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Interview with R.M. Garino

R.M. Garino

He is the bestselling author of The Chaos of Souls Series and other expansive, roleplaying campaign-inspired fantasy. With a Masters in Literature, he lives in the beautiful mountains on the east coast with the source of his inspiration: his fantastic wife, three sons, and a slew of unruly book characters. An avid brewer of beer and strong coffee, Garino is a voracious reader, really bad dancer, an aficionado of fine cigars and single malt scotch, and is not nearly as obsessed with video games as his wife believes him to be.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
My name may be on the cover, but the Chaos of Souls series is a team effort. Without my wife, Dorothy, there would be no books. It is the synergy between the two of us, the interplay of ideas, that really makes it all come to life. I punch out the first draft, and she adds in the layers that deepen and enrich the story.

Q.2 When should we expect your next book? What will it be about?
Our next book is the second installment of the Chaos of Souls series, Wynds of Prophecy. Our readers will discover more of the Patresilen beyond the Gates and get a glimpse of deeper histories. The E’ine from Requiem’s Reach comes into play; you’ll find out if Logan survives the Sur and learn what happened to Ti’vol. We’re looking at a release date of early 2022.

Q.3 What made you write the Chaos of Souls series?
The Chaos of Souls series is a story that has been with me since childhood and was born from a dream. My attempts to write it down and understand it actually led me to become a writer. The series has evolved over the years, most notably by the roleplaying campaigns I enjoyed with my wife and friends when we were younger. We loved the characters we created for those campaigns. We reworked and included some of them in the novels.

Q.4 Do you feel any competitive pressure from fantasy films? If not, why?
Let’s be honest; good fantasy films have been few and far between. The more popular franchises have influenced different areas of fantasy and produced their troves of spin-offs, but we avoid these. While we might share classical fantasy tropes with other authors, we’ve gone to great pains to be as original as we can. The result is that the Chaos of Souls series is unique and unlike anything you’ve read before.

Q.5 What is one stereotype about fantasy writers is absolutely wrong? What one stereotype is dead on?
Well, let’s see… I do have a rocking beard so that one is dead on. I think I’m supposed to shave it when I finish the series, though. Not sure I like that part. As to the one that misses the mark, I don’t have any cats. But I do have two dogs.

Q.6 Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?
I love reading, and I love learning new things. As a result, there is a constant barrage of information pouring into my head. When I sit down to write, it usually gets smashed and blended together and comes out as something new. Other times, however, an idea or concept is perfect in its original form, and that is what sticks in my brain. Take the term Satyagraha, for instance. This struck me and stuck with me when I first read it. When I was writing the scene when the character creates armor from his life force, there was only one thing to call it: the satyagraha, the firm truth.

Q.7 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
When you boil everything else away, we’re writing about characters, regardless of their sex. Male and females are both consumed by fears and aspirations, hopes and dreams. I try to focus on these universal elements rather than those that separate us.

Q.8 Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?
So that all depends on the novel in question. The prequel to the Chaos of Souls series, Requiem’s Reach, is a grimdark fantasy. It contains elements of horror, and there are moments some readers may consider gory. As for erotic content, we don’t write that at all, so I guess it’s a firm line there. The Chaos of Souls has sweet romance throughout. Nothing will throb here but your heart.

Q.9 How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?
We’ve written five books so far (though only three are currently available). I have to say that The Gates of Golorath, book one of the Chaos of Souls series, stands out as my favorite. It has just the right mix of humor and action, sweet romance, deep ideas, and heroism.

Q.10 How do you select the name of your characters?
Some of them are born with the characters; they just sort of happening. Other times, I’ll do a search. I write the first draft on Scrivener, and they have a great name generator feature. You can select the broad cultural category you want to draw from. It even allows you to select from literary authors.

Q.11 What fantasy realm would you choose to live in and why?
My own, of course. It really is our favorite place. One of the really cool parts of a fantasy world is how it is able to correct the world we currently live in. When you get down to it, authors are not creating the world as it is, but as it should be. I think that’s what really draws people to fantasy literature.

Q.12 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
Writer’s block implies that there is a fantastical world, separate and apart from our own, where words live and dwell. In this place of words, there is a magical, elusive conduit that connects to the writer and blesses them for a time with an unrestricted flow. For writer’s block to happen, then some nefarious force must intercede and block the flow of words to the author. It makes a great story, but it has little basis in reality. 

What I have learned is that instead of writer’s block, there is boredom, a lack of planning, or a lack of consistency in writing that gets in the way. Each is their own distinct adversary. If the story is boring to the writer, then there is a good chance it will bore the reader. You might want to scrap it and move on to something else. If planning is an issue, start outlining. If it’s more an issue of consistency, then get in the habit of writing at the same time every day. Start looking at it a different way; writer’s block is a way of telling yourself that something is off with your practice, and it is a chance for you to grow and change.

Q.13 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
I read them, but I try not to let the bad ones bother me. You spend so long writing a novel, putting so much of yourself into it, going over it again and again. Of course, you want people to love it. When they do, you feel invincible. When they don’t, hopefully, there is a useful critique in the review. We take those seriously because we are trying to create the best books we can. To us, the reader’s experience should be immersive; if anything jars that, we strive to fix it. We know we can’t account for every individual taste, but we can make sure our work is as good as it can be.

Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
I need to listen to music when I write. It helps set the mood. So as I’m planning the book, I also create a playlist of songs that contain the same feelings. The playlists tend to be long, a few hours, and I can also use them as a measure of time. When the same song comes around a few times, it gives you a good idea of how long you’ve been working. On the weekends, I also add a nice glass of bourbon or scotch whiskey to the mix.

Q.15 Outside of your family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author?
I really can’t look outside my family for this. Back in 2017, I was recovering from a heart operation, and my wife and I were talking about the things I still wanted to do in my life. At the top of that bucket list was publishing a book. My wife, Dorothy, convinced me to publish the first version of The Gates of Golorath, and we have walked the publishing path together ever since.

Q.16 Who designed your book covers? How do you select him/her?
Mirella Santana created our covers. Dorothy found a cover that she loved and searched out the artist. We’ve been very lucky that she had an opening and could accommodate us. She’s been amazing to work with.

Q.17 What three things readers should expect from your books?
A. The Chaos of Souls
series is, first and foremost, an epic fantasy, and it has all the parts you would expect; an awesome magic system, complex characters you want to get invested in, elaborate and fully realized worldbuilding. We’re also really proud of the fight scenes in the books. The readers love them. Lastly, expect to laugh. It is a serious novel, but the characters are young, and their humor is irreverent. And do they like a good joke.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
My childhood hero was J.R.R Tolkien. But The Lord of the Rings was not the first thing I read by him. It was his translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight from middle English. Finding his fantasy works only made him more of a hero to me. Not only did he write the archetypal fantasy epic (and create its own working language), but he was an accomplished literary scholar to boot. Now that is a height to aspire to.

Q.19 What is your favorite book by other authors and why?
Every time I am asked this question, I have to say, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I know it’s not a fantasy, but hey, it has swords. And buried treasure. And revenge. Other than that, I’ve been a big fan of Robert Jordan for the past thirty years. When Brandon Sanderson took over the Wheel of Time series, I became a fan of his as well.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
So far, we’ve been living the dream. Dorothy and I love writing these books. We talk about them constantly, and to be able to share this world with others, to have them fall in love with it as much as we have, is magical. We’ve made some mistakes, but we learn from them and move forward.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to be on your blog. I had a great time answering your questions.