Wednesday, May 15, 2013

12 Questions I Get Asked a Lot...and the Answers

1. Can I have a free copy of your book?

That depends...will you come to my house and do whatever it is you do for money for free for about six months? Because that's basically what you're asking me for. If you're willing to write a review, or do me some other favor, then I will consider it. Otherwise, this is probably the most insulting questions you can ever ask an author, right past "Do you have a real job?" and "Why are you such an asshole?" Seriously, it's just like going to a friend's restaurant and asking if you can have a free meal, then leaving when he says no.

2. Will you base a character in one of your books on me?

I doubt it. Don't take this personally. Most of the time in my books, bad things happen to the characters. It's harder for me to do bad things to a character based on someone I know, because it's like saying I'd like to see those things happen to them. Also, if I base a character on you, and then I make that character do something that you, as a person, would never do, you'll get upset with me and say I must not know you very well. So, this isn't something I'm likely to do. Sometimes I base a character's look on an actor or actress I think fits the mold. More rarely, on someone I know personally.

3. Why aren't you a Libertarian? Sometimes you sound like one...

I agree with a lot of the social policies of Libertarianism, but am the complete opposite of the economic ones.  I have a lot of Libertarian friends and find a great deal of common ground with them, but I'm a dyed in the wool socialist. And  no, I don't want to debate you about that. Because I don't care. I guess that's something else that makes me unlike a Libertarian. It seems like almost every Libertarian I know is absolutely obsessed with turning everyone they meet into a Libertarian, or convincing them that they actually are one without knowing it. Like a religion, or something. Whereas me, I honestly have no interest in convincing anyone else to adopt my political philosophy.

4. Speaking of religion...

Oh dammit... autograph your books and end your posts with "PRAISE TIAMAT!" Does this mean you worship Tiamat?

Yes. I'm also from Sumer. *sigh* No, jackass...I don't worship Tiamat. "Praise Tiamat" is something the dragons in my book say when they are happy about something. "To the Shadow of Tiamat" is something they say when one of their race dies. They don't even worship Tiamat as a god, they just revere her as the mother of their race.

5. So do you believe in any God or religion, then?


6. Why can't I find your books in my local bookstore?

Because I'm not Stephen King or Clive Cussler. I'm not even Mark Lawrence (he's awesome, by the Prince of Thorns immediately). More than likely, you aren't going to find my book sitting on a shelf at a bookstore. However, you can order my book from any bookstore by asking the person at the counter to order it for you. Or you can order it online here or by clicking the Buy My Books link at the top of the page.

7. How many books do you plan to write? 

As many as I can until I can't anymore...which usually means when I'm dead ;-)


The questions beyond this point include some minor spoilers for The Shadow of Tiamat and The Will of the Darkest One. Proceed at your own discretion...

8. How did Max know Garrett was a dragon? Or that dragons exist at all?

Max knows a lot of things. More about what Max knows and how he knows it will be introduced in the first book in Max's series, Moth. Max is a bit of a mystery himself. One I hope you'll enjoy exploring through his own series of books, The Max Hollingsworth Paranormal Mysteries.

9. How come all the vampires in your books are either bloodthirsty killers or bumbling morons? Why are there no romantic vampires like Lestat and Edward?

They aren't. Sometimes they are bloodthirsty morons or bumbling killers. The reason is this: vampires are monsters. Lestat was a monster, too. Yeah, he had some romantic features but Rice never let us forget what he was. Edward is a pansy and can kiss my ass, but Meyer did make it clear that he and his family were exceptional of the vampire race in that they didn't harm humans. Also, Twilight was terrible. In both cases, vampires are, at their core, monsters who use their ability to hide as humans to help them hunt prey, therefore the majority of vampires in those worlds will be evil monsters. No matter what, the majority of vampires in any book or series need to be evil monsters, otherwise it removes the novelty of finding one that isn't like that.

In my books, the vampires lose their conscience and become what criminologists would call predatory sociopaths. This means they don't care about anything but themselves and take pleasure (usually sexual) in the suffering of others. They also have low impulse control, are prone to violence, and aren't very patient or thoughtful. Some vampires outgrow this, but most don't live long enough as their new lifestyle leads them to getting in a lot of fights and getting killed. Also, they don't tend to be all that bright. Contrary to popular belief, sociopaths are not usually smarter than anyone else. There are very intelligent ones out there, but most of them are average to below average intelligence. Couple that with low impulse control, a propensity for violence, and the cocksure belief that they can't die and you've got a recipe for sheer comedy.

Anyway, I was actually kind of tired of the whole dark prince with an unbeating heart of gold routine with vampires. Mostly, I just wanted something that people would enjoy seeing the dragons tear apart. If you like (or write) vampire stories with a friendly bloodsucker, that's fine. I do, eventually, introduce some vampires who are slightly less sociopathic in future books (there is one in Moth, and another in The Elohim Legacy) but just accept that when you read my books, almost every vampire you meet is going to be an evil asshole. Because, more than likely, if you met one in real life, they would be, too.

10. Why did Fraise send Xyus to Joplin to kill Megan if he needed it to look like an accident? Wouldn't Fraise have known Xyus was too violent and unpredictable to carry out such a delicate mission? Why not send one of the others?

Fraise was working with what he had. Fraise only has a few dragons on his side in The Shadow of Tiamat. He gains more in The Will of the Darkest One but until then, this was all he had to work with. Xyus was the most sensible choice, given his options. Yomiko wouldn't have done it, she's too honorable. Vritra had already deserted him. Yor wouldn't have gone without Yomiko. And Gruda...well, it isn't explored very much in the first book, but between Xyus and Gruda, she's actually the crazier one. While Xyus may have violently assaulted a human woman and caused a bit of mayhem in Joplin, Gruda probably would have raped and killed everything in the city. She's literally that unhinged when she's around humans, so Fraise keeps her separated from them as much as possible. You will get a taste of just how vicious and insane Gruda is in The Will of the Darkest One, and hopefully understand why Fraise doesn't like sending her off without supervision. If Fraise had Wynonah, the trickster dragon from The Will of the Darkest One in his employ during the events of The Shadow of Tiamat, he probably would have sent her instead.

