This month we are featuring Joshua Robertson, author of books and the owner of Crimson Edge Press. You can check out my review of one of his books, Anaerfell, over at Our Write Side. Last month saw him publish a new book, The Hawkhurst Saga, which is linked in the sidebar to the right for this month. Read along to find out more about this excellent author and publisher.
Welcome! Please tell us your name and a little bit about yourself.
My name is Joshua Robertson and I am a dark fantasy author.. I am the father to five wonderful children, who teach me a great deal about myself and life. I also work at a full-time, non-writing job, inclusive of volunteer work for veterans, victims of domestic violence, and children in need of care. I also host a podcast, maintain a YouTube channel, read, bake, hike, play board games and video games, and stalk social media.
What motivates you to write?
Family is my primary motivation. I have a definite passion for storytelling, and an appreciation for the art of writing. Someday, I would like to write full-time and tell all the tales bouncing around in my head—but only if it benefits my children.
What is the title of your most recent book? Give us a brief overview on what the book is about.
I released The Hawkhurst Saga on May 07, 2016. This book tells the tale of Argus Gunther—a sellsword, gladiator, and bastard—who returns to the dark city of Hawkhurst to fulfill a contract. To his surprise, he discovers he is included in the contract and becomes trapped within the city playing political games with the noble houses. While trying to escape, he must decide whether or not there are worse fates than death.
What makes it unique from the other books out there?
The Hawkhurst Saga holds the complexity of Game of Thrones but in a short story, maintaining the point of view of Argus. I have dabbled in expanding the story to encompass the other characters in the story (and I may after finishing other projects), but such a feat would require a much larger book. As with most of my stories, you will find the ending of the story has as much of a twist as the tale woven within.
What is the title of your current work-in-progress or the most recent manuscript you’ve completed apart from your most recent book? Would you mind sharing what it is about?
Currently, I am completing another short story called Jack Spratt. This is a short, horror tale snakes together several nursery rhymes in the most unusual way. Readers will find the Spratt family holds dark secrets, and Miss Muffet may be the only one capable of uncovering them. But does she want to?
I understand that you primarily write Dark Fantasy novels. What is it about the subgenre that drew you to it, and why should readers choose to read Dark Fantasy novels?
Sometimes there is a confusion between Horror and Dark Fantasy. Horror novels often have the desire to scare readers. Dark Fantasy is meant to be fantastical or paranormal and address the darker side of life, darker emotions, and psychological stressors. Dark Fantasy has a certain level of grit and realism, which truly is not something all readers want in a novel. I enjoy writing in this subgenre because it allows me to escape the typical trope of good versus evil, and explore the concept of action versus consequence. I like having a genre where I can explore the trauma real people face and its full impact on their well-being, while at the same time, I don’t feel pressured to always have a happily ever after.
You are the creator of a small publishing press, Crimson Edge Publishing. What made you decide to go the route of creating a publishing house? How has your experience with that shaped who you are as a writer and how you approach writing?
I have read many stories of writers who are burned out by the Big Five, frustrated with the publishing industry, or have been hurt in some sense and decide to strike out on their own with a small press. My story does not reflect any of these circumstances. I like writing. I like books. I like watching authors grow into better authors. I genuinely have a passion for the craft and owning a publishing company is a surefire way to be immersed in this lifelong passion.
I have been a teacher in many capacities in my life, and I have always found teachers learn more than students by the nature of the process (e.g. preparing lessons, grading assignments, etc.). They simply spend more time with the material. This logic suggested I would learn more as a publisher than I could as a writer. I could write you a paper on how this as impacted my own writing. From mapping characters to plot, to improving word choice and sentence structure, to recognizing flaws I never Knew I had…I find myself more disciplined in piecing together any story.
You are very involved on social media, in writer’s groups, and other aspects of marketing and networking. What advice would you give to new writers, published or unpublished, in regards to networking and building their author brand? Are there certain areas where you have found greater success where you would recommend they should focus their efforts?
I started building my fan-base a couple years before I published my first book, which I believe was very helpful. Though, I think the greatest thing any author could do is join a writing community and build real relationships. More importantly, be supportive, be kind, and be nonjudgmental in those communities. I know many small press owners who frequently dip into writing communities online, and we watch the interactions among aspiring authors. We live in a digital age where most of our marketing and interactions leave a permanent blueprint on social media. What you may think is a simple post (ranting, raving, or otherwise) could be the beginning or the end of a future contract with a publisher. Most publishers feel confident in their ability to help someone improve their writing; we are less willing to work with someone who is incapable of staying professional online.
How often do you write?
Not as often as I once did. I generally like to write daily for a couple hours, but with other tasks have limited my writing time to once or twice a week.
Who are five of your favorite authors?
- J.R.R. Tolkien
- R.A. Salvatore
- Robert Jordan
- C.L. Schneider
What are you currently reading?
The Crown of Stones Series by C.L. Schneider
Time for some quick questions:
- Favorite Quote? “Not all who wander are lost.” -J.R.R. Tolkien
- Favorite Book? Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
- Favorite Epic Fantasy Series? The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
- Favorite Movie? Wolfhound (2006) starring Aleksandr Bukharov
- Favorite TV Show? Game of Thrones
- Coffee or Tea? Coffee. I don’t enjoy tea at all.
- Favorite Running Song? The Outsider by A Perfect Circle
- Who would you cast as Rand, Mat, and Perrin for the Wheel of Time television series? If I don’t get any of the parts (??). In all seriousness, I think they should find new actors for all the parts.
- Once place you would like to visit most in Middle-Earth? Dol Guldur always captured my interest, and I imagine it would incite a great adventure. However, if I wanted to play it safe, I would have to say Mirkwood.
If you could be one character from your own writing, who would it be and why?
I don’t know that I have written the character I would want to be yet, but if I had to choose one…I would probably say Falmagon from the Thrice Nine Legends Saga, specifically Melkorka and Dyndaer. For anyone who has read these novels, they would likely say, “Why?! Isn’t he the bad guy?” And yes, he is the antagonist, but there is so much to appreciate about Falmagon: his beliefs, his conviction, and his allegiance. Plus, he grants the story purpose. Falmagon represents any person in life who stands at odds with us. We may dislike a person—even hate them—but admittedly, our own beliefs would be but wind without an opposing force to give attention to them. Stories don’t have meaning without conflict; neither does life.
Finally, what advice would you give to other writers?
Many authors worry about how to market their book after being published. The best thing you can do to sell the first book is write the second.