I've just reviewed Progeny by R. T. Kaelin, and am pleased to welcome him here for an interview in which he's been kind enough to answer a few questions for me about his debut book Progeny. Welcome!
Could you tell readers more about yourself?
I am just a person in my early thirties (with a birthday later this week) who decided to take a crack at writing a novel. I had read a few bad books, said to myself “I could do better than that,” and decided to try. I am married to an awesome wife and have two small children (who are the namesakes and inspiration behind the two main characters in the book). I live in Ohio but would love to be able to move to someplace warm. Phoenix would be nice. Or I could deal with Italy. I’d suffer the cold there if I could live in the Tuscan countryside.
How long did Progeny take to write?
From the moment I decided I was serious about writing the book, about a year in total. First, I spent a few months building the world with its countries, cultures, people, geography, history, etc. That was followed by seven months of writing and editing on my own and a two-month period of working with my copyeditor.
What was the basis of your inspiration for Progeny?
As a sort of an extension of my first answer: good stories and bad books. I love a good story. Love it. I love reading books and finding little nuggets that the author dropped in, hints of what’s to come without giving away the plot. I adore books where I find new things each time through that makes me realize there is a grand scheme behind everything. After reading three books in a row that were nothing like that – predictable from beginning to end and devoid of intricacy – I wanted to come up with my own sweeping tale. Now, the inspiration behind the characters – most started out based on a person in my life. Some evolved away to be their own character, some did not.
Do you have a favorite character - if so, who and why? (I'd find this one hard!)
You are right. This is a tough question. I like them all for different reasons, even the antagonist. How about I change the question to: Who was your favorite character to write? That one’s easy: Nundle Babblebrook, Master Merchant of Deepwell. Hands down. Writing him is so easy and fun – it’s like writing stream-of-consciousness style. He says what he thinks, when he thinks it – I just type the words.
What made you use water strands in Yellow Mud to achieve the outcome for the village?
Like most events in my writing, it was based on the situation. I had built the world, knew the history of the area and mores of the people. I knew the framework of the story (although that changed some as I wrote) and I knew I wanted the saga to open up with a ‘bang.’ I looked at it from the point of view of the antagonist, thought about what he’d do, and it was just a logical approach. Most of my writing is like that – I don’t force the characters to do things – they react to the situation as they should. It gets me (and them) into trouble sometimes, but the story feels more believable that way.
Where did you get your inspiration from for Nundle, and what's the story behind his creation?
Nundle is 100% pure accident and one of two characters in the book that were not intended to have large roles. As each chapter is from the point of view of a different character, I reached a point where I needed to revisit the ‘bad guy’ but I wanted to do it from the point of view of someone other than him. Nundle (not his original name, by the way) was sketched out with the intention I would use him for one chapter. Halfway through, I loved writing him so much, I stopped and rethought the entire plot and incorporated him to be a very important part of the story. He somewhat just wrote himself into the story. A lot of the book happened that way.
I notice there's a theme of 9 which resurfaces a lot in Progeny. Any particular reason why it's 9?
You are not the first to notice that. Yes, there is a specific reason. We will get a glimpse at what that is in the second in the series.
You've got some truly evil characters in Progeny, as well as fantastic heroes and heroines. Where did the inspiration come from for the Orcs and their unusual eating habits <shudder>?
Many details about cultures came about as I wrote. The one you are referring to was just such one. I wanted to paint a picture of the location and that detail just came out.
As an author how did you accomplish seamlessly tying so many stories into one? How did you keep track of them all whilst writing?
How did I keep things so seamless? A lot of planning followed by a lot of editing when the story took on a life of its own. I kept a three or four chapter outline ahead of where I was at all times, so I knew for what I was aiming. Sometimes I had to adjust, but the method worked well most of the time. Once or twice, I wrote parts of future chapters before it was ‘their turn’ just so I knew what to expect. You think trying to keep all the details and storylines woven together was hard for Progeny? Try doing it across books.
What are you future plans as an author - how many books will there be in this series?...When is the next one due out?
My plans are to keep promoting Progeny. It is a self-published novel (literary agents were scared away by its length for a debut author) via my own small press. The goal is to get picked up by a large publishing house and get some national exposure for the book. My writing has received comparisons to Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, Scott Lynch, and David Eddings which is immensely humbling, but evidence that I am not completely fooling myself into thinking I can do this (I’m only mildly delusional). The Children of the White Lions series was meant to be four books when I sketched out the overarching story. However, I am thinking it will be more like five. I am in the midst of writing number two, and four novels will not contain the story. As for when the second comes out…it all depends on what happens with Progeny.
Are Eliza and Aryn's stories complete - it's hinted at that they may be dead but not confirmed?
The safest way I can answer that question: No comment at this time.
Will there be a definite winner of Sabine's affection in the next book...or do I sense a bit of sibling rivalry to come?!
I am literally smiling as I write this answer. As I said, I am in the midst of writing the second in the series, so I have a very clear idea of what happens with Sabine and the others (intentionally vague). Some things become clearer, then foggier, then a bit clearer, before getting foggier again. Then everyone’s world turns upside down.
Thanks for coming over for an interview, I hope Progeny is read by many more people - I'm looking forward to reading what others think about it, whilst I wait patiently for the next book :)