Fantasy author Gary F. Vanucci has been involved in the fantasy genre forever. He’s written an RPG along with his multi-volumed high fantasy series Realm of Ashenclaw, complete with elves, magic-wielding soldiers, and assassins! Now he’s sidestepped into the horror/dystopian subgenre with his new release Wake the Dead. I invited him to take time out of his busy schedule to chat with us today.
Hi Gary, thanks for your time. When did you start writing, and who are your influences?
Gary F. Vanucci: I started a science fiction book back in ‘99-2000 or so and never finished it. My father, a pianist, passed away in 2010 and I decided to take the craft a bit more seriously as I felt he died with the music still in him. I did not want to do that. I have always been a huge fan of R.A. Salvatore, George R.R. Martin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Michael Moorcock, Howard and the like, and have always been a huge fan of fantasy, sci-fi, horror and comic books. And so, while laid off in 2010, I began to write a fantasy series. This was inspired by the concept of an entire world that I had begun creating in the late 1980’s and into the 90’s for an RPG which I used as the basis for the Realm of Ashenclaw/land of Wothlondia.
I’m sorry to hear about your father but… OMG! Another Moorcock fan. Be still my heart! :) So I guess that answers my next question: What made you fall in love with fantasy novels?
Gary F. Vanucci: The escapism it provided and the imagination that it awoke in me. No matter how bad a day, no matter how many real stresses or responsibilities I have, I always found it very easy to lose myself in a fantasy world. The allure is immeasurable.
What can you tell someone who has never read the Realm of Ashenclaw stories about them?
Gary F. Vanucci: Firstly, it has a good deal of satisfying and familiar elements that the genre offers. The tales themselves are founded in a richly detailed world, where an eclectic group of people with varying skill sets, hailing from different lands and upbringings, are handpicked for a very dangerous assignment. They all come together agreeably, but have very different motivations for completing the quest. I like to think that I have put a slight twist on the common fantasy archetypes and such, but it still has very common elements that one would desire in an epic fantasy. I also have some other changes and surprised lined up in the near future for fans of the series.
Of your books, what do you enjoy better, writing the characters, or the storyline itself? Or the world building?
Gary F. Vanucci: I enjoy it all! Creating the characters is the most fun, followed by the storyline, and then the world building, though I do put in the effort on all facets. I’d go so far as to say that I take the world building seriously enough to have released a D&D 4th edition compatible supplement that has quite a bit of detail in it, which can be found in hard copy on Amazon/CreateSpace and in digital format at RPGNOW.
Your body of work is quite vast, how do you keep up such a pace?
Gary F. Vanucci: Well, I am actually a slow writer and reader, to be honest. I try to write a certain amount of words per week, and hit the goal at least half the time. :) I do feel that I put in a lot of hours going from one job to the writing on most nights. I watch minimal TV, try to avoid distractions and keep my focus when writing. Also, I do have a close knit support group that makes this much easier to do.
Having that support helps a lot. *nodnods* Your new book, Wake the Dead, just released. You’d written zombies before, in Realm of Ashenclaw series, now they’re a central feature and their mayhem affects our world. How did you decide to write this story, rather than return to your secondary-world fantasy realm of Wothlondia?
Gary F. Vanucci: Well, firstly, I love the undead! Secondly, I was having minimal success gaining traction with the fantasy writing and decided to switch it up for a change of pace. While I enjoy the Realm of Ashenclaw greatly, it has not gotten the exposure that I wanted…yet. So, I was inspired to write a no-holds-barred zombie apocalypse novel as I wanted to see what I could do in another genre, using a modern setting as well as write for a strictly adult audience. I was pleased with the results and so far, it has done pretty well for me. I am working on the 5th book of the RoA series as well as a Wake the Dead companion piece, of which there will be more.
Will a reader of the Beginnings saga see these heroes (Rose, Ganthorpe, Dinah, etc) again at some point?
Gary F. Vanucci: There are always more plot twists and scenarios in my head for future stories in the RoA, not centered around these heroes, so yes! I plan on doing a great deal more in that world over the next few decades, so fantasy fans stay tuned! Unfortunately, I have a full time job already that really cuts into my writing and creative time, or else I’d be releasing 3-6 books a year instead of maybe 1 or 2. Such is the life of a part time writer!
True. What advice can you give to a fantasy author contemplating indie publishing?
Gary F. Vanucci: Be prepared to work your butt off. Fantasy is much harder as you need to create everything from scratch. Magic, the world, its history, the characters, the social and political structures, and so on. It is not for the faint of heart. Of course, I could say that about all writing really, but fantasy and even science fiction are much more immersive. Anything where you need to create more than just characters, you have your work cut out for you! That being said, it is that much more rewarding.
I must admit, that’s the part I love the most about writing and reading fantasy! :) And finally, where can my readers find out more about you and your works?
Gary F. Vanucci: All of my Realm of Ashenclaw series is on Kobo, Barnes and Noble, CreateSpace, Amazon, Smashwords and iTunes. As of now, Wake the Dead is exclusively with Amazon and will be for a while longer. I can also be found occasionally lurking at any one of these places: WattPad, the Independent Author Network, Eye on Ashenclaw/Ashenclaw.com, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Smashwords and Goodreads, where I am currently hosting a giveaway for two signed copies of Wake the Dead.
(Wothlondia Rising is also free on Amazon, right now.)
Sounds like you are keeping busy. Thank you for taking time out to meet with us! We will look forward to them all. Folks, if you have any questions for Gary, feel free to leave a comment. And I hope you enjoy his works. ;) I think you will!
Gary Vanucci was born in Pennsylvania in 1968. He enjoys writing, reading, music, art, anything at all that promotes creativity and activities that push the mind beyond conventional thinking. He has spent time as an amateur singer/songwriter and has spent multiple decades creating role-playing scenarios and playing games amongst various genres. Years of reading graphic novels, comic books, fantasy/science fiction novels and the like has led him to discover his true passion—writing! His education includes a Bachelor’s of Science in the field of Information Technology and an Associates of Arts in the field of Graphic Design. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~Aristotle.