Author Interview with Josh VanBrakle

Posted 21 May, 2014 by Paige in Interviews / 0 Comments

Hello Josh, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! How about we start with you telling potential readers a bit about yourself and your book?

The Wings of Dragons is my first novel, and it’s the first in what I expect will be a 3- or 4-book series: The Dragoon Saga. I like to describe it as a tale of “friendship, betrayal, and explosive magic.” The epic fantasy follows Iren Saitosan, a teenager feared by those around him because he’s the only left-handed person in the kingdom. He’s grown up isolated, so he starts out more immature than his eighteen years suggest. But when his reputation as a Left lands him a spot on an assassination mission, for the first time, Iren becomes part of a team. It’s a chance to make friends and earn respect among his countrymen, but it could also kill him. One of Iren’s teammates has betrayal in mind: a bloody plan to avenge the Lefts one thousand years in the making. Iren has to figure out who – and how – to trust, and the fates of two races depend on his choice.

As for me, I grew up in Hershey, PA (yes, it does smell like chocolate), but I now live in the Catskill Mountains of New York with my wife and two ill-behaved cats. How ill-behaved? I had to pause while doing this interview because one of them stole a paperback book and carted it around the house in his mouth. I write in the evenings, and during the day I work as an educator at an environmental non-profit. When I have some spare time, I enjoy hiking, kayaking, nature photography, and being outdoors as much as possible.

1.) Moving on, I would love to know more about what prompted you to become an author. Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

Publishing a fantasy novel has been my dream since childhood, ever since I read The Hobbit. But I waited a long time to do it. I probably never would have finished if it weren’t for the YA paranormal author Shannon Delany, who wrote the 13 to Life series and the Weather Witch series. She hosted a series of writing workshops in 2011 that I attended, and they changed my perspective on writing and storytelling. Her teaching and support during and after those workshops inspired me to keep going and succeed. She’s a great author, a great mentor, and a great person. Shannon, if you’re reading this, thank you for everything.

2.) I very much enjoyed reading The Wings of Dragons! Could you tell us a bit more about what inspired you to write the Dragoon Saga?

I’m glad you liked it! The idea for the Dragoon Saga started over a decade ago. I took a Creative Writing class, and for a project, we developed a script for the first episode of a TV show. I called mine On the Wings of Dragons, and it featured early versions of Iren Saitosan and Amroth Angustion. I wanted to expand it into a book later, but this thing called life intervened. I set the project down for years, but after finishing college, starting a job, and getting married, I wanted to pick up those old notes and pursue my childhood dream.

3.) This is one of my favorite questions to ask, because I’m a big music fan myself. Do you like listening to music while you write, or do you prefer silence? Maybe a mixture? 

It depends on what stage of writing I’m in. When I’m drafting, I like silence. I have this habit when I listen to music of getting distracted and singing along…badly. When I edit, though, I like to have music going. I need that little distraction, otherwise the tedium of editing makes me not want to do it.

4.) Keeping on that same theme, how about a fun question… What kind of music do you like? 

I’m flexible, but mostly I like rock that isn’t too soft and isn’t too hard. Is there a medium rock? That would describe my favorite music. Some of my top bands are Vertical Horizon, Creed, Genesis, and Gin Blossoms. I’m also a sucker for some of the oldies, especially the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel.

5.) After asking that, I have to ask this: what are some of your favorite books and authors?

Oh, we could be here a long time on this one. Even though I write fantasy, I love to read different genres and different authors. I enjoy seeing how people see the world in various ways and then put those thoughts onto paper. Some of my favorites are Dune, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and anything by Michael Crichton. I also wouldn’t be much of a fantasy author if I didn’t admit a nerdish love of Lord of the Rings. Finally, I’m a huge admirer of Shannon Delany, and not just because of her help and support. She’s a great storyteller. If you enjoy paranormal, you owe it to yourself to check out her work.

6.) So, getting back to writing: Do you have a particular schedule you adhere to when writing?

I make it a point to write every day, but I don’t have a set word count goal. I figure even if it’s just one chapter, one page, or one paragraph, it’s progress. I also remind myself that “writing” is more than just putting new words on a blank sheet or screen. It’s also the heavy lifting of revising and editing. I tend to do better at those tasks in the morning when I’m fresh, but I prefer to draft when I’m a little tired. My internal editor is easier to quiet, and the words flow more quickly.

7.) Could you tell us a bit about any upcoming books? 

Sure! I recently finished writing the sequel to Wings, titled The Hearts of Dragons. I’m starting the process of assembling it for publication as we do this interview. I don’t have a release date yet, but I’m hoping for 2015. Hearts takes place six months after the end of Wings, and it features the original main characters plus some new ones. It also expands on the world of Raa and delves into the backgrounds of some of the characters who didn’t get as much time in book one as I would have liked.

8.) Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, Josh! Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers about you and your book? 

Just that I love hearing from readers and finding out what they thought of my book. The Wings of Dragons is my first novel, and I hope to write many more. Your feedback helps me make those books better. I never want to stop growing as a storyteller.
For those who want to stay up to date on new developments in The Dragoon Saga including book signings and my progress on The Hearts of Dragons, you can check me out at www.joshvanbrakle.com or on Twitter @joshvanbrakle.

Josh VanBrakle is an unrepentant lefty who is overjoyed to live in an age when authors can type their stories instead of handwriting them. His love of dragons, magic, and epic fantasy led to a dream of publishing a novel that refused to let itself get pushed aside. While he has written stories since childhood, Josh is a late-bloomer to professional writing. He first trained in forestry and economics, and in his day job, he works for an environmental non-profit promoting rural land conservation. Originally from Hershey, Chocolatetown USA, Josh now lives in the Catskills region of upstate New York with his wife Christine and their two ill-behaved cats.


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