Today I am happy to have Ty Arthur on The Scary Reviews for an interview. His new book Light Dawning will officially see release on May 26th, 2017! Ty Arthur’s new novel is the beginning of an epic adventure. I’m sure a sequel or two will follow. What follows is a short summary of this new book.
Once known as the City on the Hill and revered far and wide for its independence and boundless opportunity, Cestia has become home only to the damned. Surviving under the brutal occupation of a southern empire for three long years, the oppressed populace has lost hope of liberation, turning instead towards an increasingly desperate rebellion willing to commit any atrocity for a chance at freedom. As total war approaches, four lost souls trapped behind Cestia’s walls are on a collision course with fate, destined to either save the city or see it utterly destroyed while calling on forces beyond mankind’s comprehension. For good or ill, the light of a new day is about to dawn.
In addition to writing for sites such as Metalunderground and GameSkinny, his short fiction has appeared in various anthologies, with the novella, Empty and soon Light Dawning available at Amazon. It was really cool to talk to Ty about his love of writing and learn where the idea for his new book came from.
The Scary Reviews: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! For those who may be unfamiliar with your work, how did you first get started in writing and what led you to pursue it professionally?
Ty Arthur: Taking endless streams of calls from screaming cell phone customers about problems I didn’t cause and had no ability to solve pretty quickly convinced me that I needed something besides the standard call center day job.
I actually started out writing technical “how-to” type articles nearly 10 years ago now and then branched into heavy metal journalism . Eventually I was able to say goodbye to the daily grind and work full time as a freelance writer / editor. These days I split my time between music and video game news. I had always wanted to try my hand at fiction – those thick, epic fantasy series were staples of my reading as a kid – but I never really devoted much time to it.
That all changed a few years back when I was perusing horror novels at my local library during October, when my family does all scary books and movies for the month. I picked up a “years best” type anthology of horror and was left really disappointed at what had made the cut, with several stories that really had no scare factor at all. That prompted me to actually get serious about doing some short tales of my own.
Needless to say, I was in for a rather unpleasant wake up call when those first stories were sent out to anthology calls, but I stuck with it and learned a lot from those rejections until publishers finally started to show interest, and now here I am years later with a full-length novel coming out.
TSR: What is a typical day of writing like for you? Do you have a set process or is it something that varies depending on the day?
TA: Now that I’ve got an 11 month old son, my writing really revolves around those times when he’s finally fallen asleep after fighting his nap or bedtime for a few hours. In the ideal writing session, I’ve put together a playlist of music that has the particular theme or mood I’m going for in the scenes I’ll be writing next. The lights go off, the headphones go on, and the shot glass gets pulled out.
I’m done with the session when the inspiration runs out or the bottle’s gotten empty enough that the sentences no longer make sense. I’ll do a few sessions like those and then go back in the cold, sober light of day to re-assess what’s happening in the story and then do some writing with no music to make sure the text still feels the way I want it to even without a soundtrack. Eventually something workable comes out of all that before the serious editing and review passes start up.
TSR: I loved your sci-fi / horror novella “Empty”, Light Dawning will take your readers to the fantasy / horror genre. With work in various genres is there one you prefer over the other?
TA: With how much of my background is in fantasy, devouring everything from Goodkind, Brooks, Erickson, Jordan, and so on in my teen years, I really expected to be exclusively writing fantasy, but it turns out that hasn’t been the case. Most of my short fiction has been set in modern day, with “Empty” going sci-fi even though I hadn’t actually expected it to when the story was first started, and now “Light Dawning” finally hitting the dark fantasy side of things.
I’d have to say I’m enjoying skipping back and forth between styles and genres, and that will continue for the foreseeable future. I do have sequels to both “Empty” and “Light Dawning” outlined and they will definitely see the light of day at some point, but for my next two projects I’m actually leaving both sci-fi and fantasy behind to explore other outlets for horror in dystopian noir and ancient historical settings.
TSR: It’s good knowing “Empty” has a sequel, I’d like to see how that story continues. Can you tell me what was your inspiration for writing Light Dawning?
TA: My first ever published story was a low fantasy tale with some horror leanings called “The Trade,” which I wrote after my wife and I suffered a devastating loss. It was sort of my way of telling the world how I felt about the situation, even if most people would only ever see the surface fantasy aspects. There were some hints in there of a larger universe to be explored, but for the most part it was a pretty self contained story.
In 2015 we went through something even worse, and I don’t know I can truly say I’ve ever actually gotten over it. Writing is my outlet, so I started putting together another story expressing our grief for my own mental well being, and it made sense to further flesh out of the setting from “The Trade.”
The end result was “Light Dawning,” which is as bleak a tale as I’ve ever written. Going the grimdark route was a foregone conclusion, and although its a fantasy novel, its really a horror story at heart. I put a lot of effort into making the reader feel claustrophobic and trapped with no way out, and turned a lot of the standard fantasy conventions upside down for a darker experience.
