Today I’m fortunate to present RJ Batla author of AGAINST THE BEAST and FIRE EYES AWAKENED.
Hi RJ, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Hi! Thanks for the interview Jason! I’m a Texan, born and raised, a Christian who loves my family and a fan of good old fashioned fantasy, sci-fi, and superhero books. I’m a country boy who has always loved to read and be outdoors in any form or fashion. I consider myself to be one of the ‘nice guys,’ and try to help anyone I can when I can.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for around seven years now, but I’ve gotten serious about it in the last two and have written over two hundred thousand words since then. Most of it probably wasn’t that good (or will ever see a published book in its current form), but it has helped hone my writing craft. It’s been a journey, but now that I (kinda) know what I’m doing, it’s a lot of fun!
What inspired you to start writing?
To get the voices out of my head!
Just kidding. But I’ve always wanted to write a book and I’ve been telling stories to myself in my head for a long time. I wrote a little in college, and some family had said it was pretty good. So I continued on, enjoying the learning of a new skill and telling a story.
Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?
So I’ve got several projects going at the moment. FIRE EYES AWAKENED is my first full-blown novel, and it’s at the editor right now. I expect to release it around May or June.
The RANGER’S FIELD MANUAL is the companion guide to the world of Terraunum. I’ve gotten it written and edited, and might be available now for free for signing up for my email list! There is a smaller version available now for an email signup, but anyone on my list will get the expanded edition as soon as I can.
What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?
I don’t know that I prefer any, but I’d have to say fantasy comes the easiest for me. I like the creation of worlds, the magic (both the system and in general), and the old school sword & sorcery battles.
All of my current works are based in Terraunum, a future earth where Marvels have amazing powers over the elements and much more. It’s Epic Fantasy/Sword & Sorcery with a good bit of Superheroism and some technological elements of Steampunk. So a blend of genres.
What authors influenced you?
Oh wow, several. Terry Brooks, who was the first author I really latched onto in the fantasy genre, is a clear influence. Also Jim Butcher, who writes the Dresden Files, my favorite series – I love the main character Harry Dresden, a smart-aleck wizard with a strong sense of justice. Those would be the two biggest influences, though everything I read tends to influence me in some way.
What are you currently reading?
So I’ve got several books on my reading list right now. I tend to read several books at once (I know, a little crazy). Right now, here is what I’m reading:
Outbreak by Joshua C. Chadd; Mistress of Masks by C. Greenwood, and Thinblade by David A. Wells
Do you write every day? A few days per week?
I try to write every day, but it usually turns into around 4-5 days per week, depending on when the kids go to bed and how much time I have at night. The day job gets in the way (as per the usual), so I do all my writing at night. Usually I can knock out between 500-1000 words per hour after I have my outline done, so I am able to make good use of my time.
Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?
Absolutely not! I love music and tv, but I can’t do either and write at the same time – I get too involved in one thing and get sidetracked.
How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?
I’d like to think it has gotten better – better at telling the story, better at getting my point across, more succinct, clearer, more descriptive without wasting words. I also think I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, and how to make sure and only include what is good/important but to make sure I do include those same things.
How do you create the covers for your books?
I come up with the general idea for what I’m looking for, then I work with the professionals to get it done right. I am by no means an artist (drawing wise), so I hire out freelancers who are pros. I have two different cover artists that I use, and they are both amazing.
Are there any non-literary influences for your writing (movies, actors, music, etc)?
Absolutely! Movies – anything superhero-related, action/adventure, and even some of the drama. I’ve also been heavily influenced by a couple of animated shows, particlularly Avatar: The Last Airbender (the series, not the movie), and Naruto, a manga adaption.
Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?
I’m exclusive with Amazon right now, so that’s the only place to get any of my books. I’ve only got one out, but several are in the works and will be out as soon as I can get them out there.
What is your favorite book and why?
Now that is a tough question. Because you’re making me pick ONE, I’m assuming a work of fiction, I would have to pick Summer Knight (The Dresden Files, Book 4) by Jim Butcher because it introduced me to the Dresden Files series that I love.
How do you market your books?
I use Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Ads, and my email list. But mostly it’s word of mouth from other authors and friends.
Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?
Sure, here is an excerpt from AGAINST THE BEAST.
Royn parried the sword from the left Skeptor and threw up an air shield on his right. Steel clanged against bone as the two traded blows. The second one broke through the air shield quickly and thrust at Royn’s midsection.
Royn teleported at the last second, the creature’s sword hitting nothing but blue light. Growling, they advanced on his new position, circling around again. Clearly they meant to keep his attention divided. The left one started in again, and Royn counterattacked, matching the strikes with his own as the second one circled and jumped in again. Thank God for his Ranger training, or he wouldn’t have lasted ten seconds against these things.
“Flying Knives!” Royn called, arcing his arm and sending dozens of daggers of sharpened air at the Skeptor. They imbedded themselves in the bone, but didn’t penetrate, didn’t even slow the thing down. Again Royn teleported away at the last second.
They continued to circle, and this time Royn put everything he had into his sword work, until he found an opening. “Aha!” he said, driving his blade right into a Skeptor’s chest.
It clanged and bounced harmlessly off the bone armor, the force prying the sword from his hands. “No!” he said, teleporting away, then right back to get his sword and away again too fast for them to react. Damn that was close.
Five more times they circled and advanced, each time Royn throwing a different attack at the second Skeptor, and five more times Royn teleported away. But there was a problem. Royn’s energy was draining quickly—the second bean was wearing off, his reserves already depleted. He was weaker than he thought. He hadn’t fully recovered. He shouldn’t have come. The Skeptors circled again. Like vultures. Might as well be. One of these times they were going to get him. Just a matter of time. How could he win this battle? His attacks fell right off of them, nothing stuck. He was severely out matched.
What is that blasted buzzing? Royn dodged a sword attack and deflected a fireball with an air blast.
From behind him the second Skeptor launched another fireball. Diving away, the heat singed his clothes as he tucked and rolled on the landing, immediately jumping up before he was blasted again.
If you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?
Definitely Indie, though if someone wanted to pay me an insane amount of money I could be convinced!
The main reasons I chose Indie is the ability to actually get your work out in the world and let the people/readers/fans decide if it is good enough, vs someone in a corporate office. So in a word control – I have ultimate say on anything involving my works.
Plus it’s on my timeline – if I need to push something back because I have time with my family scheduled, it doesn’t hurt anyone or myself.
Where can we find you online?
Here they are:
Any parting words for writers?
Keep working hard. Take it one day at a time. Grab any time you can to write, market your current works, or read – either for fun or for honing your craft. You eat an elephant one bite at a time, and you write a book one word at a time over a sustained period. You can do it!