#SPFBO7 Interview – Sean P. Valiente

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

The Lightning Knight is the first book in The Knights of Nine series. Here’s the blurb:

Magic isn’t real. Not anymore and not like it used to be. Or so I thought…

16-year-old Oliver Quartermain doesn’t believe in magic anymore. But who cares? He has it all: he comes from a rich and noble family and doesn’t have a care in the world. But how quickly that can all change.

In the space of a few moments, Oliver’s life is turned upside down when he is tasked with protecting and saving the very magic he never believed in. But that’s not even the half of it. The only way to save magic is by training a young boy named Po Pondarion, who is destined to save the world.

Not only does Oliver have to train the young and totally clueless Po, but he also has to battle an evil secret organization bent on destroying them, all while deciphering the secrets of a Magical Codex. Oliver enlists the help of his unlikely best friends, Roc and Yokel, as well as the Knight Angels, secretive vigilantes he’s only recently met, to help him train Po and save the world. That should be simple, right?

Will this merry band of misfits be able to train the young Po in time for him to learn the secrets of magic and save its very existence forever?

The Lightning Knight is a gripping epic fantasy that will have you on the edge of your seat, eagerly flipping to the next page. Let yourself become emersed in this rich and magical world and join Oliver and Po on the adventure of a lifetime.

And now to the interview:

1. Is this your first time entering #SPFBO? Why did you decide to enter this book?
This is my first time entering #SPFBO! And this is my first book, so those two things go a bit hand in hand. I’ve followed SPFBO for a few years now and always was in awe at the books entered. Mark Lawrence does such an amazing job showcasing self-published books and authors, that it was a no brainer to enter my very first book. Although, it’s a bit nerve racking to put myself out there.

2. Why do you write in the fantasy genre? What make this genre particularly appealing to you?
I’ve loved fantasy ever since I was young. From Redwall to the Hobbit to Eragon and everything in between. Fantasy was always a spectacular escape and I love entering new worlds and seeing how they work and the rules that apply. The fantasy genre itself is particularly appealing to me because it is simultaneously set apart from our real world and a reflection of it. It allows someone to see things in a different way and take those views and apply them to their own life. Plus, dragons and magic and swords and elves and stuff are pretty cool too.

3. Why did you decide to self-publish?
I’ve been involved in the startup community for businesses basically my whole career and the idea of using my entrepreneurial skills for publishing was a real exciting point for me. Self-publishing allows such a degree of control over the story – as long as you’re willing to put the time and energy into learning all you can, it’s a great way to publish.

4. Are there advantages to self-publishing? What about the challenges?
First and foremost, the biggest advantage to self-publishing is the ability to actually have your book printed and out in the world. There’s no gatekeeper (like an agent or publisher) – just you and your own gumption. But it comes with its own host of challeges – like everything else that goes into publishing a book other than the writing of it. Marketing, distribution, graphics, editing, printing – there’s a lot to think about and do and that’s why traditional publishing can be helpful.

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 the fantasy genre has always been a place to explore metaphor and allegory of modern day problems. It’s always been a place for people who didn’t feel like they belonged. A place for anyone and everyone to see themselves in a character or a situation or just a place to escape from their own lives. The biggest change I’ve seen is the accepting and celebration of new voices in the genre – voices from different backgrounds and different perspectives than what we were used to reading. Voices that give thought and space to aspects of our lives that weren’t always given the chance to explore. Fantasy has been going through a renaissance of sorts and it’s made it all the better.

6. Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
I’ll probably stick with fantasy but use sub-genres to stretch my muscles (like mystery or suspense and such). It’s what I usually read and what I love to write.

7. What do you look for in a story? Especially in the fantasy genre? (Original ideas, plot lines, character development, world building, etc.?)
I look for characters I can grow to love, world-building that is evocative but not overly explained, and usually a magic system that is interesting. The biggest thing that drives me crazy is too much “Wikipedia” type of prose – explain everything in super detail – thoughts, actions, emotions, etc. I like when the story is described but leaves me room to fill in some of the blanks.

8. Are you working on a new book? Can you share any details?
My next book is actually the second in my series, with The Lightning Knight being my first. I’m very excited about it. It’ll follow a new protagonist and weave into the previous books storyline and propel it forward. Plus, we get to hang out with some elves in this one!

9. Do you have any advice you would offer to writers who plan to self-publish in the fantasy genre?
I have a few pieces of advice! First and foremost – write the story you want to read, because you’ll be reading it a bajillion (real number) times when writing/editing/drafting/redrafting it. If it’s a story you want to read, others will want to read it. Second, there are readers out there for you. The genre isn’t saturated, and neither is your idea. Sometimes you’ll see things on the internet like “There’s no market for that anymore” or “That won’t sell” or “That space is already crowded”. It’s not. People love to read, people love stories, people love original idea and they love old ideas in new wrapping. As long as you put your heart into your writing, and it’s something you believe in, someone else will want to read your book. Not everyone, because no book is for every person, but your story will impact someone. And that is something worth writing.

You can find Sean P. Valiente’s book on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/Lightning-Knight-Knights-Nine-Book-ebook/dp/B08QL2DM9T