My Interview with William L. Stuart!
I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me and for allowing me to introduce you to my readers!
1. To begin with, I’d like to ask you to please describe yourself? In your own words, who are you?
· Wow, tough question. I guess I would describe myself as a father, grandfather, the luckiest husband in the world, and accidental writer. Throw in a smidge of ex-Navy, a dash of gold and gemstone prospector, a dollop of optimism, and you have me!
2. I know your road to becoming a published author was inspired by your wife, Lana and her blog. I am interested in learning more about this.
· What about Lana’s blog specifically motivated you to write?
o Lana took a chance launching her blog almost 8 years ago. As I later discovered, it takes a leap of courage and faith to put your thoughts out into the world for public scrutiny and comment. When my grandson first suggested I publish the books, I drew on Lana’s bravery and took the chance!
· How did her blog lead you to publishing books? I mean, you have a blog yourself. Why didn’t you simply invest in building your blog; why did you opt to write, not just one book, but a whole series?
o The blog came well after the books. I started writing the series in 2010, with The Carnelian published in August 2012. My blog started a couple of weeks before the publish date. The blog was merely an extension of my writing and allowed me an outlet for news about the upcoming books in the series, posts about gemstones, and reviews of fellow authors’ books.
3. Your book series is called The Gemstone Chronicles. I know hunting and working with gemstones are hobbies of yours, but how did they impact your choices when it came to writing your books?
· My grandson and I were gem hunting one day and I had been researching the magical and mystical properties of gemstones. Aidan, who was playing World of Warcraft at the time, suggested I write a book about gemstones, elves, and magic. I agreed and went home and started writing. One book turned into four!
· Were you always a dilettante of gemstones or when did you become involved with them?
o My brother John and I wanted to find a new activity for his daughters and my grandson not long after Lana and I moved to North Georgia. We found a spot that allowed us to dig through the tailings from a gold mine and keep what we found. John and I were hooked and try to get up there at least once a month to hunt for more!
· The information you use about gemstones in your book is very detailed. More so, it is relevant to the storyline, enriching not only the characters but the powers they display. Did you research gemstones for your novels, or how did you learn so much about them?
o Before I wrote the first book, I spent hours doing research on gemstones. I knew I wanted certain powers to be associated with each stone, so I researched all stones until I found the ones I wanted for the stories. I have since continued to learn more about the stones and will likely incorporate them into future stories.
· Did your hobbies encourage your storyline or did your storyline encourage your hobbies?
o I think both. Certainly, the hobbies brought about the storyline, but the storyline enhanced my hobbies.
· I know gemstones have religious and cultural connections. They have been worn as amulets and used for medicinal purposes, often holding mystical powers. Is this why you found them to be a natural basis for your elvish world, or how did you link the gemstones with elves? Are there any myths or lore that influenced your choices?
o I made up the link between the gemstones and the elves. In most stories, dwarves are the artisans who fashion things of great beauty from gemstones. I wanted the Dark Elves to be the masters of gemstones and weaponry instead of the dwarves. That set up a natural conflict between the Dark Elves and the Light Elves, and allowed the story to evolve. Other than that, I didn’t consult any myths or lores.
4. One of the things I found endearing about your book, The Gemstone Chronicles Book One: The Carnelian was the integration of your family as the characters of the tale. I absolutely adored the concept of the grandparents pursuing a quest with their grandchildren. This is where I’d like to focus my next block of questions.
· What did your wife and grandkids think about being immortalized in your books?
o I asked for their approval before basing the characters on them. They agreed, and the grandchildren thought it would be so cool to be in a book. I also used other family members (my brother John and his daughters are Elven scouts) as characters. Often, it was only their names turned into Elvish, but I tried to incorporate their personalities into the characters.
· Reading the story, I envisioned you having conversations with your grandkids. I felt their presence in the tale as much as I sensed yours. How much involvement did they have in the development of The Gemstone Chronicles?
o They really didn’t have any involvement in the stories, though Aidan was the first person to read The Carnelian. You are right, though, about the conversations. I had the conversation with them in my head as I wrote. Since each was familiar to me, it was easy.
· The book was so fun to read and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series. I can tell it was fun for you to write. That being said, what do you think the best part of writing it was? What was the most enjoyable aspect for you?
o I never planned to publish the books. Writing them was simply a way to put the stories on paper so my grandchildren would be able to enjoy them for years to come. That is why I decided to self-publish rather than pursue the traditional publishing route. The books were never meant to be a moneymaking venture, but were to be something the family could enjoy. That was and is the most enjoyable part of the writing.
· Did you have any difficulties bring this series to life?
o No, bringing the series to life was easy. After all, it’s a series starring those I love. What could be easier to bring to life?
