly original idea, but it’s great to see all of these really cool ideas come full circle in the world that the author has built. The author in me looks to make sure these things are developed and well done throughout the novel, not leaving any “what if he/she did this” or “why don’t they just do that?” sort of questions.

8. Are you working on a new book? Can you share any details?
Yeah, actually! The Trials of the Core is the first book in the Guardian of the Core series. Later this year, or in early 2022, I plan on releasing the third book in the series called, The Hunt for Lost Souls. This book picks up immediately where book two leaves off, and let me tell you, I believe there are some twists in that story that readers aren’t going to expect. After that there will be two more books to finish off the series. Both are written, they just need final edits and covers.

9. Do you have any advice you would offer to writers who plan to self-publish in the fantasy genre?
My advice is to any writer, whether that be in fantasy or romance or thriller, is just to be consistent. An epic-fantasy novel of 120,000+ words may seem daunting. Too daunting to start even. But if you break it down piece by piece and write 500-1000 words a day you are going to have a draft of your novel complete within four months. With proper editing and a proper time schedule in place, one could release a book of that size within half a year to a year. It’s all baby steps. As Ernest Hemingway says, “we are all apprentices in a craft that no one ever becomes a master.”

You can find Michael E. Thies’ book on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/Trials-Core-Guardian-Book-ebook/dp/B00TCXMABI