TSR: What novel had the biggest impact on you as a writer and who are some of your favorite current writers that you recently started reading?
TA: Hah, well, a lot of what I read these days involves Elmo and Big Bird, but we’ve managed to get some proper horror in there for our little guy with kids books like “C Is For Cthulhu.” Now that I’m getting established in the dark fiction scene I’ve had the opportunity to read a lot of other up-and-coming novelists lately, like Dominic Stabile, Michelle Garza, and C.T. Phipps.
As far as authors with the bigger publishers, lately I’ve been reading the Chronicles of Josan by Patricia Bray, and oh boy, there’s some grim and horrifying stuff in there I was not expecting based on the cover art and descriptions! I’ve really been getting into the graphic novel series from Image Comics lately, with the huge hardbound edition of Black Science really blowing me away.
Thinking back to the novels that have most impacted me, I always recall this Magic: The Gathering book from Jeff Grubb called “The Gathering Dark.” It was set in the Magic universe’s Ice Age cycle, and although I don’t think anyone would label it high art or put it on any must-read fantasy lists, it was the first time as a kid that I recall realizing a novel could both be a fantasy romp on the surface but then also be directly saying something about real world events underneath. I’d also have to credit Ed Greenwood’s Elminster books and the Redwall series by Brian Jacques for inspiring some of my earliest forays into fantasy.
TSR: I’ve read “Stone Work” by Dominic Stabile and “Mayan Blue” by Michelle Garza and really enjoyed their work. As an up-and-coming novelists, you are in great company with writers like these two. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
TA: I remember way, way back in maybe the third or fourth grade I had read a short sci-fi book from the school library that involved an alien stalking across a ship. As a class assignment I was supposed to come up with a different ending to the story that tied things up in a happy way. I think I put together a description of how the crew laid a trap for the monster, killing it horribly, and then went in search of its planet to wage war on the beast’s home turf. That obviously wasn’t what they were going for, and the teacher telling me that’s not how the story was supposed to end probably has more than a little to do with why I doggedly kept going in my pursuit of getting my own fiction published even when everyone was sending me back rejection letters.
TSR: That’s a great story, little did your teacher know you’d still be going strong all these years later. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be.
TA: Learn from your failures and don’t take anything personally. When I was getting really serious about sending short stories out to anthologies it was hard not to get personally invested as the weeks ticked by, being certain that this time the acceptance letter was coming any day now and then being seriously down in the dumps when it didn’t.
At the same time, I’d also warn myself not to take everything coming from a publisher as gospel and not be afraid to go my own route. There are times where an budding author will be so excited to finally get someone responding positively that they’ll ignore the fine print or overlook negative aspects of a working relationship. If you aren’t enjoying what you’re doing and find yourself upset more often than not – quit doing it.
TSR: What are some of the common traps for young writers.
TA: There are a lot of pitfalls in this industry, especially for people trying to break in who don’t know the ropes yet. Its easy to be taken advantage of if you don’t know what’s what, so I’d advise before sending out that story to an open submission call or hitting “print” on that self-published work, spend as much time as you can learning everything about the industry from top to bottom.
Learn about the various self-publishing platforms and how they differ, and spend a lot of time seeing how much feedback a publisher gets and how they treat their current and former writers. If they’re currently involved in an active message board feud with former writers or business partners, probably just go ahead and run full speed in the opposite direction.
Also, go out of your way to learn skills you won’t think you’ll need: like putting together your own cover art, figuring out typesetting, formatting an eBook in different file types, putting together a proper table of contents in your preferred word processor, and so on.
TSR: That is some fantastic advice, Ty. I’m amazed at how much I learn every time I speak with a writer. If you could choose any writer to collaborate or talk about writing with, who would you choose and why?
TA: The answer to that question would vary a whole lot over time. Thanks to social media (or maybe a big middle finger straight at it instead), many of my beloved childhood authors have now lost their appeal since opening their mouths online about various political and religious leanings.
I’d probably most enjoy spending time collaborating with or just picking the brains of some of the classic pen and paper roleplaying game designers like Monte Cook or any of the folks involved with the more distinctive D&D settings like Planescape and Dark Sun.
TSR: Boy, you said it. I’ve lost a lot of love myself for certain writers due to social media. Thanks again for stopping by The Scary Reviews, Ty! I very much enjoyed talking with you. Lastly, is there anything else you would like to let readers know?
This may be my first full-length fantasy novel, but it certainly won’t be my last, and I’ve worked hard to put my own stamp on the genre with what I’m hoping is a unique take on the style that will resonate with readers. I can’t wait for people to read it and I’m eagerly looking forward to hearing what everyone.
You can connect with Ty on a variety of social platforms.