Q: What is your writing cred?
The Wattpad Stars program is curated, and I am super pleased to be part of it!
I’ve sold short stories to Escape Pod, the Wattpad Paid program, and other “pro” venues. My articles are featured in a Writer’s Digest Books anthology, as well as Fantasy Magazine. I’m a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, where I studied under George R.R. Martin, Catherine Asaro, Barry B. Longyear, and other genre writers. I won two Honorable Mentions in the Writers of the Future Contest, and I’m a member of Codex Writers.
Q: You’re an illustrator/animator. Why don’t you write graphic novels or animate your own films?
If only there were enough years in a lifetime to accomplish everything I want to accomplish! But working full-time hours, writing an epic novel series, and trying to have a life outside of those things is enough to occupy my time. I wish I had a crew of assistants, or a big budget to work with. Then I’d get a lot more done.
I did create four student films, and they’re on my YouTube channel. I also shoved a fifth incomplete short film online. My films have been screened at film festivals such as Annecy International.
Q: Have you written any screenplays or teleplays?
Yes. I have a rough draft of a feature-length scifi thriller, and a few episodes of an animated primetime comedy show.
Q: Why do you rank so many books with four or five stars? If you read evenly, you should have just as many negative as positive reviews.
I don’t read evenly. I only read books that sound interesting to me, or that trustworthy friends have recommended. Life is too short to waste on books that I have to struggle through.
Q: How long are your novels?
The novels in my Torth series range from about 110,00 words to 186,000 words. That’s roughly 400 — 600 pages in paperback format with normal-sized print.
Q: Would you recommend going to the Odyssey Writing Workshop?
Yes! This was an awesome experience, and I have only good things to say. It exceeded my expectations in every way.
However, you will be challenged to grow as a writer, no matter how talented you already are. If you go to Odyssey expecting nothing but praise, accolades, and recommendations to editors at major publishers, then you’ll be disappointed. No one escapes Odyssey without some brutally honest feedback.
If you go, be prepared to meet people who are extremely ambitious, talented, and serious about their writing–just like you, I assume. Fortunately, writers seem to be among the most good-natured and supportive creative types. The competitive atmosphere is there, but I found it to be a help rather than a hindrance, pushing me to write better, faster, and to try new methods.
Since there are only 16 students in every annual class, I understand that each year has a different dynamic. Some years seem to be more friendly, others more prolific, others more multi-cultural, or skewed younger/older, or more published, or skewed towards screenwriting, or award-winners, etc. This is just a general factor rather than something for you to worry over. Odyssey also provides an ongoing supportive program for all graduates, bringing them together regularly, and keeping in touch through a mailing list and gatherings at conventions. The roster grows annually by 16 new graduates.
Q: Would you recommend going to CalArts for Character Animation?
I got a lot out of the program, and it was one of the most formative experiences of my life. However, you’ll only get out of it what you’re willing to put into it. If you’re expecting to smoke weed or goof off, you’ll be disappointed by the high-stakes ambition of your peers. Everyone who lasts for more than a year in the Character Animation program is serious about their future career in the film or game industry. That means they’re very competitive. If you don’t like that sort of peer group, or if you’d rather not challenge yourself to grow as an artist, then you won’t like the environment. This advice may sound like common sense, but not everyone is completely honest with themselves. Be true to yourself. There is no shame in choosing a career that speaks to you personally, rather than a career that your family or friends expected for you. If you’re not 100% sure you want to spend the rest of your life as an animator or artist, then examine your self-doubts.
As for choosing CalArts over, say, Ringling or Animation Mentor … things were a bit different back in the last millennium, when I went there! Animation Mentor didn’t exist back then, and very few schools taught animation at all, let alone 3D animation. My top choices were CalArts and Ringling. I was accepted by both, and I chose CalArts mostly because it had a stronger reputation, and it was founded by Walt Disney. I’ve heard from Ringling graduates that their dorms were a bit run-down and unpleasant, but otherwise, it’s a very similar experience, albeit with more of a 3D focus.
Q: Why are you taking so long to reply to my email?
I have trouble keeping up with email. It’s a chronic, lifelong condition that I’ve been unable to cure. I’m very sorry.
Rest assured that I have read your email, unless it bounced (check to see if you received an error message). I reply quickly to simple, non-spam questions. If your email merits a thoughtful response, then I am grateful that you took the time, and I will eventually write you a response in kind, if I feel that I can give you a worthwhile answer.