This week’s #SPFBO Interview is with AJ VanOrden. AJ has spent most of his life dabbling in escapism and fantasy in one way or another: devouring novels, making fun of movies, or sacrificing whole weekends on the altar of role-play gaming. He currently does the work of three people by day, and assembles intricately woven -yet entertaining - lies whenever the demands of sleep and the small red-headed monster he and his wife summoned allow."
What drew you to self-publishing?
I liked the idea of controlling my productions from beginning to end: choosing my own cover artist, my own schedule, my own pricing, and royalty structure, etc
What is your least favorite thing about self-publishing?
Self-promotion -I've never been much of a salesman, and the amount of time I have to spend on my day-job barely leaves me enough time for family and writing, let alone trying to find ways to plug my work without coming off as a shill.
Of all of the Gilligan's Island characters, I am most like…
I'm a firm adherent of the old theory that Gilligan's Island is a metaphor for Hell: each of the castaways are one of the 7 deadly sins. The Skipper is Wrath and Gluttony (always hitting Gilligan with his hat, somehow stays fat on a desert island). The Professor is Pride (I can make a radio with a coconut. Ginger is Lust (for reasons that should be apparent). Mary Anne is Envy (envious of the attention Ginger gets). The Howell's are Greed and Sloth (super rich and never lift a finger to help), and Gilligan is the Devil (his "mistakes" keep the trapped).
In that light, I'm probably the Skipper
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both, to be honest. At the end of a good stretch of writing, I'm usually worn thin and have worked up a sweat, but the catharsis of having out of my head and on the page is one of the biggest highs in my life.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Cover art - my cover art was an expensive commission but was worth every penny. We teach people not to judge a book by its cover, but a generic placeholder piece definitely gets you negative judgment, like it or not.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
The closest thing I have to an "author friend" would be Larry Correia. He'd been a friend of my brother's for several years before he wrote MHI and eventually got picked up by Baen, and he and I corresponded off an on while I was working on To Walk a Road of Ruin - his advice and encouragement got me through my first rewrites and ultimately helped me finally decide to self-publish. A few years later, my short story Wolfhound was submitted to a contest Baen was running that he ended up judging for. While I didn't win, he let people know my story was in the final 8 around the time I self-published it, which I've always really appreciated
What is your favorite childhood book?
I was obsessed with the Lone Wolf and Greystar choose your own adventure series by Joe Dever as a kid. Before I discovered D&D, I would spend hours every summer adventuring through Magnamund.
Your Main Character walks into a bar, what kind of bar and what happens?
A wise man once told me "if a hero walks into a bar at the beginning of a scene, and the bar is still standing by the next scene, something has gone horribly wrong.” I've tried to keep Saga faithful to that rule-so while Saga would be most likely to walk into a dive of one stripe or another, by the time he's left, it's likely riddled with bullet-holes and on fire.
To learn more about AJ VanOrden and his books, check out these links:
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B009YVDHCO
To Walk a Road of Ruin Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009YMJ1HI
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ToWalkARoadOfRuin/