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Interview with Deston J. Munden

He is an African American fantasy and science fiction author from the swamps of North Carolina. He’s a fantasy and science fiction geek and huge dungeons and dragons, video games, and anime nerd. It’s easy to find him eating his weight in food while enjoying a good show or chatting with his friends about various geeky topics to his heart’s content. 

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
An interesting thing about myself is that I’m ace. I’m an asexual man who just likes to have a good time and make platonic friendships!

Q.2 Do you have any upcoming books?
A. Duke’s Brand
, the sequel of Tavern, is coming out soon. It follows a character we meet in Tavern who has turned over a new life while figuring out his own place in the world. He’s my first main character with autism, and he’s one of the best characters I feel like I’ve ever written. I’ve been selling him as Thor from the MCU meets Steven Universe and Neville Longbottom. So I think that is a catch in itself.

Q.3 When did you decide to write Tavern: An African American High Fantasy Epic?
I’ve always wanted to write a fantasy. My first ever video game was Final Fantasy 6/3 (US) for the SNES, and it just sort of stuck with me into my adulthood. Then, around high school, I found my obsession with World of Warcraft, so I kicked this story into high gear. From there, it’s the classic trial and error of a million drafts until the right one.

Q.4 How do you come up with the name of your books?
They usually come to me with a certain scene or theme that centers around the character. Sometimes it’s not always clear until you’re at the specific scene, but I always have a reason for the book's name.

Q.5 If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t stress about the first draft. Get it done. You’re going to make mistakes. Don’t rewrite it a million times. Sometimes, the book is only going to be the best you can make it at the time. You can change that. The best thing you can do is get it out there and work on the next.

Q.6 How do you select the name of your characters?
They come to me. Usually, I have to look for similar names that I feel would fit the character from the real world and change them a bit. Other times, they just kinda hit me at full speed. So it’s a gamble on which I will get during the day.

Q.7 How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?
I’ve written two so far: one science fiction, Dusk Mountain Blues: A Space Western Opera, and one fantasy, Tavern: An African-American High Fantasy Epic. Fantasy will always be my first love, but science fiction is just so much fun to write. So I’m not gonna pick one. They are both fine children.

Q.8 How long does it take you to write a book?
It usually takes me six months to a year. Sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. Depends on the material.

Q.9 What were your feelings when your novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
I cried. When I saw the cover of the Tavern, there was a lot of waterworks. I was just sitting there staring at it for days. I made it. I help put this together, and it was coming out. I’m still thrilled every time I put out a new product.

Q.10 What is one stereotype about fantasy writers is absolutely wrong? What is one stereotype dead on?
That we are all stuck up and mean. Fantasy writers are some of the nicest people you’ll meet, but we’re usually just shy. One stereotype that is dead-on, though, is that we are passionate about our hobbies. Talk to a fantasy author that loves dungeons and dragons and see if they don’t talk to you for hours.

Q.11 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
Not really! I feel like talking to yourself and acting your character out is pretty normal…but that could just because all my other fellow writers are also TTRPG players so….

Q.12 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
Nope. I think that writer’s block doesn’t exist; it’s just your body telling you that you don’t want to write that day. The best way to get over that is to write anyway. It’s not gonna get done by sitting around, and the words aren’t always gonna be dancing on a muse.

Q.13 If you could be a member of any fantasy race, which would you choose and why?
Orc. Easily. Hands down. I always wanted to be a big, strong warrior type. I wouldn’t want to be a Tolkien Ork but more of a World of Warcraft or Dungeons and Dragons orc or half-orc. I feel like they are the perfect blend between wise and strong.

Q.14 What is your favorite book from other authors and why?
A. Kings of the Wyld
by Nicholas Eames. I’ve never been more moved and jealous of an author’s writing in my entire life. It’s almost hard to re-read it because I get so jealous of his abilities that it hurts.

Q.15 How do your family/friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?
They love it. They really enjoy my writing. They didn’t think that it was something I could do at first as a living, but I’m slowly getting to the point that I can support myself with my writing alone. They have learned to be supportive, and every book release has been impossible without their help.

Q.16 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
It all kind of comes to me. There’s no set formula to creative writing. Everyone’s different. For me, plots and characters come to me on a whim. Sometimes I go in without a thought and come out with characters and plotlines that I love. It is different for everyone.

Q.17 What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Start that draft now. Stop worldbuilding, stop character creating, start the draft. It’s important to do those things as you go along, but you need to get that draft done. Like I would say to my younger self, allow yourself to make mistakes. It’s going to happen.

Q.18 What is the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
It’s actually not difficult for me. The opposite sex, in my case women (or nonbinary), is easy for me because I know that they are people, and I have great female and nonbinary beta readers. Write them like people, not objects or tools of affection.

Q.19 Who designed your book covers?
A. Deck Matthews
. He’s an amazing cover artist from Canada who writes his own books called the Varkas Chronicles. Please check him out if you have the chance.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
It’s been a wonderful experience. I’ve met so many new people, and I have improved so much during the whole process, learning and understanding every reader and author I’ve come across. I’m truly blessed in this area.

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