11. How do the dragons go from being all huge like a building to human size?

By being dragons. It's magic, don't put too much into it. But really, this does get explained a little in The Will of the Darkest One. Dragons are living, walking conduits of elemental energy. This manifests in various forms as it passes through the dragon, and is what is expressed in their breath attacks. There are a number of different forms this elemental energy can take as it passes through the dragon: fire, lightning, acid, frost, etc. However, in it's purest form, it's just formless energy. It's what fuels the dragon's long life, ability to heal, and great strength even in human form. At the atomic level, dragons are able to compact the matter that makes them up as energy and release it back through the conduit inside them to the limitless plane of energy from whence it came as they shape-change. The remaining matter is then rearranged into their human form. When they take a human form, they keep enough of their atomic mass to continue existing in our plane, while also storing the information needed to resume their natural shape. When they decide to do this, they open the conduit inside and absorb enough energy to facilitate the change. Their forms are tied together, though, so as a dragon ages, both his forms age with him. Dragons learn to do this very young. Most of the time, they only learn how to take one human form. Some learn to take several, but this usually requires specialized training that distracts from teaching the dragon other important things, like how to fly, fight, and blow shit up with their breath. However, even in human form, the dragons aren't quite human. They  are incredibly strong, have dense flesh that can deflect most human weapons, and are immune to diseases and most poisons. They can also control most of their bodily functions, like make their hair grow faster (or fall out) and they don't sweat or have to worry about damage from exposure--unless they fall into a volcano or something.

Anyway, this transformation is somewhat taxing. Dragons in their prime and younger can make the shift without any problem. Much older, and they start losing the ability to change shape. A dragon can always resume it's natural form, but it's possible for a dragon to get so old that he can't shift back into human form. Dragons tend to know this is the case, as each time they try to change to their human form it becomes more difficult. In The Shadow of Tiamat, Fraise laments in private that the next time he returns to dragon form, he will be unable to change again because he's too old. Fraise isn't very happy about this, as he despises humans and does not like pretending to be one. Unfortunately, he has much work left to do that he cannot accomplish as a dragon. This is a large part of why he relies on sorcery to accomplish his ends, something most dragons consider distasteful.

12. What's Meg's secret? Is she a half-dragon? If Aoni'a knows, why doesn't she just tell her? And how does Garrett not know, especially if it's part of the reason why he's so into her?

That's actually four questions but they are all related so I'll answer them as one.

(a) Meg's secret, which is something Aoni'a says makes her special to Garrett and other dragons, is something introduced in The Shadow of Tiamat and explored more in The Will of the Darkest One. It is kind of a big deal, so it isn't something that can be introduced lightly or settled with one book. A big portion of this secret will, however, be revealed in The Elohim Legacy, as a large part of the story involves Meg and Aoni'a travelling to the Yukon to find her real father.

(b) No. Meg isn't a half-dragon. Yeah, I know, Yvonne and Xyus...but Tosha isn't a half-dragon. She's a full dragon who just happened to have a human mother for the first 9 months of gestation. Something about having a human mother makes it possible for a dragon to impregnate (or become impregnated by) a human, but the result would be another dragon. Yes, this does mean that Tosha could, at some point, become pregnant by a human male. Anyway, Meg isn't a half-dragon. Dragons are born with full-awareness and have eidetic memory. Meg would almost certainly remember hatching from an egg. Also, whatever Meg's secret was, Fraise was aware of it from the moment he saw her. He told his minions that they wouldn't be able to kill her outright, they'd have to make it look like an accident. Whatever it was, Yomiko was so offended by the idea of killing Meg that she betrayed her twin bother and Fraise to protect her. It is doubtful that she would have gone to that much trouble just to protect another dragon. Or even a half-dragon.

(c) That too is something you'll just have to wait to find out in The Elohim Legacy. In The Will of the Darkest One, Aoni'a becomes frustrated when Meg confronts with this same question. Aoni'a replies that she simply can't tell her any more, as if she's prevented from it or doing so would be dangerous. This is further supported by Aoni'a attacking the demon at the end of The Will of the Darkest One when it points at Meg and speaks a single word that appears to hint at her secret identity. In turn, Aoni'a takes a pretty serious beating, indicating that it must be something extremely important for the otherwise self-absorbed Aoni'a to put herself at risk to protect. Likewise, the vampires don't appear to have any idea what she is either. All they know is their charm and obfuscation abilities don't work on her. But they don't work on Max, either...

(d) You'll notice about Garrett that, although quite intelligent, he's a little clueless when it comes to other people...particularly Meg. He's not a very social person, in fact he's a bit of an introvert. He's also never been in love before, and it kind of frightens him. So, he doesn't explore his feelings for Meg very much because he isn't entirely comfortable with them. Right now they make him happy so he accepts them. He may be worried that if he digs too deeper, he'll ruin it. Also, whatever Meg is, it isn't something most dragons are familiar with. Fraise was the first person to figure it out when he first met Meg. Aoni'a only knew because  Yomiko told her, and Yomiko only knew because she'd been told by Fraise. The demon near the end of The Will of the Darkest One seems to have some idea what she is, and finds it offensive or alarming. This would indicate that whatever Meg is, it's something that a demon would recognize more readily than a dragon, vampire, or any other creature