#SPFBO7 Interview – U.G. Gutman

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

Winds of Strife is the first book in The Dawnless Night trilogy. Here’s the blurb:

“They burned me and mine. I’m not done until I burn them and theirs in return.”

Witch-hunts have plagued the kingdom of Olyanath for decades. Thousands were slain due to the king’s paranoia of women who practice Senspiritic magic.

No more.

Nye and his companions have seen enough of murder and misogyny. Fifteen years have passed since he joined the witch-hunters, and now, at long last, an opportunity to destroy them from the inside reveals itself.

An opportunity to overthrow the king and end his reign of cruelty.

But fifteen years of pretense have taken a toll. The strive for vengeance has steered Nye toward a path of violence and villainy. His hands are stained by the blood of countless innocents, his heart is scorched by grief, and his sanity hangs by a thread.

Even if he can kill the king and see this revolution through, it may not suffice to purge the voices from his head.

And now to the interview:

1. Is this your first time entering #SPFBO? Why did you decide to enter this book?
Yes, first time it is. I heard about SPFBO from one of my early readers, and then a couple of reviewers joined in saying I should try to sign up. Hm… I guess it means I’m here because of peer pressure.

Seriously though, I just like being read, and this is an opportunity to be read by some of the best reviewers out there. I’m excited to hear their thoughts.

2. Why do you write in the fantasy genre? What make this genre particularly appealing to you?
The worlds of role-playing video games drew me in and never let go. The magic, the variety, the heartfelt speeches of hope, I can’t imagine my life without those things. Their metaphors for real life hit so strong, and then they hit again whenever I replay the game.

I’ve always wanted to partake in that, to write my own story in the game world, my own characters, my own epic moments. I think one can spot it in my writing. My emphasis is mainly on dialogue, tone, magic, and battle scenes, which are my favorite parts of video games.

3. Why did you decide to self-publish?
The publishers in my country (Israel) don’t publish anything in English, and I couldn’t write the book in Hebrew. It’s just that… English is the language in which I consume fantasy content, so writing anything in another language would feel like translation. Without access to agents beyond email (which is too frustrating, I prefer face to face), I had to self-pub.

However, in hindsight, I think I would’ve preferred this route anyway. I can’t imagine handing things like cover design and final editing to someone else.

4. Are there advantages to self-publishing? What about the challenges?
I’ve learned a lot about running a business through self-publishing. How to research, how to interact, how important marketing is, regardless of the quality of the product. There are many other advantages, such as higher royalties per sale and having full control over the product, but the experience is the most important advantage, in my opinion. Producing a book is a relatively cheap risk in comparison to other kinds of businesses, but it provides similar insights, I think. In other words, I’m more prepared to opening a local pub now, and I don’t think I would’ve felt like that if I went with traditional publishing.

5. As a reader, and now author, how has the fantasy genre changed over the last several years? How has it stayed the same?
“Conflicts” is the answer to both of these questions. Fantasy stories often recreate conflicts of real life in the story’s setting. That remains the same.

The conflicts of real life, however, are changing.

Older stories in the genre recreated older conflicts, like battles of nations, freedom versus tyranny, and struggles of inheritance. The modern stories recreate conflicts that are more prominent in our current life, like scientific research, struggles for equality, and dealing with mental disorders.

Lord of the Rings revolutionized this (as well many other aspects), I think. The execution of mental disorders there is nothing less than amazing, and quite ahead of its time.

6. Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
Most definitely. I love how in Sherlock Holmes it often seems like the criminal has superpowers when in fact they were just clever. I want to write things like that. Stories that will happen in the real world, have a feeling of magic to them, but that will end up being clever tricks and unique uses of science. Like “The Prestige”.

7. What do you look for in a story? Especially in the fantasy genre? (Original ideas, plot lines, character development, world building, etc.?)
Dialogue is my favorite part. A powerful speech thrills me more than the battle scene that follows. A quick joke can make me fall in love with a character, even with the worst murderers. I’m also a big fan of messages of hope and second chances.

Then there’s magic. It instantly enhances the story for me. Magic is somewhat easier to imagine than clothes, faces, and architecture. It makes the book more vivid in my mind.

8. Are you working on a new book? Can you share any details?
Yep! Winds of Strife is the start of a trilogy, and I’ve already written books 2 and 3. Nowadays I’m working on book 2 with beta readers to make it better. We’re having a great time, passing around constructive criticism, as well as artworks and memes.

9. Do you have any advice you would offer to writers who plan to self-publish in the fantasy genre?
Yes! Some aspects of your book make better conversation topics than others. Recognize them, and talk about them with anyone who’s willing to listen. Those people might become supporters of your writing endeavor, hopefully your first readers, and sometimes, your best friends.

But!

This comes with a warning. Many people shrug at mere ideas, saying the execution is what matters. They’re right to value execution, but those shrugs can be really discouraging. So, if you find yourself frustrated by people shrugging at your ideas, I advise to blow them away with amazing execution!

You can find U.G. Gutman’s book on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/Winds-Strife-Fantasy-Adventure-Dawnless-ebook/dp/B08MXSFMBL/