5. Every author has their own ways of approaching the writing process. What’s yours?
· For me, I sat in my recliner in the living room and tried to write for 2 hours each night from 8 - 10. If I wrote a paragraph or a chapter, it was fine, since I had no deadline. As I look to my next book, though, I expect it will be more difficult since I won’t be writing about my family.
· Do you ever get writer’s block and if so, how do you overcome it?
o Unbelievably, I never got writer’s block while writing The Gemstone Chronicles. Interestingly enough, my first bout of writer’s block came when I was writing the dedication and acknowledgement for the first book. I really struggled with it.
· Do you read reviews? This is a much deeper question than it appears. I am interested in knowing if you read reviews before your select a book as a reader as well as whether or not you read the reviews for your writing.
o I don’t read reviews for books I want to read. I look at the cover, read the blurb and make a decision based on those factors.
o As for my own books, yes, I read all the reviews, good and bad. I don’t comment on reviews other than to say ‘thanks’ to the reviewer.
o I often “like” reviews on Goodreads and Amazon and will tweet reviews on Twitter with links back to the review. I hope by doing this, I bring attention to the reviewer and drive traffic to their blog or website. It’s another way of saying ‘thanks’ for taking the time to read my books.
· As a reader, what do you look for in a book? Do reviews influence your reading choices?
o Reviews rarely influence my choice of books. I mostly read fantasy and thrillers, but will read most anything if it seems interesting.
o I will consider books that get buzz on Twitter and Facebook or books recommended by friends, too.
· Do you perceive reviews differently now that you’re an author yourself?
o Until I became an author, I didn’t really consider reviews at all. I didn’t read them and didn’t write them. I have since learned how important reviews are to authors. Not just because it means people are reading the books, but also because it allows the author to know whether their work appeals to readers or not.
· From an author standpoint, how do you deal with negative responses?
o Even when I get a less than favorable review, I try to take something positive from it and thank the reviewer. It’s difficult, sometimes, since as much as I try to have a thick skin, destructive criticism hurts. I can handle, and even enjoy getting constructive criticism, but destructive criticism is hard.
6. You have led an interesting life, to say the least. You’ve served our country in the U.S. Navy aboard a submarine. Having served in the U.S. Air Force, I’d like to discuss this adventure, if I may.
· You earned the Blue Nose Certification. Can you please explain what this means to my readers?
o First, thank you for your service. It’s always a pleasure to connect with those who served. My father was a retired tech sergeant in the Air Force, so we have that in common.
o The US Navy has a number of ceremonies for crossing certain areas of the globe. For instance, until you cross the equator, you are a pollywog. Once you cross the equator and go through the ceremony, you are a shellback. Similarly, when you cross the Arctic Circle, you are a Bluenose.
o I was privileged to do under ice operations while stationed aboard USS Sandlance (SSN660) and earned my Bluenose certificate. The purpose, I believe, is to further the bonds among the crew and allow sailors to have the distinction of going places and doing things most people will never have the chance to do.
· I feel like it’s easy to think your battles scenes have a basis in your military training, but that isn’t necessarily the case. As we’re taught in basic training, you should never assume anything. That being said, did your battle strategies for your stories come from lessons learned while in the service, or did you acquire the know-how from other means?
o I guess some of my military training played a role in the battle scenes, but I think RPG video games influenced them more. I’m not a hard-core gamer, but have played RPGs for years. I thought about games like The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy. The battle scenes in the books tried to incorporate some of that action.
· Do you think your military experience has made any sort of impact on you as a writer? If so, how?
o I think so. One of the things about submarine duty is you learn how to concentrate on something for hours. Standing watch at the reactor plant control panel for 6 hours out of every 18 (yes submarines run on 18 hour days underway), teaches you to be focused. I believe it helped me when I wrote the books, since I sat in the living room with the TV on and was able to write anyway.
o I also incorporated things I learned in the Navy in the books. I don’t kid when I say the submarine force couldn’t go to sea without duct tape!
7. What can we expect to see from you over the coming year?
· I have to do some corrections/revisions to Books 3 and 4. I received feedback about a few typos in the books and have to get those corrected.
· I just started James Patterson’s Master Class on writing and want to finish it while I work on my next books.
· Do you have plans to expand The Gemstone Chronicles or do you have a new project in mind?
o Sadly, The Gemstone Chronicles is finished. I planned it as a 4 book series and I don’t see extending it. I have a new project in mind and it appears to be a thriller written for adults. But, as you know, the story will take its own path, so we will see.
· What is your current WIP?
o As I mentioned above, my WIP is a thriller. It doesn’t have gemstones in it, but stone slabs have a major role in the story!
o The book is in its infancy and doesn’t even have a working title yet.
I’ve really enjoyed talking with you today, William. I wish you the best in all you do!
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